Monday, October 8, 2018

SMART or FAST: Which Wins the Goal-Setting Race? - Tip #198


We’ve all heard the tale of the turtle and the hare. In the story, the speedy hare loses to the slow turtle.

I want you to imagine this as the traditional way of setting goals. SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound, is perhaps the most popular way that most people have been taught to develop their goals, especially in the business or organizational setting.

If you’re using this method, how has that worked so far? Is it working at all?

SMART vs. FAST

Although SMART is popular, it has a major flaw. “SMART goals undervalue ambition, focus narrowly on individual performance, and ignore the importance of discussing goals throughout the year,” says Donald Sull of the MIT Sloan School of Management and Charles Sull of Charles Thames Strategy Partners LLC.

If not SMART goals, then what’s the alternative?

Donald and Charles suggests turning SMART goals on its head and you have FAST goals:

F - frequently discussed
Goals are constantly being reviewed and evaluated.

A - ambitious
Goals are difficult but not impossible to achieve.

S - specific
Goals are translated into metrics and milestones, which helps provide clarity on the next steps necessary to achieve objectives and measure progress.

T - transparent
Everyone can see what your goals are, and you can see what your colleagues’ goals are.

Unlike SMART goals, the FAST method emphasizes on setting goals that are difficult but not impossible to achieve, embeds these goals into ongoing discussions for constant evaluation and feedback, and publicizes goals for transparency.

Feedback is Key


Waiting for a year to receive feedback on goals isn’t very smart for organizations operating in dynamic settings. Constantly evaluating and providing feedback on goals (as in path2x) help people correct (as necessary) and achieve their goals.

“SMART goals, therefore, are sometimes smart and sometimes not,” Martin Reeves, senior partner of The Boston Consulting Group (NY) and director of BGC Henderson Institute, and Jack Fuller, BGC consultant and BGC Henderson Institute ambassador, said in this MIT Sloan Management Review Research Highlight. “We should think about goals in a more contingent manner, adjusting the fuzziness and the ambition of goals depending on the kinds of environment our companies are operating within.”

Aside from shifting business environment, the MIT Sloan article also identifies 2 other triggers why people and organizations might need to revise their goals over time:
  • The company changes through capability development or acquisitions.
  • The company learns more about its goals.
Sometimes the Hare Wins

SMART goals are valuable in stable and predictable settings, but in a VUCA environment, where context is always changing, FAST goals are the better option.

So, in the real-world race to the finish, the turtle doesn’t always cross the finish line first. Sometimes, the hare wins.

References

Wayne University/Wayne LEADS. S.M.A.R.T. Objectives
Donald Sull and Charles Sull. With Goals, FAST Beats SMART. MIT Sloan Management Review, June 5, 2018
Martin Reeves and Jack Fuller. When SMART Goals Are Not So Smart. MIT Sloan Management Review, March 21, 2018
Tip #76 - Celebrate Your Expertise - Share and Standout
Tip #187 - How VUCA Expands Learning Horizons



Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, October 1, 2018

5 Ways L&D Can Adapt to the Evolution of Employees - Tip #197


There’s an interesting book that talks about the future of work by Jacob Morgan titled The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization. In his book, he urges organizations to "rethink and challenge everything they know about work.”

Why is this so? Morgan mentions that the demographics of employees are changing and so, too, are their work styles, beliefs, and attitudes.

5 Generations of Learners

Organizations today are seeing five generations working side by side: the silent generation (2%), the baby boomers (25%), Gen Xers (33%), millennials (35%), and post-millennial generation (5%), according to the Pew Research Center. In the coming years, the number of older generation workers will continue to decrease, and the two youngest generations will comprise the majority of employees in organizations.

What does this all mean?

L&D That Matches the Evolution of Employees

Because millennials make up the majority of workers now and in the coming years, it’s important to account for their learning preferences in our L&D programs. Not only will this encourage them to stay, it will also entice them to join your organization. According to Gallup, millennials view professional development and career growth opportunities as the most important factor in a job.

Here are 5 ways to match the learning needs of new learners:

1. On-demand, microlearning and story-based learning

As new learners are accustomed to getting the information they want when they want it, on-demand and microlearning are unexpendable. In addition, it puts learners in control of their development, making learning more engaging and continuous. Similarly, story-based learning also works well, given their social media habits.

2. Sharing of insights and learning

New learners pine for a social aspect to their training and learning, as they’re used to in social networking sites. Use collaboration platforms, such as Slack, which allow for real-time and immediate sharing of insights and ideas.

3. Learning agility

In a world that’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA), organizations and employees need to be learning agile. That is, they need to learn how to learn, and apply their learnings and adapt quickly to new scenarios that come up.

4. Roles that take advantage of their strengths and interests

The concept of “job crafting” means allowing employees to do their best by providing job roles that play to their strengths and interests so they can be more innovative and productive. Here’s how it works:
5. Customized career paths

Learners want to be prepared for their next tasks, goals, and personal goals in life. For L&D, this means asking the question of how we can help them prepare for the next phase of their career or achieve personal goals, such as learning something that valuable to them. Read this blog post to learn 3 ways to create career development activities that work for new learners.

Are You Prepared to Meet the Needs of New Learners?

Share with me what your organization is doing to address your employees’ training and learning needs in the comments below.

References

Jacob Morgan. The Future of Work: Attract New Talent, Build Better Leaders, and Create a Competitive Organization. Wiley; 1 edition (August 25, 2014)
Richard Fry. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. Pew Research Center, April 11, 2018
Richard Fry. Millennials projected to overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Pew Research Center, March 1, 2018
Amy Adkins and Brandon Rigoni. Millennials Want Jobs to Be Development Opportunities. Gallup, June 30, 2016
Annamarie Mann and Amy Adkins. The Dream Job. Gallup, March 1, 2017
Tom Haak. The End of Static Jobs (HR Trends 2017, 18). HR Trend Institute, September 11, 2017
Tip #75 - Insight Sharing - How They "Meet and Mate"
Tip #174 - Why Story Lessons Are the Most Engaging Learning for Millennials
Tip #175 - 3 Ways to Learn Better in the Modern Era
Tip #187 - How VUCA Expands Learning Horizons
Tip #188 - 4 Ways to Develop Learning Agility
Tip #189 - Adopt Independent Lifelong Learning to Meet Workplace Challenges
Tip #194 - It’s Personal: Creating Career Development Activities That Work



Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, September 24, 2018

Facing the Unexpected: 3 Powerful Habits to Help Workers Train Themselves - Tip #196


What do you do when you have a problem? How do you respond to unexpected outcomes?

When faced with complex challenges or uncertain outcomes, many leaders believe that if they are smart enough, work hard enough, or turn to the best management tools, they will be able to find the right answer, predict and plan for the future, and break down tasks to produce controllable results.

But, the truth is no matter how good we are, we find ourselves having to deal with problems and situations that we've never faced before. To effectively solve these issues, we have to think differently - the way we think needs to change.

3 Powerful Habits to Change the Way We Think

In the book Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders, authors Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston explore three powerful habits of the mind - that we all have - which will help us see the world differently:
  1. Asking different questions,
  2. Taking multiple perspectives, and 
  3. Seeing systems
Improving our ability in one, or all, of these areas offers a world of insight and promises the avoidance of problems. A powerful read.


The book reminds me of another one by Elie Ayache, The Blank Swan: The End of Probability. In our complex world, there are new habits to be learned.

One of those habits or skills is how we think things through. John Hagel speaks of this as the need to have advance cognitive skills.

3 Steps to Developing These Powerful Habits

The three habits discussed in the book Simple Habits for Complex Times is at the heart of the new software which I just launched called Situation Expert. Its key design supports what Daniel Kahneman calls as "slow and fast thinking": People tend to be biased in most of our quick decisions and actions, so it’s best we think them through.

Here’s how it works:
  1. It asks workers and learners to share a situation, a problem, or an issue they want fixed and solved.
  2. Then they ask others to think this through with them.
  3. They go through the three steps of
  1. analyzing the problem,
  2. finding solutions, and
  3. discovering patterns.
To implement these three steps, workers use tools such as Fishbone analysis, What if situations, Pareto laws and Workarounds. They offer solutions via a checklist or a reference video or link. The final step is to make sense of everything by identifying key patterns. The net effect of going through the process is better thinking for reliable results and learning from others.

These habits based on Berger and Johnston’s book Simple Habits for Complex Times is timely as we continue to explore how we can reliably depend on our workers to learn by training themselves.

References

Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston. Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders 1st Edition. Stanford Business Books, March 1, 2016
Elie Ayache. The Blank Swan: The End of Probability.Wiley, May 17, 2010
John Hagel. Mastering the Learning Pyramid. Edge Perspectives with John Hagel, November 28, 2017
Tip #50 - Have You Worn the Learners' Glasses?
Tip #51 - How to Mold Smarter Learners by Using Patterns
Tip #100 - Spur Learning Through 'Curiosity Conversations'
Tip #150 - Using Intuitive and Deliberate Learning in Story Lessons



Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

SME-Dependent Content Is Broken - Tip #195


At which point do learners rely less on formal learning structure and start with self-driven learning while at work? When is the pivot?

There are multiple reasons why learners shift their dependence from formal training to self-driven learning. It could be to cope with the changes in their industry, to upskill, or to stay competitive. But, whatever the reason, today’s learning landscape has necessitated that learners take the lead in their learning and development and for L&D designers to take on more than a facilitator role.

This role includes matching the learners’ learning needs to the appropriate training materials and content. However, typical training content, i.e., those developed by SMEs, won’t cut it anymore.

The Problem with SME-Dependent Content

Most formal learning is limited because of their very nature - that is, being produced by SMEs or the designers themselves. These are the challenging issues I see with that.

1. Broken Production Process

Let’s take on a business point of view and think of formal learning content production this way: The supply of SMEs is always limited. The production of formal content is always inadequate and could not keep up with the demand for more knowledge being shared. Therefore, the production process is broken.

This is the most basic law of economics in action - the law of supply and demand. The cost of producing SME-dependent content is high but and the production is slow. As a result, learners’ demand are unmet.

2. Pseudo SMEs

Because of the limited production source from SMEs, content becomes isolated and remote.

Many SMES are theorists and academicians - people who have the knowledge but mostly not the experience. We call them pseudo SMEs.

Despite their lack of experience, however, pseudo SMEs are prone to arrogance and self-glorification. So, when SMEs are not available, it could be due to these reasons:
  1. Distance from practical experience
  2. No depth of knowledge
  3. Arrogance
  4. Lack of interest
And, because companies have no specific positions for SMEs, they tend to pull whoever is available to create training content—not a good or smart way to go about it.


Develop Experience-Sharing Culture


There is a need to break down this model that is dependent on SMEs and recognize that expertise is abundant from everyone on the job.

Imagine this: If we ask everyone at work how they will solve a certain problem, we are more likely to get reliable answers faster than checking with SMEs.

This brings us to the fundamental value of encouraging a culture of open sharing of experiences. This is how most of us learn on the job today - we ask people.

With technologies, we can make the process of sharing experience even faster.

The rapid growth of technologies opens up a lot of opportunities for learners to learn faster than ever before. But this does not include your LMS. Let’s refrain from using your LMS because this is where SME-dependent courses live. When SMEs are around, people will most likely be looking at the them for answers rather than use their own experiences or share their experiences to help others learn.

We need to redefine SMEs as "those who can do something and know something," with expertise no matter how big or small, but can contribute now and today.

References

The Library of Economics and Liberty/Al Ehrbar. Supply
Shelley Osborne. Evolving learning strategies to keep pace with the modern workforce. Training Journal, June 6, 2018
Tip #36 - Why Experience Results in Superior Learning
Tip #75 - Insight Sharing - How They "Meet and Mate"
Tip #181 - The Conversation Loop: Foster Learning Through Experience Sharing



Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

It’s Personal: Creating Career Development Activities That Work - Tip #194


Career paths are very personal matters. No matter what companies' objectives are, the core of career paths is the employee's personal goals and benefits.

Career paths are just manifestations of what, where and how people are doing with regards to achieving their life goals. Having a solid career path helps direct their future aims.

Main Driver of Career Paths

An APA survey found that many employees don’t have enough time to work on developing or sharpening their skills or their employer isn’t providing ample career development activities.

Many companies struggle with employee development perhaps because they fail to realize something important: “Job-skills training is a shared responsibility between leaders and employees,” says David Ballard, PhD, assistant executive director of the APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence.

And, whenever career paths are included in the initiatives of companies, they are inclined to be formalistic. They tend to focus on just the completion of some training activities, such as curriculum, tests and exams, that are irrelevant to learners and workers. They don’t care about completion of activities. They care about what they can do and learn today that will be useful and will prepare them for the future. Because at the heart of career paths are self-driven goals.


Preparing Learners for the Next Phase

For learners and workers, the key question is: “How prepared am I for my next tasks, goals and personal aims in my life?”

So our goal, then, becomes: How do we help people prepare for their next phase or next job or next important learning towards achievement of their personal goals?

This Fast Company article sheds some light on possible answers.

1. Identify your workers’ goals.
Your organization has a set of objectives that everyone is working toward. But employees also have their own ambitions, too. Ask them about their personal goals and match those with what the organization needs, advices performance improvement consultant Julie Winkler Giulioni, author of Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.

2. Incorporate career path activities in their daily work.
It’s not enough to know your employees' personal goals. It’s also important to find ways to incorporate learning opportunities in their day-to-day work.

“Even when there’s not a budget for a formal learning program, you can think about every opportunity as an opportunity to learn,” says Diane Belcher, senior director of product management at Boston-based Harvard Business Publishing. She suggests finding time for reflection and questions, as well as ensuring that leaders share their stories and coach others.

3. Give them autonomy and short-term experiences.
Allow workers to decide how they use their discretionary time. This means giving them leeway to pursue and develop the skills that interest them, suggests Sharon Reese, principal consultant with The Gunter Group.

Beverly Kaye, founder of career consulting firm Career Systems International, espouses

“career calisthenics,” which means “looking for mentoring or shadowing opportunities, stretch assignments, and other learning opportunities throughout the organization.” These short-term experiences not only promote employees’ growth and interest but also cultivate a corporate culture where development is expected.

Don’t Forget to Track Expertise

I spoke of a way to help leaners track their own expertise development here. Basically, allow and provide a way for workers to document what they find interesting in the moment. These interest areas provide insight into their learning preferences and help learners and workers build, track and monitor their incremental successes by capturing and discovering their insights as it happens. These insights are life-changing.

References

American Psychological Association. Supervisor Support Critical to Employee Well-Being and Workforce Readiness. October 18, 2017
Gwen Moran. How to Help Build Employees’ Career Paths So They Don’t Quit. Fast Company, November 3, 2017
Tip #69 - Reflections Impact Performance
Tip #71 - Freedom to Learn and Pursue One's Expertise
Tip #149 - How Microlearning Impacts Coaching and Behavior Change
Tip #181 - The Conversation Loop: Foster Learning Through Experience Sharing
Tip #182 - Curious Language Sparks Learning Engagement



Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Monday, August 27, 2018

Cultivate These Behaviors for Responsible Digital Learning - Tip #193



These two ideas from Finnish sociologist Esko Kilpi, brings me back to the core of accountability, personal responsibility and drive. It is about individual self-realizations and insights for personal growth.
“Activities are performed in interaction, sharing a cognitive load of work, rather than based on reductionist organizing principles or social isolation. The focus shifts from tasks and roles to relations.”
“One is responsible for one’s own actions, rather than seeing someone else, somewhere else, responsible.”
It also reminds me of the tweets and blogs of Bulgarian writer Maria Popova, and how she beautifully selects great stories from writers, scientists, adventurers, artists, philosophers, and other inspiring people and use their lives to tell her audiences about our individual personal struggle.

Freedom and Responsibility

This article by Popova on existential psychologist Rollo May brings home Esko’s message.

May’s definition of freedom suggests that people need to have the ability to pause and reflect on how to interpret, learn, and act upon different stimuli that comes our way.

That is, in essence, how we learn - or how we should learn.

Technology-Enabled Reflection

We inherently have the ability to pause, reflect, and learn, and just by pausing, we consequently learn and respond appropriately. This means changing our response can get us the outcomes we want.

Esko wrote his key idea by pinning down the need in workers and learners to account for and be responsible for their own actions.

This is a key thing for us in the learning world to think of as core in our desire to help people be digitally connected. Technology will only bring us so far.

What will move us forward is in the recognition that technology enables us to pause, reflect, and be responsible for our actions.

Responsible Digital Learning

When we implement digital initiatives in group learning and collaboration and problem solving, we need to observe if our workers and learners are taking pause and owning responsibility.

What are the indicators?
  1. Do they initiate response to issues that truly matters and not just to add to the chatter?
  2. Do they listen carefully to others and reflect and pause before they offer a counter idea?
  3. Are they willing to share how they arrived at their answers and humbly admit if they are unsure or to offer references as basis for their confidence?
  4. Are they open to ideas that may question their opinions and beliefs?
These are cultural behaviors we need to observe. Are we progressing? Are learners progressing while we taut and espouse digital solutions?

References

Esko Kilpi. The ten principles of digital work. Medium, May 31, 2018
Maria Popova. Existential Psychologist Rollo May on Freedom and the Significance of the Pause. Brain Pickings, October 4, 2017
Tip #68 - Why Reflect? The Role of Reflection in the Learning Process
Tip #175 - 3 Ways to Learn Better in the Modern Era




Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Stop Applying Band-Aid to Your eLearning and Training - Tip #192



In my past blogs, tips, videos, and workshops, I have always mentioned about the challenge of traditional training as being far from the realities of work.

Jane Hart's study supports this observation.
  • She found that most L&D efforts are focused on activities (classroom training and eLearning) that have little value for learners.
  • So, L&D professionals need to shift (re-focus) their efforts toward “doing on the job” and knowledge sharing. These activities are not separate training but are a part or integrated into learners’ daily work experiences.
  • Learners find the most value in “short, visual, flexible and social” content and training. They also prefer learning to be “continuous” and “self-selected and self-organized.”
But, giving up traditional training can be hard because it has a strong and hard-to-resist momentum. It is hard to redirect a big ship, so we all glide along with the momentum.

We also lack clear alternatives - only extensions of the traditional design approach. As Hart mentioned, the solution is to raise engagement like VR, games, social learning, etc. But, these are merely extensions or covers on the layer of problem in traditional training design. I refer to these alternatives as the “Band-Aid” solutions.

“Sprayers, or those who “spray” learners “band-aid” solutions and content ... are more likely the pros that live away from the work situation so they take all knowledge they can get from SMEs, documentations, and secondhand knowledge and information. They build large content and repositories. This is their strength. They provide solutions, but learners will still have to drill down and find them.”

Point-of-Need Learning

Jane Hart—as well as other experts and practitioners (Clark Quinn, Jane Bozarth, etc.) - has been proposing all along the need to recognize two important things:
  • First, employees are learning all the time at work.
  • And, learners learn from each other rather than informal learning.
Learning must be at the point of need, which I espoused in my proposals on Microlearning. Learning only matters to fix, solve, and improve things. Learning is a consequence, not the goal. The goal is using answers.

We need to find solutions and methods to further push this shifting trend toward learning at work, work and learn, or just supporting work.

References

Jane Hart. Classroom training and E-learning are the least valued ways of learning. This is what it means in for L&D. Modern Workplace Learning Magazine: The Magazine for the Modern Learning Professional. May 22, 2018
Tip #75 - Insight Sharing - How They "Meet and Mate"
Tip #148 - The Secrets of Graffiti Learning Pros
Tip #140 - “Quick Answers are All I Need.” The Learner at Work Tells Us




Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Need for the Human Factor in an AI World - Tip #191


How do you imagine a future with AI? Will the world be run by machines and computers? Or are humans still an important part of the picture?

An AI Named Quixote

Quixote is an AI system that learns about ethics and human values by listening to simple stories. According to Mark O. Riedl and Brent Harrison, creators of Quixote and researchers at the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology, the AI system reverse engineers’ human values through stories; narratives tell Quixote how humans interact with each other and informs the system what the accepted behaviors are in a society. So, it knows for instance, that stealing is wrong.

The innovation may “wow” you, but behind the scene is a person deciding which stories to feed the AI system. H. James Wilson, Paul R. Daugherty, and Nicola Morini-Bianzino believe this and the role of monitoring and making sure Quixote runs properly will be the critical responsibility of a human ethics compliance manager


So yes, humans will still be important in a world dependent on AI. In training and development, in particular, human trainers will play an important part in shaping employees to take on novel jobs.

The Role of Human Trainers in an AI World


In the world of AI, jobs will be vastly different than what we know today. An Accenture study and Wilson, et al. note that these future jobs will be “new,” “unique,” and “novel, requiring skills and training that have no precedents.”

These new novel jobs fall under three categories, according to Wilson et al.:

  • Trainers (e.g., empathy trainer) will be responsible for teaching AI systems on how they should perform. For instance, a trainer makes sure chatbots can detect when a customer uses sarcasm in their communication and respond accordingly.
  • Explainers (e.g., algorithm forensic analysts) are those who can explain to business leaders, how complex algorithms work. They will essentially become the “bridges” for non-technical professionals to understand how AI works.
  • Sustainers (e.g., ethics compliance manager) will ensure that AI systems work as they were meant to work and that any diversion from that function and the consequences arising therefrom will be immediately addressed.
In short, human workers will make sure that AI tasks are “fair, transparent, and auditable.”



Over to you: How else do you see the roles and responsibilities of training and development professionals change in an AI world? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section below.

References

What is the Quixote AI System? (Long version). YouTube/Entertainment Intelligence. March 1, 2016
Brent Harrison and Mark O. Riedl. Towards Learning From Stories: An Approach to Interactive Machine Learning. Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, 2015
H. James Wilson, Paul R. Daugherty, and Nicola Morini-Bianzino. The Jobs That Artificial Intelligence Will Create. MIT Sloan Management Review Magazine: Summer 2017 Issue
Adi Gaskell. Do We Need To Set Aside Time For Learning At Work? Forbes, July 20, 2017




Ray Jimenez, PhD
Vignettes Learning
"Helping Learners Learn Their Way"