Don’t tell me how you’re going to do it, just tell me what results I can expect. A good blog from Sukh Pabial on the British Business Blog.

Thinking About Learning

Hello, I’m Sukh and I’m here to find out more about what learning and development happens in your part of organisation.

Sure, we send people on courses.

And what about social learning?

Informal learning?

Experiential learning?

It’s a familiar conversation, right?

You know who cares about these things? Us L&Ders.

You know who doesn’t care about these things? The people we’re working with.

It’s all a lot of good useful academic debate and classification and codifying and intelligent thought. But it doesn’t matter to the people who need to learn. They just want to learn. If that comes through a webinar, a podcast, a flipped classroom, a MOOC, or face to face solution, then that’s what we provide.

There’s been a lot of good discussion in the L&D world about all sorts of fascinating things. How do we get inside the learner’s head? What should we worried…

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Professional Capital, a sales training organization, offered a “knowledge seminar” in Rotterdam this week, “Effective ImageSales Management.” Even though I’m not a sales manager, and the last time I worked in a full-on sales position was back in 1990 when I worked F&I at Cypress Coast Ford in California, I wanted to gain more insight into more modern sales practices. As well as some of the challenges salespeople are dealing with in this brutal economic environment. The organisers were gracious enough to make a place for me and I attended the small gathering.

The first thing I noticed was how tall and good looking the other men were. Yes, all men. All tall and good looking. And white. All in their mid- to late-30s. That should have signaled to me what was coming. Even though they were from a broad variety of industries (construction supply, financial services, IT), they were dressed identically in the uniform of the urban Dutch professional: jeans or slacks, open dress shirt, good shoes.

It was a good session. An excellent and well-moderated format by Maarten Colijn, from the organization. Lots of good ideas exchanged, case situations explored and the challenges of being a sales manager in a tough economy the order of the day. But there was an undertone which disturbed me and it wasn’t until the drinks and informal session afterwards that I discovered what it was.

“Salesmen are born, not made,” stated one. “Agreed,” said another, “In fact, you can tell within 30 seconds of an intake interview whether he’s got ‘it’ or not.” I found myself initially nodding in agreement, but then caught myself. Hey, wait a minute! What is “it”? And why only “he”? Then I realized. What they really mean is, “When I find someone who is exactly like me, I know I’ve got someone I can work with.” Even though many of the problems, many of the challenges they talked about earlier, upon reflection, were a by-product of this “like searching like” procedure.

Good Looking Guys, v. 1.0

Today’s Sales Manager – an archetypical sampling

Their need for salesmen clones in their organizations, and their inability to tolerate diversity, were evident in the problems we examined:

  • Difficulty in developing new markets;
  • Difficulty in seeing new opportunities with existing clients;
  • Difficulty in finding “common” ground with which to motivate their charges;
  • Difficulty in motivating their people in a difficult economic environment;
  • Difficulty in accepting other ways, other than “my way,” to the client.

It was particularly this last point that later confirmed for me the value of seeing output, rather than input, as the only valid measurement tool.

Input/Output

Appearances are input. Method is input. Approach and planning are input. Individual behavior and reward systems are input. In the sales world, there is only one output, and that’s getting the customer to sign on the line that is dotted, to quote Blake in David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. One of the participants said it well, “The sales world is binary: you either have the sale, or you don’t.” Yet these otherwise accomplished sales managers were racking their brains to find better and more efficient ways to manage their input. Not in the name of efficiency, but in the name of homogeneity. How to find more people just like me? How to get them to toe the line and do the job exactly as I’ve done it all these years? After all, my way must be the right way – it’s worked for me!

The challenge is getting them to reframe the problem. Instead of seeing it as a problem of control and with managing input, a question of letting go, accepting any input that their people attempt, as long as the outcome is acceptable. Getting them to focus their energies on defining targets that are purely focused on output (sales results), not on input.

In other words: do they have the courage to accept any input as long as it meets the agreed-upon criteria pertaining only to output?

The following is an introduction speech for Rev. Jesse L. Jackson on the occasion of his visit to Europe during Diversity Tour 2010, organized and executed by GrapeVine Promotions International. The speech kicked off a press conference held at the Steinberger Kurhaus Hotel, the Hague (the Netherlands) on 4 February 2010. I’m reprinting it in honor of César Chávez Day, 31 March, 2012

I was born and raised in California, on the west coast of the US, in 1957. When I was coming of age in the 1960’s, the most prominent civil rights leader for us was César Chávez. As head and co-­‐founder of the United Farm Workers, señor Chávez was the embodiment of the migrant workers’ struggle for basic human rights in California and the Southwest. He was, for us, the most visible figure in the struggle for human rights in general.

During his “Fast for Life” on August 21, 1988, Chávez was visited by the Reverend Jesse L. Jackson. Of course, by 1988, I had heard of Rev. Jackson and knew who he was. But Rev. Jackson was “East Coast” (according to Californians, pretty much everything east of Las Vegas is “East Coast”). He was for the blacks; he was distant. Chávez was our man, la familia, the one fighting for la raza. Until that day in August, 1988.

There is an iconic photograph from that day that for many represents putting in perspective the local and regional struggle for migrant workers’ rights in the larger global struggle for human rights everywhere. It shows Chávez, weak and thin from 36 days into his hunger strike, sitting in a simple wooden chair in the dusty sunlight. Kneeling next to him in the dirt is Rev. Jackson. Chávez is passing a simple crucifix that represents his “Fast for Life” to Rev. Jackson. The two appear to be praying together. At this moment, not only is Rev. Jackson accepting the Imagesymbolism of shouldering Chávez’ struggle, he is also accepting the practice of the fast. From this moment, he himself begins a 3-­‐day fast, going from this time forward with only water to sustain him, before passing the cause on to others. This symbolic struggle was then assumed by leaders across the country, which gave enormous attention to the workers’ struggle that Chávez advocated. After this, the plight of migrant workers in California became a national issue, thanks to the intervention of Rev. Jackson. But even more, for we “nativos” it symbolized a joining of forces. Jackson literally and figuratively offering his hand to Chávez, and to us, with a simple, “Hermano, sí se puede.

And of course that gesture has now echoed across generations and across continents, to where, finally, a man also from a disadvantaged background and of color, ascended the steps to the White House using the same words, “Sí se puede,” – “Yes we can.”

And to me, and to millions of Latinos over the world, the circle was made complete when as one of his first significant and lasting decisions as Chief Executive, President Barack Obama nominated the first Hispanic to the US Supreme Court: Her Honor Sonia Sotomayor. The hand that Rev. Jackson reached out to César Chávez was then offered to Barack Obama, and then through him to maestra Sotomayor. The circle is complete, and we are all stronger for it.

It is with great honor and humility that I introduce to you the pre-­‐eminent civil rights leader of our time, the champion of the voiceless and disenfranchised everywhere: Reverend Dr. Jesse Louis Jackson, Sr.

Leo Salazar
4 February 2010
The Hague, the Netherlands

Earlier this year I had the honor and pleasure of hosting Aebi Schmidt at De Baak Seaside during their annual 2-day strategy meeting. Aebi Schmidt Holding (AHS) is based in Zurich, Switzerland, and 50 top managers from the global company came to the Netherlands for two days to take a look at the year past, reinforce their company values, and look at the way forward for 2012.

Aebi Schmidt is the leading system provider of innovative technical solutions for the cleaning and clearing of traffic areas as well as the mowing of green spaces on difficult terrains

Regular readers of this blog perhaps notice that I often take the intercultural view of doing business. I’m always looking for ways to help leaders to recognize differences and to leverage those differences for mutual benefit. And in preparing for Aebi Schmidt, my colleague at De Baak, Raymond Eilander, and I sought ways to highlight cultural value differences while helping the participants align to company values.

To my pleasant surprise, there was remarkable homogeneity amongst the values of the managers. Not cultural homogeneity — far from it. Amongst the Swiss, German, Italian, Polish, Swedish, Dutch and Spanish participants there was a great deal of difference. The homogeneity was among the company values. Regularly, consistently and pervasively, I heard the following values expressed:

  • The importance of innovation (how to find it, encourage it and enable it)
  • Building trust
  • Shaping change
  • Working positively towards solutions
  • Respect for others’ position and perspective

How was this possible? How were the cultural differences of seven different nationalities trumped by a strong company culture? Of course there are many reasons and causes to defining a culture, many if not most of them invisible and difficult to define. But in the case of Aebi Schmidt for me there was a very strong defining element to the company: the CEO Walter Vogel.

Mr. Vogel at first blush appeared to me, when I first met him in Zurich during the planning stages of the meeting, to be the epitome of the Swiss executive: impeccably dressed, formal, stiff and encouraging to deference. Even though I was on the mark regarding his sartorial taste, I was way off base about the rest. Walter (please don’t call him “Mr. Vogel”) put me immediately at ease and we had a very pleasant 2-hour conversation about what we should plan for his company.

Later, during the 2-day event, Walter clearly showed outstanding characteristics of an excellent leader. He was engaging, participative, continuously present but low-key, encouraging and supportive. During the entire 2-day event, he excused himself exactly one time to “tend to an emergency.” Within 15 minutes he was back and again in the flow of the program.

We’ve worked with many companies at De Baak. Some with success and some less so. Seeing the positive, supportive leadership style of CEO Walter Vogel was truly an inspiration and, in my mind, the well-spring of a strong, positive company culture. I find it significant that Walter’s #2 man, CFO Stephan Naef, has won Switzerland’s CFO of the year award. I can imagine the the supportive, encouraging leadership style of his boss had a great deal to do with it.

 

A relevant and well-timed email from Mary Kay Henry, President of the Service Employees International Union, in honor of Martin Luther King, jr., the original “99%’er”:

Dear friend,
“There is something wrong with the policies, the priorities, and the purposes of our nation now. And we’ve got to say it in no uncertain terms.”

 

In 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said these words to a crowd of 1199 NY (now 1199 SEIU) healthcare workers in New York.

At the time, Dr. King spoke, depicting the existence of two Americas, one “flowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of equality” and the other defined by inferior schools and people working full time jobs for part-time wages. “Most of the poor people in our country are working every day.”

Today, the gap between the rich and poor is the worst it’s ever been. The fight still goes on, and it falls to us to realize Dr. King’s vision.

What is the single most important thing all of us can do this year to further Dr. King’s vision?


Today, just like in 1968, the fights for racial equality and economic justice are inextricably linked.  Compared to 10 years ago, the average family in the U.S. makes 7% less. This trend is even worse within some of the ethnic-subgroups. In fact, the average Black household is making 14.6% less, and the average Hispanic household is making 10.1% less.

In a time when the excesses of Wall Street executives have been brought into stark relief, it behooves us to pause and reflect not just on the reasons for our outrage, but on the ways we can bring the vision of Dr. King into the world of the 99%.

I say to you that the work is not done. It will take all of us thinking, and all of us working hard to bring about Dr. King’s dream of racial and economic equality.

Tell us what you think we, as a people, can do to most effectively make that dream a reality.

For decades, working people in this country have quietly embodied King’s legacy by taking collective action in the name of justice and equality. But today, corporate greed and extreme politicians have aligned to launch an unbridled assault on this legacy, attempting to withhold opportunity from those who work hard.

The vigilance of the 99 percent movement is a contemporary tribute to King’s brilliance, and among the best ways to ensure that our leaders stop ignoring the “other” America. But it cannot end there.

Realizing King’s vision for America is about recognizing the value of the collective good, reinvigorating the belief that opportunity is a defining factor of this country and not simply a privilege for the elite. Through collective action, economic justice and racial equality are both achievable.

Thank you for all the hard work you do, and the work we will do together to make Dr. King’s vision a reality.

Mary Kay Henry
President, SEIU

 

On the face of it, the Netherlands has a lot going for it. While it’s not particularly known for its spectacular natural scenery, it has a history of wealth, stability and well-reasoned politics. Well, recently anyway.

Despite this stable and reasoned background, the Dutch government is debating, today, whether to ban the wearing of the burka. Following closely on the footsteps of France (as they also did with the rejection of the EU constitution — ‘nuf said), legislators in the Netherlands are debating whether the burka can be allowed as an expression of religious freedom or be banned as a security threat and symbol of oppression of women and further (!) converting of Europe to Islam. Given the insecure economic times and perception among the majority populace that many of society’s problems are being caused by outsiders, guess which way they’ll go?

Enter Jitske Kramer and this reasoned and balanced look at the issues (cut/paste to your http://www.translate.google.com browser if you’re having trouble with the Dutch). A part of my comment:

“I see the burka-ban in the Netherlands along the same lines as the Sharia law ban in the State of Oklahoma in the US: a thinly veiled (pardon the pun) attempt to attack Islam by rabidly exaggerating a non-existent threat under the guise of ‘security’ or ‘cultural assimilation’.”

An outstanding article by a Twitter reference from a couple of months ago by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach: http://www.21stcenturycollaborative.com/2011/04/online-learning-is-so-last-year/

—————————————-

As the CEO of a professional development company whose mantra is “Professional Development for the 21st Century Educator” I find myself continually cognitively juggling what’s best for my clients, what’s best for their students, and what’s best for our contractors and staff in an effort to find some way of making it all align with what needs to change in education.

It’s evaluation time. We encourage our communities to be brutally honest when they evaluate us. And we listen. Where it makes sense we shift or innovate.  It requires us to continually reinvent ourselves, to stay on top of where research and practice meet and to balance the desire for easy and structured with messy and self-directed.

Deep Reflection and Keeping the Focus on Learning
Evaluation time means deep reflection time for me personally. Especially when evals call you by name — pointing to what is perceived to be character flaws. It takes a thick skin to see past all that and look deeper to what is really going on- to keep your focus on learning by continually growing as a leader, learning about how to learn and how to model being a transparent learner. I want, more than anything else, to leave a legacy in education. I want what I spend my time doing to add value to the profession and to support teachers in helping their students self actualize. I also want to be part of lighting a fire that results in a learning revolution. I want to be a capacity builder who gives freely and learns openly.

But I have to tell you- I am frustrated. Really frustrated.

For example, here is a  recent evaluation comment:

I’m not sure that this is a very valuable experience, and I doubt I’d ever recommend it. It seems as if it’s based upon things like online communities and collaboration, which may have been new and innovative a few years ago, but which are kind of old hat now.

Old Hat? Come on. Have we really hit the tipping point with online communities and collaboration– true collaboration? Is deep collaboration (moving past talk and cooperation to appreciative and collective action ) so prevalent among education that we can call it “old hat”? And let’s say for sake of argument that learning in online communities isn’t innovative anymore– so what? Is our role to only play in sandboxes that are innovative or new and novel? Shouldn’t we be trying to  understand what is happening in those spaces that were new only a few years ago, determining how to best use them to learn and help our students learn? Is there value in knowing how to start, lead, implement, empower, and use online communities for the type of collaboration that is going to provide significant shift? The kind where we all bring our best giftings to the table and use them together to create something new and powerful. Are online communities the focus or merely the venue through which we learn? I do not remember anyone saying classrooms are dated and they have been around for hundred of years.

Which begs to ask a different question– are people confusing talking to people online with deep, connected learning? Does being part of a social networking site or a NING community mean you are going deep- growing  in your ability to co-construct or deconstruct knowledge? Does it mean you are collaborating if you post, reply to a post, Tweet, or engage in a #edchat conversation? Are we moving toward an acceptance of superficiality as a replacement for deep learning? Has our multiple choice  culture trained our brains to believe that innovation is the holy grail?

Personal Learning Networks

It is becoming ever apparent to me that those of us who are online learning prefer networks. Networks like we have on Twitter or other electronic spaces where we can share short snips of conversations and where our ideas are met with like minded support and agreement. The advantages of networking are many. And do not get me wrong- I am a huge fan. I believe Personal Learning Networks are one of the three prongs necessary to be a do it yourself learner in today’s world. But for all the positive connections, laughter, links, and ideas that networks bring, they only are the tip of what is needed to produce lasting change. I do not have to commit to anything when I network. I can be witty or not and still be part of the “cool kids”. Networks are very “me” centered in that I choose my mentors, feeds, resources, learning objects and those with whom I will learn. I am in control. I can be very visible and yet still quite passive in my learning. I can talk and talk and talk and never have to walk or put action to my ideas. I even get my need for belonging met (Maslow) and self esteem. And sometimes I meet others and from there we create a community where we do act collectively. For me, that is the key. If all I do is network I do not shift or grow because I am missing the opportunity to go deep and actually learn by doing. It takes both: Networks and Community. Online, global communities of practice and f2f learning communities in my local context.

Imagine the deep learning that can be produced when we come together in learning communities and do some of the following (below). These are the kinds of things that our Powerful Learning Practice communities members who dig deep engage in through out the year. And the impact is strong– don’t believe me? Look at what they say.

Here are the kinds of things I believe need to be happening as learners come together in online communities of practice.

Action Research Groups: Active research done by communities of practice focused on improvement around a possibility or problem in a classroom, school, district, or province.

Book Study Groups: PLPeeps, often in cross cohort groups, come together to read and discuss a book collectively in an online space.

Case Study Method: Case studies emphasize detailed contextual analysis of specific situations and their relationships to current thinking and pedagogy. Writing, discussing and reflecting on the cases from 21st Century lens produces  collaborative reflection and improvement on practice.

Community of Practice (CoP): A CoP is group of professionals with shared interests and challenges who make a commitment to improve or get better at something over time by sharing ideas, finding solutions, and creating innovations. This requires new dispositions and values such as resisting the urge to quit prematurely.

Connected Coaching: individuals on teams are assigned a connected coach who  discusses and shares teaching practices as a means of promoting collegiality and support and to help educators think about how the new literacies inform current teaching practices.

Critical Friends Groups (CFG): A professional learning team consisting of approximately 5-10 educators who come together voluntarily face to face at least once a month. Members are committed to improving their practice through collaborative learning. Using a CF protocols they examine each other’s teaching or leadership activities and share both positives and areas that need improvement in respectful ways.

Curriculum Review or Mapping Groups: Teams meet on a regular basis to review what they are teaching, reflect together on impact of and assumptions that underlie the curriculum, make decisions collaboratively. They often do lesson plan studies together.

Instructional Rounds: A process through which educators develop a shared practice of observing each other and analyzing learning and teaching from a research perspective and share expertise. Included in this is typically a way to examine how students are working toward becoming connected learners.

Personal Learning Network (PLN): A carefully selected tribe of people or resources who guid learning, point to learning opportunities, give quick answers to questions, and share knowledge and experience.

Professional Learning Communities (PLC): Face to face collections of educators who continuously seek and share learning and then act on what they learn. If done right they are teacher driven and use a distributive leadership model. Individuals take what they learn in their PLN, and CoPs back to the PLC and contextualize the information toward helping students in the school or district achieve.

Scale: Scaling up is a process of transitioning an idea or project from pilot implementation to full implementation in the following stages:

  • Depth – developing innovations that produce deep, transformative, and consequential changes in instructional practice;
  • Sustainability – maintaining durable changes in practice over substantial periods of time through robust designs;
  • Spread – widespread adoption that retains effectiveness while reducing the resources and expertise burden;
  • Shift – the innovations need to be “owned” by the users who then begin to view themselves as co-designers and co-evaluators; and
  • Evolution – the feedback loops from users to designers that allow all to adapt and rethink the model.

Self-Directed Learning: Making decisions about how to advance one’s own practice including reading books, visiting colleagues in their classrooms, transparently sharing through blogs and in online communities, attending webinars, going to a conference, networking, and collectively doing action research.

Old hat — I think not.
I simply do not think most schools are doing these things in online communities with people they have never met but have made a deep commitment to in terms of growing together and developing a collective efficacy from a none of us is as good or smart as all of us mentality. There is nothing, at least from the way I see it, old hat about learning in such deep and powerful ways collectively.

Please Reply… Tell me if I am crazy.
I would be very interested in what you think. Am I missing it? Am I on this island all by myself and everyone else has moved on? Are you regularly involved in the types of learning experiences I described above as connected learners?

Photo credits:
http://www.articulate.com/rapid-elearning/heres-where-the-e-learning-community-provides-practical-value/
http://blog.misterhamada.com/category/k12-learning-2-0/

I got an email from my daughter Mary today. She is 25 and lives in Riverside, California.

Hey Dad! I was watching a rerun of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (which I see as the late night show for tech-savvy youngsters, compared to Jay Leno or David Letterman.) and thought of you! You were (/are) the only one excited (and recognized) the new scan [QR-code – see the left column of this blog]. This particular episode had Steven Colbert and a crazy dance and song in it. One random guy in the dance scene was holding a cardboard sign with a scan! I paused the episode, scanned the code and got this website: http://www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com/blogs/2011/04/fallon-colbert-project-bonus-video-thank-you/ It’s way cool seeing where technology is taking us! Moving forward every day! [See the episode here: Late Night with Jimmy Fallon – Stephen Colbert Sings ‘Friday’ with The Roots (4/1/11) – Video – NBC.com]

It’s wonderful Mary associates me with the “tech-savvy” culture. She could have just called me a “nerd”!!

A wonderful response to Nicholas Kristol’s op-ed piece in the NY Times:

I am a frequent international traveler.

I take a taxi to JFK on pot-holed roads, arrive at dirty airports, and land in clean European airports. Then I take their clean and convenient trains to their city centers. Then I fly back to the pot-holed highways to New York City, and admire the glittery glass enclosed and marble tiled buildings belonging to private corporations.

This is what is fundamentally different between us and Europe. We admire our ability to amass wealth at the expense of public services, and they provide services to the public at the expense of their (fewer) citizens to amass wealth.

Greater good for the greater number of people is the European motto. Greater good for the fewer at the expense of greater number of people is ours.

I am glad that our president is taking this discussion nationally.

During De Baak’s “Who Are We: Reflections on Dutch Leadership and Society,” we reflected on what leadership in the Netherlands was and what, if possible, other cultures could learn from the Dutch.

On 15 March I attended a MoveOn rally in Riverside, California (US) to express solidarity for the public service workers unions in Wisconsin who were being stripped of their collective bargaining rights. Again I stressed the benefits of working together, espousing the “Dutch model” as an ideal way to achieve sustainable solutions.

You can find my contribution at 04:35 🙂

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