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Questions I’m no longer answering

November 16, 2010

This month’s big question is “What Questions are you no longer asking…”

I can in no way compare to George Siemen’s original post, which I thought was just brilliant, so I’ll flip it around a bit. As a consultant, here’s some that I’m no longer answering.  OK, truth be told, I’m not that cocky, it’s more like questions I wish people were no longer asking me:

Do you sell leadership development courses?  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “we have identified that leadership development for a next generation of leaders is our top priority”.  What I’d like to answer: I think most canned courses are a waste of money and don’t sell courses.  Also, I’m not convinced that there is any more of a leadership crisis today that requires a huge investment.  I think that vendors of these courses are marketing them so you think that is the case.  And, an assessment that a vendor provides to see if your organization needs this training will ALWAYS result in you needing the training.  I’d have to say I agree with Donald Clark on the notion that leadership development is a crock.

Can we just convert our classroom courses into a self-paced online course? What I’d like to answer: well of course you can.  But, it’ll probably be awful.  Would YOU take the training?  Willingly?  I’ll help you repurpose the content, but in a way that suits an online environment.  This might include cutting a significant amount of stuff that is superfluous, and changing it up, just like Dick suggests

Can you make us a refresher course?  Our employees need more training.  Oh, really?  I bet they don’t.  I’ll bet that if their manager sat down when them and laid out clear expectations and then provided feedback to let them know if they were or weren’t doing it right, the problem would go away.  Many years ago I read “Why employees don’t do what they are supposed to do” by Ferdinand F. Fournies.  He lists 16 reasons why they aren’t.  As an HPT enthusiast, I also know that environmental factors cause most of the performance problems, and always start with setting expectations. And not listing the learning objectives at the beginning of the course.  One of those rules of thumb that I just don’t subscribe to.  Call me a maverick.

We need someone to do some best practices research for us, so that we can be sure our organization is offering competitive training to our employees.  What I want to answer: “best practices are such a waste of energy, save your money for something that will actually make a difference in your organization.  Who cares what other people are doing?  Just do your own thing, don’t play keep up with the joneses.”   If you are going to follow, then at least make sure that you are being smart about it.

Questions I wish they were asking:

We think there is something we could do with our leadership training.  Would you work with us to figure out what the performance gap is and design a fresh solution to address that gap?  We’re thinking about a simulation. (wouldn’t that be fun!)

We’re ready to embrace user-generated content as part of our learning architecture.  Wanna help us with that? (I’m sure I’ll have to wait a decade for this one)

Let’s meet online, skype or ?  What’s your Twitter handle?  I’d like to follow you. (I’d love it if people were a little more adventurous)

If we just give you a bunch of money, will you figure out what we should do and do it?  OK, that one is pure fantasy, but it would be great!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Karin permalink
    November 17, 2010 8:43 am

    This is great Holly, kind of reminds me of our conversation that included HR and also Change Management. I have read a lot of ‘stuff’ from OD practitioners lately that make me wonder if I live on the same planet.

    Perhaps you just inspired me to write my next blog posting, the one about hype that has been swirling through my thoughts this year.

    Thanks for saying it out loud.

    • hollymacdonald permalink*
      November 17, 2010 9:20 am

      Glad to be your inspiration, Karin! I’m sure there’s plenty of people that won’t agree with me, but that’s never stopped me from stating my opinion before.

      I’d like to think my intentions are honourable, like this post:


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