Archive for October, 2013

VUCA, and People

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Wouldn’t ya know?

Not one week after sending out my most recent issue of BRAINSNACKS, my smart-n-informative enewsletter, on the topic of VUCA I received an email about…VUCA.

It was a promo for a new blog post, How the Talent Management Function Can Thrive In a VUCA World, by HR thought leader Dr. John Sullivan. Recommended reading. As he defines it:

“As a leader in talent management, you have undoubtedly already noticed over the last decade that there has been continuous volatility and change in the business, political, social, technological, and even the physical environment. Well, this world of turmoil actually has a name, which is VUCA—an acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity.  This turbulent environment was first identified and used by the U.S. military but it is now also becoming a standard business term that cannot be ignored.”

Yep. He said a lot of interesting stuff about VUCA but you should read that yourself.

Turns out, it was the first of two blog posts from DDI (Development Dimensions International), a global talent management consulting company. The second, [Benchmark Yourself] Is Your Talent Strategy Built for a VUCA World?, by Justin Yopp, promotes their “agile talent management” benchmarking tool.

In addition to being a clever way to capture your email (don’t know how they got mine), the benchmarking survey asks good questions, such as:

We build multi-level, agile competency models informed by business challenges to support our talent strategy.

We recognize talent strategy and systems may become obsolete, so we review them at regular intervals based on dynamics of external environment.

The choice of responses:

  • We’re doing it
  • We’re working on it
  • We should think about this

Seems like a pretty good list of things to, at a minimum, be thinking about.

Be Agile. A lot.

More and more folks seem to say that the opposite of VUCA is agility. While that makes sense, it also makes me wonder:

How much faster can we all go?




What She Said (About Winning)

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

And she should know.

Jacqueline Burandt, senior director of the Center for Learning Excellence at University Health System, a nationally recognized academic medical center in San Antonio, Texas, knows a thing or two about winning awards.

She has led her team to win multiple prestigious learning awards over the years, including the Chief Learning Officer magazine LearningElite Award, Training magazine Top 125 Award and the American Society for Training and Development’s ASTD BEST Award.

I recently saw Jacque give an outstanding session at the ASTD Learn from the BEST event in Washington DC during which she emphasized the importance of winning awards. Afterward, an attendee asked her why. If only I’d whipped out my iPhone then and there to capture her response on video!

But because Jacque is kind and generous, she sent her thoughts over to me, and here they are (thank you!).

In her own words.

I am often asked why I take the time and effort to submit award applications. Is it really worth the effort?

There is no doubt that writing award applications is a large investment of time and labor.  Although as with most investments, there can be a really big, long term pay off. The reason I choose to invest in submitting award applications is that I have repeatedly seen the value to my organization and to my department.

Here are a few of the benefits:

  1.  TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness) for our brand.  When you think of a top health care organization or learning department, you’re more likely to think of us.
  2. Recruitment of staff for our organization. An award-winning learning organization is seen as a crucial part of any benefits package in attracting new staff in the highly competitive workplace market.
  3. Recruitment of learning professionals.  Every time we interview new candidates to our department, they mention having been to our website and having been impressed with the many prestigious awards we have won.
  4. Retention of staff. (See #2  and # 3 above.)
  5. Differentiation.  Winning awards causes us to stand out from other organizations.
  6. Staff morale builder.  Staff are proud to announce their employment at an organization that wins awards.
  7. Benchmarking.  As an award-winning learning organization, we are frequently contacted by other organizations and are able to share our successes and network.
  8. Free publicity. Most award applications have minimal application fees.  The resulting free press in trade publications, local and national news stories, etc. is truly invaluable.
  9. Respect in the C-Suite.  Executives love to see their organization recognized.
  10. Awareness of areas to improve. In receiving feedback on the applications, we learn where we can do better.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.


Don’t Be a Sissy…phus

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

What makes us feel good about our work? 

It’s a great question.


And it’s posed by none other than behavioral economist Dan Ariely in a TED Talk I came across recently.

I found it absolutely fascinating, as I generally do with Ariely (you’ve got to admire a guy who appears regularly both on NPR and in the Wall Street Journal).

Turns out, Sisyphus really did get a bum deal.

Here’s the description of Ariely’s talk on

What motivates us to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn’t just money. But it’s not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose.

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work. 

If you’re wanting to better understand what makes you–and/or the people who work for (or with) you–feel enthusiastic about work, take 20 minutes and watch.


Learning Program and Team Awards 2009-2014


ASTD Excellence in Practice

Technical Training Award
Training Management Citation (for new programs)
Learning Technology Citation
Workplace Learning & Collaboration–Leadership Development (x2) Award, Citation
Workplace Learning & Collaboration–Onboarding Citation
Sales Enablement Citation

Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning

Best Custom Content Gold
Best in Learning Strategy and Governance Gold
Best Leadership Development Program Gold
Best Innovation in Learning Technology Silver
Best Leadership Sales Training Silver
Best Integration of Learning and Talent Management Bronze
Best Use of Games for Learning Bronze

Brandon Hall Technology Excellence

Best Advance in Social Learning Technology Gold

CLO Magazine Learning in Practice

Technology Innovation Gold, Division 1
Innovation Gold, Division 1
Business Impact Gold, Division 2
Business Impact Bronze, Division 2


Learning Organization Ranking Awards


American Society for Training & Development

ASTD BEST #1 (up from #32 in one year)
#2 (up from #37 in two years)

ELearning! Media Group

Learning! 100 #1 (first year on list)

Chief Learning Officer Magazine

LearningElite #1, #4

Training Magazine

 Training Top 125 #1, #2 (up from #41 in one year)