5 Key Elements to Effective Meeting Design

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This past weekend I had an opportunity to facilitate an executive leadership retreat with an organization’s senior staff and Board members. As I reflect on that experience, I really don’t think the meeting could have gone better. We accomplished all of our objectives. We stayed on time. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive. And there are concrete, actionable items that came out of the meeting that will impact the organization for the next five years.

Over the past several years, I’ve also facilitated strategic planning sessions and other meetings of senior staff that haven’t gone so well. Meetings have ended with a vague set of next steps. Participants have shared they felt lost at times during meetings.

As I contrasted these various experiences in my mind, I began to come up with a list of key ingredients for such facilitated meetings to be successful. Continue reading

Using Podcasts to Improve Your Skills Anywhere You Go

Listening to a podcast

A few weeks ago, Kristen Anthony interviewed me for her new podcast series titled Dear Instructional Designer. After what may have taken her weeks to edit out all of my “Uhs” and “Uhms” and nonsensical comments, our conversation debuted today on her site.

If you have 10-15 minutes, I encourage you to check out her podcast series. Her “Launch Week” was focused on content for job seeking instructional designers, specifically how to get started in putting together a portfolio of work. The truth is that portfolio development can also be used by training departments Continue reading

What too many training professionals have in common with North Carolina legislators

The so-called North Carolina bathroom bill has been all over the news since it was passed back in March. Issues involving transgender people can quickly drive high emotions on both sides of the debate, but for the sake of a learning moment, let’s put feelings and politics aside for a moment. Here is how Wikipedia has recorded the history of this piece of legislation:

  • On March 23, 2016, the North Carolina House of Representatives held a special session and passed “House Bill 2” (the bill states that in government buildings people must use restrooms according to the gender on their birth certificate)
  • About 3 hours later the North Carolina Senate also passed the bill
  • That evening it was signed by the governor

Emotions were running high. Immense resources were mobilized. An emergency session was called. And a bill was passed with supernatural speed.

Yet, there’s no data to support the idea that this was an emergency or that it was a solution that solved any real problems.

A proposed solution, with no supporting data, seeking to solve a problem that doesn’t seem to exist.

The preceding sentence can also be used to describe too many corporate learning and development initiatives. Continue reading

Post-training evaluation data is nice… but what should we do with it?

A while back I wrote about 8 transferable lessons from my Fitbit that I’ve applied to my L&D practice. As part of that post, I complained that the Fitbit sometimes gave me data, but I couldn’t do anything with it. Specifically, I was talking about my sleep pattern.

A typical night could look like this:

Fitbit - Sleepless

FORTY ONE TIMES RESTLESS! That’s a lot of restlessness. It’s not good. But what am I supposed to do about it? It reminded me of my post-training evaluation scores.

Sometimes learners would give my sessions an average of 4.2. And sometimes those same learners would give a colleague’s presentation an average of 4.1 or 4.3 (even though I knew in my heart of hearts that my presentation was more engaging!!). But what could I do with these post-training evaluation scores? I’ll come back to this point in a minute.

As for my restlessness, my wife suggested something and suddenly my Fitbit sleep tracker looked a lot different. Continue reading

The best question I’ve found to open a training session or strategic planning workshop

Jeopardy Clue - 1

About a year ago, I was preparing a workshop when my co-facilitator suggested that we add a question into the opening icebreaker activity.

The question seemed a little too touchy-feely for me, but he was persistent, so we left the question in. I wasn’t expecting very high quality responses, and I was surprised when people actually gave sincere answers to the question.

It worked so well that I have since incorporated it into the opening of many of my training sessions and strategic planning workshops.

The question is: Continue reading

Not everyone sees things our way (no matter how right our way obviously is)

On September 11, 2001, I was living in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. That afternoon, when I finally grew sick of watching planes crash into the twin towers, over and over and over again on the news, I wasn’t quite sure what to do next. I decided to lace up my sneakers and walk down the street to play basketball.

I was in Washington, DC earlier this week and I pulled my car over when I passed that basketball court to take a picture. The memories of that day came flooding back.

Girard Street Court

For perhaps the only moment in my adult life, it seemed that everyone in the country was on the same page. Members of Congress joined together, regardless of party, to sing “God Bless America”. President George W. Bush’s favorability rating would reach 87% of all Americans (regardless of party).

Then something odd happened that afternoon (as if the day wasn’t odd enough already). I walked past a man walking down the street, proclaiming in celebration, how Uncle Sam had just gotten his butt kicked.  Continue reading