Lean Forward and Strap In

The next few months will see some of the biggest changes in staff and people development for the last 20 years.
A combination of global fiscal tightening and a series of scandals in which unqualified “trainertainers” were hired – at great cost – in preference to real trainers at various conferences and meetings have changed the landscape for senior managers in government and industry. After a temporary chilling effect and a recalibration of assumptions and standards, people development is set to re-emerge in a new and reinvented form, like the phoenix of legend.
Underlying the fiscal pressures and the scandals is a bigger picture. The two toughest problems in people development globally are overwhelm and measurement. There’s a baffling range of choice assailing the senior manager – all shrilly promoted by special interests – and almost no way of measuring the results. In an environment where every option seems different only in trivial and selffocused ways, and where the argument for any option is based on guesswork and assertion, it’s no surprise that training is often treated with the same respect as snake oil sales. People development is using 60-year-old models, even when it’s packaged as something new, and the industry as a whole is in the same place medicine was about 200 years ago, before reliable science and good diagnostics.
The new people development which emerges after all this change will be based more on science, on provable productivity outcomes and on practical benefit than on arguments over political or academic correctness, focus on inputs, and good old-fashioned crony relationships and snake-oil salesmanship.
Our own team is doing everything we can to bring in a new level of rigor. In July we’ll announce a new model for team dynamics at a major conference (see News Room), based on joint research we’ve done on the working brain with UCLA. The new model will replace ideas that date back to the late sixties. As well, we’ve always measured practical productivity outcomes with our Team Dashboard™ instrument, and that’s something clients now demand on every engagement. And finally, we’ll resist the urge to fall back on the hand-waving, jargon-laced, look-at-me arguments of yesteryear; what matters instead is good science, a very practical focus on workplace results above all else, and a matching focus on YOU – where our attention should be.
Get ready for a summer of change!

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