“I get by with a little help from my friends.”
- Lennon & McCartney
There’s a lot about training that can be debated, even elements as fundamental as how, when, where and why training should be delivered. In fact, there are few things that can be seen as universally accepted about training.
But here’s one of those things: Training is a collaborative process that involves at least two professionals working together. A teacher without students is a voice in the wilderness, and a student without resources is just taking a walk.
That understanding of – and even appreciation of – training is at the heart of TrainingIndustry.com’s annual Partnering for Performance Conference. The yearly event wrapped just last week, after bringing together more than 100 learning leaders, training suppliers and expert authors, speakers and professionals. The end result was a successful conference with an open and frank sharing of resources, ideas and business cards.
But most of all, I remember Elmo. Yeah, that Elmo … the “Sesame Street” creature.
Wondering what that means? Well it’s so awesome I’m going to make you wait to the very end of this blog to learn more.
First, let me share some other nuggets of excellence from the event:
- It starts, as it usually does, with the opening keynote speaker, in this case retired U.S. Army General Rick Lynch, who quite possibly redefined the perception of a military leader with his low-key humor, general openness and amazing availability. In addition to leading the event kick-off, he returned to the conference a second day to continue conversations with attendees. A true officer and a gentleman, Rick’s message was inspirational and certainly set a tone for the conference.
- Next up on the agenda was the main-day keynoter, industry analyst and “creative abrasionist” Lance Dublin. Lance reviewed the state of training technology as he provided insight and suggestions on “enabling, enhancing and extending learning.” Perhaps most memorable from Lance’s presentation was his section on information access highlighted by calling Google’s search engine, “the little white box of hope.” We enter information, in other words, and hope for results.
- Breakout sessions, as usual, included a wide range of valuable resources and access, with presenters including learning leaders from companies like The Hartford, Yammer, WestJet, Boeing, Microsoft, Xerox and the American Cancer Society. Their topics were equally diverse, addressing learning measurement, design, content, social media, business acumen, talent development, engagement and operations. Oh, and using NASA as an example, we also heard an engaging tale of how training contributes to safety and survival in some high-consequence environments … a nice little reminder that there’s a lot more at stake with training than ROI.
- While it’s hard to break out any of the breakout sessions above the others, kudos definitely go to Misha McPherson, a learning leader with Yammer, who led a session on “the pleasures and pitfalls of building your training using social media.” It doesn’t require binoculars to see where this industry is heading, and social media sites like Yammer are certainly opening all kinds of new doors for workforce development. But no need for competition here … even if they weren’t in the room, the conference certainly hosted the spirits of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn throughout.
- A panel discussion at the event turned the tables a bit on the discussion, and approached the concept of great collaboration by looking at some instances of poor partner management. Panelists from Xerox, Hewlett Packard, Pearson and Smith & Nephew all joined forces on the stage to share some hard-learned lessons and best practices, touching on topics like partner management, vendor agreements, codes of conduct, effective collaboration and individual performance. Smart organizations, it turns out, track everything.
So that brings us back to giggly little Elmo, the biggest Muppet star to emerge since Miss Piggy. By now, you have to wonder what role Elmo played.
Simply this: He was the real star of the segment delivered by Boeing and Vangent, focusing on collaborative approaches on how to deliver rapid instructional design. Collaboration, as we all know, frequently starts with a meeting. And thus an irony is born.
Meetings, I’m sure you’ll agree, can often be more time-consuming than productive. When collaborating on ideas and so forth, it’s also quite easy for tangents to appear and for wild geese to get chased. Now put yourself in Boeing’s shoes … you’re orchestrating a two-day session designed to uncover creative approaches and establish common visions. How do you keep the conversation on track?
Elmo it, that’s how. Boeing brings out a little Elmo doll when it’s time to close off a conversation … in this case, Elmo is an acronym for “Enough, Let’s Move On.”
Brilliant! If attendees remember nothing else from this event (and of course they will), they’ll remember this.
That’s a quick look at the conference … next year I hope you’re able to join us. Mark your calendars now for April 30-May 2, 2013.