Learning and Development Lessons from Brazil’s World Cup Team

The World Cup is upon us. In Brazil, a country that’s won the tournament more than anyone else (5 times), there’s a debate on whether they should continue playing “beautiful” soccer, or if they should be playing more to win. I wonder if we should be having the same debate in the learning and development field.

Soccer Ball

In the learning and development space, “beautiful” is the equivalent of engaging, fun, entertaining, sound lesson plan design. “Winning” could be synonymous with behavior change.

There are a lot of courses and conferences and books devoted to effective training design and engaging presentation styles and gamification of elearning. ASTD (ATD) specializes in these types of events and publications. I’ve read a number of books and attended several of their conferences. I even presented at an ASTD conference. Yet, I wonder how much behavior change comes from all of this.

In 2010, McKinsey published an article stating that $100 billion was spent annually on learning initiatives yet only one quarter of those initiatives yielded any type of measurably improved business performance.

I wonder if L&D professionals should continue to look to organizations like ASTD. When I read CLO’s recent listing of 2014 LearningElite organizations, I began to wonder if we should be looking more toward organizations that don’t necessarily talk about talent development and improved business results, but rather produce such results year after year. While I know many L&D-focused organizations are on the small side and ASTD’s BEST and CLO’s LearningElite seem biased toward larger organizations, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a single organization devoted exclusively to L&D on one of these lists.

Just as this ESPN article points out that there are some in Brazil who don’t feel that the “beautiful game/playing to win” is an either/or argument, perhaps it’s not an either/or argument in the L&D space either. Or is it?

On which side do you fall in this argument? Let’s hear it in the comment section below.

And of course: Go Yanks, beat the Black Stars!

“ATD” is a pretty lame acronym: 20 alternatives that could have been considered

Last week, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) made a big announcement. It was changing its name. To ATD.

In world where we’re drowning in an alphabet soup of acronyms, ATD certainly doesn’t stand out. I spent some time thinking about how lame ATD is as an acronym. But simply sitting in my own little corner of the world, pondering the lameness of a new acronym doesn’t do anyone any good.

In fact, sitting here thinking about a lame acronym is, well, pretty lame of me. It reminds me of this classic movie clip from the movie Roxanne:

So, I’m going to channel Steve Martin and come up with 20 somethings better.

  1. For the lazy: Society for the Improvement of Talent (SIT)
  2. For the kinesthetic learners: Society for Talent and New skill Development (STAND)
  3. For those who think we should have simply embraced the old, unfortunate acronym: Your Employee Performance and Improvement Helpline And Value and Engagement Networked Society for Training and Development (YEP-I-HAVE-AN-STD)
  4. For the hardcore, no-pain-no-gain set: People Achievement and Improvement Network (PAIN)
  5. For the true believers in what we do: Institute for Making People Really Outstanding in their Vocations and Extracurriculars (IMPROVE)
  6. For the edgy: Association for Workplace Systems and Human Improvement and Transformation (AW-SHIT)
  7. For the instructional designers: Association for Disruptive Development In Employees (ADDIE)
  8. For the instructional designers who reject ADDIE: Society for Achievement and Mega-learning (SAM)
  9. For those who believe what we do is pure magic: Talent And Development Association (TA-DA!)
  10. For those who just want to chill: Society for People Achievement (SPA)
  11. For those who chew tobacco: Society for Professional Improvement and Talen (SPIT)
  12. For the cool crowd: Society for Knowledge, Instruction, Learning, Leadership and Zippiness (SKILLZ)
  13. For anyone like me: Association Where Everyone Stands Out More Everyday (AWESOME)
  14. For those who want to optimize their search engine results: Performance Optimization Resource Network (PORN)
  15. For those who like gyros: Performance Improvement and Training Association (PITA)
  16. For Bridgette Jones: Membership of Responsible Development And Resource Community Yammerers (MR DARCY)
  17. For the braggarts: Distinguished Association for Members New, Intermediate and Mature in Growing Opportunities for Optimizing Development (DAMN-I’M-GOOD)
  18. For Empire Strikes Back Fans: Association for Talent And Training (AT-AT)
  19. For those who want an asterisk next to their name in the record books: Performance Enhancing Development Society (PEDs)
  20. For the humanitarians: People for the Ethical Treatment of our Audience (PETA)

My point being that in a world in which talent and performance development requires innovation and creativity, and in which the name and identity of an organization goes a long way in defining its culture and values, ATD seems to have missed the mark.

Your turn: if the ASTD re-naming rights were in your hands, what’s the best acronym you could have come up with? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

Where does adult learning end and training snobbery begin?

A few weeks ago, I posted the following question on the ASTD LinkedIn Group discussion board: Is “fun” the same thing as “engaging” when it comes to training design?

I was surprised to see more than 60 responses to the discussion prompt. Here are a few of the most interesting responses on either side of this question:

  • “I think ‘fun’ is a very personal term – what is fun for some can be embarrassing or demeaning for others. Writing content that will be fun for everyone must be a tough job – if every training designer could do it, they’d surely earn more in the entertainment industry? However I think you can design training that is engaging (and may be fun for some people).”
  • “What a great conversation. I agree content and delivery can be very engaging without ‘fun’ elements per se. More often than not, constraints on context, content, and delivery methods mean it’s not possible nor practical to incorporate ‘such fun’ content . . . entertainment, games, play, jokes, cartoons, etc.”

And then there were some responses that made me start to wonder: where do adult learning principles and sound instructional design end, and when do we in the learning and development field simply turn into training snobs?

  • “FUN IS CONCERNED WITH LEISURE ACTIVITIES  WHILE ENGAGING IS TO GET INVOLVED OR OCCUPIED FOR AN OBJECTIVE!”

The absolutist nature of some of these concepts, while perhaps interesting to debate in theory, don’t seem to win us many friends in the real world. Subject matter experts and other professionals who are responsible for presenting will often need our help in putting together a presentation that will hold the interest of their audience and can lead to change.

Will taking an absolutist stance over the definition of a word while disregarding the spirit in which the word is spoken win over the hearts and minds of an SME who just wants to present something that people pay attention to?

So I ask the learning and development community: where should we stand our ground when it comes to effective adult learning and sound instructional design principles? And where do we cross the line and simply become training snobs?

I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments section below.

Click here if you’d like to see the entire LinkedIn-based discussion.

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