What’s Missing from ATD ICE?

Searching (Blank Face)

ATD’s annual international conference and expo began yesterday, and I have a feeling it’s missing something (and I’m not necessarily talking about me… although really, what good is a conference without me?).

I’ve been to several ATD conferences and a SHRM Talent Development conference over the past few years and they all seem to be missing something.

The crowds I’ve encountered at the ATD conferences have primarily included instructional designers, training program managers, classroom instructors and some independent consultants. The SHRM conference was primarily HR professionals – business partners, generalists, department heads and consultants.

I imagine it’s similar at major conferences for professionals in coaching or organizational development. On the one hand, it’s to be expected. These conferences, after all, are for specialized segments of the greater human performance field. On the other hand, none of these initiatives can be successful if professionals from across the human performance spectrum don’t have opportunities to cross-pollinate.

Recently, as I got involved in my local ATD chapter, I was given an opportunity to work on an annual program called the Allied Professionals Event, which will take place on June 9th in Seattle. I’m looking forward to it because it is the one night of the year when people from across these specialized areas – learning & development, human resources, coaching and organizational development – can all come together, spend some time networking and discussing what’s on their minds, and then listen to some of the region’s rock star executives in both HR and business operations speak to the impact of human performance initiatives on the people within their organizations.

If you’re in the Seattle area, I’d like to invite you to attend (here is the registration information) and I’d love to hear what you’re working on. If you’re someplace else in this world, I’d love to hear from you – have you found similar opportunities to engage with your counterparts from other areas of the human performance spectrum?

While I know large national conferences are organized for specialized groups that make up their membership, are they completely serving their members’ best interests with such a narrow focus across all conference programming?

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear it in the Comment section.

Know someone who might be interested in this type of initiative, please pass this along!

“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.

Sugar? Spice? Everything Nice? What Are The 5 Most Fundamental Ingredients For An Effective Trainer?

This week, I’ve been in India working with a training colleague in preparation to roll out a new curriculum.  This colleague is a novice trainer and her supervisor doesn’t have any training background.  But the quality and effectiveness of the work of this colleague will have significant impact on the work of our entire global mission, and therefore it’s vital that she blossoms into a high quality training professional.

In order to focus our efforts to develop this colleague professionally, I developed a competency rubric by which we can rate her current level of training proficiency, create a development plan with several specific goals based on her needs, then work toward those goals.

To create this rubric, I wanted to capture the essence of what I feel are the top five most basic, fundamental, foundational competencies for anyone who trains.  The five competencies I included in this rubric (which can be downloaded by clicking here) are:

  1. Presentation Skills
  2. Creativity
  3. Body Language
  4. Adult Learning Principles
  5. Subject Matter Expertise (if you download the rubric, you’ll see that this section is customized to the specific industry I’m working in – eye banking)

Getting Started

This is not a scientifically-developed list.  It’s not intended to be.  There are a lot of factors that will impact any facilitator’s ability to be effective (experience level, trainees’ supervisor support, policies/procedures in place that allow trainees to implement new skills and abilities when they return to their jobs after training, etc.).  This list of factors can indeed be overwhelming, especially for someone new to the learning and development profession. 

This list is simply intended to get a novice trainer focused on some of the key elements within their circle of influence (to borrow a term from Stephen Covey).  It is a tool to establish a baseline of current skills, abilities, knowledge and behaviors.  It is a tool I plan to use to identify performance gaps and establish specific goals.

What Do You Think?

If you find this rubric to be helpful in assessing your own current set of training skills and abilities, please use it… and then tell me how it works for you.  If you feel there are more important, more basic, more foundational skills that trainers (especially novice trainers) should be focused on, I invite you to share those ideas in the comments section below.