Monday, December 10, 2012

HR Provider of the year - lessons learnt!

What a marvellous way to end the MCI year!  We were named as AHRI HR provider of the year in the inaugural year of this award.  The Judges appreciated our level of customisation and the standard of our customer service.

Oh boy...did we learn a few lessons along the way!

LESSON 1.       Never be afraid to punch above your weight!   

We walked in to the awards evening at Darling Harbour with 600 other people representing the top brands in Australia including Microsoft, Deloitte, the Australian Navy, the Department of Immigration, IAG and more...  We thought that there was no way that our small business could compete in the A League and so we decided to just have a good evening.  
When we saw that we were positioned at the back of the room, in the corner, near the exit, I was even more convinced that we had no chance.

Well, when they announced the MCI name, I was in shock.  No acceptance speech prepared.  Falling over high heeled shoes and struggling to get to the podium, desperately trying to think of what to say...  
I blew a great marketing moment because I simply did not have the belief in what we do and just how valued this work is in Australia for the business community.

LESSON 2.       Appreciate your clients!   

What I would have liked to have said in my acceptance speech is aimed at our  marvellous clients Toll, Peoplebank and Royal Wolf and the many, many others where there are HR teams who have not forgotten what the H in HR stands for.  They are passionate about what they do and continue to innovate for the benefit of their organisations.

LESSON 3.       Give in order to receive!  

So many congratulations came flowing in from many quarters.  Clients who have partnered with us over the years were so happy for us and mentioned that we deserved the award because of how generous we are with sharing our knowledge.  We regularly hold client events and we do indeed share information, learnings and insights with the community – and we will continue to do so.  
We see ourselves as an integral part of the learning and development fraternity and we are determined to ensure that high standards and new methodologies are known widely.   Our attendance at international conferences benefits our clients and the wider HR group as well.

LESSON 4.       When you are hot, you are not!  

We have to keep moving onwards and upwards and we cannot rest on our laurels.  We pledge to continue to find better, more effective ways of learning so that participants learn in the best way possible.  We are determined to remember our slogan - Because a Mind is a Powerful Thing to Use

Monday, November 26, 2012

Using Case studies in vocational training

Why leave the superb methodology of case study teaching to academic institutions - universities and business schools?  RTO's and other vocational providers are set to benefit from the growing worldwide trend towards using this engaging process for excellence in learning and development delivery.
I have just attended the brilliant program from ecch delivered by expert professor, Martin Kupp and I see huge potential for using the case study method in training programs at Certificate and Diploma levels.
The right topic for the case study engages all participants from the word go and they start to see the similarities and differences between their own situation and what is described in the case study.
Trainers and facilitators are always challenged by the amount of information we channel - how much is really maintained and retained?
The case study method ensures that people own their learning experience. It is an incredible way of ensuring participant-centered learning.
The method provides participants with skills such as:
  • Critical analysis - they need to think through arguments and arrive at their own conclusions.  Participants experience theoretical frameworks in a real context that is not hypothetical.  They can explore, debate, discuss and review and most importantly recall the key messages.
  • Application of concepts - they have to relate the concepts to the real world and to their own organisation 
  • Problem solving skills - they work through challenges and decide on options for going in different directions.  There is a genuine sense that everyone can contribute to the discussion and the learnings from others in the room are often greater than what they would gain from a facilitator
  • Decision making and evaluation skills - they think on their own and in teams about choices for the best possible option
  • The ability to articulate your argument - the skill to think on your feet and to influence and convince others is critical for leadership
  • The ability to think more broadly than their current industry and to extrapolate these learnings in to their own context. As participants make these connections, they begin to think beyond the linear analysis and transfer these learning to their own challenges
 And now watch this space for on-line and virtual learning via the case study method!  MCI is going to be experimenting in this space and we welcome all contributions and advice.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Moments in training that make my heart sing!

This amazing email from a participant on the MCI Frontline Management program arrived in our inbox addressed to our head of learning and development, George:

"So this morning I put my watch on the opposite wrist....and couldn't bear it so put it back!  But I then drove a different way for the childcare/school/work trip, so does that count?" 

The topic of the training program was around change and the group was challenged to determine small ways in which they could build resilience to change so that when major changes occur there is less anxiety and more flexibility.  
This email from one of the participants highlights just how these ideas were taken on board and put in to action + followed up + followed through!
WOW - what would be possible if there were always shifts in thinking as a result of a training program!

Here are some tips to ensure that there are indeed more and more of those small and cumulative shifts that finally create major waves of change:

1. Encourage individuals to verbalise their commitments at the end of the session.  It is great to write them down and even more effective to say them out loud.  Research shows that we are more likely to keep to our word when it is verbalised particularly in front of our colleagues.

2. Ensure that the key messages are relevant to the participants.  By the end of the session, they need to know how the changes expected relate to them and how the tools and techniques provided can be implemented in their real working environment.  If they don't see that connection, they are not going to be passionate enough about the changes in skills and behaviours to in fact use them.

3. Participants need to recall the key points after the session has ended.  How many times do we forget what we learnt by the next morning? It is up to trainers to use every trick in the book to ensure that they remember what needs to be remembered:
  • Use repetition - say it in many ways over and over again...Use all the communication media available and keep it visual
  • Break training down in to small chunks so that the recency and primacy factors kick in - we tend to remember the first and the last thing we hear and therefore we need many 'first' and 'last' things said as the day is broken down in to smaller bite size pieces
  • Ensure that participants take their own notes - you have a far greater chance of remembering what you write down in your own words.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Building Business Value through next generation technology!

What a pleasure to listen to Pip Marlow, MD of Microsoft and Tim Reed, CEO of MYOB - both incredibly forward thinking and innovators in their field.

Here are some of their key points with some interesting messages and ideas for all of us!


We need to explore the constraints that we have about our work environment. Pen and paper have been replaced by mouse and keyboard.  The new generation coming in to the workplace will expect computers and technology to be more like us.
As business we need to leave Australia a better place than we found it.

Productivity today is growing today more slowly than in the seventies.
The further challenge is that we don't have the working population to replace the aging population.  So we have to think innovatively.  We need to know what are the mega trends that will have an impact on us?

Remember - innovation does not come from technology.  People do the innovation and the technology is just the platform.

As an example: NSW police had as primary job directing traffic.  Then more traffic lights were installed.  Now computers look at traffic flows.  This has enabled the NSW police to move on to doing higher level tasks.  That is what is known as disruptive innovation.

Think about what Microsoft has done with Kinect technology which has been a game changer in that the body is now the controller.  Gesture and voice are used with the connector and this has wider implications beyond the realm of gaming.  Now we can look at patient files without surgeons having to scrub in and out.  It is being used in ways we never thought of even for rehabilitation purposes.  It is changing the way we are think about collaboration on projects and in different languages.  Innovation is occurring here and now.  Artificial intelligence is on its way!

Think of the first phones and think of the smart phones and what we can do on them.  Think of twenty years time and what will be possible..

These are the 4 mega trends to be aware of

1. Mobility

There are approximately 11 million smart phones in Australia.  Initially we used the phone for voice.  Now it is the least used function on our phones.  We can now work anywhere any time.  We are able to get the information when we need it.  The device even knows your location to give additional functionality. 
The new world is an terconnected world filled with Linkedin members and Twitter users.  .  Your next customer can be anywhere in the world.  Websites are being replaced by Facebook pages.  There are different ways of reaching customers and just look at how this has impacted retail.
Suggestion get your Klout score.
Look in to People 123 this gives you a digital footprint and you will be able to see who your customer influences. 

2. The Cloud
Not the weather forecast.
The cloud is the democratization of IT. The Cloud allows for every business to have access to computing power that they never had before and that used to be taken care of by an IT department, can now be done in the Cloud.

3. Big data

This mega trend takes the amount of structured data in your CRM and in other databases and matches it to other databases to understand customers.  Data is the next oil and the. more we mine this, the more profitable companies will be.
As an example, it provides tools for us to know when to buy energy and when to use our solar panels - and when we can sell our energy back to the grid.
There will be far richer consumer experiences that will be created through this mega trend.

4. Workplace of the future  
Be at the edge of the next generation workplace.  A workplace with no fixed office and no fixed desk.  Work is a thing you do and not a place you go.  The workplace will engage  everyone and will be activity based working, that is managed on outputs and not inputs. Such as Are you driving customer satisfaction and are you driving sales. 
Microsoft no longer has landlines on desks.  This enables people to be out with customers.  The company has given back real estate and increased employee engagement by five points.  Remember - Unhappy employees cannot drive Customer satisfaction.

This is the productivity challenge:
We have to be a knowledge economy.  Leaders will need to think differently and will need to disrupt. 


Mobility is profoundly changing the way in which we work.  This trend started with email that enabled us to be more productive. And now there are different devices that will have different applications. 
MYOB won't rebuild their system on a mobile device.  They will select particular functions that people will need when they are about and about.  There is no point in doing a payroll application for mobiles but people will want to check their accounts on line.

Mobility is creating a collision between personal and business applications.  That has happened already for SMEs.
MYOB makes good use of Yammer because Social is changing the way we work.  And that is what Yammer does.  I tis for people of all ages and it allows for an idea exchange.  People submit ideas and leave comments for the development team.  Ideas come in from the clients and MYOB is able to deliver far more to what they need.

The Cloud is enabling us to deliver infrastructure at a fraction of the cost.  It can expand and extend your organisation.  Work flows will move across team members, and you can have access to accounts that are up to date.  It will also allow subject and trusted experts to see in to organisation and provide guidance and assistance.

The reminder is You need to use your change management skills.
This is seen where larger businesses are slower to manage that change in to the Cloud.  It is up to us to make the change easier. 

How often to you go to a bank any longer?  We do more and more on line. 
We have to find ways to automate tasks so that there is time for people to work on higher level tasks.  
Productivity is not about working longer hours.  We are low on the scale as compared with  other countries.   We cannot stay in the industrial relations part of this debate and we need to move in to an innovation debate. 
The rate of productivity is declining because of our current education sector. 
We need to think about the training and the university system.  Education is a continuing thing and ongoing activity.  We need to develop and deliver courses around what industry needs and make them digestible to what people really need.  We need skills for this century.  There needs to be a tighter connection to the workplace from the school. 
Give the kids digital ink!  Pull down the walls of the classroom.  In the tertiary space use distance learning. 

By not getting women in to the sciences and computers and  we are also missing out on so much participation.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another extract from Better, Best, Brilliant!

I am so excited that "Better, Best, Brilliant - your essential guide to brilliant design and delivery" is finally available!  The book provides trainers with some incredible insights in to the foundations that you need to have in place for sessions that shine and also sets out some session plans for trainers who want to take learning experiences to the next level.

1.       Base your training on self-directed workgroups
There is substantial research emerging in the school sector that students who have access to a computer with a browser and access to Google, are able to educate themselves well.  
The implications of this for adult learning are also immense and surely reinforce that the trainer is not at the centre of the training process.
Create the opportunities for participants to learn on their own:
1. Provide projects with instructions so that participants can do research on the internet to find the appropriate information.
The project can be extended as you send them out to find subject matter experts in the organisation and from the outside whom they interview to learn more and understand how this knowledge is applied in working environments.
2. Set open ended challenges using problems that do not have easy or readily available solutions.  Create clear directions and guidelines and then set the group off on a pathway that opens them to suggesting exciting and innovative solutions.
An excellent framework to train them on in order to resolve the challenges is the one proposed by the Institute of Creative Problem Solving:

2.       Pilot or trial of the session

If it is a major roll-out of a key program or process, it is sometimes worthwhile running a trial version so that you can receive the feedback and make necessary inclusions or exclusions of content or of delivery.  There are often areas where ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ and by designing and delivering a trial session, you become more aware of where adjustments need to be implemented in terms of the needs of the participants or their team.
If the program is highlighted as a pilot version, the lessons learnt are easily accumulated and fed back to designers and trainers to ensure that there is continuous improvement. 
There is nothing worse than having trainers deliver a program that is already ‘set in stone’ and cannot be manipulated based on on-site requirements and student needs or relevance to the business.
Ask for honest and constructive feedback to enable you to make the relevant changes – and keep ears open to listen to these suggestions and recommendations.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Finalist in the AITD National Training Excellence Awards for 2012!

And here is why I am so excited that we have been nominated as a finalist for the AITD Excellence awards for Excellence in a Resource - we were nominated for our development of the WORKVILLE portfolio for the Certificate IV in Training and Development.  

1.  Management Consultancy International has taken a major step forward for trainers completing their Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, one of Australia’s most important vocational qualifications.  This qualification underpins the successful outcomes for students in all sectors on the economy – and yet there have been barriers to entry, low completion rates and concerns about the quality of the standards of delivery.  The innovative resource developed by our MCI team has had a significant and demonstrable impact on completion rates of participants and has encouraged entrance in to the program from trainers new to the profession.  

2.  The resource takes a giant step away from traditional assessment tools that are usually designed in the format of ‘tick and flick’ or as long theory-based assignments.  

3.  The resource is not filled with ‘bells and whistles’ – it is simple, effective and creates the possibility for all types and levels of trainers to complete this essential vocational qualification in a fun and focused way. 

4.  The resource removes the barrier to entry by making use of a story format and students are welcomed in to the simulated environment of WORKVILLE. 
The MCI resource ensures that as participants become more involved in the story, they are motivated and energized to complete the evidence, even where there is repetition of certain elements.

National Average for the completion Certificate IV in the education field, as suggested by research from NCVER (May 2011) is about 46.5%
Completion rate of students at MCI prior to the introduction of the Story format assessment tool was approximately 82%.
Since the introduction of the assessment tool using the WORKVILLE format, the completion rate has soared to over 90% and in dedicated groups such as Flight Centre and John Holland, it is often 100%.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What does Sister Angela Mary AO teach us about business?

Sister Angela Mary AO was the CEO of the Mater Hospital Group for 22 years. She never earned a salary. Why not? She is a nun!
Sister Angela Mary is now 87 years old and is a true level 5 leader. What can we learn from her? How does a nun get recognized as a top business leader?
Her messages are:

1. Use your full potential and be an influence for good. All the education you have will count for nothing unless you can give of yourself and unless you put yourself in another persons situation.

2. Life is dynamic - but we can't react automatically. Listen carefully so you know how to respond. Do not repeat the past. Believe in the business but it is not unchangeable. Prepare for change. Prepare to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

3. Learn from other disciplines. Be flexible and look broadly.

4. "While CEO of the Mater , I never considered if I was male or female. There was a job to be done." Do not get over stressed about being the only woman in the C Suite. The community out there expects ethical and practical outcomes.

5. Who we become depends on the choices we make!

Sister Angela came to Australia from Ireland in 1947 as a teacher. She gave life to God. In 1948 dispatched to the Mater to be trained as a nurse. Initially she did not want to go there. She never knew that this is where she would end up. She never thought she was prepared to be the CEO.

"What we decide to do determines what comes next."

6. Religious organisations were conducted as family businesses and positions not advertised widely. Sister decided to advertise all jobs and the Sisters who worked hard for the Mater felt as though they had been sold out. This was a high price was paid for this decision.

When you face problems and where there is no clear solution, be guided by your conscience. Remember Thomas Moore - don't forsake your private conscience for the sake of your public duties!

7. For all the women in leadership roles, remember what Marc Anthony said of Shakespeare's Julius Cesar:

"His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him that the nature might stand up and say to all the world, 'This was a man.'"

Let someone say of all of us, 'this was a woman!'

Sister Angela Mary had the courage to swim against the tide and that is also part of personal branding and strong leadership.

What does Lady Gaga teach us about business?

Lady Gaga and business - does not sound like a great combination....  But there are so many valuable lessons that we can gain from the way in which she conducts herself and what her skills sets are.
I recently attended an amazing reunion and retreat with some highly driven women from our Harvard Business School group.  Our guest, Professor Peter Little Deputy Vice Chancellor
QUT, presented us with the case study of Lady Gaga and there were indeed some very interesting learnings that were drawn from her life, her experiences, her marketing and music.

1. Lady Gaga is constant with being consistent with her brand. 
Have you got a brand and do you think you need one?
Brand is a business construct.  If you do not have a brand, your reputation is less refined.  If you are trying to persuade people around you to engage with you and if you are aspiring to be a leader, you need to pay careful attention to your personal and business brand.

2. Gifts are critical to your journey through life and the expression of these are so important. Each person has gifts that need to be respected.  Reflect and identify your gifts or risk being a fraction of what you could be.  Sometimes need to have a mentor who identifies your gifts for you.
Lady Gaga nurtures her gifts.  She has imagination in using her gifts.  She has a vision for using her gifts.  Find what your gifts are and get a vision for them.  Lady Gaga marshals her gifts and can see the world around her with incredible clarity.  In the world where we area saturated with information, to be able to pull the curtains apart and really see the world, is very impressive. 
Gifts are the core.  Identify them and nurture them.  Have a vision for them and exercise them.  Share your gifts with the world.  You don't want to say later in life that you did not give things a go. 

3. Lady Gaga builds a sense of community with her followers. She also asks where we are going together.  She is in fact a powerful sales person who has a clear narrative. 
Do you build a narrative that aligns with your values?  This involves telling the story of what we are going to do in simple language.  The story also needs to be consistent for those you are trying to convince.   What is the story if you want the organisation to have the right culture?
People won't just follow you.  Communicate a vision for the organisation and how you are going to get there.   You need a narrative that is right for the time.  Draw people in to pursuing the narrative. 

4. Lady Gaga also gives us a lesson in modernity.  She fully understands global markets and the increasing impacts of technology.   She has the ability to appeal to 25 million people worldwide who follow her.
Think of the demise of Kodak, Nokia and others.
In 1980 you would have invested in Kodak as they had incredible market penetration. Think about Nokia and the disruptive innovation of the iPhone.  Nokia went in to decline and is no longer the number one mobile phone company in world.  Even in 2012, you would back Nokia to produce a mobile and distribute it better than anyone.  But what they missed is that mobile became an interface with digital.  Production engineers were at the helm of Nokia and ignored the smart phones. 
Darryl Lea is an other example - an iconic chocolate maker.  They had stores all around the country and produced the same product range for past 85 years.  Others started to nibble away at market share and they were squeezed from the top and the bottom.  They failed to see what was happening with the new generation of consumers.
Then you see Lady Gaga.  What does it say about the modern competitive world?
If you want a thriving business you have to adapt to the new world.  

5. You must learn every day.  Jim Collins says that we must have "productive paranoia".  We must just assume things are going to be tough in the future and that drives us towards innovation. Lady Gaga fully understands this and engages with her audience in very different, non-traditional ways.  She was able to build 'followship' by building mass intimacy with her followers.
In every interview, Lady Gaga emphasises how she dedicates her life to her fans, her "little monsters."
 How do you build followership?
Gaga strives to be the best she can be - did you improve during the last year?