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Training that Delivers Results: Instructional Design that Aligns with Business Goals

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Posted: September 23

ISPI Charlotte’s Fifth Anniversary


Five years ago, the Charlotte chapter of the International Society of Performance Improvement (ISPI) held its first regular membership meeting and workshop at UNC Charlotte. Thiagi, who is now an honorary member of our chapter, agreed to be our presenter for these events. This generous gesture guaranteed the event would be a success—and it was.

It was Guy Wallace who convinced me that we needed an ISPI Chapter in Charlotte and it was his guidance in recruiting of excellent speakers and about how to set up the chapter that contributed to our success. We have won Chapter of Excellence Awards for the past four years. I served as our founding President for half of 2009 and all of 2010. Guy served as President in 2011, followed by Marc Donelson, Chris Adams and in 2014 by John Huen. Our boards have numbered between fourteen and sixteen people, which is another reason for our success. We involve as many members as possible in the leadership of the chapter, which keeps everyone involved and interested. We have truly created the “professional community of performance improvement professionals” that Guy envisioned. There is much greater awareness and practice of performance improvement in Charlotte organizations than there was five years ago, and that was my personal goal. Many thanks to all our past board members who made this chapter a reality and a success!

On Thursday and Friday, September 11 and 12, I had the honor of presenting to our ISPI chapter on its fifth anniversary. I reminded the audience on both days that we are in a relationship business. Just to illustrate my point, I was delighted to see a colleague I hadn’t seen in a while. Lori Love from Wells Fargo attended both meetings. Lori attended the very first Instructional Design Workshop that I delivered when she was an employee at Belk Stores Services back in 1987. Yes, that’s a long time ago. Lori said that it seems every time she needs to learn something new for her job, I’m there to help. Lori, nothing makes me happier, and I’m glad you were there to help make both of those meetings better.

Congratulations and happy fifth anniversary to ISPI Charlotte. May you have a long and happy life.


Dick Handshaw’s new book, Training that Delivers Results: Instructional Design that Aligns with Business Goals is available now. Get your copy today!

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Posted: August 22

Why Do I Call It “Stealth Consulting”?

I first heard the term “Performance Consulting” in the mid-1990s. I am not sure who first created the term but Dana and Jim Robinson certainly contributed greatly to its proliferation. It is descriptive terminology to be sure, but I have discovered that you have to be careful how you use it.

Many organizations were attempting to introduce the practice of performance consulting into their HR organizations during the mid-1990s. The practitioners were the training or organizational development professionals. In many cases, the change amounted to sending practitioners to a class or workshop in performance consulting and printing up business cards with the new title “Performance Consultant.” I’m sure a number of these enthusiastic, newly trained performance consultants met with some resistance. When they were summoned by their client to help with a training or OD problem, they announced that they were performance consultants now and they were available to help solve business problems and recommend a whole variety of business solutions in addition to training and/or OD solutions…

A keynote speaker at an ISPI meeting back in the nineties introduced me to the concept of “stealth consulting” as she called it. She had been part of one of those well intended moves to go beyond training to create a performance consulting organization. She even had the business card with the new title to prove it! That bold new initiative with performance consulting never overcame the resistance and soon faded, especially after her manager who launched the initiative left the company.

Shortly after that experience, she left that organization and took a leadership position in a smaller company. Remembering her first experience with performance consulting, but still committed to the value of the role, she tried again. She began by building relationships and engaging her new clients in proactive performance consulting meetings when there was no agenda or request for training. She hired the Robinsons to conduct performance consulting training for her team. But she stopped short of making those new business cards. Instead she asked her staff to be, well…stealth consultants. She asked her staff to partner with their clients, to identify key business goals and share the responsibility with their clients for achieving them. Rather than telling people they were consultants, she and her team became consultants. They measured results and reported on the outcomes and results they had achieved. I visited her two years later and chatted with her and her team. It was clear to me they had been successful beyond their expectations…


Dick Handshaw’s new book, Training that Delivers Results: Instructional Design that Aligns with Business Goals is available now. Get your copy today!

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Posted: August 4

Next Stop: ATD Research Triangle Area

Last month I had the opportunity to deliver a presentation for one of my home ATD chapters, here in Charlotte. I am also a member of the excellent ATD chapter for Research Triangle Area. Next month, on September 5th, I will be delivering a half day workshop for my other home ATD chapter, there. The workshop is called “Training Request? Ask Questions First.” It will begin at 8:30 in the morning and conclude at noon. For more information on location and to register, please click here.

I think the reason this workshop is so popular is because many training professionals must have difficulty following up on and negotiating requests for training. First of all, negotiating these requests rarely works. Even if you have heard a request before and you know that training alone will not solve the problem, there is only one way to begin the conversation. You must acknowledge the client’s concern. Although offering your opinions or advice to other solutions may seem like the most direct route to change the conversation, it rarely works. If you want to change the training request conversation from tactical to strategic, you must always turn the conversation to the ultimate business goal. This practice almost always works.

I have only found one way to learn how to successfully navigate the training request conversation. You can’t just read about it or hear someone talk about it; you have to do it yourself. I begin with eight principles for reframing a training request. I learned these principles from the two people who taught this skill to me, Jim and Dana Robinson. I then show a series of video role plays demonstrating both good and not so good examples of how to “reframe” a training request. The majority of the morning will be spent doing participant role plays and listening to peer feedback. This type of practice and feedback is the key to understanding and ultimate skill building.

I presented this session to a client last month on a Friday morning. Late that very same afternoon, I got an excited call from one of the participants. She was on a call with another participant, talking to a client who had a training request that was not well thought out and had little basis of information for the desired solution. They looked at each other and said, “Let’s try those eight principles.” “It worked” she said! The client came to realize he did not have enough information to make an informed decision on the final solution. The two participants from that morning’s session received permission to gather more information, which is the desired outcome of this type of meeting.

To see the eight principles of Proactive and Reactive Performance Consulting, along with sample role plays, click on the Resources tab above.

Dick Handshaw’s new book, Training that Delivers Results: Instructional Design that Aligns with Business Goals is available now on Amazon.com.  Get your copy today!

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