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

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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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Posted: July 2

Instructional Design at ATD Charlotte

Within five minutes from the time I finished renewing my membership to ATD Charlotte, where I volunteered to present at a meeting, I received a phone call from Susan Byerly, their VP of Programs. The most recent membership survey showed a high degree of interest in a program on instructional design. I will be delivering the workshop I recently presented at the ASTD International Conference and Expo in May and prior to that, at the ISPI International Conference in April, entitled “Training That Delivers Results.” This is also the title of my new book which carries the sub-title, “Instructional Design that Aligns with Business Goals.” The meeting will be held on July 17th at CMC Mercy and the event begins at 5:00 PM.

You can read the session description, find directions and register for the event on the ATD Charlotte website at www.astdcharlotte.org. I want to talk about the topic of instructional design itself and the fact that it has been requested by members of ATD Charlotte makes this a timely discussion. Ever since I first heard the term Instructional Systems Design (ISD) in graduate school at Indiana University in 1978, it has been a controversial subject. The practice has always had its champions and its critics. In response to receiving a copy of my book, my Instructional Design professor, Dr. Michael Molenda commented, “I hope it (my book) gets major distribution … and plays a part in blunting the current attack on ISD.”

Shortly before I released my book, Michael Allen of Allen Interactions!, released a book called “Leaving ADDIE for SAM.” What Michael is referring to is a suggested move away from the traditional approach to instructional design as described in a number of ID models that are categorized as Analysis, Design, Develop and Evaluate type models. Let me be clear that there is no one ADDIE model, rather it is a classification describing a number of models including those developed by the US Air Force, by Professors Walter Dick and Lou Carey, and the Handshaw Model, described in my book. As with these models, Dr. Allen’s SAM model is also a systematic approach to the development of instruction.

Having practiced instructional design for over 35 years, I have concluded that any problems with instructional systems design are not caused by which model someone might choose or any of the pros or cons of one model over another, but the way in which people apply the systematic approach to the design of instruction. Any evidence-based, proven instructional design model can yield observable, measurable  and repeatable results if use properly. A model is not a recipe approach that is simply followed the same way again and again. It is a set of operating rules that must match a set of existing circumstances.

In my book, I introduce the “Cost vs. Risk” rule which helps you decide how to apply an instructional design model to different projects under different circumstances. For more information on this rule, scroll down to my blog posted June 11th, which is an actual excerpt from my new book. I hope it will make you want to come to the ATD meeting on the 17th of July in Charlotte and perhaps entice you to buy the book! 

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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