Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My Experience of ASTD 2000: A Beanchmarkable Conference

ASTD 2000: Lessons for India

T. V. Rao
Chairman, TVRLS
Raju Rao

The American Society for Training and Development held its annual convention this time in Dallas, USA.  It is estimated that about 17,000 delegates attended the convention. The convention lasted for full seven days including two full days of pre-conference workshops. A special feature of the convention is the Expo, which had about 600 exhibitors of all forms of HRD and Management development products and services. The exhibitors were largely consultants, publishers and software specialists. Large delegations from countries like Malaysia, Korea, South Africa etc. could be seen in the conference. These groups were specially recognized at the ASTD conference. India had a participation of about 15 delegated from over eight organizations (L&T, Sundram Group, BPCL, Monsanto, TVRLS, HLL, etc.). L&T, ECC's arrangements with ASTD to offer concessional delegate fee even for those registering on the spot facilitated a good part of the Indian Delegation.

What did ASTD Claim to offer? some quotations from Chair, ASTD Board of Directors

" Throughout every day life we all face the need to multitask and multifocus. In the morning, few of us are able to just sit and have a quiet breakfast. On the way to work, the cell phone jump-starts our working day. In the office, it is difficult to complete a conversation without interruptions and multiple claims on our time. We have to manage these pressures against new and demanding standards of performance. The same multitask and multi-focus approach is true of our professional activities.  We are expected to identify, define, and create new learning designs in an increasingly complex business environment. We have to translate the designs into incredible pilots and implementation plans. We work on evaluation and follow up while being pulled into the next priorities. Classroom expertise is being supplemented and replaced by multimedia skills. Training requires a performance management perspective. Business outcomes are as important as individual development. All of this has to be achieved in half the time and half the cost of last year."

." ASTD 200 will give you an opportunity to stand back from all these day-to-day pressures. . Your time in Dallas will refresh and extend professional and technical knowledge. You can design your bench mark tour of some of the best practices in the world in one location. You have access to the latest and broadest range of learning technologies. You can extend your network through the global reach of ASTD."

There were over 200 sessions to choose from. Every session was of a full 90-minute duration. Several parallel sessions went on and at any given time there were about 20 sessions. There were only three plenaries in the entire conference. The sessions were called as educational sessions. Each session started on time and closed on time. No full papers were distributed and every session had a power point presentation or other multimedia presentation. The session outline was distributed to those who attended the session and only summaries were presented to all delegates in a conference book form. Some sessions were audiotaped and others videotaped and tapes were sold at the end of the session by ASTD at unaffordable process for those who don't have dollar money. There was no free coffee, tea or cold drinks at any given point of time except in the STD night where each delegate is supplied a free drink and the second one he/she had to buy.

I am first giving below the trends in the papers presented followed by the other lessons.

HRD and Training Trends: Current thinking and issues reflected through the Papers

The following section is devoted to present an overview of the trends emerging in the current HRD related thinking as reflected in the various papers presented in this conference. No attempt is made to describe the detailed inputs from these papers. The author found most papers to be shallow and limited relevance to Indian corporate. For example a well titles paper like "Global HRD Leaders: Competencies and Best Practices, Job Tools and lessons learnt" presents details of how to use a Global Training and Development Readiness Inventory and function as global trainers and coaches and very little on global HRD leaders. However the trends reflected by the various papers are of significance as they give a flavor of HRD thinking globally. To give a flavor of the Conference these are presented in some detail.

The papers centered round the following themes:

Career Development: Papers and Trends

The papers on this theme focused on:
·         The best practices in Multinational Corporations;
·         Enhancing employee retention and career development;
·         Executive coaching as an alternative to training;
·         360 Degree feedback across cultures;
·         Love them or lose them- how to get god people to stay;
·         Succession management- growing, developing and sustaining leadership people;
·          Business linked individual and career development;
·         Grooming High potential managers to achieve competitive advantage;
·         Electronic career development centers and the like.

Some of the sessions attended by the author have given very little insights. Most of the suggestions are commonsensical or have limited application to Indian settings.
A quick look at the various papers indicates the following trends of thinking in career development related issues:

·         Career development is considered a service for individuals plan their careers and not for organizations to plan the careers. Organizations don't seem to plan careers.
·         Succession planning is an area of major concern for many firms for retention of talent as well as for manning positions
·         360 Degree Feedback, Executive coaching, training, leadership development interventions, grooming high potential managers for higher responsibilities, career counseling, career information etc. are treated as career development related interventions.

Global Issues

The sessions on this focussed on issue of corporations operating globally as well as cross-cultural issues and trends in Training from different regions of the world. The topics covered by the papers included the following:

·         The competencies of Global HRD leaders;
·          New competency model for customer service in Peking and Paris;
·         Developing international negotiation skills;
·         Training in Europe;
·         Training in Latin America;
·         Training in Asia; (Mr. S. Chandrasekhar of L&T ECC presented a paper on this)
·         Developing training models for international engagements from Middle East;
·         Identifying effective cross cultural leadership behavior;
·         Developing outstanding services across global cultures;
·         Y2K learning stories debriefing for global learning ,
·         Using virtual teams to develop global leaders, and
·         Methodologies for blending culture in mergers and acquisitions.

The papers in this section are a series of stray papers and are not well connected. They provide very little handle for any interested global manager. They do give an idea of global training practices. However a sample of the sessions attended have shown the presentations to be of a primitive nature with very little useful information. There does not seem be any great innovations happening globally on the scene.

Papers and Trends in Performance Management or Human Performance Improvement

This is probably one of the best and most useful themes of the lot. The topics covered by the papers had a variety. Most of them have treated performance from various angles. Performance improvements seem to be another refreshing approach that has put training in anew perspective in the US.

In late seventies and early eighties the ASTD and other Training and Development Managers started using HRD as new substitute name for Training and Development. This was unintended to enhance the scope, relevance and impact of T&D.  Training was repackaged as HRD and was given a broad base. In the last few years this training focussed HRD seems to be getting refocused as Performance Improvements. This is in tune with the global emphasis on business results and the bottom line. There is an increased awareness for the need for business results, meeting competition, growth and sustenance. It is now taken for granted that Training cannot exist in isolation and it has to be serving the purpose of contributing to organizational performance. Hence the new approach seems to be to talk about performance rather than to talk about T&D. However while focusing on performance, bring in appropriate T&D and if necessary other interventions. Thus, in the opinion of the author of this paper, the conference papers reveal a newly packaged product in Performance Improvements. This product is a refreshingly new product though not totally new. It has all the components of the performance appraisal or performance development systems envisaged in mid seventies by companies like the L&T in their open appraisal systems (which were also called mistakably by their line managers as the new HRD systems in those days). The only difference is that they focussed on appraisals more than performance and the new trend is to remove appraisals and focus on performance. The systems are more or less the same. There is no room for appraisals and ratings. The starting point is performance standards, measures, and identification of factors that block or enhance performance and removing the blocks and strengthening the performance through appropriate interventions. To facilitate this there seems to be anew breed of Consultants and Managers called as Performance Consultants or Performance Managers They are more concerned about performance improvements and much less about ratings, comparisons, incentives and rewards etc. The same is revealed in the kind of papers presented and the nature of books published by ASTD and the consultants with the titles like the Performance Management, Performance Improvements, Performance Technology, Performance Consultant etc.

Thus performance management in a way is a new approach to strengthen the relevance and utility of training and development activities. With increased emphasis on the ROI on training the US Training and Developing Managers seem to focus on training for performance improvements. Instead of approaching training form a narrow perspective they have begun to focus on training for performance improvements and are using performance improvements as the starting and closing points. This enhances the salability of T&D. so performance Management program is newly packaged combinations of T&D and performance appraisals.
The trends reflected by the papers are noteworthy and there are lessons to be learnt from these. The author does believe that packaging is important and it serves many useful purposes and the first of these is the language used communicates more appropriately the intent and the focus. Thus it matters a lot whether you call a system a performance appraisal system or performance management system or performance improvement system. Even if all of them have the same components the emphasis is likely to be different and it matters a lot. This is what one may have to learn from the trends in the papers presented at the ASTD convention. The paper titles are interesting and may give some new insights into the Indian HR professionals.

The themes covered include the following:
·         Performance consulting;
·         Influencing line managers to want  performance solutions;
·         Gaining stake holder recognition as a performance consultant;
·         Emotional Intelligence : getting the heart of performance;
·         Aligning Business Performance the ultimate performance consulting goal;
·          Transitioning Duracell's Global HR to focus on performance: a case study;
·          Eliminating internal turf wars: one organization one performance improvement process;
·         Using your Head to improve Workplace performance : unleashing the power of the whole brain thinking;
·         Performance consulting: Basics, barriers and benefits;
·         How to deliver quick and accurate performance analysis results every time;
·         The strategic use of measurement in human performance improvements 

Learning Technologies

The sessions included in this theme are:
·         Interactive On-line learning, Using Games and Activities;
·         High Impact Low Band width Multimedia your system administrator will love;
·          Integrating Information Technology, Critical thinking and Human Performance;
·         The Future of On-line learning;
·         Asynchronous distance learning for Corporate Education : Experiences with Lotus learning space;
·         Blending technology and the classroom;
·         Implementing Intelligent 3-D web based learning technologies;
·         No more slide shows make your on-line presentations more dynamic;
·         Emerging Copyright Trends in Multimedia: protecting Work Product and respecting rights;
·         All I really need to know leant in knowledge Hubs;
·         Knowledge Management in Virtual space;
·         Building a virtual learning network- IBM virtual learning case study;
·         A Taxonomy of planned interactions for web based learning;
·         Distance Learning powerful technologies for more memorable messages;
·         Best practices in performance improvements using web based Enterprise Learning Management solutions; 
·         Integrating metaphor and technology for team training and organizational effectiveness;
·         Skill training leverages video streaming to span the web.

These sessions are the most useful for those interested in virtual learning. They have offered a variety of the thinking going on this field. The sessions demonstrate that we have a long way to go in using web-based training in India.

Managing the Training and Learning Function

Unlike in the past there is very little happening on the new technologies of training. Probably the field is saturated. The focus seems to be understandably on virtual learning as indicted in a separate section for this. There is continued emphasis on learning environment, learning organizations etc. There were also a few papers sharing experiences of stray innovations in training technologies and management. The titles of the papers reflect the trends. It is noteworthy that in a T&D Conference there were so few papers dealing with T&D technologies.  There is an understandable emphasis on the returns of investments in training and measurement of the training effectiveness. The papers dealing with these issues are separately presented below. The following is a list of most of the papers presented in this section:

·         Reengineering of training practices - case study of Chase Manhattan Bank;
·          Financial impact of education and training investments;
·         What is keeping your CEO up at night?
·         Professional Development for trainers : flexible, personal and organized;
·          Implementing a multimedia learning consortium;
·         Make the work place a learning place: The power of enterprise wide learning;
·         Creating a strategic training plan;
·         Linking Business strategy to learning technologies;
·         Project management Disciplines for Effective Training;
·         Why very little learning happens in the learning organization etc.

Measuring and Evaluating Training and Performance

The following are the titles/themes covered by the papers under this section:

·         Overcoming the fear of ROI;
·         Taking Evaluation into the 21st Century:;
·         Linking Evaluation to organization learning systems;
·         Measuring your OJT: Getting your hands around hands on training;
·         Evaluating different media type training programs;
·         Measuring performance and identifying barriers to improve performance;
·          Diagnostic strategies for measuring learning;
·         How to ensure higher training output;
·         A recipe for measuring training impact- a dose of reality and a pinch of wisdom;
·          High performance management with score cards;
·         Training economics and alternative approach to Training ROI;
·         Leadership equity measuring the effectiveness of leadership development;
·          Integrated measurement custom tailored solutions designed to meet business objectives;

Indian corporate needs to be concerned about their returns on training. It is necessary and useful first to estimate the expenditure or investments in training and then plan measures to improve the ROI.

Organization Development

The papers presented again in this section are perhaps one of the most useful ones for performance improvements. Most of these sessions were attended by large number of delegates indicating that the OD related issue have become prime focus issues and organizations are looking for managing change and getting both short term and long term benefits from OD interventions. Most leading consutants like Ken Blanchard were seen presenting papers on the themes including leadership and change. The OD emphasis seems to be on a variety of issue like team building, top level leadership development, creating new OD roles like the Knowledge manager, Learning Facilitator etc.; cultural transformation; change management to. The titles of the papers presented include:

·         Creating a High-Trust culture, Change tools for Performance and Accountability;
·          Building a knowledge bridge- how world class teams capture and transfer learning;
·         A picture is worth a thousand words: Conversation kits for building Alignment and involvement in transformation;
·         Contributing to the future: the role of training in Mergers, Acquisitions and Down sizing;
·         Energizing your organization in times of extreme change;
·         Igniting and sustaining systemic change;
·         Integrated approach to leadership;
·         Building a passion driven organization;
·         Tapping your organization's hidden assets;
·         Chief Learning officers and Chief Knowledge officers;
·         Converting dysfunctional work group into high performing team;
·         Leadership development and at Samson Electronics;
·         360 Degree Feedback skills versus style;
·         Business Transformation by knowledge management practices;
·         Knowledge Management for Performance Technology and Human Resources professionals;
·         Real teams at the top: the real time break through in organizational performance;
·         Converting a dysfunctional work team into a high performing team etc.


There were a few sessions on leadership and leader behavior. The sessions that prominently figured include:
·         How to make your leadership development program a best practice
·         How to Best develop Leaders: Learn and Practice How Colgate Palmolive develops Sales executives
·         Leading with presence: Dynamic Communication skills for business leadership
·         Five-star leadership: The art of creating Leadership at Every Level
·         New Dimensions of Leadership  by Ken Blanchard

There are however no knew or earth shaking ideas from these sessions. They all dealt with very familiar themes.  Perhaps this field is also saturated and we need some fresh thinking on leadership for the 21st century when the world is changing so fast.

Work place issues

The session in this stream dealt with a number of work place issues. Some of these issues cut across all cultures. The topics covered below indicate the kind of issues dealt with. Some of these are issues for trainers and training interventions.

·         Training's role in creating innovative and people driven organizations
·         Compassionate communication: language for a win-win world
·         How to build and coach a successful team in a changing environment
·         Taking recognition to the next level in your organization.
·         21st Century workforce: Are you ready?
·         Forming mentoring relationships: trend or a tool?
·         Travelling trainer: How do you field work/life balance?
·         Using Orientation to leverage initial investments in employees
·         Employer of choice: the role of work place in learning
·         Life balance for both individual well being and organizational retention
·         Championing and gaining commitment to your e-learning
·         Outsourcing: Increasing capacity through partnerships
·         Business learning: Game plan for employee success through Business ;literacy
·         V*commerce: Bottom line results through value based transactions
·         Championing and gaining your company's commitment to e-learning

Training basics

There were a few sessions devoted to basics of training the topics covered in this stream are presented below:

·         Strategic needs analysis
·         How to teach adults in a fun and exciting way
·         Creative training and consulting techniques: 17 ways to create materials, programs and get results
·         Distance learning
·         Evaluation: How to get started
·         Ten strategies to win management support for training
·         The Art,  Rhythm and Creativity in Business : a practical approach to bringing more creative thinking and innovation into your job
·         How to facilitate distance learning in 2000 and beyond?
·         Knowing They know: How to make sure participants apply their learning
·         Project management approach to course development
·         Laughter as brain -based teaching strategy
·         How training helps build your brand

Lessons Learnt: Author's Observations

There are many lessons that could be learnt from this conference.  The lessons may be divided into the following categories:

1.  Trends in corporate concerns reflected by the nature of papers that have implications for CEOs, line managers, consultants, and all forms of HR professionals (Training and Development Managers, HR Chiefs, HRD Managers). The major concern worldwide appears to be in the following areas:

·         Leadership and cultural change including how to cope up with the changing world. Organizations are trying out all kinds of interventions to cope with and manage change. Developing leadership competencies and team building strategies is the most important focal point.
·         Team building continues to be a major concern
·         Distance learning, virtual learning and work place learning are gaining focus. Cost effective methods that do not take the employee from work place are being experimented with.
·         Retention of intellectual capital is becoming a major concern. Employee retention continues to be an area
·         Promotion of learning and competence building are given extremely high importance. Creation of new roles like Chief Learning officer, Chief Knowledge officer is the new tool.
·         Increased emphasis performance consulting, performance management and performance coaching are seen everywhere. The literature of this is growing.
·         Work on improvements of training technologies, ROI on training, aligning training with business etc. continue to get attention.

ASTD 2000: Pre-Conference Workshops

Two full days were devoted to offer preconference workshops prior to starting of the conference. Although they are heavily priced they are always over registered as each one of them take only about 100 participants. There were several two-day conference workshops as well as one-day workshops. The following are the themes on which these workshops were offered:

There were six two-day workshops offered. These included:
·                     Creative training  techniques: 37 ways to deliver training with greater impact and results (Two were offered one of them for Graduates of creative Training techniques Seminar)
·                     Training Directors lab focussing on needs assessment, evaluation and training transfer to create bottom line results
·                     Organizational Alignment to Improv3 Company wide results
·                     Changing role of training manager
·                     Creative training techniques to for distance and on-line learning
There were 15 one-day pre-conference workshops offered. These included:

·                     Measuring Return on Investments in Training and performance improvements
·                     Designing and developing web based  instruction
·                     Leading with presence: Dynamic Communication skills for Business leadership
·                     Improving learning performance using games, simulation Exercises and Interactive Exercises
·                     The interventions workshop; performance Booster  (focusing on 50 performance improvement tools and skills development as a performance consultant)
·                     20 Ways to become a consummate team facilitator
·                     Making cultural transformation work: cultural transformation tools and models
·                     Regaining organizational credibility: techniques for rebuilding Trust at work
·                     Swinging cycles and dancing spirals: cutting the edges in organizational transformation (focusing on how to manage each stage of the evolution of any organization)
·                     The accelerated learning model: Designing effective Learning Interventions
·                     Five star leadership : The art and  strategy of Creating leaders at every level
·                     Coaching mastery: Releasing discretionary employee energy
·                     The top ten characteristics of a value based organization
·                     The Instructional design workshop
·                     Emotional Intelligence workshop

Conference within Conference

This is another interesting concept used by ASTD to cater to those who would like to have specialized in-depth knowledge in select areas. The Conference within Conference is a set of full pledged one or two day conferences organized along with the main conference. The venue for these conferences is normally in another place other than the main convention center. This year there were the following themes focussed:
·                     One day Conference Focusing on Consultants there were seven sessions in this Conference organized Hotel Hyatt. The sessions dealt with themes like: The Consultant’s love hate relationship with the organization; avoiding legal and landmines in consulting; Contracting and negotiating win-win contracts for long term success, selling your consulting services, burn-out: preventing shining stars from becoming shooting stars; Creating virtual partnerships etc.
·                     One day Conference focusing on Financial services. The themes covered include: Sharing best practices within financial industry; Real-time learning; aligning training to corporate strategy; Maximizing the skills of call center representatives using orientation to certification methods; Action coaching- the secret weapon of America’s Top banking executives; Creating an on-line education center for Finance sector executives; Remodeling sales and service solutions; mentoring of dedicated platform representatives working as a team through mentoring; Technology delivered training for financial institutions;  Effectively aligning your new employees to your financial institutions corporate culture;  Lading a team of learning professionals successfully at the Chase Manhattan bank and creating a recipe for successful mergers and acquisitions.
·                     The One day conference on the best practices of leadership development focussed on the following themes: Research and theory behind the best practice leadership development programs;  learning and practicing best practice coaching; How the best develop leaders: learn and  experience how Colgate Palmolive develops Sales executives globally
·                     The Two day Conference on creative training techniques  included the following themes and sessions: Tricks for trainers; Organizational alignment to improve company-wide results; Warming up techniques; Diversity Game- a fun look at styles; Red hot handouts; Changing role of training manager; creative training techniques for web based training; High impact visuals and interactive learning activities; High impact visuals and interactive learning; Ten ways to make quicker and better decisions; Dealing with difficult participants
·                     A special Two and a half day conference on “Digital collaboration “ was also a highlight of this section. Participants needed to pay an additional fee for this Conference organized in collaboration with MASIE Center. There were no specified sessions for this conference. The focus was on issues like: creating processes in our organizations effectively deploy and manage digital collaboration technologies; developing digital collaboration skills and technologies in managers and workforce; altering the customs and rituals of organizations to move towards e-commerce; best practices of using digital collaboration technologies like Group ware, Web based meetings, Virtual Conferences, E-mail., Collaborative project management, E-learning; Web enhanced customer support and learning, Instant messenger, GPS based database and mobile support

Discovery playground

This is another interesting concept used by the ASTD without any cost to itself. The discovery play ground is an opportunity created for the delegates to learn and experience most recent developments in training or learning technologies by experiencing their actual use and experimenting with attempts to create own modules etc. opportunity was provided to exhibitors to the conference to conduct actual learning and experience sessions on the exhibition floor to provide experiential learning to participants.  The guidebook says…” The Discovery playground provides you with an overview of how your profession is turning change into profitable advantage. Interact with brand new and emerging technologies, and see how they shape the way you live and work in the future. In addition attend the lab sessions and get an in-depth view of these emerging technologies. “
These are essential web based learning technologies and helped the participant to experience developments in relation to virtual learning.

International, Government and Leaders' Rooms

There were special rooms allocated for International visitors, government Delegates (in the Government Room) and Leaders of professional bodies in the (Leaders Room). These rooms were found to be full of activity. Each room had a special volunteer of ASTD to guide people. There were ample amounts of free tea, water and coffee available in these rooms with large display Boards where the participants could pin their visiting cards, requests, pamphlets etc. to attract the attention of others they are interested in meeting. For example the international room was used by delegations from different countries to fix up times for the meeting. Each room had a variety of take away pamphlets of ASTD in abundance.


Expo is a great attraction of the event ASTD 2000. The Expo was opened only on the third day of the five-day conference, thus giving opportunity for the delegates to spend two full days in the conference without distraction. Once the Expo was opened it provided a wonderful opportunity to learn about various events and services offered. As the services offered is also a reflection of the ongoing organizational requirements, it is highly educative. The most impressive and striking feature of the Expo is the innumerable number of exhibitors who are in the business of e-learning and virtual learning.  A large number of organizations seem to work on distance learning and e-learning. A number of them are willing to offer free web sits and collaborations. You need to have content to talk. They are ready to come in and assist.  There was atlas a hundred such firms on IT applications. This participation is in tune with the fact that the knowledge industry is the second largest (750 Billion Dollar Industry) in the USA.  Similarly there are more than a hundred small consulting firms specializing on various aspects of Training and HRD. The themes represented by them are as follows:
·         Assessment tools  - about 50 firms
·         Bench Marking - 3 Companies
·         Publishing - 15 firms
·         Career development- 8 firms
·         Change management - 20 Firms
·         Colleges and universities - 7 of them
·         Communication skills - 13
·         Computer based training - 28 of them
·         Continuing education - another 10 of them
·         Distance learning - 30 of them
·         Games and simulations - 9
·         Leadership- 27 of them
·         Learning Management Systems - 2 of them
·         Web and Internet based training - about 50
·         Course ware design - 10
·         Organization development - about 12
·         Performance appraisal and management - about 10
·         Professional development - about 23
·         Project-management - 12
·         Sales Training - 20
·         Software applications- 13
·         Surveys - 7
·         Team Building - 26
·         Technical skills training - 13
·         Trainer training - 13
·         Training facility - 7
·         Miscellaneous specialization's including Audio-visual Aids (30, Authoring systems (60; Business development (3); Business process redesign (2); CD rooms (5); Coaching (4); Conflict management 93); Corporate training and universities (20); Electronic performance support (10; Employee retention (1); Employee selection (3); Executive search (1); Experiential learning (2); HR planning (2); Intellectual property protection (10; ISO 9000 (1); meeting facilities 98); mentoring (1); Mergers and Acquisitions (1); Multi rater feedback (10;  presentation skills (4); Problem solving (7);  Recognition awards (1); ROI on training (3); Safety training (1);  self-esteem facilitation (1), senior friendly customer service (1); teleconferencing (10; Training administration software (20; Training retention (10; Video Conferencing 910; Web conferencing (20; Web Internet career management (2);  writing skills 940

The second most important feature is the participation of all professional bodies in the exhibition although it is an ASTD convention most of the other societies have put up stalls paying as much as 15,000 dollars each to disseminate information about themselves. There is apparently no hesitation in putting up stalls. There were stalls of the American Management Association and the Society for Human Resources Management (our parallel of NIPM) etc. The OD Network and OD Institute were represented by their experts taking sunrise sessions to present their work. For example the editor of the HRD Journal published by the Academy of Human Resources development was there to give a sunrise seminar on the publication. This is being promoted by ASTD.

Another notable feature is the presence of Universities setting up distance education programs and also those selling or disseminating their work. For example it was pleasure to see the Harvard Business School-publishing house to be in the Expo.

All top level trainers and authors have their set ups and consulting companies. These were all present. They were normally manned by their associates but occasionally people like Ken Blanchard was there to sign their books. Some of the famous persons who have their stalls exhibited are given below.

The following are some of the exhibitors

Professional bodies
·         American Management Association
·         American Society for Quality
·         Balridge National Quality program
·         NTL Institute of Applied Behavioral sciences
·         International Society for Performance Improvement
·         Society for Human Resources management
Universities, Business schools and Publishers - a select list

·         Cornell University
·         Harvard Business school Publishing House
·         Sage
·         McGraw Hill
·         John Wiley & sons
·         Jossey Bass- Pfeiffer
·         Prentice Hall
·         Greenwood Publishing
·         Nova South Eastern university
·         Penn State University - world wide campus
·         Rice University
·         Rochester Institute of Technology Part Time enrolment services
·         Saybrook Graduate  School and Research center
·         University of Maryland University college
·         University of Nebraska-Lincoln distance education
·         University of  Tennessee executive education
·         University of Wisconsin Learning innovations
·         Walden University

Top Professionals and their companies- select list
·         Block Petrella Weisbord, Inc
·         CCI Assessment Group
·         Chicken Soup for the Soul Enterprises
·         Franklin Covey
·         Hay McBer
·         HRD press
·         Human Dynamics
·         Kepner  Tragoe Inc
·         Ken Blanchard group
·         Nelson Motivation Inc
·         Will Schutz associates
·         Tom Peters Company
·         Wilson Learning world wide

Consulting companies
·         Arthur Anderson
·         Price waterhouse Coopers
·         Bell Consulting Group
·         Dale Carnegie training
·         Development Dimensions International
·         Disney Institute
·         Consulting Psychologists press

Other Indian sounding but not so Indian Exhibitors:

Reliance Training Networks
Reedy Go Incorporated
Galli  Motivational Theater
Saja Software
Simba informations
Suleimann Tarr and Associates

Government Participation that surprises a visitor

·         United States Office of Personnel Management

Publications of ASTD

A special stall was kept to sell all the publications of the ASTD. The bookstall was a special attraction. ASTD must have sold thousand of books in this conference. A special shipping cell was organized by the ASTD to ship by FedEx or other ways. The strategy used by ASTD is to promote an author by providing for his session, selling his book in the ASTD stall, getting the author to speak in the convention and arranging him to sign the book and organizing a meet the author sessions. This provides for a good deal of income for ASTD. 

ASTD Sessions and Sunrise seminars
 Another interesting feature of the conference was the Sunrise sessions organized by ASTD. This is a good promotion tool but it appeared as the most educative tool. For example one of the sessions was for those interested in joining the benchmarking Forum of the ASTD. Another was for those who are interested in writing for ASTD Journals and newsletters. Chat with the author sessions was also organized in the morning.

Forum at Four

During all full days of the conference there is a forum at 4.00 p.m. This is supposed to be forum for professionals. Although the sessions were conducted similar to the other education sessions the forums a four are more interactive and informal. This is another useful concept.

International participation
43 Countries participated. Country wide delegate's list was put up. There is a fee e-mail and Internet service. About 15 terminals were provided. Perhaps this is the only thing free though there were queues for sending e-mails.

Volunteers and Tourists
Since the convention center is a big center and one has to walk about a kilometer distance from one room to the other if they are too much apart, there is an well-organized volunteer's service to guide and direct the persons. The volunteers seem to know everything. Hey were very helpful and specially trained for the conference.

Bus services

With 17,000 delegated placed in various hotels it became necessary to transport hem. The bus service was a very well organized service with a bus every 15 minutes to 30 minutes from each hotel to the convention center and back, all though the day.

Conference organization: lessons to be learnt

Conference Organization:

The conference is an extremely well organized conference. Managing 17,000 delegates without any problem and issue is a creditable tribute to ASTD. Everything went by the clock precision. There was no room for complaint. Every one seems to have done their job. No free coffee, tea, lunches dinners or drinks. The participants are to manage their own time including tea breaks etc. 30 Minute inter-session break time was provided for coffee, tea, lunch, reaching the room from one corner to the other (in some cases a kilometer walk between two rooms). If a hall is full a Board in front of it says that the hall is full and you may like to go for another session at that time. All presentation handouts are distributed during the session as power point presentations. No more promises made. If you want the full speech pay $16.50 for the audiotape or  $ 59.95 for videotapes. Order in advance and they will be delivered on the last day. ASTD Books are exhibited at the ASTD store and they may be bought.

Special space and timetable is provided to meet the authors of books. The books of these authors were available on sale and the authors are scheduled in the program at a specified place and time for signing their books. In several cases hundreds of delegates could be seen standing in Q to get the book signed by the author. ASTD sold a large number of their publication during the convention. Authors took pride in signing their books and the delegates felt happy to meet the authors and get the book autographed.

No sessions seem to have been cancelled. All paper presenters came and presented. The audiovisual systems were perfect and have performed with extraordinary efficiency and precision. Speech recognition software was used and projected in the plenaries on the screen so that any one having problems with accent could read on the big screen.
On the whole it was wonderful experience to be at the ASTD 2000 at Dallas.  

Chief Learning Managers and Chief Knowledge Managers
(extracts from some of the papers presented at ASTD)

The Davos World Economy Forum conducted a survey of how the US CEOs look at the future. The survey revealed that 94% of the CEOs mentioned that globalization as a priority area, 88% mentioned knowledge Management as a priority area, 79% stated that reducing costs is a priority area, 78% mentioned that creating global supply chains us a priority area and 76% mentioned cross country optimization of manufacturing as a priority.

Knowledge Management is defined by Anderson Consulting as "The systematic process of acquiring, creating, capturing, synthesizing, learning and using information, insights, and experience to enable performance". In this way, knowledge management is the engine that transforms ideas into business value.

In another definition, KM is defined as the new discipline of enabling individuals, teams and the entire organization to collectively and systematically create, share, and apply knowledge to better achieve the business objectives.

According to some authors KM is not a HR, IT or other domain but a strategic business development issue.

 Organizational learning is a parallel process: a continuous and strategically used process. A learning organization is an organization that learns continuously and thus transforms itself.  There are no universally accepted definitions of these terms.

According to one estimate made by Dr. Dede Bonner, President New Century management Inc, USA there are likely to be anywhere between 50 to 250 Chief learning Officers and Chief Knowledge Officers in the world. This is growing. Some of the organizations having such titles include:
·         Bank Boston
·         Coca-Cola
·         Ernest & Young
·         Ford Motor Company
·         General Electric
·         Hewlett-Packard
·         Prudential Insurance Company
·         Sun Microsystems
·         Unisys
·         US West
·         Pillsbury Xerox Corporation
·         US CIA
·         British Petroleum

Other titles like Managing Partner of Knowledge Management (Anderson Consulting); Director of Knowledge Management, Knowledge Coordinator, Knowledge facilitator, Knowledge leader, KM Consultant, Senior Knowledge librarian, Learning Coordinator, Learning specialist, Organizational Architect, Director of Organizational Effectiveness. Vice President Knowledge Management is also known to exist. They draw between $80,000 to $ 750,000 a year in terms of salary.

Chief Knowledge Officers (CKOs) are the focal points to leverage the organizations' knowledge into tangible business results and to gain competitive market advantage.
Chief Learning Officers are the focal points to leverage an organization's learning into tangible business results to gain competitive market advantage.

These positions are new, the responsibilities are evolving gradually and duties vary among different companies.

Sample of responsibilities for CKOs and CLOs include:
·         Strategic planning at the highest levels of the company
·         Ability to integrate diverse groups and work across all functions; develop the culture; build awareness of knowledge management or organizational learning.
·         Design and implement a knowledge and or learning infrastructure to tie together corporate databases, employees' tacit knowledge and paper files.
·         Consulting activities, organizational effectiveness
·         Work closely with CEOs

Dave Ulrich and team in their most recent book on "Leadership for results" (HBS, 1999) have outlined the following four skills for the CLOs:

1.      The CLO knows appreciates and influences business strategy including customer relationships and financial performance
2.      Understands the nuances of making change and applies the change
3.      Understands the essence of information and knowledge management and creates an organization in which learning occurs
4.      Maintains focus on training and development but is sensitive the entire array of HR practices.
Responsibility for building the next generation Leaders rests with the CLOs CKOs.

The CLOs and CKOs perform multiple roles like that of a Consultant, Entrepreneur, Technologist, Environmentalist, and a Champion of knowledge and Learning.  The roles and responsibilities are gradually evolving. It is in many cases a strategic as well as a possible informal role for the HRD professionals. This role represents a unique and historical opportunity for HRD managers to influence senior managers, impact the company's bottom line and build professional credibility.

Competencies required include:

·         Visionary outlook;
·         Strong people orientation and interpersonal skills,
·         Familiarity with technology and best practice studies'
·         Experience or capability in strategic thinking'
·         Familiarity with knowledge management tools or the newest learning methodologies
·         Strong customer service orientation
·         High level of flexibility

The conditions for the success of these roles fall into two categories: organizational values ad organizational systems and structures. On the values front, supportive senior management, rapid expansion mind set, culture of high trust, belief that knowledge and learning offer competitive advantage and customer orientation.  The organizational systems and structures include a good IT systems, integrated HR, IT and business units, strategic planning systems, measurement tools and standards.
It is estimated that KM is a 7.2 Billion-Dollar market in the US (Dataquest).
KM involves getting people to disseminate best practices, measuring results. 2 out f three are people issues and KM deals with these.

Performance Technology (PT) Knowledge management and HR professionals seem to be synergistic roles.

It is high time probably to give a new life to HRD, at least in some organizations, by abolishing the HRD roles and creating a new agenda for change and competence building through CLOs and CKMs. The hope is that at least through title changes the lost focus on learning can be brought back. This of course need not apply to those HRD Managers who are doing excellent job already in promoting learning and competence building.


Ravi Kumar said...
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T. V. Rao said...

The NHRDN Conferences held at Bangalore and Hyderabad have many strong points. One of the things I liked most in Bangalore conference was their doing away with mementos and instead donating that money to educate poor children. In both the conferences I am sorry to see no academic papers were presented. The quality of presentations in Hyderabad conference in most of the sessions I attended were good. The time given is also reasonable. This was followed by a research conference at MDI and I must appreciate that it is based on research and time given as per the schedule I have seen is very adequate.
Many B-schools are holding HR Conclaves. I suppose mainly to get HR fraternity to visit their campuses.While this is a good placement strategy, some people like me get easily trapped and discover that no one pays attention to what you say and not even the students as most of them are busy receiving dignitaries and taking care of them. I would rather prefer to visit these B-Schools and spend a day or two giving lectures to students rather than visiting them in the name of HR Conclaves and return dissatisfied. The most inconvenient thing I find is carrying the big fat mementos they give which lose meaning after some time.

Sweet Ana said...

Nice Efforts done. Useful Blog
Thanks & Regards

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