CorpU Weekly Digest: Learning Excellence (2012-Mar-05)

Topics: Learning Excellence

Here are this past week's headlines in learning excellence: 

 On Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Freek Vermeulen on Drawing Conclusions from Data
London Business School professor Freek Vermeulen offers a healthy antidote to our culture which promotes conclusions from data points where true statistical analysis has not, or cannot, be conducted. An Incposting by Jessica Stillman based on research that shows "that a growing number of company founders and CEOs today are far more likely to hold advanced engineering degrees than MBAs and that the overall age of business leaders is steadily trending downward". As Prof Vermeulen notes, the quality of the research that is being used to promote some new idea is suspect: "There is nothing wrong with deriving some interesting statistics from a database, but you have to be modest and honest about the conclusions you can link to them. It may sound more interesting if you claim that you find a definitive conclusion about what degree leads to start-up success – and it certainly will be more eagerly repeated by journalist and in subsequent tweets (as happened in this case) – but I am afraid that does not make it so." Read Professor Freek Vermeulen's blog posting, "Business Exposed"

 Counting what counts — data, statistics, analytics, and keeping your learning function on track 
For a long time, Prof. John Boudreau, author of Retooling HR and Beyond HR, used to include a slid ein his presentations that read, "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted” (from William Bruce Cameron's Informal Sociology). In a recent post over at the Atlantic Monthly, Ben McAllister, the creative director of the innovation firm frog, makes a strong case why not to fall into the easy trap of looking only at available data. "The fact that something is hard to measure doesn't mean it isn't real," as he points out. Improvements to data analytics and being awash in a sea of data points, however, may drive business leaders — or learning leaders, for that matter — to focus not on what brings the most value but what can be shown to have the biggest impact on the data. He notes that this behavior could result in trading long-term health and strategy for short-term gains. The article is a quick read, and worth the time. Read “The Atlantic Monthly's Addicted to Data: How an Obsession With Measuring Can Hurt Businesses”

 Improving knowledge sharing across departments and across borders is critical for trust and for innovation
IESE's Marco Tortoriello and David Krackhardt of Carnegie Mellon University analyzed data and questionnaires from 276 scientists from the R&D department of a large multinational, multi-divisional, high-tech company, where the generation of new patents and a culture of innovation were of great importance. It would probably not be much of a surprise to note the importance of accessing knowledge from across organizational boundaries through bridging ties is critical to innovation. The upshot of this research is that organizations interested in fully leveraging their knowledge and capabilities may need to consider the strength and structure of their ties across formal organizational boundaries. There are also wider implications when considering other organizational phenomena: for instance, career advancement will not necessarily come through opportunities or information accessed through bridging ties per se, but as the ability to leverage support from key players in previous repeated interactions where loyalty and trust have developed.  Read the article "Activating Cross-Boundary Knowledge"


 Why has Apple succeeded while Kodak has declared bankruptcy? Is it simply a question of technologies or of business strategy as well?
In this Knowledge@Wharton article, Karl T. Ulrich, Vice Dean of Innovation and CIBC Professor of Entrepreneurship and e-Commerce at the Wharton School, provides insight into the strategies of today's most innovative companies. He suggests that main idea behind an innovation tournament is to generate or identify a large number of innovation opportunities, and then to use one or more development steps and filters in order to identify those few that are really exceptional. Answering the question that "Is it important for failure to be accepted as part of the process of becoming a successful innovator", he suggests that the goal in innovation should be to fail as early and inexpensively as possible. Big failures are no fun and he doesn't think should be reinforced by culture. No one likes failure, but failure that's early and inexpensive, you may not even categorize as failure, you categorize it as I learned something very inexpensively and now I can try again with much better information. That's more an adaptive learning process, where you look to test your hypothesis as early as possible and as inexpensively as possible. Read "Wharton's Karl Ulrich Analyzes the Strategies of Today's Most Successfully Innovative Companies”

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The Business of Learning: New Major Products, Mergers, Acquisitions, and Partnerships

No major news in mergers, acquisitions, or product releases.

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 Books To Read

As a contributing editor at Booz & Co's Strategy + Business journal, professor at the University of Regina's Graduate School of Business (associated with the Center for Creative Leadership, CCL), and business advisor, David Hurst has been distilling his wisdom into excellent books for some time. On April 17, he will release the companion piece to Crisis & Renewal: Meeting the Challenge of Organizational Change. Instead of weaving together insights from science, sociology, anthropology, history, and personal business experience into a coherent picture of organizational growth, decay, and renewal, David Hurst in this forthcoming book “The New Ecology of Leadership: Business Mastery in a Chaotic World (Columbia Business School Publishing)”, focuses more on the individual manager and leader rather than the collective organization. The focus of the book is how individual business leaders to make and communicate meaning from their own management experience and education and thus improve their judgment, decision making, and wisdom. Hurst's core argument is that the human mind is not rational in a logical sense but in an ecological way. In other words, it has evolved to extract cues to action from the specific situations in which it finds itself. Therefore contexts matter, and Hurst shows how passion, reason, and power deployed as tools and embedded in settings can be used to change and sustain organizations for good and ill. The result is an inspirational synthesis of management theory and practice that will resonate with every reader's experience. Buy now

Professors Gary P. Latham (Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto) and Robert C. Ford (College of Business Administration of the University of Central Florida) are both well-respected as authors and thought leaders, and their forthcoming book HR at Your Service: Lessons from Benchmark Service Organizations offers a practical guide to help ensure that your team develops a strong appreciation for the power of anticipating and attending to the needs, wants, and expectations of managers and their employees first and foremost. As it provides practical tools and guidance on building world-class HR departments, this guide aids HR leaders to plan for future client needs, conduct internal audits, and hire as well as reward customer-centric individuals. Lessons learned from thriving businesses, such as Walt Disney Co., Marriott International Inc., and Darden’s restaurants, are also applied and explained in the HR context. Buy now


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Taking Talent Management from the Backroom to the Boardroom
Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2012, 14:15 GMT / 9:15 am ET (US)
Presenters: Raymond Waal, Michael Boedewig and Daniela Porr Register now

The Power Of Feedback
Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2012, 10:00am - 11:00am PT (US)
Presenter: Carole Robin, Stanford Graduate School of Business Register now

Get Started with HTML5 using Raptivity Interactions
DateTuesday, March 6, 2012, 11:00am - 12:00noon PT (US)
Presenter: Raptivity Register now 

The Power of Analytics: Moving from Data to Action
Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2012, 12:00noon - 1:00pm ET (US)
Presenter: Mollie Lombardi, Research Director of Aberdeen's Human Capital Management practice and Janet Manzullo, Vice President, Talent Acquisition, of Time Warner Cable Register now

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HR 2012
Date: March 13-16, 2012
Location: Las Vegas, NV, USA Register now

Enterprise Learning! Summit 2012
Date: March 20-21, 2012
Location: Alexandria, VA, United States Register now

Trends and Trendsetters in HR Shared Services
Date: March 28, 2012
Location: New York, NY, US Register now

The Six Disciplines of Learning Transfer: Presented by ASTD in Partnership with Fort Hill Company
Date: April 4-5, 2012
Location: Atlanta, GA, United States Register now 

Talent Management Summit
Date April 10-12, 2012
Location: São Paulo, Brazil Register now

Assessing & Developing High Potentials
Date: April 16-17, 2012
Location: Washington DC, US Register now

OnBoarding Talent
Date: April 16-18, 2012
Location: Sydney, Australia Register now

Learning TECH 2012
Date: April 23 - 25, 2012
Location: Chicago, IL, USA Register now 


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