The Resilience of Good

In these tough times, we see so much struggle around us. Our loved ones are struggling, our friends, our colleagues, many are struggling with what the pandemic is bringing about outside as well as within us. And we are struggling with them.

We get to hear of the shocking, the unforeseen, the unexpected, and the magnitude of the calamity reveals itself in new dimensions every day. The sheer deluge of information is often disturbing and unsettling, raising new and deeper questions as we read about happenings around us.

In this deluge we also hear of people’s response to the struggles they are facing.  So many of those responses build hope in the future of mankind, but we read about many more people who are callous, mismanaged, self-serving, or shortsighted at best, in their behavior.  It is very easy for us to lose sight of the goodness of our fellow humans in this deluge of negativity.  It doesn’t mean however, that the good isn’t there.

Good has always been less seen, less heard of, less spoken of, in the clamor for attention by the common Bad.  It has long been known, and we need to understand too, that Good loses to Bad because it isn’t loud enough, or juicy enough, or because Good doesn’t push itself ahead like Bad does.  This is the truth of this age of Kal-Yug.  It is also the reason why we need to pray for Good to emerge, for Good to be stronger, to be more prevalent, and to win over the world. 

We need to be discerning in the attention we pay, and in the winds of change we blow with every action of ours.  We have the power to cause Good, and to encourage goodness all around us.  Our power lies in our resilience, and how well we recognize, protect, and encourage Good!

May Good be with you 🙏

Our Customers are Different! The Edge of Knowledge

We often talk about how selling in the Learning & Knowledge industry is different from selling in other industries.

It is not only because our offerings are different, it actually begins with how our customers are different.

The purpose of the L&K industry is to enhance the ability of people to perform more and bigger tasks so that they can make their own industry grow!

We must realize that the customer in this industry (Learning & Knowledge) is usually different from customers of other industries, in several ways.

1.  The first and most significant difference is in the customer’s ability to spec what they want. Because the need being addressed by them has resulted from a lack of knowledge or skill in the first place, the customer themselves do not have the ability to solve the problem by specifying the solution.  Else they would have solved the problem anyway.

This leads to a paradoxical situation.  Where business and management gurus tell us to meet the customer’s requirements, in this case the requirements need to be developed by us, the professionals, to address the needs of our customers.  At best our customers can give us their needs, their preferences, their expectations, and their constraints.  This actually is the highest domain of selling – diagnostic, consultative selling.

2.  The second difference in customers of the learning & knowledge industry is that they also do not know whether the solution we are proposing is going to solve their problem or not.  This challenge emerges because of the unpredictability of human behavior, and the managers’ inability to predict accurately what the result of better trained staff will be, beyond the hope that they will perform better.

3.  The third difference is that customer delight is rarely achieved by the same level of delivery again.  The level of delivery – in terms of content, presentation, insights, creative and critical thoughts presented – needs to keep progressing for our customers to remain consistently delighted.  This is where our industry fails when quality improvement models advocating consistency are implemented, like ISO 9001.  The models are mistakenly interpreted by us to lead towards consistency of delivery, while actually to succeed, we need consistency of customer delight, which is rarely achieved by the same product delivered again.

 

4.  A fourth difference is that our services are ‘invisible’ to the untrained eye.  It can often be presumed that it is just communication that we build, and how hard is that for someone good with language.  In reality, language is only the medium of the art of instruction.  The art of instruction involves a keen appreciation of the context and motivation of the learners, and then to address their needs and wants with and experience that satisfies them, that brings ‘content’ to the ‘discontent’.  These two necessities require the Instructional Designer to not only be sensitive to the personalities and environment of the learners, but also to the concepts and practices of the domain they will benefit from.  This leads to the art of leading from learning, much beyond the mashing of words to ‘build’ learning material that reads right.

These Perspectives  highlight the need to consult and collaborate with customers, on the identification of the design inputs for the solution as well as on the benefits of the solution once it is implemented.  The professionals servicing the needs have to be experts, with knowledge to add to what the situation demands.

This is the primary reason why selling in the Learning & Knowledge industry is always consultative.  The business that is there to be had without consultancy is low value, competitive, effort-based and routine.  If we consider the Learning & Knowledge industry to involve Creativity, the business that is there to be had without ‘selling’ also will not require very ‘creative’ contribution from the suppliers, and will be far lower in value.

It is only fair to accept that every professional in the industry cannot be an expert at everything to begin with.  But that’s the key – to selling, and to delivering knowledge or skills.  So how do the professionals address this gap?  By making sure they are the fastest learners, they learn faster than the speed at which the situation changes.  They may not be experts to begin with, but with a reasonable and structured approach to learning, they can assimilate expertise faster than anyone else, and then simplify and deliver it to the customer scenario while there is still value to solving the ‘problem’ they want to address.  By the end of a project, the professionals certainly become the experts at the topic, and they take the least time to become such solutioning experts.

This makes it amply evident that the most fundamental skill to hone for professionals in the knowledge industry, is learning.  To learn how to learn is what we become the best at, and this gives us the edge of knowing more, the edge of knowledge.

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Beyond the SWOT – the ESHF Framework

Enjoy, Suffer, Hope, Fear (ESHF)

Human beings are peculiar phenomena.  More than ability and logic, our decisions and actions are defined by our emotions and feelings.  Dan Areily has written about how our irrationality sets us apart.  Jonathan Haidt, and other psychologists preceded Dan in researching how this leads to creativity and to our happiness.

The ESHF Framework can help us become aware of the motivation and velocity we are moving with.  Projecting into the future Horizons (near/far/distant) we can take charge of our journey towards the goals that are important for us.  We always achieve what we want!

ESHF for:  _______________________________________________

E-njoy

Horizon

S-uffer

Horizon
NO
S

A

R

NOSAR do I enjoy working towards, thinking about, helping others for>

1/2/3 NO
S

A

R

NOSAR do I suffer (tolerate) working towards, thinking about, helping others for>

1/2/3

H-ope

Need

F-ear

Need
NO
S

A

R

NOSAR do I hope to have achieved, thought through>

NO
S

A

R

NOSAR do I fear will come in my way, or bring me pain>

* N: Needs; O: Objectives; S: Specifications; A: Activities; R: Results (Requirements)

— O —

Doing a SWOT?

Whenever I’ve done the SWOT, for whatever it might be, I realized the points I would put down got a little confused as I went ahead to complete the SWOT.  Perspective would change even as I thought through the points.  Opportunities and Threats would become confused about who or what I had to focus on.

I realized if we had a framework which guided our thinking with constant questions, it would do so much for the quality of the SWOT, its completeness, consistency of perspective, and relevance.  Here I share a framework for doing the SWOT for an Individual, as well as another for an Organization/Team.

Happy SWOTing!!

1.  SWOT for an Individual

SWOT for:  ________________________________________________

S-trength

Trend

W-eakness

Trend
C

A

S

K

B

<enter here what current Competencies, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, and Behaviors, are helping you to achieve what is needed>

+/-/=

<enter here whether trend is ‘+ve’,     ‘-ve’, or ‘flat’>

C

A

S

K

B

<enter here what current Competencies, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, and Behaviors, are preventing you from achieving what is needed>

 +/-/=

<enter here whether trend is ‘+ve’,     ‘-ve’, or ‘flat’>

O-pportunity

Need

T-hreat

Need
C

A

S

K

B

<enter here what current Competencies, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, and Behaviors, are you working on which will help you to achieve what you expect will be needed.  Look at trends in S and W, as well as any new C-A-S-K-A-Bs you realize that you are working on.>

<enter here for which need a point is an opp-ortunity> C

A

S

K

B

<Look at downward trends in S and W to identify which Competencies, Attitudes, Skills, Knowledge, and Behaviors, might prevent you from achieving what will be needed>

<enter here for which need a point is a threat>

2.  SWOT for an Organization/Team

SWOT for: ______________________________________

S-trength

Trend

W-eakness

Trend
  • Market/Customer – needs, behavior, trends
  • Competencies – includes reservoirs of Knowledge, Skill, Attitude
  • Processes – includes policies, methods, standards, best practices
  • Capacity – includes people, funds, resources, infrastructure
  • Vision – includes values, motives, and beliefs

<enter under each heading what current facts are helping the organization to achieve what is needed>

<enter here whether trend is ‘+ve’,     ‘-ve’, or ‘flat’>
  • Market/Customer – needs, behavior, trends
  • Competencies – includes reservoirs of Knowledge, Skill, Attitude
  • Processes – includes policies, methods, standards, best practices
  • Capacity – includes people, funds, resources, infrastructure
  • Vision – includes values, motives, and beliefs

<enter under each heading what  current facts are preventing the organization from achieving what is needed>

<enter here whether trend is ‘+ve’,     ‘-ve’, or ‘flat’>

O-pportunity

Need

T-hreat

Need
  • Market/Customer – needs, behavior, trends
  • Competencies – includes reservoirs of Knowledge, Skill, Attitude
  • Processes – includes policies, methods, standards, best practices
  • Capacity – includes people, funds, resources, infrastructure
  • Vision – includes values, motives, and beliefs

<enter under each heading what current initiatives are you working on which will help the organization to achieve what you expect will be needed.  Look at trends in Strengths above and Weaknesses, as well as any new Competencies, Processes, Capacity, etc.that you realize the organization is working on.>

<enter here for which need a point is an opp-ortunity>
  • Market/Customer – needs, behavior, trends
  • Competencies – includes reservoirs of Knowledge, Skill, Attitude
  • Processes – includes policies, methods, standards, best practices
  • Capacity – includes people, funds, resources, infrastructure
  • Vision – includes values, motives, and beliefs

<Look at downward trends in Strengths and Weaknesses to identify which of the above (bulleted) attributes might prevent the organization in the future from achieving what will be needed.>

<enter here for which need a point is a threat>

— o —