• October 30, 2019 11:19 AM | Anonymous

    Written by Rachel Ojala DumkeTalent Development Manager for First Bank Financial Centre

    …The first of a four-part series on preventative health in learning and development.

    The skin is the largest and most visible organ. It is among the first to reveal what is going on inside our bodies. This “canvas” is decorated and adorned to reflect, in part, who we are. It wears the choices we make, whether in the permanence of a tattoo or a fleeting smile.

    Just as your skin plays a role in telling your personal story, reflects your physical and emotional health, and contributes to others’ perceptions of what one is about to experience in your presence, so too does the “skin” of your learning and development department. The presentation of your learning solutions (e.g. your LMS homepage, ILT participant materials, vILT welcome screen and presentation, e-learning content, internal communications, collateral, etc.) convey the following: 

    1. Your purpose:

    - What story does it tell?

    - Does it align with the organization?

    - If your department were gone, would employees care? Why? The value of what you offer is rooted in that response.

    2. The health/state of your department:

    - Does it strengthen your organization’s health?

    - Is it reflective of your organization’s learning culture, consistent interdepartmental collaboration and employee knowledge-sharing?

    3. The learner experience:

    - What learning formats (think: ILT, vILT, e-learning, blended) are used?

    - What learning styles (think: VAKT) are being catered to, if not all?

    - What is the learner supposed to feel at various intervals?

    - What is the return on the learners (monetary/time) investment?

    In times of rapid organizational change and growth, it is easy to lose sight of small details. Over time, that takes its toll on the “skin.” Materials become dated, messages fall out of sync, accuracy suffers and the wrong channels are used. As a result, our business partners and others we serve stop listening.

    Whether you are a department of one or many, the following three “preventative health” practices* will ensure the image you project is an accurate reflection of who you are:

    1. Create a style guide (for all channels of communication and development) and adhere to it.

    2. Maintain an audit schedule and make core programs a priority.

    3. Develop a cross-departmental learning council.

    Assign ownership of the aforementioned tips and integrate them into your team meeting agenda. Consistent execution will enhance the overall wellness of your department, attracting employees who want to access and share knowledge.

    Whether you call it your “skin,” “look and feel,” or “brand,” it matters. Done well, it is magnetic. It attracts the audience who would most benefit from what you have to offer and accelerates your ability to make a difference in others’ lives.

    * Keep an eye out for the three remaining blog posts in this four-part series in which all members of the Talent Development Team at First Bank Financial Centre will share their expertise.

    About the Author

    As a circus performer, turned banker, Rachel is committed to bringing the same comfort, joy and excitement that is experienced under the Big Top into each interaction with clients and colleagues.

    The seeming contradiction of performance expertise (acquired over 20+  years as an entertainer and competitor) with financial services expertise (acquired from over 20 years with global, regional and community banks) has provided an invaluable perspective aiding in:

    - strategic collaboration with internal and external business partners to bring creative thought into a highly regulated framework;

    - maximizing the engagement and expertise of talent to achieve desired business results, and

    - creating clients who are advocates of the First Bank Financial Centre brand.

    Her breadth of banking experience includes:

    - Retail Banking

    - Consumer Lending (sales and product development)

    - Talent Development (organizational strategy, program & curriculum design, and facilitation) - CPLP

    - Marketing Management (Credit Card and Customer Segments)

    - eBanking Management

  • October 20, 2019 6:31 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Daniel JakubowskiTalent Development Coordinator for Guardian Credit Union

    Feedback means many things to many different people. The word itself can conjure up a wide array of associations. For the purposes of our discussion, we will start with the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which list three primary uses for the noun feedback:

    1. Helpful information or criticism that is given to someone to say what can be done to improve a performance, product, etc.;

    2. Something (such as information or electricity) that is returned to a machine, system, or process;

    3. An annoying and unwanted sound caused by signals being returned to an electronic sound system.

    While straightforward enough in its definition, feedback has been misused and misinterpreted since its first use in 1919, with individuals falling into camps about which of the three should be listed first. Throughout these blog posts, we will demonstrate that by taking small, but deliberate steps in how you approach giving feedback, we can be sure that you and your teams will fall firmly into the “helpful information” camp rather than the “annoying and unwanted sound” camp.

    To get to that point, this will be the first of three blog posts from SEWI-ATD that will take a closer look at feedback. Throughout these posts we will make some research-backed suggestions on how best to formulate and deliver your message for maximum impact.

    Why is Feedback Important?

    Communication is the first step toward creating a productive workplace. We firmly believe in creating a supportive work environment where everyone can reach their full potential, develop themselves and contribute to the Mission, Vision, and Values of the organization. However, the question to ask is how will we know if we are doing that? The answer is, by discussing it. In order for us to take stock of our goals as individuals and as an organization, we must define them and communicate their progress. Effective feedback is the first step to building that environment and opening the lines of communication between supervisors and their staff.

    As we will demonstrate throughout these texts, clear and effective performance feedback when delivered properly will bring the following benefits to you and your teams:

    • Eliminates uncertainty:

    o Lack of communication of performance and expected results that lead to stress and resentment and lack of security.

    o There tend to be gaps in how we perceive ourselves and how we are actually performing.

    • Engagement and Continuous Improvement:

    o Regular feedback means we are communicating regularly and exchanging information – engaging, as it were. We can use that information to improve and develop ourselves. Organizations with engaged workforces perform better.

    • Motivation to succeed:

    o While we might not like to give feedback, negative or otherwise, the research we present in this discussion will demonstrate how selecting the right feedback message, format, and delivery strategy will motivate you and your teams to improve and succeed.

    Lastly, and perhaps most crucially for us as Learning and Development Professionals, feedback is a crucial aspect of no less than four of the ten Areas of Expertise (AOEs) of the ATD Competency Model: Training Delivery, Performance Improvement, Coaching, and Change Management .

    Now that we’ve made a case for the importance and benefits of feedback, we will devote the remainder of this post to a useful framework for formulating your feedback message: The Center for Creative Leadership’s Situation, Behavior, Impact (SBI) Model.

    The Key to Effective Feedback: Situation, Behavior, Impact (SBI) Model

    Think about the last time you gave some negative feedback (at work or at home). Did the recipient respond: “Thanks for pointing that out! I whole-heartedly agree with your assessment of me!”

    Perhaps or perhaps not.

    As often as not, even if we have the best intentions, the responses range from denial to defensiveness to just plain ignoring or disregarding our message. However, if we adjust our message, we can go a long way toward ensuring we are heard as we want to be.

    In the most basic sense, feedback is communicating information about a person’s behavior. In order for behavior to be impacted by feedback, we must be sure that the feedback information is understood as we intend it. That involves carefully crafting our message. Getting other people to heed our advice is a challenge for everyone.

    The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) has formulated a tool for delivering quality feedback which they call SBI: Situation, Behavior, Impact. Using this tool, the CCL advises to think of feedback information in terms of these three criteria. Effective feedback can be as little as three short sentences if they are formulated effectively. We will now briefly describe the three criteria and how best to formulate those sentences.

    Situation: describe the specific date, time, place, and context.

    Feedback should demonstrate specific information. When delivering feedback to your staff, make sure that you are clear and specific about when and how the behavior you want to address occurs. Also, be specific. Say things like, “yesterday during opening procedures,” “October 1st at 12:00 pm during the committee meeting in conference room A,” or “This week Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.” Avoid generalities like “all the time,” “often,” “3 times,” or “last week. ”

    Behavior: describe the observable behavior.

    This can be easy to lose to track of without concerted efforts, but feedback should focus on behavior, not individuals. Keep to objective facts. Don’t include your opinion, judgements, or rationalizations.

    Remember, you are not trying to fix anyone. You are either trying to change or encourage their behavior to improve their performance. Say what the person did: “you arrived at 9:10 when we expected you at 9:00 sharp,” or “your calculations in the report were inaccurate because you didn’t use the most recent data.”

    Don’t assume the reasons for this behavior. While you may think the person arrived late because they’re careless and overslept, or their calculations were wrong because they rushed to get them done, you don’t know and can’t know for sure. If your explanation is wrong, it will undermine your message. Worse yet, the judgements could make the person more defensive than they would have been. Stick to the observable actions.

    Don’t say things like “you were late again” or “you made a bunch of mistakes,” or “you rushed to meet the deadline and weren’t careful enough.” This goes the same for supportive judgements like “I remember when I was new,” or “I know traffic is bad in the morning.” It is very good to listen to the receiver’s situation and respond accordingly, but don’t water down your message of what they are doing.

    Remember, the behavior can be positive too! “You gave a very strong presentation in the committee meeting yesterday,” or “you solved that customer’s problem. ”

    Impact: describe how this behavior affects you, your work, or the team; answer the question “why do I care?”

    Before you give any feedback, you need to decide why you care. Sadly, not everyone cares about the same things that you do. Rather than fall on your fainting couch to know that members of your team have different priorities, take this opportunity to clearly lay out exactly why this matters.

    The person will need to know why this behavior is being addressed and what effect it is having. You can describe objective and measurable impact like “we just lost an important account” or “it created an unsafe situation where someone could have been injured.”

    Of course, you should avoid being overly dramatic with phrases like “they’ll shut us down” or “someone will get fired.” And be careful about cause and effect, conditional statements, or blame, like “If you hadn’t said that to our client, we wouldn’t have lost their business,” as you could be opening the door to a defensive denial, or resentful ignoring.

    You can also use subjective words like “upset,” “stressed,” or “worried,” but be sure you are only talking about your own feelings and not putting words in people’s mouths or blaming someone else for your own feelings. For example, “I felt stressed because we didn’t have enough people to cover the shift” or “I am worried that we will lose business if this happens regularly.”

    Also, don’t forget about positive impacts! You can say things like “grateful,” “proud” or “impressed.” For example, “I was impressed when you took care of the members concerns without outside help” or “I was grateful that you completed this project ahead of schedule.”

    Determining the precise impact of someone’s behavior is important. The other person is usually not aware that their actions are creating this effect. For instance, a person who tends to arrive late in the morning, might not realize how it causes stress for other members of the team, the receiver is much more likely to be motivated to change if the impact means something to them.

    Feedback is most effective when it follows the SBI format. SBI format is a brief statement that focuses on the specific Situation, the objective Behaviors demonstrated (not judgements or interpretations), and the Impact of this behavior (why do I care?).

    *** Part one of a three-part series*** More to follow. 


    i  Feedback. 2018. In Dictionary - Merriam-Webster for Android (Version 4.2.0) [Mobile application software]. Retrieved from http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/feedback.

    ii Feedback. 2018. In Dictionary - Merriam-Webster for Android (Version 4.2.0)

    iii Tugend, Alina. (2014, May 16). Uncertainty about jobs has a ripple effect. The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2018, from http://nytimes.com.

    iv  Vance, Robert J. (2006). Employee engagement and commitment [White Paper]. Retrieved October 2, 2018, from Society for Human Resource Management: https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/special-reports-and-expert-views/Documents/Employee-Engagement-Commitment.pdf

    v Gentry, William A. & Young, Stephen F. (2017). Busting myths about feedback: What leaders should know [White Paper]. Retrieved March 20, 2018, from Center for Creative Leadership: https://www.ccl.org/articles/white-papers/busting-myths-feedback-leaders-know/

    vi Association for Talent Development. ATD Competency Model. Retrieved September 10, 2019, from https://www.td.org/certification/atd-competency-model

    vii Gentry, William A. & Young, Stephen F. (2017).

    viii Weitzel, Sloan R. (2000). Feedback that works: How to build and deliver your message. Center for Creative Leadership. ISBN (eBook) 978-1-923973-05-1

    ix Weitzel, Sloan R. (2000).

    x Weitzel, Sloan R. (2000).

    About the Author

    Dan Jakubowski is an internationally recognized Talent Development professional with over 14 years of experience in training and adult education. He has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and started his career as an English language teacher to adults in job training programs. Dan has extensive training experience in Russia and in Eastern Europe. He has facilitated learning to individuals representing more than 13 countries throughout the world and counting.

    Dan is currently the Talent Development Coordinator for Guardian Credit Union, a Milwaukee- based not for profit financial cooperative. He designs and delivers training and develop programs that focus on feedback, coaching, and helping all levels of the organization reach their full potential and deliver for our members. 

  • September 17, 2019 1:27 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Derrick Van Mell

    Founder and CEO of the Center for Management Terms & Practices

    The 5,000-year-old secret to training success

    I went to an expensive training conference last month, and it opened with a professional emcee, loud music and two CEOs humiliating themselves (in my opinion) doing some kind of skit. My immediate reaction was the trainers knew the content wasn’t interesting enough on its own. I left early.

    I get it, though. In training, you engage or you fail. We live in the Age of Distraction, so you need to get people’s attention in 15 seconds. A room of unengaged learners is an empty room with the lights off.

    But if you’re delivering something important and you know your stuff, you shouldn’t need to trick me into paying attention. I should know what you’re teaching is going to help me get recognized for doing better work.

    So, how can you get people bought in 15 seconds? The answer is about, oh, 5,000 years old. Everyone loves a story—particularly if it’s about them. A story is always the best way to get people engaged. Here’s the first tip: open with your own story. You don’t need a deejay or a pile of merch. Just sit on a stool and tell it.

    In media res (“In the middle of things”)

    Great storytellers often open right in the middle of the action. Iron Man starts with Tony Stark speeding through some secret desert in a string of camo Humvees. It doesn’t start with Robert Downey, Jr. sitting on a chair in his workout sweats telling the audience what the movie is going to be about.

    Start immediately with your own relevant story. Don’t even pause to review the agenda or tell people where the bathrooms are. Let’s say you’re training people in Excel. Start with a story like,

    “On a Sunday morning in August 2017 my wife and I were sitting at my kitchen table rummaging through a shoebox full of receipts for a home remodeling project. We were frightened we were going to be $20,000 under water, but couldn’t figure out what to do. On Monday, just before our morning management meeting, I was telling our CFO about it. She said, ‘Make a spreadsheet with columns for the vendor, date, amount and, oh, the kind of work. Then sort it in different ways and see what you see.’ That night, our son opened Excel, created the spreadsheet and threw in some pie charts. In five minutes, we saw that we’d spent too much too soon on finishes and not enough on infrastructure. So we returned the $15 cabinet handles and brainstormed with the electrician how to get the rough-in done two weeks earlier. We’d not only solved the problem, we were now confident we could solve the next problems.“

    Not only have you engaged them with your story, you’ve modelled how to tell their own stories. Which is the next step.

    Then get them to open their stories

    Organize into small groups. Go around the table asking, When was this subject an issue in your life? Don’t let the learners get away with generalizations. Dig for a real instance. When did this happen? Who else was there? Where were you when in happened? Draw out the details, the sights, sounds, the people. Each person’s story will enrich everyone else’s picture of why the topic is important to them. Sharing stories connects people, which also binds them to the topic.

    Now that they’ve got their own full-color mental movie playing with themselves as Iron Man, they’re ready to listen and learn. Now you’re ready to start delivering content…

    ….Keep them engaged after the session’s over

    Close by getting people to write their story for the future. Ask, How will your day be different now that you’ve learned this new thing? This doesn’t take long, but it keeps the learning alive until they’ve turned this little piece of make-believe into a rewarding reality.

    In 2001, a friend of mine took over the accounting department of a 1,000-person medical research company (he’s now CEO). But back then he said to his team of three, We’ll know we’re successful when people come into our office asking for our opinions on big decisions—not just to complain about their statements. It was a story: it had setting, characters and action. Everyone could picture it and everyone wanted to make it come true. And it did come true! Now that’s a story about Excel everyone would want to be part of!

    About the Author

    Derrick Van Mell is founder and CEO of the Center for Management Terms & Practices (www.theindex.net). The Center is the standards body for general management. It is responsible for providing managers around the world with standard terms and tools so departments can work cross-functionally and everyone can enjoy meaningful work. The Center trains managers at all levels to use its 1-page planning and project tools, which lets executives delegate with confidence. Derrick is the published author of two books and dozens of articles, and he speaks internationally about leadership and management. He has a BA in Economics, an MBA and an MA in English. He is a member of both ATD-SEWI and ATD-MAC.

  • September 05, 2019 4:59 PM | Anonymous

    Written by Betsy Rozelle, Affinity Builder

    Affinity: the connection between and among people, based on common experiences, passions, and interests. The ability to discover and develop those connections is the key to successful relationship building.

    "You never get a second chance to make a good first impression"

    - Will Rogers

    I love meeting new people. Whether they’re a potential friend or client or someone I may never see again, I’m fascinated by the world of possibilities that opens up every time a new person comes into my life.

    Whether you share my passion for meeting new people or not, I hope you share my passion for wanting to make a good first impression . . and for building affinity.

    One thing I love about the concept of building affinity is that ALL of us have the ability to do it. Yes, it’s fairly basic, but, no, not everyone is good at it. And, even those who have the skill sets aren’t always deliberate about using them. Even at the very elementary level of “meeting new people,” we often breeze into the opening moment without making the most of the opportunity.

    Social psychologist Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School specializes in studying first impressions (cool job, ha?). In her TED Talk:


    she explains how powerful our non-verbal communication is. Our body language has a significant impact on our ability to have successful relationships.

    Since looking at relationships and first impressions through my “affinity-building” lense for the past several years, I’ve concluded that, in addition to the extreme power of our non-verbal communication, there are three basic, but crucial, “first steps” to a successful relationship when meeting someone new:

    1.CARE about people.

    “Thank you, Captain Obvious,” you’re probably saying. The term “care” is trite . . . but unless you truly care about the people you meet, you won’t be successful at building strong relationships. Period.


    When you introduce yourself to others, always make strong eye contact, along with a firm handshake, and give your first AND last name. If the person you’re meeting gives you only his/her first name, be sure to ask what the last name is. It seems counter-intuitive, but when you disclose only your first name and accept only his/her first name, you’re missing the opportunity to share more about yourself (your “tribe”).. I’m Betsy Rozelle . . . not Betsy Smith, not Betsy Ross. Bonus: in almost every case, the last names you share with each other will spark some recognition or affinity (e.g. “oh, are you related to Pete Rozelle? . . . or, “I went to high-school with a Rozelle”). Seize upon the opportunity to find commonalities right from the start. Ask a specific question about his/her name.


    Another way to show you care when meeting someone for the first time is to start a conversation about his/her background, interests, and experiences. Use “Tell me about” to invite them to share their stories. “Tell me about that cool necklace,” or “Tell me about how you and Tom met.” Capitalize on where interests/experiences intersect. Or, if you don’t see many similarities between your experiences, build affinity by showing an interest in some of the experiences that s/he shared. “I’ve never had a motorcycle, but I admire my neighbor’s Harley from a distance. Have you ever been to a Harley rally? I heard those are some major fun.”

    You and the people you meet will walk away from your first exposure feeling that you have made an important personal connection and that you are “in this thing together.” The relationship building takes root from there.

    About the Author

    Betsy Rozelle is a corporate trainer, public speaker, and the author of Seeking Common Bonds. Her passion and enthusiasm for helping others become intentional affinity builders is contagious. She works with leaders and teams to increase engagement, build more cohesive teams, and become successful relationship builders. She’s also unapologetically obsessed with on-line word games and pasta. Contact her at brozelle@new.rr.com and www.buildaffinity.com.

  • July 30, 2019 10:58 AM | Anonymous

    Leading organizations put humans at the center of work. SEWI-ATD VP, Finance, Genevieve Daniels, director of organizational development at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, was recently featured in a podcast Capital H: Reinvent with a human focus to share how talent development can drive these efforts:


    About the Author

    Genevieve Daniels is the VP of Finance for SEWI-ATD. She is also the Director of Organizational Development for Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.

    Learn more about Genevieve from her recent feature in our member spotlight. 

  • March 28, 2019 3:20 PM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger, Marilyn Zwissler, President of Zwissler Associates and 2016 SEWI-ATD Past President.

    There is so much more to creating and managing a training program around games than you see on the surface. Sure, pull up that game you like to play and, where are you? If you play anything from Checkers to Ready Player One, you are in another space. And what are you engaged in? Story and challenge.

    So how do you take that experience and turn your compliance safety training into something your employees will engage in, challenge them to learn, and achieve the goal your organization wants? What I learned from Sententia Gamification’s series is how to think of the learning outcomes in terms of a story that intrigues learners, teases them into a training, engages them to stay and see what happens. When was the last time you took a corporate training that challenged you? Something that made you stop clicking through PowerPoints to just take the test at the end? And made you come out of it with a new understanding or skill? That’s what gamification does.

    Monica Cornetti and Jonathan Peters take you on a journey where you apply the very principles of game psychology to your own projects. They take the lid off the surface and show you the inner workings of learning. We all learn from experience, and gamified programs provide deep learning that stays with us.

    Attending the Gamification Certificate program last year started me on a new instructional design path. I came away with a plan that I continued to develop in my own practice. But more than that, I am conscientiously aware of why I am choosing one game mechanic over another and who my players are. Don’t miss this opportunity to up your game and make your training programs the talk of your organization.

    Don't Miss out on this opportunity.

    Register now 

    About the Author

    Marilyn Zwissler is the President of Zwissler Associates and 2016 SEWI-ATD Past President. She has a Master’s degree in Adult Education and Organizational Development from Alverno College and is a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) . Today, she is an Adjunct Professor of New Media at Alverno College and a speaker for Balance Life Issues

  • December 07, 2018 10:26 AM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger, Matthew Meuleners, Leadership Trainer and Consultant at FOCUS Training, and SEWI-ATD President-Elect.

    A manager I meet with regularly called me to vent this morning.  

    "I give up. This new tech I hired is just not getting it. I've showed him again and again, but he keeps making the same mistakes. How do I get through to him?"

    This frustration is common among managers and leaders everywhere. We want our people to succeed... and the work to get done well.

    If you find yourself in this scenario, start by asking some clarifying questions:

    • Are these actually the same mistakes each time? Or is the employee discovering new ways to err as they repeat the process?
    • Are these actually mistakes? Or are they subjective choices that you prefer would be different?
    • Are these mistakes the fault of the employee? Or are there environmental factors that could be causing the errors?

    A "no" to any of these questions does not mean there isn't a problem to overcome. However, it is a different problem than the one we are discussing here. The process of coaching an employee to reduce and eventually eliminate repeated errors is challenging because it typically combines two forces that the leader needs to impact:

    1. How the employee learns

    Sometimes the root cause of repeated mistakes is exactly what we like to assume - they aren't getting it. Before you blame the learner, take a hard look at how you are attempting to teach the process. If you just sat down and told them how to do it, you delivered the equivalent of a lecture. Learning experts will tell you this is one of the least effective teaching methods, particularly when teaching an individual a complex task. Instead, try talking it through, then modeling it for them to observe, and then asking them to try it while you observe. Follow that up with a bit of Q&A. This is a greater investment of time, but makes it much less likely that you will have to go through it again. In the end, you will save time (and anxiety) with a more robust teaching approach.

    If you are exhausted by having to repeat yourself about how to do a process correctly for the third or fourth time, consider that this might also be part of the problem. If your teaching approach didn't connect with them last time, simply repeating yourself is unlikely to move the needle now. Try mixing up your teaching approach – a sample project, a case study, a new voice, or a round of shadowing another employee are all possibilities.

    2. How the employee is motivated

    There are times when the barrier to improvement is not skill but desire. When an employee knows how to do the task properly, but continues to make the same errors, a skilled manager will look to the drivers of motivation. What sorts of forces help the employee to make progress in other areas, and how can you apply them here? This could mean something as simple as asking to see a preliminary report before they complete the task, which adds some personal accountability earlier in the process. This could also mean walking the employee through the impact that their mistakes are having on their coworkers, which connects their results to a social force.

    In these cases when the error is really stemming from a lack of care (or self-awareness), motivating the employee to invest extra thought in the process is key. Leaders should remove as many barriers as possible to help. For example, limiting distractions or conflicting priorities for the employee on the day when that process needs to be their focus.

    These are just two considerations to help an employee learn from and eliminate errors in their work. Like any performance issue, the willingness of a manager to patiently coach is a significant factor. Take a deep breath, think about your approach, and try again.

    What other factors have you tackled in your experience coaching others to overcome a repeated error?

    About the Author

    Matt Meuleners has more than 18 years of experience as a Talent Development professional. He is a leadership trainer who is known for his ability to drill into an organization’s challenges. As Executive Partner with FOCUS Training, Matt focuses on corporate leadership and new product development. His specialties are: Training program design and delivery, consulting on leadership development and training, development of corporate mentoring programs, training audits, presentation skills coaching.

    Matt holds an MBA from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, School of Business Administration.

  • November 16, 2018 7:58 AM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger, Tom Dybro, Senior Talent Development Consultant.

    You’ve noticed Design Thinking is all the rage. As a talent/OD practitioner you may be considering these questions. How would you answer them today?

    • What is “Design Thinking” and why do I care?     
    • When and How will I add value to Design Thinking initiatives in my organization?
    • Who drives ROI for Design Thinking in my organization and what are the implications for talent development/OD?
    • What are next steps for me?

    In the Beginning…

    Design Thinking (DT) came to life in the 1950s and 60s just as “Mad Men”  (the popular TV Show as well as true-to-life characters entrenched in organizations then) – led corporate direction and growth by designing a superior product.* To “design” with the customer/client in mind, leaders of innovation needed a break from the linear, problem-solution mindset. Today, DT is a methodology and mindset which returns many millions of dollars to the bottom line in small, medium, large, manufacturing and service businesses alike. When performed with diverse teams with divergent perspectives who collaborate rigorously in each phase of the journey the team and organization win! Most importantly, DT enables the client/customer to remember your brand fondly and return for their experience with you over and over again.

    What is Design Thinking?

    When practiced in the true innovative and “organic” form, DT is not a series of steps lined up in chronological order that produce a desired outcome. Instead, a DT effort is meant to be simple, human-centered and empathetic (focused primarily on the customer/client). Consider it as a literacy and language around innovation. It is used in situations with significant ambiguity, and with little existing data to review at the outset. DT is iterative and focused on possibilities.

    Jeremy Alexis, Professor of Design Illinois Institute of Technology, explains that beyond mapping the end to end value chain, Design Thinking creates an ecosystem of partners for innovation.

    Stages in Design Thinking – Empathize, Define, Ideate (Generate Ideas), Prototype, Test

    Empathize - It is your effort to understand the way customers and clients do things and why; their physical and emotional needs; how they think about their world; and what is meaningful.

    Define – This is the result of getting close to your client/customer, thinking through and synthesizing and formulating a problem statement.

    Ideate – Using a wide lens to generate ideas. Use the wisdom of a diverse collective to go beyond, take liberty and expand your mind through and through.

    Prototype – Iterate multiple and divergent artifacts to replicate the client/customer’s interests. E.g. Put the client within a slice of the order fulfillment process and note their delight or dismay in real-time. This produces the possibility for a new “algorithm” to view the client/customer consumption of your end product.

    Test – Working out ideas into iterative trials and noting wins and opportunities to improve keeps you focused on the experience of end users.

    At its core, Design Thinking cultivates a deep sensitivity to the challenges and opportunities the customer/client faces with an emphasis on quickly spinning out mini prototypes and failures over and over ultimately leading to better experiences.

    Why has DT become so popular?

    Three things have made DT more appealing to organizations: 1) explosive complexity, 2) continued disruptive change, and 3) a greater premium on grabbing and retaining customers/clients in a technology-soaked environment that operates with increasing speed, 24X7, across our globe. Simply put, it is the “Amazonization” of…well…everything!

    Potential Next Steps…

    1. Educate yourself/team on Design Thinking (see resource list below)

    2. Step in – embrace Design Thinking. Remember a few years back when you were telling every manager who would listen about the 70-20-10 Model of Development. Yup – this is your opportunity to get your hands dirty in the 70%.

    3. Be about change management, raise your hand to lead the change effort. Business leaders want support to transform the business and this work demands a growth mindset (Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success). This is development and leadership-rich…go get ‘em!

    *While men dominated organizations in the 50’s and 60’s, both women and men with their unique perspectives are adding huge value.


    Harvard Business Review, “Design Thinking Comes of Age,” by John Kolko, September 2015.

    Wired Magazine, “The Origins of Design Thinking”

    The Art of Innovation, Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman

    Design Driven Innovation, Roberto Verganti

    The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitive Advantage, Roger Martin

    IDEO’s Human-Centered Design Toolkit

    Solving Problems with Design Thinking, Jeanne Liedtka and Andrew King

    The Design Thinking Process, YouTube Video –


    About the Author

    Tom Dybro has over 15 years of experience in human performance  consulting, coaching, and facilitation within financial technology services. He has a proven track record of support to leadership executives, teams, managers and individuals. Tom increases organizational effectiveness using tools and techniques that enhance communication, engagement and strategic direction and is Six Sigma trained. Dybro is a contributing author to the book Chained to the Desk – A Guidebook for Workaholics by Bryan Robinson.

  • October 31, 2018 4:12 PM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger Tresha Lovell Program Manager at Johnson Controls.

    Often exceptional training, produced by hardworking Learning and Development professionals, is under utilized or not used at all. Some have argued that Learning Management Systems are the cause; the sheer amount of content and lack of ‘user friendliness’ makes it difficult for learners to find the training content needed. Others have stated that they simply are unaware of the training resources available to them. Both arguments have merit and may also be true. However, the root cause for the arguments is the same: Learning and Development needs a positive ‘brand’ association within the organization that both excites and creates tangible value for learners. In the study, “Incentivizing Training: The Role of Corporate Marketing,” it is reported that “73% of respondents agree that L&D communication need to stand out more and 63% respondents agree that the L&D brands within their company should be more focused” (Training Industry). Scott Bedbury, CEO of Brandstream, describes the power of a positive brand this way: “ A great brand raises the bar—it adds a greater sense of purpose to the experience, whether it's the challenge to do your best in sports and fitness, or the affirmation that the cup of coffee you're drinking really matters” (Annand, “Branding the Learning Function”). As with consumer products, a positive, strategic brand for the Learning and Development function can increase the perceive value of the team’s contributions to the overall success of the organization.

    When attempting to sell a new product, marketing campaigns are typically waged via various communication mediums to convey the product’s value to the intended audience. Learning and development professionals should do the same when launching new training solutions to generate interest. However, marketing strategies alone will not guarantee that learners will take advantage of the new solutions, as Brevetta Hassell notes in her article, “Is Your Organization’s Learning Brand Effective?” (Hassell). The Learning function may lack a reputation for being a business partner to the organization: “To be more strategic in marketing their function learning leaders should begin by assessing their department’s brand” (Hassell). Bravetta Hassell provides further commentary given by J. Hruby, Vice President of sales and marketing at Fredrickson Learning, “every learning organization has one. ‘The question is, is it the brand you want?’” (Hassell). By understanding their current perceived value (or lack thereof), learning functions can begin the process of either rebuilding or enhancing their current reputation within their organizations.

    To accomplish this, it is vital that input about your performance is actively solicited from others outside of the department. Hassell summarizes the process by doing a 360 evaluation of the training function and its perceived responsibilities with stakeholders throughout the organization: “…gauge the current brand standing by: soliciting feedback from key business partners, monitoring learner and leader experiences and processes within the function and taking an objective look at the customer-friendliness of its products and initiatives” (Hassell). Once gaps are understood, learning leaders can then begin crafting a plan to change the perception of their department within the organization.

    The next step centers around building positive brand image within your organization. To create an effective brand, it’s necessary to understand what a brand is and how it can impact the Learning function: “…a ‘Brand’ is what creates an image, generates instant recall, and talks about a uniqueness while creating differentiation… A Brand brings in context and credibility in L&D initiatives such that employees start looking at them as impactful and functional solutions” (Gautam, “6 Marketing Skills For Learning And Development”). Learning leaders need to ensure they are aware of the long-term, short-term business goals and ensure that what they offer aligns to providing tangible solutions to reach those objectives. This will ensure alignment with stakeholders when trying to position learning as a partner that can service teams and improve the organization’s performance.

    As learning leaders continue to look for ways to prove their value to their organizations, they must first be honest with the value of the contributions their team has made to date and their reputation within the organization. Once these leaders make the necessary changes to position their teams as valued business partners, they will gain the respect of their business stakeholders and invitations will be given to join other business leaders in crucial conversations that determine the organization’s future. From there, a domino effect will ensue as training’s value is touted, not just by the learning team, but by those they serve.


    - Hassell, Bravetta. “Is Your Organization’s Learning Brand Effective? Chief Learning Officer, Chief Learning Officer – CLO Media, Inc. 5 July 2016, clomedia.com/2016/07/05/is-your-organizations-learning-brand-effective/.

    - Annand, Preethi. “Branding the Learning Function.” TD Magazine, ATD, September 2012, td.org/magazines/td-magazine/branding-the-learning-function.

    - Gautam, Amit. “6 Marketing Skills for Learning and Development.” eLearning Industry, eLearning Industry, 24 August 2018, elearningindustry.com/marketing-skills-for-learning-and-development.

    - “Incentivizing Training: The Role of Corporate Marketing,” Training Industry, Allencomm, May 2016, trainingindustry.com/content/uploads/2016/05/allencomm_report_2016_DIGITAL.pdf.

    About the Author

    Tresha Lovell is a Talent Development professional with over 7 years of  corporate learning experience. After starting her career in IT and business development, Tresha transitioned into training and development and has used her ability to design and implement learning solutions in various organizations, including Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual and SoftwareONE. Tresha's experience includes delivering training for complex technology solutions, systems, and consultative sales methodologies. A proven communicator and presenter, Tresha's passion is to equip both individuals and business leaders with the skills needed to uncover and fulfill their purpose.

  • October 31, 2018 3:57 PM | Anonymous

    Written by SEWI-ATD Guest Blogger Tresha Lovell Program Manager at Johnson Controls.

    Due to economic pressures, competition and stakeholder demands, organizations are steadily looking for ways to operate more efficiently. In many cases, this involves organizational streamlining and cost reductions to projects and initiatives and Learning and Development is often included in these budget cuts. In their book, “Training on Trial,” Jim and Wendy Kirkpatrick detail the scrutiny that training often undergoes to prove value by asking this question: “What evidence can you provide to demonstrate your value to the bottom line of the business in relation to your efforts?” (Kirkpatrick, pp 3). The business climate demands that learning and development evolves to find new methods to increase learning transfer, improve employee performance and show significant return on investment while spending less time and resources to do so. One solution has been the introduction of the Flipped Learning model in corporate training. In this article, we’re going to explore how this model provides quality training that increases employee engagement and learning transfer while reducing cost over time. By leveraging this model, Learning and Development teams can significantly improve employee performance, thereby, proving their value to their organizational leaders.

    The Flipped learning method was introduced by Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams and is based on the premise of introducing “direct instruction and lecture” material using on-demand tools before class and reserving classroom time to apply knowledge through interactive modalities like exercises, discussions and projects (Bergman and Sams, pp 29). With the increased development of low cost, easy-to-use technologies, organizations can create high-quality videos, screencasts, podcasts and eLearning materials that can be deployed ahead of instructor-led sessions (Jacot, Noren & Berge, pp 23-24). This approach allows focus and attention to be given to complex topics, individual instruction and real-world application during training sessions (Bergman and Sams, pp 29-30).

    Although originally introduced in K12 classrooms, the Flipped learning model and has been adopted in corporate training to answer the question if “professional training time [can] be maximized to meet the demands of specialized instruction, difficult schedules, various learning styles, expensive travel costs and constantly changing curriculum?” (Bergman and Sams, pp 29). The model answers this question by providing “a blend of both mediums – e-learning and classroom training – is often considered best for engaged and effective learning” (Majumdar “Flipped Classroom in Corporate Learning, Concept or Reality”). In addition to a shift in instructional design and development, and the role of the instructor also shifts under this model to that of a ‘coach’ (Bergman and Sams, pp 31) This enables learner to move beyond the first two level’s of Bloom’s Taxonomy and to begin moving up the triangle to Application and Analysis while in the classroom versus remaining at the bottom levels of the pyramid because of lack of time and/or resources to practice applying knowledge within their business context (“Bloom’s Taxonomy”).

    The final benefit centers around cost control and return on investment. Through extensive study on the Flipped Learning model and its benefit to corporate learning, researchers Melanie Jacot, Jason Noren and Zane Berge arrived at this conclusion:

    “For organizations aligning with constructivist ideals, looking to integrate modern Web-based applications and cognizant of the need for a reimagining of the conventional classroom environment, the flipped classroom will prove impossible to resist. Equally, corporations that see the value of in-class instructional sessions prioritizing creativity, experiential learning activities and authentic skills-based training that directly correspond to increased levels of productivity and ROI will be similarly allured” (Jacot, Noren & Berge, pp 27).

    As Learning teams continue to look for ways to both provide effective training solutions and control costs associated with Learning and Development, considerations must be given to non-traditional approaches. The Flipped Learning model is one such approach that has proven to be effective for talent development, improving employee performance and providing solid returns.


    - Bergmann, Jon and Aaron Sams. “Flipped Learning: Maximizing Face Time.” T+D Training + Development, ASTD, February 2014, Vol. 82, No. 2, pp: 28 – 31.

    - Kirkpatrick, Jim D. and Wendy Kayser Kirkpatrick. “Training on Trial: How Workplace learning Must Reinvent Itself to Remain Relevant.” Amacom, 2010.

    - Majumdar, Arunima. “Flipped Classroom in Corporate Learning, Concept or Reality?” G-Cube Blog, G-Cube, 13 Oct 2013, gc-solutions.net/blog/flipped-classrooms-in-corporate-learning-concept-or-reality/.

    - Jacot, Melanie and Jason Noren and Zane Berge. “The Flipped Classroom in Training and Development: Fad or Future?”

    - “Bloom’s Taxonomy.” Training Industry, Training Industry, 23 May 2013, trainingindustry.com/wiki/content-development/blooms-taxonomy/.

    About the Author

    Tresha Lovell is a Talent Development professional with over 7 years of  corporate learning experience. After starting her career in IT and business development, Tresha transitioned into training and development and has used her ability to design and implement learning solutions in various organizations, including Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual and SoftwareONE. Tresha's experience includes delivering training for complex technology solutions, systems, and consultative sales methodologies. A proven communicator and presenter, Tresha's passion is to equip both individuals and business leaders with the skills needed to uncover and fulfill their purpose.

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