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Monday, December 23, 2013

The Influence Style Spectrum: Five Preferences

This post continues a series of articles about influence style and the Influence Style Indicator (ISI) assessment developed by Discovery Learning, Inc. and Innovative Pathways.

We are all aware of the distinctive influence styles that people demonstrate. Some of these styles we instinctively understand and appreciate, while others we may find confusing, unclear, and frustrating. Our research has definitively identified five styles of influence. These five distinctive styles are Rationalizing, Asserting, Negotiating, Inspiring and Bridging. You can improve your leadership effectiveness if you know where you fall on the Influence Style Spectrum, when to modify your style, understand what situations your style works best in, and when it may prove ineffective. 

  • Asserting - You insist that your ideas are heard and considered and you challenge the ideas of others.
  • Rationalizing - You put forward your ideas and offer facts, logical, rational reasons to convince others of your point of view.
  • Negotiating - You look for compromises and make  concessions to reach outcomes that satisfy your greater interest. 
  • Inspiring - You advocate your position and encourage others with a sense of shared purpose and exciting possibilities.
  • Bridging - You build relationships and connect with others through listening, understanding and building mutually beneficial coalitions.

Understanding these styles can offer a critical window not only to your own ability to influence but also to appreciating how members of your team can work more effectively with each other. To best utilize each of these styles, leaders need to understand:

     • The value of each style
     • The most appropriate time to use each style
     • How each style can be used effectively
     • How each style might be used ineffectively

Contact us at Discovery Learning, Inc. for more information about the Influence Style Indicator assessment and how it might benefit your group or team.


See Also:

"Getting Your Way: Personal Style and Influence"


References

2011 Musselwhite, W. C., Penny, J. & Plouffe, T.  Influence Style Indicator Research & Development Report.  Discovery Learning Press,  Greensboro, NC.

2011 Musselwhite, W.C. & Plouffe, T.  Influence Style Indicator Style Guide.  Discovery Learning Press, Greensboro, NC.
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This post was adapted from a white paper by Chris Musselwhite, EdD, president and CEO of Discovery Learning, Inc.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Getting Your Way: Personal Style and Influence

In 2009 and 2010 Discovery Learning, Inc. and Innovative Pathways conducted research to identify and measure influence preferences. This research clearly identified five influence styles and resulted in an assessment tool, Influence Style Indicator (ISI), which effectively and efficiently measures an individual’s preferred influence style or styles. The complete Influence Style Indicator Research and Development Report is available for download from Discovery Learning, Inc.  Since 2010, considerable data has been collected using ISI that allows us to identify and better understand how influencing preferences are impacted by variables such as gender, nationality, and personality preferences. These will be discussed in future posts.

Introduction to Influence 

To influence effectively you must be adept at getting your opinions and ideas heard, recognized and considered by others. Influence inherently means that you are able to impact the ideas, opinions and actions of others. Influence strategies can range from reliance on position and power to education, encouragement and collaboration. When you influence effectively, you increase trust, support, and ownership for your priorities. When you influence ineffectively you increase mistrust, intimidation, and resentment. A key behavior of effective leaders is the capacity to influence those around them towards acceptance of beneficial outcomes. From the perspective of the Influence Style Indicator, we are defining influence as the interpersonal behaviors that we use to have a positive impact on another party’s choices.

Why Influence Matters 

Today’s workplace is characterized by levels of change and complexity that are unprecedented. Workplace realities such as identifying shared goals, leading complex and often dispersed teams, boundary spanning, coordinating matrixed projects and integrating diverse people and interests require the capacity to influence others. Good leadership involves leadership that has a positive and unifying impact. Whether you are leading, following, and/or collaborating, chances are you need to influence others to be successful. The ability to influence effectively is emerging as a key leadership skill for a new generation of leaders.

Have you ever been aware of someone’s influence style making an impact, positively or negatively, in a decision or direction your organization as making? Please share your comments below and contact us at Discovery Learning, Inc. for more information about Influence Style Indicator and how it might benefit your group or team.

References

2011 Musselwhite, W. C., Penny, J. & Plouffe, T.  Influence Style Indicator Research & Development Report.  Discovery Learning Press,  Greensboro, NC.

2011 Musselwhite, W.C. & Plouffe, T.  Influence Style Indicator Style Guide.  Discovery Learning Press, Greensboro, NC.
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This post was adapted from a white paper by Chris Musselwhite, EdD, president and CEO of Discovery Learning, Inc.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Leader As Artist

Max DePree, the former president of Hermann Miller and author of Leadership Is an Art, says, “Leadership is an art, something to be learned over time, not simply by reading books. Leadership is more tribal than scientific, more a weaving of relationships than an amassing of information, and, in that sense, I don’t know how to pin it down in every detail.” 

Leadership, like art, is part imagination and part effort, part image and part impression. It is a skillful combining of the tangible and intangible to create something that did not exist before. And as with great art, when it comes together – when it works – almost everyone recognizes it. 

Good artists pull together seemingly disparate ideas into innovative and novel concepts. They often need a safe and structured environment to explore their own creative process. The parallel in the world of organizations could be creating a safe and nonjudgmental environment where people can express their ideas, preferences, and perspective without fear of embarrassment or ridicule.

Creativity in thinking and skill in execution are the like-minded marks of great artists and effective leaders. Effective leaders understand the difference between creativity and creating. Creativity alone is not sufficient for innovation. Beyond thinking creatively, you have to actually create something. You have to implement. You have to “ship” (Seth Godin).  Innovation requires a set of skills and a way of looking at the world that extends well beyond the creative “idea generator.” Execution is key to creating - converting creative ideas into effective change and innovation. 

To create, successful artists and leaders must develop effective working relationships with people of different perspectives, preferences, skills, and talents. Each opportunity requires a new dialogue with different possibilities, challenges, tasks, and personalities. Those people who can best manage this messiness will best understand the art of leadership.

Artists or leaders can bring new ideas into reality through the collective efforts of people working together. How different is that task whether the person is an orchestra conductor or a CEO, a choreographer or a plant manager, a sculptor or a chief information officer? Leaders are artists; and, both the intangible quality of creativity and the tangible results of creating are required to succeed in any worthwhile endeavor.  

Please share your insights and questions by posting comments below. To learn more about how two world-class artists-turned-facilitators have integrated Change Style Indicator® in their work, click on the following link: https://www.discoverylearning.com/images/document/Excurs-Spring%202003%20-Revised%20Oct.%202013.pdf.
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About the author: Chris Musselwhite, EdD is president and CEO of Discovery Learning, Inc. (http://www.discoverylearning.com) 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Which competency do the best global leaders share?

In a study of the most effective global leaders, influence ranked as most important. Of twenty-one competencies, four ranked as important regardless of culture and World region:

     1) Creativity
     2) Resource allocation
     3) Risk taking and the most important
     4) Influence.

Influence becomes the single most important differentiator of success once a leader’s responsibilities shift from being leader of a single country (product line, project team, function, executive function, etc.) to leader of multiple countries.  Of course, differences exist between countries.  Influence is most important in Brazil followed by China, South Africa, Australia, the UK, USA, Canada and then India.  

The most likely explanation for the importance of influence may stem from the fact that global leaders see a 260% increase in the number of stakeholders they must deal with when they transition from leader of a single country to multiple countries.  

Compared to their less successful counterparts, the most successful global leaders spend more time with clients (especially potential clients), global peers, and government and community leaders. Interestingly, they spend less time with their employees. However, the time they do spend with their employees is strategically focused on development.

Ironically, of the twenty one competencies examined, influence is the one for which multi-country leaders are least effective with only one in four being viewed as highly effective.  So influence is the competency that matters most for global leaders while it is the one in which they are least competent.  This should be a big wakeup call for planners, designers and deliverers of leadership development for global leaders and for ‘would be’ global leaders.  

Where to start:  Assess personal influence preferences and cultural influence differences and understand the implications for leadership effectiveness.  

Source: Corporate Leadership Council Human Resources 2011 Survey

Please share your insights and questions by posting comments below. For more information on how to assess personal influence preferences, you can read about DLI's Influence Style Indicator on our website at www.DiscoveryLearning.com or use our Contact Page.  

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About the author: Chris Musselwhite, EdD is president and CEO of Discovery Learning, Inc.

Monday, October 28, 2013

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: University Executive Education Gets A Dose Of Reality

Business Simulations apply a "learn-by-doing" approach

FROM OPEN-ENROLLMENT non-degreed programs to small-group fast track MBAs or customized management education programs, university executive education programs are changing to meet the needs of executives. Having already experienced the demands and speed of the real world, managers grow weary with lectures and theory. As the pace of business accelerates, corporations are seeking a faster, more tangible return on their investment in education.

In response, university executive education programs are changing both the materials and the teaching methods by incorporating business simulations and interdisciplinary teaching teams into the classroom. By injecting real-life situations into the classroom, adult learners are more engaged in the curriculum.

Adults learn through self-discovery

Business simulations utilize discovery learning. Psychologists Carl Rogers and B.F. Skinner both agree that adults learn best through self-discovery. Rogers, the humanist, said, “Learning is facilitated when the learner participates responsibly in the learning process…significant learning is acquired by doing.” Skinner, the behaviorist, said, “To acquire behavior, the student must engage in behavior.”

The increased use of simulation has led to interdisciplinary teaching teams. A long-time complaint from the business world has been the academic tag-team teaching approach that sometimes includes the organizational theorist, the financial expert, and the marketing professor. This teaching method often fails to build bridges among different areas of expertise.

“A team approach not only brings the discussion of a business case study to life, but it gives students access to all the areas of expertise they will need to call on in the real world,” says Doug Bowie, manager of custom executive programs at the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business.

Dayle Smith, professor of management and organizational behavior at the University of San Francisco’s School of Business and Management, agrees, adding that “real integrative learning takes place when students have the opportunity to discuss and analyze business issues as they relate to different functional areas. Imagine a finance professor, a marketing professor, and an organizational behavior professor bringing up issues that require reconciling different priorities. Asking these types of questions requires the students to see how the areas fit together.”

Business simulation 

All of the universities using simulations agree that they are powerful tools for learning. First and foremost, simulations allow people to learn by doing. Research proves that concepts learned through discovery are quickly transferred from theory to action. In the words of Chris Agyris, discovery learning promotes “double-loop learning,” which promotes behavioral changes.

“It’s the ‘A-ha’ moments that are produced during the debriefing sessions that make simulations so effective,” says Ahmad Ezzeddine, assistant dean at the Wayne State University School of Business. “These are the moments that translate into real change in future behaviors.”

Simulations are widely used as course introductions because they are a great way to demonstrate why the integration of disciplines is needed. They are just as often used as capstone events because they demonstrate clearly how integration helps solve complex problems more effectively. This flexibility shows the relevancy of simulations to many different aspects of business, which is paramount to producing a tangible return-on-investment.

“Business customers demand that the training show their employees how to apply their learning in actual scenarios that apply to their business, and simulations are a great tool for that,” adds Ezzeddine.

Interpersonal skills 

Perhaps the biggest reason simulations are so valuable in the corporate classroom is their contribution to emotional intelligence. Relationship skills are a critical managerial competency. According to research conducted by Discovery Learning at the Center for Creative Leadership, 64 percent of managers selected developmental goals related to building better relationships as important competency skills, while just 37 percent selected goals related to being a better manager or administrator. Corporate education professors report their students learn as much from others in the simulation as from them.

Supplement, not replacement

While simulations are worthwhile additions to university-based programs, they are not intended to be replacements for traditional business academics. They are simply a safe practice ground for discovering the impact of various decisions in certain situations before having to apply it in the workplace. 

Please share your insights and questions by posting comments below. For more information on how to bring the experiential learning model to your organization's training program, visit our website at www.DiscoveryLearning.com or use our Contact Page. We have compiled extensive data to inform us about the best simulation and assessment instruments for different circumstances.
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This post was adapted from an article by Chris Musselwhite, originally published in T+D magazine (American Society for Training and Development).

Monday, October 14, 2013

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: Following Up on a Simulation

Effectively facilitated simulations provide learning that lasts years beyond the experience. Strategic post-simulation activities are critical to this sustainability, and an effective facilitator will seek out and play a key role in this process.

Some post-simulation activities that keep both the experience and the learning alive include:
  • Taking photos during the simulation and posting them on your company's website
  • Setting up an interactive learning community group, intranet blog, social networking site, or website
  • Encouraging participants to share their learning experience with others in the organization
  • Posting the key concepts learned during the experience on a learning community website.
You need to remain active post-simulation to increase the satisfaction that comes from making a real contribution to a group's ongoing performance.

You should take the time to gain a thorough understanding of the group, their function, and the learning objectives of the organization and the participants because these best practices will help you more effectively facilitate any simulation.

What additional simulation follow-up tools or strategies have been effective for you?

Please share your insights and questions by posting comments below. For help in selecting the right simulation, pairing a simulation with an assessment, or learning how to become certified to use any of our simulations, visit our website at www.DiscoveryLearning.com or use our Contact Page. We have compiled extensive data to inform us about the best simulation and assessment instruments for different circumstances.
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This post was extracted from an article by Chris Musselwhite,  Sue Kennedy, and Nancy Probst, originally published in T+D magazine (American Society for Training and Development).

Monday, September 30, 2013

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: How to Debrief a Simulation

The debrief is the most critical part of the simulation experience. Here, participants step back from the experience, reflect, and start to understand the significance that the course has for their lives and work. The instructor's manual for the simulation can be invaluable in planning the debrief.

Provide sufficient time

Nothing is more important than having sufficient time for the debrief.

Provide optimal room setup for debriefing

Unless the manual specifies otherwise, the best setup for an effective debrief is a tight horseshoe with you sitting at the opening. The intimacy created naturally facilitates communication and participation, and makes it easy for everyone to be heard and seen, which is important since body language can often be very significant.

Coach the leader

Coach leaders to listen carefully and to wait until others have weighed in before doing so themselves to keep from influencing the group. If a leader chooses to observe during the simulation, he should only observe during the debrief.

Reframe winning and losing

If participants feel that they have been unsuccessful in the simulation, they may feel dejected, and as a result, be less receptive to the learning that will take place during the debrief. To avoid this, you should communicate clearly that the success of the experience is not about the outcome of the simulation but about the learning that emerges from the debrief.

Provide time for reflection

This is important to all learners, but especially for introverted personalities who need time to reflect before they can comfortably share. Encourage journaling to capture thoughts and questions.

Ask good questions

An effective facilitator must ask thought-provoking, open-ended questions. Be careful to avoid leading questions that convey judgments or conclusions. For example: "Were you demonstrating a culture of risk aversion when no one challenged Joe's ideas during the redesign?" A more open-ended question is: "No one seemed to challenge Joe's suggestions. Why?"

Manage the naysayers

Occasionally, participants may have trouble extrapolating the simulation problem to their broader environment. They may say that they see no relevance to their actual work setting. Rather than defend the simulation, turn to a flip chart and create two headings: how the simulation is similar to their work, and how it is different. Give the participants time to fill out both lists. Next, acknowledge the differences, and then mark a big "X" through this list.

Keep the focus on the group's learning

Participants and facilitators alike will experience different observations during the simulation. It is important to use the majority of the allotted debrief time to assist the group in the discovery of their learning, not yours as the facilitator. If you choose to draw the group out on a sensitive issue, be sure to allow sufficient time for discussion. It is unwise and unfair to do so if there isn't enough time.

Encourage different perspectives

One of the most valuable parts of the debrief process is the realization that each person experiences people and situations differently. Encourage participants to share their perceptions even if they are different from what others share. If people are agreeing too readily, pose the simple question, "Is anyone willing to share a different perspective?"

Help participants make connections to the workplace

Once drawn into the simulation experience, participants will forget that they are not operating in the "real world." Throughout the debrief, take every opportunity to pose questions and facilitate discussion that will enable participants to draw parallels between their experience and the workplace.

Use creative tools to add value to the debrief

There are many creative tools that can enrich the debrief experience, including:
  • Energy or interest charts that ask each participant to chart his energy or interest levels at different times during the simulation
  • Relationship maps that create a visual representation of basic work groups (functions) in the simulation and how they perceive their relationships to other work groups in terms of importance, amount of contact, and influence
  • Graffiti walls on which participants draw symbols to indicate reactions or feelings throughout the simulation
  • Metaphors that draw comparisons between participants' experiences and team dynamics
  • Visual Explorer, through which participants can select pictures to represent the experience.

Exercise good judgment in timing

Each simulation has a prescribed debrief process outlined in the facilitation guide. Try to end a debrief session while there is still some energy in the room, especially if there will be subsequent debriefs for the simulation.

Please share your insights and questions by posting comments below. For help in selecting the right simulation, pairing a simulation with an assessment, or learning how to become certified to use any of our simulations, visit our website at www.DiscoveryLearning.com or use our Contact Page. We have compiled extensive data to inform us about the best simulation and assessment instruments for different circumstances.
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This post was extracted from an article by Chris Musselwhite,  Sue Kennedy, and Nancy Probst, originally published in T+D magazine (American Society for Training and Development).

Monday, September 16, 2013

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: Best Practices for Simulation Delivery

Set up the framework

At the beginning of the simulation session, as facilitator, you should communicate why participants have been asked to participate in the learning experience and the expected outcomes, but keep it short and get into the simulation as quickly as possible.

Establish ground rules 

It's important to establish ground rules for what behavior is expected during the simulation. Have participants add to the list, and invite them to sanction a confidentiality agreement to enable open, honest dialogue among the group.

Communicate the difference between simulations and role play

Participants who may be familiar with role playing need to be encouraged to participate in the simulated experience as they would in the real world, as opposed to "acting" as they think someone in such a role would.

Observe, observe, observe

Throughout the simulation, the facilitator's primary role is to observe behavior throughout the simulation and take notes for questions in the debrief process. Do not judge any behavior. Just observe, and note the influence the behavior has on the group, individual participants, or the simulation. The smallest observations can be valuable to the debrief process.

Keep a straight face

Avoid conveying verbal and nonverbal cues. When grappling with complex problems, participants will look to you as the facilitator for reactions as they make decisions and take action.


Know when to intervene

Good simulations provide very engaging problems and can feel very real. The facilitator needs to be alert to sudden changes in behavior and emerging conflict. If necessary, discreetly pull the participant aside and give her a reality check by asking if she is okay or why she appears angry or withdrawn.

What additional tips or comments can you share for delivering effective simulations?


Please share your insights and questions by posting comments below. For help in selecting the right simulation, pairing a simulation with an assessment, or learning how to become certified to use any of our simulations, visit our website at www.DiscoveryLearning.com or use our Contact Page. We have compiled extensive data to inform us about the best simulation and assessment instruments for different circumstances.
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This post was extracted from an article by Chris Musselwhite,  Sue Kennedy, and Nancy Probst, originally published in T+D magazine (American Society for Training and Development).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: How to Select a Simulation

Planning makes perfect

Your responsibility as a simulation facilitator is to fully consider the participants, the learning objectives, and how the learning will be assimilated into work processes. A key factor to consider is your skill and experience level, which must be matched to the complexity of the simulation.

Unlike the structured and predictable traditional training classroom, simulations play out differently with every group, making skilled facilitation essential. If the simulation is being used as part of a team development or organizational change process, it can be helpful to pair it with an appropriate self-assessment instrument. These instruments provide more opportunity for introspection and enhanced self-awareness, and should be considered during the selection process.

Know the participants

You should know the group's makeup, form, and function, as well as their previous experience with simulations. Simulations can be used to do an initial assessment of a group's developmental needs, but it is important for the participants to understand this intention.

Know the simulation

Be the expert on the simulation, and fully utilize the facilitator guide. Plan deployment to achieve the learning objectives in the allotted time, and walk through it.

Avoid simulations with one right answer

Simulations with one right answer are not realistic. They shift the focus more to the ability to analyze data. The best simulations present a problem-solving scenario that offers the opportunity to analyze, decide, perform, experience consequences, and then make adjustments. Complex problems rarely have one right answer. The ability to build support for a solution may be as important as the solution itself.

Make a checklist

Order materials; check supplies; and confirm number of participants, equipment, and shipments. If computers are involved, test the software on each device.

Plan the facility

Room setup is complex with many simulations, and every simulation has different space requirements and configuration options, so check your facilitator guide for room setup options, space needs, and other details before booking the facility. Make sure that the person setting up the room understands your needs.

Plan the timeline

Allow sufficient time for reading materials considering learners' different reading speeds. In daylong simulations, have the participants manage their time, including breaks, and provide the option of a working lunch.

Invite the participants

No one likes to feel hijacked from their day, particularly senior executives. Considering the organization's cultural norms, avoid this perception with a personalized invitation informing them of the purpose of the session, its duration, logistics, and expected outcomes.

Coach the leader

When an intact group's leader will be a participant in the simulation, provide coaching on how he should participate. A group may look to its leader to answer questions during the simulation or to share his experience first during the debrief. In both instances, doing so can significantly influence subsequent contributions from the group and should be discouraged.
Coach the leader to listen carefully and wait until others have weighed in before he does. This helps to ensure that others will honestly share their ideas and perceptions without being influenced. If the leader chooses to be an observer during the simulation, this role should continue through the debrief. The organization and the leaders should be made aware that having the leader observe can be a potential obstacle to full participation by the group, as they may feel that they are being assessed.

Coordinate schedules and facilitation styles

When group size necessitates running concurrent simulations, provide each group with a similar experience through the coordination of schedules and facilitation styles. Generally, it is best to have separate debriefs for each group, but if time allows, a large group debrief may be added. This allows everyone to benefit from each other's experiences and insight, which may be relative to the organization as a whole.

Please share your insights and questions by posting comments below. For help in selecting the right simulation, pairing a simulation with an assessment, or learning how to become certified to use any of our simulations, visit our website at www.DiscoveryLearning.com or use our Contact Page. We have compiled extensive data to inform us about the best simulation and assessment instruments for different circumstances.
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This post was extracted from an article by Chris Musselwhite,  Sue Kennedy, and Nancy Probst, originally published in T+D magazine (American Society for Training and Development).

Monday, August 26, 2013

EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: Why Simulations Are So Effective for Corporate Training

Research and experience confirm that the most powerful and lasting learning comes from the discovery associated with our direct experiences - when we act and then experience the consequences of our actions. It is what Peter Senge has dubbed, "the learning horizon."

The dilemma, however, is that ambiguous problems and complex situations typically have very long learning horizons, requiring the passage of months or even years before the consequences of previous actions and decisions can be experienced.

Simulations accelerate learning associated with the analysis of complex problems, and equally important, the managerial and interpersonal behaviors required to act (lead or perform) successfully in a complex environment. According to Dayle Smith, professor of management and organizational behavior at the University of San Francisco's School of Business and Management, "[Simulations are a powerful and effective] response to the need for more integration of functional business areas. This provides the working manager with the problem-solving experience and skills he will need to effectively maneuver in today's complex business world." 

As a result, when facilitated effectively, a simulation creates an interactive learning experience that delivers significant knowledge and real behavior change. Unlike the traditional classroom in which participants learn by hearing or watching, in simulations, they learn by doing, a process proven to transfer concepts quickly from theory into action so they become immediately implementable in the workplace.

Ahmad Ezzeddine, assistant dean at the Wayne State University School of Business, describes another benefit of simulations: their ability to address all the various learning styles. "People can read, touch, and feel the results, so individuals have an opportunity to learn in the way that is best for them."


Perhaps the biggest reason simulations are so valuable in the corporate classroom is their contribution to emotional intelligence. Relationship skills are a critical managerial competency. According to research conducted by Discovery Learning at the Center for Creative Leadership, 64 percent of managers selected developmental goals related to building better relationships as important competency skills, while just 37 percent selected goals related to being a better manager or administrator.

Have you experienced the unique learning environment provided by a simulation? We'd love to hear about it!

Please share your insights and questions by posting comments below. For help in selecting the right simulation, pairing a simulation with an assessment, or learning how to become certified to use any of our simulations, visit our website at www.DiscoveryLearning.com or use our Contact Page. We have compiled extensive data to inform us about the best simulation and assessment instruments for different circumstances.
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This post was extracted from articles by Chris Musselwhite,  Sue Kennedy, and Nancy Probst, originally published in T+D magazine (American Society for Training and Development).

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Exchange Works Well With Individual Assessments


The Exchange provides a wealth of learning potential that is easily transferable to the workplace. It can be paired with leadership assessments to deepen and accelerate learning. Three excellent examples include: 

  • Change Style Indicator: The Exchange offers much change, ambiguity and emerging trends. How do change style preferences impact individual responses and team dynamics? Participants can explore the effectiveness of their change style preference and learn how to become more effective. 
  •  
  • Decision Style Profile: The Exchange teams must plan a strategy and then execute. Can the teams make decisions about their direction and execution in a way that builds support and commitment? Learn how flexibility in your decision making style improves your contribution to a team.  
  •  
  • Influence Style Indicator: Starting with individual ideas, The Exchange teams must integrate multiple perspectives to be successful. How effective and appropriate is your preferred influencing style? Discover the skill of adapting your influence style for better communication and stronger impact. 

Live introductory webinar for The Exchange September 25 or 26, 2013

Please join Chris Musselwhite in a live webinar to introduce you to The Exchange on September 25 at 8:00 AM (ET) or September 26 at 1:00 PM (ET). If you would like to join us for this live chat
Register Now 
so we can count you in. 


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

New Product, New Look, Introductory Webinar at Discovery Learning, Inc.

New Product: The Exchange


I am excited to announce that Discovery Learning, Inc. (DLI) has just launched a web-based simulation, The Exchange.Get your complimentary case study now!

The premise of The Exchange is simple - provide individuals with a challenging situation that requires teamwork, critical thinking, nimbleness and adaptability in a rapidly changing, unpredictable environment. The Exchange revolves around trading red, blue, and green medallions in combinations that shift in value as the exercise progresses. 

The outcomes of The Exchange are equally simple - set team goals, map out strategies, manage limited resources, distill information, determine collective tolerance for risk, size up competitors and above all, ask questions along the way. 

New Logo, New Look!

Along with our new product, DLI is moving to a new look so you may notice our new logo and a few changes to our products over the coming months. In conjunction with these changes, we are rededicating our company to ensure our products help leaders identify their skill sets and leadership styles in a way that is nonjudgmental and also allows them to quickly incorporate that awareness into their daily experiences. We've also taken to heart feedback from our clients and partners to create experiential learning tools that can be easily incorporated into half-day sessions.

The Exchange is now available with online, just-in-time certification. As with our other products and experiential tools, we believe this certification helps to guarantee the best experience with our products for facilitators and users. 

Live introductory webinar for The Exchange September 25 or 26, 2013

Please join me in a live webinar to introduce you to The Exchange on September 25 at 8:00 AM (ET) or September 26 at 1:00 PM (ET). If you would like to join me for this live chat
Register Now 
so we can count you in. 

I look forward to your feedback on The Exchange, as well as your perspectives on how we are doing in fulfilling our mission to be the premier provider of leadership development assessments and simulations. Feel free to contact us at info@discoverylearning.com or 336.272.9530.

We really value your input.

Chris Musselwhite, President/CEO
Discovery Learning, Inc.  

Monday, August 19, 2013

NEW DLI Certification Requirements and Upcoming Workshop

DLI Simulations now require certification

Don't worry, for any simulation you have used previously used you will be grandfathered
Simulation Certificationin. We invite you to visit the certification area of our website to see what's new. You can use your email address and login to the Facilitator Tools area of our website to locate any new or updated resources. DLI is offering The Exchange certification for $250 USD, a $300 value, through 2013. Register Here to take advantage of this introductory rate.

Mark your calendars for our next Certification Workshop 

We have an upcoming PressTime and Decision Style Certification Workshop October 1-4, 2013 at Discovery Learning headquarters in Greensboro, NC. Register Now

Learn to facilitate the world’s best simulation! PressTime certification will allow you to take this powerful simulation into any organization to build skills in planning, execution, decision making, collaboration and feedback with a strong emphasis on people capability and engagement. 

As a bonus, trainers will also receive certification in Decision Style Profile.
Certification is required for use of both products. 

Agenda:

Day One: Oct. 1 - 5:00PM - 7:00PM ET
Introduction/DSP/Dinner

Day Two: Oct. 2 - 8:00AM - 5:30PM ET
PressTime/Large Group Debrief 

Day Three: Oct. 3 - 8:00AM - 5:15PM ET
Small Group Debrief/Integration/Facilitation 

Day Four: Oct. 4 - 8:00AM - 3:30PM ET
Facilitation Practice/Q&A

Certification includes:

Facilitator Guides, PT Team Facilitator Quick Guides, Access to proprietary
PressTime Software, DSP PowerPoint, Access to DLI’s Online Assessment
Center, DLI Website Listing. 



Thursday, May 30, 2013

HOW CHANGE MANAGEMENT IS DONE Part 1: Introduction

Despite decades of research on change management, almost 70 percent of organizational change efforts fail. John Kotter, Harvard professor and change management guru, says they fail because organizations don’t take the holistic approach required to achieve and maintain change.

In his effort to increase the success of change initiatives, Kotter devised 8-Steps for Leading Change, a set of tactics tailored to eight critical stages in the change process. For presentation in this blog, we've divided them into two groups: Planning and Implementation.  
Kotter’s eight steps are:
     1) Establish a sense of urgency
     2) Form a guiding coalition
     3) Create a vision
     4) Communicate the vision

     •  Empower others
     •  Plan for and create short-term wins
     •  Consolidate improvements and produce more change
     •  Institutionalize new approaches

These eight steps provide clear directions on the “what,” but fall a little short on the “how.”

That’s where change initiatives derail. While most senior executives realize learning is critical to achieving meaningful change, many don’t realize it takes more than a few classroom or online training sessions to achieve the level of learning necessary to make the difference between success and failure. That’s where HR comes in.

Front-line training professionals responsible for the learning behind any change initiative know that true change can only be achieved through a process of targeted learning that does two things:

     1. Sells the desired change to the people who have to make it happen

     2. Teaches those people (and gets them to adopt) the new behaviors required to make the change happen

Following Kotter’s eight steps, the remaining two posts in the series contain some proven tactics and tools HR professionals can use to create targeted learning that supports holistic change, giving your organization’s next change initiative a higher chance of success.

Below are links to all three posts in this series:




Please share your insights and questions by posting comments to this blog. For more information on change management, please visit our website at www.discoverylearning.com, or email us info@discoverylearning.com.

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This post was extracted from an article by Sue Kennedy, Chris Musselwhite, and Tammie Plouffe, originally published in Training magazine (Lakewood Media Group).

HOW CHANGE MANAGEMENT IS DONE Part 2: Planning

In Part 1 of this series, "How Change Management Is Done," we introduced John Kotter's "8 Steps for Leading Change." The first four below involve planning and preparation.

1. Establish a sense of urgency
According to Kotter, at least half of failed change efforts are due to a failure to establish a sense of urgency around the targeted change early in the process. To make sure everyone understands the need for change, initiatives should engage all employees, right from the start. 

Suggested tactics include:

     •  Customized engagement surveys
     •  Culture surveys
     •  Employee focus groups

Surveys and assessments provide benchmarks to evaluate progress. Focus groups can illuminate and validate the findings of engagement and culture surveys, provided they are held soon after.

2. Form a guiding coalition

To lead change, Kotter states you must make sure an influential group leads the change effort. To do this, HR should create Shared Learning Experiences for the management team. These experiences give leaders a common understanding of challenges and opportunities involved and create a bond around the need for change. As part of the shared learning experiences, leaders should be led in the development of Action Planning Themes—common themes around which all action and communication in the initiative will be organized. These themes can be drawn from feedback provided by the engagement and culture surveys, and their development reinforces the need for the change.     

To help leaders communicate the change, develop a Case for Change—a clearly articulated rationale behind the need for the change to communicate and sell the need for the change consistently and compellingly.

Finally, have the leaders communicate the Action Planning Themes and the Case for Change to all levels of the organization. Their enthusiasm and participation will be instrumental in engaging others in the need for the change.

3. Create a vision

Creating a vision helps everyone understand why they are being asked to change. When people understand the objectives, the directives they’re given, and the changes they are asked to implement, they tend to make more sense, reducing resistance.

Once a coalition is formed and trained to communicate the change, a participatory, hands-on experiential learning experience can provide the deep and lasting understanding of exactly what change needs to occur, why, and how to accomplish it.

4. Communicate a vision

Thanks to the power of the shared experiential learning, everyone will gain a renewed sense of the urgency as they form a bond around the change. To take advantage of this enthusiasm, a good follow-up tactic is to have leaders create compelling personal “elevator pitches” for communicating the vision and need for change.

The process of creating these talking points empowers leaders, enabling them to communicate and model the behaviors required to make the change. The success rate of change initiatives increases dramatically when leaders communicate and actively model the change they are advocating.


Below are links to all three posts in this series:




Please share your insights and questions by posting comments to this blog. For more information on change management, please visit our website at www.discoverylearning.com, or email us info@discoverylearning.com.

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This post was extracted from an article by Sue Kennedy, Chris Musselwhite, and Tammie Plouffe, originally published in Training magazine (Lakewood Media Group).

HOW CHANGE MANAGEMENT IS DONE Part 3: Implementation

In Part 1 of this series, "How Change Management Is Done," we introduced John Kotter's "8 Steps for Leading Change." In the Part 2, we covered the first four which involved planning and preparation. Here we address the last four which focus on implementation.

5. Empower others to act

To sustain the momentum, it’s crucial to transfer the knowledge and training from any learning solutions providers to your organization’s HR team. This transfer of knowledge is critical to your company’s ability to lead and implement future change efficiently and cost-effectively.

This can be done with train-the-trainer sessions to certify your organization in the tools used. Putting additional personnel at all levels of the organization through the experiential learning and communications skill training will help reinforce the vision and equip more people to effectively communicate current and future change.

6. Plan for and create short-term wins

It’s important to ensure people feel they are making progress. Do this through measurable goals and action plans, working with team leaders to implement and follow progress being made at every level. Hosting e-learning sessions with regional or divisional leaders to share best practices and success stories is effective.

As the initiative progresses, administering additional engagement surveys and shared results demonstrates the organization is changing, which will continue to bring enthusiasm to the initiative.

7. Consolidate improvement and produce still more change

Noting that many change projects fail because victory is declared too early, John Kotter’s seventh step calls for the quick integration of changes achieved even as additional change is produced. In other words: Keep up the momentum.

This can include:

     • More experiential learning
     • Peer coaching and leadership assessments
     • Monthly conference calls to keep everyone informed of successes and results,
     • More employee and customer surveys. 

It pays to encourage leaders to share successes with reports. This facilitates better two-way communication, reinforces the learning, and supports desired new behaviors.

8. Institutionalize new approaches

Making the case for his final step, Kotter says that in order to make change stick, it must become part of the organization’s core; i.e., evidence of the changes must be visible in the company’s daily processes and procedures. In other words, you must institutionalize new approaches as quickly as possible. For example, train-the-trainer sessions can be a critical factor in institutionalizing the new approach to management and communication, as they help to ensure the organization’s ability to implement future change in partnership with HR.

Likewise, positive word of mouth about the experiential learning can spur desire among all employees for future hands-on learning experiences.

This final step, institutionalizing the new approach, ensures the organization is “living” the change it has been implementing, and not just talking about it.

Below are links to all three posts in this series:




Please share your insights and questions by posting comments to this blog. For more information on change management, please visit our website at www.discoverylearning.com, or email us info@discoverylearning.com.

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This post was extracted from an article by Sue Kennedy, Chris Musselwhite, and Tammie Plouffe, originally published in Training magazine (Lakewood Media Group).

Four Ways To Know whether You Are Ready For Change

Which companies have the edge?
In our experience, the companies most likely to be successful in making change work to their advantage are the ones that no longer view change as a discrete event to be managed, but as a constant opportunity to evolve the business. Change readiness should be the new change management.

What is change readiness?
Change readiness is the ability to continuously initiate and respond to change in ways that create advantage, minimize risk, and sustain performance. The age-old challenge: balancing the tension between the internal and external focus required to do all three equally. This continuous and integrated approach to change requires the coordinated participation of everyone in the company, not just a few change agents or change leaders.

Old theories no longer work
Our understanding of change has remained fundamentally intact since the innovative work of Lewin in the 1940s. Likewise, the concept of change management as a process or reorganizing, restructuring, and reengineering which evolved incrementally over two decades.

Leaders know these theories no longer work, and even seem crazy considering how much the marketplace and corporate environments have changed in the same period. Product lifecycle has never been so compressed, nor the need to innovate so fierce.

No 10-step change management process is going to help in a crisis of the magnitude of BP's oil spill, and while that example may be extraordinary, it does illustrate the need for change readiness vs. change management.

70% failure rate: something needs to be fixed
The discrepancy in the accelerated rate of change and the outdated change management practices still employed today unarguably have much to do with the 70% failure rate of change initiatives – a dismal statistic validated by study after study. Failure rates this high demand a new mindset and new actions, but before you can improve your change readiness, you must first assess current change awareness, agility, reactions, and mechanisms.

1. Change Awareness

Change Awareness is a company's ability to redefine itself as necessary. This contextual focus is critical to innovation – the right product at the right time. Good change awareness practices include scanning the environment for opportunities, focusing on emerging trends, and planning for the future.

Questions to ask

• Does your company have people responsible for regularly assessing the market for new opportunities and market changes?

• Does your company proactively search for opportunities for brand renewal and product innovation?

2. Change Agility

Change agility represents your company's ability to engage people in pending changes. This is an internal focus that is critical to the company's ability to effectively implement identified innovations. A great idea won't matter if you can't muster the capacity and commitment to carry it through. An organization with good change agility has the capacity to stretch when necessary and quickly shift resources to the place they will make the most difference. Leadership should inspire confidence and trust, and consistently.

Questions to ask

• How agile is your company? 

• How effective are your managers at engaging and delivering the changes envisioned by your decision makers? 

How well does your company actually facilitate and execute on change when it is needed?

3.  Change Reaction

Change reaction is the ability to appropriately analyze problems, assess risks, and manage the reactions of employees. This internal focus ensures your company can sustain the day-to-day business while reacting in a timely and appropriate manner to self-initiated and market-dictated change.

Questions to ask

• How effectively do you and other leaders at your company assess risk and manage unplanned change? 

• How well does your organization react and respond to crisis?

4. Change Mechanisms

Change Mechanisms should encourage clear goal alignment across functions, the ability to integrate a change into existing systems, accountability for results, and reward systems that reinforce desired change behaviors. This contextual focus is critical to the ability to implement desired change with no interruption to daily operation.

Questions to ask

• Are your structures and systems flexible enough to adapt and support the implementation of change? 

• Does your organization have the structures and systems in place to support the successful implementation of change?

We have found that managers at successful companies are asking themselves questions like these in the effort to build a capacity for change readiness instead of change management.

How are you working to increase your company's change readiness?

For more information on change management, please visit our website at www.discoverylearning.com or email us at info@discoverylearning.com.

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This post was extracted from an article by Chris Musselwhite and Tammie Plouffe, originally published  the the Harvard Business Review's HBR Blog Network.



Create a Culture of Development

Few argue the wisdom of success planning.

With the number of years an employee stays with one company now at an all-time low, identifying who to invest in is more important than ever. Instead of gambling on a few high-potentials each year, why not create a culture of ongoing assessment and development for all individuals throughout the organization?

Within your management ranks, you already have all the manpower you need for this task. No one knows better the performance, leadership potential, skills, and development needs of an individual than the manager who oversees their work every day. When managers are responsible for the development of their reports, they begin to think beyond getting the job done today to thinking about the skills their people will need to do the job in five years. This big-picture thinking keeps companies agile and able to meet constantly changing market demands.

Do your managers have the appropriate resources for leadership development?

In order to create this culture of development, there must be a shift to supplying managers with the appropriate resources:

Performance reviews

When done correctly and periodically, performance reviews can provide a good view of a person's long-term job performance and can identify development needs long before they turn into organizational issues. In this way, the management pipeline is kept healthy and viable.

360 Assessments

This assessment tool is convenient and anonymous and can provide invaluable insight into a person's effectiveness as well as a very accurate roadmap to guide future development.

Coaching

Once an area of development is identified, coaching provides the extra push required to help individuals  make sustainable change in future behavior that make them more effective and valuable to the organization.

Action Learning

A well-crafted business simulation provides a learning experience that relates directly to the workplace, allowing individuals to practice leadership and collaborative behaviors and skills in a safe, risk-free environment with quick feedback.

In a culture of development, everyone wins.

Individuals feel valued, managers have better-prepared workers, and organizations gain a management and leadership pipeline that will never run dry.

Please share your insights and questions by posting comments to this blog. For more information on organizational development, please visit our website at www.discoverylearning.com or email us at info@discoverylearning.com.
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Article by Chris Musselwhite, EdD, originally published in L&L (Leading & Learning) Lead-zine.



Wednesday, May 29, 2013

LEADERSHIP: To Have The Most Impact, Ask The Right Questions

Questions give you the chance to hear what the other person is thinking, giving you more opportunity to accurately determine his or her influencing style. By really listening to the person's response, you will know whether you can move on to your next point, or if you need to back up and readdress something in a way that helps the other person see your perspective and brings him or her closer to your position.

According to a study published in the Journal of Research in Personality*, when people feel listened to by those trying to influence them, their liking of, commitment to, and trust in the influencer increases – all of which strengthen your influencing capability in the situation and overall.

It's important to remember there are different types of questions, and what kind will be most effective depends on the situation and what you are trying to elicit from the person.

1. Convergent questions: What, where, who, and when questions get a person to clarify the specifics of what he or she is thinking. Converging questions can be important when time is of the essence or you are dealing with someone who is theoretical.

2. Divergent or expansive questions: Why and what if questions ask a person to expand on what he or she is thinking. Divergent questions can be important when you need someone to see the larger contest of a position.

3. Integrating questions: If…then what questions demonstrate an attempt to find common ground between opposing positions. This builds trust and encourages compromise, which is important in situations where the stakes are high for both sides.

Asking the right questions enables you to see whether you can continue to "push" your opinion to a receptive person or if you need to "pull" the person back into the conversation before you lose his or her attention. Asking questions keeps people engaged, which is paramount when you are trying to influence someone's thinking or behavior.

Perhaps most importantly, asking questions frames the entire conversation as an inquiry in which both sides are coming toothier to uncover the best solution. Not only are you communicating that you haven't come with an immovable agenda, you are demonstrating that you care about and are open to the other person's perspective, creating trust. This is intentional influence at its most effective. A culture of trust is a trademark of high performing teams and organizations, and the benchmark of great leadership.

For more information on leadership development, please visit our website at www.discoverylearning.com or email us at info@discoverylearning.com.
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This post was excerpted from an article by Chris Musselwhite and Tammie Plouffe originally published by The Harvard Business Review.

*  Ames, Daniel; Maissen, Lily Benjamin; Brockner, Joel. "The role of listening in interpersonal influence." Journal of Research in Personality, Volume 46, Issue 3, June 2012, pages 345-349.

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