<![CDATA[John Parsell - Blog]]>Sun, 12 May 2024 12:17:11 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Building a Successful L&D Department]]>Mon, 11 Jul 2022 01:41:09 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/building-a-successful-ld-departmentLearn from Senior L&D Leaders and Professionals
Listen to senior Learning and Development leaders and professionals, from companies big and small, to learn what it takes to build and grow a successful L&D department. We talk about concepts such as presenting learner data to senior leadership, what big (and small) challenges they face, how to successfully build an L&D brand, what to look for when hiring the right people, and more.

Checkout our first two interviews and follow us wherever you get your Podcasts!
<![CDATA[Season One Recap & Update]]>Mon, 06 Jun 2022 00:56:40 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/season-one-recap-update
Person playing a piano photo
Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
This update is a little overdue. In 2021 I made a commitment to  donate one dollar to DonorsChoose projects for every filler word I used per episode of my podcast, Is Training the Answer?.  Seven episodes later, and quite a few donations, we wrapped season one. Overall, I supported the closing of nine different classroom projects and my speaking has definitely improved! I still suffer from filler words, however, I can confidently report that I've reduced my reliance on them by far.

The Biggest Take Away From Season One

​Build relationships. Get to know your peers and stakeholders! Besides putting in hard work, building relationships at your organization is the #1 key to success as an L&D professional.  

Child using headphonesPhoto by hosein charbaghi on Unsplash

This episode supports Mrs Swank'sDonorsChoose project Headphones for Diverse Learners. Join me to help children in Philadelphia, PA focus on their own development!
<![CDATA[From Order Taker to Business Partner]]>Sun, 03 Apr 2022 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/from-order-taker-to-business-partner

In this episode, we are joined by Tara Cohn. Tara is a Director at Wipfli, a Data Storyteller, and Analytics Translator! Together we discuss how to go from order takers to business partners, helping stakeholders & L&D identify and measure outcomes, and telling a better story with data that inspires the business to take action.

Take Aways
  • Understanding over efficiency.  Don't be afraid to ask questions and really understand the needs of a project request. Take the time to think through how to empower and support your colleagues. It may seem like a waste of time but this information can mean all the difference to the success of your project.
  • Educate your peers. Don't expect your colleagues to know the intricacies of your process and how they relate to positive outcomes. Time spent educating your organization on what you do, the value you bring, and the what it takes to get there, will help you to build a brand at your organization.
  • Speak in plain language.  Have discussions at the business level vs. technical level. Ask questions such as "what does good look like"? "What does it mean if something is failing"? "How would we know that"? Then move backwards from there to more technical needs. This gets us beyond looking only at metrics and understanding the process more thoroughly to find better solutions.
  • Use industry standards and benchmarks to fill in any data blanks!
  • Own your data! When selecting vendors, make sure you own and can access your data! 
  • Build relationships. Get to know your peers and stakeholders! Relationships are the most important thing for L&D and BI Data & Analytics.
  • Build your acumen. Learn how your organization functions. What does success for your company look like? How does that happen in every area of our organization? How can you align your efforts together to make that happen? Shadow team members, if you have the opportunity.

Donors Choose
This episode supports Ms. Patterson'sDonorsChoose project How to Sell Your Dragon (Hoodies). Join me to help children in New York, NY go on some amazing field trips!

Listen to their award winning Dragon Kids podcast!

<![CDATA[Digital Adoption With Steffaney Zohrabyan]]>Sat, 19 Feb 2022 21:15:41 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/digital-adoption-with-steffaney-zohrabyan
In this episode, we interview Steffaney Zohrabyan a Digital Sales Enablement Leader and Host of The Digital Adopter Series. Together we discuss the value of digital adoption platforms (DAP), how digital adoption efforts differ from training, and how to make the case for digital adoption tools and processes at your organization.

Take Aways
  • What's the intent? Take the time to learn the business reasons behind investment in technology. It can help you to understand how to best support it.
  • Define success at the employee level. How can users to get the most value out of the platform? That’s when you start to get buy-in.
  • Believe in your solution! Be courageous when proposing a new tool like a DAP. Take the time to understand the scope of digital adoption and be an advocate!

Donors Choose
Quote from Ms. Edwards
Ms. Edwards
This episode supports Ms. EdwardsDonorsChoose project Classroom Technology! Join me to help children in Harrisburg, PA access technology!
<![CDATA[Impacting Profit by Returning Capacity]]>Sun, 30 Jan 2022 18:47:51 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/impacting-profit-by-returning-capacity
Image of Investment Data
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash
Everything you do to impact profit - primarily increasing sales or reducing expenses, including cost of goods sold - influences the bottom line of your income statement. - Seeing the Big Picture by Kevin Cope
Do you consider the impact on capacity and efficiency of your organization when developing learning experiences? Whether you measure it or not, the decisions you make as a learning professional have a direct impact on the bottom line of your organization. Time spent learning, while worthwhile, impacts time spent selling, developing products, and supporting customers.

Here's a quick example
​Imagine that you have a 30 minute elearning course, that's all employees must complete every year, to protect against legal issues. If you have 1,000 employees in your organization that's 30,000 minutes (min) per year spent training for this course.

1,000 employees X 30 min = 30,000 min of productivity
30,000 min / 60 min per  hour = 500 hrs*
500 hrs / 8 hours per work day = 62.5 work days!
*Not including any time lost due to task switching.

In 3 years time, that's 187.5 work days spent on this course alone!

The cost of this time spent may pale in comparison with the cost of a multi-million dollar legal action. However, that doesn't mean your hands are tied. You can take action to improve efficiency of your learning experiences and return capacity to your employees.

Two options to impact the bottom line
  1. What do employees really need to know? Ask stakeholders if employees need to complete the same course every year. Can they take a refresher instead? Cutting even 10 minutes off of the course saves 167 hrs per year. (20 min * 1,000 = 20,000 mins | 20,000 mins / 60 mins per hour = 333.3 hrs)
  2. Make it adaptive! Can employees take a quiz or complete a simulation to bypass parts of the course or maybe all of it? A 10 minute quiz, with the requirement to complete refreshers on missed topics can also reduce the time spent without impacting outcomes.

Take action now!
  1. Review your portfolio: Are there programs in your portfolio that can be improved, replaced, or removed? Take the time to determine if its worth the cost to re-design them or even replace them with a non-training solution. Per Kieran King, VP of Global Customer Insight at Skillsoft, "The failure of learning transfer costs companies millions of dollars a year in wasted expenditures and probably several times that in lost opportunities." 
  2. Be courageous: The next time a stakeholder asks you to create a mandatory training, without a clear impact to the business, ask them if this project is important enough to use x amount of your organizations capacity. ( x employees * y time spent learning =  z capacity).

Trust me, when you ask someone if their project is worth 500 hours of Operations capacity, they'll think really hard about their answer.
<![CDATA[How to Have Better Stakeholder Conversations]]>Sat, 15 Jan 2022 21:23:44 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/how-to-have-better-stakeholder-conversations

In this episode, we interview Angie Flynn-McIver, a leadership coach, author, theater director, and founder of Ignite CSP (Coaching, Speaking, and Presenting), Together we discuss how to have better conversations with our stakeholders, team members, and how to say “NO” to those tough project requests.

Take Aways:
  • Positive Intent: Have a positive disposition when interacting with colleagues and discussing those challenging project requests.
  • Write down your intent: What are your goals for this communication, meeting, or discussion? Write it down and bring it with you so you can come back to it if necessary.
  • Know your default Intent: When challenged do you typically get angry, passive, or something else? This is your default intent. Identify this behavior so you can recognize when you are relying on it and determine whether that’s going to serve your purpose during this situation.
  • Be courageous:  If you are presented with a request that requires more information, resources, people, technology, etc. to successfully complete it, be courageous and ask for it. It's OK to be up front about the capabilities of your team with the resources you have today.

Donors Choose:
Mrs. Neitz's Classroom
This episode supports Mrs Neitz'sDonorsChoose project Headphones to Improve My Flamazing Students Academics! Join me to help children in Allentown, PA learn to read!
<![CDATA[Working with Change Leaders to Make an Impact]]>Mon, 27 Dec 2021 14:15:12 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/working-with-change-leaders-to-make-an-impact

In this episode, we interview Pamela Acker, an Organizational Change Strategist with over 20 years of experience helping organizations to successfully achieve their change goals. Together we discuss how to use the ADKAR methodology to enhance your learning experiences, generate desire for change, and how you can be better partners with change leaders at your organization.

Take Aways:
  • Put people first, especially in change and learning efforts. You cannot manage change or people from a spreadsheet.
  • Build a relationship between change and learning to share the knowledge of what’s going on in your organization. 
  • Managers need to be better at helping people through change. Provide managers with information about the change curve and resources to help themselves and their team navigate change.
​​Check us out on istrainingtheanswer.comSpotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Donors Choose

Mrs. Neitz's Classroom
This episode supports Mrs Neitz'sDonorsChoose project Headphones to Improve My Flamazing Students Academics! Join me to help children in Allentown, PA learn to read!

I donate one dollar for every filler word I speak per episode. 
<![CDATA[Reimagine L&D Project Prioritization with RICE]]>Mon, 25 Oct 2021 12:49:27 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/reimagine-ld-project-prioritization-with-rice
Note: Turn up the volume! I'm experiencing some microphone issues in this episode. I've invested in a BlueYeti microphone to fix this issue going forward.

When prioritizing projects, does the loudest voice get top priority? How do you determine where to spend your time and resources? In this episode, Rory and I use the RICE framework from Intercom to re-imagine project prioritization for L&D.

Take aways
  • Effort and Impact count: Audience size and urgency aren't the only things to consider when prioritizing work. Include effort to implement and impact to customers as variables to help make a decision.
  • Don't let emotion get the best of you: Using a framework like RICE can help to take the emotion out of project prioritization
  • Improve stakeholder conversations with a framework: Implementing a project prioritization framework can help you to have better conversations with stakeholders and the business about the value of new and existing work. 
  • Training isn't always the answer:  Overly complex products and customer confusion with a product may not be a training issue. It might be a product problem.

​​Check us out on istrainingtheanswer.comSpotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

I donate one dollar for every filler word I speak per episode. This episode closes out another DonorsChoose project and helps to fund Ms. Jay's project Literacy-Building a Strong Foundation.  Join me to help children in Hatfield, PA learn to read!
<![CDATA[Grow Your L&D Brand Like a Product Marketer]]>Tue, 21 Sep 2021 02:40:39 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/grow-your-ld-brand-like-a-product-marketer
What does it mean to be an evangelist for training? Get inspired about learning with Zach Napolitano, Product Marketing Director at Splash (SplashThat.com).

Take aways
  • ​Treat your learners like a customer: Commit to creating compelling content that's worth their time.  Satisfied customers will evangelize your services!
  • Be data driven: Measure your efforts, don't be afraid of the results. Welcome feedback from learners and stakeholders.  
  • Market your services: Your learning product should always be in motion and evolving. Market your LMS, content, programs, etc. Go on a roadshow!
  • Training isn't always the answer:  Overly complex products and customer confusion with a product may not be a training issue. It might be a product problem.

​​Check us out on istrainingtheanswer.comSpotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.


As part of my own personal development I'm donating one dollar for every filler word I speak in an episode. I tried this out with my last public speaking event and ended up closing one DonorsChoose project and supporting another work towards completion.

This episode helped to complete 
Calculate to Educate, a project by Mrs. Smith.
"Most of my students have learning disabilities, and are reading below grade level. For this reason they are in inclusion classes that are co-taught by both the regular education teacher and myself, the learning support teacher. We are allotted 3 enrichment class periods a week to work on the skills that they need extra work with."

<![CDATA[Is Training The Answer? Let's find out!]]>Sun, 05 Sep 2021 20:37:13 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/is-training-the-answer-lets-find-out

Ever wonder what causes your colleagues to ask for training to solve a challenge? Why is training the answer in their minds for non-compliance with a process or procedure? Why not focus on enhancing the process, technology, or even the working environment to solve the challenge?

Join myself and Rory Sacks as we talk to professionals inside and outside of learning and development to answer L&D's most frequently asked question. Every month we'll launch a new episode aimed at helping you be more effective, responsive, and compassionate when working with your colleagues to deliver the best learning experience possible.

Check us out on istrainingtheanswer.com, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your podcasts.
<![CDATA[Re-Imagine Talent Development With a Hackathon]]>Sat, 26 Jun 2021 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/re-imagine-talent-development-with-a-hackathon
You may have noticed a lack of new content lately. That's because I've invested my time in some different avenues over the past few months. It's my hope that these efforts will bring lasting value to the Talent Development community. To that point, I'm very excited to share that I've written an issue of ATD at Work titled "Execute a Hackathon to Solve L&D Challenges". 

In this guide I share the lessons I’ve learned from leading and implementing a Talent Development hackathon. This information can mean the difference between an event with poor outcomes and one that allows an organization to break through silos and achieve its goals.

Writing this guide has opened doors for my career. It has lead to speaking events and allowed me to connect with people throughout the Talent Development community. My hope is that through this guide, you will run an event that inspires your organization to create lasting change. That it will open doors for your career and help you achieve your goals.

Here's an excerpt!
"Our organization was facing imminent change. Year-end projections required accelerated time frames for onboarding new employees and upskilling existing ones to support growth. I wanted a new and energizing way to generate solutions to those problems. And I wanted to capture the same energy, diversity of thought, and innovation that are required to solve urgent high-stakes challenges in a positive and low-cost of failure environment. The solution: a talent development hackathon" 

​​"In this issue of TD at Work, I will:

- Provide the critical steps, guidance, and resources necessary to prepare and run a 24-hour talent development hackathon.
-  Offer tips on how to capture the spirit, energy, and creativity of a hackathon for the event.
- Share how to create diverse teams that are equipped to create winning solutions you can bring to reality.
-  Present case studies and examples of noncoding hackathons to demonstrate how others are successfully leveraging this platform."
Thank you to my amazing family, friends, and the editing team at the Association for Talent Development for helping to make this happen.

What's next?
I'm working on a post to help learning teams manage their project intake process. Its focus is to help you prioritize your work and ensure that it's aligned with the strategic goals of your organization. Look for it here in the next few weeks.

Additionally, I have joined the advisory board for Seton Hall University's Customer Experience Certificate Program. As an advisory board member I'm dedicating time over the next couple of months to review the program and provide feedback. I'm very excited to complete the certification and apply CX methodologies to my work and share them with you.

Lastly, I'm starting a podcast! Rory Sacks and I have a few episodes recorded and are in the process of editing and finalizing our first few episodes. Stay tuned for the official launch!

As always, feel free to comment, subscribe, or contact me with any questions or thoughts.
<![CDATA[Three Ways to Enhance Your Instructional Design Resume]]>Tue, 22 Sep 2020 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/three-ways-to-enhance-your-instructional-design-resumeelement_settings.Image+Text_94464494.default

As a leader with experience hiring Instructional Designers (ID), there are three tips I find myself giving to every ID who asks for feedback on their resume. 
  1. Fill your resume with quantifiable achievements and outcomes 
  2. Use a simple, easy to read, layout that includes a strong title and summary
  3. Have a portfolio that works

The most common response I receive is "What's a learning outcome?  Do you have an example?"  In this post we'll explore where to find quantifiable learning data, compare learning outcomes vs. outputs, review how to create an effective layout, and identify what hiring managers like myself look for in a portfolio.

What is a learning outcome?
Instructional Designers help to solve business problems.  This is the value we create for an organization. We show this value by measuring the effectiveness and impact of our learning solutions.  These are known as outcomes.  Your resume should be a reflection of the outcomes you've helped to achieve for an organization.   ​It's the best way to show the value you'll bring to your next team.

Hiring managers want to see the impact that you've created in the past so they can imagine the impact you'll achieve for them.  Unfortunately many of us fill our resumes with job responsibilities and lists of training materials we've created.   These are known as outputs.  Outputs are the modules, videos, tools, and programs you've created to solve a business problem (a.k.a, achieve an outcome).   

Learning outcomes vs. outputs
Here's a simple example of a learning output vs outcome.

Output:  Re-designed the Customer Service Representative (CSR) onboarding curriculum by converting instructor led content to elearning modules.

Outcome:  Reduced time to onboard CSRs by two weeks while maintaining new hire proficiency standards.  We converted 80 hours per new CSR spent in training to time spent supporting customers.  In 2019 we returned over 2,000 hours to Operations.  Our courses received an average 4.5-star quality rating (out of 5) and the curriculum achieved an overall Net Promotor Score (NPS) of 70.

Notice the difference?  The outcome provides quantifiable data showing the impact of training outputs provided to the organization.

I don't have outcomes!
Maybe measuring learning outcomes isn't a requirement at your organization or your team is working up to that capability.  Either way, I'm sure you can find some quantifiable information to share.  Here are a few avenues to start searching for the information you need.
  1. Your LMS:  Most learning management systems track test scores and completion rates.  Even better if it has a rating system or comments that you can pull from.
  2. Survey data:  Your Learning organization is probably surveying participants at the end of a training program.  You can use this data to show what people thought of your efforts. 
  3. Do the math:  Think about your last project, did you save time, reduce the need for resources, or make training more accessible?  If you flip an instructor led course to self-paced and save 100 employees 30 minutes each, that equates to  3,000 minutes (100*30) or 50 hours (3,000 / 60) returned to the organization. 
  4. Ask:  Seriously, go back to the team you supported with training and ask if they have any data to measure the impact of your work.  "Last month I built a course to help CSRs learn how to up-sell X product.  How are they doing?  Do you have any data I can look at to show if there's been a change?"  You can use this data for your resume and to support the work you're doing for your current organization.
  5. Other achievements:  If you're in school or transitioning to an ID role, think about the work that you've done in the past and how it's relevant to an ID role.  Quantify that information on your resume as much as possible.  Here's a great resource from the Colorado Christian University.

Example outcomes and quantifiable outputs
The following list contains examples of outputs with quantifiable information and outcomes.  I've highlighted what I consider the most important component in each.  

  • Rapidly developed five elearning courses to support the transition to a virtual sales curriculum. Participants rated the courses an average 4.5 out of 5-stars.
  • Developed a two week blended curriculum to support the onboarding of CSRs.  The curriculum received a 70 NPS from participants.
  • Led a cross functional team to develop and launch a Learning Center website including reference guides and instructional demonstrations.  Viewed over 2000 times the demonstrations received an overall 96% approval rating.
  • Increased certification scores by 10% through the creation of a practice exam and supporting micro-learning videos. 
  • Partnered with Human Resources to develop training that supports employee engagement and development.  70% of participants entered a development goal into our HRIS system.
  • Supported an 8% increase in customer referrals to trusted partners with a micro-learning curriculum served to CSRs over a 3 month period.  
  • Led the process to transition 7,000 courses from our current Learning Management System to our learning experience platform.
  • Created a monthly email digest to inform employees about valuable learning programs, supporting a 10% increase in learning library course completions in Q4 2019.

Optimize your layout
Refreshing the content of your resume isn't the only way to improve your chances of getting an interview.  According to an eye scanning study by The Ladders in 2018 most resumes are scanned for about 7.4 seconds in an F or E pattern.  This means that recruiters and hiring managers are quickly scanning the top of your resume , from left to right, before moving their eyes down the left side of the page for relevant information.  When they find something relevant they move their eyes across the page to the right, forming an F or E pattern.  Repeating this process until they are finished.  You can use this research to your advantage.

"they (recruiters) scanned the left side of the resume evenly, picking out titles and reading supplementary information as necessary.The Ladders
The Ladders - Resume Eye Tracking Pattern
Eye-Tracking Study, The Ladders 2018

Capture attention
Capitalize on recruiter and hiring manager scanning patterns by doing the following.
  1. Simple layout:  "Clear, simple layouts with clearly marked section and title headers.  Use bold job titles supported by bulleted lists of accomplishments."  Eye-Tracking Study, The Ladders
  2. Add a title:  Use the title of your resume to tell people who you are.  Don't just list your name.  Example: I'm an engaging senior leader and experienced Instructional Designer.
  3. Include a summary:  "A resume summary statement is a one to two-sentence professional introduction that you can add to the top of your resume to highlight your most valuable skills and experiences. The resume summary can help employers quickly learn whether you have the skills and background they require." Indeed.com 
  4. Highlight accomplishments: I've had great success highlighting five or six relevant accomplishments and outcomes at the top of my resume.  It quickly shows my value to a recruiter and hiring manager.
  5. Bold important content.  Example:  Developed a two-week blended curriculum to support the onboarding of CSRs.  The curriculum received a 70 NPS from participants. Nielsen Norman Group

Example resume
Here's the layout and actual summary I use for the top of my own resume.  The Achievements are taken from the examples above.
Sample Resume
Sample Resume

Should you have a portfolio?  Yes.  Whether it's real or full of imagined sample projects, a hiring manager will want to see the type of work that you are capable of creating.  A strong portfolio gives them a visual representation of your work.

Three tips based on portfolios I've reviewed.
  1. It has to work:  I can't tell you how many courses I've reviewed that simply do not function.  If your content doesn't function as intended it can give the impression that you don't have strong attention to detail.  
  2. Images are fine: I don't need to see all the cool e-learning interactions that you've created.   A gif or video demo works fine as well.
  3. Share some Context:  Give me just enough of a taste to understand the problem you are solving and your design & development skills. 

In closing
As an Instructional Designer you have the ability to create immense value for your organization.  Make sure that you are taking the time to capture that value to promote the work of your team and your own career.  Here's a quick recap and some resources to help you enhance your resume.  

1. Start measuring outcomes 
If you're not measuring outcomes today, that's OK!  Develop a plan and start now.  Here are some resources to get you started.    2.  Use a simple layout 3.  Have a portfolio that works
<![CDATA[What Does an Instructional Designer do? They Solve Business Problems]]>Tue, 16 Jun 2020 03:35:20 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/what-does-an-instructional-designer-do
At its core, Instructional Design is about helping people and organizations achieve their goals through learning.  Simply put, it's your job to create training that helps people to gain knowledge and skills to improve their performance and change their behavior. 

What problems will you solve?
You're going to help solve business problems.
"Business problems are current or long term challenges and issues faced by a business. These may prevent a business from executing strategy and achieving goals."   Simplicable.com
Notice I said "help solve".  An intricacy of the Instructional Design process is identifying when training is the answer to a problem and when it isn't.  More on that later.  

Example problems include:
  • Software training: Creating training to educate employees on how to use new or existing technology
  • New employee onboarding: Creating a program that teaches new employees how to perform their job
  • Product training: Developing training that teaches employees the benefits of a new product so it can be sold to customers
  • Soft skills training: Creating training on enhancing employee communication, emotional intelligence, coaching, and feedback skills
  • Leadership training: Creating training for new and tenured leaders on how to lead at your organization

Why will companies hire you to do this?  Well, what good is implementing new software if nobody knows how to use it?  Additionally, a business will have difficulty growing without an effective employee onboarding program.  This is where you come into play.
You are the learning expert, not the [insert topic] expert
You will work with other team members and experts at your organization to get the content you need to develop your learning activities.  These individuals are called Subject Matter Experts (SMEs).

For example, if you're working on developing software training you'll be paired with a subject matter expert (SME) on the application.   If it's a new application, this might be someone who is actively developing it.  For existing applications, you'll be paired with a SME who's an expert at using it.  You will meet with them to gather screenshots, step by step instructions, and any details necessary for you to create your training.
Learning expert?
As an Instructional Designer you are the resident learning expert at your organization.  When you design training you will combine empathy, advocacy, science, technology, and design to create engaging, effective, and efficient learning experiences.  These experiences can come in the form of videos, reference materials, interactive self-paced courses, instructor led training (virtual or in person), and more.  

How does that work?
To start you must have empathy for your learner.  It's necessary to understand their feelings and needs so you can create a learning experience that works for them.  You will identify their needs by shadowing, interviewing, surveying, and running working sessions with them to understand their point of view.  

It's not enough to just identify the feelings and needs of your learner.  Advocacy is required in order to incorporate these needs into your learning experiences.  You will combine their needs along with adult learning theory, Instructional Design methodology, and the neuroscience of learning best practices to create learning experiences that provide value for your organization and your learner.  The application of this knowledge helps to ensure the effectiveness of your work and sets you apart from other employees that may develop training at your organization.  

You will develop and implement the experiences you design using a combination of learning technology and tools.  Examples of this technology include elearning authoring tools (Storyline, Captivate, Camtasia, etc.), graphic design applications, Learning Management Systems (LMS), social media, survey applications, and good old Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point.  

Even the best technology can't make up for a lack of good design principals.  That's why it's helpful for Instructional Designers to have a basic understanding of graphic and web design.  This knowledge will help you to create materials that are engaging, easy to use, and understand.  

When do you use learning technology?
Think of applications like Articulate Storyline and Adobe Photoshop as tools in your Instructional Designer toolkit.  You use them to help you create your learning activities.  Each of them has strengths and weakness that you'll need to learn so that you can use them at the right time.  Just like a carpenter knows when to use a hammer, sledge hammer, or nail gun to complete a task.

Let's continue the software training example from above.  You have decided that the training should consist of a demonstration of someone using the program and a job aid for reference as they apply this new skill on the job.  You might use Articulate Storyline to record the demo and then a combination of Microsoft Word and a screen capture tool like Snagit to create the job aid.  Word would be used to create the document and Snagit would be used for any application screenshots you included in it.  

Sample tools and technology
The following authoring and video editing tools are examples of the technology that you'll use to create training.  Many offer free trials that you can use to build your skills.
Learning Management and Experience Systems:
Organizations need a place to store, assign, and report out on all of the training available to their employees.  The following list includes links to some of the more well known Learning Management Systems as well as some of the newer Learning Experience Systems. 
Are you a Graphic Designer?
No, however the training you develop will be more effective if you apply design principles when creating it.  There are plenty of books and online resources to help you learn the basics.  For example, when writing this blog post I made deliberate decisions to bold and increase the font size of section headers, left align my text, and remove borders from any images.

You'll make similar decisions when creating your own materials.  Don't worry, many organizations have a brand guide to help you understand the types of fonts, colors, and imagery to use in your training.  If they don't, that's an awesome opportunity for you to help create one!

What about the science and theory?
Earlier I mentioned the neuroscience fo learning, adult learning theory, and Instructional Design methodology.  These terms can sound pretty intimidating but in reality they're just more tools in your ID toolbox to help you create great learning experiences.  Let's look at each of them and how they apply to your ID work.

​Neuroscience of Learning:
"The science of learning is an interdisciplinary field of study that examines how people learn and how the learning and development (L&D) field can improve talent management, performance improvement, organizational learning, training, and instructional design." - td.org 
Knowing how the brain learns and retains information can help you to create better training. It's a simple as that.  You can use this information to understand how to space your training activities to promote recollection and the value of adding time for learners to reflect on what they've learned.

Adult Learning Theory:
"Developed by Malcolm Knowles in 1968, Adult Learning Theory or andragogy is the concept or study of how adults learn and how it differs from children...Over the years, the theory has been added to and adapted." Learnupon.com
It's important for you to understand how adults learn.  Typically they want to know why they're investing their valuable time to take your training and the value it will provide them.  Here's a relevant example, you're probably reading this article because you want to see if a career in Instructional Design is right for you, not because your teacher assigned it.  

ID Methodology:
This is the model that you'll use to develop your training.  For the purposes of this article we'll focus on the ADDIE model.  This is the standard model that many organizations use.  

​ADDIE stands for Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation.  
By completing each step in the process you can create training that helps to solve a business problem.
Let's walk through each step and then we'll break down how it works as part of a typical project.

Analysis:  During the analysis phase you'll collect information to gain insights into how things are done today, the results generated from these efforts, and how training can help change these results.  This is accomplished by reviewing existing processes, data, attitudes of employees, the work environment, etc.  You can gather this data by shadowing employees, running focus groups, interviewing high and low performers, creating and sending surveys, and gathering existing employee and performance data. 

Sometimes after reviewing all of this information you may find that training is only part of the solution to the problem.  Maybe the technology is inefficient, the process to complete a task is cumbersome, or the environment isn't conducive to achieving expectations.  You can use this opportunity to advocate to change these roadblocks, increasing the effectiveness of any learning experience you develop.    

Design:  During this phase you'll use the insights gained from your analysis to develop the high level flow and strategy for your learning experience.  As part of this process you'll need to write down measurable performance objectives that serve as foundation for the training.  This is where you get to combine your knowledge of learner needs, adult learning theory, and neuroscience of learning best practices to create an amazing learning experience. 

Most of this work will be done using MS Office tools (Word, PPT, Excel).  For example, your design presentation might be a 10 slide PPT deck that includes the goal, your analysis results, performance objectives to achieve the goal, high level overview of the activities necessary to achieve your goal, a short breakdown of each activity, a timeline, communication plan, and status.  

The goal is to get as much feedback and input as possible so that when you start development of your training materials, everyone is on board with your proposed experience.  It's much easier and cheaper to edit a PPT or word document than it is to re-design your learning materials. 

Development:  Once you've received approval of your design, it's time to develop the activities and materials.  This is where your authoring systems such as Articulate Storyline 360, Adobe Captivate, & Camtasia come into play.  You'll spend most of your time as an Instructional Designer in this phase.

As you create your materials they'll typically need to be reviewed and approved.  This may take a few rounds as you incorporate their feedback (if it helps to achieve the goal of the program), update your materials, and then send it back for approval.  If you're short on time, one round of review may be all that's needed.

Implementation:  Now it's time to launch your program!  This can be complex process that includes scheduling webinars and/or classroom sessions, setting up a registration site, prepping facilitators (or prepping to facilitate the session yourself), and organizing guest speakers.  Or it might be as simple as sending out a communication about your training and assigning a series of micro-learnings through your Learning Management System.  It depends on the program that you've designed.

Evaluation:  Once you've launched your program, it's time to start evaluating your outcomes to see If your training has achieved its intended impact.  You can collect this data via test scores, surveys, observation, focus groups, and any data available (performance data, customer satisfaction, NPS, etc.).

A sample project
Let's take everything we've learned so far and break it down as part of a sample project using ADDIE.  As the Instructional Designer assigned to the project you'll be expected to navigate the project team through the process of implementing the learning experience.

Training request:  Your organization is adding a new process to their software platform.  They want you to create training to support the implementation.​  

Analysis:  Meeting with your stakeholder you first identify the business need for the trainingRemember, you solve business problems!  If there isn't a business problem there probably isn't a need for training.  

Business problem:  They are adding a process to their customer relationship management application to track offers of an existing service.  The tracking is expected to improve reporting on sales of the service.  Additionally you identify the audience that needs to be trained on this new process, the timing of the rollout, who your SMEs are, and when the new content will be available for you to review. 

  • You are given two SMEs to support you.  One SME is the developer creating the enhancements.  The other SME is the expert on the new process.
    • You setup time to meet with them, discuss the project, and review the process and technology. 
  • You also meet with or survey your audience and their leaders to understand how they like to learn about new software updates, where they typically go to learn about the software, their past learning experiences, and their thoughts about the process.  
  • Additionally, you take the time to review sales data on the service and understand the current process.  

Design:  Taking everything that you've learned so far you decide the technology process is simple enough that it only requires a video and job aid for reference.  However, per your analysis the expectations are not clear to leaders or employees on when and how the offer should be made to a customer.  You feel that a script, clear guidance within the system, QA review, and coaching from leadership will improve the success of the project. 

You put this into a PPT presentation that includes the following information:
  • Your analysis: A high level overview of your findings, training, and non-training recommendation.
  • Goal of the training:  Your are going to train the audience how to complete the new process using the updated technology.  Additionally, you'll enable leaders to coach their team members in support of the new process. 
  • The audience:  Who they are, their location, and current experience level with the tool and service.  You have multiple audiences (new hires, tenured staff, and leaders). 
  • Objectives: All the things they need to know and do in order to achieve the goal
  • Learning experience: A high level overview that explains what the training will be.  For this example you'll create a video that demonstrates how to use the tool, a short test to check their knowledge, and a job aid that can be referenced when working with a customer.  Leaders will also receive a coaching guide and a live session on how to use it with team members. 
  • Additional suggestions:  These are suggestions that are not part of the training but will improve the success of the project based on your analysis.  For this example, you suggest adding an alert into the system that notifies a user when they should offer the new service and quick access to a script.  You also suggest communicating expectations to leaders and employees as there seems to be some confusion amongst your audience about the process.
  • Timeline:  This is a simple graphic or bulleted list that shows when you will start development, how long SMEs have for review, when the training will be communicated to the audience, and when the training will launch.
  • Evaluation:  A slide that breaks down how the training will be evaluated after it's launched.  In this case you'll:
    • Survey learners to see what they thought of the training and if it prepared them to support offer the new service
    • Review their knowledge check scores to see if they learned the process
    • Evaluate learner performance data within a month to see if they are appropriately offering the new service and if the organization is achieving the results they expected
  • Your Asks:  Anything you need in order to implement the training successfully that you don't have today.  Based on your expertise (Science and theory) you know that learners are more inclined to complete training if their leaders endorse it.  So you ask for a leader to support the launch, the coaching session, and include an introduction video as part of the overall communication plan.  The video will set expectations, clearly detail the value the service provides to customers, and the importance of tracking offers in the system.

Note that you may have to go back and forth a few times with edits before achieving final approval.  That doesn't mean you stop all work until sign off.  Typically you'll move forward with approved portions of the content as you work with your project team to finalize any remaining details.

Development:   Once your design is approved by your stakeholder, you start development.  
In this case you'll use Articulate Storyline to create the demonstration and knowledge check.  MS Office to write a script for the leader who will endorse the training.  You'll ask the leader to record a video of themself using Zoom (virtual conferencing tool) and will edit it with Camtasia.  Microsoft Office and Snagit will be used to create the job aid and coaching guide.

Your stakeholder and SME(s) will provide feedback and review and approve each of these items as you develop them.  After two rounds of review you are ready to go!  The course is uploaded to your LMS and the job aid is posted to the knowledge bank.

Implementation:  With your work complete (or almost complete) it's time to start implementing the program. 
  • Four weeks prior to launch of the system updates, Sr. leadership communicates the upcoming change to front line leaders. 
  • Three weeks prior to launch you assign the course to front line leaders and implement the coaching session.  
  • Two weeks prior to the launch of the system updates, leadership broadly communicates the upcoming change and you assign the training with a due date prior to launch.  
    • Over the next two weeks you provide periodic reports on training completion to your stakeholder so they can see whether the training is being completed on time.  These reports are pulled from your LMS.
Evaluation:  Two - three weeks after assignment you review your test scores and the survey to see how you did.  One month later you check the performance data to understand if learners are correctly completing the new process.  You use this information to generate a report that you share with your team, leader, and stakeholders.  This way you can see how you did but also if additional training or support is needed.

Typically you will manage your own project timelines and have a decent amount of dedicated time to focus on getting your work done.   

You might be working on two or three smaller projects, like the one above, at the same time.  Each of them will go through the ADDIE phases at their own pace.  For example, you might have one project in the analysis phase while another is in development or evaluation.  As you get into the development phase your time dedicated to each project will increase. 

If you are working on a larger more complex project, like a multi-week onboarding program, then that might be the only project in your pipeline.  
What happens after you complete a project?
If it's a one time project, like our software example, you might wrap it up and move on to the next one.  If this is a program that's meant to be run continuously, then you'll more than likely spend time reviewing your evaluation data and using it to make improvements.

For example, you might find that some of your test questions need to be updated.  Maybe an activity didn't run as planned so you want edit or replace it.  This is typically where you can also find efficiencies in terms of changes that can shorten the overall timeline of your program or reduce the amount of resources necessary to achieve it.
You can do this
When I started my career in L&D I'm what you would have called an incidental Instructional Designer.  I had zero experience in the L&D field.

I had my first taste of Instructional Design when I was asked to create and facilitate training for new customers off the side of my desk.  I wrote a few scripts and ran those virtual sessions multiple times per day, five days a week, for months.  The same content over and over again.  The process quickly became stale.  I knew there had to be a better way.

That's when I learned about Instructional design and technology.  Working together with my leader, we created and populated a learning university site.  Filling it with short video clips (the term micro-learning wasn't a thing at the time) based off of my original scripts and articles to support new customers.  Our customers loved it and I freed myself from the daily dreaded webinar.

That process ignited my passion for Instructional Design.  I consumed every resource that I could get my hands on.  My research, and continued work on the site, eventually resulted in landing a job as an Instructional Designer.  I distinctly remember sitting in the lobby of GMAC Mortgage preparing for my interview by memorizing the ADDIE model.  Eventually I went back to school and obtained my Masters degree in Instructional Technology from Bloomsburg University.

If you have a growth mindset, put in the time and effort it takes to learn about Instructional design, and apply what you learn, you can be successful. 
Average salary
Just in case you're wondering, the average salary (per payscale.com) in 2020 for an Instructional Designer in the United States is:
Hopefully after all of this you are just as interested, if not more, about becoming an Instructional Designer.  It's a career that offers the ability to solve tough challenges, be innovative, and add value to the lives of those you train and the business you support.  If you are still interested in Instructional Design, here are four resources to help you continue down that path.
<![CDATA[Looking for Work?  Resources to Build Your L&D Skillset While You Search]]>Thu, 26 Mar 2020 02:22:51 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/resources-to-build-your-ld-skillsetPhoto by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash
​With COVID-19 disrupting the economy, I thought it would be helpful to provide a list of resources that fellow learning professionals can use to build, maintain, and enhance their skills while on furlough, looking for work, or if you have extra time.  The following lists provides access to application free trials, recommended books that have helped me with my own career growth and development, links to some blog posts that you may find helpful, and other resources.

I'll update this post as I find more resources to share.

Please note, I'm not an affiliate reseller so I'm not making any money off of the following.

Free Application Trials and Tutorials
The following authoring and video editing tools offer free trials that you can use to build, maintain, and enhance your skills.
Free Courses and Programs
Some great content has been made available recently.  I'll keep updating as I find them.
Free Industry Reports
Stay up to date on the latest research and findings by industry leading organizations.  
Here are some additional reports from 2019.

Suggested Reading List
Here are some books that have improved my capabilities as a leader and learning professional.  They're not all directly learning related but I've read each of them and found them to be great resources that I go back to time and time again.
Blog Posts
Here are a few blog posts I've written that you may find helpful to develop your skills, read up on learning industry trends, achieve better training outcomes, and connect with other professionals in the learning and talent development field. 
Industry websites
I've found the following sites to be useful in terms of providing me with consistent, quality, information pertaining to the learning and talent development field.
​I hope that you find some value in these resources.  If you have questions or want to connect, I'm happy to do so.  Drop me a line!

<![CDATA[Four Questions to Achieve Better Training Outcomes]]>Tue, 14 Jan 2020 02:23:21 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/four-questions-to-achieve-better-training-outcomesPhoto by Bruno Figueiredo on Unsplash
 "I need an elearning created on our latest products that starts in three weeks.  This is essential for our Sales Reps (SRs) to achieve their quarterly sales goals.  I have approval from senior leadership to make this happen. " 

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a request like the above?  It checks a number of the boxes for a typical training project request, with some added urgency thrown in for good measure.  The requestor knows the basics; audience (SRs), timeline (three weeks), why they think training is needed (Essential to SR goals), and how they want it trained (elearning). 

It's tempting to start working on a project like this immediately and figure out the rest later.  It is "essential", senior leadership seems to be onboard, and the timeline doesn't leave you with room for much more than getting the work done.  What you may not realize is that you've just entered a negotiation.  The results of this negotiation can determine whether this program is a failure or success.

This post is inspired by the book  "Never Split the Difference - Negotiating as if your life depended on it" by Chris Voss with Tahl Roz.  ​Using a series of tactics such as mirroring, labeling, and calibrated questions Chris is able to identify the underlying motivations of his counterparts to negotiate a favorable outcome.  

Calibrated questions
What we're going to focus on in this article are what Chris calls "calibrated questions."  These are open-ended questions that help you understand what's motivating your counterpart in a negotiation.
  In this case, you want to know the motivation and business reason behind the request so that you'll be better equipped to develop a training program that can meet or exceed expected outcomes.  However, in order to do that you need to know more than who, what, where and when.  You need to know the why so that you can collaborate with them to determine the best way to solve for how, not just what they're telling you to do.

By asking questions starting with "How" or "What" you get your counterpart to start working with you to solve the challenge.
"...the calibrated open-ended question takes the aggression out of a confrontational statement or close-ended request that might otherwise anger your counterpart.  What makes them work is that they are subject to interpretation by your counterpart instead of being rigidly defined.  They allow you to introduce ideas and requests without sounding overbearing or pushy." - Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It, by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz, Rh Business Books, 2017, pp. 152

​Here are four calibrated questions to help you decipher the need for and outcomes of your next project request.

1.  What's the problem we're trying to solve?  Use this question to get to the business need behind the request.  We know that SRs need help to achieve their sales goals, but what specifically is the gap we're trying to close? 

2.  After training is complete, how will we know that an employee has been successfully trained?  This question helps you get an understanding of what success looks like to the Stakeholder.  In the example above, the request is to train all SRs using an elearning course.  How can you know if an elearning course is the right strategy if you don't know what the stakeholder wants their SRs to be able to do after training is complete?  This question also helps you understand your counterparts vision.  

3.  What are the targeted outcomes?  If you don't know the target(s), how can you know whether your training program will help to achieve them?   In fact, there may be multiple outcomes that need to be achieved.  Achieving these targets may require more time and attention than your stakeholder might think.

If you haven't asked question one at this point, this is a great opportunity to use it as follow-up to this question.  This will help you to determine how big of a gap you're helping to fill.  If they're expecting a big lift, an elearning course alone may not get them there.  

4.  How will we measure the success of the program?   It's impossible to make adjustments if you don't have a way to see results over time.  If the team requesting the training does not have a way to track results, now is as good a time as any to figure that out.

​Selfishly, how can you and your team show the impact of your training program if you can't see the results?  If part of the solution doesn't include a plan to measure the outcomes, this is an opportunity to get that work started.  

Avoid asking "why"
​Asking why, can cause your counterpart to become defensive.  They already think there's a need for training, asking why just calls their judgement, or their leader's judgement, into question. 
Regardless of what language the word "why" is translated into, it's accusatory.  There are very rare moments when this is to your advantage.  Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as If Your Life Depended on It, by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz, Rh Business Books, 2017, pp. 153
​Asking how or what, forces them to think about the reason they believe training is going to solve the problem.  Using the above example, instead of saying "Why, do we need training in three weeks on this process?" ask "How do you think an elearning course will help achieve quarterly sales goals?".   

If you are concerned that the requestor doesn't have approval for the request or the necessary backing, you can always ask leadership after the meeting.  

​Be proactive, create a project request form
The way that Chris suggests preparing for a negotiation is to create a one sheet or document that can be used to guide the negotiation process to a favorable outcome.  Taking this advice, I suggest that you create a project request form and use the questions above as well as the standard items (Audience, timeline, stakeholder & subject matter experts, etc.) to define the program requirements.  Keep this form handy for in the moment and planned discussions.​

Keep your cool
Having a project request form, with these questions listed, will also give you something to rely on in the heat of the moment.  This is especially beneficial when you have a counterpart who is stressed and just wants you to build the training, in the way they want, when they want it, without any questions.

Remember, this is not about you, this is just business.  The ability of your team to do their job effectively relies on your ability to get them the information they need.  Taking a moment to slow down and get your questions answered will save you the time of having to go back and ask them again later.

If you feel yourself becoming upset, take a moment and breathe or walk around.  Having a physical form to fill out can anchor you to your physical environment and stay in control of your emotions.  Amy Gallo, Harvard Business Review

Summarize your discussion
At the end of your discussion make sure to summarize the outcome.  According to Chris, you're not looking for a "yes" at the end of the summary.  You're looking to have your counterpart say "that's right".  That's how you'll know that you're on the same page. 

People say "yes" all of the time even if they mean "no", it's a false positive meant to make you both feel good in the moment.  Getting a "that's right" or the equivalent means that you've correctly summarized their position.  

A summary of the above request could sound something like this.  "Hitting our quarterly sales target is really important.  I'm glad we can work on achieving this goal together.  Based on our discussion today, our SRs need to increase their conversion rate by 10% in order to achieve quarterly goals.  You believe this is because they are unfamiliar with our newest products and they aren't comfortable selling something that they don't feel is beneficial to our customers.   You also want training to start in three weeks because leadership has guaranteed an improvement in the next six weeks. 

In order to achieve this, after training is complete all SRs should be able to explain the value of our newest products, to our customers, and be confident offering them.  We'll measure the trend on a weekly basis and can adjust the program as necessary based off of the results. 

​Is that correct? "

Granted, the above summary doesn't go into whether elearning is the right or only solution for the job but I think you get the idea.  From here, you can work with your counterpart to create a program that will meet or exceed the results you both want to achieve.

Want to learn more?
The easiest way to learn more is to buy the book  "Never Split the Difference - Negotiating as if your life depended on it" by Chris Voss with Tahl Roz  Chris and his family also offer training and free resources on their website https://www.blackswanltd.com/.  
<![CDATA[Having Better Conversations]]>Fri, 04 Oct 2019 00:38:15 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/having-better-conversations
It's been tough to step away from work lately.  My team and I are in the process of onboarding a small company's worth of new hires within the next few months.  It's exciting, challenging, and thought consuming work.  These are the kinds of challenges I love, a big hairy audacious goal where we get to bend the limits of what we've been able to achieve in the past.     

I did however, get the opportunity to step away for a moment to see Celeste Headlee speak at the 2019 Pennsylvania Conference for Women.  She kicked off the Workplace Summit with a great keynote entitled "We Need to Talk:  How to Have Better Conversations".  Her presentation was inspiring and based off of her insight, I've been practicing a few of her tips.  My daily interactions with friends, family, and co-workers have improved.

Interested?  Read on!
  1. Stop multi-tasking, you can't do it well.  In fact it can actually harm your brain, dropping your IQ and increasing stress.  Give your full attention to the person you're talking to or excuse yourself to focus on what's important.
  2. Stop trying to change people's minds, especially with data.  People don't change their minds based off of numbers on a chart.  Instead, ask open ended questions.  A simple question can provide you with a complicated answer providing you with more details.  These are details you can use to find a common ground.
  3. Don't listen to respond, the conversation doesn't need to be about you.  As you're listening, If you have a thought that will steer the conversation towards yourself, simply note it and let it go.
  4. It's OK to say "I don't know" if you are unsure of the answer to a question.  No one expects you to have all the answers.  It can actually help to build trust because you'll be seen as more genuine.
  5. Don't repeat yourself.  If people know you will repeat yourself then they will stop listening.  They know that eventually you'll come back around to the topic again.
  6. Face to face conversations are better than email or over the phone.  In fact "Research by UCLA psychology professor emeritus Albert Mehrabian found that 7 percent of a message was derived from the words, 38 percent from the intonation, and 55 percent from the facial expression or body language".  Douglas Van Praet of Psychology Today

Interested in learning more?  Check out Celeste's website or read her book "We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter".  Quick note, this is not a referral link, I'm not making any money off of my recommendation.  I just think you can learn something, I know that I did.
<![CDATA[10 Talent Development Articles to Leave it Better Than you Found it]]>Sun, 08 Sep 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/10-talent-development-articles-to-leave-it-better-than-you-found-itPicturePhoto by Simon Ray on Unsplash
Quick post this week due to a well deserved vacation to the Jersey shore with my family.  While walking the beach with my son, I found myself picking up some small pieces of garbage out of habit.  It got me thinking about something a friend of mine passed on to me while teaching me how to fly fish.  "Leave it better than you found it".  In a nutshell, while you are out enjoying nature do what you can to clean up after those who have come before you.  

I started thinking about how this saying applies to different aspects of my life.  In the context of this blog, it touches on how I've left the various companies, roles, projects, and teams throughout my career.  How have I left them better than I found them?  

Some examples would be implementing Kirkpatrick's methodology for evaluating projects, creating highly rated tutorials and courses for an educational university site, successfully onboarding a new Instructional Designer, running a learning hackathon, or helping to build and support a great team of learning professionals.

Even though I was on vacation I couldn't resist checking my feeds and it was a great two weeks for articles and posts shared in the Talent Development field.  If you are looking for ideas on how you can add lasting value to your organization, read on! 

  1. What to do if they just want awareness - Cathy Moore explains how to support clients who want to train for "awareness".
  2. Why 2020 Should be a Breakout Year for Training, Productivity And Engagement  - Greg Furstner discusses how the C-suite is changing its perspective about the value of learning.
  3. The Only Thing More Important Than Product/Market Fit - Nobl Academy explains how developing the right culture supports product delivery.​
  4. The Limited Role of Evidence in Ed Tech Adoptions - Lindsay McKenzie writes about how higher education institutions are investing in education technology without supporting evidence that it improves student outcomes.
  5. The Business Roundtable Manifesto:  What Should CEOs Do? - Josh Bersin explains how companies can follow through on the commitments made during the recent business roundtable manifesto.  #1 is to invest in their people.
  6. Future of Work Requires Leaders Who Value Learning in the Flow of Life - Amy Titus discusses how we need to incorporate learning into our flow of work and life.
  7. Social Success at Work - Todd Dewitt launched a LinkedIn Learning course on how to build social skills at work.
  8. Why Failure is the Best Learning Tool of All - Debadrita Sengupta explains how failure creates learning and growth.  Checkout my post on what to do when facing failure.
  9. Five More L&D Books for Learning Professionals -  Looking for some more reading on L&D topics?  Connie Malamed reviews five new L&D books!
  10. The Lowdown on Communication, Before, During and After Training - Kiara Williams gives some great tips on how to get the most out of your learning solutions with planned communications and check-ins.
<![CDATA[Be a Thought Leader:  5 Free L&D Industry Reports to get Informed]]>Sun, 25 Aug 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/be-a-thought-leader-5-free-industry-reports-to-get-informedPicture
A few years ago I was given some feedback that I really took to heart.  I was told that If I wanted
to influence change and affect or set strategy within the organization that I would need to be seen as a thought leader.   At first I wasn't sure what to make of that feedback.  My immediate thought was something akin to "Great, now I have to become the next Josh Bersin or Richard Branson if I want to make a real impact".   

Steppping out of my fixed mindset, I did a little research to see what being a thought leader was all about.  What I found is that it's not just about popularity or fame, there's much more to it than that.  

"Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success."  Denise Brosseau of Thought Leadership Lab 

The first step in becoming a thought leader is to be informed about what's going on in the learning industry.  To that end, I've compiled a list of five free reports on industry trends from 2017 to 19. 
Free industry reports:​​
The following repots can be accessed either directly or by submitting your information to the website first.  A small price to pay for access to some great information.  I've included a one or two sentence summary about each and one key take away to help you determine if you're interested in learning more.
2019 LinkedIn State of the Workforce Report
The 3rd annual​ report from LinkedIn Learning.  This report features insight into budgeting, marketing, closing skill gaps, and working across generations. 

One key take away: 
"Talent developers prioritize understanding skills gaps in 2019  with a 32% increase year over year."
LinkedIn, 2019 State of the Workforce Report

U.S. L&D Report 2019:  Benchmark Your Work Place Learning Strategy​
​This report dives into the benefits of innovation within L&D teams and Inclusion & Diversity training. 

One key take away:  "The same L&D professionals reporting that their employees are highly engaged are 94% more likely to be offering those staff members classroom training.  No other modalities were linked as closely with employee engagement..."  findcourses.com (2019). U.S. L&D Report: 2019. Retrieved from http://www. findcourses.com/ld-report-2019

Training Magazine - 2018 Industry Report
​Presented by Training Magazine, via trainingmag.com, this survey was conducted by an outside company.  It contains detailed data on budgets, expenses, and types of training used across small, medium, and large organizations.

One key takeaway:  ​"2018 saw an increase in the average expenditure for training outsourcing:  $422,321, up from $219,265 in 2017.  An average of 14 percent of the total training budget was spent on outsourcing.  The level outsourcing is expected tos tay relatively steady in 2019."   Trainingmag.com, 2018 Industry Report

Training Industry Magazine - The Modern Learning Mindset
Note that this link doesn't provide you with access to the full report.  However, you can read  summaries of the information contained in the full version.  

One key takeaway:  "The business environment in which organizations operate today is vastly different than a few decades ago. Learning is no longer viewed in the context of an isolated, one-time training event. Learning is now viewed as a continuous process throughout the employee lifecycle, without a definitive expiration date."  Training Industry Magazine, The Modern Learning Mindset

Gallup - State of the American Workplace
This report builds upon Gallup's 2013 State of the Workplace report.  It provides a detailed analysis of employee engagement, the benefits of highly engaged employees, and the changing face of work.   I enjoyed reading their piece on matrixed teams.

One key takeaway:  "Highly matrixed employees are 14% less likely to strongly agree they know what’s expected of them at work, compared with non-matrixed employees. In the absence of well-defined expectations and frequent, clear communication, multiple projects feel like a top priority, multiple team members’ roles begin to conflict and progress slows, hurting productivity outcomes."    Gallup, State of the American Workplace Report
Combining the insights from the above reports along with your expertise and knowledge should allow you to form some thoughts on how you can enhance your learning organization.  Use this as base from which you can generate innovative ideas to solve the challenges faced by your company. 

Additional industry reports for purchase
If you are interested in doing some more research you can access additional reports from the following organizations.

What am I missing?
Please share the sites and research, for purchase and free, that you use to learn about the latest trends in the learning industry. 
<![CDATA[Four Steps to Develop Your Skills]]>Mon, 12 Aug 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/four-steps-to-develop-your-skillsLearning to Surf
​​​My wife planned an amazing get away to Ocean City NJ this weekend.  We spent two whole days on the beach relaxing and soaking up the sun.  It was a sorely needed break from our normal day to day activities with our kids, chores, house and work projects.  Lucky for us, on day two we happened to set up our chairs on the beach designated for surfing.  We observed class after class of new surfers learning how to surf.  The instructors gave direction, then brought their students into the water to practice and apply what they learned.  Every time a student caught a wave the instructors enthusiastically cheered them on.  

As we watched, I told my wife that I loved watching people learn new skills.  That I had a real appreciation for these students as they would fall off the board and then swim back into the surf and keep trying.  It reminded me of some research that I had done on having a growth mindset and using the 70/20/10 model to craft a development plan.  She reminded me that we were supposed to be on vacation.  Fair point.  =)  
If you're not on vacation and are interested in learning how to craft a solid plan to achieve your development goals (surfing or otherwise) read on!  As a bonus I'll include a development goal of my own as an example so you can see the process in action.

In my experience and research, there are four steps to crafting a great development plan to learn a new skill or improve an existing one.

1.  Define what success looks like
At the beginning of any learning project the first question I always ask is  "What does success look like and how will you know that you've achieved your goals?".  This question cuts right to the core of the problem.   Deadlines, audience, resources, challenges, etc. none of that matters when answering this question.  Starting from where you want to be allows you to work backwards to create a plan to get you there.  

What's your goal?  Maybe you want a new role, improved emotional intelligence, or enhanced skills with an authoring system.  Take a moment to think what success looks like for you in the near or long term and write it down.  

Need some more help?  Ask yourself the following three questions from 
Quantum Workplace's list of 25 effective employee review questions.
  • What 2-3 things will you focus on in the next quarter to help you grow and develop?
  • What are your most important goals for the next quarter?
  • What do you want your next position at this company to be? How would your responsibilities change?

To keep myself motivated and add something positive to the world at the same time, I'm challenging myself to use twitter to support my favorite charity, DonorsChoose.org.  They connect teacher created projects with donors who can choose to fund them, one classroom at a time.  With that in mind, here's my lofty social media development goal.

My Example Development Goal:  I will enhance my social media skills to gain 1,000 followers (preferably donors) on twitter to help raise awareness of DonorsChoose.org and at the same time overcome my fear of sharing content online.   

2.  Choose the right mix of activities
Now that you've identified the skills you want to develop, it's time to figure out exactly how you'll do it.   A strong development plan includes a mix of formal learning and application activities, plus connecting with experts on the topic.  That's why I like using the 70/20/10 model as a guideline for creating my own development plans. 
"The model was created in the 1980s by three researchers and authors working with the Center for Creative Leadership, a nonprofit educational institution in Greensboro, N.C. The three, Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger, were researching the key developmental experiences of successful managers."  Training IndustryThe 70-20-10 Model for Learning and Development

​​The 70:20:10 Institute breaks the model down as follows:
  • 70 percent of learning comes from experience, experiment and reflection.
  • 20 percent derives from working with others.
  • 10 percent comes from formal interventions and planned learning solutions.

Let's simplify this process even further with some sample activities.  Here are nine activities you can choose from courtesy of LinkedIn's 50 Activities To Use With The 70-20-10 Model.  Note...I do wish the community could land on whether the model is 70/20/10, 70-20-10, or 70:20:10.  

Sample Activities
Experience, experiment & Reflection:
  • Ask your manager to delegate new work to you
  • Take on new and challenging projects/assignments
  • Be a change champion for a specific initiative
Working with others:
  • Use 180/360 degree feedback as tool for improvement
  • Build and learn from your network – physical and online
  • Follow and participate with leading industry blogs – join the conversation
Formal learning solutions:
  • Attend LIVE and recorded webinars
  • Take eLearning courses
  • Take professional qualifications and certifications

My example activities:  
To achieve my goals I'm going to need some help, the following mix of activities should get me there.
  1. Take an elearning course on social media strategy and development
  2. Read a book on twitter marketing and increasing followers.
  3. Connect with peers via social media and in person to help me overcome my fear of sharing content
  4. Take on a new challenge (Gain 1,000 followers to increase awareness of Donorschoose.org projects via twitter)

What activities will you select?  Maybe some of the sample activities above can help you achieve your goal.  If not, there are 50 more just a click away.   Don't get hung up setting your activity ratios to exactly 70/20/10.  For example, I'd say getting my Masters in Instructional Technology flipped this model.  70 percent was formal learning, 20 percent working with others, and 10 percent from experience and experimentation. 

3.  Set a timeline and measure your results
There's no point in going through all of the effort of defining success and choosing the right mix of activities to get there if you or your leader aren't going to hold yourself accountable to achieve success.  That's why the last step in this process is to set a timeline and measure your results. This can be as simple as setting completion dates for each activity and measurement criteria.  Let's go back to my example one last time.

My example timeline & success criteria:  
Development Plan
Development Plan
 What does your plan look like?  Take a few minutes and write down your plan.  Commit to a timeline and success criteria.  

4.  Celebrate successes and learn from your failures
Just like the new surfers I mentioned earlier you will have successes and failures as you work through your plan.  Make sure to take the time to celebrate your successes.  This can be as simple as a well earned drink to mark a milestone, sharing your wins with family and friends, or taking a moment to sit back and reflect on a job well done.  

Take the time to reflect on and learn from your failures.  This is how you grow and find what works for you.  You can always change your plan if what you're doing isn't working.  Maybe you need to revisit the basics or find a mentor to overcome an obstacle.  

Do your best to keep a growth mindset and work hard towards your goals.  It won't be easy but I know that you can do it.  
"Those with a growth mindset are apt to see challenges as a natural part of the learning process. They work harder and smarter, helping them to learn and achieve more than students with a fixed mindset."  Writes Courtney Ackerman in her article Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

​I'll keep posting about my social media development plan throughout the year.  I'm looking forward to learning more about twitter, social media, and hopefully raising some awareness for classrooms in need.
<![CDATA[How to Onboard an Instructional Designer]]>Sun, 28 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/how-to-onboard-an-instructional-designer
You've invested time in finding the right Instructional Designer (ID) for your team.  Don't make the mistake of thinking they'll be able to hit the ground running without some support and direction.  Taking the time to onboard a new team member to your organization can pay off in higher levels of engagement and productivity.  In fact, research compiled by SHRM from clickboarding.com states that: 
  • 69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.
  • Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50 percent greater new-hire productivity.
Follow these steps to engage your new ID and get them up and running quickly!
You don't have to wait until your new ID has arrived to begin the process of onboarding them.  Start preparing prior to day one.  Use these steps to ensure both you and your new hire are ready to work when they walk in the door.     

1.  Email your new hire with links to any articles, videos, and externally available content that you feel will help acclimate them to your organization and its values.  Within that email include a list of authoring systems, technology, and important skills you know are necessary to complete your projects and ask them to rate their capability with each.

For example, you can ask them to rate their capabilities as:
  • Unfamiliar (Haven’t used it)
  • Basic (Can accomplish simple tasks)
  • Intermediate (Use it regularly)
  • or Advanced (Able to use advanced features)

Explain that you'll use this information to create a development plan to get them the training and skills they need.  Motivated new hires may even begin to learn these skills on their own prior to their 1st day.

2.  Don’t make your new hire spend their first day waiting around to access the tools they need to be successful. Make sure they have access to everything they need to start working.  This includes:
  • Software licenses (i.e. Articulate 360, Smartsheet, Adobe Creative Suite, Slack, etc.)
  • Email address (Please don't make them start without one)
  • User names and passwords for shared accounts (i.e. Surveymonkey, elearning brothers, etc.)
  • access to necessary hardware  (I.e. Laptop, phone, mouse and keyboard, etc.)
If your company uses SSO, make sure they are setup with access to your portal.

3.  Create a list of of important people for them to meet within their first 90 days.  A 30 minute introduction should be more than enough for the initial meeting. This list should include their name, title, and why they'll be meeting with this individual.  Start with the following employees and expand from there if you need to.

  • Executives and senior leaders
  • Team members
  • Frequent stake holders and Subject Matter Experts (SME)

If you can, schedule the sessions with executives and senior leaders, making sure they’re aware of the your new hire’s role and expertise.  It’s more efficient to have your new hire schedule the sessions with additional team members, stake holders, and SMEs.  

4.  If your organization lacks a formal on boarding program, you’ll want to schedule time for them to complete any compliance training, meet with security, IT, and facilities.  There are more than likely standard procedures that they will need to be aware of within their first week or so on the job.

5.  If they aren't already, make sure your team knows that your new hire is coming and what their role, responsibilities, and initial projects will be.   This will give your team time to prepare to transfer any projects or responsibilities, make any standard operating procedure updates, and mentally prepare for the new member joining their team. 

You may want to assign your a new hire a mentor for their first few weeks.  This quote from a recent blog post by Dr. Britt Andreatta, brittandreatta.com, explains why this might just increase the odds of retaining your new ID long term.  
"According to a 2014 study by BambooHR, 17 percent said that a friendly smile or a helpful coworker would have made all the difference. Nearly 10 percent wished for more attention from their manager and coworkers."

​Day One
Your new team member has finally arrived!  Give them the welcome and day one they deserve.  Create a great impression by meeting them when they walk in the door or shortly after.  Greet them warmly and take the time to show them around, introduce them to the team, and take them to their desk.  If you can’t clear your schedule to greet them in person, make sure to ask a team member to do so.  

If you've done your pre-onboarding homework, you should have a plan ready that includes:
  • a schedule of people to meet,
  • a timeline to complete any mandatory compliance trainings,
  • access to all hardware and software needed to do their jobs,
  • and a development plan ready for them to review and act on.

If you can, take them out to lunch on their 1st day.  This is a great opportunity to get to know your new team member as a person.  You can use this time to discuss the projects they’ll be working on, your vision for the team, and challenges that you’re hoping they can help you solve. 

Week One
Onboarding shouldn't end after day one.  It takes time for new employees to learn the ropes and settle in to their new position.  Connect with them regularly during their 1st week to make sure you can answer their questions and help them find what they need.

Schedule a weekly recurring 1:1 sessions with them for their 1st 30 days.  These meetings should be anywhere from 30-45 minutes in length.  Use this time to answer questions, give them feedback on their performance, review and collaborate on the development plan you crafted with them, and help them navigate any roadblocks they have encountered.  After their first 30 days you can agree to keep the current schedule, length, and frequency or change it to suit both of your needs.

Treat these 1:1 sessions as sacred.  Your new ID will more than likely count on them to answer questions and help them navigate your organization.  If you are constantly rescheduling the meeting it can cause frustration and the feeling that your time is more important than theirs. 

Either you or a member of your team should review your style guide, templates, and development process with them.  This will help them to understand how you develop and implement learning solutions at your company.  Let them know your expectations in terms of communication, quality, and process.    

If they’re an intern or junior ID, pair them with a senior ID to help them navigate these processes.  
Shadowing offers a great opportunity for new team members to really see how work gets done.  Have the Senior ID task them with the creation of learning objects for a current project .  It’s an easy way for them to get started completing projects and adding immediate value to the team, without overwhelming them with a large scale project.

First 30 Days and Beyond  
Continue to check in with your new team member and coach them as they manage their projects, implement new ideas, and integrate with your team and organization.  Pay careful attention to how they are performing as well as feedback they are receiving from the team and other employees.  

Depending on their last role and experience level it may take some time for them to find their footing and become a high performing member of your team.  Your job is to support them, provide them with accurate feedback, coaching, and help to remove any roadblocks they encounter.

As a leader it's your job to help keep your employees engaged.  Putting in the effort to provide them with an amazing onboarding experience is a great way to make them feel welcome, integrate them with your team, and give them the tools they need to be successful.  Leading to a highly engaged employee starting on day one.