Archive for the ‘Adult Learning Model’ Category



January 7, 2011

Much as I did NOT want to be in Vegas last month (even though I was with good friends, enjoying good food, and confirming details for a good conference) I am SO disappointed not to be heading there next week!

From an old faithful excellent industry speaker who was “interactive” before interactive was in like Joan Eisenstodt at ACOM 2011to PCMA to the VIRTUAL EDGE SUMMIT – I am missing so much I need to know.

Not only does PCMA have Daniel Pink as one of its general session speakers, but they are upping the ante in terms of learning approaches within our whole industry of meetings and events.  It caught my attention when Jeff Hurt blogged about the “The Early Bird Gets The Learning Lounge Worm” and then proceeded to describe it as “63 speakers, 77 TED-style presentations, 49 round-table discussions, 49 facilitators, 21 emcees, seven theatres, three Supplier showdowns, one hybrid host, two social media expert bars, one livestreaming stage, one global community discussion, one speed networking session, one PCMA Chapter Challenge, and one task force with eight members.” All this in four hours time spread over three days.  His accompanying descriptions piqued my interest; his closing invitation to “Come and feed your brain, feed your body, and feed your soul” filled me with envy.

And then a friend who is attending shared the floor plan for that PCMA Learning Lounge at the MGM Grand – set in the Garden Arena pre-function in front of the general session and confirmed I made a judgment error in not planning to be there. I can see so many potential applications for similar learning experimentation with my own clients and need to see, take part, and evaluate the effectiveness of each planned element! In fact, I shared the same floor plan with a client who immediately challenged me by asking how much of the plan could be incorporated into their meeting next September?

I was already filled with regret, when the Velvet Chainsaw struck again tonight – this time to share more details on speakers and happenings at PCMA – like Chris Brogan who I also want to hear speak at some point– and then proceeded to say that the Virtual Edge Summit was one of the top five conferences for Hurt in 2010 and he expected it to be a showstopper again, as it is filled with great content, speakers and who’s who in the virtual and hybrid world.

And so here I sit….so bummed at the missed opportunities.  After all, I have to learn how to give a 10 minute presentation – I just committed to doing one on the CRV Experience at the RETHINK event on February 14.



December 29, 2010

Over 25 years ago when the CMP certification was launched, I was VP of Operations for the Meetings Division at Carlson Marketing Group. This was long before CMP discussion/study groups were formed, as the certification concept was in its infancy.  But surrounded with a staff of meeting planners with varying degrees of expertise, in January, 1986, I ordered the PCMA Preparation Manual for the Exam and the First Edition of Professional Meeting Management, and introduced the 25 disciplines covered to my staff of meeting planners.  Each was assigned a section, and asked to review the topic and then present it to the team for discussion as part of the weekly staff meetings. 

I envisioned the manual as a good training tool; and better yet, one that would save me the time of organizing my own knowledge and thoughts to create tools myself.  But along the way, I observed an interesting phenomenon-each planner instinctively used personal experiences to illustrate what they learned, and the audience quickly shared their own experience to support or question the point being discussed.  In some cases, we decided the manual did not always reflect the world of corporate meetings as we knew it – but we simply assumed this was because of innate differences between corporate and association meetings.

Eventually, I decided to actually sit for the exam and off I went to Chicago to be tested; and became one of the first five CMPs in the State of Minnesota.  And yet, the process was somewhat disconcerting.  It seemed I had some trouble with questions relating to AV Equipment and Production.  Really?  How could that be – by this time I had been responsible for AV Production and Equipment for a $15 million division of CMG for almost five years!  Surely, I knew the basics.  As I reviewed the questions I missed, I was irritated to find that I did give the correct answers; however my answers reflected emerging technology and practices not in place when the manuals, study guides and exams were authored. 

And with that, I experienced the first disillusionment encompassing certification-it is too time-specific for an ever-evolving industry.  The second, of course, was that no client in the world really knows what CMP means even these 25 years later, so it does not offer much value in terms of one’s promotability.  Nevertheless, I generally supported the process; advising those considering sitting for the exam not to expect a raise, or more business, but to concentrate on the real value – the process of interacting with one’s peers in the learning process.

And then a decade or so ago, another certification process emerged – this time for the CSEP.  Most who know me have heard me say that I would like to be part of a study group, but have no intention of sitting for the exam.  I believe my credentials and client successes speak well for my knowledge; I am not sure testing facts and practices at any given point in time is meaningful; and although I commend those that have risen to the challenge and successfully earned the designation, I do not see the benefit for me personally.   I accept that attitude as partly an age thing and partly just my quirky personality, and really have not given it much thought – unless I am questioned as to why I have not pursued the certification.  I have been encouraged, however, to see that process in the event world continue to emerge – from measuring how well one memorized definition of terms, to more emphasis on measuring process and innovative problem-solving within an event environment

But in the last two weeks, this nagging certification issue has fallen into place for me, thanks to my newfound “bible” – The NEW Social Learning.  The authors define learning as a “transformative process of taking in information that- when internalized and mixed with what we have experienced- changes what we know and builds on what we can do.”  Learning is based on input, process and reflections.

Despite being a disciple of new emerging ideas in the learning field, I was surprised to see that 70% of learning and development takes place from real-life, on-the-job experiences, tasks and problem-solving;  20% from other people in formal or informal feedback, mentoring or coaching situations; and only 10% from formal training.  That caught my attention and reminded me how we intuitively polished our planning skills so long ago in the Meetings Division by interacting with our peers and sharing personal experiences.

But the authors pushed further as they suggested that the traditional corporate training model is being modernized to take advantage of incidental learning, learning from interacting with others, and learning along the way in the course of doing work.   They further suggest that traditional training methods may survive and will prove useful for teaching highly specific tasks or safety procedures, but evolving practices require more.

There is no doubt in my mind that I have been a part of an evolving industry for 30 years, and in the last 10 of those years, it is an industry that has speeded up exponentially.  Every day our base of best practices is redefined and so, too, are the “right answers “ of yesterday proven to be dated and even wrong. 

So that explains the dilemma of testing knowledge at a given point in time as in my CMP experience…but it does not provide the answer to how one measures learning nor how one ensures that once certified, one continues to learn.  And while I have not thought enough about this particular topic of certification and its value, it does reinforce for me that it is merely a first step in a big process.

 If in fact one sits back after certification and considers oneself the proven “expert”, I fear we would end up with an industry out-of-sync with the rest of the world. I personally am not too motivated to tackle the grueling testing process needed to add those coveted additional initials to my name and so, for now,  will keep my own energies focused on continuing learning instead.  



December 14, 2010

A new term in my vocabulary, and perhaps in yours…and if so, make note of it; remember it; seek out more information because I am convinced, we will all hear much more about this as we move forward into the second decade of this century…some of us still dragging our feet and holding on desperately to the familiarity of what we know and excel at in our past.

Thanks to the big winter storm here in MN, I was given a precious gift-two “found” days this weekend to lose myself in “The New Social Learning”  -with a short break once in a while for a peak outside or a quick escape into the world of Tom Clancy, to allow my mind time to process what I was discovering.

When I read the forward by Dan Pink, I knew I had found a gem…”Twitter, Facebook, and their social media kin are not all about marketing.  They’re equally if not more so, about learning….”  YES, finally a resource that positions social media not as a personal or corporate marketing tool but as a collaborative aid to facilitate learning! 

With that to peak my interest, I delved right in and before I finished the introduction, I was impressed with the authors’ realistic and thoughtful approach to this topic.  After an opening chapter on trends reshaping the workplace, the challenges and opportunities of these shifts and how social learning fits in this environment, the authors address, chapter by chapter, a specific social media category, its application, how these practices overcome business challenges, and how to address the critics of each.

Criticism.  Now that is a phenomenon I have encountered most of my life, and certainly recently as I have used this blog to contemplate ideas gleaned from industry thought-leaders  re adult learning, alternatives to consider when structuring conferences going forward, and possible options to minimize ineffective general session costs.  I recognize that criticism is a normal reaction to defend the familiar status quo, and generally, after the first sting, adds value to the innovation process, as it points out weaknesses to be overcome, or sometimes simply prepares one for that natural phenomenon of naysayers that are lurking in the wings.  But Bingham and Conner reassure the reader that the criticism generally falls into 3-4 predictable categories; then they build the case of how to dismiss its negative impact, and offer up success stories of those national and international organizations that have already forged ahead to embrace the change.  They even include top-notch examples of Governance of social learning use within some impressive corporations.

And best of all, they did not write this book frozen in time, but as two of the most respected names in training and development, they recognize that the tools discussed in the book may have dramatically changed by the time the book is read, so they created a complimentary website to keep the conversation current; provide more about applications of interest to each of us, and even “getting started guides”.

All that and I had not even started the book yet!   Needless to say, by the end of the weekend, the book was filled with margin notations and my ideas journal reflects a long list of action items; including some quality time devoted to that website! Today, let me end with some memorable thoughts put forth in the Afterward of this new treasure chest of ideas:

Once you move away from the push of information to the pull of learning, you liberate creative powers  in your people to succeed in this rapidly changing environment…once you make it easy for people…and you create an environment where people are not afraid to fail, you allow them to ask the really hard questions. …It’s about making learning a priority and using the tools of social media to facilitate a culture where we get better at getting better. It’s no longer about just being a better competitor.  It’s now about being a stronger contributor and a savvier learner. 

AMEN to that.



November 11, 2010

Frequent followers of this blog probably know I became a great supporter of Daniel Pink after attending a University Lecture Series event strictly by chance some five years ago.  Here I was introduced not only to Pink but to a whole new way of thinking as he talked about what led him to write “A Whole New Mind”. Not only did I learn about concepts such as the Creative Class and the Conceptual Age, but it launched the beginnings of my exploration of the 21st century’s version of adult learning models – theories pretty revolutionary from what I lived by in the 70s and 80s during my career in the world of Motivation and Performance Improvement.

Early last year, Pink published his third book, “Drive” and with the introduction of Motivation 3.0 truly stopped me in my tracks.  It took some time and reminders to keep an open mind to get on board, but that I did – although I had some trepidation about some things.  I was looking forward to talking with him in person when he was featured as the guest author at Barnes and Noble in February so off I went – early to get a good seat- to the Galleria, and was sorely disappointed to learn he was stuck on the West Coast and would not make it to Minnesota. 

So, I was especially excited to get another chance when I saw he would be speaking at a luncheon at the Depot today and made a mental note to follow up and get a ticket.

Not so fast!  Today is also the November ISES meeting with Ken Kristoffersen sharing his thoughts and knowledge on Experiential Design – another of my passions and thus a Must Attend. Because, again for followers of the blog, I am equally passionate about  event design  and working to get people within our industry to understand that event design relates to message and desired outcomes, how to engage an audience and start a dialog  and create an immersive experience – and not simply the design of the shell – or look- of an event. 

So I have wrestled with this conflict for days…I’m a founder of this ISES chapter that pushed hard to get a charter– I have to support it…it’s a topic that’s dear to me…I already paid for ticket…but on the other hand, this is the first appearance by Pink in Minneapolis in five years …he is one of the pioneers of this whole new way of thinking-a thought-leader that challenges me to think differently…truly, this was a dilemma. 

But in the end, a client’s needs and the commitment to the chapter reigned supreme- and so I am off to listen and interact with Ken.  If you are not an ISES member and have the time – go see Daniel Pink and call me to share some dialog on his latest thinking!  I promise you, if you don’t know his work – it will get you thinking a new way! Wish I could be there to share it.



November 10, 2010

Back in September, a Jeff Hurt blog shared a Dan Pink concept of “Flip Thinking” that caught my attention.

As background, Karl Fisch, a high-school math teacher has flipped the traditional classroom model for education.  He uses YouTube to record his lectures and assigns them as homework to his students.  The classroom is reserved for interaction and student engagement as they participate in activities, exercises, questions and discussions that stem from watching YouTube video.

What an innovative thought!  Students listen on their own as after all, listening is indeed an individual activity and this medium allows each to replay portions they did not catch or understand, spending as much time as they want or is necessary to grasp the concept and message.  This reserves the classroom for activities, exercises, questions and discussions, all facilitated by the teacher.  To me, this seems a lot smarter than expecting parents to assist with homework when, at best, they are at least a generation removed from the latest thinking or body of knowledge on any given topic!

I had a “Eureka” moment when Hurt then moved on to postulate we consider flipping the conference education model as well.    The standard lecture presentation is available online pre-conference to registered attendees.  They listen, try out concepts, and come to the conference with questions, best practices and examples of how they applied the concept.  The on-site session, like the flipped classroom, is facilitated by the presenter and becomes an interactive and engaging experience for all attendees.

For six weeks now, I have continued to ruminate on the possibilities and have jumped from the conference setting to a corporate meeting, as I envision a world in which CEO shares his vision, state of the company, needed outcomes, or whatever his message for the meeting might be via the intranet prior to the meeting, leaving time for the audience to react, ruminate, and raise questions.  All of this could then be gathered pre-meeting as basis for the at-meeting conversations and dialogues .  This also allows the standard general session expense to be put to better use in interactive experiences that involve and engage the audience to create a more meaningful experience. 

And along the way, I continue to come back to the education experience envisioning a world where bureaucracy no longer rules and it would be easy to implement without jumping the hurdles of “that is not the way it is done”.

So what a surprise when I read in the Strib on Tuesday that the U of M College of Liberal Arts – forced by budget cuts- has been brainstorming possible changes in curriculum, organization, schedules and….a variation on the theme above as they thought “What if graduate students gave the lectures and the faculty met in small groups with the students?”  Once I got past long-ago personal experiences of hard-to-understand student teachers with English as a second language, and a knee-jerk reaction to additional time commitments, I realized this is exactly the kind of innovative application Hurt held up in the Fisch Flip. 

Perhaps these thoughts are all seeds of the 21st century Learning Revolution we are striving for!  We may not have the solution nailed yet, but good people are having good thoughts as they search for a better way.  Stay tuned on this one.



November 6, 2010

Yesterday, driving home from yet another eye appointment, I was listening to MPR Midmorning Show with Kerri Miller.  Guests were Po Bronson and Shelly Carson discussing the lack of teaching of creativity in schools. The experts gathered in the studio and contributing callers via phone once again reinforced a position I have been studying and following for the past few years.  Brain and learning research over the last twenty years has changed how we should be thinking about education of our children.  Creativity  quotients (think innovation) have been decreasing in public schools since sometime in the late 1950s and we continue to rest on our laurels of American successes gained during the first 2/3 of the 20th century – with minimal progress since.

Right Brain/Left Brain theories are out the window.  One can be taught creativity and innovation if the focus of education includes problem-solving, not just high scores on tests.  This is not a movement led by a single person trying to revolutionize the world to his way of thinking.  This is 20 years of amassed facts by a growing body of experts with not only research but case studies to back up their theories.

Just last week, I was enjoying breakfast at the Nicollet Island Inn and overheard (and I confess, then eves-dropped) on a conversation at the next table.  Two gentlemen were discussing break-throughs in bringing design method of learning to K-12; teaching collaboration, socialized learning, and patterning learning found in Design Schools such as the School of Architecture with good results – as they explored how they could work together to bring these results into the forefront in the Minneapolis community. 

And yet, the public discourse on the topic remains tightly held in the hands of politicians wrestling with teachers, administration, parents and the teachers unions over old-school methods , using historical 20th century results  and disproven truths to support why they are RIGHT in their antiquated thinking.  

Surely, education experts focusing on what we know today about learning and innovation should get their chance on the stage soon – but I am not optimistic.  We are so caught up in preserving the 20th century “America Rules” mentality that we cannot open our minds to how we can move forward –despite all signals pointing to the wave of American world dominance is over.

As for me, unfortunately, since I was driving and somewhat distracted by my eye issues, I do not recall all the details of the MPR discussion…so two new books are added to my “Must Read” list – Carson’s “The Creative Brain” and Bronson’s “NutureShock: New Thinking about Children”. 

 So like it or not, expect to hear more on this topic in the future!



October 20, 2010

Tell me and I’ll forget
Show me and I may remember
Involve me and I’ll understand

-Confucius 551-479 BC

One of my early introductions to the concept of experiential events – along with the work of Gilmore & Pine, Pink, and a few other pioneers like Jack Morton WW, Denise Shiffman and Shaz Smilansky , was a book by Max Lenderman entitled “Experience the Message”.

It was here that I was reminded of the Confucius quote that had first inspired me twenty years earlier as we launched that first integrated meetings company at Carlson Marketing Group. It combined into one , the separate disciplines of meeting management, AV production, and product expos, that up to then came together only at the site of the corporate meeting itself–managed by separate companies for a single client. Despite its inherent weaknesses, it worked and along with thought-leaders experimenting in other companies nationally, it became the model of what we think of as meeting production through-out the remainder of the 20th century.

In those days, we often used a variation of the first two lines of that Confucius quote to illustrate why we were graduating from lectures or at most two-projector- dissolve AV shows to major media productions to support the talking heads of corporate executives in the general session. And by accident, and perhaps boredom with destination, movie, and book “theme” parties, in 1985, we experimented with combining a traditional “product expo” with a lunch, reception or dinner and inadvertently addressed the real essence of that quote when, by accident, we engaged our audience! It became a point of difference for us, even though we did not really understand why it worked.

A move at end of the 1980s to head up the first Event Marketing Division at Carlson, did not seem like a big leap…although I certainly did not understand the emerging discipline as well as the performance improvement, motivation, incentive world from whence I came. Nevertheless, it seemed to describe more succinctly what we were delivering in the previous five years under the guise of CMG Meetings and so I stumbled into what then became my career passion. Originally at Carlson, then within my own company of Creative Events, I viewed a meeting or an event as a communication tool to deliver a message and achieve defined objectives or outcomes – dictated usually, by the senior management team. I delivered those outcomes and I was successful.

Early in 2000s, I began to see the awakening of a whole new twist to that discipline that ultimately emerged described as event marketing and experiences; it piqued my interest and I was driven to learn more. And by 2005-6, technological changes were emerging that turned our world upside-down. One way streaming from the podium on stage was no longer in vogue-even if it was supported with breth-taking multi-media visuals. The shift to Involve me and I will understand was being supported by case studies and brain research that launched the learning revolution. Thought-leaders like Max Lenderman wrote “Experience the Message” and I read it, was inspired, and began in earnest, a search to better understand this phenomenon. I reached a career pinnacle this past summer when along with a talented support team, we delivered a highly successful interactive experiential meeting we labeled “5000 events for 5000 people.”

And here I am, coming full circle, as I am now reading Lenderman’s second book – “A Brand New World”. In it, I’ve learned there is no time to “rest on my laurels”- I am already behind in recognizing that, as Lenderman suggests, “most everything interesting in marketing and advertising is actually happening in the ‘Third World’” – in that emerging marketplace of hyper-developing countries known as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China). Yes, I knew it was big; Yes, I knew it was growing rapidly; Yes, I knew it was a partner not to be overlooked in the global economy; No, I did not know what all that really meant – for me and for my world. As I read the book, I am realizing that “pinnacle” CRV event this summer is only a stepping stone – with so much more to learn. Stay Tuned!