Thursday, June 25, 2009

ISD 2 Talk ROI or B DOA with NO $

After participating in my first #lrnchat session on Twitter I realized that maybe there's a topic after all that ISD'ers need my help with. Or maybe not. The question being answered is this:

How do I talk to C-Suite about $ Needed for Learning & Development? (ok, I'm paraphasing). Consider the following examples in scripted format as if you are the ISD:

ISD: "We need $10K for an EPSS system, because print manuals are too cumbersome."
VP: "Huh? Why can't they just look it up on the Internet?"
ISD: "That's what I'm saying. We can convert our content into html and link it, and it will only cost $10K."
VP: "Oh, sorry, I've got a phone call. Budget cuts. I come by later to talk to you. Gotta go."

ISD: "If we provide pricing tools just in time for the sales team, they'll be able to do their quotes on the spot. That will save a follow up meeting and wasted calls, and we've estimated it will improve our close rate by 30%"
VP: "That's $2M a year! Why haven't you done it yet?!"
ISD: "I just need your approval on this $10K investment for a Knowledge Management system that will link from their F1 key. I've already run this past IT and the Sales Managers."
VP: "I love the way you think." Signed. Done.

ISD: "I think we should have a video that can be downloaded to people's IPhones. It's really cool. We can do it for $20K."
VP: "We don't have $20K. Don't you know there's a recession going on?"
ISD: "Yes, but our training - how to feed the world in 8 easy steps, needs to get out. Mobile technology is the way to go."
VP: "Find another way. The training budget was slashed this year."

ISD: "We've calculated that we can reach an additional 120,000 potential donors by providing our content in a mobile format. If only 2% donate, that increases our ability to provide food by 320 truckloads a year. That's enough to feed 30,000 families."
Chairman: "Do it. We'll find something else to cut from the budget. Our goal is to feed the world."
ISD: "Thank you"
Chairman: "Keep bringing me solutions like this and you may find yourself on the fast track."

ISD: "We really need to do some team building around here. People are just acting all wierd since the layoffs."
VP: "What's the impact?"
ISD: "Impact? Bad morale? Stress I guess. It just needs to be fixed"
VP: "Sorry, but maybe I can write a memo or something. The last thing we need around here is more group hugs and tree climbing."

ISD: "Since the layoffs, people are having a hard time focusing, and our productivity is down about 25%. I know you don't want to cut more staff. I'm thinking you might want to consider approaching this transition in a way that will improve performance and get us back on track faster."
VP: "I'd like to tell them to snap out of it! But, okay, let's hear what you've got."
ISD: "People will get back to 'business' faster if we take a Transition Management approach that addresses their underlying fears, concerns and issues. I'd like to bring in a consultant who helped company xyz get back on their feet in about 3 weeks, saving months of lost productivity."
VP: "It's worth the money to me if we can get shorten the time it takes get productivity back on track. If we're off by even 10%, that's thousands of dollars a day wasted! Can you do it for under $10K? OK then, let's go!"

ISD: "I'd really like to learn Lectora, but the software is $2K , and I'd need an upgraded PC, Monitor and offsite training. The class is in Vegas. About $8K in all? Probably not a good year to ask, right?"
VP: "You've got that. Your PC will have to last you another year."
ISD: "Oh well, maybe next year."
VP: "Let's hope the economy turns around by then."

ISD: "I've been thinking, we've got $120K set aside for outsourcing our elearning development work this year. I'd like to cut that amount by 80% to offset the reduced income and traffic."
VP: "80%?! I'm all ears. I was thinking to cut it by 50% anyhow and just apoligize to our internal customers. You know. We've got to do our part."
ISD: "If I can get trained on, and obtain access to Lectora, we can do the ongoing programming updates ourselves AND our development time should be faster because we won't have to ftp files back and forth to India, dealing with timelags and communication issues."
VP: "Get me the specs, and I'll walk them over to IT. No reduction in output? Great idea."

So when you want to get top-management to buy into your OD, HR, Learning & Development or any other expenditure you've got to do three things.

1) Find out what they care about. And figure out how they count it. #Customers? Comp. Store Sales? Reduced battlefield deaths? Fewer missed calls? More cases sold? More votes? Fewer teenage prostitutes? Whatever. Find it.

2) Provide solutions that fix, improve or pave the way to make the organization better. Show them that the math works by building a case to demonstrate for example, how incremental increases in X (your solution) = more of Y (organizational goal/metric/$).
  • More Webinars ($10K) = Fewer Travel $ Expended ($1.2M) <--- A true example
  • Investing in a $30K LMS will reduce $500K organization wide in OSHA fines.
  • Providing information online ($5K) to prevent 3,000 hrs wasted search time ($150,000)
  • Hiring 2 interns ($10K) to allow us to forgo one consultant ($50K) for the project
3) Then measure your progress along the way (professional project plan, expense management, milestones, deliverables) and communicate your overall results. In other words, prove it. If you're not good at measurement, partner with a grad student from a business or economics (or ISD) program to help. One SAP project I led with $2M (for training/change management) saved the organization over $10M. That's a 5x return on investment. How did we calculate that? Case studies. Horror stories. Time to productivity? Savings due to error reduction. Ever heard of Hershey? How much revenue did they lose over the holidays when their ERP didn't go off smooth and they couldn't ship products?

As Michael Hammer once said, "the soft stuff is the hard stuff". It's our job to figure out how to impact the soft stuff (people, and their knowledge, skills and abilities) and prove that by doing so, the organization is better off in some MEASURABLE way.

Got an ISD initiative you can't figure out how to measure, or sell upward? Comment or send me a tweet @PearlFlipper and I'll do my best to help you work the math.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I Love Twitter = It's Time for a Policy!

At the request of management and for the record, the opinions expressed here are my own and no reflection of my employer, I've begun working on a Social Media policy with the best and brightest and youngest of our management talent and have found that the best social media policies address most of the following six (6) key items. Do you hear that lawyers, only six!

There's the IBM policy, the list from 123, the AP policy, the policy from SHRM, the policy from ASTD, even the point of view of the IFA, And the lawyers. About 30 polices later, we realized they all attempt to do the same basic thing: CYA. For your own policy however, first you'll have to decide which kind of policy you want.

The two options are:
1) To allow blogging, social media and conversation to take place between workers and customers (hey, it's informal learning, relationship and trust building).
2) To prohibit social media, at all costs, with some draconian legalese (er, whatever).

<-- this image borrowed from, um, someone's blog.
Assuming your company is bright enough to choose option 1, here are six things to consider in your organization's official social media policy:

1) Protect your company, brand, image, proprietary content and all that. You wouldn't air you dirty undies outside the front door of your office building, so why do it on the internet?

2) Use your own voice and identify that voice. If like me, you have your own personal blog, or are addicted to Facebook and Twitter, then be clear that you're not speaking on behalf of the company. I'm not. That's why my online persona is PearlFlipper, geez. Sample disclaimer: "The opinions expressed on this site are my own and in no way reflect the opinions of my employer".

3) Don't answer PR/Marketing queries. If you're hanging out in the blogoshphere, someone is likely to contact you about 'official' information. Send them to the PR department, or the laywers, if you have some. Realize you're not the company spokesperson, (unless you are . . .)

4) If you're working on company equipment, well, let's be fair and keep it work related? IM to ask questions. Follow your customers on Twitter and pay them compliments on Facebook, but schedule your movie date on your own time, after hours or during lunch. Have some respect.

5) Comply with all the other rules you agreed to in the Employee Handbook, Code of Conduct, Values plastered in the elevator lobby and all that. In other words, don't do or say anything that wouldn't be appropriate on the job.

6) Obey the law. Don't post other people's content without permission, download music illegally, take credit for ideas that aren't yours, or ahem, anything else prohibited by law.

To be safe, have a lawyer take a look at your policy, and let them add all those extra words. But then jump right in and start trusting your people to use their judgement and lever ALL the productivity tools available on the job and within the blogosphere.

P.S. The opinions expressed on this post are my own and in no way reflect the opinions of my employer. :-)

Friday, June 5, 2009

PearlFlipper Has a TheFlip

You'll have to let me know if video from new THEFLIP camcorder works. It's my first YouTube video and shows my carpool partner Lisa as I pull up in the parking lot

Lisa contacted me last year on Omaha Rideshare and our schedules coordinate most days, saving us each about $50/month. The best part? The 45-minute commute seems so much faster when there's someone to talk to.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Don't Know What's Going to Happen to the Economy Either

Have you noticed yourself spending less, mending more, or saving those things that in better times you might have tossed into the Goodwill bin? After 40 days of giving up 'shopping' for lent, I feel guilty now, in a good way, spending on anything not absolutely necessary. A tear in the comforter ?. . . I now fix it. A loose button, sew it on. Landscaping? Well I've always done that myself, but even squeaker toys that Sparticus has pulled the stuffing out of, get sewn into a new and creative monsters.

On a recent trip to Chicago, I splurged on a few new tops, a dress and shoes, but for the most part I've been delighted to pull the summer wardrobe from storage and realize that I have years' worth of clothing and don't need anything 'new'.

As far as housing, we're resigned to finish the flip, market both properties and live in whichever is left unsold. I love the lake, for the reason that it gives my family a destination to visit.

But I love the flip for the reason that it could prove us able to turn a $22K investment in to a beautiful, albeit quirky, hillside home with mini forest. Notice the meadow where the deer must have slept? The apple tree? The narrow shady hillside? I kind of hope God prefers us to live in the smaller house, because then we'd also have privacy, more family time, no house payment . . . Any advice? How are you adapting to the economy these days?

Monday, June 1, 2009

A Tale of Two Shirts

I hate to admit that after my daughters grew and moved away, I slipped into a fashion coma. No longer was I able to ask Kristen whether my shoes matched my dress. Or whether my shirt should be tucked in or left loose.

Upon the gentle advice of a former manager, I sought the assistance of a 'fashion' consultant, a local expert who was willing to spend 3 hours with me, my wardrobe and my quirky sense of style. She defined it as 'sporty natural'. That was three years ago, and what's stuck with me is the importance of basics.

Case in point. On her first visit, she noticed I had a lot of items with embellishments. Jackets with brocade, slacks with stripes, and blue suede shoes with little turqoise beads. What I lacked were the basics to pull them together along with a mis-conception about what pieces might work. Stiff-collared blouses and silk were too fussy for me, but I didn't know that that bright cotton t-shirts were perfectly appropriate to wear under a jacket at work. I didn't dare wear heels, but later learned to buy flats with peep toes.

I also learned that saturated hues and boat neck collars tend to flatter my coloring and broad shoulders more than muted tones and v-necks. That first $240 was the best money I've ever spent, because over the next year, I saved hundreds by not buying more non-mixable fashion pieces, and instead investing in just a few carefully chosen layering pieces in comfortable fabrics.

I've also learned that all brands aren't the same and was reminded yet again this week while doing laundry. On the right you'll see a long-sleeved cotton t-shirt purchased three years ago at The Gap. It's laundered well, and I learned that the sleeves can be folded back if I'm wearing a 3/4 length jacket.

The shirt on the left was bought last week at Macy's in Chicago and didn't last one washing . . . while soft to the touch, notice the 'holes' that appeared when I pulled it from the dryer? Guess which top was more expensive??! The Macy's top is going back, along with the receipt . . . in the mail no less, since I've no intention to board a plane to make a return. And I could use your advice on where to find Ts in saturated colors, with soft fabrics that hold up well to laundering. Any suggestions? There's always The Gap.

Let's Complete the Flip Already

We're making progress on the Flip house this summer thanks to my brother Steven's recent trip. He installed the fireplace, and did a beautiful job tiling the shower with the $1.99 marble I found at Menards. But what he did most was inspire us to continue. He helped identify the products to buy, cedar trim, brick molding, slate flooring and shared his tools so that we could sand and stain the french doors. I was excited to learn to use a wet tile saw. Brian gained confidence in trimming out windows. So Thank You Steven. Even though you're younger than me (same age as Brian), you've always had a way of coming through as my big brother . . . showing us the way to begin again.