Wednesday 13 March 2013

ASTD Conference 5 - 7 March 2013 - Part 3

Click here to jump to Part 1 of the ASTD Conference feedback.

Next up was Agustina Mendez from the Hay Group, a global management consulting firm.

"Leadership 2030 - Leadership Characteristics of the Future"

This was a fascinating presentation giving a glimpse into the potential future and attempting to predict the kind of leadership competencies that will be required of leaders in the near future. To take an educated guess into the future the Hay Group partnered with Z_punkt, a company specialising in future scenario planning. Z_Punkt identified 20 "mega-trends" of the future that the Hay Group then worked with from an HR and leadership perspective to tease out the competencies that would be needed under these conditions.

A "mega-trend" was defined by Z_punkt as a trend which would have global consequences due to the scale of impact, the reach of the trend and the time-frame during which the trend would take place. In her presentation Agustina only had time to look at 5 of the 20 mega-trends, but the full research report can be purchased from the Hay Group. The 5 trends from the presentation were:

  1. Globalisation 2.0
  2. Individualisation and value pluralism (the blurring of the line between work and personal life)
  3. Demographic change
  4. Climate change and environmental impact
  5. Digital life-style
Agustina also referenced research the Hay Group  had done on different kinds of leadership styles one of which was titled, The Indian CEO, the other was The Chinese CEO. Both reports present a refreshing picture of new emerging global CEO styles which are very different (some would say more ethical) than the reigning European CEO and US CEO models.

Some of the insights from Agustina's presentation:
  • Globalisation 2.0
    • There are  now 2 billion middle class people on the planet -a huge growth in the last few years
    • Globalisation is influencing organisations to adopt more "flattened" organisational structures so that information can flow more easily across global boundaries - this is challenging traditional heirarchical reporting structures
    • Individual loyalty is increasingly to the person's social network and not the institution they work for. This is reflected in the fact that instead of one individual resigning from an organisation, an entire team will move at once.
  • Individualisation and value pluralism
    • 59% of employees in Germany changed jobs in the last 5 years
    • People are seeking personal fulfilment in the workplace, whereas previously they would be content to work for money and have a meaningful personal life after work
      • This is causing a convergence of private and working lives
    • We are seeing more unconventional CVs where it is clear that the person was seeking meaning in their life rather than a vertical career progression
      • Lateral career movements are more common in these CVs
      • The search for personal fulfillment is more evident in these CVs
    • We are seeing the rise of what Richard Florida has coined "the creative class" which is involved in creativity across the whole process of product or service design from formulation to creation to implementation of the idea
      • Many people in this group are not happy being micromanaged in their work and want to be self-directed and creative to a greater extent than we have seen before
  • Demographic change
    • We used to hear about the brain drain and now we hear about the brain cycle which is when people have emigrated to the developed world from a developing country, and now decide to return home to their native country, often bringing with them valuable skills and experience
      • This is what Bruno Rouffaer referred to as happening with the Turkish population of Europe, many of whom are now immigrating back to Turkey
      • This trend has been exaggerated by the financial crisis of 2007-8 which has made many developed countries less attractive than some of the the faster growing developing countries of the world 
    • In 2009 there were 7 Western industrial countries amongst the 10 biggest economies in the world, by 2050 it is predicted there will only be 3
  • Digital life-style
    • This has significantly increased the power of customers in a business relationship, making them key partners in the whole value chain of a business and empowering them to shape the end product and the way in which it is produced
    • It now requires a transparency of operations that was unheard of in previous times
    • The (post) heroic but overwhelmed leader:
      • Linked to digital life-style is the issue of ethics in leadership - how do we predict when our leaders are about to bring a scandal to their organisation and damage its reputation? This was never a question in the pre-digital life-style era but now its a primary business imperative
      • A cornerstone leadership competence emerging out of these mega-trends is a kind of curiosity of genuinely wanting to know "how my behaviour or style as a leader is perceived (felt) by you" - also known as caring

 Agustina ended her presentation with this statement to leaders, "if you are only in it for the title you are not going to be able to stick it out in the job - its just not sustainable."
You can download Agustina's presentation here.

Tuesday 12 March 2013

ASTD Conference 5 - 7 March 2013 - Part 2

Click here to jump to Part 1 of the ASTD Conference feedback.

Next up was Idah Zwane-Dlomo, General Manager for Corporate Services at the KZN Provincial Government Treasury. It was fitting for one of the first presentations to come out of the public service, given that:
  • The public service is the largest employer in South Africa
  • The public service will now be contributing to the Skills Development Levy in a structured way which will empower PSETA to act as a significant role player in improving public sector performance
  • Poor public service delivery has been a source of violent public protest now for several years
The topic of Idah's presentation was:

"Practical Strategies to Deal with the Skills Gap in the Workplace"

Idah started off by reminding us that South Africa has the paradox of an unemployment crisis existing simultaneously with an employment crisis. For example we have an official unemployment figure of about 25% of the population while the public service has an average vacancy rate of about 23%. This echoes a poignant quote from Minister Blade Nzimande some year's ago when he said almost exactly three years ago:
"While there are no instant solutions,
the cycle of poverty and hopelessness must be broken as soon as possible.
In every village and town, in every suburb
and city centre, there are gifted people
with broken dreams and no income,
who do not qualify for jobs
that must be filled."
- Minister Nzimande 25 March 2010 

Some highlights from Idah's presentation:
  • The use of "trainee ranks" whereby work placements into the Treasury are placed three job levels below their target employment level 
    • This reduces tension with the unions and existing employees who sometimes greet new trainees with suspicion and jealousy, seeing them as a threat to their positions
    • The trainees are assigned mentors to assist them reach full competency in their new positions, and vigorous Personal Development Plans and Personal Improvement Plans are applied
  • The shortage of internal auditors in the Treasury is addressed by learnerships including a  three year contract, at the target level of employment, except where the candidate has no managerial experience in the public service in which case they are assigned a "trainee rank" while gaining the required experience
Idah concluded her presentation with a humorous quote from Mark Twain, highlighting the value in the KZN Treasury attached to real-world experience (versus knowledge and theory):
"Never let formal education get in the way of your learning "
 You can download Idah's presentation here, and read more about her background here.

There was a break following this presentation where the participants got to stretch legs and meet each other.

Sunday 10 March 2013

ASTD Conference 5 - 7 March 2013 - Part 1

I have just returned from ASTD South Africa's 2013 conference in the Drakensberg.

Three days (and nights) of intensive learning, sharing and networking, I am glad it coincided with the end  of the week so that I could recover over the weekend.

I recommend that anyone involved in workplace learning budget and plan to attend next year's event. I attend 10 - 20 HRD related conferences and events every year and would rate this in the top 3 available.

Below some highlights from the notes I made and the photos I took. Please feel free to post questions for more details in the comments section below.  I am a beginner when it comes to photography, so the pics are pretty rough.

Why is it so good? 

It was the first ASTD event that I attended, so I want to just comment briefly on my perception of why its different, and better than, many of the other HRD events available at the moment:
  • Its not as big as the IPM Annual Conference (about 200 people versus about 900 people) - you don't feel lost in a sea of people you need to talk to but will never get around to more than just greeting. This means that you also get to chat to the international and local guest speakers more freely. 
  • Hosted at Champagne Sports Resorts its not as noisy and distracting as Sun City can be
  • The level of networking and interaction with peers seems somehow more coherent and convergent, possibly because there are only 200 people there
  • The quality of content presented is very high and the relevance of the information is also high, possibly because the ASTD does a lot of research work into effective HRD, and also seems better able to attract international specialists in these fields (they launched their latest State of the Training Industry training report in one of the sessions)
  • Another interesting fact is that most of the speakers hung around for the rest of the conference, and sat in on the other sessions, unlike other events where they disappear immediately their show is over.

The story in pictures and words

So lets begin, letting my camera lead the way...

After traveling down to KZN from Joburg on the ASTD bus, we arrived at 1.30 pm at Champagne Sports Resort, just in time for the 2pm start.

 The ASTD theme, "New Learning for Extraordinary Performance", greets us in the main plenary session - as well as a deliciously cold aircon.

Bruno Rouffaer and Idah Zwane-Dlomo, the first two speakers, chat in the foreground while Robin Probart (President ASTD South Africa) makes final preparations before the start in the background.

Robin welcomes everyone and talks about the need to go beyond "yesterday's logic", conquer the "data overload" facing us all, and move into a new mode of collaboration which is the most effective way to solve the latest HRD challenges. 

Bruno took the first plenary session with an insightful and very motivating presentation called, "Big Bad Boss Era is Over". In his Belgian-English accent he pointed out that a fundamental change in the nature of work relationships was taking place, and the leader of tomorrow would be very different from the big bad boss stereotype. Some of the interesting points Bruno made:
  • Youth immigration to Europe starting to reverse, due partly to the recession, but also because young Turks, for instance, feel alienated in a Europe that sees them as Turks rather than as human beings. They are going back to Turkey and taking valuable skills and experience with them back to their home countries. At the same time many native Europeans, such as Spanish youth, are heading to Latin American countries to look for work.
  • China's population of higher education students is 125 million people, India: 130 million
  • It was the protest of a Tunisian higher education student, Mohamed Bouaziz that triggered the Arab Spring and removed four governments from power with several others waiting in line

  • If Wikipedia were a book, it would contain 2,25 million pages and take 123 years to read - evidence of the enormous power the internet has given us to reinvent economic, social and knowledge relationships
  • More than 50% of the world's population is under the age of 30 - the new generation of youth entering the workplace are looking for a holistic level of meaning that unites their work and personal life  and does not split them into conflicting roles
  • The why component of learning is very important to the younger generation and needs to be understood before the how and what components

Interestingly Bruno owns a farm in Hluhluwe, KZN, and spends about a third of his time in South Africa, and the rest in Europe. His South African life includes supporting the Isibani Community Centre in Winterton. If you are interested in more from Bruno he has just published his book (by the same title as the presentation) and it can be ordered here.

Please check back to this blog post during the course of this week when I will be adding more pictures and snippets from the conference.

Click here to jump to Part 2 of the ASTD Conference feedback.

Sunday 3 March 2013

Launch of the Skills Handbook Blog

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the new official blog of The Skills Handbook.

This blog is being launched just in time for the ASTD South Africa's 9th International Conference. I will be presenting a Skills Development Update there and also sharing some of the content on this blog over the coming weeks.

This is a list of the topics I will be covering in future posts:
  • ASTD Conference reportback - highlights and key new ideas discussed
  • The Minister of HET's January and February press briefings and what light they shed on the direction of government strategy
  • The Nedbank Occupational Qualifications Case Study - this could be the biggest success story in workplace learning since the year 2000, a very exciting development that will hopefully be the start of a national (and international) trend in workplace learning
  • Intellectual Apartheid Fights On - the debate around limiting the QCTO to NQF Level 6 qualifications: how can we still be arguing about the importance of workplace learning on the NQF?
  • The QCTO and the HRD Council expand their web presence - good news for workplace learning as communication from both organisations improves
  • Key developments expected from DHET by 1 April 2013 - there are several documents, regulations and policy updates expected as the new financial year starts

The 2013/14 Skills Handbook will be available in the following formats:
  • The hardcopy edition of the book (available approximately June 2013)
  • The eBook edition of the book, on CD-ROM (available approximately May 2013)
  • A downloadable PDF version of the book on Scribd  (available approximately May 2013)
  • The free online book which will be a regular HTML website view of the book rather than a PDF version. Our hope is that this will encourage more interaction than the PDF edition of the book allows. 
  • For those of you who can't wait until the new book is out please contact us about our in-house information sessions for HRD Teams and HR practitioners to update them on all the latest developments.
    Please also subscribe to our RSS feed (bottom of the page) to get updates whenever a new post is published. Not sure what an RSS feed is? This page will help you get started.