Podcast 3: Challenges and Opportunities of 5 Generations in the Workforce

Today, co-host Nathan Eckel leads the verbal charge in a discussion about the training, learning and communication challenges and opportunities of 5 generations in the workforce.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that we have 5 generations working and contributing in the workforce until 2020.

Listen as Nathan and Peggy discuss the exciting ways that the 5 generations affect corporate culture, communication, learning and knowledge transfer.

To recap, the 5 generations are:

World War II

Baby Boomers

Generation X

Millenials

Gen 2020 – born post-2000 and entering the workforce this year 2017 as they begin to graduate from high school.

We welcome your comments below.

 

 

Podcast Premier: Lifelong Learning and a Department of Human Potential

Welcome to the premier of the Working with SMEs podcast. In this first episode, Nathan Eckel, author of Open Source Instructional Design, joins me as co-host in a discussion on the importance of lifelong learning. Nathan and I recorded a dozen episodes and they will appear in this blog space on Thursdays.

In this episode, we discuss the ways that people have become 24/7 learners aided by an all-info, all-the-time culture, and the implications that this kind of learning has for business.

Thank you for listening to this edition of the Working with SMEs podcast. Let us know if you like this format in the comment box below.

 

What Are You Doing About Retiring Expertise? New Book and Public Workshop on Capturing and Transferring Corporate Knowledge

What are your plans for preserving your internal corporate expertise in 2017?

Join us for a public workshop in the Philadelphia area on December 16 based on the book Finding Your SMEs: Capturing Knowledge from Retiring Subject Matter Experts in Your Organization Before They Leave, where we will look at the kinds of expertise you need to capture and how to make those decisions.

Here are the details.

Topic: Working with Subject Matter Experts: 3 Clear Strategies for Finding, Capturing & Transferring Retiring Expertise.

Date: December 16, 2016

Time: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Place: Malvern, Pa

Cost: $30 (lunch will be provided)

An additional session in January will be available to accommodate holiday schedules. Seating is limited. Recommended that you send more than one person from your organization to facilitate discussion within your company.

A nearly perceptible anxiety surrounds the retiring baby boom generation in corporate America today. Many thriving businesses began in the post World War II manufacturing boom. As those knowledge workers leave for the sunny golf courses of Florida, they take with them lifetimes of knowledge and skills that some businesses will never replace.  But it doesn’t have to be that way for your organization.

Join us for the workshop on December 16. Click here to register.

Our host for the event, AmpTech, serves as a provider of expertise for innovators, entrepreneurs and startups.

AmpTech Commercialization Center

As part of the Greater Philadelphia Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ecosystem, AmpTech maintains a collaborative environment where start-ups, service providers, investors, academia and local businesses can join together to get products and services to market FASTER. AmpTech bridges the gap for start-ups and corporate innovators by providing a place to develop products quickly and under one roof. AmpTech provides rapid prototyping capabilities establishing an opportunity to pilot various technologies before market launch.

31 General Warren Blvd, Malvern, PA 19355, USA
info@amptech.org   |   484-320-8938
http://amptech.org/

For more information about AmpTech, click here.

If you have questions, you can also contact me directly at workingwithsmes@gmail.com.

What to Include In a Full Knowledge Capture in Your Organization

As you work through cataloguing the knowledge in your company, it is easy to overlook some things either because they are so obvious you forget they are important or because they are so obscure that they may be out of your direct line of sight. In the interest of doing a full knowledge capture in your organization, you can run down a systematic pathway that can reveal items that you might otherwise overlook.

I started to assemble a list of places to look and things to consider as you run through a whole-house inventory of your corporate assets.Here is my first pass to help organizations identify corporate competitive advantages and assets.

  • Your patented products and processes
  • Trademarks and copyrighted materials
  • Proprietary lists of customers and suppliers
  • Personnel with unique relationships with individual employees, customers and vendors
  • Software and training programs developed specifically for your company
  • Contracts – real estate, insurance, employees, vendors/suppliers, equipment and machinery purchase, repair, lease
  • Labor – professional, full and part-time, contract, consulting
  • Capital investments – lease/purchase buildings, machinery, vehicles and craft, infrastructure (private roads, rails, airstrips, etc), including valuable locations near customers, sources of supply or transportation
  • Special circumstances – laws, exceptions, waivers, licenses, etc that allow you to do business in a certain way, in a certain location or under certain conditions.

Please feel free to add your input in the comment box below to make additions and even deletions from this list. What would you include? What would you consider irrelevant? Would something like this list be helpful in assembling your corporate knowledge base if you didn’t have one, or if you have one that needs revision?

I look forward to your comments!

 

 

What I Learned About You from a Survey

The results of the first annual Working with SMEs survey are in, and here’s what we know about a sampling of my readers.

  1. Gender – two thirds are male.
  2. Age – spread evenly among the 35 through 65+ categories.
  3. Half of you describe yourselves as subject matter experts or technical experts.
  4. Readers are spread evenly among government, manufacturing and professional services.
  5. Half of you say that your biggest challenge is developing training that achieves behavioral objectives. Other responses included working with subject matter experts and creating training tools and approaches for millennials.

The survey got the expected percentage of responses. Therefore, I interpret that the above describes a representative sampling of readers.

Turning Training into Behaviors

One of the most interesting responses to me was the fact that half of you say your biggest challenge is developing training that achieves behavioral objectives. I found it interesting, but I am not be surprised.

Take the case of very smart subject matter expert who writes his own training. He knows what he wants learners to be able to do and can articulate it. The training breaks down when he comes up with creative activities for a workshop but they don’t directly relate to the articulated goals. The activities lack structure and purpose to move an individual toward competency.

A strong instructional design can help a SME turn his goals into actionable steps that lead toward effective behaviors. Going forward, we will devote time talking about how to help SMEs develop training that moves the needle on performance.

Thank you to the readers who took the survey! It helps to know what you need from this blog.

Annual Survey! Got a minute? Tell me about yourself!

 

Survey word cloud

 

It’s been a year since I began this Working with SMEs newsletter and blog. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to meet, speak with and work with people who have helped refine this project.

In order to learn more about you, I have attached a 5 question survey. The goal of this survey is to find out more about your role and your biggest challenges so we can address them here.

I would greatly appreciate the minute of your time that it will take to answer these 5 brief and very easy questions! I promise…easy peasy! Click here to take the survey now.

And many thanks for your time and interest!

 

Loving Those Conscious Competents!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting a pilot workshop I am developing on how to find the subject matter experts in your organization.  I learned a lot from a really great group of trainers and managers and the conversation kept circling back to “how do we work with them?”

I gave everyone a copy of my book which is really a starting point to answer that question. As I talk to people online and in person about it, there is a wealth of issues that arise. That is exactly why we have this blog, so we can continue the conversation on a  regular basis and learn from each other.

One of the attendees yesterday is a consultant who said he has conducted hundreds of subject matter expert interviews. His usual approach is to start collecting information by asking to speak with someone who has been working in the relevant field for five years. When his client says, “No, we want you to talk to so-and-so who has been here for 30 years” he tells them that so-and-so will be his second interview.

Why? Quite simply, this seasoned consultant long ago intuited that it was the person who is still learning a subject who knows how to explain it. He saves his interview with the veteran SME after he has mastered a basic comprehension of the subject.

This consultant has learned that – in the language of Working with SMEs – that it is the Conscious Competent who is the best interview subject for a trainer or instructional designer who needs to learn a subject from the ground up.

It is always great when I get confirmation that the basic concept of the book is sound.

Also, I am learning every day that people really need help working with SMEs and so several workshops and another book are in development to assist companies in this sometimes frustrating task.

As always, I look forward to your comments below.

Advice to Subject Matter Experts: Summing It Up

A Checklist of Best Practices for Working with Content Developers and Instructional Designers

Here it is, week five of this topic. Time to sum it up in three best practices.

When subject matter experts are working with content developers and designers for training, marketing, sales, promotion and public relations, what you know is the most important part of the process. It is the job of the content developer or instructional designer to assemble questions, propose an interview and review schedule, and ask you to fill in information gaps.

However, you can have some control of the process itself from your end to help the content developer/writer/instructional designer/trainer to capture your knowledge.

Control can be a wonderful thing. Here are a few tips to make sure you have some leverage on the process.

  1. Flow of Information – Feel free to correct and amend? If the steps or flow of the information that the writer has outlined for you do not make sense to you, put them in a logical sequence for them. Nobody understands the context of the material better than you, and that includes the developer.
  2. Schedule – Be in control of the schedule from your end. If you are working with someone who has difficult meeting their end of the deal, say so and escalate it if you have to.
  3. Content – Ultimately, it is your content. If it is right or wrong, you are the final authority. Check, correct and approve.

You are in the role of a subject matter expert because you are 100% focused on your skill, ability, craft and knowledge. That is the great thing that makes you valuable. Without you, we’d be writing about…

?

 

Advice to Subject Matter Experts, Part II

Tips for Working with Your Content Developer

Note: While this blog specifically addresses working with instructional designers, this applies to subject matter experts who work with writers and content developers for any purpose – marketing, sales, you-name-it.

Last week, we discussed a few ways you can prepare your instructional designer or writer for creating materials in your area of expertise before you start the writing process. This week, let’s discuss a few good practices to keep the process on track.

While it is an instructional designer’s job – or his manager’s job – to assemble questions, propose an interview and review schedule that process may not always happen flawlessly. Even if it does, it helps for you to be aware that you can make contributions to the successful completion of a training program by keeping a few simple rules in mind.

Tips for Working with Your Training Designer

  1. Organization of the Material – If there are steps or a process to your information, put them in a logical sequence. Nobody understands the context of the material better than you and that includes the ID.
  2. Timeliness – Be available for interviews and do reviews on time.
  3. Scheduling Conflicts – Anticipate and avoid scheduling conflicts. This seems obvious, but you will find that sometimes your regular work may directly conflict with meeting your SME obligation. If you are in a job where this can occur, plan for this contingency. For example, ask the ID if you can work ahead on your deadline for your review, comments and sign-offs. The ID, and probably also a graphic designer, computer programmer, project manager and an editor – at the very least – have their work scheduled around your deadline, too. Time is money all the way around.
  4. Accuracy – Provide the information requested and double-check to make sure it is correct when you get drafts of the program (and yes, you may receive more than one!). This seems simple enough and may even seem insulting to mention, but it wouldn’t be here if failure to check information didn’t happen.
  5. Sign-Offs – Sign off at pre-agreed checkpoints, and make sure you have checked the accuracy of the information when you do. If you are working with a contract ID from outside your company, there is probably a contract in place between the training organization and your company that makes your company responsible for content after you affix your signature to it. It will cost your company if a project goes into overruns for corrections at which time you will meet the infamous Scope Creep.
  6. Blind Spots – We all have them. Frequently, we develop blind spots as a result of our success; failures are more likely to call us up short and require us to be careful and thorough. Because you are the SME, let’s assume you’ve met with a lot of success in your life, and that makes you vulnerable to blind spots. Think through the eyes of a novice when you are explaining details to your ID. It is obvious to you to click “enter” after an entry, but it may not be so obvious to the new kid.

 

What are some other best practices you have found for working with content developers?

 

Where is Your SME on the Continuum of Knowledge?

Today I am posting an excerpt From Working With SMEs. Can you relate to this concept?

Ideally, your SME is on the third level of the four stages of learning continuum and is a Conscious Competent.

4stagesoflearningmodel02

When your SME is a Conscious Competent, that means she is aware of what she knows, and she is able to tell you. Since such a SME is still on the learning curve herself, not having reached the state where her knowledge is unconscious, she is closer to her own training and remembers what it is like to be a naïve learner. By remembering what it is like to not know, the SME will better remember how she acquired the knowledge or skill that is the subject of your training program, and by extension, how to explain it in a linear way to you.

Briefly, here is how a SME at each level of competence will affect your information gathering process:

Unconscious Competent: When you are gifted with a SME who has risen to career heights in a specialized field and can still explain what she knows, you have truly unearthed a gem. You will both find the tools in this book helpful to organize that a lifetime of knowledge into small, digestible, relevant chunks for you and your learners. Simply, she is such a vast repository of information that she really does not know how much she knows and how well she knows it. It is your job to unearth the gems and help her break it down into simple steps.

Conscious Competent: When you have been given the bright, up-and-coming SME who is still ascending the ladder of knowledge, these tools will help you focus on the important pieces of information that you need to assemble for your learners and identify the additional resources to fill in gaps as they arise.

Conscious Incompetent: When you are faced with a SME who lacks the needed knowledge, we have some tips in the next chapter for that situation. Our recommendation, though, is that you search to find a Conscious Competent SME. It will save you time and effort in the short and long run.

Unconscious Incompetent: It happens. You can be given a know-nothing SME. This is the worst of all possible worlds. The book discusses how to deal with this situation, as well.

What has been your experience working with subject matter experts?