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January 27, 2020 - Comments Off on Coaching Series Part 2: The art of peer coaching for greater returns

Coaching Series Part 2: The art of peer coaching for greater returns


In part 1 of this series, I shared some of the insights I derived from aspiring coaches regarding their fears and apprehensions with the coaching experience and process. My experience brought to light that even with all the tips, tools and techniques that a coach can aspire to possess, a major barrier to the coaching process and experience is the confidence and reservations of the coaches themselves.

In this blog, I want to talk about another dimension to coaching. Thus far, we have seen coaching as an important tool that managers can use to improve the performance of their team. However, the onus of coaching need not lie with the team manager alone. What’s more? It SHOULD NOT lie with the managers alone, either. We must remember that coaching (in the professional context) entails helping an individual on a personal level as well as helping them perform as team members.

Who better to understand the team’s dynamics than members of the team who work together on a regular basis? The opportunity to coach peers is one that comes along every day, however, most of us rarely take up this responsibility. Perhaps it is the lack of authority or recognition, or the inability to identify and accept such an opportunity that keeps us from coaching others. However, coaching is synonymous with helping, a crucial due diligence to be performed by every member of the team.

If one were to look at the traits it takes to be a good coach, it is evident that these traits are not alluded simply to managers and leaders. They are basic human characteristics that do not understand an individual’s professional standing. Therefore, it begs the question – if you possess these traits, why are you not using them? Consequently, if you lack in certain traits, why are you not doing anything to develop them?

Let’s take a step back. A preliminary concept already exists – peer coaching. The concept of ‘peer coaching’ has been popular for decades, and with good reason. Research shows that peer coaching can help drive performance, boost employee engagement and develop future leaders. A study conducted by Quantum Workplace found that employees who experience peer coaching are eight percent more engaged than employees who don’t.

However, my problem with this concept is that is it strictly limited to developing knowledge and technical capabilities, i.e., there seems to be a stigma or fear in helping peers develop beyond what is necessary for a job for fear that it may jeopardize one’s own chances of growth. After all, the corporate world is often equated to a jungle, the motto of which remains ‘survival of the fittest’.

It isn’t that simple, though. As John Donne once said, ‘No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…’ In saying this, Donne wanted to convey a simple message – we need to work together to make things happen, and this isn’t always as simple as identifying the weakest member of the team to help them get stronger.

Often, the challenge need not be with capability at all. It could have to do with confidence and motivation, which is another reason that peer coaching is likely to be more effective than having someone else, a manager included, be our coach. It is human nature to feel more comfortable with someone who we can relate to. Often, this is the person we consider our equal.

Being a team player also means taking an interest and actively helping team members bring out the best in themselves. If that means that we must invest some time and effort into coaching our peers, then so be it. And this is rarely without reward. Peer coaching shows leadership, accountability, influencing abilities and ownership. Even if leadership doesn’t recognize this now, peer coaching helps in building character and capabilities. Sooner or later, it is going to give us big returns.

So, what does it take to be a peer coach?

Offer to help.

As peer who work together on a regular basis, we are likely to have better insight into the personal attributes, areas of struggle, and conditions that our team members are dealing with. We often see team members struggling with something – could be a mental block, or challenges with prioritization, difficult clients, or even personal barriers that prevent them from performing efficiently on the job.

Often, we recognize these challenges because we have been in similar situations ourselves, and our ability to be empathetic is high. Therefore, we are better poised to relate to our team members and offer them an environment that supports positivity. All it requires is a simple, genuine gesture of offering to help.

Pitfall - In an overzealous move to help and support, we can come across as forceful. Help can go a long way, but only so long as the other person is willing to accept it. Recognizing the problem as a third person and understanding that there is a problem as the person at the centre of it are two different things. Just because I have realized that you have a problem doesn’t mean that you have realized it or are willing to accept it yourself. Nobody appreciates a holier-than-thou or a know-it-all attitude. So, if someone doesn’t want your help, take a step back, but make sure you keep a close eye on them. They will either solve their problem or ask for help at some point in the future, where you can appropriately step in.

Enrich Trust.

Trust is the most important part of any coaching relationship. To be able to help an individual, they must trust you. Therefore, before attempting to coach someone, you must identify the degree of closeness and comfort that the person feels towards you, and how much they trust you. This is important as trust is the foundation of every strong relationship.

This may not be an easy task, but it isn’t impossible either. Author David Maister, in his book, ‘The Trusted Advisor’ illustrated an equation that could potentially help us assess our trustworthiness, as perceived by another person, to help build strong relationships.


  • Credibility is established in the words we speak. Are we being honest and transparent? Do we have something to say that the other person can learn from and/or relate to?
  • Reliability is established in our actions. Are we able to walk the talk? Are we coming across as genuine and consistent?
  • Intimacy is established in the level of safety and security that a potential coachee feels when engaging with us. Are we able to make the other person feel comfortable with us? Does the other person feel like they can open up to us?

To be considered highly trustworthy, it is important that our levels of credibility, reliability and intimacy with the other person are high.

Finally, self-orientation refers to where our focus lies. Are we more focused on our own wants, desires and expectations? Do we let ourselves get distracted when building meaningful relationships with others? Are we able to display genuine interest in the team member we are coaching? To be considered highly trustworthy, it is important that our self-orientation is low.

Pitfall – Don’t assume that just because you work together and may talk to each other while at work that the person you are attempting to help trusts you with their problems. While you may share office gossip with each other, eat lunch together and know of each other’s weekend plans, that doesn’t mean that your potential coachee will trust you with their problems. Remember, it is engrained in many of us to not display our weaknesses or struggles at work for fear that it may impact our career growth.

It is also important to remember that the coaching conversation is not about the coach, rather the person being coached.

 Become accountable.

When deciding to coach anybody, we go on their journey with them. This is especially true when coaching peers, as their mental state and performance can directly impact our goals at work. Any win for our coachee is a win for us and the larger team, business unit and organization we both belong to. Therefore, ensuring that we take accountability for any struggles and fallouts that our team members endue is crucial.

Pitfall – When we take accountability for someone, it is human tendency to want control. In a coaching relationship, however, we do not get control as coaches. Our role is to give guidance and act as safety nets or cheerleaders, ready on the sidelines for every failure as well as success. It is important to constantly keep ourselves in check, because our instinct to take over and control the situation can take over. Don’t let it. Practice self-awareness and, more importantly, self-control.

Ask. Don’t answer.

The logical/rational parts of our brain always know the solution to any challenge we may face. Unfortunately, in the midst of unpleasant, tough and emotional experiences, emotions take over. For as long as we allow emotions to control us, we are not going to be able to solve any problem. This is true for all human beings. As coaches, it is our responsibility to talk down the heightened emotions our team members are facing.

The best way to do this is to facilitate their realization of the emotions they are feeling, allowing them to clear their head off the emotional fog that has overtaken them. Once they are thinking more clearly, it is far easier to talk them through the situation logically and help them arrive at a solution. Remember – the key word here is HELP. Our team members need to put in the effort to overcome the challenges they face.

This can be a difficult task for both the coach as well as team members. But look at it this way – when are you more likely to accept or believe something? Is it when someone tells you about it or when you come to the realization yourself?

Pitfall – It is human nature to want to provide answers. We establish a powerful coaching relationship with someone partially because we come across as credible. Our team members may see us as a source of all the answers, and often, they may also want us to just give them all the answers or solve their problems entirely. This is not fruitful. There is no learning, as a result, no evolution. Coaches are not problem solvers. We are support systems that provide guidance and support. So, as painful as it may be to bite our tongues and watch someone close suffer, giving them the answers to their problems is far more detrimental.  

Coaching, by no means is easy, but it is necessary, as illustrated in Part 1 of this series. Off all the people that can potentially coach someone, peers tend to have the most success. As peers, we are more aware of our team members’ personalities, needs, desires, motivations and the challenges they face. Therefore, establishing a trust-based relationship which facilitates the coaching experience is far easier as well. Keeping in mind the aforementioned elements guarantees a successful coaching relationship, a more cohesive team, higher morale, and, ultimately, greater performance. The most important thing to remember through it all is to keep judgement out of it. Just because we are coaching someone doesn’t make us better than them. It simply puts us in a position to help someone, who might return the favor in the future. After all, belief in someone can go a long way, with many unexpected rewards.

In part 3 of this series, we will look at the impact that belief can have in the coaching process, coaching experience, and most importantly coachee confidence and performance.


coaching sim

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  • January 22, 2020 - Comments Off on Six L&D Strategies To Adopt and Become a Future-Proof L&D Team

    Six L&D Strategies To Adopt and Become a Future-Proof L&D Team

    L&D Blog-2

    Donald Fomby -author

    In the 21st century, we have seen a great shift in the challenges modern organizations face. Instead of the previous issue of talent acquisition and management, one of the burning questions today is employee retention.

    With high-quality Employee Value Propositions (EVPs) and perks, the goal of modern organizations is to make employees engaged, independent, empowered and valued.

    This is especially prominent with millennials being a large part of the global workforce. It's a generation that's notorious for career-hopping and swift job changes. By 2020, half of the American workforce will be comprised of millennials. In many countries, like India and Indonesia, the millennial cohort has already surpassed the other generational groups within the workforce.

    Companies are quickly adapting to this change and the insight that millennial employees prioritize learning as one of the key EVPs they look for in a company. According to Research and Markets, online training is currently provided by 77% of US companies.

    To stay ahead of the curve and come up with the best innovative ideas for L&D in your company, here are some of the best examples of key characteristics of modern L&D departments:

    1. Support Peer-to-Peer Learning

    A great way to set up effective learning and development strategies in the office is to promote peer-to-peer learning. Well, this method is not new. But it still works perfectly for both big and small organizations. Today, this method is practiced all over Silicon Valley with some of the top companies like Google and Amazon.

    At Google, the peer-to-peer learning and training program is called G2G (Googler-to-Googler). This training structure currently hosts 80% of all tracked training sessions at this company. This means that peer-to-peer learning is Google’s number one resource for learning and development.

    Google’s approach is great for promoting a company culture that places a high value on learning. This is done by making the employees aware that they have a right and need to learn. G2G is also a great program because it allows Googlers to give back to their colleagues and share their knowledge with people who they work with.

    Facebook also has a peer-to-peer learning program called FLiP (Facebook Leadership in Practice), in which leaders and managers receive coaching and feedback from their peers. It consists of team-building exercises, peer-to-peer feedback sharing sessions and executive coaching.

    2. Personalize the Learning Experience for Individual Employees

    Modern HR practices are all about approaching the employee as an individual and personalizing the company’s approach according to employee needs, traits and preferences. This is also valuable in the L&D program.

    One company that stands out with personalized learning and training sessions is Facebook. According to the company, the organization culture “fosters a culture of continuous learning”.

    The L&D program at Facebook is designed to approach each employee personally and provide an individual learning course. Every new engineer who joins the company goes through an intensive six-week program called Bootcamp.  The program helps to immerse the new engineer into the Facebook codebase and gives the new employee greater flexibility in choosing a project.

    A small number of rotating senior engineers work as mentors and coach new engineers. The mentors are responsible for reviewing bootcampers’ codes and answering each and every question that new engineers might feel ashamed to ask. Senior engineers from across the engineering teams also help new employees to learn. They give a bunch of tech talks on a broad range of the technologies that Facebook uses. And most importantly, the vast majority of bootcamp graduates agree that diving into the code with personalized support is the best way to learn.

    A highly personal approach is also reflected in Facebook’s Engage Coaching Program. This is a program designed for new managers, who are connected to an executive coach as soon as they go through onboarding. With an emphasis on management skills and organizational strategies, the executive coach helps new managers to shine at their new roles. This program involves using case studies, coaching circle exercises with executive team members, and team-building activities.

    However, it’s worth mentioning that personalization is not about coaching and mentoring only.  It’s also about the usage of simulations and other immersive games. Simulation-based learning helps to create a more active, productive environment in which it’s easier for employees to gain first-hand knowledge of tools, programs, and devices. Simulation allows learners to test actual sample scenarios and situations and to learn from their personal mistakes.

    3. Learning through Fun Competition

    No matter how old employees are and what position they hold, they like to compete. It's just human nature. People tend to participate in competition not to get a specific reward but to satisfy the self-esteem need – to show that they are better and smarter than others.

    And that explains why gamification works effectively in the workplace. By using game-based elements like leaderboards, points, and badges, companies invoke the feeling of competition and engage employees in learning and development, without necessarily enticing learners with real-world, tangible motivations. In other words, Gamification promotes learning for the sake of learning, but in a fun and engaging manner (Tangible rewards are just a bonus!).

    Box, a cloud content management company, held a little L&D competition when they first started cooperating with Udemy. The name of the promotion was “25 x 25 x 25“, meaning that the first 25 persons to watch 25 minutes of Udemy courses would win $25 gift cards.

    Another example of a fun competition using Udemy courses is from the company Canadian Pacific. This railway company regularly uses Udemy courses to expand the skill set of their IT teams. To increase their motivation and add a bit of fun into the mix, the company organized a contest in teams where pairs competed in answering questions from learning courses on Udemy, with prizes for the winning team.

    You can introduce this to your employees as well because some people thrive in a competitive environment. Every time you turn something into a game, it's much more pleasurable!

    4. Introduce Interactive Learning

    New technologies give us unlimited possibilities for devising interesting and effective learning and development courses. That’s why many companies opt for interactive learning platforms to add a dimension of educational entertainment (or shortly “edutainment”) to their training efforts.

    The key benefit of the edutainment (“learning while you have fun”) concept is that having fun releases dopamine in the brain, which makes a person more receptive to the experience. Making education fun allows learners to immerse themselves in the learning process and have a more retentive, positive impact from their learning.

    A great example of edutainment is Slack’s Certification training, developed by the company’s Director of Learning, Kristen Swanson. The training program is inspired by Choose Your Own Adventure books, where users choose which actions to take and witness the consequences of their choices.

    “The Slack certification app gives people the opportunity to make bad choices and see what happens or to make good choices and see what happens”, Swanson said.

    The training starts with the user selecting a character, along with the description of his job duties and role. Upon starting, the user starts interacting with the chatbot to perform a particular task.

    5. Switch to Micro-learning

    Huge courses and seminars can be daunting for young employees for a few reasons. Firstly, such digital-age issues as shortening attention spans and distractions from smart devices negatively affect the way modern employees learn and work. Secondly, the recency effect (retaining the most recent piece of information the learner receives) and the primacy effect (retaining the first piece of information the learner receives) also influence the learning process.

    That’s why, according to psychologists and HR experts, you should offer L&D materials in tiny bits, and not in huge chunks of material. According to research, learning is most effective in small, highly focused sessions lasting from 15 to 30 minutes.

    There are many apps and online tools that have answered this demand for micro-learning, such as Grovo, TAG or Blinkist. We definitely shouldn’t underestimate the power of quick learning sessions, because they can easily build up to be even more effective than a huge quantity of information overloaded at once.

    6. Set up Learning Time Blocks Wisely

    The concept of  “setting up learning time blocks” was rather popular a few years ago. But today, Josh Bersin and other experts in the field say that this concept doesn’t work. They state that professionals are not able to set aside time specifically for learning and that they always prioritize their work over the learning process. Josh Bersin is advocating the idea of “Learning in the Flow of Work” as a primary learning solution for modern companies.

    But the truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It always depends on the company and the methodology it uses to train its employees. For example, US visual media organization Getty Images regularly holds “WeLearn Wednesday”. Each Wednesday, the company’s L&D representative shares a course recommendation through Slack, and that brings results.

    Another tactic that Getty Images used to motivate their employees to take a course was to post a photo of the company’s Chief HR Manager learning at his desk. The photo resulted in a significant increase in the number of employee course enrollments.

    If the “learning days” training structure seems to be inappropriate for your company, you should consider using the “learning months” structure. If the learning process in your company is predominantly experiential and immersive, you will see a significant increase in the consumption of self-directed learning.


    Using examples of best practices from top tier companies can teach you how to up your L&D game to the next level.

    By introducing new concepts and structures into the way your HR team handles learning and development, you can increase employee satisfaction and boost your employer branding. Make sure you keep up with all the recent developments in the industry because things are changing fast and there are new platforms and learning methodologies cropping up every day.

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  • January 20, 2020 - Comments Off on Micro-learning Part 2: Why Learning in the flow of work is disrupting the L&D space

    Micro-learning Part 2: Why Learning in the flow of work is disrupting the L&D space



    In Part 1 of this series, we talked about Micro learning. In Part 2, we talk about another concept that has built over micro learning, called Learning in the Flow of Work. Before we get into understanding what exactly this concept means, we need to first establish why there is so much buzz around it.

    We are all aware of the current landscape under which organizations and businesses are operating. It is dynamic and it is constantly being disrupted thanks to digital technologies and their capabilities. While organizations are working towards redefining their business models, processes and systems, their L&D teams are working towards:

    • identifying new-age skills required by their workforce to support the new business scenario, and
    • developing learning strategies that will support the development of these skills and propel the organization towards exponential growth.

    Reimagining the people and learning strategy has become a business prerogative as 80% of CEOs’ believe that the need for new skills is the biggest challenge they face, according to research by PwC.

    With the rate at which change is taking place today, the employability gap is increasing significantly, as not enough professionals currently possess the capabilities to effectively operate in the digital age, seasoned leaders included. In essence, the global workforce must go through a cycle of mass unlearning and relearning and do so quickly. The challenge is, however, that organizations and their employees alike do not have the luxury of time for capability development. LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning Report supports this fact. Unfortunately, not partaking in the process is also not an option.

    The reality also is that while employees are geared to develop themselves, L&D teams aren’t as quick to jump on the bandwagon. Therefore, employees often take ownership of driving their own learning, and the source they usually go to is Google. We are so used to Google providing us any information we seek at the snap of a finger that we use Google incessantly, even when we know the answer to something. But this is also when we know what we are looking for.

    Now imagine that you need to learn something new. Google might have all the information you need, but you don’t know where to start your learning journey. Any attempt to start learning is often left unstructured and all over the place. It ends up being a trial and error process, and this can be time consuming and ineffective.

    This is where Learning in the Flow of Work (LFW) can prove to be fruitful. So, let’s understand the concept better. Learning in the Flow of Work, in the simplest sense, is making learning a part of everyday work. It works well as a learning method because it recognizes that for learning to effectively take place in the current business landscape, it must fit into the schedule of the employees, because, as we have already established, capability development is a necessity and time is of the essence.

    Now, a methodology such as microlearning has an element of technology involved. So, it is expected that a lot of concerns might be raised on its actual impact:

    • You could have employees who aren’t very tech-savvy, so how do you engage them?
    • Your mobile addicted employees are easily distracted by social media and notifications from other apps, so how do you get them to stay on the learning path?
    • Your employees are racing against time with their project deadlines and deliverables, so how do you empower them to make time to learn?
    • You may already have several different platforms that you use for communication, performance management and even learning, perhaps, so how are you going to get your employees to be a part of and engage on yet another platform?

    What makes Learning in the Flow of Work so convenient and powerful is that it:

    • is accessible on-demand,
    • allows learners to drive their own learning based on convenience,
    • is carefully curated to fit the needs of the learner, taking away the need for experimentation, and
    • Can easily be integrated with all sorts of existing digital platforms.

    In other words, Learning in the Flow of Work is an advanced and more effective take on microlearning.

    But how do you go about actually implementing this?

    Incorporating Learning in the Flow of Work in an organization effectively takes on the following considerations

    • Learning is embedded into existing platforms:
      1. Imagine you are in sales or marketing. Using a sales/marketing CRM is a huge part of the process, and you spend a significant amount of time on the platform. Marketing, Sales and Service Software provider HubSpot capitalizes on this by incorporating HubSpot Academy right on the platform to help users of the platform also develop their technical and functional capabilities
      2. Microsoft products are perhaps the most used professional tools today, with Microsoft’s comprehensive portfolio of Office 365. A notable mention from Microsoft’s portfolio is Microsoft Teams, a collaboration tool that provides a shared workspace for teams to chat, meet, share files and work with business apps. The software also allows for multiple other integrations with service partners to provide users a complete environment to learn, teach, work and be productive.
    • The content mix comprises 4 E’s that allows for multi-modal delivery of learning:
      1. Education – through in-classroom and virtual workshops, videos, etc.
      2. Experience – through developmental plans, checklist, job rotations, on-the-job assignments, etc.
      3. Exposure – through peer feedback, mentoring, coaching, etc.
      4. Environment – through tools, systems and infrastructure such as articles, books, games, e-learning courses, mobile applications, etc.
    • There is a shift in the way content is created, curated and deployed for maximum engagement:
    1. Learner capabilities, learning styles and learning needs can be understood to deploy well-curated, personalized learning.
    2. Content is chunked into sizeable bites the delivery of which is appropriately spaced to allow maximum absorption, retention and recall.
    3. Platform capabilities allow for tracking engagement and performance as well as automated follow-ups to propel learning

    This concept was introduced by Josh Bersin, founder of Bersin by Deloitte, and now the Josh Bersin Academy, the research and professional development academy for HR and business leaders. It has transformed the Learning and Development space and has CEOs and HR experts investing time into deciding the best way to implement this new learning methodology.

    Taking a cue from this new learning methodologies,  several organizations have found different means of incorporating learning into their employee’s day to day activities:

    1. Procter & Gamble: They believe in the ideology of ‘The fastest learner wins’, as to keep up with today’s trends and changing market conditions, one must be a fast learner. P&G has incorporated learning in the flow of work in it’s learning/training program as well - by providing easy access to information, performance support aids, and carefully curated training - which can be directly applied to work.
    2. Sainsbury’s: Usually, corporates implement those learning training programs that they think fit, or that they think is possible to implement effectively - without taking into consideration what is practicable or that can be applied in their employees’ day to day lives. At Sainsbury’s, they take time to realize the practical difficulties that the employees face and come up with learning platforms/solutions based on the same.
    3. Banco Santander: The organization’s goal is to create corporate learning experiences that match high quality customer grade experiences. To do so, the organization works towards creating learning in the flow of the work ecosystem, which allows the workforce’s capabilities to be developed at scale.

    Has the concept of Learning in the Flow of Work got you thinking about your own learning practices? Think it’s time for an upgrade?

    Maybe KNOLSKAPE can help.

    You may know this – KNOLSKAPE has, since our inception, worked towards transforming the landscape of learning and helping organizations stay ahead of the curve in developing employee capabilities.

    What you may not know is that in our current endeavor towards this goal, we have launched AktivLearn Passport. Leveraging the world’s largest library of online business simulations, rich talent intelligence and a cutting-edge experience platform, Passport helps leaders and organizations build current and future capabilities to take their businesses towards 10x growth.

    A three-step model will have you deploying the Learning in the Flow of Work methodology in no time. Using a wide variety of courses on leadership development and future skills, through a multi-modal delivery channel, empower your leaders to:

    • Lead the NOW and the NEXT seamlessly
    • Make quantum leaps in capability development
    • Become continuous learners

    Make this possible for your learners and talk to us today.

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  • January 14, 2020 - Comments Off on Micro-learning Part-1: Why all the fuss around Micro-learning makes perfect sense

    Micro-learning Part-1: Why all the fuss around Micro-learning makes perfect sense



    Skill development and keeping one’s self abreast with the latest developments in the market has become the need of the hour. Constantly learning and the need of the learner to absorb information in the simplest, most time-conserving way possible has become imperative. Organizations have recognized the varied needs of the learner today. This is where microlearning comes into play.

    To keep this simple, micro-learning is a concept wherein complex or time-consuming concepts are broken down into units. This makes it easy to consume by the learners as the focus is on short, specific topics, which in turn makes retention easy. The reason for the development of the microlearning concept is due to the increased inefficiency of the traditional learning methods, such as classroom lectures, memorization and a one-size-fits-all learning method.

    Let’s dive into the various other reasons that traditional learning methods are no longer effective:

    • Lack of productivity: While it is still a common practice among corporates across the globe to send their teams to day-long learning sessions, it has been proved time and again that the amount of information that is actually retained by the employees, or their takeaways from the sessions have been found to be far more negligible in comparison to the time wasted in not being productive at work. In fact, a Brandon Hall report on eLearning within corporations found that e learning boosts retention rates by 25 to 30% in comparison to 8 to 10% , with traditional learning.
    • No established correlation between productivity and traditional methods of learning: While lectures and seminars have existed in the learning and development space and have been the most common method of teaching or training, a direct connect between the two has not been established. It has thus become imperative to find methods of learning and emulating the habit of learning through real time methods and experiences, which have been found to be far more effective and engaging. Recently, there have also been cases where a direct correlation between productivity and micro-learning.
    • Environmental impact:  Studies have found that online mediums or other real time sources of learning such as SAP Enable Now, Whatfix and Workday Guided Tours equate to an average of 90% less energy and 85% fewer CO2 emissions per learner than traditional learning methods.

    It has thus become imperative for corporates to follow learning methods which have been proved effective over time, while it does not deter the employees from their work, so that productivity is not lost. Microlearning can prove to be an effective substitute to much of the learning that is traditionally done in the classroom, which is why major corporations are investing heavily in it:

    1. There is a better retention of concepts that are being taught.
    2. Employees are able to transfer the concepts being learnt, and directly use the same to address challenges in the workplace.
    3. Corporates save on a lot of time and resources by diverting more of the same to strategic functions, thereby increasing productivity.
    4. Microlearning can be deployed at scale without compromising on the learning experience across learners.

    Implementing Micro-learning in your organization:

    The operations in an organization are multifold, so to draw your attention to how micro learning can be implemented to critical areas of operation in your organization, let us break it up into different aspects:

    1. Onboarding: Onboarding is a very critical activity- both from an employer and employee’s perspective. It has a bearing on the longevity of the employee’s career with the organization, performance etc.


    2. Operations: It has become the need of the hour to find solutions that cut investment of time and increase efficiency, and corporates have realized that incorporating learning as part of the organizational system is the only way to sustain, let alone grow. Micro learning has found an effective solution for the same.

    23Customer delight: Businesses are increasingly looking to find ways and means to address customer requirements and are in constant pursuit of finding the perfect mechanism which can be implemented in their companies.

    4. Growth and development: Lastly, every organization looks to integrate the growth of the organization along with the development of their talent pool. Micro learning solutions for the same have been found to be very effective.


    Learning is an evolving process, and it has taken many forms over the years. While micro learning has broken down learning into small units, another concept that has made learning even more effective is Learning in the Flow of Work, popularized by Josh Bersin - which is a concept that recognizes that for learning to really happen in a corporate space, it must fit around and align itself to the work schedules of employees.

    In the next part of this series, we will be exploring this idea, how it has helped organizations transform their learning techniques, and the advantages of this concept with real-time examples.

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  • January 10, 2020 - Comments Off on Coaching is important, but it isn’t easy. Here’s everything you need to know for becoming an effective coach

    Coaching is important, but it isn’t easy. Here’s everything you need to know for becoming an effective coach

    Coaching audience


    Happy new year, everyone!

    The start of a new year spells new beginnings – we make resolutions and take vows on how we expect to perform in the new year. It is a time of hope, high spirit and an opportunity to reflect on what has transpired in the previous year. Many organizations have now entered the final quarter of their financial year, many are just starting a new financial year and many others are somewhere in between. Nevertheless, now is a good time for teams and leaders to engage in coaching conversations, performance reviews and discussions on the way forward.

    Coaching, today, has become a popular investment in organizations. Senior leadership places it high on their agenda, to facilitate 10x growth for the organization. And why not! After all, there is substantial research to support the benefit of effective coaching conversations to organizations:

    • According to Bersin by Deloitte, organizations where senior leaders coach effectively and frequently record a 21% improvement in business results,
    • A Gallup study on coaching says that coaching average performers can improve overall productivity by 19%, and
    • The International Coach Federation found that 86% of organizations that invested in coaching report having recovered their investment in coaching

    There is no debate that coaching is beneficial and necessary. Which is why a large chunk of organizations, both big and small are investing time, money and effort into:

    1. developing leaders at all levels through coaching, and
    2. coaching leaders to become coaches themselves.

    While organizations are finding ways and means to quantify and formalize the coaching process and impact measures, there is a massive ground reality that often doesn’t get considered or highlighted. If not for the opportunity to facilitate the development of managers as coaches, this reality would have much likely evaded me for longer as well.

    What exactly am I talking about?

    In October 2019, I spent several weeks with first time and middle-level managers of a large telecommunications company. The agenda of this engagement was to help these individuals with a manager tag not just lead their teams, but also coach them to realize their potential and deliver greater performance. This program was aptly titled ‘Manager as a Coach’. Their organization felt that the best people to coach employees are their managers, the people who:

    • lead and work with these employees on a regular basis,
    • observe and understand the team members, and
    • extract the most value out of the employees

    The learning program aimed to help managers understand the coaching process, how to effectively take part in it, and help them separate their roles as managers from that of coaches.

    During the program, we encountered many of the concerns and assumptions that we had anticipated and prepared for:

    • Managers believe that they already engage in coaching conversations with their team members and do so effectively,
    • Managers believe that they are thoroughly aware of their team members strengths, weaknesses, aspirations and fears,
    • Managers think that coaching their team members means solving their team members’ problems,
    • Managers believe that only the low or none performing team members need to be coached, i.e., coaching is primarily for correcting behavior

    The program that we facilitated for these managers effectively addressed and corrected these assumptions, but that is not why I write this post today.

    During this program, I was able to engage with the participants and understand their individual challenges and fears. As L&D professionals, instructional designers, HR teams or even managers, this kind of information is rarely brought to our attention.

    What’s this elusive information, you may ask?

    While coaching is placed high on the leadership agenda, the consensus among the participants in the workshop was that the coaching mindset and behavior are not cascaded down.

    Often, individuals being groomed to become impactful coaches for their team members do not have managers who coach them for greater performance, sparking off other challenges and fears:

    • How do you motivate your team when you don’t receive positive reinforcement from your manager, or your own morale is down?
    • How do you develop your teams’ skills when your leaders are mostly concerned with KRAs, targets and getting the job done no matter what?
    • How do you expend energy on developing and improving team performance when the leaders’ answer is to replace a team member in favor of someone “better” or “more competent”?

    Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this. What is true of high performance is that it a harmonious union of high skill and high morale. Every individual who has the necessary skillsets to accomplish something and the motivation to do it will do well. What is common for coaches and leaders is that both must work towards improving and maintaining employee skill and morale to ensure high performance. It is merely their approach that differs.

    The other truth that coaches and leaders share is that no one is a born leader or a born coach. These are capabilities that we much work towards exhibiting correctly and improving. While there are certain coaching traits we all possess in varying degrees, they aren’t always exhibited, either because:

    1. We don’t want to – this is called preference,
    2. We don’t even know we can – this is called a blind spot, or
    3. We don’t know how to – this is called a learning curve

    Having a great manager who is also a great coach helps us become better coaches ourselves. For those of us who feel that our managers aren’t even good coaches, we can still take away from them everything we should not be doing to become great coaches.

    The challenge that people leaders face is that while they manage the expectations of the people reporting to them, they must also manage the expectations of the people they report to. While we manage emotions, expectations, motivations, skills, and careers, which are in our control, there also exist an unforeseeable number of external variables that we have absolutely no control over. These variables make it exponentially more difficult for managers to do their jobs well. Add to that the fact that you may not feel very motivated yourself at the moment, but that personal feeling cannot be taken out on others.

    Being a manager who is also a coach is not easy. It can rank among the most difficult jobs that a person will ever do, considering that there are so many variables involved, most that are outside our control. A manager who plays the role of a coach has limited control. Why is this important to highlight? Because, in such a case, it is important that we take complete reins over that which we do control – our own responses.

    Imagine this – You have set up a coaching conversation with a team member for today evening. Earlier in the day, you were part of a presentation that went horribly wrong. From there, everything went downhill, leaving you agitated.


    This is only one of several scenarios that we face as managers daily. You recognize these scenarios by how they make you feel – tired, agitated, frustrated and/or demotivated. As coaches, however, how we manage our response to these scenarios can make or break our credibility as coaches and the trust that our team members have in us as their coach. Thinking about the possible responses to this situation, one would:

    1. Cancel the coaching conversation or push it to another time,
    2. Show up to the coaching conversation and, consciously or unconsciously, take out their agitation on the team member being coached, or
    3. The ideal situation – put aside one’s own personal feelings in favor of the coaching conversation.

    Now, what is likely to be the outcome of each response?

    1. Cancel or reschedule:

    A coaching conversation has been scheduled to meet a specific goal or address a specific agenda, most often a performance issue. This is a time-sensitive activity and must be addressed at the earliest to ensure that performance is not compromised with.

    At the same time, a coaching conversation often deals with fears and anxieties from the team member being coached, either because of a lack of clarity around why they need to have a coaching conversation or because they have some deep-rooted fears that they want to address so that they may perform better.

    Canceling or rescheduling such a crucial activity is unfair to the team member as well as the organization, both of whom are looking for a resolution to the problem at hand.

      2. Displace emotions:

     A coaching conversation can be a very delicate situation to manage, as emotion can run amok. As coaches, we need to be patient and remove our own emotions and opinions from the process. In other words, the team member being coached must be at the centre of the coaching conversation.

     Of course, coaches are people, with emotions. It isn’t fair on coaches to have their emotions disregarded. Having said that, there is a time and place for each person to express and let out emotions. A coaching conversation is neither the time nor the place for a coach to do so. Any feelings and opinions a coach has that are detrimental to the coaching conversation must be left at the metaphoric door. The team members being coached don’t deserve their coach’s displaced negative emotions.

     3. Actively engage:

    This is the ideal state for an effective coaching conversation, one where a coach can keep his/her feelings and thoughts aside, keep an open mind, listen patiently and actively, and respond appropriately to the situation at hand.

    Many times, this is easy to do. When you’re having a good day or your energy is up, it is easier to spread warmth and joy. The loophole here is if a coach is able to do this all the time. Irrespective of your state of mind, body, and being, can you ensure that you give the team members you coach the same experience every time?

    A coach’s relationship with the people s/he coaches is sacred. We trust our coaches and expect certain things from them. This is what brings us comfort and confidence to be open and honest in the coaching conversation, enabling it’s effectiveness.

    The element of surprise has little space in coaching experience. Surprise, while exciting, can also be extremely nerve-wracking. The comfort an individual gets in routine is important to alleviate the anxiety around surprise and focus on the more pressing issues.

    Consistently behaving in a positive manner, one that benefits the person you are coaching, and the coaching experience is the ideal situation to be in, and one to aspire for.

    At the end of the day, it is important to remember that coaching is about relationships, rapport and trust. Team members being coached deserve consistency and continuity from their coach – YOU. Therefore, as coaches, we cannot allow our own feelings, thoughts and opinions to interfere or cloud our interaction and the goal in front of us – coaching our team members towards performance.

    ‘So, what do we do?’ you must be wondering, and I don’t blame you! There are so many complexities and so much ambiguity in the process. So, let’s quickly recap:

    • Coaching is crucial and high on the leadership agenda
    • Coaches aren’t born, and there are multiple traits that make for a great coach
    • A manager who is also a coach must balance the expectations of the team as well as his/her own manager/s
    • Team members who need/want to be coached come first, not the whims and priorities of the coach
    • Coaches need to manage their own anxieties and motivation issues while managing their team members’ performance and obstacles

    Most importantly, coaches must be consistent.

    Maintaining Consistency

    We’ve already established that like, leaders, coaches aren’t born. There is also no single kind of coach that is the best. Different people need a different kinds of coaches. Therefore, coaching behavior also requires us to flex our styles to suit the needs of the person we coach.

    The International Coach Federation (ICF) recognizes 11 core competencies of great coaches:

    Coaching blog -1


    There are certain traits that support these behaviors/competencies. Harrison Assessments’ SmartQuestionnaire, which dives deep into behavioral preferences of people and provides insights into strengths and stress responses, measures 175 traits. Their behavioral competency analysis for coaching outlines seven essential, fifteen desirable and six avoidable traits for coaches to exhibit.

    How is any of this information relevant or helpful?

    No two coaches are alike, and coaches need to maintain consistency in their coaching behavior. Understanding the traits that make for a good coach – one’s strength, weakness and preference of behavior – helps us create our coaching personality. In other words, what do you think you need to do to be a good coach?

    Identifying the traits you think will make you a great coach is the first step to actually becoming a good coach. Let’s break down this process:

    coaching blog -2

    Applying this model looks something like this:

    Andrea’s coaching competencies and trait preference assessments gave her the following results:

    Steps One and Two of the process are now complete. To establish and sustain coaching persona, Andrea must now decide whether these are the traits and capabilities she wants to display during a coaching conversation with a team member. Let’s assume that she has decided that her assessment results are what she wants to define her as a coach.

    Now let’s move on the step three – Activities Checklist.

    Below is a sample of what your coaching checklist could look like. Bear in mind that this is a self-reflection of your performance in the coaching conversation, not an evaluation of your ability as a coach.


    While the coaching conversation is about the team member being coached, the coach places a very important role in the process. Therefore, it is imperative for the coach to create such a checklist to gauge their own performance in the coaching conversation. This is an important activity, because, remember, you are coaching people who report to you.

    Whether you like it or not, no matter how good a relationship you think you have with your team members, there is always an invisible line between friend and manager. For fear of how their words may reflect on their promotions and career growth, your team members aren’t always going to be entirely honest with you.

    Therefore, as a coach, you will have to spend some time reflecting on your own performance as a coach and think about what you can do better to add more value to the conversation. But remember, this checklist is an iterative process, so ensure that you constantly update it based on your own capabilities and the needs of the team member you coach.

    And, finally, we come to step four – Implementation

    This is the trickiest part of the coaching exercise. You can implement the steps and techniques but measuring the performance and improvements can be difficult. To accurately understand how the coaching conversation is going and how you are faring as a coach, you need objective measures and feedback. Since you establish SMART goals as part of the coaching process, the coachee's progress is far easier to measure. But how do you measure your performance as a coach in an objective and realistic manner?

    One way to do it is by asking the coachee for feedback. That, unfortunately, is not entirely accurate as it is riddled with biases and the coachee's frame of mind. Self-reflection activities also may face a similar fate. This is not to say that these ways of measurement should be completely written off. Of course not! They are just better suited for more seasoned coaches.

    New or inexperienced coaches require a little bit more handholding. Think of it as coaching for coaches - a means to practice coaching ability in a safe environment without severe real-world implications, with real-time, objective feedback on performance. You could have a real-life coach do this for you, or you could turn to digital technologies to enable this at an accelerated manner.

    At KNOLSKAPE, we believe in immersive business simulations to help leaders accelerate capabilities. Among our repository of world-class simulations is the Coaching Simulation, designed to help leaders learn and implement the essentials of coaching, motivate their teams and master the nuances of dealing with emotions of team members.

    Watch coaching simulation video

    Simulations have proven to be a surefire way for demonstrable mindset change and improved business performance. This is true for all KNOLSKAPE simulations, coaching simulation included.

    If you’re interested to explore Coaching or any of KNOLSKAPE’s other simulations, click here.

    coaching sim

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  • December 2, 2019 - Comments Off on Overcoming the Achilles Heel of Learning Delivery – Mastering Live Virtual Sessions

    Overcoming the Achilles Heel of Learning Delivery – Mastering Live Virtual Sessions



    We live in the epoch of anytime-anywhere learning. Learners seek to be in control of their own learning making eLearning courses very popular among the masses. However, this is not always the most motivating way to learn as it requires a lot of determination and discipline from learners. Amidst rigid deadlines and high volumes of work, learning in this format can often take a backseat. Which is why organizations prefer to continue with classroom-based instructor-led learning to create an environment that allows learning to take place effectively.

    Unfortunately, while each format of learning has its fair share of benefits, quite often, learners tend to focus on the disadvantages. Attempting to combat these challenges has led organizations to invest significantly in live virtual sessions – instructor-led sessions that take place over a digital platform, such as a conferencing tool, bridging the gap of physical distance. However, this new format of learning comes with its own set of challenges that can often gravely impact the learning experience and outcome.

    To help organizations combat these challenges and effectively master the best of both worlds, master facilitator Anand Thangaraj of KNOLSKAPE delivered a webinar on 23rd October 2019 which unraveled the myths of live virtual learning and talked about some of the best practices to enable stellar learning experience.

    What follows is the summary of the webinar, which covers areas such as:

    • An insight into the virtual learning environment
    • Identifying and addressing challenges in the virtual learning environment
    • Preparing a roadmap to facilitating in the digital world 

    Understanding the Virtual Learning Environment:

    According to the Association of Training and Development (ATD), 66.7% of organizations use virtual classrooms for learning. While this is a significant number, an important consideration is how effective these virtual classrooms really are.

    An advantage of virtual classrooms is that they allow learners from all over the world to connect. Therefore, cultural nuances become paramount considerations. Culturally, facilitation can happen with a variety of nuances – high context, low context, questions for engagement, avid appreciation for participation, etc. Therefore, an asynchronous facilitator or a producer comes in handy to synthesize the discussion and derive insights for reflection.

    To understand the virtual learning environment better, let’s look at three categories they fall into:

    1. Content Delivery Tools – Webinar platforms such as Zoho and Zoom, and eLearning platforms such as Coursera and LinkedIn Learning
    2. Communication Tools – Meeting based tools such as Cisco Tandberg meant only for video conferencing to make meetings more effective. These are meant only for communication. Using these tools for content delivery present several challenges such as engagement.
    3. Process Tools – These exist to help teams manage the virtual learning environment

    Top Challenges in Virtual Learning

    Virtual learning is technology driven. Therefore, it brings with it a plethora of technology and connectivity challenges – Internet connectivity, tool malfunctioning, bandwidth issues are just some of the things that can hamper the learning experience on a virtual platform, causing bigger implications such as time management and learning disruptions and clarity. These are facts that are known. However, let us address some of the equally important but lesser considered areas when deploying learning in a virtual environment:

    1. The Digital Body Language:

    This is perhaps the most commonly overlooked element of learning and facilitating in a virtual environment.

    In any kind of presentation, facilitation included, verbal communication, tone and non-verbal communication are often stressed on. In a physical classroom, it is easy to exhibit these elements of communication for impactful outcomes. After all, 55% of the impact on any communication comes from non-verbal cues, which are easy to exhibit and assimilate when talking face to face.

    However, impactful communication in the virtual world is more difficult because non-verbal cues such as eye contact, scanning, moving and gestures cannot be exhibited, unless the video option is used. In this case, the tone of voice, pauses and speed of speech become the most important elements of effective communication.

    This is where the voice scorecard comes in handy. Creating impact depends on how facilitators mold their voices:

    • To ensure that learners understand the instructions provided, facilitators must ensure that their verbal cues are systematic, tone loud and speed slow with appropriate pauses so that learners have the time to absorb the instructions.
    • If seeking to garner excitement and a sense of urgency in learners, facilitators must ensure that their tone is loud, and their speed of talking is fast. High energy delivery is pertinent.
    • Emotion is best elicited through slow and soft tone and speed.
    • Discussions and activities are best conducted through fast speed and soft tones.

    This scorecard is helpful not just in a virtual learning environment, but for meetings, discussions, reviews and presentations as well. It need not even be only on the virtual platform.

    Tip for facilitators: Keep this scorecard handy with you for all communication and start building the techniques required to elicit appropriate impact just through the tone and speed of your voice.

    The perfect role models to help you master this skill are Radio Jockeys, who have made their careers primarily on this ability to mold their voice tones and speeds to elicit appropriate responses from their listeners.

       2. Engaging learners continuously:

    The roadmap for facilitators, be it in the physical classroom or in the digital world, begins here…

    This image represents the different techniques you can use to engage your learners, based on the outcome of the engagement:

    • The engaging technique can be used when asking thought-provoking questions
    • The involving technique can be used in activities that allow learners to engage in and lead discussions, insights, experiences and even introductions
    • The informing technique can be used when imparting knowledge or delivering presentations
    • The planning technique can be use when identifying and synthesizing ideas through a brainstorming activity

    3. The Halo Effect:

    In any virtual session, engagement starts to dip every 90 minutes. Therefore, virtual sessions must always be short to remain impactful. A full say learning workshop in a virtual environment is extremely unproductive.

    The ‘Halo Effect’, refers to the tendency for an impression created in one area to influence opinion in another area. Typically, first impressions created can color subsequent judgement. Therefore, ensuring that a virtual session is short and engaging is extremely important. You want your learners to have a positive visceral reaction – a good feeling in the gut. This takes place when learners are able to connect with the facilitator. Therefore, it is important for facilitators to be able to form a rapport and a connect with the learners – be it cognitive, conversational or emotional. These are called compelling triggers.

    Every group of learners is heterogenous, in terms of their expectations, their learning styles, their takeaways, and even the triggers that compel them to feel a connect. It is important for facilitators to recognize which triggers are compelling to their learners and ensure that these triggers are exhibited:

    • Activities and insights that propel learners into action are cognitive triggers
    • Logical presentation of research and data is a rational trigger
    • Microstories or experience sharing is an emotional trigger

    In conclusion:

    It is important to remember that in a virtual learning environment, the success or failure of the learning session doesn’t completely depend on technology. Technology is merely an enabler of learning. The success of a virtual learning environment depends on the ‘Rules of Engagement’:

    • The rules of engagement work on the principle of ‘What does success look like’ – it has to be psychological agreement between the facilitator and the learners.
    • Encouraging participation, discouraging the use of smart devices and appreciating learners who participate are good ways to keep the engagement levels high.
    • To encourage passive learners, facilitators may choose to call out names and encourage specific participants to engage. There are tools, named attention index, that tell you whether an individual is on the virtual session screen or kept it open while working on other tasks or simply moved away from the device altogether.
    • Tips for engaging learners in the virtual learning environment:

    TipsTake this quiz to recap everything you have learnt through this webinar summary / recording.

    Access the webinar recording and the slide deck used during the webinar here.

    Drop us a note ( if you’re interested in knowing more.


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  • November 5, 2019 - Comments Off on Busting the myths around Agile

    Busting the myths around Agile


    Author bio

    With the advent of unprecedented digitization, the world today is spiraling into a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environment. Organizations are increasingly looking at a way to not just survive but thrive in this fast-paced, ever-changing environment. In this hour of need, several organizations are turning towards Agile. While Agile is the buzzword in the market today, it is a concept that is often misunderstood. Is Agile a methodology? Does it work in a non-software context? And so on.

    As the buzz around Agile grows, so do the questions about it. When these questions are not answered adequately, several myths have cropped up around it. These myths can either prevent organizations from adopting an Agile way of working or make them choose it for the wrong reasons. Both scenarios are undesirable because they result in organizations not leveraging the full power of the agile way of working.

    In this blog, we bust the three common myths associated with Agile. This would hopefully help organizations make informed decisions and adopt the agile way of working in the right manner.

    Myth 1: Agile is a METHODOLOGY

    This is possibly the most common misconception about Agile. Organizations and people tend to be confused that agile is a methodology that needs to be adopted and executed. Some people also think of agile as just doing iterations, retrospect meeting, daily standups, etc. So, what is it really then? Agile is a MINDSET - a way of thinking or philosophy. Mindset is one of the most important elements and something that is actually missing in the agile manifesto. Before we go any further, let’s first look at the agile manifesto.

    4 values of Agile:

    12 Principles of the Agile Manifesto:

    As you can see, the Agile Manifesto is all about 4 values and 12 principles. It does not mention anything about methodology. Perhaps, it is the misinterpretation of the manifesto over years that has led people to believe that Agile is simply about implementing a set of rules or practices. However, Agile is more about a set of principles to guide you in the decisions you take. Agile is principle-driven (mindset) and not rules-driven (methodology).

    According to Wikipedia, “Agile software development is a set of principles for software development in which requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing and cross-functional teams. Agile itself has never defined any specific methods to achieve this, but many have grown up as a result and have been recognized as being 'Agile'.” Words like Scrum, Kanban, XP, etc., that you must have often heard of are actually methodologies based on the agile values and principles.

    Being agile, on the other hand, is a way of thinking primarily focused on the customer. Therefore, to deliver what the customer demands, in real-time, teams must focus on collaboration, continuous improvement and commitment to quality, focus on people and delivering value, empowerment and self-organization.

    In other words, successful agile transformation starts with changing how we think—specifically, in my opinion, how we think about priorities and failure. Priorities become linear and organized instead of reacting based on what is broken. Failure is no longer looked upon as something to be feared; instead, we embrace failure as a learning experience.

    Successful agile transformation requires an organization to be prepared to undergo a meaningful shift in both methodology and mindset. It’s not just changing what you do, it’s changing how you think. Once you make this shift in perspective and fully embrace it, you derive a higher chance of reaping the rewards of agile.

    Myth 2: Agile works only for the TECH teams

    Probably the number one question we get asked in the Agile context, is this - “isn’t Agile for software development only?” After all, the Agile Manifesto was born in the world of technology by a group of developers wanting to write software better, and to simplify and find commonality in the software development life cycle. But, why do you think the agile principles don’t work in any other context (non-tech)? Probably, not just because of Agile’s origin in the software domain, it could also be because of words like “software” and “development” that are seen very often in the same. Let’s just pull out the agile manifesto again and have a glance at the 12 Principles of agile. Though the word “software” is seen a few times, just try and replace it with another like a ‘product or project’, and you can see that it will still make sense.

    Agile has come a long way since its inception back in 2001. Though it was initially meant to aid software development, it has evolved with time and a lot of non-tech teams and industries have begun adopting agile significantly. Any project with a high degree of uniqueness, unpredictable environment, higher potential of change, continuation and complexity, and shorter feedback cycles is well suited for agile. Agile works for any team - software or business. It is important though to implement Agile thinking and build Agile mindset at an enterprise level, for the goal to be met.

    Agile, these days, is used for all forms of product development, from physical products to cloud-based software-as-a-service. But beyond product development (both hardware and software), agile principles are now being applied successfully in a wide range of industries like marketing, legal, human resources, communications, manufacturing, healthcare and financial services:

    Though it took a while to catch on, Agile has found significant success among non-technology teams and industries and has seen major adoption and is only starting to spread its wings to various other streams.

    Myth 3: Agile means just action and NO DOCUMENTATION.

    The highlighted area in the above image is one of the primary reasons for this misconception, resulting from a misunderstanding of one of the values in the ‘Agile Manifesto’: ‘Working software over comprehensive documentation’    

    However, this doesn’t mean documentation has no place in an agile approach. Now, as you can see there is no indication that agile means no documentation or that documentation is not needed, it is just that the focus should be on delivering a working product instead of investing major time in creating detailed documentation that may reduce the probability of success in delivering a working product.

    Therefore, we need to step back and understand the true essence of the agile manifesto -  ‘While there is value in the items on the right (working software/product), we value the items on the left (documentation) more’. A better way of looking at this is that Agile doesn’t do documentation for documentation’s sake. There cannot be any excuse for abandoning documentation in an agile approach, documentation is just as important in agile projects, though it is often more focused and value driven. Therefore, Agile does not support little or no documentation—Agile advocates the “right” documentation, just ‘enough’ that is required for a project, at the right time.

    The level of documentation needs to be appropriate to the project you are working on and the level of maturity of the team. For example, think about the minimum viable information that needs to be captured, with whom it needs to be shared, how to document it in a collaborative way, and how that documentation might help you continuously improve. “Right” documentation also helps to save time and cost during the project development process.

    Documenting key decisions and rationale also helps teams from repeating mistakes. The key to documentation is that it needs to be created when truly needed and contain details that will be used going forward. Ideal way to go about this would be to set a process to centralize and share all the documents that have information about the product and the overall project. This repository would also ensure that nothing is lost if team members are swapped or leave in the middle of the project, thus ensuring smooth functioning.

    What other “facts” have you heard about that need to be addressed? Think about it this way, if it isn’t making sense to you or if implementing something is creating more chaos than helping you, chances are that you are either doing it wrong or you have understood it incorrectly. While the Agile Manifesto has stood the test of time, it cannot give us direct answers to everything. It is there to guide us on our journey to being agile. So, while you take a copy of the manifesto and pin it near your workstation, also take a minute to really understand what the values and principles are, and how they apply to you, your team and your work.

    To make things easier, talk to us at KNOLSKAPE. We’ve got an awesome new simulation that is a surefire way to help you start your journey towards Agile.

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  • October 14, 2019 - Comments Off on Developing Growth Mindset – A Personal Leadership Principle

    Developing Growth Mindset – A Personal Leadership Principle

    Growth mindset

    Sourabha Jayanna

    In a decade’s experience, I have had the opportunity to work with many inspiring leaders. My key learning from them has centred around the ability to drive results. While there are many skills we can attribute results to, the key to success in most scenarios have been:

    • perseverance,
    • forward thinking, and
    • never give up attitude.

    The reason that this has stood out for me is because the resultant outcome of these behaviors has always been unimaginable business growth, be it high revenues, major client acquisitions, or creating avenues in new markets and segments. A leader who is always thinking four steps ahead, perseveres towards the goal and has a never give up attitude is someone who I have always seen succeed, not because they are more qualified or more intelligent than anyone else. Rather, it is because they take on every opportunity they find and make the most of it. Such individuals are rarely discouraged by failure. Rather than seeing themselves as failing in a situation, they see themselves learning, and then applying this learning to improve the outcome. In other words, these leaders have had an attitude that is geared towards growth

    As goes the saying - Ones attitude determines their altitude. While it is a saying as old as time, it has never been truer than in the current scenario of agile working that attitude is most important. Your response to challenges, difficult tasks and conflict situations within the workplace can define your true ability to adapt in an agile environment. As children, we are naturally predisposed to handle challenges head-on, take risks and be curious. As we grow, we place barriers around ourselves based on what we deem achievable and doable. Refocusing our attention onto our child-like ability to believe in endless possibilities is all it takes to develop this attitude and mindset of growth, according to Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck.

    One simple scenario could be how a salesperson responds to losing a deal. An approach to understand the reasons for failure, communicate and embrace the failure and using that as an opportunity to improve a skill will help the person grow better in the career. On the other hand, ignoring the signs will lead him nowhere in winning a similar deal again.

    Developing growth mindset behavior, not only improves one’s ability to manage their personal growth, but also influence others around and transform oneself as a leader. Let’s look at some of the growth mindset behaviors in the workplace that can change one’s growth trajectory -

    - The ability to learn drives one towards challenges tasks
    - The ability to achieve mastery in one’s work
    - The ability to see the positive side of criticism or feedback
    - The ability to learn from the success/failure of others
    - The ability to understand the big picture and drive towards the greater good
    - The ability to set new processes and drive results
    - The ability to be an agile learner and constantly update their skills
    - The ability to set demanding goals for oneself

    While this is an ideal state of being, it is not possible for a person to constantly be in growth mode. However, it is important to understand that reason behind this attitude, as well as the pitfalls of it. A growth mindset has a proven track record for success in the age of agile. Therefore, positioning one’s orientation naturally to a mindset of growth is pertinent to their growth and success. Therefore, the first step is believing that one can constantly improve and acquire new skills to be better for the future. With this belief firmly engrained in the mind, an individual is more likely to stay motivated and put in the effort required towards developing a new mindset.

    To put this into perspective, Dweck also famously quoted, “We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.” By removing ourselves from those better than us, richer than, more famous than us, or more seemingly accomplished than us, we like to believe that they possess in themselves something that is elusive to us. It is true that these people have something we don’t, but it doesn’t mean that we cannot develop it. Developing a growth mindset isn’t rocket science. It simply requires constant effort.

    Let’s look at some areas where working with growth mindset can help –

    • Continuous Learning to drive Innovation
      • Be agile and learn new skills. Believe in the purpose/objective and be aligned to work for the same. Be open to communicating your ideas. This improves ones’ resilience to failure and builds confidence to move forward. Understand the power of “not yet!” - you are not there yet, but you will be if you work hard. Retain the focus on the objective and understand one’s strengths and weakness to better manage oneself. That is the mantra to drive new initiatives, make progress and grow ones’ abilities.
    • Developing Leadership Skills
      • Leading by example is the way for one adopting growth mindset. Owning ones’ attitude is also important to be on the growth trajectory. There is no need to shy away from your attitude for the sake of blending with others. It is important to take up risks in front of others to drive the message of growth to others. At times, these risks might fail, then it is also important to admit the one can be imperfect and use it as a path to learning. Stretch yourself to achieve more and sometimes work out of comfort zone. This will not only build your skills but also team and others in the organization would be able to identify you as someone who is growth-focused.
    • Helping Others
      • As quoted by Sheri Dew “Having influence is not about elevating self, but about lifting others”. Positivity spreads through people. It is important for one to find opportunities to influence others at every touchpoint. Help teams set stretched goals which include them to learn and experiment. Bring in mindset change in people on the purpose of receiving continuous feedback. Also, do receive feedback with the same purpose. Build supportive relationships across the workplace to encourage new ideas and use it as a platform to support and coach others for success.
    • Developing a growth mindset environment
      • It is important to drive a growth mindset in an organization to be constantly relevant to the industry. It brings in the purpose and sense of alignment towards organization goal and how one can contribute. Allowing the team to try new ideas with an environment which embraces failure, and recognize the effort, can have a long way in building the culture of learning and growth.

    To summarize, focus on improving the skills of self and others to drive success. This will not only change one for the better, but also people around create a better working environment. Nobody knows what the future of work will look like, better to be prepared with the ability of continuous learning. Developing growth mindset will only help one be cognitively aware of the situations and be responsible for the unforeseen challenges.


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  • September 24, 2019 - Comments Off on 21st Century Learning: The effects of IR4.0, globalization, the changing workforce and shorter shelf life of knowledge

    21st Century Learning: The effects of IR4.0, globalization, the changing workforce and shorter shelf life of knowledge

    Learning and development

    author - Shantini

    Learning is the lifelong process of transforming information and experience into knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes. Learning in the 21st century comprises skills, technologies and insights that leading-edge academicians and organizations are using to create learning systems that are better suited to the emerging challenges. This is done through the practice Instructional Design - systematically designing, developing and delivering instructional products and experiences, both digital and physical, in a consistent and reliable fashion towards an efficient, effective, appealing, engaging and inspiring acquisition of knowledge.

    At its inception, Instructional Design was dominated by the views of behavioral psychologists, B.F. Skinner, whose stimulus-response operant conditioning theories gave us the famous drill and practice routine – the idea that knowledge and skill are acquired through repetitive practice. Today, there’s discovery that learning occurs most effectively when courses or programs are carefully designed around the key tasks and skills needed to perform the job.

    Recently, there seems to be new buzzwords such as e-learning, byte size learning, gamification, digitized simulations, etc. Having been in the corporate learning and development space for quite some time, I was bewildered with the new buzzwords and decided to immerse myself in recent developments and emerging trends in the learning and development area. Hence, in March 2019, I attended a Learning & Development Conference in Kuala Lumpur with an interesting title - Big L&D Summit 2019 - Emerging Trends in Learning & Development: Are You Ready to Up Your Game!

    The two-day event was an insightful session with the exchange of knowledge and experiences by various speakers. At the end of the two day conference, I discovered that there is a “new world of work”  emerging in the 21st century disrupting the corporate learning paradigm. It’s turning old instructional, episodic and live training models upside down, as technology, financial, people and competitive pressures drive change to achieve 21stcentury corporate success, growth and sustainability.

    During the session, a speaker from Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific shared very interesting insights, talking about the 4th Industrial Revolution (IR4.0):

    1. IR4.0 is leading to Mega Trends and transforming the way businesses operate. Mega Trends are transformative, global forces that define the future world with their far-reaching impact on business, societies, economies, cultures and personal lives, e.g. robots have entered our homes for personal use, mobile financial transactions are now in crypto-currencies, self-driving cars, etc.
    2. IR4.0 is enabling connectivity that allows for the convergence of industries, products & functions. This convergence is likely to drive unconventional players to contest for new markets. For example, cars plus unmanned technology leads to the development of autonomous cars.
    3. Every company will become a technology company, as most companies will use mobile applications, data and analytics, IoT, cyber security, cryptocurrency and blockchain, cloud computing, etc. The banking sector, for example, is moving towards branchless banking and uses more than one technology i.e. mobile applications, cybersecurity, data and analytics and others.

    These megatrends, coupled with globalization, the changing workforce, and a shorter shelf life of knowledge, reveals that “one-size-fits-all” content is no longer relevant where instructional design is concerned. Just as businesses are personalizing their products and services for clients and consumers, so should instructional design methods innovate to meet the changing needs for the new business landscape.

    Learning and development is expected to play a critical role in enabling to build the future-ready organization. How could learning and development play this role?

    Again, from the perspective of the speaker from Frost & Sullivan Asia Pacific, the first step would be for learning & development to align with the maturity and vision of organizations. As such, instructional design needs to align learning priorities with the changing business landscape.

    Secondly, learning & development will need to have an outside-in view with a holistic approach. Outside-in perspectives will enable the identification of new skills, new leadership capabilities and new competencies required based on the changing business environment.

    Thirdly, the pace of enablement will be essential for Learning & Development. Learning & development would need to change and be more agile to keep up with the changing pace.

    Finally, digital will be a catalyst in enabling learning & development to achieve desired outcomes. Digital learning solutions and platforms could be deployed as per the examples below:

    • Bite-sized learning solutions delivered through a range of accessible technologies.
    • Mobile learning solutions
    • Virtual and live simulations of real-life experiences using online game methodologies.
    • Gamification built into online learning methodologies aligned to demographic styles.
    • Using social media to assess and predict personality types and learning styles.

    Implementation of training is expected to see the greatest change in non-classroom delivery, including computer-based, web-based, distance learning, self-study and other blended forms of learning. These delivery methods would allow trainers to reach employees where they work, rather than having them removed from their work environment. Trainers would no longer simply stand in front and lecture groups of learners. Instead they facilitate discussions, role plays, case studies, games, simulations and other innovative ways to get learners to open their minds and practice new skills in ways that can be readily assimilated and applied.

    In short, 21st-century learning should recognize the effects of IR4.0, globalization, the changing workforce and the shorter shelf life of knowledge. It needs to address the specific skills needed for the 21st century and focus on individual needs based on the changing business landscape. As the pace of change is accelerating due to IR4.0, 21st century learning should incorporate the use of cutting-edge technology which enables more flexibility in learning.

     I’m imagining that in the future, there would be an instructional design expert system, powered by artificial intelligence. This would enable an instructional designer to feed the design specifications into it and automatically generate learning materials and activities that can be applied immediately.  Employees also may be able to order their own custom training on any subject of their preference, delivered instantly through accessible technology platforms without the intervention of human hands.

    Is this going to happen in the 21st century? I think it’s already happening. As with the changes in various business landscapes, learning and development is not spared and would need to innovate to meet the new challenges of IR4.0.


    Building L&D Leaders in the Digital Era. Frost & Sullivan

    Bottom-Line Training, Donald J. Ford


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