By Diane M. Gayeski (Pearson/Prentice Hall, $48)
I have read dozens of works on the theme of "getting training a seat at the table." Though they've all been fine, with many good points, I don't recall one—until now—that made me feel this could really happen and gave me a clear sense of how to get there. Diane Gayeski gets it. Her articulate vision of the possibilities for the training function's future—as an infrastructure asset rather than an overhead expense—is breathtaking. Supplementing her information with case studies, tools and excellent comparison charts, she provides a clear, compelling roadmap for moving from training delivery to performance engineering. (An aside: It's not a flaw, but I do wish Gayeski had addressed the many paradigm shifts this will take, especially for those entrenched in old-school training programs.)
Though my primary interest is in Gayeski's ideas for learning systems, much of the book also deals with communication systems. Gayeski, clearly knowledgeable about the real-world applications of her ideas, does a good job of describing how communications systems can create or destroy value, the importance of working to establish a strong infrastructure for communication systems, and avoiding pitfalls such as the development of "islands" of communication.
The book appears to have been written as a textbook, which may limit its visibility in the general marketplace. The structure, complete with self-check quizzes at the end, is really quite useful. A warning: Though the book is quite readable, there's an enormous amount of information. It's not dry, but it's also not a quick or easy read. This one is a commitment, but worth it. Managing Learning and Communication Systems as Business Assets is an excellent, exhaustive resource, especially useful for those interested in helping HR and training move toward performance engineering. —J.B.