What's in a Name?
I just finished reading your article "Judging a Book" (Editor's Notebook, January), during which I had an "aha" moment. I appreciate your view on the latest buzzwords and how important it is to be defined by what we do, instead of what we are called. Very refreshing.
little rock, ar
I just received the January issue and read "Judging a Book." THANK YOU for not changing the name of the magazine! I have been in t&d since the early '70s, and I am disappointed that training and HR sway with every fad. Constantly changing our department names and employees' titles makes no sense to the rest of the organization. If you talk with anyone outside of human resources, they continue to refer to us as "Training" and "HR." Is the goal to enhance our image by changing our names instead of making ourselves useful?
technical development specialist
williams gas pipeline
The New Look
I received the January issue in the mail and wanted to let you know how much I like the new look! The new logo and cover design caught my eye immediately, as did the table of contents pages (which are much more reader-friendly now) and the layouts of the articles.
I particularly enjoyed the way you've now broken down the shorter sections of the magazine: Columns, Departments and especially Reader-speak, and I like their color codes. I don't recall having seen In Person before, but if the idea is to profile one executive from the field, like Libby Sartain of Southwest Airlines, I think it's a great addition. I enjoy reading about the challenges other readers face, and while most all magazines have a "letters" section for this, I like your new e-mail Talkback section. I have always enjoyed Viewpoint to hear from other readers, as well.
Lastly, given the enormous time constraints faced by most people today, I particularly liked the new E-Pulse. Unlike most research reports I come across, it gave me a quick overall view of specific topics—all on one page—and the charts were very engaging. Keep up the good work.
I just received my brand-new copy of Training (January). Congrats on the new design. It has a sleek new feel—a paper version of an excellent Web page. I like it. I also read your column on the redesign (Editor's Notebook). You are right not to throw out the name. Thirty-five years of brand is nothing to sneeze at. You have a rich heritage, which is working to your advantage.
—John Baldonibaldoni consulting
ann arbor, mi
Just wanted to let Mr. Gordon know that I love reading his articles. I usually agree with him and always have a laugh or two.
advanta mortgage corp.
Given that Jack Gordon and I have the same surname, I just couldn't let a potential distant relative carry on with what I feel are somewhat incorrect and incomplete views about telecommuting and working from home ("This Way Lies Madness," Apropos, January).
I've been working in this field since 1982, and I'd be the first to say that working at home isn't for everyone—in fact, I think there are more people not suited to do so than are. But for every case of the home worker who suffers from isolation, can't stay away from the refrigerator or has to deal with a teething puppy, there are thousands who are working this way and loving it—and are producing at least as much work, done at least as well, if not better, than they did in the office.
The key is to do it the right way—which means finding the right people, managing them the right way, and creating the right mix between time at home and in the office.
Jack might want to take a look at a paper posted on the Web site of the International Telework Association and Council that tells more about the reality of working from home and elsewhere away from the office: http://www.telecommu... aboutitac/alive.shtm.
gil gordon associates
monmouth junction, nj
I thoroughly enjoyed your January issue. I like the changes, I like the format, and I even like the differing viewpoints offered. I have to say that I was somewhat taken aback, though, when after being uplifted by the many different articles and stories, I read "Apropos" by Jack Gordon. "Good grief!" I thought. Yes, Jack may have "read 200 magazine articles—and edited 20—about the 'electronic cottage.'" Too bad his attempt at working at home was a disaster. But what an example of "Ivory Tower" academic thinking! I was appalled that someone with little experience at home officing would write such a scathing article. And I must say, I was somewhat offended. I work from home, and very effectively, in fact. It keeps me out of office politics; I am much more productive (I don't hang around the water cooler or get involved in mindless discussions in hallways); and I have three hours a day more to work since I don't have to commute.
Yes, I do miss the human interaction. But as far as my "team" goes, we communicate regularly via e-mail, and, if needed, we even pick up the telephone!
Actually we do that several times a day! We also manage to come into the office for regular meetings and social events. (Some of us have even learned how to manage our home life so that we are really "at work" when we are at home ... like leave the dog in another room.)
Then I turned the page and read Jenni Prisk's Viewpoint: "Never Too Old To Learn." What a different perspective. This was an awesome article, encouraging those of us who do work alone to reach out and expand our social interaction in a holistic way.
Yes, I need social interaction. But that does not mean I need to hang out in an office with a bunch of disgruntled coworkers! Maybe I can get that interaction by helping someone else learn and grow, which in turn helps me! Bravo to Jenni.
I would suggest that Mr. Gordon read her article and stop pontificating from the ivory tower. Some of us can actually make telecommuting work for not only our good, but for our companies and the younger generation who needs our experience. Thanks for a magazine that got me emotionally charged.
mountain view, ca
Training's Real Measure
Donna Goldwasser did a comprehensive job describing the problems of measurement in training ("Beyond roi," January). It reminds me once again of the chronic difficulties that the training community has been having since I entered the consulting field in the 1970s. There aren't "four Levels" of measurement, and trainees' reactions to training (the purported "Level I") are totally irrelevant, since provoking them and creating change is usually far more important than the participants' approval of the visual aids or liking the instructor.
The only measure worth anything is a demonstrable and positive change in the organization's performance, and executives are quite correct to insist not only on that outcome but also to expect that the training vendors (or internal staff) should know how to deliver it. It's the training profession's decades-long misfortune that it either hasn't seen the need, hasn't acquired the tools, or just doesn't "get it." As Goldwasser all too gently points out, business metrics had better be the order of the day. This "Level IV" nonsense has been an empty catch phrase for all too long. Whenever an internal trainer has asked me, "What level are we measuring?" my response has been, "Take me to your leader."
summit consulting group
east greenwich, ri
I strongly take issue with Robert Brodo's statements regarding attendees at his company's learning labs at the 2000 Online Learning Conference and Expo ("r-e-s-p-e-c-t," Viewpoint, December). While I am quite aware that Brodo was primarily expressing his concern over competing vendors taking up time and space in smgnet's labs, the way he grouped independent consultants into this mix was offensive to me.
As an independent learning and development consultant, I recognized that online learning is indeed coming, and I attended the event to educate myself. I paid for my conference registration, preconference workshop and travel expenses out of my own pocket (more than $4,000 Canadian dollars), so in some ways I had a lot more invested than conference attendees who were sponsored by their companies. To read a suggestion that I was not welcome at a scheduled conference session is deeply offensive.
Not all independent consultants are seat warmers, Mr. Brodo. Since educating myself on e-learning and returning from the Denver conference, I am already beginning to assist corporate clients who have no experience in this field to develop their e-learning strategies—corporations that will ultimately purchase online learning products and services. In addition, I have been donating my time at speaking engagements and writing articles to help educate our human resource community in British Columbia on the online learning field, which is still very confusing to many of the "purchasers" vendors are trying to reach.
Finally, I am in the process of purchasing an authoring tool based on my learnings at the conference and fully anticipate recommending that my clients purchase copies of the same programs to enable them to become self-sufficient. When I attended learning labs (although I didn't attend one of smgnet's), I certainly felt I was a buyer as much as the "potential customers" (Brodo's term) sitting next to me.
When my clients ask me which vendors to work with—and believe me, the ultimate purchasers of learning products want vendors that offer a respectful,
service-oriented approach—it's going to be a stretch to recommend smgnet if this is what its employees think about the individuals who take the time to learn about its products.
westwood dynamics learning & development
west vancouver, british columbia
As a business owner specializing in learning solutions for older/mature workers—partnering with Green Thumb in their financial services division and America Online's call center programs—I thoroughly enjoyed Matt Bolch's article "The Changing Face of the Workforce" (December). The article touched on many key issues facing the business community, the needs of our aging population and training.
In programs with Green Thumb, the critical component in developing the training curriculum for the mature worker required educating the business community on the benefits this population brings to the workplace.
To make programs like Green Thumb's a success, cultivating a relationship with an employer who understands these benefits is essential. Loyalty, work experience, work ethic, and strong judgment skills of the mature worker are traits employers need to understand, consider and embrace in order to remain competitive in today's diverse workplace.
Many companies are recognizing this and developing solutions to address the needs of mature workers: customizing training programs focusing on the learning styles of a 50-plus worker, developing flexible work schedules and telecommuting arrangements, providing sensitivity training for all staff, and making contractual and consulting options available. Companies are recognizing that a diverse workplace is the wave of the future, and that training for all segments of their workforce must meet the needs of all employees.
Because today's nontraditional workplace has employees in their 50s being supervised by individuals in their early 20s, the progressive proactive companies realize they need to be sensitive to this diversity or be forced to take a back seat to increased productivity. Training solutions recognizing this diversity will prove to be a driving force in "The Changing Face of the Workforce."
—Gregory Keaseydirector of project operations
I read your article "The Death of trdev-l" (Training Today, December) with great interest. While disappointed to learn of its demise, I learned of its existence at the same time. I was pleased to learn that a new group had been established with eGroups to serve the same purpose. However, when I went to eGroups to check it out, no group with the name "trdev-l" came up using the search engine. Do you have any further information about how I can hook up with this group?
training and development consultant
st. paul, mn
Go to www.egroups.com. Enter "trdev" (lowercase) in the search box under the heading "Join a Group." Then click on the "trdev" link.
I find myself looking in the mail for Training because I have found the articles and content to be invaluable. I subscribe to many IT and customer service publications and none of them come close to being as relevant and useful as Training. I have recommended the magazine to several other colleagues and will continue to do so. Thank you. —Teresa Lamar
technical account manager, world-wide customer support & service
costa mesa, ca