Effective Learning

September 27, 2007

By: Dr. R. Palan, Chairman & CEO of SMR Group 

How do we get learning to take place in a most effective manner?
Just list a few:

  • Good Schools
  • Good Teachers
  • Action Learning
  • Experiential Education
  • Adventure Learning
  • E Learning
  • Instructor led Learning
  • Active Learning
  • Accelerated Learning
  • FUN learning

We can go on discussing the various ideas proposed. Over the weekend I was rewriting my book The Magic of Making Training FUN! and as I was surfing the internet, I was overwhelmed by the amount of literature available out there. The bottom line still seems to focus on Attention, Participation, Retention and of course Transfer of learning.

Education Queensland highlights five principles:

In essence, the principles emphasise the need to:

  • understand the learner;
  • understand the learning process;
  • provide a supportive and challenging environment;
  • establish worthwhile learning partnerships;
  • shape and respond to, a variety of social and cultural contexts.

Let us explore these in the next couple of blogs.

How do we develop people into clever people?

Is Learning a worthwhile intervention?


Preventing Poor Performance

September 23, 2007

By: Dr. R. Palan, Chairman & CEO of SMR Group 

We talked about Leading Clever People and Effective Learning in the last couple of blogs.

Over the last few weeks I had the opportunity to read the outstanding book FREAKONOMICS. If you have not read it, you MUST. The book will help every reader – all of us redefine the way we view the world.

The most important lessons I learned from the book – the world may be complex but is not unknowable if we just can ask the RIGHT QUESTIONS.

All it takes is a new way of looking.

I liked the concept of Broken Windows. I first read it in Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell and now again in the FREAKONOMICS by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner.

The concept first appeared in an article titled Broken Windows by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, which appeared in the March 1982 edition of The Atlantic Monthly.The idea is based on the following example:
“Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.”

A successful strategy for preventing vandalism, say the book’s authors, is to fix the problems when they are small. Repair the broken windows within a short time, say, a day or a week, and the tendency is that vandals are much less likely to break more windows or do further damage. Clean up the sidewalk every day, and the tendency is for litter not to accumulate (or for the rate of littering to be much less). Problems do not escalate and thus respectable residents do not
flee a neighborhood.

In this context, I can only think of the Singaporean example of clean neighbourhoods.
The theory thus makes two major claims: that further petty crime and low-level anti-social behavior will be deterred, and that major crime will, as a result, be prevented.

How can we apply the broken window theory to the world of work to prevent poor performance?

Leading Clever People

September 17, 2007

Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones identify several things we need to know
about leading clever people.

It is essential to know the characteristics most clever people share,
these collectively make them a difficult crew to manage.

1. They know their worth.

2. They are organisationally savvy.

3. They ignore corporate hierarchy.

4. They expect instant access.

5. They have good networks and are well connected.

6. They are bored easily.

7. They won’t thank you and thye assume they know most of the things.

8. They are results oriented.

What it means to work here?

September 13, 2007


 By: Dr. R. Palan, Chairman & CEO of SMR Group

Signature experiences, Inclusiveness and Congruence seem to be the answer.

The Harvard Business Review article by Tamara J Erickson and Lynda Gratton describes the need for every company to have a signature experience that sets it apart. In the War for Talent, many organisations talk about being employer of choice. Signature experiences explicitly communicate what makes your firm unique and can improve employee engagement and performance dramatically.

My first question after reading the article was – are we doing that in our organisation?

Matching other organisations with the right offer may be attractive enough to bring employees to the door but may not be good enough to bring great employees enthusiastic about their work and fiercely loyal to the organisation and its mission.

To enhance the elements of engagement and to foster deeply committed employees, the following are needed:

  1. A comprehensive understanding of the types of people who will be productive to the organisation over the long term. What are the competencies they need?
  2. A well defined communication programme that conveys for employees the attributes and values of the organisation.
  3. A coherent employee experience – none of your company’s environmental elements misrepresents what it’s really like to work there.
  4. Respecting diversity, making people feel inclusive and enabling people from different races, religion, language, functions and gender to mix around. Small groups that cling must be educated to understand the importance of making others feel included. You will never know about others unless and until you work with them.
  5. Celebrate success and share stories, identify and preserve the history but do not forget to identify the importance of change for growth.

How to stay calm when under pressure?

September 6, 2007

By: Dr. R. Palan, Chairman & CEO of SMR Group 

The answer is EQ.

When you bring intelligence to your emotion, it is known as Emotional Intelligence (EQ).

Emotional Intelligence is often rated as the single most important differentiator for success in a highly competitive world. It is far more important than IQ – intelligence quotient. More importantly, EQ can be learned.

We from the SMR Group had the honour of having dinner with the Honourable Secretary of Energy from the Philippines. To him, the entire day was a compact day. He said that with a smile. Speaking at several high profile events and meeting top diplomats had not put him under pressure. The sense of humour, he displayed was infectious. I loved his lines when he remarked in jest – “if you can’t dazzle them with your brilliance. Then baffle them with bullshit.” Laughter is indeed a great influencing tool.

I relate this as I have had a packed day and have another packed few days. I am just about to collapse into bed late at night – past 130 am. Just imagine how well you can sleep if you continue to think of your flight the next morning.

Today was one of the days when the battery for my mobile phone decided to play funny and I was stranded without my mobile phone. In a world where I get extremely stressed without my mobile phone, I was relaxed. The public phone and the public transport – the train were pretty good too.

Today was a day when some of our vendors behaved like customers. They expected us to behave like a vendor and meet their needs rather then they meet our needs. Today was a day when I wanted some of my colleagues to do something and they didn’t. Normally I would get a little impatient, albeit in a nice way. Today I was able to communicate my thoughts in a straight and objective manner. The world is strange place. Sanity is an important thing to survive in this complex world.

I suppose you only worry when you can do something about it. EQ is more important than IQ. Surprisingly, I was and am sane the whole day despite severe time pressures.

My wife says these things happen to you when you are ageing.

I thought differently. The Honourable Secretary of Energy from the Philippines was a great role model for me.

Oh boy! That is cool, right but I certainly do not want another such packed day to demonstrate my emotional intelligence.

Good night and be good – be emotionally intelligent.

ARTDO, Bali Conference 2007

September 3, 2007

By: Dr. R. Palan, Chairman & CEO of SMR Group 

I spoke at the ARTDO Bali Conference.

Around 300 participants attended the event. While I wished the Conference programme could have been more engaging, the hosts were very hospitable. And, Bali was wonderful.

I happenned to read the monograph from Hay Consulting who were exhibiting at the event.Two key statements from the monograph attracted me:

1. The phrase ‘our people are our greatest asset’ may sound like a platitude, but the evidence is that this is true.

2. In evaluating CEO’s, accountability for human capital is a key differentiator.

What do you think?