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  • Mon, July 11, 2022 12:26 PM | Caley Ferguson (Administrator)

    What Does it Mean to Be an Integrated Leader?

    By Kristen Fragnoli 

    The world has shifted, business models have shifted, and for many of us, our perspective on life and work has shifted. In a fragmented, distracted and often divided world, leaders are challenged to show up with empathy, flexibility, innovation and conscious connection; this is only possible if the leader can show up as whole, balanced, aware and connected – they must be an integrated leader.

    • Integrated = characterized by unity, organized into a harmonious whole, cohesive
    • Disintegrated = fragmented, lacking cohesion, characterized by disconnection

    Gone are the days of lone-ranger, power-over, leave-your-life-at-the-office-door leadership. We flourish when we are equipped with practices that help us to be whole, healed, vital and authentic people empowered to bring strengths, skills and unique perspectives to the table -when we know how to be full, integrated humans. While many have “awakened” to an urgent understanding that old models of leadership no longer serve us, we may still need new “how-to” practices to shift us out of old patterns and into new ways of working and living.

    One exercise that can catalyze needed shifts is the process of building a “Portfolio for Flourishing.”© Just as a diversified financial portfolio creates stability and protection from risk, a portfolio of personal and professional practices from which you and your team can resource yourselves, creates clarity about where shifts are needed and offers actionable steps to make change. Through this process, you’re invited to experiment with and develop practices in eight broad areas that can be applied personally and in teams.

    • Self-Awareness
    • Body Connection
    • Contribution
    • Relationship
    • The Greater-Than
    • Learning
    • Creativity
    • Agency

    When we develop a diversified portfolio of supportive practices that arise from diverse sources, we can gird ourselves against difficulty and move from survive to thrive. When we have more tools in our toolbox, we can handle challenges with nuance and vitality and support others to do the same. When we can organize a broad array of practices into a harmonious whole, we become more integrated and cohesive and move away from fragmentation, distraction and disconnection.

    Start by considering what practices you use or lack in each of these areas; begin the process of inventorying your current strengths, resources and capacities and discovering those places where new practices and “investment” may be beneficial to you or your team to be the most whole, integrated and flourishing human leaders as possible.

    Kristen Fragnoli is an ICF certified Executive Coach who thrives when helping leaders be the most authentic, human versions of themselves as possible. She supports clients in building their “Portfolio for Flourishing” and is a partner for growth and change so that clients can be the leader of their own lives. Find her at She is facilitating an intro conversation on this topic on July 20, 2022 at 12:00pm. Register for the event on our Events Page! 

  • Mon, May 23, 2022 8:36 AM | Nancy Curtis (Administrator)

    I think the importance of mentorship in life and work can’t be overstated.  I define “mentor” pretty generally.  It doesn’t have to be a formal or structured relationship.  To me, a mentor is any experienced or knowledgeable person who has an interest in providing help and support due to a personal connection, separate from any organizational responsibility.  Thinking of it like this enables me to recognize and appreciate the shifting web of mentors I’ve had over my career.  I also hope there a few I have mentored in the same way.  Leaders can be mentors. Bosses can be mentors.  Peers can be mentors.  Friends can be mentors. And everyone can offer mentorship back. 

    I’ve been so lucky to benefit from the wisdom of many mentors. I especially value the simple, pithy, sayings and recommendations mentors offered me when I was struggling to solve problems, make tough decisions, or simply regain confidence.  These thoughts not only helped and supported me in the moment, but to this day provide valuable touchstones that I return to over and over again. 

    I’d like to share a few of the best with you:

    • Assume good will. 
    • Timeliness is part of quality.  Quality is zero if the customer doesn’t have it. 
    • There is no perfect.  It’s golf, not bowling. 
    • Hard decisions are easy.  Is there a best choice?  Take it. Are you struggling with two?  They’re both fine; just pick. 
    • Do your best; nobody can do better.
    • One way to increase your chances of getting what you want is to ask for it. They might say no if you ask, but they won't say yes if you don’t. 
    • One way to increase the chance of finishing is to start. 
    • One way to be sure something gets done is to do it. 
    • There are two reasons people don’t answer a question; because it’s too hard, and because it’s too easy.
    • Work = force x distance.  Don’t confuse effort with work.
    • Panic is the enemy of progress.
    • Don’t cry till you’re hurt. 
    • Never lie.  It’s too hard to keep track. 

  • Fri, April 22, 2022 2:56 PM | Nancy Curtis (Administrator)

    As I interact with my ATD colleagues and read ATD publications, I realize that my specific job mission is an anomaly within the larger instructional design community. Unlike many of you, I don’t develop materials to support learning within my own organization.  My company, Logical Operations, is more like a textbook publisher, but for commercial technology training rather than higher education.  That is, we create and publish curriculum that we then sell to thousands of schools, colleges, and commercial training centers worldwide.  Those organizations use the materials to deliver the instruction to their customers in turn.

    This means that what I create must: be marketable to those training-delivery organizations; appeal to their customers; meet the needs of a broad population of instructors whom I will never meet or interact with; and address the expectations of a diverse population of authentic learners from thousands of organizations all over the globe.  And – oh by the way - it has to make money. 

    I call it:  “instructional design for the real world.” We’ve been successful at it for close to 40 years.  We do it by following three broad principles:

    • Instructor independence.
    • Product consistency.
    • Rigorous instructional design. 

    Instructor independence means that our product provides everything an instructor needs to deliver a great learning experience.  Naturally, instructors are free and encouraged to add their own touches and modify the materials to suit their own style and requirements.  But our goal is that a piece of curriculum should work “out of the box” for any instructor with appropriate delivery skills and subject-matter knowledge. 

    Product consistency comes from our robust and sophisticated authoring and publishing infrastructure. This structured framework encourages efficiency.  It also ensures that every course we publish, no matter the duration, complexity, scope, subject matter, or target audience, will have a consistent look and feel and a common set of features and resources.  Any instructor who has taught from one of our products should feel equally at home with any of our others; no need to decode the product anew each time you download a fresh course.

    And most important, our rigorous CHOICE instructional design model is the scaffold that shapes and guides all our development.  CHOICE, created in conjunction with industry experts and field-tested in hundreds of courses, uniquely blends process model and design standards to ensure that proper learning principles are “baked in” from the moment we launch a project to the moment it ships. 

    The CHOICE model is how we fulfill our mission to improve people’s lives through technical training.  We’re proud to be part of the learning success of so many organizations, instructors, and students. 

  • Mon, March 07, 2022 1:32 PM | Kenneth Rhee

    In my years as a technical instructional designer and ID manager, it’s been my privilege to collaborate with many, many wonderful trainers.  I firmly believe that the field experience of the professional instructor, who interacts with and understands the needs of authentic learners in classes every day, is absolutely crucial to the success of any curriculum project. 

    But I don’t think the trainers should write all the courses.

    A lot of times learning leaders default to that approach.  You have someone who is great at teaching a subject – you need a new class in that subject – just pull that trainer off the schedule for a few weeks, they’ll throw together some PowerPoints, and it’ll be a big success!  You don’t need those expensive instructional design specialists, or anything crazy like a learning model, or instructional tools or infrastructure, right?  What could go wrong?

    Well, maybe nothing – if that trainer is the one who’s going to present the training.  It’s what I call the “singer/songwriter” scenario.  Some people express their gifts the best when they are performing material they created for themselves.  On the flip side, some composers are their own best interpreters; no cover would ever mean as much as the original artist’s version.

    But coming from the world of classical music, I know this is not always the case.  A whole lot of fabulously gifted singers would never have a career if they had to write all their own songs. That’s just not their talent.  Their talent is to perform and interpret.  And often composers would rather crawl into a hole and die than get pushed on stage to perform something they wrote – and even if they can get through the piece, they might not even be their own best interpreter, compared to a professionally-trained performing artist.  

    Similarly, many trainers who are so gifted at coaching learners to success are just stymied when they come out of the classroom and need to sit quietly in an office and put instructional materials together.  I’ve seen brilliant instructors spend weeks and months without producing even a workable table of contents. I’ve seen others become completely blocked trying to write an explanation of a technical or conceptual point that rolls off their tongue perfectly naturally when they’re addressing live learners.  

    Especially if you need instructor-independent materials, then my advice to you is to employ the talents of professional instructional designers.  Put the trainers on the team for sure! But let the IDs analyze, design, and develop.  Let the trainers train.  

  • Tue, February 22, 2022 8:45 PM | Kenneth Rhee

    In an earlier post, I mentioned somewhat in passing that although I’ve been in the profession of instructional design for over 30 years, my academic background is entirely in music, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in classical vocal performance.

    So how did an aspiring opera singer end up creating learning materials for technical professionals for a living?  Probably like all important life decisions: luck + preparedness.  

    The luck part was running into an old friend from our master’s degree days one afternoon on the streets of Rochester, NY.  Being an aspiring singer, I naturally was working full-time as a secretary.  (If I had been an aspiring actor, I would have been waiting tables.  It’s the arts.  That’s how it works.) 

    I told my friend I was having doubts about my future as a professional musician and starting to question my true life path.  Hearing this, he reminded me that while he was a student, he had worked part time at this great training and publishing company called Logical Operations.  He knew they were hiring, thought I’d be a great fit, and urged me to apply.  I did; was interviewed; was hired; and I’m still with LO decades later. Luck indeed! 

    The preparedness part relates to the magic triad of qualifications I’ve spoken about here previously.  

    • Writing ability. I was always a good student, and (I say with a blush), a good writer. Although I didn’t have technical writing experience per se, it was not hard to demonstrate my language and analytical skills to the leadership team.
    • Technical aptitude. This was the early 80s, and IBM PCs were just filtering their way onto desks in offices all over the world. Leaders tended to view them as a sort of “super-typewriter,” and administrative roles like mine often got first access to this powerful technology. I loved learning to use this new tool, and I’d been doing everything I could, including taking side classes, to acquire expertise well beyond what was needed in my job.
    • Instructional instincts. Ah, my didactic urge! As I learned more about the PC, I enjoyed finding more and more opportunities to show others what I’d learned and teach them what this technology could do! Naturally and organically, I became the “go-to” person for colleagues and staff throughout the organization who had questions or problems with their own computer use. So I was already a de facto computer instructor, supplementing the formal efforts of our local IT group.

    I’m living proof of how potential can be as big an asset as experience. Don’t overlook it!  

  • Thu, February 03, 2022 6:15 PM | Kenneth Rhee

    I recently shared a few thoughts about qualities that make for a great instructional designer, especially for technical subject matter.  Did you notice what I didn’t mention?  

    Here’s one that might have been conspicuous in its absence. I don’t think you need a degree in the field.  There, I said it.  Believe me, I respect all of you with masters and doctorates.  It’s a great achievement and the academic context brings value in many ways.  But I don’t need to call you Doctor for you to create great curriculum.  And sometimes degrees that are not enriched by experience can even get in the way.  They can lead practitioners to over-intellectualize and over-theorize, instead of focusing on the practical, real-world needs of authentic learners and instructors in the modern workplace. 

    I’m not even particularly interested in your academic credentials or professional experience, as long as you can show me you have that magic triad of writing ability, technical aptitude, and instructional instincts.  As a matter of fact, some of the best IDs I’ve known in my career have what some would call “non-traditional” backgrounds.  That is, they didn’t study education or human development or psychology.  They’ve been graphic designers and history majors and project managers and software engineers and marketers and aspiring novelists and starving artists and a host of other things.   

    Take me -I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music, of all things.  (How an aspiring opera singer ended up creating technical curriculum for adult professionals is a subject for another day.) And when anyone asks my background, I totally own that non-traditional path.  As I like to say: “I’m not an academic.  I’m a practitioner.”

    That doesn’t mean a person with an education degree or classroom teaching experience or, yes, even a doctorate in instructional design won’t be a great ID.  It just means that it’s a field where you can succeed based on interest, motivation, and aptitude, no matter what your entry point to the profession might be.  

  • Tue, January 25, 2022 8:17 PM | Kenneth Rhee

    At last year's ATD-ROC Mini-conference, I asserted that equitable and inclusive leadership is a requirement! From my research, the following Inclusive leadership traits stand out; Cultural Intelligence, Effective collaboration, Emotional Intelligence, Courage, Empathy, and perspective-taking. While all traits are essential, they operate in a cluster; a leader's self-assessment and self-interrogation of these traits are critical.

    In the development research phase for the mini-conference, and being steadfast in my learner mode, I discovered a golden nugget from Justin Woods's post on the Race+Emotions website. Woods lays out a cross walk between each of Daniel Goleman's 5-Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence as a necessary supplement to diversity and inclusion developmental opportunities. Woods is the Founder of Equity Social Venture. This statement that gave me a light-bulb moment became to topic for this blog: "the underdevelopment of emotional intelligence is a consistent barrier to taking action to advance inclusion, equity, and social justice."

    The Institute of Health and Human Potential (IHHP) puts the definition in a nutshell: Emotional intelligence can be defined as recognizing, understanding, and managing our own emotions and recognizing, understanding and influencing the emotions of others. My first thought to the latter definition was so, is this mind control? The writers at IHHP brought additional clarity through this statement, "In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (positively and negatively) and learning how to manage those emotions-both our own and others." Whew! It is about taking personal responsibility and not manipulation.

    I put forward that all levels of Leadership must enter into a personal development process with diversity, equity, inclusion (DEI), and belonging- informed self-reflection and self-interrogation. Self-reflection in this context is the habit of deliberately paying attention to your own thoughts, emotions, decisions, and behaviors. Self-interrogation is going deeper-a type of questioning that gets to the crux of the issue and then untangles the roots. This work asks that you be gentle in the process but challenge yourself with what you find. 

    “To be ignorant of one’s ignorance is the malady of the ignorant.” ~ Amos Bronson Alcott

    I realize that this may be a lot to ask given this chasm of despair we have labeled as VUCA. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in our lives and those of our world neighbors is fraught with conscious and unconscious emotion. Built upon centuries and generational discrimination, injustice, inequality, bias, violence, abuse, and mistreatment, and  more recently an increased in misinformation. 

    The multiple intersectionality of all of these challenges, coupled with the multiple      intersectionality of human diversity and experience creates what appears to be an insurmountable challenge to individuals and organizations. Not enough of us, especially leaders at all levels of an organization,  are prioritizing the time to process the endless and constant arrival of new information, moving us deeper and deeper into the chasm of hopelessness and despair.  Leaders at all levels of an organization need to access their personal development in the DEI space. Often after the leaders commit to the importance of a focus and commitment to DEI, they assign someone else to do the actual "work." The actual "work" starts with self and the Leaders need to lead and model the way.

    To be effective, leaders must have a solid understanding of how their emotions and actions affect the people around them. The better a leader relates to and works with others, the more successful he or she will be. Take the time to work on self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

    Since we (ATD) are a diverse collective of talent development people that I defined as teachers and learners, it would be easy for me to further augment your learning by giving you more information in this short essay. However, you will amplify your personal development if you assess these broader considerations. Your assignment if you decide to accept it, is to evaluate what strategies you would need to put into place for you to utilize this information either for yourself or your organization. Schedule deep reflection with self and then other thought partners in your circle. I want to hear what activities you would put into place, in addition to participating in an official or trademarked Inclusive Leadership training program, to develop emotional intelligence to break down the walls that are a barrier to advancing inclusion, equity, and social justice.

    By the way, this is my first blog…ever! Based on my research, I may have broken a couple of Blogging “rules.” Oh, Freedom…Oh, freedom… Oh Freedom over me!

  • Fri, January 07, 2022 4:29 AM | Kenneth Rhee

    I’ve been an instructional designer for over 30 years.  When I started as an ID, I didn’t know it was called that, my company didn’t call it that, and I’m not sure the general public even knew there was such a thing.  But ID it apparently was then, and ID it is now.  

    My least favorite term for what we do is “building content.”  My team and I don’t think of ourselves as “building” anything, and we’re not spewing out “content.”  We don’t even really think of ourselves as writing.  We’re trying to craft an experience, to be brought to life by our unseen partners, the instructors and the learners.

    Over the years my responsibilities have morphed from creation to supervision. Part of my job now is to identify, hire, and develop other instructional designers.  

    I look for three main qualities in a prospective ID: 

    • Writing ability. Of the three, this is the easiest to demonstrate, yet the least important. Yes, it’s important to write well, and yes, an ID must be able to organize and capture information in written form. But beyond that basic competence, brilliant writing skills are not crucial. Comprehensibility will suffice; as long as we know what you’re trying to get at, we can support the nuts and bolts of flowing prose, consistent style, grammar, punctuation, and spelling. God made copy editors for a reason. 

    • Technical aptitude. We specialize in curriculum for technology in the workplace, so some level of technological interest is a must, along with the curiosity to acquire new skills quickly without a lot of scaffolding or structure. You don’t have to be a subject matter expert when you start out (although many of my folks become SMEs in the process), but you sure have to speak their language with credibility and conviction. 

    • Instructional instincts, or what I call “the didactic urge.” A burning need to explain things to other people, even if you don’t know much about them yourself is the indispensable force behind great instructional designers.

    If I see a candidate with the above three qualities, who’s also a learning-motivated learner and a bit of a loner, with perhaps a dash of obsessive-compulsiveness thrown in, I see the potential to flourish and succeed in an instructional design career.  It’s a career that I personally have found intellectually satisfying and personally rewarding for decades. My mission is to improve people’s lives through technical training, and it’s a joy and privilege to have that opportunity. 

    By Nancy Curtis

  • Tue, December 28, 2021 9:48 AM | Robert Peter (Administrator)

    For most companies, training isn't just a "nice to have" but a vital part of a long-term growth and retention strategy. After all, 93% of employees say they will stay longer in companies that invest in their career development. Meanwhile, retention rates are 34% higher at jobs that offer opportunities for professional development.

    Read the article.

    Join our ROCATD LinkedIn group.

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