ASTD Conference 2013 – What I Presented and Learned!

I just spent a whirlwind few weeks speaking at a couple of conferences.

ASTD 2013 How to Stop Failing

The “main event” was the ASTD International Conference and Exposition in Dallas at which I gave a one hour speech entitled “How to Stop Failing at Behavior Change Training – The Case of Time Management.”

I had an exciting time, to say the least! With over 9000 attendees, almost 200 attended my own session which took place on May 20th.

In my speech (you can find the slides here) I talked about my personal struggles in time management and in trying to find the kind of training that would go past the one-size-fits-all detailed prescriptions.

I offered my session’s attendees a new path that I have taken – to give learners ┬áthe tools they need to upgrade their own behaviors, and to offer a training session that serves as an extended opportunity to practice the planning that’s needed to make an effective upgrade. While I have used this approach in time management training (MyTimeDesign, NewHabits) and a few others, I’m really interested to hear from those who attended: have they tried a similar approach, and what success have they had?

It’s a much tougher path to follow, but ultimately the learner would benefit greatly from these kinds of skills in specific areas. I also expect that it would help trainers to escape the trap of trying to force-feed learners a whole bunch of new behaviors.

The problem with this approach (which is SO easy to take) is that learners quickly realize that they can find any set of behaviors they desire somewhere on the Internet – which they will do before the first hour of class is over. Then, they’ll either leave or mentally check out – because they now have access to the “new” information that the trainer is about to give them. Learners all around the world are beating trainers to the punch.

The key is transform training from information sessions to ones that are experiential. In the case of the training  programs I mentioned above, they become opportunities to:

  1. Evaluate when it’s time to upgrade one’s time management system
  2. Conduct an assessment using world-class standards
  3. Use the results of the assessment to craft a plan that is conservative, including targets and timelines
  4. Put in place a habit change management system
  5. Gain feedback on the quality of one’s plan

Usually, this is the first time they are consciously undertaking such an upgrade and the expectation is that they’ll do it several times in their career, as needed. This applies to other behaviors, and it will be interesting to see how this approach is already being used, or can be used in the future.

The other conference I attended and spoke at was the Human Resource Management Association of Trinidad and Tobago, which was held in Port of Spain the prior week. I gave two speeches: one on Gamification in Learning, and the other on how to Raise the Standards of Caribbean Executives. I’ll be eventually posting all these speeches up on slideshare and will create links to them as they are created.

From both conferences I learned that the idea I have been working on here at 2Time Labs are not only interesting, but they push the envelope. They can create an awesome dialog with others who are thinking along similar minds and provide learners with a unique and challenging experience that goes well beyond the usual time management training. I also saw how gamification can be used after a class to extend classroom learning – that’s something I’m rushing to put in place in all my training.

Next year’s conference will be in Washington, DC and I can’t wait!