Friday, May 04, 2007

Greetings from the CSTD National Learning Symposium in Montreal!


Here's what I love about the CPLP and the 2004 ASTD Competency Model the credential is based on -- it has real world value because it has real world use.

Two years ago, when I got involved with the CPLP program, I questioned the integration of 9 areas of expertise. Afterall, what does stand-up instruction have to do with career paths and talent management?

Tools and techniques - various methodologies and adult education theory - is anyone really using instruments like the Herrmann Brain Dominance Index (HBDI)? Or approaches like Appreciative Inquiry? And, aside from the Army, who's really using Action Research?

All interesting to study, but impractical to apply - right?

And, really, what does it have to do with me and my work as a practitioner in learning & performance?

Fast forward two years, and I've learned a lot. These are strategies for real world use and they do have practical applications across the broad spectrum that is our industry - from instructional designers to talent managers and all disciplines in between.

Here's an example: Cirque du Soleil

I'm blogging from my hotel room on Peel St in Montreal, just down the way from the McGill Executive Institute where the CSTD National Learning Symposium is being held.

The sold-out symposium kicked off yesterday with an opening keynote delivered by Sylvie Geneau, Assistant Vice President, Casting & Performance and France Dufresne, Director, Organizational Development & Training from Cirque du Soleil.

Sylvie and France have spent the past four years building a leadership program at Cirque du Soleil - a program that acknowledges and embraces the duality that is Cirque -- addressing the needs of the very structured business side and the very informal creative side.

The challenge - protecting Cirque du Soleil's identity and providing consistent leadership development to its managerial team - worldwide, given:
  • 3,000+ employees worldwide

  • 44 nationalities

  • 28 spoken languages

  • Over 360 performances a year

Also given:
  • In high growth, more than half of Cirque's management positions were filled from the outside. Everyone had their own way of doing things.

  • 25% of Cirque are artists who do not work with business processes

  • Most people come from outside industries that are much different than Cirque, and it takes a while to acclimate to Cirque's unique culture.

  • Differences in schedules, pace, attitudes of people who work in the head office, those touring on the road, and those working resident shows.

The solution - using HBDI and an Appreciative Inquiry approach, Sylvie and France were able to develop a communication strategy and leadership framework that allows people - from across the broad spectrum of talents that comprise Cirque - to relate to the company's values and visualize their role as leaders.

Techniques used - storytelling, informal learning

Cultural differences are acknowledged and embraced - the leadership framework is not one size fits all.

There's more to the story - and I'm excited to share it! - but I'm late as it is to the opening keynote for the second day of the symposium.

My point here is -- the Competency Model is real. It's not just a bunch of material to study to pass the CPLP knowledge-based exam.

There's some good stuff there for those who can use a little imagination in how they, as practitioners, can apply it.

Which makes the CPLP - as a reflection of one's ability to understand and synthesize these disciplines - all the more worthwhile!

Congratulations to the newly certified!

~ Trish Uhl, PMP, CPLP
Owl's Ledge LLC

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