CSTD 2014 – Sessions


As I mentioned in my previous post, here are some quick notes – key points about my session experiences from this past edition of CSTD 2014… For my keynotes experience, checkout my previous post.

Again, lots of people to see again and lots of new interesting people to connect with.

Here are a few sessions that I found quite interesting and stimulating.

Nicole Bendaly: Enabling Everyday Innovation

Great presenter, great personality. Clear, direct, energetic.

“Not enough ‘meaningful’ sharing…”: there is no such thing as status quo. If growth isn’t happening, deterioration is.

Quick Note: She had us do a nice little brain teaser activity at each table, to figure out common sayings out of scramble letters. It wasn’t as much about the content as it was about collaborating  AND forgetting about what we were thinking BEFORE the session.

We should always look to maximize what we have, and be creative in finding better ways to reach our goals, i.e. INNOVATE.

But for that to really happen, we ALL need to have a common purpose. She gave the example of Southwest airlines. All SW employees, from top to bottom, know and believe why they do what they do: give THE most outstanding services at THE lowest fare. Sounds corny but it sure makes sense.

Define your success statement. Make sure everyone knows it and believes it.

Innovation show be a priority. It should be THE priority. I’ll go further and say it shouldn’t even be a priority, it should be a STATE OF MIND!  🙂

But that’s all fine and dandy, but how do we do it? How do we get everyone on board? What does innovation means? Well… it means different things to different people. You and your team need to find your definition, which will ensure it works. So ask your team: “In order to practice everyday innovation, we need to…” and list the answers. This way your people will own their innovative approach.

All this is great, but there is still another aspect to consider: the CLIMATE in which you function, operate, live your job.

Don’t let your people feel “depleted…”. Ask your team members to rate their “wanting to go to work” regularly, even every morning. They can say it out loud, or keep it to themselves. The point is to be aware of it, share it, and act to correct it when needed.

Everyone should ask themselves: “Do I GIVE energy to others or do I DRAIN it?” Make sure it’s the former, not the latter.

When you need to deal with no-so-good stuff, cover the positive first, highlight it, then address the stuff that needs to be corrected. This will help those who need correcting to change positively.

Then there’s transparency.

Transparency is at the base of everything. It promotes fairness, it helps collaboration. People want to know what’s going on. We all want feedback [constructive is better, but even not so constructive is important because it gives INFORMATION].

Then there’s conversations.

Talk with people, provoke conversations, even discussions with others about all kinds of things. But still recognize what you have control over, so you don’t get shot down too much…   😉

Then… there is… SHARED leadership.

That’s [too] often a tough one. No one person can possibly know everything. Right? It’s OK to say “I don’t know”. Be honest with yourself and others. People appreciate more integrity and honesty than someone who says he or she know it all and can do it all.

Finally she talked about High Impact Learning Organization (HILO). The three-legged stool: Effectiveness AlignmentEfficiency. Break one and you fall down. Address them all and you’ll go places! An HILO has the L&D people sitting at the table with the Business people, when STRATEGY is discussed. A HILO Learning Culture is owned by EVERYONE, including the top of the house.

And there was other stuff… If you have a chance to see Nicole in action, go!

Deri Latimer: The Neuroscience of Leadership

Excellent presenter, great personality. Clear, direct, energetic. Tapped into our emotions.

Quick note: Just saw that Deri will be the opening keynote for CSTD 2015!

Deri opened up with a very personal story to highlight that some people you come across may be hiding their unhappiness, maybe even some shame they’re dealing with: the closet of shame or the self-judging conundrum we all face at one time or another.

The point I got was that we are all wired to connect with others. And that connectiveness is a great way to get out of the closet, to deal with our demons.

Quick group activity: we went around telling others what’s good or great in our life, saying someone different each time. Great opportunity to reflect quickly about what’s important to us.

What follows are bits and pieces of things to consider to be more effective.


Forgot the context, but she addressed multitasking in a revealing way. Someone can be good at multitasking, but the more you multitask, the less efficient you are.

Let’s say you have a total of 100% capacity to deal with stuff. That means that if you have one thing to do, it gets 100% of your attention.

But if you add other things to deal with, your 100% is divided by the number of those things, hence reducing your capacity to do the best you could do for each of those things compared to what you could do if you had 100% for each of them.

Makes total sense, don’t you think?

Take a break

Take a break every 90 minutes, for your brain, the most important tool in your arsenal! This means de-focus from what you’re doing, not jumping on another task! Think about something personal, take a walk, go get some water… DANCE!  (yes, close the door if you want)  Supposedly, dance reduces dementia… got to look it up.  🙂


Mindfullness is the #1 leadership competency. Mindfulness requires PAUSING!

Negative/Positive thinking

Negative thinking narrows perspective, makes you move backward.

Positive thinking widens perspective, makes you move forward.

Negative emotions

It’s a fact that we all have negative emotions. Don’t suppress them, deal with them. But don’t “spray” them around: they can infect others.  😉

When negative emotions want to erupt from within, reframe the situation to see the positive, to make you feel better in the long run (reacting instinctively may seem like a good way to make you feel better, but chances are you’ll regret it afterwards, right?).

Checkout this page I found in which she covers a bunch of things she mentioned in her session.

Andrew Webster: Design Thinking Introduction

Another great presenter. Knows his stuff.

I went to his session because I really like Design Thinking, and I wanted to see how it would be presented to our “people”.  😉

DT originated mainly for product design, but evolved to addressed any problem-solving situation. Learning experiences are built to solve a problem: a gap to fill. It’s not a fix-all approach, but it sure has potential. Look it up you’ll find all kinds of information about it. Check this trailer for a quick peak.

Andrew listed 3 ways to achieve innovation:

  1. By luck: but totally unpredictable.
  2. By genius: but you can’t count on it.
  3. By repeatable process: design thinking.

Design thinking looks for the sweet spot (the solution) between:

  • Being desirable (someone really needs it!)
  • Being feasible (it can actually be built!)
  • Being viable (it makes business sense!)

Design Thinking is best used when:

  • Unknowns outweigh the knowns
  • The problem is more complex then complicated (which would warrant a scientific approach)
  • When human factors are prevalent
  • When you’re looking for a breaktrough

Design thinking needs to be collaborative. You aim to help people more than push a solution. It’s human-centered.

Design thinking starts with observation. Observation of extreme users (real users). Observe the “what” and ask “why” is this behaviour happening? Look for patterns or contradictions: KEEP IT SIMPLE, NON-JUDGEMENTAL. Be EMPATHETIC!

Design Thinking (Change) Tenants

  • Starts with the need (not look for a user for your solution)
  • Participative
  • Human-centered
  • Bias for Action
  • Comfort with uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Letting go, support the better idea

Other points:

  • Multidisciplinary teams
  • Dedicated space (leave stuff around, post on the walls, etc.)
  • Defined project timeline
  • 2:1:3 ratio (2 parts inspire, 1 part ideation, 3 parts implementation)

Voilà!  Looking forward to next year!


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