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Archive for July, 2006

Is training the right word?

I must confess, I have felt an ongoing sense of dissatisfaction with the word “training” – along with its many cousin terms, such as “teaching,” “performance support,” “mentoring,” etc.

Not that there is anything wrong with the terms themselves, or that they don’t possess valid descriptions and distinctions. I just have a tendency – probably “compulsion” is more accurate – to try to find universal themes that provide a comprehensive framework around the particulars. To put it more simply, let’s ask the key question: What’s the point?

Are these things ends in themselves? Or is there a larger goal that encompasses all of these activities, and other related endeavors (parenting, school-teaching, pastoring, etc.)? I believe there is.

I have five children. Many of my professional colleagues work to develop dozens of employees. And our goal is not simply to impart knowledge, or to train to perform a set of tasks. It is to equip – that is, to impart what is needed to to live and labor successfully. When a teacher, a trainer, a parent, a pastor, a drill sergeant, or a coach stands in front of his/her “audience,” the point is to make those under his/her influence better able to function and thrive. Nothing less.

What is involved in equipping others? Here’s a rough outline of steps, under the categories of Ready – Set – Go:

Ready

1. Understand the current reality of the person and context – this gives clarity.

2. Point to the desired goals (actions, attitudes, end points) – this gives direction.

3. Show/be a good example/model – this gives hope.

Set

4. Provide the correct environment (positive, helpful “management”) – this gives support.

5. Impart the right knowledge (the right amount, at the right time, in the right way) – this gives enlightenment.

6. Provide motivating incentives – this gives drive.

Go

7. Map out attainable steps of progress – this gives confidence.

8. Provide the right feedback (reinforcement and correction) – this gives guidance and confirms success.

Whether we’re looking at personal development (character, mind, affect, societal and family roles) or professional development (roles and skills), the end point and the process is the same.

All of which implies one very crucial thing – a manager, a trainer, a coach, a parent, a teacher, or any other type of influencer must, at the core, be a servant. Because, ultimately, we are expending ourselves to make someone better. To equip is to give - and I would submit that there is no higher honor than to occupy that role.

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Some good bytes on training evaluation.

Get the latest pharma news releases every day.

A great site to order wine on-line (warning: visiting NJ store can be dangerous for your wallet!)

And, just for fun….some amazing sand sculptures.

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Actually, you can’t just hang out a shingle and say, “Here I am!” So far, here are the steps I’ve had to take getting impactiviti off the ground:

- Find a unique niche – the best way to succeed is to find, or create, an offering that doesn’t yet exist. In most cases, it helps if someone actually wants that offering. An on-line Personalized Volcano Warning System for New England residents, for instance, may not constitute a viable niche.

- Find a unique name – you can’t imagine how challenging this is, what with all the “obvious” words dot-commed and/or trademarked (All Good URLs Taken).

- Have sufficient financing in place – start-up and ramp-up is going to involve some risk, unless the Gates Foundation decides that you already possess a vaccine that prevents all human folly (if you do, please send me a vial for QA and review purposes).

- Create a business entity – I established an LLC, and used LegalZoom for this; a very easy and affordable service!

- Reserve web address – I took impactiviti.com, and decided to point to this blog as my initial website.

- Meet with an accountant – indispensable; I’m glad I already knew one, who was highly recommended.

- Set up e-mail, contact management, and calendar services – I chose the very nice (and free) Yahoo and Google offerings. Once you start digging into all that these portals do, it’s pretty amazing.

- Set up home computing and network – this was mostly in place but needed some additions, such as a very nice Dell Inspiron laptop. While eventually I’ll go fully wireless, right now I’m using Powerline networking (Phonex), which allows networking of PCs through household wiring.

- Register business name/entity – has to be done with the state and county. Everyone wants a fee, especially in New Jersey, the capital of Fee Enterprise. Through the LegalZoom process, I also obtained a Federal Tax ID number.

- Insurance of various types – ugggh. And you can’t just write in your business plan, “Nothing will go wrong and no-one will get sick for a 2-year period.” This type of calculated wish does not work.

- Phone service – right now, going strictly cellular.

- Bookkeeping – QuickBooks. Applied for a business credit card that will download monthly statements directly into QuickBooks, to save admin pain.

- Logo – fortunately, I know some great graphical designers who don’t mind doing favors! Thanks, Greta and Becca.

- Stationery, labels, office nonsense – all this stuff can be easily ordered on-line,from companies like VistaPrint and OfficeMax/Staples/OfficeDepot.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few minor things, but those are the main practical tasks. It’s not for the faint of heart, but then again, if you do your due diligence and have some helpful contacts, it’s really not that daunting. And, even if you make mistakes, there’s comfort in knowing that some good may come of it! :>)

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A new start

And so, impactiviti is born.

I’m now on my own. Being creative. Feeling excited. And enjoying a bit of naive optimism! Confident that, however this business evolves, I can add value to my clients.

The ideas, the goals, the perspectives that have led me to form my own business have been gestating for many years. Having accomplished all that I could in my prior position, I did a lot of due diligence re:other opportunities, but couldn’t escape the conviction that the due date for building impactiviti was NOW.

I don’t know how much I’ll share on this blog about the process of starting up a consulting practice in life sciences training. One thing I will share, however, is what I believe is my prime set of “deliverables.” Knowledge. Resources. Clear thinking. And a dash of humor (particularly on Fridays, starting later in August)!

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