Archive for September, 2007

“It’s the Network”

its-network.jpgVerizon has been running a campaign of late depicting a massive crowd of their employees, there to provide service for every customer, under the phrase “It’s the Network” (my favorite is a recent TV spot with a loner biker pulling away from a middle-of-nowhere diner).

It’s not a bad campaign idea, actually – a way to distinguish your company in what is increasingly – at least on the surface – a commodity market (phones and phone/date service).

Then today I realized…they’re actually expressing one of the main “selling points” of my consulting business. When you talk over your training needs with me, you’re not just tapping into my expertise – you’re tapping into the vast and growing network of providers, consultants, and industry practitioners that I’ve built, and continue to build. Since vendors typically have their own narrower frame of reference, and folks in other companies may be limited in the extent of their experience (and perhaps a bit limited in what they can reveal to “outsiders”), that makes it hard to find a breadth of expertise for a training challenge.

That’s why there’s Impactiviti. Expertise…and, of course, the network!

Read Full Post »

On a serious note, a young Eli Lilly pharmaceutical sales rep (Nailah Franklin) has gone missing in the Chicago area. Picture and details here. (from PharmaGossip blog)

UPDATE, 9/27 – it appears that they have found her body this morning. Very sad.

Read Full Post »

Our medical system needs more creativity. I like what this young doctor is trying out as a new approach. Read the article AND the growing set of comments below it…

Read Full Post »

After Hours 9_21

What’s your real age? This fun calculator asks you some questions, then calculates your “real” age, and your life expectancy. After taking it, I came downstairs and told my wife that I had some good news and some bad news. Good news: she is now married to a 33-year old! Bad news: she’ll be stuck with me until I’m 91…

How to make a fun training video. Fixing the “turbo encabulator.”

Napa Valley vintner is king of his own wine castle.

Read Full Post »

I read this very stirring story yesterday in the Wall Street Journal (subscription may be required). Be sure to click the link to the video at the end of the story. Well worth the next 5 minutes of your time!

A Beloved Professor Delivers the Lecture of a Lifetime

Randy Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon University computer-science professor, was about to give a lecture Tuesday afternoon, but before he said a word, he received a standing ovation from 400 students and colleagues.

He motioned to them to sit down. “Make me earn it,” he said.

They had come to see him give what was billed as his “last lecture.” This is a common title for talks on college campuses today. Schools such as Stanford and the University of Alabama have mounted “Last Lecture Series,” in which top professors are asked to think deeply about what matters to them and to give hypothetical final talks. For the audience, the question to be mulled is this: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance?

It can be an intriguing hour, watching healthy professors consider their demise and ruminate over subjects dear to them. At the University of Northern Iowa, instructor Penny O’Connor recently titled her lecture “Get Over Yourself.” At Cornell, Ellis Hanson, who teaches a course titled “Desire,” spoke about sex and technology.

At Carnegie Mellon, however, Dr. Pausch’s speech was more than just an academic exercise. The 46-year-old father of three has pancreatic cancer and expects to live for just a few months. His lecture, using images on a giant screen, turned out to be a rollicking and riveting journey through the lessons of his life.

He began by showing his CT scans, revealing 10 tumors on his liver. But after that, he talked about living. If anyone expected him to be morose, he said, “I’m sorry to disappoint you.” He then dropped to the floor and did one-handed pushups.

Clicking through photos of himself as a boy, he talked about his childhood dreams: to win giant stuffed animals at carnivals, to walk in zero gravity, to design Disney rides, to write a World Book entry. By adulthood, he had achieved each goal. As proof, he had students carry out all the huge stuffed animals he’d won in his life, which he gave to audience members. After all, he doesn’t need them anymore.

He paid tribute to his techie background. “I’ve experienced a deathbed conversion,” he said, smiling. “I just bought a Macintosh.” Flashing his rejection letters on the screen, he talked about setbacks in his career, repeating: “Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.” He encouraged us to be patient with others. “Wait long enough, and people will surprise and impress you.” After showing photos of his childhood bedroom, decorated with mathematical notations he’d drawn on the walls, he said: “If your kids want to paint their bedrooms, as a favor to me, let ’em do it.”

While displaying photos of his bosses and students over the years, he said that helping others fulfill their dreams is even more fun than achieving your own. He talked of requiring his students to create videogames without sex and violence. “You’d be surprised how many 19-year-old boys run out of ideas when you take those possibilities away,” he said, but they all rose to the challenge.

He also saluted his parents, who let him make his childhood bedroom his domain, even if his wall etchings hurt the home’s resale value. He knew his mom was proud of him when he got his Ph.D, he said, despite how she’d introduce him: “This is my son. He’s a doctor, but not the kind who helps people.”

He then spoke about his legacy. Considered one of the nation’s foremost teachers of videogame and virtual-reality technology, he helped develop “Alice,” a Carnegie Mellon software project that allows people to easily create 3-D animations. It had one million downloads in the past year, and usage is expected to soar.

“Like Moses, I get to see the Promised Land, but I don’t get to step foot in it,” Dr. Pausch said. “That’s OK. I will live on in Alice.”

Many people have given last speeches without realizing it. The day before he was killed, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke prophetically: “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place.” He talked of how he had seen the Promised Land, even though “I may not get there with you.”

Dr. Pausch’s lecture, in the same way, became a call to his colleagues and students to go on without him and do great things. But he was also addressing those closer to his heart.

Near the end of his talk, he had a cake brought out for his wife, whose birthday was the day before. As she cried and they embraced on stage, the audience sang “Happy Birthday,” many wiping away their own tears.

Dr. Pausch’s speech was taped so his children, ages 5, 2 and 1, can watch it when they’re older. His last words in his last lecture were simple: “This was for my kids.” Then those of us in the audience rose for one last standing ovation.

Link to (brief) video of presentation.

UPDATE: here is a follow-up story, which includes a link to the FULL video of the speech

Read Full Post »

A summary of the belt-tightening state of Big Pharma right now, from Med Ad News.

From ABC, Ten Health Advances that have changed the world.

Americans trust the FDA more than pharma companies.

Pfizer’s new anti-smoking pill (Chantix) taking off.

Bayer and Genzyme get expanded labelling for oncology drug Campath.

Celgene reports great financial results due to sales of blood cancer drug Revlimid.

Outsmarting cancer with targeted drug combos.

Application to use Takeda‘s Amitiza for IBS-C accepted by FDA.

Allergan to acquire NJ-based Esprit Pharma.

Novartis to slash sales and marketing jobs in a cost-saving move.

Tamoxifen effective for bipolar disorder?

Read Full Post »

For years, many companies have gotten away with an assessment approach that consisted of little more than easy self-assessment questions within learning modules, and a few tests during initial sales training (often compromised and copied with cheating rampant) to show that some kind of benchmark learning had taken place.

This approach doesn’t cut it anymore.

Just as training curriculum design and development has to be approached strategically, rightly evaluating learning effectiveness requires an assessment strategy. Here are some of the questions that need to be considered:

    1. Are our tests/questions truly valid – that is, do they map to learning objectives, and are they written properly?
    2. Are our tests/questions secure, or have they been compromised?
    3. Who writes and reviews our tests? Are they qualified?
    4. What constitutes “passing” a test, and why? What is our policy and practice on re-takes and remediation?
    5. Are we using on-line technologies effectively for delivery, tracking, scoring, reporting, and analysis?
    6. How does our testing fit into the overall corporate approach to retention (this gets into the area of “governance,” wherein assessment has to be looked at not merely in a learning role, but in its business/HR implications).
    7. What data analysis will we do on test results to measure validity and effectiveness?
    8. What security and reporting measures do we have in place for test results, in case of audit by outside entities (such as lawyers and regulators)?

Why is all this important?

  • Testing that does not truly measure acquired learning puts you at risk for having unqualified reps in the field.
  • A properly-designed assessment program adds much-needed accountability to the training process
  • A poorly-designed assessment program puts the company at risk in case of lawsuits for unfair dismissal (e.g., a rep is fired for off-label promotion, then claims he/she was not properly trained. Do you have electronic records validating that proper training and testing occurred in this case?)

If you are experiencing the symptoms of ADD, give Impactiviti a call. We can help get you on the road toward success in your assessment program.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »