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TCPI News Vol. 1, No. 8

June 11, 2001

In this issue:

  1. The Better Mousetrap Needs a Marketing Boost
  2. Are You Surviving or Thriving?
  3. Can Your Earn While They Learn?

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1.     The Better Mousetrap Needs a Marketing Boost

Have you ever had an idea that you find so compelling, so exciting in its application and practicality that you assume the world at large will embrace it with open arms? Flight comes to mind, along with radio, television, disposable diapers, and, for some, e-learning. Think about it: eliminate travel, do it anytime, be wired. So, why all the resistance?

In a recent report produced by ASTD and the MASIE Center, the statistics are somewhat daunting for the wide acceptance of e-learning among corporate citizens. The study looked at start rates for 29 courses at 16 companies. Here are some of the findings:

The report catalogs many reasons for e-learning being a non-starter among those studied, and the details are worth reading. However, the issues are summarized this way:

"In general, the results revealed that the most successful e-learning courses are those that are well advertised and championed, and those for which ample completion time and support are provided during working hours."

The study was only concerned with who actually starts a course, and did not look into completion rates which, the report states, "…are notoriously low." For more information, see The Learning Technology Acceptance Study press release.

Another recent article in OnlineLearning magazine supports the need for aggressive marketing, and even suggests incentives to get people to sign up for e-learning. "We treat all our training offerings, online or not, like they’re product launches," says Kara Underwood of Aspect Communications Corp., who does a marketing plan and beta testing before classes begin. "You just have to do more of it for e-learning," she explains. See "A Tough Audience."

Here are six assumptions to be avoided when launching an e-learning effort.

  1. People are going to love it.
  2. They will be willing to do it on their own time.
  3. If they start it, they will finish it.
  4. If it’s out there, they will find it.
  5. Everyone can learn this way.
  6. Nobody will miss all that demanding interaction and social exchange that takes place at a traditional off-site.

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2.    Are You Surviving or Thriving?

Survivors of reorganization are subject to the same feelings as victims. Often overwhelmed with guilt at having survived the big lay-off, survivors need to "come to grips with their new reality and convert their surviving into thriving." So write Dr. Marvin Gottlieb and Lori Conkling in their timely work, Managing the Survivors: Organizational Downsizing and the Commitment Gap.

People charged with managing, training, or supporting survivors of a reorganization will meet resistance at first. A noticeable drop in morale will occur as the result of complex set of emotional responses on the part of the survivor including, confusion, guilt, anger, and isolation. It is helpful to know that this is a transitional period for the survivor and those charged with their stewardship.

If the organization provides well-designed change management initiatives, the survivor will go through three phases in their transition from Survivor to Thriver. The first phase, acknowledgment, is marked by anxiety, guilt, disorientation, disengagement, and a commitment gap toward the organization.

The second phase, transition, begins with the survivor expressing anger and concern, and then questioning, evaluating, and confronting the personal and organizational issues involved. Finally, the survivor’s behavior turns toward bonding with other survivors, planning, and thinking towards the future.

In the final phase, realignment, the survivor becomes a thriver: being refocused and informed, possessing direction with personal as well as professional objectives, and achieving a higher level of trust and authority.

Gottlieb and Conkling recognize three levels of thriver within the organization. Which category do you fall into? You may see yourself in all three categories. In fact, thriving may occur at all three levels simultaneously, and often does for those who are successful at managing change in their lives.

Career Thrivers are those who are dedicated and committed to their individual strengths and talents, and are able to develop an inner security core. "Survivors will realize that no one person or organization can take this away–unless you let them."

Organization Thrivers are successful players in the organizational arena because they are loyal to their careers. They have accepted the idea that they will provide their talents to the corporation for a period of time. "They can contribute the best of their talents to the success of the organization because they are the best they can be."

Personal Thrivers are successful because "ultimately, [they] feel, act, and think as winners in all aspects of life."

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Learn More

Learn more about Gottlieb and Conkling's book, Managing the Workplace Survivors: Organizational Downsizing and the Commitment Gap.

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3.     Meetings -- More or Less?

A recent survey by Lyra Research's Content Intelligence Group indicates that about 20 million U.S. Web users say that they have paid for online content. There were apparently two overriding reasons why people were willing to plunk down money for content:

(1) the site was the only place where they could get what they wanted (43 percent), or
(2) they paid because they were curious about the content (39 percent).

Among those willing to pay, 90% were motivated by personal interest or entertainment desires. Fully 45% of those who paid for Web content bought adult-rated material. While there was no category for e-learning, the next two most popular paid-for Web content categories were work-related subjects: industry-specific business sites (27 percent) and online database services (18 percent). Music/video sites or specialized premium news sites followed with 10%.

John McIntyre, managing editor of Content Intelligence, provides an interpretation. He indicates that the data suggest that successfully selling content on the Internet requires not only developing a compelling and unique content offering but also careful targeting of an audience's personal desires or business needs. He also reports that as the length of Web experience grows from one year to four, the likelihood of buying content more than doubles. "This is good news for the future of an industry that has endured a tidal wave of failed business models."

So, what’s the lesson here? Maybe the world is not yet ready for a full-blown commitment to e-learning. It is perhaps a cautionary tale for those who are planning the next killer online training program that will bring fire to the cave, and light to the masses. Wide acceptance of e-learning may be coming, but what do we do in the meantime? does 1-(900) TRN-BABE sound?

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Are you looking for ways to be more productive?

Read Getting Things Done in Today’s Organization: The Influencing Executive, by Marvin R. Gottlieb (Quorum Books, 1999). This book is written for front-line, middle, and senior level managers, training, and other human resource professionals who need the cooperation of others in order to get their jobs done.

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