Your personal learning cloud

Your Personal Learning Cloud

The Harvard Business Review edition of March-April 2019 includes an article about the evolution of leadership development. The authors describe the dynamics of it and how future leadership development will be organized. They also describe the gap between traditional executive education. This gap creates room for more tailored and democratic approaches. For instance, a Personal learning Cloud.

The need for leadership development

Nowadays, we live in a volatile, complex, ambiguous and uncertain environment. Companies do realize that this environment requires leadership skills and organizational capabilities that differs from what was needed in the past. You can compare it with the rise of the right-brain leaders as described by Daniel Pink in his book ‘A whole new mind’. He mentions that we’re no longer working in a knowledge environment. Instead, we live in a conceptual age that requires creators and emphasizers.

Next to that organizations realize that leadership is not only limited to the C-suite, but is required within all levels of the organization. As former President Obama said: ‘leadership is everyone’s businesses’. Leadership is about knowing the situations in which you can add value, and about curious being able to take action in those situations.

Thirdly, leadership development is part of a lifelong learning.

Root causes of the gaps in traditional executive education

Traditional leadership development approaches no longer meet the needs of the organizations and/or individuals. This is due to three reasons:

  1. Gap in motivations. Organizations, which pay for leadership development, don’t always benefit as much as individual learners do.
  2. Gap between the skills that executive development programs build and those that firms require. Providers don’t offer the soft skills development organizations need. Instead, they are focused on teaching cognitive skills.
  3. Gap in skills transfer. It’s often difficult to apply lessons learned in class to the real world.

Powerful trends in leadership development

The leadership development industry is changing. The traditional players, like business schools, corporate universities and big consultancy firms, are no longer leading per definition. As demand grows for executive education that is customizable, trackable, and measurably effective, ‘competitors’ are emerging. Therefore, the landscape of providers is growing and does exists out of:

  • business schools with open and customized programs;
  • strategic and human resources consultancies;
  • corporate universities;
  • and remote personalized learning platforms.

The personal learning cloud

Because of the growing number of providers within the leadership development industry we are changing towards a tailored and democratic leadership development approach. The article refers to a Personal Learning Cloud (PLC) that is helping to close the gaps in traditional executive education. Such a Personal Learning Cloud includes components like MOOCs (massive open online courses), interactive online content, corporate training, talent management platforms and so on. It is basically a mixture of different forms of education and training. The PLC has four important characteristics:

  1. Learning is personalized because learners can choose what specific practice or course is right for them.
  2. The way of learning is socialized and is for example supported by forums and Q&A sessions.
  3. Learning is contextualized as a PLC allows people to learn in a workplace setting and helping to transfer the things they’ve learned into practice.
  4. Learning outcomes can be transparently tracked and (in some cases) authenticated by providing certificates, diplomas or degrees.

The future of leadership development

So, after we introduced blended learning within traditional leadership development organizations, it is time for the next round of changes. Nowadays, we have to see it from an interorganizational perspective, rather than from an intra-organizational perspective. The need for leadership development won’t be fulfilled by one party, but by multiple providers who offer cherry-picking content, modules and instructors from across the industry.

Personal development budget

Personal Development Budget - Velites

Your personal development budget

When organizations consider it’s important that its employees have sufficient opportunities for development and growth in the course of their career, they can implement a personal development budget. In this case, the company reserves a certain budget for each employee that he or she can spend on things that will further develop him or her. This can be for example doing a study program, joining conferences, buying literature or attending a workshop.

Do you have a personal development budget?

A personal development budget can be part of your personal secondary labor conditions or can be required according to your collective labor agreement. But you can also ask for it yourself, without something mentioned in an agreement. A lot of companies mention that their employees are their biggest asset and therefore they want to invest in them. So, if you find a good training, workshop or conference, ask your supervisor to get it funded.

In The Netherlands the average personal development budget is 949 euro per year per employee. But not all organizations do have such a budget. And next to that, when there is a budget it isn’t always known. Dutch research showed that almost 25 percent of the employees don’t know if they do have a personal development budget. So, if you don’t know start asking for it.

If your employer doesn’t work with a personal development budget or you have your own company, there is no reason to not start working on a fund for personal development. In many countries, it is the people themselves, saving money for personal development. They put, for example, each month a specific amount in a special fund that they only use for things that will further develop them.

How to get the best out of your personal development budget?

The most important person in the decision making about spending your personal development budget is you. It is not your manager or supervisor who tells you how to spend the budget. It is you telling them where you want to spend the budget on and why.

But, how do you make such a decision? In this case it is important to do a needs assessment, where do you stand now and what do you want to achieve? Do you want to broaden your skills or want to become the expert in your area? Do you prefer a short workshop or a long-term program? What do you want to achieve with your personal development budget?

The answers will guide you towards the best way of spending the budget for you. This differs from person to person and that’s why it is called a personal development budget. When you have a personal development plan it is great. The plan can help you to answer the questions above and guides you through your personal development.

Budget is not everything

Having a budget helps you in a world of lifelong learning. However, only having a budget doesn’t make you developing yourself. In fact, in the Netherlands 40% of the personal development budget isn’t used. Often the costs are the most important reason to not do a course, but also time and coaching play a huge role.

Development needs to be a priority for both the employee and the employer. The organization can support this by providing specific training-days for employees. However, the most important person is you. You need to give the priority to your personal development. The HR-department or your supervisor can help you by showing different ways of development and helps you to decide what fits you. But at the end, it’s your development.


Creative quotient

creative quotient | Velites: implementation, interaction & leadership

Creative quotient

You might have done an IQ or EQ-test before, to measure your human or emotional intelligence. But, did you ever hear of the CQ-test? Next to the cultural quotient, this abbreviation is also used to measure your creativity, expressiveness and applied innovation: your creative quotient.

What is creativity?

Professor Romey describes creativity as: “the ability to combine ideas, things, techniques, or approaches in a new way.” It is about a new combination of existing concepts. The idea itself doesn’t have to be revolutionary, but they should be new for the thinker, according to Marwaha. Creativity is all about pulling existing knowledge into a new situation, where the creator quickly sorts through potential outcomes. 

In his essay ‘What is your creative quotient’ Romey explains the four main stages of the creative process:

  1. The creative process starts with a period of mental labor and deep involvement in a problem;
  2. The next stage is the incubation period. During this period  we drop the idea for a while to see if anything will hatch;
  3. The third stage is the period of illumination, also called the ‘Ah-ha!’ period;
  4. The last stage is a period of elaboration and refinement of an idea.

Why is creativity important?

When you learn new things by using your creativity studies show that you retain conceptual and factual information longer. It also helps you to acquire certain behavioral patterns and skills that will help you to solve problems. You might link creativity to ‘out-of-the-box thinking’. Here you can find new solutions for a problem by combining existing concepts as well.  Creative thinking helps you to generate answers to problems.

Creativity and leadership

We often associate creativity with people in artistic professions. Think about writers, dancers, painters or musicians. However, in today’s world it is increasingly important for organizations to rely on creative thinking. This in order to be able to distinguish themselves from competition, for example.

IBM interviewed in 2010 more than 1500 CEO’s from 60 countries for a global CEO study. One of the questions in the survey was: what’s the most important quality for leadership? The answer was: creativity. Creativity is key as creative leaders invite disruptive innovation, invent new business models, and are able to change the status quo. Even though the research was done in 2010, global CEO-studies keep on repeating the importance of creativity for leaders.

How do you measure creativity?

Creativity is measured via a CQ-test (creative quotient). There are different tests. All of them do exists out of questions where you have to think about what you can see in a picture, how words are related to each other and so on. Based on your outcome you’ll fall into one of the categories from very creative to not creative at all. Personally, I did the CQ-test via I like this test as it not only gives you a score, but also the foundation of your score. This is based on 8 different metrics: abstraction, connection, perspective, curiosity, boldness, paradox, complexity, and persistence. Compared to a test where you are only being put in a box, this outcome gives you a lot more information.

How to improve your creative quotient?

Creativity is something that you can learn and develop through effort and experience. Creativity is a process. It is not about who we are, but about something we do, and there is a huge range of tools and techniques that you can use to develop your skills, according to Dr. Stewart, head of leadership and organization performance at Kaplan University.

To develop your creative problem-solving skills you can focus on three major areas of expertise: multidisciplinary collaboration, human-centered design, and a culture of experimentation. With multidisciplinary collaboration you’ll get new perspectives due to the unique background, knowledge and skills of each individuals. With human-centered design you put the end-user first when designing products, services or policies. It helps to understand your customer and get rid of assumptions, blocking us in our creativity. When you create a culture of experimentation you will give the floor to your creative mindset. Rapid prototyping, brainstorming and so on are part of this culture. It helps you as well to get creative confidence. And it is required to invite disruptive innovations, invent new business models, and alter the status quo.

Leadership age

How old is a leader? - Velites blog about implementation, interaction and leadership

Legal leadership age

There is a law in place to determine the minimum drinking age, the minimal smoking age, the minimum age to gamble, to get married and to drive a car. But at what age are you ready to become a leader?

Born or made?

In the first place we have to see what is needed in order to become a leader, which lead us to the discussion if leaders are born or made. There is much research done on this topic and still a lot of different views. The one which fits me the most is the combination of both: leaders are born and then made. There are certain people who naturally have the ambition to inspire others, who have a clear vision, who can talk really easily and who are not afraid of changes. But leadership training and real-life experience will help you to grow into that role.

Leadership skills

Secondly, we have to investigate which skills are critical for a leader. In that way we can determine at what age you can learn these skills. Roselinde Torres provides in her TED Talk three questions to answer to determine if you are a great leader in the 21st century. The first one is the questions how your agenda is set, to determine if you’re shaping the future and anticipate change or not. The second one is about the diversity of your network: do people, who completely differ from yourself, trust you and want to cooperate with you to reach certain goals? And lastly, are you courageous enough to abandon the past. Are you instead of applying the same method over and over again, thinking about ways to get is done differently? Looking at these three questions you might have learned this during school at a young age. But I believe, but the more you practice, the better you’ll become.

3 generations on the work floor

A leader needs its followers in order to have an impact and get things moving. You might have seen the video about how movement starts. In the dancing scene you see one person starting, a second one steps by and at the end a whole group is dancing. But with three generations on the work floor you might wonder if there are enough people to be the first follower. Are they in for a new challenge, but more importantly: do they trust you enough to decide they’ll cooperate and follow?

Young leader disadvantage

Research has shown that it is harder for leaders under 40 years old to get followers and being accepted as a leader by other employees. This compared to leaders that are older. Reason for this is because other people think there is a lack of expertise and status due to a younger age. Expertise and status is something that comes along during your life. But this doesn’t mean it’s impossible to be a leader at a young age.

Leadership age

One of our youngest world leader is 33 years old and founders of Spotify, Airbnb and Facebook are all less than 35 years old. But same time we see a lot of CEO-positions filled by people over 50 years old. Is the older CEO doing it better due to more life-experience? Or might the younger CEO in fact has the same experiences done in a shorter time-frame? One thing to take into consideration is as well your real age and how old someone does really feel. And someone who has young looks, but in fact is much older. In the end it falls back on expertise and status. Expertise you can learn, status you can deserve, no matter how old you are.

Lifelong learning

Lifelong learning: Velites insights in implementation, interaction and leadership

Lifelong learning

When I studied in Amsterdam I was fascinated by a lady of 78 years old who worked in front of our class on her master degree in law. She didn’t have to work anymore and she didn’t have to prove herself any longer. But still she wanted to obtain her master degree in law. Just out of curiosity and her internal motivation to explore.  Continue reading “Lifelong learning”