Tag Archives: learning

Credit Hour– Debatable Currency of Learning, Degrees, Credentials: Re-Examine Role of Credit Hours In Education

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Credit hour (or course credit, or credit, or credit unit, or student hour, or Carnegie unit) is the currency for academic degrees and credentials used in most colleges, universities, other educational institutions… Sometimes simplest concepts are most problematic, for example; the notion of the ‘credit hour’, which seems like a self-evident term: One earns a college ‘credit’ for an ‘hour’ of academic work. But quantifying work is a very complicated affair and one ‘hour’ of work is often a misnomer… According to Michael Arnzen; the ‘credit hour’ could be an anachronism, given various asynchronous methods of learning (as in online courses), and other changes that electronic media and new approaches to teaching have on the notion of ‘time’ spent learning…

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The ‘credit hour’ is a cornerstone to the administration of student learning-education; it’s the basis for evaluating student entry into college, determining student completion of course work, degrees… faculty workload, efficiency, and evaluation are rooted in this unit… However, many are critical of the ‘credit unit’ due to the arbitrary use of ‘time’ as basis for measuring education attainment. Generally, the criticism is that student learning varies greatly even among individuals who are taught the same material. Variations are even greater among the various faculty members, departments, topics, schools, colleges, universities… This has become an even greater concern in this era of distance learning and telecommunication. Frustration is particularly high among those involved with transfer of credit among institutions… Unfortunately, the credit hour has become a proxy for student learning…

Credit Hour vs. Competency: According to Celia R. Baker; the credit hour’s clout is weakening, however, with a dawning realization that four years spent in college does not guarantee success at a job. A 2006 study by National Center for Education Statistics show; 69% of college graduates could not perform basic tasks, such as; comparing opposing newspaper editorials or comparing cost per ounce of different foods. According to Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa in their book; Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses: When 2,300 students at many four-year colleges took the ‘Collegiate Learning Assessment’ to measure higher-level skills taught at college, 45% didn’t demonstrate significant improvement in learning during the first two years of college and 36% did not demonstrate significant learning over four years of college…

A survey by the Association of American College and Universities show; one-third of employers said ‘no’ when asked if college graduates are well-prepared to succeed in entry-level positions in their companies. And when employers drill down to grades on transcripts when screening job applicants, it’s hard to tell what graduates know… Grade inflation can be blamed for that.. According to the Teachers College Record, in 2008, 43% of all college grades were A’s and in 1961, the number stood at 15%… According to Judith Easton; the idea of increasing competency measures at universities is highly desirable, because ‘seat’ time doesn’t tell everything– it’s not an ‘outcome’ measure... decisions about restructuring outcome measures should rest with colleges and universities, not government… even though credit hours are the basis for the government’s Pell grants to students, which amounts to billions of dollars…

In the article  Curious Birth and Harmful Legacy of the Credit Hour by Amy Laitinen writes: Time-based units were never intended to be a measure of student learning. In the early 1900s, Andrew Carnegie was troubled that most professors made too little money to save for retirement created a free pension system administered by Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In order for colleges to participate in the program, they had to adopt a standard unit for admissions, which was based on a system used at the high-school level that measured time spent on a subject…

But colleges didn’t stop there. Carnegie’s pension system spurred them to convert their course offerings into time-based units to determine faculty workload thresholds to qualify for free pensions. And so credit hour became the fundamental building block of courses and degree programs in higher education… Unfortunately, it has also become the primary proxy for learning… The Carnegie Foundation did not intend for this to happen and now it believes it’s time to consider how a revised unit, based on ‘competency’ rather than ‘time’, could improve teaching and learning in high schools, colleges, universities. Theoretically, colleges supplement the credit-hour count with an objective measure of how much students learned: Grades... But it’s hard to reconcile that measure with the research suggesting that nearly two-thirds of provosts and chief academic officers think grade inflation is a serious problem: In 1961, 15% of undergraduate course grades were A’s; today more than 40% are A’s.

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While the stated mission of higher education may be about learning, the research findings on poor learning outcomes and rampant grade inflation, along with the difficulty of credit transfer, tell a different story… Without broader agreement about learning outcomes, credits and the value of degrees will remain opaque. Measuring ‘time’ is easy, but measuring ‘learning’ is hard. However, that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done… Federal policy can help catalyze such efforts by leveraging the government’s authority to use financial aid– a huge incentive for institutions to pay for learning. Today the multibillion-dollar federal financial-aid system runs on the credit hour. And it gets only what it pays for: Time… As higher education becomes increasingly necessary and expensive, measuring ‘time’ rather than ‘learning’ is a luxury that students, taxpayers, and the nation can no longer afford. While Carnegie’s free money for pensions dried up long ago, the federal government is spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to pay for time-based credits and degrees of dubious value… Paying for what students learn and can do, rather than how or where they spend their time, would go a long way toward providing students and the nation with desperately needed, high-quality degrees and credentials.

In the article Hour by Hour by Paul Fain  writes: An over-reliance on the credit hour, which links the awarding of academic credit to hours of contact between professors and students, has led to many of higher education’s problems… There is very compelling evidence that what we have right now isn’t working… The standard of one credit hour for each hour of faculty-student contact time per week falls short, because the credit hour does not measure learning… Grades are supposed to do that, but plenty of research has identified problems with grade inflation. And even if grades did work, the credit hour still wouldn’t allow flexibility for students to learn at different speeds…

As a result, the credit hour is at the intersection of three of higher education’s thorniest issues: Cost, Time, Quality. However, blowing up the credit hour won’t be easy, in part because it’s so convenient, and reforms need to be both thoughtful and deliberate: Define the credit hour too tightly and innovation would be stifled. Define it too loosely and taxpayers would get taken for a ride… Several colleges have experimented with decoupling college credit from ‘seat’ time using ‘competency-based education’ to challenge status quo, and tie credits to ‘direct assessment’ of student competencies, rather than a traditional credit-hour calculation…

In the article Defense of the Credit Hour by Richard Schur writes: I like the credit hour and I know that I should embrace an educational structure that measures ‘learning’ and not ‘time’. A standard that embraces self-paced learning, experiential learning, competency-based tools, many people argue, is better than one that marks the time students have endured in a class. Furthermore, the credit-hour standard is expensive to deliver, and inefficient in linking ‘seat’ time to actual ‘learning'; making it impossible for institutions to realize the productivity gains associated with technological advances… But I find myself being quite conservative and traditional on the subject. I want to save the image, if not the reality, of a teacher and class meeting together over a semester, quarter, or trimester to explore a set of questions…

Education takes time and must happen in a particular space, either physical or virtual… I believe, perhaps foolishly, that education is a process, not a destination. Education is not reducible to a set of facts or skills. Rather, it’s about a way of being in the world, a set of habits, which help develop curiosity and wonder… An education is beginning, not an end… My paradigm for teaching comes from Socrates… If we read Socrates carefully, we understand that it’s not learning that he valued, but wisdom and virtue– knowing when to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason. Having the time to think and reflect is not the luxury that many of the critics of the ‘credit hour’ claim it is. From the perspective of the classic liberal-arts tradition, taking the time for deep thought and reflection is what makes a human. To deny our students that experience is to diminish their humanity…

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The higher education model hasn’t changed much in hundreds of years: Academic years are divvied up into semesters, which are made up of courses, for which students earn credits. When students have slogged through enough semesters to earn plenty of credits, they are granted a degree or some sort of credential… According to Daniel Greenstein; many of today’s students aren’t interested in a classic college experience of dorms and all-nighters. Rather, they need college to be ‘unbundled’, and to be able to integrate it selectively, sometimes a course at a time, into their busy and full lives… Hence, new academic models are emerging that offer the flexibility needed by students whose education occurs in fits and starts. We need to do a better job preparing students for post-secondary programs, so that they can make informed decisions about which education path is right for them. And, need to more fully explore how to deliver a personalized learning experience to all students– one that is both productive and affordable…

According to Robert W. Mendenhall; credit hour is the coin of the realm, but it’s badly in need of an update… it’s time we measured learning rather than time… we don’t need the credit hour as a pricing measure, financing measure, or even faculty-workload measure… According to Carol A. Twigg; the concept of a credit hour based on ‘seat’ time is a relic… but you must have some kind of a currency that can be traded.. The challenge is to find a way to measure the course content– whether it’s delivered at a distance or in an accelerated format… According to Mitchell L. Stevens; The credit hour by itself ‘isn’t a measure of quality, it’s about quantity’… At a time when the general public is questioning the cost and value of higher education, this could force the sector to measure quality in addition to quantity… But the question of what a credit hour means today, and in future, isn’t going away anytime soon…

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The 70/20/10 Rule: Google, Tweeter… Learning and Development…

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         “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower” ~ Steve Jobs

The 70/20/10 rule for “innovation” was instituted at Google by Eric Schmidt, CEO. This means that 70 percent of the company’s money is invested in areas relating to its core business of advertising and search, 20 percent in related but secondary businesses, and 10 percent for comparatively wild, new ideas. Google employees have 20% time – almost one day a week – in which they are free to pursue projects that are passionate about and think will benefit Google.

When Eric Schmidt first joined Google ‘one rule’ was handed to him by Brin and Page when he walked in the door: Don’t be evil. The other one is a formula he uses to stay on track while innovating:  70 percent of your time on the core business, 20 percent on related projects, and 10 percent on unrelated new businesses. What do you do with your 20 percent time? Well, 20 percent time applies to the technical staff.  It does not apply to sales or management. Here’s how it works for management: We spend 70 percent of our time on core search and ads. We spend 20 percent on adjacent businesses, ones related to the core businesses in some interesting way”. But, how do you enforce that 70/20/10 rule? “For a while we put the projects in different rooms. That way, if we were in one room too long, we knew we were not spending our time correctly. It was sort of a stupid device, but it worked quite well. Now we have people who actually manage this, so I know how I spend my time, and I do spend it 70/20/10″.

Recently, Google announced that CEO Eric Schmidt was stepping down and co-founder Larry Page was stepping in as CEO.  With Larry back as CEO, Google is looking to get back to their “Don’t Be Evil” days when employees pushed the limits of their core businesses while also making breakthroughs on the side into interesting and innovative side projects.  According to Larry Page the 70-20-10 rule will continue to be an important part of an employee’s life at Google. This 70/20/10  model dictates that, to cultivate innovation, employees of a company should utilize their time in the following ratio:

  • 70% of time should be dedicated to core business tasks.
  • 20% of time should be dedicated to projects related to the core business.
  • 10% of time should be dedicated to projects unrelated to the core business.

“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday” ~Abraham Lincoln

The 70/20/10 rule for “learning” concept was developed by The Human Resources Learning & Development Team at Princeton University, Center for Creative Leadership, and it’s specifically mentioned in The Career Architect Development Planner 3rd edition by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger. A self-directed learning process is a powerful model for facilitating and inspiring individual, group and organizational learning and development. This process is built upon three major principles:

  • Identification of gaps between one’s ideal self and real self. These gaps represent a primary motivator to learn and improve.
  • Creation and implementation of a challenging and realistic action plan for development that follows the 70/20/10 formula.
  • Ongoing development dialogue between learners and supervisors. Both have a responsibility to ensure that the entire learning process happens.

The 70/20/10 model is built upon how individuals internalize and apply what they learn based on how they acquire the knowledge, and includes:

  • 70% of learning & development takes place from real-life and on-the-job experiences, tasks, and problem solving.
  • 20% comes from feedback and from observing and working with role models.
  • 10% of learning and development comes from formal training.

Many leadership development programs apply the 70-20-10 rule for learning in reverse, with heavy emphasis on formal training, and little or no support or on-the-job experience.  As a result, development ends when the leader leaves the classroom. However, there are some industry formal training programs that integrate the 70-20-10 rule for sustained skill development and on-the-job knowledge transfer well beyond the program.

In the article “Newsman Learns by the 70:20:10 rule” by Graeme Philipson writes: Charles Jennings believes that most corporate learning initiatives are misplaced. “There is a ‘conspiracy of convenience’, which begins when a manager decides that some training might help his team perform better”.  Mr. Jennings says too many people assume that newly acquired knowledge and skills will automatically translate into performance improvement, which will then flow through into business benefit. “Too many learning professionals and managers are obsessed with transferring information into employees’ heads, even though they know that the amount of information is growing very quickly and that the nature of that information is changing. They also know that people’s work is constantly changing.

“These changes mean that knowledge workers actually need less knowledge to do their jobs than they did a generation ago. Mr. Jennings calls this the 70:20:10 rule. “About 70 per cent of organizational learning takes place on the job, through solving problems and through special assignments and other day-to-day activities. “Another 20 per cent occurs through drawing on the knowledge of others in the workplace, from informal learning, from coaching and mentoring, and from support and direction from managers and colleagues. Only 10 per cent occurs through formal learning, whether classroom, workshop or, more recently, e-learning. “But most organisations invest at least 80 per cent of their training budgets in formal learning…

In the blog “Urban Myth of the 70/20/10 Rule” by andrewl writes:  Just where did the 70/20/10 rule come from? Many management professionals are using it to accelerate the development of their top tier leaders. It is regarded as the best practice model for learning and development.  The premise is that 10 percent of learning time should be devoted to formal learning, so that participants gain a solid base of knowledge and skills.  20 percent of development should come from others such as coaching from a boss, peers, subject matter experts and mentors. Finally, 70 percent of learning should occur on the job, so that participants can learn by doing and immediately apply lessons from formal learning and others. Many organizations agree in theory, but getting it right is another matter altogether. Intuitively at first sight the 70/20/10 rule seems perfectly sensible. Spend most of your time learning in a real live work situation. Yet the true meaning of the rule when you dig into it is that 70 per cent should be experiential learning. This is not the same thing as doing it at work. For example “experiential” learning, where talk and chalk or classroom style delivery gives way to what is called “active learning”, is extremely effective at transforming behaviour, particularly in business organisations.

In contrast to talk and chalk, experiential learning makes greater demands on learners. Pioneer and expert on experiential learning Carl Roger’s argued it is essentially equivalent to personal change and growth. He claimed all human beings have a natural propensity to learn. To encourage this means: (1) setting a positive climate for learning, (2) clarifying the purposes of the learner(s), (3) organizing and making available learning resources, (4) balancing intellectual and emotional components of learning, and (5) sharing feelings and thoughts with learners but not dominating. The essence of Roger’s view is that the person must participate completely in the learning process and have control over its nature and direction.

Behind experiential learning lies the assumption that we seldom learn from experience unless we assess it, make sense of it through choosing our own goals, aims, ambitions and expectations. From these processes come insights, discoveries, and understanding. The pieces fall into place and the experience takes on added meaning in relation to other experiences. Experiential learning is therefore concerned with discovering and meeting learner’s needs and wants, through giving them an experience and hence learner-centered, a “hands on approach” and one of the most widely used descriptions is Kolb’s four stages of experiential learning. 

Critics like Philip Race, reject this kind of cyclical model as unrealistic, prescriptive and needlessly academic. Their simpler view is that learning stems from: practice, trial and error, having a go, repetition and experimenting. This can be entirely work-based, but equally one can create highly demanding situations outside of work that provide exactly Race’s requirements. Whatever the exact process, the point of experiential learning is that it designed to affect actual behaviours, whether in terms of attitude, skills or some other aspect of actual performance.

Even though experiential learning is such a powerful movement, talk and chalk continues to play a major role in much training and development in organizations. The question is why? The most obvious answer is that it easy and cheap to implement. Many organizations are reluctant to fully evaluate the effectiveness of their learning and development investment, so the actual evidence against talk and chalk often remains hidden. Another, perhaps more compelling reason, is that evaluating experiential learning is complex: is it a program, a teaching method, an exercise, or a work-based methodology?  One thing seems certain though, the 70/20/10 rule for learning is more akin to an urban myth. It suits an era in which investing in proper experiential learning can be conveniently attacked on cost grounds, rather than its effectiveness.

In the article “Let’s Kill a few Learning Holy Cows – 70:20:10 is Dead (or at least seriously ill)” by njh  writes: Organizations don’t learn.  Teams don’t learn.  Networks don’t learn.  People learn.  People can learn to perform (better) in organizational, network or team contexts; they can even learn in teams, but organizations and teams don’t learn. Individual learning is it.  But context is crucial. The role of the corporate learning organization is to develop human capability to execute business strategy.  A key skill of the members of the training team is therefore to work with business leaders to translate company goals and strategies into objectives that can be achieved via learning.  The goal of a learning program should be to “enable [employees/partners/customers…] to achieve [company objective].  Learning objectives should support the program goal.

The implication that often follows references to 70:20:10 is that we are wasting resources on formal training, and that social collaboration/informal learning is some sort of nirvana….Just ask two simple questions: (a) is 70:20:10 true, and (b) if so, how do we know?  Everyone in the learning space seems to assume (a) is true, but we all get a bit vague about (b).  The answer to (b) is almost always “because I read it in ____ (insert your favorite training magazine title)”…. A simple challenge: find the source of the 70:20:10 concept… The best that could be found was that the 70:20:10 rule for learning was never researched; it was conceptualized by Allen Tough in 1968 and put forward as a hypothesis, and formalized by Morgan McCall, Robert W. Eichinger, and Michael M. Lombardo at the Center for Creative Leadership, Princeton University

A final thought on the 70/20/10 rule for learning: To ensure that real learning takes place and endures, emphasize and encourage a holistic approach by integrating both formal and informal elements. The most effective way to learn and develop a new skill or behavior is to apply and practice it in real life situations. Learning and development philosophy is built upon how individuals internalize and apply what they learn based on how they acquire the knowledge. Many believe that the key elements to a successful learning process include both the “70/20/10 formula” and how individuals internalize and apply what they’ve learned.

            ~~~~~~~ 70/20/10 Rule for Twitter ~~~~~~~~

In the blog “Do You Comply with the 70-20-10 Rule for Twitter?” by editor, blog-DFW Renaissance, writes: Recently, @AnnWylie wrote a short piece in her PR/Writing newsletter titled “How to Make Your Tweets More Useful.” And it included (along with the very interesting information that the biggest day for tweeting is Tuesday) an explanation of @AngelaMaier‘s 70-20-10 rule, which recommends that:

  • 70 percent of your tweets share resources — blog postings, articles, opinions and tools
  • 20 percent of your tweets engage in conversations and connections
  • 10 percent of your tweets “chirp,” or chat about yourself, your life and your thoughts.

My scores, which I just got by counting my last 20 posts on Tweet deck, are more like:

  • 15% share resources
  • 60% engage in conversation
  • 25% updates on what I am doing.

However, I don’t go to twitter looking for articles; I go looking for people, for personality. Also, I’m looking for freedom and the surprising. I’m not alone in this. Back in January @ChrisBrogan wrote the post “You’re doing it all wrong?” where he does a complete send-up of the idea that twitter can even have “rules.” I mean, yes, you can make a list of ideas on how to tweet and call them “rules.” But really they’re only suggestions, guidelines. One of the big things about Twitter, I believe, is that there are no rules. There are a lot of different types on twitter and each has their own formula of tweet balance. There are some tweeds who are more than anything else like a morning DJ, blasting out news and notes from the scandalous to the profane. Others go on all day chatting with friends. Some really do give updates on what they are doing. Is this okay? With me, it’s okay. I feel you have to work out your twitter identity with fear and trembling.

The 70-20-10 rule is now being applied to Social Media in general, but most pointedly at Twitter. While references come up regularly across the Internet, the genesis of it seems to be Angela Maiers’ “Twitter Engagement Formula”…

  • Share Resources (70) –  Successful learning in the 21st Century is not what you know, but what you can share, so 70 % of my Twittertime is spent sharing others voices, opinions, and tools.
  • Collaborations (20) –  20% of my Tweets are directly responding, connecting, collaboration, and co-creating with like-minded Twitter colleagues. From these important tweets, lifelong professional and personal relationships have been forged.
  • Chit-Chat (10) – 10% of my Twittertalk is “chit-chat-how’s-your-hat” stuff. It is in these “trivial” details shared about working out, favorite movies, politics, and life in general that I connect with others as a human being.

This breakdown was further distilled by WebMarCom…

  • 70% of the time, listening and communicating
  • 20% of the time, adding information
  • 10% of the time, talk about you/your business

Or a slightly different twist by DFW Renaissance…

  • 70% of your tweets share resources — blog postings, articles, opinions and tools
  • 20% of your tweets engage in conversations and connections
  • 10% of your tweets “chirp,” or chat about yourself, your life and your thoughts.

When I started dissecting these breakdowns for myself to figure out what they had in common and what they were really driving at, it seemed like a very simple directive…

  • 70% – Give
  • 20% – Exchange
  • 10% – Take

In those brutally simple terms, the ‘Engagement Formula’ is not just good for Twitter or Social Media, but I would advocate it for life in general.

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Learning or Forgetting: What’s more important?

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One of the key issues facing business isn’t learning, it’s forgetting; according to some experts. Organizational “learning” (i.e., executive management programs, selling techniques and processes, technical skills, and team building, etc.) is one of the hottest management topics, but some say that “forgetting” (i.e., the old traditional ways of doing things) is far more important.

The enabler for constructive change, whether in business or persona is an ‘eraser’: “You can’t live without an eraser”. Some words of wisdom:

“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old (traditional) ones out.” – Dee Hock

“The greatest difficulty in the world is not for people to accept new ideas, but to make them forget about old (traditional) ideas”. –John Maynard Keynes

The old (traditional) image of the salesperson was as a mere glad-hander, someone whose only skill is “knowing how to talk to folks”. Think of the phases that come to mind when you think of a salesperson and selling. “A good salesperson is born not made”; “Selling is 90% luck”; “A real salesperson can sell ice to an Eskimos”.

Underlying all these adages is the view that it’s personality not understanding; temperament not training; magic not skill; make the top salespersons what they are. For many people in sales, Horatio Alger’s old “luck and pluck” is still the talisman to which we attribute the salesperson success.

In business-to-business selling, the traditional method or old way involves two false assumptions. It assumes, first, that all potential buyers can use your product or service, and second, that if you only “show and tell” the customer about it, they’ll appreciate the “obvious” benefits and rush to buy from you. These assumptions violate a central principle of business interaction: People buy for their own reasons, not yours. Traditional, product-focused selling ignores that fact.

On the other hand, “Strategic Selling” acknowledges this fact as central, and puts the burden for making the sale on both buyer and seller (it’s a joint-venture). It’s up to both the buyer and seller to move the process forward by mutually encouraging positive information flow. There’s no assumption suggesting that the customer already has a need for the seller’s product or service. On the contrary, the entire interactive process is geared to determine, up front, whether or not there really is a need.

Thus, Strategic Selling follows the natural order of decision-making and involves three distinct but interrelated thinking processes beginning with “cognitive thinking” which is understanding the customer’s concept/need, then “divergent thinking” regarding the available options to satisfy the need, and finally “convergent thinking” which is the selection of the best solution. This concept was developed by J.P. Guilford through his extensive clinical research and documented in his book ‘The Nature of Human Intelligence’.

The immediate benefit of this approach is an alignment between the salesperson and the customer’s decision-making process and gives the salesperson greater control and more flexibility by facilitating the customer’s natural way of thinking and decision-making.  And, in the longer-term, by establishing this constructive dialogue with the customer it enables the concept of No-Sell selling and a Win-Win outcome.

Win-Win means a highly valued and effective solution for the customer, and a long-term, profitable, and reference-able account for the salesperson.

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Learning or Forgeting: What’s more important?

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One of the key issues facing business isn’t learning, it’s forgetting, according to some experts. Organizational “learning” (i.e., executive management programs, selling techniques and processes, technical skills, and team building, etc.) is one of the hottest management topics, but some say that “forgetting” (i.e., the old traditional ways of doing things) is far more important. “You can’t live without an eraser”.

“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old (traditional) ones out.” – Dee Hock

“The greatest difficulty in the world is not for people to accept new ideas, but to make them forget about old (traditional) ideas”. –John Maynard Keynes

The old (traditional) image of the salesperson was a mere glad-hander, someone whose only skill is “knowing how to talk to folks”. Think of the phases that come to mind when you think of selling. “A good salesperson is born, not made”, “Selling is 90% luck”, “A real salesperson can sell ice to an Eskimos”. Underlying all these adages is the view that it’s personality, not understanding; temperament, not training; magic, not skill that make the top salespersons what they are. For many people in the sales field, Horatio Alger’s old “luck and pluck” is still the talisman to which we attribute the salesperson success.

In business-to-business selling, the traditional method or old way involves two false assumptions. It assumes, first, that all potential buyers can use your product or service and, second, that if you only “show and tell” the customer about it, they’ll appreciate the “obvious” benefits and rush to buy from you. These assumptions violate a central principle of business interaction: People buy for their own reasons, not yours. Traditional, product-focused selling ignores that fact.

“Strategic Selling”, on the other hand, acknowledges this fact as central, and puts the burden for making the sale on both buyer and seller (it’s a joint-venture). It’s up to both the buyer and seller to move the process forward by mutually encouraging positive information flow. There’s no assumption suggesting that the customer already has a need for the seller’s product or service. On the contrary, the entire interactive process is geared to determine, up front, whether or not there really is a need. Thus Strategic Selling follows the natural order of decision-making and involves three distinct but interrelated thinking processes beginning with “cognitive thinking” which is understanding the customer’s concept/need, then “divergent thinking” regarding the available options to satisfy the need, and finally “convergent thinking” which is the selection of the best solution. This realization was developed by J.P. Guilford through his extensive clinical research and documented in his book The Nature of Human Intelligence.

The immediate benefit of this approach is an alignment between the salesperson and the customer’s decision-making process and gives the salesperson greater control and more flexibility by facilitating the customer’s natural way of thinking and decision-making.  And, in the longer-term, by establishing this constructive dialogue with the customer it enables the concept of No-Sell Selling and a Win-Win outcome. Win-Win means a highly valued and effective solution for the customer, and a long-term, profitable, and reference-able account for the salesperson.

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