Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders

Dr. Tim Baldwin - Getting Learning To Transfer: New Age, Same Challenge

September 11, 2022 Scott J. Allen Season 1 Episode 140
Phronesis: Practical Wisdom for Leaders
Dr. Tim Baldwin - Getting Learning To Transfer: New Age, Same Challenge
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Timothy T. Baldwin is the Randall L. Tobias Distinguished Chair in Leadership and Professor of Management at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.  Professor Baldwin holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Michigan State University and an MBA from MSU as well.   He has published his research work in leading academic and professional outlets and has won several national research awards – including eight best-paper awards from the National Academy of Management.  He has twice received the Richard A. Swanson Excellence in Research Award presented by the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). He is the co-author of three books, Improving Transfer Systems In Organizations (Jossey Bass: 2003); Developing Management Skills: What Great Managers Know and Do (McGraw-Hill: 2012); and Organizational Behavior: Real Solutions to Real Challenges (McGraw-Hill: 2020).      

In his 35th year at Indiana University, he has frequently been recognized for teaching excellence. His background includes consulting with Cummins Engine, Eli Lilly, FedEx, Whirlpool, and various other organizations. Professor Baldwin was the Chair of the Dept. of Mgmt. & Entrepreneurship from 2014-2020, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Cripe Architects & Engineers and World Arts, Inc.

Professor Baldwin is married with one son, one dog, one cat, and his interests include coaching youth sports, golf, gardening, and a little amateur magic.   

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Note: Voice-to-text transcriptions are about 90% accurate, and conversations-to-text do not always translate perfectly. I include it to provide you with the spirit of the conversation.

Scott Allen  0:00  

Okay, everybody, welcome to the Phronesis podcast. Thanks for checking in wherever you are in the world. Today I have Dr. Timothy Baldwin, and he is the Randall L. Tobias Distinguished Chair in Leadership and Professor of Management at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business.  Professor Baldwin holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Michigan State University and an MBA from MSU as well.   He has published his research work in leading academic and professional outlets and has won several national research awards – including eight best-paper awards from the National Academy of Management.  He has twice been the recipient of the Richard A. Swanson Excellence in Research Award presented by the American Society for Training & Development (ASTD). He is the co-author of three books, Improving Transfer Systems In Organizations (Jossey Bass: 2003); Developing Management Skills: What Great Managers Know and Do (McGraw-Hill: 2012); and Organizational Behavior: Real Solutions to Real Challenges (McGraw-Hill: 2020). Now in his 35th year at Indiana University, Professor Baldwin has frequently been recognized for teaching excellence, including multiple MBA & Undergraduate Teaching Awards, the Eli Lilly Alumni Teaching Award, the FACET All-University Teaching Award, and the Dow Innovation in Teaching Fellowship.  His background also includes consultation with Cummins Engine, Eli Lilly, FedEx, Whirlpool, and a variety of other organizations in both the public and private sectors.  He founded the MBA Sports & Entertainment Academy at Kelley and has designed and delivered numerous executive education seminars in the US and abroad. Professor Baldwin was the Chair of the Department of Management & Entrepreneurship at Kelley from 2014-2020. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Cripe Architects & Engineers, a professional services firm based in Indianapolis, and World Arts, Inc., a printing firm based in Spencer, IN.  He also has served on the national advisory boards for organizations, including the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and Educational Testing Services (ETS).  Professor Baldwin is married with one son, one dog, one cat, and his interests include coaching youth sports, golf, gardening, and a little amateur magic.  So talk to me a little bit about magic. This is awesome!

Tim Baldwin  2:24  

Before we do that, all right, if you're gonna give a highfalutin intro like that. Two thoughts on that first, congrats on your success in the front end of this podcast, and it's a treat to be invited on. So I look forward to our conversation. And secondly, whenever I get a highfalutin introduction like that, I'm reminded you mentioned my family, and they're such great Levellers. And so I have to share just a brief story when my son was about ten years old, he had a friend over playing; I must have left a name tag on the table or something. And his little friend looked at the nametag and said Dr. Timothy Baldwin, and he said to my son, I didn't know your dad was a doctor. And my son said, Well, he's a doctor, but not the kind that helps people. And that always strikes me as being a little more realistic in terms of all this stuff. Thank you for that wonderful intro, and I hope I can live up to some of those highfalutin credentials. Yeah, the magic was just I grew up in a small Michigan town, and right next to Abbott magic company, and coal in Michigan, and I developed a love and then I've, I've often on in my career used at some other dignitaries, Adam Grant, who's one of my, kind of favorite reads now and podcasts, alright, he likes to delve into a little magic, and it just creates, we're going to talk a little bit about the transfer of training and some of these things it creates kind of a jolt in the classroom gives you a little something different. Raises attention; you can tie it. Yeah, I'd like to play around with my Secret Service code name; if I had one, it is "Timbeani."

Scott Allen  4:02  

I love it. That is awesome. That is so cool. Well, we spent during the pandemic; our kids are 12 and 14 now. But we fell in love with this TV show called Magic for humans. It's

Tim Baldwin  4:15  

Justin Willem. And one of my favorites. Yes, yes 

Scott Allen  4:19  

And so he actually had a couple of specials during the pandemic where you could sign up and go on Zoom. And so I think it was maybe Valentine's Day where there was a special and maybe last or a couple of Christmases ago, there was a special, but that was just incredible. He was doing this on Zoom. And what, there are probably 400 people on the Zoom and at 50 bucks a pop. I mean, he wasn't doing too bad for the pandemic. It was pretty incredible.

Tim Baldwin  4:46  

Yeah, he is my single favorite magician, both because of his comic touch and his just extraordinary skill, and it's great when he ties it into some of our kind of management organizational behavior psychology topics. It's just genius. So, I'm a raving Justin Willman fan, we could have kind of a bro Sherry here, ya know, our mutual likes is we seem to share our perspective. So,

Scott Allen  5:10  

magic for Susan's right. Yeah, exactly. Well, I will put a link for listeners who have a love for magic as well; we will put a link in the show notes. And you can check that out. It's just a great, he's just he's got great energy. And I love how he's incorporated his son now into the equation too, which is kind of fun. But that's not why we're here. We are here because I'm really, really excited for this conversation, sir. One of my I was on the phone today with an organization and we were talking about a session that I could do for them. And I tried to be very, very realistic with what actually the results would be of our hour and a half together, right? I said something to the effect that in that amount of time, we can probably increase awareness. Right? I mean, it's, we're not going to be building incredible levels of skill. And it may not be that people could recall to any great depth a large portion of the content even a week later. But we can build awareness in that amount of time. And this is a great challenge, I think, for the work that I do many listeners, but this whole notion of transfer, how are we more likely to ensure that what we're doing is actually transferring on the job and making it live and organizational life? And I know that that's been a piece of your scholarship over the years. And so I can't wait to jump into that. I'd love to get into it first, maybe. How did you get into it? How did that happen? How did that topic really stand out for you? But before we do that, I'm kind of like backing up. There was a really awesome quote; I used it in a paper once, and let's see if I can get it right. It was from an anonymous executive. And the executive said something to the effect of, I'm pretty sure that half of every training dollar we spend goes to waste. I just can't figure out which half

 

Tim Baldwin  7:07  

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think that's accurate. Although I'm not sure, the half that's oftentimes used for advertisers as well to say, half of all our advertising spend is wasted. We just don't know which half it is. I think that's so, and I appreciate sort of your awareness and honesty, Scott, not to overhype what you're doing because to talk a little bit about the genesis of my interest. When I was, I did all my degree work at Michigan State took a doctoral class from Kevin Ford. And Kevin ultimately became a longtime still collaborator with me. And he had an article in our packet on the transfer problem. And it really alluded to many of the things that you're talking about here, that psychologists turn out psychologists have been working on this for over 100 years. This is not new. So, Woodworth and Thorne date back in the early 1900s, identified the challenge of transferring learning from one context to application and another, and we've made some serious advances, but it remains a large and insidious challenge. So you hear the sorts of estimates, and these things are all subjective; it's on some level hard to get perfect empirical around some of these estimates. But, 60% of what people take from a class is forgotten in a week, 80% in a month; you see the absolute dismal relationship between diversity training and ethics training, and such a low correlation with any of the change in behaviors of those on the job, particularly in management training, I'm going to give you a study that I did that was just so are resting to me, is that why is it that we have such fundamental principles that we have a lot of consensus on about what it is that's good people management in an organization, and yet we have such astoundingly high and negative ratings of management performance? I think one survey said, less than 50% of people ask about the performance of their immediate manager on a five-point scale, put above three, and people were putting, I hope my manager dies in her sleep or that I would say I would forego a raise to get a shift and a manager. I don't want to be flipped, but it's just we really have a lot of toxic organizations, and they stem so often from that managerial presence; you've heard the cliches and the adages that people don't leave organizations; they leave managers and what is ultimately a culture other than that immediate personal relationship between individuals and their managers. So we read this article, and it just resonated personally with me. Yeah, and that's, that's, to me, always a good thing to study. I counsel that my doctoral students choose something they're interested in that grabs them to it, don't make up a problem, or don't chase a fad. And I was reading this article, and I'm just saying this just connects with me. Why am I so good on the driving range and so bad on the course? Why is it that students can perform so well and get an A on the test. And then so poorly when the team actually performing, why people are all ready to go with their speech, and then completely freak out and choke, which is another thing I hope we have a little time to talk about because I think that's one of the most provocative sorts of arenas where a transfer is so important and has such high implications, both positive and negative. You can help yourself mitigate that choking. I'm okay here. But once I get in the moment, how do I deliver that, that's a big deal. So it really became kind of a personal interest of mine, struck by how hard it is, given all the work that's done and attention and importance. And I would just double down that I think it's particularly important in the world today, I hear some of this high tech that that's kind of cliche, but I really believe that in you hear some of these high tech firms, for example, talk about how some large percentage of their revenue is from products or services, say less than two or three years old, when you just think about the implications of learning in an organization, if half our revenue products, then we're gonna have to get as they call big learning fast. And somehow we're gonna have to gear up to be able to replace half our revenue, well, that just screams we've got to learn. And we've got to learn very fast and very efficiently just screams using learning technology and learning tactics that are really going to have an impact, we can't just be nice or hope people like it, or, , even just build awareness, we got to start targeting down where we can impact what people actually can produce on the job. And then the second piece and sort of really current parlance with the talent shortage and great resignation, and just the difficulty that folks that organizations are having, searching talent is that in the old accounting investment choice, make versus buy, there might have been times where you could buy your employees, just go purchase the talent seek and have really, really aggressive recruiting, go find maybe compensated a higher level or advanced quicker or something and get a high level of the employee base that way. Now, that's decreasingly a possibility. And so the necessity of making, if you will, in using that metaphor, is so much more important. So it just puts more premium on we've got to, we've got to do this well. So I think it's it's a topic that's had a long history and has even more sort of currency today and its importance,

Scott Allen  12:27  

take us through what we, and I'm going to put this in air quotes, but what we know, what do we know about this space? Yeah, it's

Tim Baldwin  12:35  

a terrific, straightforward, I mean, a little bit simplistic, okay. All right, there's a large buy a lot of discoveries, I'm sure that if any of my scholar buddies got thanks for the mention of all the great work that I've done already, you sort of cut to the chase. But just to put it in a short form, a discussion starter, which I see a podcast for, I think one of the things that we know or what you might say we've learned in our study of transfer, however, again, kind of, sort of marrying a little bit simpler, it's not an event, you don't have a class and get transferred. It's just not an event that just doesn't happen; your honesty about maybe we could build some awareness, you're not going to really get at a change in behavior in having some kind of learning event, whether it be a class or an experience or a simulation or something and get really material levels of transfer. It's a process, and it happens over time. Another misnomer I think of transfer that's worth getting in our discussion here is that it's entirely centered around the event that, from one context, the learning context, is critical. And so you might get seduced into that the challenge here is to design the magical learning experience that turns into transfer. Let's take a management class. My particular interest is in the transfer of management skills. How do people go from being individual contributors to people managers? Why has that been so elusive? In our workplaces? Given people like me spend their time teaching these classes and you? Why do we have it a bit of a self-indictment? So we kind of take it personally of why it is we don't have higher levels of people management behaviors in our organizations? The misnomer is, well, if we can just get the right classes, the reality of transfer is not just about the learning event. The learning events are clearly important. Yeah. It's also about who's in that learning event and what do they bring. One of my great influences was a guy named John Campbell, who had a wonderful career at the University of Minnesota IO psychologist. I still reference John repeatedly as he was all over these ideas, even though he was active 2530 years ago, he liked the phrase trainees don't fall out if some trainee been in the sky, ya know, is that they are there with rich histories, organizationally, personal motivation and the like. And so it's really critical that we think about Who's in that training? What are they bringing to it? Do they come with any kind of gap or a problem? In broad strokes, a motivation to learn? Or are they there because they were asked to be? Or it's part of the curriculum? Or do they truly want to come?  And we'll talk a little bit about some phasing. Are they at a place in their career, their lives, where they will need that training? I really think this needs to know, and hungry at the buffet of learning, some of those adages are very apt here. So that's one thing. And then the second thing, again, perhaps self-evident transfer context they have there they go back to they have any opportunity to practice, is there any opportunity for feedback? Is there any supervisory support? Yep, do they get any sort of reinforcement in those environments? Generally speaking, you might think, Well, sure. But that's just not true. Many training programs and organizations could be defined by being permission, you're allowed to go, maybe it's paid for, but you're not really supported and saying, We want to create the kinds of environments and contexts where we really can transfer, you're reinforced for that, and so on. So I think those are a couple of the big keys that we've we've really learned over time that impact the study of transfer; let's get away from the early scientists to try to focus on how do you make a learning environment most transfer ready. So they focused on the context identical elements to do we have the right principles built in, and so on. And I think we've read it very appropriately and expanded that too before training, who's coming in the setup, and why. And after training, what kind of support context we 

Scott Allen  16:45  

have. It's interesting when I think about other contexts where training is essential, so let's say, a surgeon, right, you have so many more of those ingredients that you just mentioned, where the learning is being scaffolded. Over years, we have mentors who are guiding the appendix all the way up to the heart, we have, we have so much more baked into it, and then they are so close to learning, and the work is so closely tied together. And then, of course, you have the stakes, right? I mean, if it's a pilot, you better be darn sure that you've spent some time in the simulator and that you've worked your way up to the 737. But it's a similar type of concept. And I just how do we do that in organizational life? How do we do that? How do we get the education close to the work? How do we get the immediate feedback that a surgeon receives or that a pilot receives that immediate feedback? In organizational life, my team is scared, they're afraid they won't give me authentic real feedback. So we have a lot of managers walking around without some of that data. And it's just it's such a fun puzzle. It really is. Because, like you, I might phrase it a little differently. But my passion is, how do I help support someone to be better prepared to serve in these formal or informal leadership roles? Because they're hard, it's difficult to work. It's not easy, depending on the industry, but just the work COVID supply chain challenges, the great resignation, just any number of other contextual factors outside of just the normal day-to-day, it's difficult. What thoughts do you have on how we could do it better? Are there hypotheses that you have about what we could be doing?

Tim Baldwin  18:36  

Well, again, I have, like you, as many questions as I have answers, but all right, claiming with that, that introduction, claiming some scholarly, sort of approach, let me not just offer my opinion, but what might we draw from some of the studies and work evidence? There's two or three things that come to mind in no particular order. One is, is that I'm a big fan. It's not original to me, I can't even remember where I got it, but I love it. And I want to claim it. And that is, I think we've sort of violated some of the learned evidence about under what conditions to training programs and events and learning stimuli lead to, and I like to call it J three learning, like j to the third power, as in just in time, just enough. And just for me, wow, wow, just in time, just enough and just for me, and if you sort of reverse engineer, most of what we do, let's just do the self-indictment of college classes. It's almost the antithesis of that. Yeah, that it's okay, just in case; we're gonna give you a whole body of knowledge just in case you may someday need it, just the whole text or the whole course or all set of modules and just for everyone in the class that comes from very different backgrounds that are headed to very different careers. On one level, it's almost kind of a humorous violation of what the evidence would say. And so this idea of trying to target to narrow down to this term microlearning, I'm a very big fan of, and I'll talk about an example out there in just a minute. So I think that's one thing is to shrink the change rather than enlarge, we have we got to do more, we got to do it better when we shrink, the change, I think is one. Second, is that one of the principles that I think is so relevant when you mentioned surgery or you mentioned sports are these things to expand beyond the concept of physical fidelity? Again, the early scientists were really interested in physical fidelity kind of fancy term for a simple, and that is, it looks just the same. The basketball court we train on is the basketball court, we play there, see, we've got it. Yeah. But the reality is that we all know at some level it is not the same feel no. So one of the training mistakes that we make, and I want to use that analogy in our organizational environments, is to try to take 100 free throws. And by the end, I was better. So I take 100 free throws. And when I practice now, I hit a higher percentage of those free throws; the current literature would not support that you can't just practice those free throws; you have to practice those free throws under the conditions of pressure that you're going to face in the game, just shooting. That's wrong in fact; that might even give you a negative transfer. We're having done that similarly with a driving range. A driving range is one of the great seductions of playing better golf because you hit 25 straight drives, you never do that, you hit a drive, and then you get to seven higher, or in my case, you hit a drive, get it out of the woods, maybe hit another drive, okay, maybe two in a row. But you get the idea is that it doesn't feel the same way. And so to hit the choking thing, the rules of choking are repeated behavior under pressure, okay, so that you get habitual behavior, with the goal that you don't have to think about it. I don't want you sitting, waiting to hit your 98th Free throw and setting up I want you so used to shooting, and then you got to do is practice under conditions. Let me give you if I might just one quick example in the environment we have here because I'm trying to think about how we do it in our context. Yeah, because it's quite easy sometimes to draw the analogies. I'm a big sports fan of sports things. But then you go, how do we do it in a, in a classroom, we have a course here called the spine sweat experience. It's a course in our entrepreneurship curriculum, I'm in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship. And you can, as a student, you can take the course in it either by yourself or you can pair with a fellow student, you present a new venture, you introduce a new venture, the professor, one of our most skilled entrepreneurship, professional coaches, you throw out the term, at the end of the term, the only assessment of any kind is you present to an advisory board drawn from our Kelley School of Business Advisory boards in Silicon Valley, Chicago, Indianapolis, various ones we have, and they do the judging. If they deem it an investment they want to, , almost Shark Tank, then they typically provide $1,000 of their own money and open doors for the students and social network. If they say no, they are not investment ready. But adequate. All right, certainly, as a chorus, I can see a young student doing this; that was a very competent professional pitch, not something we believe is investment ready; they can give through a B through a D if they deem it not worthy. That is the go that was not well done in a way that you should you get an F and fail the course, and you cannot graduate with a degree in entrepreneurship.

Scott Allen  23:42  

Wow. Wow.

Tim Baldwin  23:45  

And I just love that idea. Because what's the idea? The idea is not just to say we're playing, it's all safe, it's, it's to put you we don't want lasting harm, you can still graduate with a Kelley degree. Still, you are putting at risk your entrepreneurship degree just like you're putting in your parents' money, your investment and so you're trying to simulate, that's what I encourage us to try to think about is that that creates a different kind of feeling are you nightly called psychological fidelity? But does it feel the same way, not just look and physically the same?

Scott Allen  24:21  

In our MBA, they're presenting four times over the course of two years. And the first time, it's just to me; the second time, it's to a group of alumni who are actually grading their presentation in the second semester of their first year. In the third semester, it's to a panel of experts in the community who are also coaching them, but they have to present to that panel, and they're given a grade. And then, the final presentation and MBA are to C-level executives in the community who grade their final presentation. And that's one thing we hear consistently over and over and over. So it's so fun to hear you say this because it's real. It's not I'm presenting to Dr. Allen; it's "oh my gosh, the CEO of Goodyear is in the audience!" And that's high stakes. That's real. That's I'm not I don't even I'm not even grading any of them. It's all in the hands of these professionals who are C-level executives. Yeah. And it just mirrors and simulates reality much more closely. Right. I mean, obviously not one-to-one. But more closely.

 

Tim Baldwin  25:27  

That is spot on. Scott, if I might just interject there. I think a related piece of that phenomenon is failure experiences. And I think this is one of the challenges that we face in doing; you're asking the right question, how do we take some of these known strategies and inject them into situations, and it's hard because the context is such that we have paying customers if you will, that aren't really paying to fail. They are paying a very high tab to succeed, and they and their parents aren't looking to say, yeah, they failed; the entrepreneur did. That's not what mom was most excited about. She wanted, and we are, are we not in an educational environment so fast and fail. But if you look at, say, what the military academies do with training, they are well known for putting these young plebes and trainees in contexts where it's impossible to succeed, impossible, and then they judge their behavior. And then, much like good entrepreneurs, the point is not just you failed, but what can we learn from that? And how do we then pivot and grow? I think that is a terrific lesson for us to figure out how we can build in failure experiences, maybe right at the front end, to create some kind of need for learning, you're not as good as you think maybe to sort of, humble, some folks. But more than that, to get an awareness because, so often, we have this sense that it's self-evident, or common sense how to do say management behavior. And we look at all these cultures. And it would seem, if it was so common sense, we'd have a more uniform set of successful behavior. And we don't, I think we have to get a little more comfortable, both as students understanding that failure, all entrepreneurs talk about their learning was greater from failure on what it's the adage, no entrepreneur of any worth, did not have a failure experience some time in their history, right? How do we mirror that in our educational environments where it's a little bit of an arresting, and you get folks' attention in ways that they don't rebel, mutiny, or lose self-confidence? It's a group; some of the stereotypes are true; everyone did get a trophy, and they don't like A-minuses. These are sometimes hard for students to adjust to. But I think we have to have the courage, if you will, in a learning sense, not to be privy just to how much they liked it. But to try to move the evaluation criteria down to some results and real behavior change, not just reactions and liking or

Scott Allen  28:11  

Yeah, moving away from the smile sheets. And just, I mean, there was a really interesting article that just came out in the Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies; I'll put a link in the show notes for everybody. But it was all about evidence-based leader development. And there's been all kinds of articles about evidence-based management. So on one end, is what we're teaching evidence-based. And according to this article, it's not good when it comes to leadership development. But then also, are we how much of even that is transferring over to behavior change? And so you talked about behavior change there in that last little passage? What else do we know about actual behavior change? I mean, that's the, as you said, psychologists have been noodling with this. Eat less right?

Tim Baldwin  29:07  

No kidding. No kidding. Yeah. Wear sunscreen.

Scott Allen  29:12  

Yeah. But, it's so interesting. Any recent thoughts on that topic?

Tim Baldwin  29:18  

Well, yeah, to one if I might, just to share a quick summary of a study that was just arresting to me on this very point of the difference between knowing and doing if that's hardly original with me, but we did a study where we had the opportunity to look at an assessment, it's up. It's an eight-item in-basket assessment of managerial behavior. And this is fundamentals. This is leading a team coaching for performance, delegating, and work, the very little argument about we have some rules, I think it would be in some evidence base. This is what kind of a supervisor of people should do and behave. There could always be some subjectivity, some contextual; we're professors. We got to Say, Well, it depends on the situation. And in general, you can generate consensus, you have eight items in your in basket, and it's done electronically. So if you're an individual taking the assessment, you have an hour and 45 minutes to address these eight items. Address means identifying what the problem is and identifying what you would do. And then if you'd say, well, I'd send a memo, or I drop a note, actually do it. But what's critical here is there are no queues, and there is no multiple choice. They are blank boxes; what's the issue? What would you do? And then, if you're going to do something, right, what it would be so you can see the alignment? If you said, Well, I would, , set expectations, do you in the memo, follow that up. So you have eight items scored zero to four for being mastery, zero being not really getting it? The maximum score would be 32. On this, the average across 10,000 people ranging from senior execs, even some C suite, all the way down to college students was 11. Wow, out of 32. So what's one supplement to that? We then have a subset of about a couple of 1000 of those students, we also gave a multiple choice test of the eight items in that situation, what would you do? And some of them had multiple questions. Okay, the average was over 90%. Wow, wow, I just want you to contemplate that for a second. So as long as I cue you, and I say what you would you do, then you're good. You get, oh, yes, I should definitely show some gratitude for people for participating whatnot. But at the moment, when you're actually asked to do it, that's the battle.

Scott Allen  31:38  

It's a world of possibilities in the moment, and people are overwhelmed, people.

Tim Baldwin  31:43  

Yep. And it's you're facing one-to-one. And when you're actually faced with that, your intentions are good, sort of, in general, what to do, but to put it in the application. And so, a lot of nuances to that. But I think it really jogs. Just We're not kidding. This is a really difficult problem. So one thought on the part of the answer, which I've already alluded to, is this idea of microlearning. And there's a group I was just exposed to they're called "Ringorang" started firm. Interestingly enough, in Wichita, Kansas, I believe they originally started out in San Francisco, but now they're in Wichita, Kansas, and they have some contracts with IBM and healthcare providers in other places. And they're really trying to operationalize this idea of microlearning. So what they do is they work with the firm, and identify problems or results that the firm wants, we want a higher sales performance, or we want greater med compliance, or we want more or lower cybersecurity risk. Okay, so in some evaluation, as we were talking about earlier, that might be sort of a hierarchy of evaluating training, from smile sheets, to learning tasks, to behaviors to results, these folks actually invert that, and they start to design with the result. They then build these micro-learning modules based on Well, what then nest under the result, what might be the behaviors that you would want specifically, that would be associated with those results, they then create very tiny learning modules, five minutes, that they push electronically to the participants. And it usually includes a set of questions. So there's the opportunity for failure experience, tiny little modules, you can read advanced or something. But it's just micro little pieces to try to move the needle, and then just sort of iteratively build up to a greater set of competence or performance. Now, is it applied to all skill sets? No, I mean, there are all kinds of limitations, but I think it's a way of really operationalizing, this idea of let's, let's shrink the change, let's get very targeted, let's make it just for that audience, just in their environment. They do some other things, a little gamification. They have awards, and you can get badges and some of the things that are very sort of contemporary. But the big thing is the data that they can gather; when they give five questions, they blast to you. Some of them leave a time limit, and we got an hour and a half; you have to answer it today. So you only need five minutes. So you just go ahead, and you miss two of them. Well, now you can take it again. But now, where your gaps are. And they're, they've got some preliminary data that says they can reduce cybersecurity risk people are more likely not to be subjected to phishing. No, and their consulting team at IBM is moving towards different kinds of client management skills and so on. So that's just one example of, I think, trying to be really creative about operationalizing. The sort of broad general principles we're talking about that sound good on paper can be hard to put in place and the environments we're in.

Scott Allen  34:57  

I mentioned food earlier. And I was speaking with a friend who's somewhat of an expert in this space. And I was saying, Look, I need to, I need to lower some pounds here; I have this world of possibilities in front of me. And his suggestion to me was to choose slower. Shoe your food 50 times, it was the suggestion. But what's fascinating about that, Tim, is this. I forget 75% of the time; right now, I get to a meal, I scarf it down, and I don't chew 50 times. And what I had said to him was, look, I want some small things that I can do with excellence. And slowly shift behavior to a new way of creating a list of seven things I'm going to do in a day, whether it's a workout for two hours and drink a blue glass of water, and this and this and this and this. It's just it's not sustainable. It hasn't worked. But what's fascinating is, logically, I understand that I understand that you are slowly 50 times. I can't do it.

Tim Baldwin  36:03  

But if you so if we

Scott Allen  36:05  

have a growth mindset. Yeah,

Tim Baldwin  36:07  

Exactly. Okay, you bet Carol Dweck you. But it's so if you say facts are friendly. Yeah. And so that's the reality. And then you think, well, what would be the antidote? It's going to be repeated pushes, right? It's going to be reminding, it's going to be thinking about, it's going to be reinforcement. So I think that it's kind of, again, it's not to get too cute. But going from knowing to doing for us, we know that that's probably the rule; it does work. If you do that, if you divide up your portions, if you don't eat, if you cut the chicken in half, if you eat slower, if you start okay with the vegetables, if you get yourself fuller first before you dive into the fried potatoes,  that? I think that there is a great lesson in that. And as I said, I've got more questions, and I've got answers. But I think we're starting to ask some of the questions. Now it's how do we build that into these environments where we don't just repeat the sins of our predecessors, where we kind of hope for transfer? And hope is not a strategy. What are we doing consistently, at least? We can't ever design the perfect thing. But I would contend that back to our earlier discussion, so much of your transfer was not just in the content; that's a fine morsel of information, absolutely real. But the whole point is, are you ready to hear it? Are you motivated to activate it? And then what do we got in terms of the transfer context that will reinforce and support it?

Scott Allen  37:35  

Well, it's, it's just such a fascinating conversation because I share the passion that you have for this topic. And that it's, it's a fascinating puzzle, it just is, I mean, a great way to put it. And I think each one of us is a fascinating case study. And when you think about some of those questions that you're still pondering because you've mentioned a couple of times, we still have more questions than we have answers. Are there some key questions that just really keep you cooking?

Tim Baldwin  38:08  

Well, it kind of in the, in the spirit of failure experiences, there's this recent push, including books called the college scam, they'll begin to really look and say, Here's in accompanying the payback student loans and all these kinds of things. Well, that's really led to this discussion around whether college is worth it. And from a transfer of skill set, and boy, you are seeing increasing and loud voices say no. And you're watching the Googles of the world, say we don't care if you have a college education, you code, and we'll pay you a bunch of money to come and code. And so, one of the things that keep me up at night with a long career in college and absolute love and affection for the college experience. And not wanting it to be simply limited to a social development experience for wealthy parents, as your kids grow up or come of age or meet a spouse or something, though, is this really something that's developmental? I think we're at a juncture where we're going to have to start demonstrating that, in fact, we are contributing, particularly in our arenas; I think you can make the case in surgery and maybe even in some dimensions of our schools and accounting or finance or supply Europe, data analytics. But if we're gonna reserve a place for the soft skills, so to speak, are we making a difference? I think we got to ask those hard questions and say, What are we doing? How are we teaching it? Can we get more co-curricular? Is it, in fact, possible to move the needle on some of these things with our existing structures? And to go back to early strategy, it's always stress structure should follow strategy. So if we're what we're trying to do is improve the performance of management in our workplaces. Is this the structure to do it? That's a question that keeps me up at night. Because I think we Go back and find ourselves trying to make do with sub-optimal and going well, we tried to build in some failure, we tried to build in some fidelity, we tried to shrink it, but we got eight weeks or 15 weeks, and we have to use that text. And, there we are. And I think that's, that's one of the sorts of meta-questions, if you will, that keeps me up at night.

Scott Allen  40:26  

Yes, yes. And when you get back to Summit, kind of the structural challenges that we face, specifically in management and leadership, I love your perspective on how do we shrink it down. And do that with excellence? And at least having that experiment and that approach? Will, that yield different results, given the structure that probably isn't going away? In some ways, right. So what's interesting is, given the structure we have, what can we do to maximize? We could have a conversation about shifting structure? But given what we do have, what are some experiments we need to be running to see if we get further if we get closer to to that ideal space?

Tim Baldwin  41:11  

Yeah, I wonder if there are analogs to your notion of chewing slower, is that we're both fans of the management and organization behavior teaching society. And about 20 years ago, the founder of that group, David Bradford, walked into the opening session and said, I have a challenge for everyone. And that is, I know, you're all prep prayer for your forthcoming sessions in the next three days; I want you to cut what you are going to do personally in half, whatever you're going to do, I want you to cut it in half, how much ever right input you are going to bring cut it in half. And there was just this? Wait a minute, why didn't you tell me earlier? And, I'm sure there's a little bit of retrospective memory here on my part. But my memory of the final session was that that was such a wonderful jolt in changing the dynamic of the meeting; it improved the interaction or something. And so in that spirit of saying, what are the experiments that we could do in our environments that would, would it be cut your course in half. One of the challenges, though, is that the students so prefer to do a few things well and have a shrink change model. But, one of the others I refer back to as some of these classic transfer notions is massed versus spaced learning. And there's a general now leaning towards space learning gets better transfer over time, you sustain it more sort of keeps in your memory if you sustain it, but students hate that. Students want to get it out of the way, I took that course; if you've ever taught something that they felt they had before and faced the mutiny,  what do I mean? So there's this sense that no, I want it masked, yeah. And yet, so you get this disconnect between what the students perceive that they like and want and their actual impact on their transfer. Again, it's one of this kind of, in the military, you can say tough love in our environments, with very costly tuition, and all the supporting structure that can be harder to fly against student interest, and so on. So but I don't want to, in any way, mitigate your desire for skunkworks. And experiments and sort of the entrepreneurial spirit, forget to fail, let's fail fast and cheaply and quickly. But let's try new things to get them out. I'd be a huge advocate for that.

Scott Allen  43:30  

A friend of mine, who has been on the podcast a couple of times, his name's Dave rush. And he said, Look, we, again, this isn't the context of leader development, but we we bring them in, and we teach them a history lesson. And we expect that, and we tell them we're developing their leadership. And it's just an interesting thought experiment to some of your points about being an effective manager; have we approached the problem incorrectly? So I'm going to give you just one example, what if our courses were about mindfulness? What if our courses were about reflexivity? What if our courses were about critical reflection? What if our courses really develop the habits of mind of someone who you can't predict the infinite number of variables they will be experiencing like you can in a plane? It's a fairly contained system of surgery, although complex, depending on the surgery is a fairly contained system in these systems, where to your point from the inbox activity? As soon as I don't have the options in front of me, there's just an infinite number of variables in my swirling through my head. So how do you help someone navigate the weather we could call it VUCA. Or we could call it complex, or we could call that ill-structured problem or ill-defined problems, the habits of mind that are going to be successful and help an individual navigate It's just a different approach that can teach you Transformational Leadership Theory and situational leadership theory. I don't know, maybe that's what will be helpful for you, or are there some habits of mind that will serve you? Well? And to your point? Is that built over four years? Or is that just one semester? 15? week class?

Tim Baldwin  45:23  

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there's a lot packed into that. I was ready to

Scott Allen  45:28  

say yes. To the conversation here. And I just dropped by No,

Tim Baldwin  45:31  

No, I guess I would just say I don't think I think it's fair to say that what we're doing hasn't worked that well, at least when we get to the core. Now, many people have had wonderful experiences going on and doing great things. So it's not to throw the whole enterprise out. But I think it is a place where you could argue that experimentation would be warranted. And to try some different approaches, I think, the teaching of entrepreneurship, I, sort of kind of inherited this entrepreneurship piece of our department. When I started, we didn't, and I'm so moved by it. Because there's a lot of excitement. There's so much energy, there are new ventures, and one of the things is, is it all attitude? Is it all about hustle and risk-taking and whatnot? And increasingly, our folks are saying no, is that you can develop habits of resilience, you can develop habits of hustle, you can learn to sort of to how to navigate a particular market space and the light, and we need to overtime people will be in all kinds of different ventures. But Bill, it's the same sort of thing. I think you're saying rather than a pat leadership theory, it's you get habits of mind for how to approach these various situations. And then that would cut across. And I think that could be a place where a longer-term university education might make sense. Now, it does have that space learning field, where you're going to return to some of the same things of the potential risk of students feeling like we've done this in the leg. So it would take some creative design. But I with you on that to think that's a noble experiment that I'd like to see someone try and then sort of figure out in what way might you evaluate? Yeah, much like these ring rang folks are doing it's when given these situations, do folks seem to display different patterns? Yeah, mindfulness or thinking that would be a really exciting experiment and curriculum. 

Scott Allen  47:29  

Well, sir, I would love for you to come back. I want to continue the conversation before we close out for the day. What's caught your attention lately? What have you been reading or streaming, or listening to? It could have something to do with what we've just discussed. It could have nothing to do with what we've discussed. Yes. What caught your attention?

Tim Baldwin  47:47  

Well, just a couple of things. One, I'm just a huge fan of my colleague at Wharton, Adam Grant. And pretty much if he talks about it, I'm interested. So he just has a really keen insight into what's interesting. And now he's got such great access that the guests are so fascinating. And I'm currently reading his think again, and I think it relates just to what we're talking about here. What's the old? I think it was real Rogers is it's not what we don't know that gets us in trouble. It's what we know that just ain't so. And I think about some of these things that we've learned that we think is good learning practice, and it's just not, and it does not have an idea of some ambivalence or willingness to reconsider and to think, again, to hear from other sources, I think is very helpful. So I listened to a lot of Adam's stuff; some of my colleagues have turned me on to a couple of other cool podcasts; this a Tim Ferriss, you may have seen very popular, just does really interesting things, not all management or business-related, but he dives into The Four-Hour Workweek, again, provoking is kind of where I'm drawing this not boring. These guys talk with new founders of businesses, large, and it's just really interesting.
Here's kind of an entrepreneurial bent, but a really interesting take on their idea of how they came up with it. And I do think to hearken to our discussion that we're in an environment now where we need, we need a little entrepreneurial thinking, what is the new venture, management, education and training that is a grab, and then if you don't mind, I put in a plug for my revenue program on the edX platform, called the new manager's toolkit. And we tried again, a lot of structural constraints, but we really tried to embody what are there real micro pieces of success in that role really targeting those folks that are moving from an individual contributor to a first line manager position so very much not senior exec This is somebody that's been a barista and go into a manager position at Starbucks or, taking a manager position at Walmart or something really even trying to get out of a full fledge college education environment and more that there's so much importance to how People are lead. Yep. And so much hurt and sadness and dysfunction when they're led poorly disrespected all of our issues now with respect and inclusion and diversity, and so on. So we really tried to build that in. So that's on the edX platform called the new manager toolkit. I've got three wonderful co-authors, but really a delight to talk to you, Scott, you're a terrific foil for teeing up questions, and you've, I actually feel energized. 

Scott Allen  50:28  

Well, it's a fun conversation. And we'll continue the dialogue. So I will put a link to all of those resources that you just mentioned in the show notes. So, listeners, you can go there and check all of that out. And thank you for the good work that you do, sir; thanks for helping us think through this puzzle of how we take what we've learned and transfer it back to the job. As I said, it's just a beautiful puzzle. And I love that people like you exist who are working it. I think it's awesome. So thank you, sir. You bet.

Tim Baldwin  51:00  

Thanks, Scott. All the best


Transcribed by https://otter.ai