New Article About Investing in Learning and Development

Nelson Soken, Barnes & Conti’s Chief Innovation Officer, wrote an article on investing in learning and development when focused attention is becoming scarce. Nelson argues that investing in learning and development delivers significant rewards to everyone in the workplace. He continues with eight principles and New Year’s resolutions for investing in learning and development.

Read the entire article on our website.

New Article about Effective Learning Strategies

Nelson Soken, Ph.D. Barnes & Conti Chief Innovation Strategist, wrote a new article about creating an effective learning strategy not just to get the most out of training and development, but to manage organizational change and deliver value. The article is entitled, “Training and Development: Changing Hearts and Minds to Deliver Organizational Value.”

Here’s a brief quote from  the article: “What is necessary is creating a clear and inspiring organizational vision of the future, strategically aligning it with the organizational, learning, and talent development strategy, and then delivering individual/organizational change by changing people’s mindsets and behaviors over time that leads to action and results.”

Follow this link to read the entire piece.


New Article by Kim Barnes on Reframing as an Influence Tool

Framing—or reframing—is a strategic tool which is useful to exercise influence and to manage change. In this article,  Kim Barnes discusses making what is considered new and potentially threatening into something both familiar and comfortable.

So how can we use the understanding that people are comfortable with what they know and skeptical or even fearful of things that fall outside of their experience? As innovators and as influencers, we need to be willing to understand how others perceive the world. We need to find a way to locate our ideas on their map of reality.

Read the article on our website

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Character Matters: Principles for Raising, Becoming, and Choosing Responsible and Effective Leaders

By B. Kim Barnes
Reprinted from LinkedIn, January 2, 2016

As we enter another U.S. presidential election year, we have a chance to think about what’s important to us as we choose a new leader. I have been reflecting on the ethical and behavioral qualities the candidates are displaying and how they learned them. And related to that, I think about how are we raising our children to be the political, civic, and organizational leaders and citizens that we will need in an increasingly complex world.

My mother, Lorraine Shalett Shapiro, was loved, admired, and deeply respected by her friends, co-workers, and the patients she worked with at a Kaiser Hospital in Southern California. Though not in a formal leadership role, she influenced the people around her to be stronger, kinder, more honest and more self-confident. And so she did with her family. After her death some years ago, I took time to consider what she taught all of us and identified a set of character-building principles that she represented – with a light touch most of the time – and called them “Lorraine’s Laws.”

Here they are, my New Year’s gift to leaders, parents, and especially to those who believe we ought to elect them to our country’s highest office:

  • Treat everyone with kindness and respect.
  • Don’t cry over spilled milk. Acknowledge mistakes and failures; then move on.
  • Contribute in a positive way to your community. Do what needs to be done without looking for an immediate payback.
  • Avoid defensiveness. Accept responsibility for what you have chosen to do, even if it didn’t turn out as you hoped or expected. Ask for and listen to feedback and learn from it, especially if it’s critical.
  • Avoid self-righteousness and judgment. Be self-critical; don’t let yourself get away with getting “too big for your boots.” (I should mention here that my mother was born in Minnesota- though not Scandinavian, she resonated with many of the values that they brought to this country.)
  • Avoid self-dramatization and self-importance; don’t pout and don’t whine.
  • Use both your mind and your heart in making decisions. Think about the impact of your decisions on others.
  • Learn all the time. Keep an open mind; always listen to new ideas and information even if it conflicts with what you think you already know for sure.
  • Forgive those who have wronged you.
  • Forgive yourself for the wrongs you have done in the past once you have done everything you can to repair the damage.
  • Love and appreciate your family and provide whatever support is needed for one another to be successful.
  • Look for and expect the best from people (family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, etc.) – pass on compliments and positive feedback; let people know what they are doing right. Avoid gossip and negative comments about people.
  • Be proud of your heritage; respect and show interest in the heritage of others.
  • Use your talents; they are your gifts to the world.
  • Stand up and speak out for what you believe in even though you know your opinion may be unpopular.
  • If you have an issue with someone, talk it out. Don’t hold on to resentments, especially within the family or team.
  • Be interested in what others have to offer, regardless of their age, position, occupation, education, ethnic background, etc. Seek a diversity of opinion; value and seek to understand people who are different from you.
  • Bring your whole self to your work, whatever it is. Demonstrate your love and commitment to those whom you touch in your work every day.
  • Don’t come down to the level of people who treat you rudely or unfairly. Find a way to rise to the occasion and keep your dignity.
  • Enjoy your life; it is a blessing.

Read more ›

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The Fire this Time: A Metaphor for 2016 (and 2017)

by B. Kim Barnes
Reprinted from LinkedIn, published on November 12, 2016

Twenty-five years ago, my house burned, along with 3000 others, in a huge firestorm that struck the hills of Oakland and Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was unexpected – though, in hindsight, it could have been anticipated. It was an event over which I had no control. It changed everything about my life and those of my neighbors. Being a writer and an educator, of course I felt driven to draw lessons from the way all of us responded to this event – to begin to understand how to deal productively with sudden, imposed change. I wrote an article with some ideas about how we were able to get through the difficult days and months that followed the firestorm and published it as part of a manual on change leadership.

Ten years later, after the awful events of 9/11, I revisited and revised the article in response to a client’s request for something to offer the people in her company who were so deeply shaken, as we all were, by the experience of watching and living through the terror attacks.

Today, many people in the U.S. and around the globe have been profoundly affected by the upending of expectations in what is usually a predictable series of events leading to the selection of a new leader. While it is a different type of event in most ways from a firestorm or a terror attack, the reactions to it are amazingly similar: shock, anger, grief, fear, confusion, depression. Even for people who voted for the winner, after the initial joyful reaction, there is a sense of concern about unanticipated consequences and potential conflict and division.

So today, I thought I would once again share some of the lessons I learned all those years ago and which have been helpful to me ever since. Here they are.

Let go of any illusions of control or “magical thinking.” I believe that consciously letting go shortened the “neutral zone” time for me. Friends who did not do this later reported that they stayed in a suspended state for many days and delayed taking practical actions to recreate their lives. Visualization of a positive future which you can help bring about is productive; imagining that you can control the forces of nature, of the economy, of human nature or global politics is not. Letting go is a conscious choice of “mental action.” I found it helpful to use a mental image of letting go, such as opening my hand. Until you are able to do this, you will remain fixed in the past. Time spent reviewing how you or others could have prevented the disaster or how you might still rescue the situation is not productive. That time is better spent in grieving and then getting on with life after the firestorm. The time for learning how to prevent repetition of the loss will come later in the process when you can make a realistic assessment of what you can control and what you can’t.

Take time to grieve, but not more than you need. Two days later, after the fire was out, we were allowed to walk in to see what was left. Although we really knew what we would find, it was a shock to see our neighborhood looking as if it had been bombed out, in a war zone. Our home was gone; in its place a strangely beautiful ruin. We cried and hugged. Then we got out the shovels we had brought and began to dig. There was more grieving to do, of course, but it happened from time to time as a natural part of the work of remembrance, healing, and rebuilding and never after that day was the central focus of our lives.

Celebrate the best of what was lost; bring it symbolically with you toward the future. The first thing I found intact was a plate my grandmother had painted in the 1920s. The glaze a little rearranged but otherwise perfect, it seemed a loving message from the past. Later we found our favorite breakfast mugs, re-cast as multimedia pieces. That night the sunset was especially glorious, almost echoing the fire of two days earlier. The full moon shone at the same time through what had once been our bedroom window. We brought fruit and flowers (for life) and candles (for hope) and had a small, quiet ceremony in which we appreciated all that the house had meant to us, then let it go and made a promise to ourselves to keep that which was best in our hearts until we could build it again. Read more ›

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