You state that yours is an evidence-based practice. What types of evidence do you draw upon to support the development of your training and consulting programs?
Business Programs: Over the past 25 years, we have developed two data bases of research that we draw upon in the design and development of our training and consulting programs.
Primary Research Base – This is comprised of research we have conducted ourselves on the basis of sponsorship from our clients. Part of our primary research base consists of interviews with business owners and financial decision makers in a wide range of middle market and large corporate organizations and institutions. Our private banking and wealth management programs have been supported by research interviews with high net worth individuals. Finally, at the retail level, we have conducted interviews and focus groups with cross sections of retail banking and credit union customers in several regional markets across the country.
We have supplemented this market-based research by conducting extensive interviews with individuals in client organizations who are recognized to be exemplary performers in the areas of business development, negotiations, account management, and sales leadership.
Secondary Research Base – Our secondary business research base consists of a digital library of meta-studies, case studies, and field studies published in professional and academic journals and business periodicals. These studies cover a wide range of topics related to the work we do with clients, including performance management, negotiation research, strategy implementation, coaching and team leadership, learning transfer, and experiential learning.
CQ Programs: Since the publication of Early and Ang’s book Cultural Intelligence: Individual Interactions Across Cultures in 2003 and subsequent Harvard Business Review article, CQ has been cited in more than seventy academic journals1. A Google Scholar search restricting results to books and articles on CQ published since 2014 produced over 200,000 results. This pool of research continues to grow, particularly in specific areas of CQ application such as study abroad programs, graduate business studies, and skill areas like negotiating and leadership in cross cultural environments. Our focus in following this research is on understanding and teaching CQ as a learned competency, and on the intersection of CQ and experiential and transformational learning.
1David Livermore, The Cultural Intelligence Difference. NY: AMACOM, 2011, p. 26.
Since you already have several data bases of research in the areas of performance in which you specialize, why is it necessary to conduct additional research in our organization? Doesn’t that just add unnecessary time and expense to a project?
Business Programs: There are solid reasons – grounded in more than 25 years of experience – behind our policy of not doing off-the-shelf training programs. To do anything more than cosmetic customization requires that we develop a thorough understanding of the context within which the program will be delivered. This contextual understanding, in turn, enables us to design a learning transfer strategy that will be truly impactful, thus increasing your return on investment. Finally, conducting front-end research provides an opportunity for program participants to have a voice in determining program objectives and content.
CQ Programs: The research we conduct in advance of a CQ program for study abroad offices provides us with and understanding what tools and processes are already in place to prepare students for their overseas experiences and to debrief them when they return. This knowledge enables us to provide resources beyond the CQ and cultural values assessments that will complement and reinforce what the study abroad office are already doing.
How much lead time do you require between the initiation of a project and the roll out of the program?
Business Programs: Depending upon our project calendar at the time, we generally need between six and eight weeks from the time we conduct the front-end research for a program and when we are ready to deliver the first program elements.
CQ Programs: Lead times for CQ study abroad programs are generally four to six weeks from project initiation to when the students have access to the online assessments.
What methods have you developed to ensure that what participants learn in your programs is put into practice?
Business Programs: This is the most important factor in the design of a performance training program. We start to focus on post-training execution at the very early stages of program research and design. Our goal is to identify the main obstacles to learning transfer during our research, and then to address those obstacles in the design of the post-training learning transfer strategy. However, the learning transfer strategy must be dynamic, and even recursive where necessary. This is because many nuanced factors that can affect the quality of learning transfer are revealed during program delivery.
CQ Programs: In designing CQ programs, we work with the International Studies staff to put in place methods for optimizing each student’s overseas learning experience, measuring the personal development that takes place during an international study experience, and leveraging each student’s overseas experience to help them in the pursuit of their career goals. The pre- and post-study abroad CQ and cultural values assessments are the main instruments used, but these are supplemented with other tools – such as custom-designed journals – for both students and college faculty and staff that have been designed with the same goals in mind.
How do you measure the results of your program interventions?
Business Programs: Both qualitative and quantitative measures of interim and longer term process execution milestones, participant behaviors and activities, and business performance outcomes linked to each group’s strategic business goals are defined as part of program design and development. Where necessary, existing performance dashboards are modified to reflect program-specific metrics. Managers are given guidance in coaching program participants and in how to reinforce learning transfer at both the individual and team levels.
CQ Programs: The CQ assessments at T1 and T2 provide comparative self-reported data on the progress each student has made on improving CQ during overseas experiences. T1 and T2 assessment results from successive groups of students over time can provide international program staff with longitudinal data that can help in program evaluation.
Prior to departure on a study abroad program, each student formulates a set of personal learning and cross-cultural experiential objectives. While overseas, students record experiences and personal reflections in their journals and compare experiences with designated learning partners. Journal entries and reflections on personal objectives can be integrated into the students’ debriefing process when they return from abroad.
Is it possible for our own in-house staff to license your programs?
Business Programs: Yes, we are certainly willing to do this and, indeed, have done it in the past for other clients. Licensing involves taking your instructor candidates through a certification process that we can describe for you if this option is of interest. Please contact us for more information.
CQ Programs: CQ assessments are licensed by the CQ Center and can only be administered by certified CQ consultants.
Most Appropriate Audiences for Our Programs
Since each program intervention has its own unique set of goals and organizational circumstances, how do you determine the most appropriate audience(s) for a given project?
Our starting point is to understand the performance outcomes you want to achieve through the project and the context within which your goals will be pursued. We then identify the individuals and groups with primary responsibility for achieving the desired outcomes, as well as supporting resource areas in the organization. This enables us to determine the most appropriate program participants and to define their roles in the project.
We have limited time and resources to devote to a project. Can we limit the program to just the individuals who we have identified as most in need of developing the targeted skills?
We are always sensitive to our clients’ time and budget constraints. However, while the formal training can be limited to individuals or groups who have been selected for specific skills development, we still believe that it is essential to involve the participants’ direct managers and supervisors as key drivers of the learning transfer strategy. This would also apply to other key resource points in the organization that will influence the program participants’ efforts to put their new skills into practice.
The PLD Approach to Client Relationships
What can we expect in terms of working arrangements if we hire you to develop and conduct a program for us?
As a small firm, we prefer to work intensively with a small number of clients. Our working philosophy is to first learn from you, then perform for you. We seek to create client experiences that can be characterized in the following ways.
Accessibility – Working intensively means always being accessible to the client team and program participants.
Listening – Not just for what is the same, but, more importantly, for what is different.
Questioning – Asking thoughtful questions based upon careful listening and reflection; when necessary, challenging some of our own assumptions and perspectives.
Enthusiasm – Learning collaboratively with you and playing a role in positive change is exciting.
Communication – Speaking the language of the goals and values that are important to you.
Flexibility – Working to the best of our ability around your constraints, and adopting new perspectives more appropriate to your situation; always seeking to be user-friendly.
Ideas – Sharing ideas by sustaining a dialogue throughout the project; being open to new ideas as we get deeper into a project and continue to learn.
Results – Understanding and appreciating what you want to achieve.
Who will actually be doing the research and the program design, development, and delivery work for your firm?
The partner assigned to the project (in most cases, the partner who has led the dialogue with you from first contact) will lead each phase of the project, from assessment to design and development to delivery and follow-up support.