Three Great Takeaways from ASTD 2012

ASTD 2012When I registered for the ASTD International Conference & Expo 2012 over a month ago, I planned to write a recap post for two reasons: First, it's a chance to share what I learned so people who couldn't attend might learn something from my experience. And second, writing about what I learned forces me to reflect on the ideas and lessons I was exposed to, and really lets them sink in. Jane Hart wrote a really good article on this subject just this week.

However, as it turned out, I wasn't even able to get to the whole conference — I had to go back in to the office at the last minute (priorities, priorities). But by tuning in to the social backchannel on Twitter, which David Kelly so masterfully curates, and by watching some of the recorded #ASTD2012 sessions, I figured I could at least tap into some of the discussion that was coming out of the big conference.

So, although I didn't get to every session I would've liked to, I still came away from #ASTD2012 with three distinct experiences I'd like to share. They came from a conference session, a happy hour event, and something I saw the day after the conference ended.

Ideas for certification programs

On Sunday, I attended a session about certification programs. My boss has a vision of creating an industry certification program in her continued mission to bring credibility back to the mortgage industry.

I'll admit I went into the session not expecting much, except for some re-hashing about the difference between certificate programs and certification programs. But actually I came away with some really relevant information, especially about ways to get our certification program accredited by an outside body — which would be a huge step in bringing back credibility to the mortgage industry — and gave me confidence that our organization could play a major role in that process.

It just goes to show you, sometimes, expectations can be exceeded.

Insights from Yammer

The next day, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a happy hour party with the crew from Yammer. Although I'd missed the conference that day, I had time that evening to come back downtown to join up. Although I passed on the Yamjuice, I met an old friend, Allison Michels, and two new friends, Misha McPherson (who recently wrote a guest post here for the Daily Mindflash) and Natalie Baryla, from whom I learned a ton about how Yammer uses their own technology to on-board new salespeople. I also learned some interesting ideas about how Yammer helps clients adopt the new technology. I had so many ideas flowing through my head that I had to pull myself away from some of my conversations just for a brief moment to jot down these ideas into Evernote on my iPhone. I hope no one thought I was being rude.

I've actually used Yammer at a previous job, and even gave a talk at a conference about it, but in just one night, I learned even more great ideas about how to take it to the next level. That gathering gave me new ideas about ways to use Yammer in new and productive ways. Sometimes the best learning comes after hours.

Energy to practice what was preached

As soon as we all got back to the office after the conference, I could sense a rise in our energy level and a flurry of new activity. Two of my L&D colleagues, Tammy Sherman and James Deitz, came back from the conference jazzed and ready to re-do just about everything we've been doing (I love this attitude, by the way).

From how we create slides to how we measure the success of our training to how to get people more involved in their own learning, Tammy and James are beginning to test new ideas in class within a week of attending the conference. In fact, I'm pretty sure James will have redesigned our new-hire orientation office tour into a scavenger hunt rather than the plain, old, boring tour we typically do. I'm definitely looking forward to that.

In the past, I'd thought that getting bombarded with too many ideas at once was overwhelming and could even cause some disillusionment. But now it seems like the lessons our team learned at #ASTD2012 is energizing us to take our work to the next level — In fact, I'm already seeing it.

More: How to Learn From a Conference You Aren't Attending.

Bill Cushardauthor and Director of Training and Development at Allonhill, is a learning leader with more than 12 years of experience in training and performance improvement at companies such as E*TRADE Financial, Accenture, and Time Warner Cable.

Image via ASTD's Facebook photo album.

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