The Missing Attribute in your Employees


My name is Cheryl Johnson. I am a performance solution specialist. I have spent my whole life developing solutions which enable people to perform at their best.

My primary area of focus has been in the workplace but my passion began as a mother of four children. As parents, we often focus on making sure our children get the best 'education' by selecting premier pre-schools, making sure our kids get all A's, and helping them shoot for the best colleges. Instead of focusing solely on traditional education, I spent a lot of time reading to my kids, exploring nature with them, and letting them design and develop their own plays. The goal was to stimulate curiosity, to instill in them a deep love of learning, so that the rest would fall in place. Success in school and life would be a byproduct of their encouraged interest in continual learning.

Another element I’ve found to be critical to success is to learn how to deal with failure in a positive and productive way. Failure is what propels us to learn and achieve more. You cannot succeed if a failure destroys you. Unfortunately, too many young people are entering the workforce unable to deal with failure. They struggle to cope with challenges in a positive way that benefits not only them but also their employers. Failure is to learning as water is to plants. It is crucial to enable plants to not only survive but thrive. Failure is not a stigma or an option to avoid, but rather, it is required for the type of deep learning that brings about real change in behavior.

I wrote Ambition: The Missing Quotient in Your Employees because I’ve seen a need to change the way we approach learning, and in particular, how information is delivered. Since the advent of online learning at the turn of the century, many new delivery methods have been introduced. The change is already happening and continues to this day, but it is not yet fully understood or realized. For the last decade, new methods for delivery have been introduced, with some realizing a higher rate of adoption than others.

Initially, the online learning that was introduced in the early part of the century caught on rapidly, but ultimately it was limited, as it was essentially online reading with some pretty pictures.

Then, interactive games and simulations entered the field. The cost of entry was high, as well as the cost and time needed to maintain and update the games and simulations, so it was not widely adopted.

Knowledge management was the next trend. It was not difficult to adopt, as it mostly consisted of re-using tools that had already been around for a long time but now were being implemented from different platforms, such as job aids, white papers, and others. These were typically forms of knowledge management.

Then microlearning emerged. Due to the low cost of entry and the ease of keeping it updated, short, microbursts of information were created and distributed. The only issue with microlearning was that it was NOT the solution for every challenge. Information doesn’t always yield transformation, and with this learning method, change didn’t necessarily happen through engaging new information once for a short period of time. To really be effective, microlearning needs to one facet of a bigger learning program.

Observing the fairly recent history and evolution of online learning, it seems clear that learning needs to happen everywhere, all the time, and come in many formats for individuals and businesses to remain viable in the years to come. A varied approach to staying ahead of the curve keeps you relevant and your skills sharp. Learning to differentiate trends or fads from true change provides valuable insight in preparing organizations for the future.

Many industries are currently in the throes of major disruption, and people have had various strategies for handling it. There were plenty of people who anticipated it and prepared themselves and their organizations. These people and their companies are not only still in business today, but they’re thriving. Others saw disruption coming and thought that waiting until the dust settled would help them avoid any risky ventures that could tank their business. Others still do not see it happening and are locked into a state of ‘getting the job done,’ not aware that the world around them is changing rapidly.

Where are you? Are you prepared and moving forward with vigor? Are you still a bit cautious, are waiting to see if the latest trend will pass? Or are you so busy doing your day-to-day tasks that you don’t have time to acquire new knowledge, learn new skills, or see the rapidly changing landscape in the world of learning?

“You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.”

Clay P. Bedford

For decades, the role of the instructional designer has been to create traditional classroom learning and, since the beginning of the century, online learning. The core way we’ve done that has changed very little. We’ve tweaked it around the edges to make it more engaging rather than knowledge-based. We’ve talked for the last 20 years about how to make it performance-based and measurable, but that was only at conferences or around the water cooler. Just recently, all that talk is finally becoming a reality!

We are finally here. We’re still in the midst of disruption and change. I have since switched my focus from helping organizations to helping individuals who truly want to learn more about the future of learning. I have gained my knowledge in the furnace of affliction and in the real world of the workplace. I have owned and operated my own business for 30+ years. I have hired many young people, some of whom have gone on to work for companies like Disney and major defense contractors as scientists, along with world-class programmers. I’ve also worked with young people who have a different kind of ambition, whether that’s being a stay at home mom, building their own businesses, or growing and learning as a person, not within the context of corporate jobs.

I have also worked with some individuals who did not quite grasp what it meant to be a world-class employee when they started with me but by the end of our time together, they’d increased their skill base and were able to move forward with newfound skills.

I am currently working for a major university with a group of students hired under a grant to teach students business analytical skills. After two failed mentors, I was hired to help them cultivate a culture of learning, support, accountability, and teamwork while developing business analytical skills. It has been both a challenge and a joy.

My company, Read, Write, & Learn Technology, LLC, has been in the business of helping organizations take ordinary employees and make them extraordinary. We have used learning as a tool to make that happen for businesses all over the country.

With this book, I am hoping to share some of my journey and to impart many of the lessons I have learned while directly mentoring others and building mentorship programs. The goal in the end is, and always will be, to help people find value in learning because learning is a key component to driving ambition.

I am here to share in your journey and collaborate with you as you navigate the turbulent waters ahead. I will share the vast amount of knowledge and experience I have acquired and get down in the trenches to help you problem-solve and propose solutions. I will walk this path with you.

Cheryl Johnson

Whether you are a learning professional or coach, I am sure you design your programs to ensure all your efforts change and transform the lives of those who access and use your programs. But are those programs having the impact you intended?

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