Ms Ennis is a Certified Learning Provider (CLP) at Appleton Greene and she has experience in Leadership, Digital Transformation and Organization Development. She has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Education. She has industry experience within the following sectors: manufacturing; healthcare; hightech; biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. She has had commercial experience within the following countries: United States of America; Ireland and India or more specifically within the following cities: New York NY; Dublin; Hyderabad; Austin TX and Chicago IL. Her personal achievements include: Six Sigma Blackbelt, Two time winner of Honeywell Achievement/Excellence award for implementation of Total Rewards Program iand Intranet Manager Portal launch, Honeywell e-business and eHR transformation, Goldman Saks 10k Small Business incubator program and development of Manager Academy platform; 15 years as principal consultant of ThriveDigital Era helping businesses and leaders prepare for a future unlike the past. Her service skills incorporate: virtual business transformation (process improvement) ; executive coaching; leadership development; team building and change management.
Ensure participants appreciate the forces fundamentally driving the way we work, now and in the future, especially when working virtually and digitally. Identify mindsets, new practices, and digital processes for participants to transform themselves, their teams, and their organizations for future success. Provide participants with the processes and tools to successfully lead change and transform their organizations by adopting modern practices. Layout a journey to support participants in their leadership development journey to make a positive difference in the lives of their employees, colleagues, and customers.
1. Define and examine the framework, process, and personal expectations of this course.
2.Learn the VUCA framework and the leadership response to each component to effectively lead employees through volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous situations.
3.Understand the context and aspects of Industry 4.0 to read the world and develop effective competitive strategies for the future.
4.Identify working from home style and implications for personal communications for communications mastery communication in a virtual world.
5.Become more conscious of and improve personal presence, specifically in the domain of virtual communication
6. Improve personal productivity in a virtual environment.
7. Increase personal and team productivity with best practices in email and meetings
8.Explore and experiment with new ways of collaborating using modern tools, particularly with asynchronous methods
9.Build Relationships and networks in the virtual workplace and organizations
10.Discover and analyze possibilities for virtual offers. Develop ideas for new offers to make to colleagues and customers that are innovative, relevant, and valuable.
11.Learn the fundamentals of leading with influence and leading change. Experience making a personal/physical change, reflect on the experience and extend to lessons for influencing
and leading others through change.
12.Create goals and new personal habits required for change and commit to an individual plan for successful adoption.
1.Engage and elicit expectations for the course, introduce reflection and possibility exercise
2.Present history, context, VUCA framework, and associated leadership behaviors for each component
3.Illustrate Industry 4.0 phases through video, presentation, and articles, create learning assessment. Introduce “reading the world” practice
4.Have participants take “working from home” style report, debrief with class
5.Provide coaching for communicating virtually and projecting a leadership presence over video conference.
6.Provide resources and case studies that exemplify new practices for personal productivity
7.Assess current practice and develop more efficient and effective communication practices and collaboration with employees and teams in a virtual workplace.
8.Experiment with asynchronous practices for better productivity
9.Relationships and networks
10.Share case studies of virtual offers and successful pivots from businesses during the 2020 pandemic.
11.Experience making a personal/physical change, reflect on the experience and extend to lessons in leading change.
12.Identify new personal habits and change plan (start/stop/modify): Implement a solid change plan.
1.Participants to participate in expectations and possibility exercises through reflection and sharing in small groups during the workshop.
2.Participants identify specific VUCA response behaviors they need to work on as a leader and identify particular situations to bring them more into play when leading a team through volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous situations.
3.Participants to successfully complete the Industry 4.0 quiz and compete with each other via the leaderboard. Develop a “reading the world” analysis of their industry/market and company
4.Participant to take the personal assessment, identify new practice based on learning
5.Participants to demonstrate personal presence, get feedback, and make a plan for further development.
6.Participants to review resources for productivity and identify at least one new tool for adoption from the provided list.
7.Participants to assess current practices for meetings and emails. Identify the most significant time wasters and new methods for engagement.
8.Participants to identify and adopt new asynchronous practices to introduce to their team. Accelerate the adoption of asynchronous tools for more efficiency and effectiveness.
9.Participants to develop relationship map and follow through with actions
10.Participants to create a new offer, design based on customer needs, and make the offer to colleagues or customers relevant to virtual workplace or marketplace.
11.Participants to experience the difficulty of change and apply learnings to the philosophy of leading change.
12.Participants to complete their project by identifying and implementing changes discussed throughout the workshop.
Welcome to the Virtual Transformation course, where we will establish what it takes to survive and thrive given the significant shifts we have experienced within the last generation and, even more notably, this last year as the global pandemic forced the issue of working remotely. The need to lead employees and businesses in new ways has been gradually evolving over the last several decades but sped up dramatically during 2020. The future of work has accelerated. That means who you are as a leader must rise to meet this challenge. You must reinvent yourself as a leader, guide your employees through the new expectations of working in the new normal and transform your processes, operations, and business strategy for long-term competitive advantage.
During this workshop, we will examine what it takes for leaders to be successful in a virtual environment, identify the capabilities and practices required for success, and support participants in their transformation journey. We are living in spectacular times; business and leadership are at a significant turning point. The great reset- working from home, social equity and relations, and the economy’s uncertainty- converge as a perfect storm. The silver lining is the quickened pace of digitization and the new models that characterize the future of work. Virtual workers are here to stay. In the future, teams will consist of members working from different locations at different times. The traditional hub and spoke team led by one manager in one physical place will be a rarity. Undoubtedly, some of the fundamentals of excellent management and leadership will persist, but future success will require a shift in mindset and capabilities. Success in a virtual world requires building an effective virtual workplace, leading constituents through complex transformation, developing new offers, and optimizing operations with technology enabled by the fourth industrial revolution. Although there are benefits to virtual working arrangements, the inherent distance creates specific challenges for leaders. When leaders and employees rely on electronic communication to connect and complete their work, there are more possibilities for misunderstandings, significant barriers to fostering trust, and greater difficulty in coordinating. Virtual leaders must BRIDGE THE DISTANCE for themselves, their own team, and connections to other groups and organizations.
Thriving in Our Disruptive and Distributed World
This course is for all leaders seeking to lead their employees, teams, and businesses through the haze of change we face to develop organizations that can survive and thrive in our increasingly disruptive and distributed world. The future is accelerating towards us faster than ever; in fact, many aspects of the future of work arrived on our doorstep in 2020 as we collectively struggled to figure out how to navigate the pandemic. There isn’t a company or business that can escape the significant shifts we are undergoing in the business world and our society today: globalization, technology, remote working, multigenerational workforces, and cultural issues. These changes impact the local five and dime as well as Fortune 500 enterprises. We need leaders to guide us into the future, which will be dramatically different from our past. Making matters even more complicated, getting ready for the future requires changing the way we work. It means unlearning what we think we know, being in the uncomfortable space of having to learn something new to get your job done, and coping with volatility, uncertainty, complexity all at once.
Research has shown that distributed work can be productive and collaborative. Things that we could not even imagine doing virtually are now commonplace: learning, collaborating, coordinating. Leading employers are declaring that they will never return to the 5 days a week physical workplace, and customers will demand new interfaces for interactions that don’t require a physical presence. The virtual workplace is here to stay. We need savvy leaders to guide us forward.
Virtual Transformation is a one-year leadership program with monthly workshops that will transform leaders and build resilient teams to adapt, evolve, and thrive in the new future of work. Each month leaders will learn and cultivate new ways of working with practical, game-changing concepts that can be immediately applied to transform themselves, inspire and engage their team to be more innovative and productive. Through three core phases, leaders will first focus on themselves, then their team and finally their entire organization.
Bridging the Distance
Our conversations and work will focus on Virtual Transformation. Virtual refers to the virtual, hybrid, or distributed workplace. Work is no longer a 40 hr week proposition where you coordinate with employees working just down the hall. The reality is that there will be distance between you and your coworkers. Physical space, structural distance in terms of your reporting lines, relationship distance, and more. Our most pressing challenge is figuring out how to bridge that distance and make our distributed teams and businesses effective, meaningful, and rewarding.
Transformation focuses on the work ahead. Leading and managing in the same ways we have been for the last several decades is not going to work. Leaders must make personal shifts for future success and bring their teams and businesses through the journey.
Imagine it is a year from now and you have completed this course. What impact would there be on your business if you had succeeded by:
● Equipping your team to work effectively in our new normal
● Extending your “team” to include a broader group of people with the resources and willingness to help you achieve your goals.
● Creating new habits and practices for your own personal productivity in a digital world
● Freeing your team from the yoke of ineffective communication such as email overwhelm and poor information flow
● Building and sharing your Roadmap to the Future clarifying where you are going, what’s needed to get there, and who is doing what.
● Practicing and applying the tools in our Transformation Playbook to transform yourself, your team, and your organization in a substantial way.
● Developing a healthy high impact team and organization that is functioning well in virtual/hybrid workplace
● Getting a head start on even more digital transformation
● Building your capability as a leader and ability to repeat this success over and over!
Leading Into the Future
You will achieve this success by investing time and effort to explore new domains, shift your thinking, adopt new practices, innovate for your organization and lead change. In workshop one, we will begin our journey together, delving into critical success factors.
Reading the World: Explore and understand the world we live in, and interpret what that means for you, your team, and your business. You will start this process by completing the preliminary analysis section. It is critical for anticipating what is next and formulating a plan to deal with the challenges and exploit the opportunities you see.
Future Shaping: Prepare for a future unlike the past by building the structures, resources, and practices required to thrive. Embrace today’s challenges and decide what to do to create a better tomorrow. Ask yourself how you can proactively shape the things you can control and translate your insights into an action plan.
Collaborative leadership: Expandyour team and influence, work across boundaries, building interdependence among peers, colleagues, and stakeholders for alignment and more inclusive thinking.
Transform yourself, your team, and your organization. Business Transformation is different from linear process improvement and incremental change. It requires s whole system transformation that renders what we know as so substantially different, it is almost unrecognizable. It will feel radical to you and the people involved in the change. Overcoming resistance and inertia to get the organization to shift and move requires vision, planning, and persistence. You will create a strategy to support the team as they transition and adopt new ways of working.
All of this takes extraordinary leadership. But there is simply no choice. To go forward, we need leaders who are willing to step up to the challenge. This course’s mission is to guide you, accelerate your progress, give you a heads up for the speed bumps, and let you in on the proven best practices for transforming organizations so that you are well prepared to lead into the future.
The Three Lenses: You, Your Team, Your Organization
The Virtual Transformation course will be the catalyst for driving and adapting to the new workplace’s complexities for you as a leader, your team, and your business. We begin with a thorough exploration of the virtual workplace, focus on what leaders must do to transform themselves, and prepare to lead their team forward to the new normal. It requires disrupting old practices as well as managing your personal energy and commitment to be as effective and productive as possible for the challenge ahead. Leaders must shift themselves to the new realities of work and become experts in leading others through change and move their constituents towards the future.
After spending time shoring up your leadership mindsets and capability, we will focus on bringing your team along on the journey. What do they need to do differently to thrive in the new normal? How do you build a high-impact team in a distributed world? How do you manage and create accountability in a distributed world? Developing vital for self-awareness, empathy, and resilience is critical for all.
Lastly, we will focus on the enterprise or business level. What does it take to creating an effective virtual workplace? Transform operations and processes to enable the virtual work and leverage next gen technology? How can we use real-time data so that operators, managers, and leaders make better decisions? We will discuss how to develop vital cross-functional collaboration to reinvent products, services, and customer relationships.
Optimal Results Require Your Full Participation
As a participant, you will experience world-class virtual learning through a digital learning model designed to adapt to each participant. Your instructor, Ms. Ennis, is an expert in digital business transformation, leadership, and high-impact teams. She will introduce each concept in ways that trigger insights for you and provide practical ways to put the idea into practice. These micro-changes add up over time to help leaders change their teams, organizations, and lives for the better. Through social learning, participants will learn from each other and build strong relationships with peers who can continue to learn from one another after the program. Each module includes interactive exercises and activities. Monthly assignments serve as the foundation for the course project, a complete business transformation plan for the virtual workplace and digital marketplace.
There are several phases to your work each month:
1. Preparation – learn the fundamentals so that you can participate fully in the workshop
2. Conversation – robust dialogue with the course leader and your fellow participants to gain a deeper understanding and perspective
3. Practice – apply what you learned to achieve small wins and embed the learning.
4. Sustaining the change – building long term habits and structures to support ongoing transformation
You cannot do this work in isolation. Your monthly projects will involve collaborating with your team and stakeholders to build alignment and interdependent solutions.
Workshop One Preparation:
● Complete the Preliminary Analysis
● Review the Executive Summary
● Review the Mission, objectives, strategies, and tasks required for completion of Module 1
● Take the assessment on your “working from home” style
● Reflect and document what you intend to achieve in this course and the predicted impact on your
organization or business.
● Organize your digital learning space
● Be ready to introduce yourself to the cohort with a two-minute introduction of yourself.
For course completion, you will learn and adopt new ways of working for yourself, institute new working practices for your team, create a plan to reinvent your company processes and operations using digital tools. We will support you with world-class methods you can use and guidance on leading change and transformation within your organization. Over the next 12 months, we will work through the following topics, guiding you through a process of reading the world, identifying new practices and change for each, culminating in a master plan for the virtual transformation plan for your business.
The first workshop in our Virtual Transformation course focuses on you as a leader and the impact you have on the organization. We will examine the forces that are driving this critical shift, what it takes to lead in a virtual environment, identify the capabilities and practices required for success, and build the foundation for the journey you will be taking over the next twelve months to lead your employees, team, and business through a significant virtual transformation. We are living in remarkable times; business and leadership are at a significant turning point. The great reset- working from home, social equity and relations, and the economy’s uncertainty- converge as a perfect storm. The silver lining is the quickened pace of digitization and the opportunity to build a more competitive, effective organization prepared for the future.
Business Transformation Process
We start with an overview of our framework for accomplishing this work together. Business transformation is different from process improvement in two significant ways. First, the starting point must be a future-focused examination of trends impacting our lives and business, before moving onto the internal analysis and design phase. We will work with you to expand your awareness, insights, and ability to connect with what those forces mean for your team, business, and customers. Secondly, the investment required to transform for success requires multi-layer, complex change and communication strategies. We will explore this in-depth and iterate through our five-step transformation process several times during the course, moving from a focus on you as a leader, to your team, to your organization and operations to your offers.
The acronym VUCA is a powerful way of understanding the challenges of the world we live in today: it is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. It was coined by the US Army College over 20 years ago to reflect the evolution from historical warfare and the emerging conditions that characterize our world today. Consider the shift from WW2 warfare to protecting ourselves post 9/11. We will discuss each of these components in more detail for clarity on what leaders can expect, what causes the phenomenon, where it occurs, relevance, and how it impacts the business ecosphere, your industry, and your specific situation. As with the military college, the purpose of this section is for you to understand the mechanics in order to develop strategies that are cohesive with the realities of our VUCA world, enhancing your likelihood of success. We will also view Virtual Transformation through the VUCA lens.
VUCA Leadership Response
For each of the VUCA challenges, there is a leadership response That is the good news. Deeply understanding the context provides an opportunity to quickly recognize when any of the challenges are at play, and respond with an effective practice that can make the situation workable. We cannot control the VUCA world we are in, but just as the military has we can create a new playbook to guide us in territory that is vastly different than it was in the past, adopt new practices for success. With this knowledge, you will start to rethink what you need to do to lead your employees through crises like the pandemic and deal with volatility, uncertainty, and ambiguity as it is almost always a condition of our situation. You will reflection, and share lessons learned from your personal experiences seen through this framework and trigger insights on what you need to do to develop yourself as a VUCA leader.
Today, we are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. It began at the dawn of the new Millennium, catalyzed by our ubiquitous use of the internet and technology in our everyday work and lives. Virtual transformation is both enabled and accelerated by the digitization of the last several decades. The boom in the Internet and telecommunication industry in the 1990s revolutionized how we connect and exchange information. It also sparked industry-wide paradigm changes, drastically altering the boundaries of the physical and the virtual world. Indeed, how would business have ever been able to continue in 2020 during the shutdown if we had not adopted the core technology that allows us to work from home, connect with customers anywhere and even manage manufacturing plants remotely? Those were the advances of Industry 3.0- Digitization. In this section, we will look back to Industry 3.0 for opportunities to jumpstart our virtual transformation with existing technology.
Then we will look forward to the future by examining the components of 4.0 to anticipate what is coming, how it will impact fundamental business structures, and what we need to do about it. The most provocative and challenging aspect of Industry 4.0 is that we are still in the midst of it; we don’t know how it all works out. Compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving exponentially rather than at a linear pace. Add to that the turbo boost COVID-19 gave to the remote workforce and the economic, social, and political turbulence, and we are in for quite a ride.
Virtual working arrangements have been around for decades for a small group of employees like sales professionals whose roles by nature depend on them being more present in the field than the home office. Globalization also sparked virtual working since teams needed to collaborate across geographies. However, the true era of the virtual workplace began in March of 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic forced everyone but essential workers to work from home. We all became virtual workers. The forced experience went better in many ways than leadership expected. Physical presence technology like Zoom helped us collectively rise to the occasion. Businesses innovated their offers to embrace the need for virtual or “touchless” products and services. We leaped ahead toward the future of work because of our forced adoption of virtual tools, practices, and mindsets. It also created vast disruption and the realization that moving forward we needed to transform the way we work to a virtual model. Amidst all of the uncertainty, we know that the future workplace will be predominantly virtual.
We can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Many companies like Twitter have already announced they will allow all of their employees to continue working remotely. Companies that choose to return to the traditional workplace will still be faced with managing work from home well into 2021 because of COVID-19. We also know that technology will disrupt the way we work and use products and services in ways we can’t even imagine today. Working virtually is enabled by technology and mandated by the growth that it creates. Industry 4.0 will continue to drive exponential change, artificial intelligence, a virtual workplace, and the need to continuously adopt new ways of working to remain competitive. With self-directed, tech-enabled, globally-connected teams, the work of managers and leaders will shift. We need to transform the way we connect, get work done, learn, transact and deliver products to customers, teach our children, and integrate work and life so that we can live productive and fulfilling lives.
In 2021 where leadership happens is very different from what you have experienced in the past. Instead of daily interactions with most of the people you are working with, you are likely leading the majority of the time over Zoom or Microsoft teams. Virtual transformation starts with you! How are you shifting the way you interact and show up to maintain the presence you had working face to face? Have you taken the time to set up your remote space in a way that lets you put your best foot forward? In the future, you undoubtedly will need to make an impact on employees, customers, bosses, and colleagues virtually more of the time if not most of the time. In fact, your leadership presence will become something that differentiates you and provides you competitive advantage. In preparation for the workshop, you will put your best foot forward to introduce yourself to your cohort colleagues and get some immediate feedback. Together we will discuss some simple new tools and practices that will quickly help you improve your performance for the work at hand. Become more conscious of and improve personal presence, specifically in the domain of virtual communication.
Virtual Communication Style
Your ability to communicate effectively as a leader is a critical success factor. Everyone has their own preferences and tendencies. Great leaders are self-aware of how they communicate, and how their communication style impacts the different types of people they work with. They also have a keen understanding of the communication style preferences that produce the best results. This work is bedrock for leadership and team development. Some of you may have used an assessment like DISC in the past.
Working virtually dramatically increases the need for communication style awareness given the lack of physical presence and ability to observe cues. When working virtually, we need to become more aware of our strengths and weaknesses and actively manage them. We don’t have our peers, leaders, and other influencers around us to help point out when we need course-correction. In addition, time and priority management are vital. Your communication style provides clues to what you need to create to be successful in a virtual or hybrid team environment. As prework, you will take the “Working From Home” style assessment. Your customized report will include suggestions to offer insight into how you might manage yourself when working virtually for the best results. We will also discuss how you can use this tool with your team.
Mindset Shifts and New Capabilities
We live in extraordinary times. There has never been a better time to lead or opportunity to lead from anywhere in the organization. Even before the pandemic, our world had become VUCA. We are well into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Technology will continue to change faster than we can imagine. And the Covid10 pandemic has accelerated the virtual workplace.
How do we move forward and get through? Great leaders. Leaders are needed more than ever.
Today’s leaders face a dramatically different world moving forward. Transforming your team or organization starts with transforming how you work and lead. That entails adopting new ways of thinking, new behaviors, and new practices. If you have been a strong leader in the past, you will be able to build upon some of those capabilities to get even better such as communications and building relationships. In some areas, you need to literally “unlearn” some of your practices and habits to make room for the new habits of the virtual workplace. It may be the case that you have to shore up some fundamental leadership capabilities such as leading change.
So much has been written and researched on Leadership. We have synthesized the current research on t Modern Leadership and summarized it into four categories: Personal Impact, Growth Mindset, Teaming/Collaboration, and future focus. During the workshop, we will discuss specific skills and mindsets required for success in each area, and give you the opportunity to assess yourself, and identify areas to develop your leadership capabilities. The great news is that all four of these leadership areas are skills that you can get better at with effort and practice.
A SWOT is a strategic planning tool used to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats a business, organization, project or competitor may have. SWOTs are high-level strategic planning tools to help organizations identify where they’re doing well and where they can improve. Knowing where you are starting from is essential for any strategic planning perspective. We will use SWOTs for several different purposes throughout this course, and we start in this workshop with your leadership SWOT. Using the spirit of this SWOT analysis – you are going to assess your own leadership skills and abilities. You will be taking the time, to be honest, and do a check-in with yourself on the quality of your work, motivations, and future self. This assessment will be critical for building your personal transformation plan to be an effective leader in the virtual workplace and have the capability to lead the transformation of your business.
Seize Tomorrow: Designing Your Future State
Once you have a clear perspective of your current state, we will turn the conversation to the future. Based on your understanding of the forces that are impacting our world, how do you need to shift yourself as a leader, the way your team works, and how your business compete? What is the picture you must paint of the future to get people to follow you? What do you anticipate based on the trends you have researched, and how will you prepare for a future, unlike the past.
Influencing and Leading Change
As we note at the start of this executive summary great leaders are needed now more than ever to help their organizations grow and flourish in the virtual workplace and economy. As a leader you must hone the ability to influence and lead change by mastering the fundamental practices that are required for successful transformation:
1. Bridge the gap between vision and implementation
2. Rigorously plan for the people component
3. Get clear how work will be different
4. Engaged stakeholders for collaboration and creativity
5. Understand and mitigate the impact
6. Embody change leadership and manage transitions
7. Distribute accountability throughout the system
8. Adopt new ways of working and enable employees to succeed using them
9. Build communities for velocity, energy, and capacity for future change
Making it Real
At the end of each workshop, we will collectively turn our focus into how you as a leader will make what we have covered real in your organization. By making it real we mean to apply what you have learned and take action to make a positive impact. That starts with reflection on what you are going to do differently yourself and a commitment to change. Also important is how you will bring the others in your organization into the conversation about what you have learned, and make requests about what you need from them for success. This will include not only your formal team but your cross-functional peers. How will you collectively build the plan to transform yourselves into a virtual organization?
Workshop 1 – Internal Analysis
- Part 1 Virtual Workplace
- Part 2 Disrupting Leadership
- Part 3 Personal Productivity
- Part 4 Relationships and Trust
- Part 5 Future Shaping
- Part 6 Leading Change
- Part 7 Managing Virtually
- Part 8 Distanced Accountability
- Part 9 Virtual Teaming
- Part 10 Virtual Operations
- Part 11 Product Reinvention
- Part 12 Business Transformation
Welcome to Appleton Greene and thank you for enrolling on the Virtual Transformation corporate training program. You will be learning through our unique facilitation via distance-learning method, which will enable you to practically implement everything that you learn academically. The methods and materials used in your program have been designed and developed to ensure that you derive the maximum benefits and enjoyment possible. We hope that you find the program challenging and fun to do. However, if you have never been a distance-learner before, you may be experiencing some trepidation at the task before you. So we will get you started by giving you some basic information and guidance on how you can make the best use of the modules, how you should manage the materials and what you should be doing as you work through them. This guide is designed to point you in the right direction and help you to become an effective distance-learner. Take a few hours or so to study this guide and your guide to tutorial support for students, while making notes, before you start to study in earnest.
You will need to locate a quiet and private place to study, preferably a room where you can easily be isolated from external disturbances or distractions. Make sure the room is well-lit and incorporates a relaxed, pleasant feel. If you can spoil yourself within your study environment, you will have much more of a chance to ensure that you are always in the right frame of mind when you do devote time to study. For example, a nice fire, the ability to play soft soothing background music, soft but effective lighting, perhaps a nice view if possible and a good size desk with a comfortable chair. Make sure that your family know when you are studying and understand your study rules. Your study environment is very important. The ideal situation if at all possible, is to have a separate study, which can be devoted to you. If this is not possible then you will need to pay a lot more attention to developing and managing your study schedule, because it will affect other people as well as yourself. The better your study environment, the more productive you will be.
Study tools & rules
Try and make sure that your study tools are sufficient and in good working order. You will need to have access to a computer, scanner and printer, with access to the internet. You will need a very comfortable chair, which supports your lower back, and you will need a good filing system. It can be very frustrating if you are spending valuable study time trying to fix study tools that are unreliable, or unsuitable for the task. Make sure that your study tools are up to date. You will also need to consider some study rules. Some of these rules will apply to you and will be intended to help you to be more disciplined about when and how you study. This distance-learning guide will help you and after you have read it you can put some thought into what your study rules should be. You will also need to negotiate some study rules for your family, friends or anyone who lives with you. They too will need to be disciplined to ensure that they can support you while you study. It is important to ensure that your family and friends are an integral part of your study team. Having their support and encouragement can prove to be a crucial contribution to your successful completion of the program. Involve them in as much as you can.
Distance-learners are freed from the necessity of attending regular classes or workshops, since they can study in their own way, at their own pace and for their own purposes. But unlike traditional internal training courses, it is the student’s responsibility, with a distance-learning program, to ensure that they manage their own study contribution. This requires strong self-discipline and self-motivation skills and there must be a clear will to succeed. Those students who are used to managing themselves, are good at managing others and who enjoy working in isolation, are more likely to be good distance-learners. It is also important to be aware of the main reasons why you are studying and of the main objectives that you are hoping to achieve as a result. You will need to remind yourself of these objectives at times when you need to motivate yourself. Never lose sight of your long-term goals and your short-term objectives. There is nobody available here to pamper you, or to look after you, or to spoon-feed you with information, so you will need to find ways to encourage and appreciate yourself while you are studying. Make sure that you chart your study progress, so that you can be sure of your achievements and re-evaluate your goals and objectives regularly.
Appleton Greene training programs are in all cases post-graduate programs. Consequently, you should already have obtained a business-related degree and be an experienced learner. You should therefore already be aware of your study strengths and weaknesses. For example, which time of the day are you at your most productive? Are you a lark or an owl? What study methods do you respond to the most? Are you a consistent learner? How do you discipline yourself? How do you ensure that you enjoy yourself while studying? It is important to understand yourself as a learner and so some self-assessment early on will be necessary if you are to apply yourself correctly. Perform a SWOT analysis on yourself as a student. List your internal strengths and weaknesses as a student and your external opportunities and threats. This will help you later on when you are creating a study plan. You can then incorporate features within your study plan that can ensure that you are playing to your strengths, while compensating for your weaknesses. You can also ensure that you make the most of your opportunities, while avoiding the potential threats to your success.
Accepting responsibility as a student
Training programs invariably require a significant investment, both in terms of what they cost and in the time that you need to contribute to study and the responsibility for successful completion of training programs rests entirely with the student. This is never more apparent than when a student is learning via distance-learning. Accepting responsibility as a student is an important step towards ensuring that you can successfully complete your training program. It is easy to instantly blame other people or factors when things go wrong. But the fact of the matter is that if a failure is your failure, then you have the power to do something about it, it is entirely in your own hands. If it is always someone else’s failure, then you are powerless to do anything about it. All students study in entirely different ways, this is because we are all individuals and what is right for one student, is not necessarily right for another. In order to succeed, you will have to accept personal responsibility for finding a way to plan, implement and manage a personal study plan that works for you. If you do not succeed, you only have yourself to blame.
By far the most critical contribution to stress, is the feeling of not being in control. In the absence of planning we tend to be reactive and can stumble from pillar to post in the hope that things will turn out fine in the end. Invariably they don’t! In order to be in control, we need to have firm ideas about how and when we want to do things. We also need to consider as many possible eventualities as we can, so that we are prepared for them when they happen. Prescriptive Change, is far easier to manage and control, than Emergent Change. The same is true with distance-learning. It is much easier and much more enjoyable, if you feel that you are in control and that things are going to plan. Even when things do go wrong, you are prepared for them and can act accordingly without any unnecessary stress. It is important therefore that you do take time to plan your studies properly.
Once you have developed a clear study plan, it is of equal importance to ensure that you manage the implementation of it. Most of us usually enjoy planning, but it is usually during implementation when things go wrong. Targets are not met and we do not understand why. Sometimes we do not even know if targets are being met. It is not enough for us to conclude that the study plan just failed. If it is failing, you will need to understand what you can do about it. Similarly if your study plan is succeeding, it is still important to understand why, so that you can improve upon your success. You therefore need to have guidelines for self-assessment so that you can be consistent with performance improvement throughout the program. If you manage things correctly, then your performance should constantly improve throughout the program.
Study objectives & tasks
The first place to start is developing your program objectives. These should feature your reasons for undertaking the training program in order of priority. Keep them succinct and to the point in order to avoid confusion. Do not just write the first things that come into your head because they are likely to be too similar to each other. Make a list of possible departmental headings, such as: Customer Service; E-business; Finance; Globalization; Human Resources; Technology; Legal; Management; Marketing and Production. Then brainstorm for ideas by listing as many things that you want to achieve under each heading and later re-arrange these things in order of priority. Finally, select the top item from each department heading and choose these as your program objectives. Try and restrict yourself to five because it will enable you to focus clearly. It is likely that the other things that you listed will be achieved if each of the top objectives are achieved. If this does not prove to be the case, then simply work through the process again.
As a guide, the Appleton Greene Virtual Transformation corporate training program should take 12-18 months to complete, depending upon your availability and current commitments. The reason why there is such a variance in time estimates is because every student is an individual, with differing productivity levels and different commitments. These differentiations are then exaggerated by the fact that this is a distance-learning program, which incorporates the practical integration of academic theory as an as a part of the training program. As such all of the project studies are real, which means that important decisions and compromises need to be made. You will want to get things right and will need to be patient with your expectations to ensure that they are. We would always recommend that you are prudent with your own task and time forecasts, but you still need to develop them and have a clear indication of what are realistic expectations in your case. With reference to your time planning: consider the time that you can realistically dedicate towards study with the program every week; calculate how long it should take you to complete the program, using the guidelines featured here; then break the program down into logical modules and allocate a suitable proportion of time to each of them, these will be your milestones; you can create a time plan by using a spreadsheet on your computer, or a personal organizer such as MS Outlook, you could also use a financial forecasting software; break your time forecasts down into manageable chunks of time, the more specific you can be, the more productive and accurate your time management will be; finally, use formulas where possible to do your time calculations for you, because this will help later on when your forecasts need to change in line with actual performance. With reference to your task planning: refer to your list of tasks that need to be undertaken in order to achieve your program objectives; with reference to your time plan, calculate when each task should be implemented; remember that you are not estimating when your objectives will be achieved, but when you will need to focus upon implementing the corresponding tasks; you also need to ensure that each task is implemented in conjunction with the associated training modules which are relevant; then break each single task down into a list of specific to do’s, say approximately ten to do’s for each task and enter these into your study plan; once again you could use MS Outlook to incorporate both your time and task planning and this could constitute your study plan; you could also use a project management software like MS Project. You should now have a clear and realistic forecast detailing when you can expect to be able to do something about undertaking the tasks to achieve your program objectives.
It is one thing to develop your study forecast, it is quite another to monitor your progress. Ultimately it is less important whether you achieve your original study forecast and more important that you update it so that it constantly remains realistic in line with your performance. As you begin to work through the program, you will begin to have more of an idea about your own personal performance and productivity levels as a distance-learner. Once you have completed your first study module, you should re-evaluate your study forecast for both time and tasks, so that they reflect your actual performance level achieved. In order to achieve this you must first time yourself while training by using an alarm clock. Set the alarm for hourly intervals and make a note of how far you have come within that time. You can then make a note of your actual performance on your study plan and then compare your performance against your forecast. Then consider the reasons that have contributed towards your performance level, whether they are positive or negative and make a considered adjustment to your future forecasts as a result. Given time, you should start achieving your forecasts regularly.
With reference to time management: time yourself while you are studying and make a note of the actual time taken in your study plan; consider your successes with time-efficiency and the reasons for the success in each case and take this into consideration when reviewing future time planning; consider your failures with time-efficiency and the reasons for the failures in each case and take this into consideration when reviewing future time planning; re-evaluate your study forecast in relation to time planning for the remainder of your training program to ensure that you continue to be realistic about your time expectations. You need to be consistent with your time management, otherwise you will never complete your studies. This will either be because you are not contributing enough time to your studies, or you will become less efficient with the time that you do allocate to your studies. Remember, if you are not in control of your studies, they can just become yet another cause of stress for you.
With reference to your task management: time yourself while you are studying and make a note of the actual tasks that you have undertaken in your study plan; consider your successes with task-efficiency and the reasons for the success in each case; take this into consideration when reviewing future task planning; consider your failures with task-efficiency and the reasons for the failures in each case and take this into consideration when reviewing future task planning; re-evaluate your study forecast in relation to task planning for the remainder of your training program to ensure that you continue to be realistic about your task expectations. You need to be consistent with your task management, otherwise you will never know whether you are achieving your program objectives or not.
Keeping in touch
You will have access to qualified and experienced professors and tutors who are responsible for providing tutorial support for your particular training program. So don’t be shy about letting them know how you are getting on. We keep electronic records of all tutorial support emails so that professors and tutors can review previous correspondence before considering an individual response. It also means that there is a record of all communications between you and your professors and tutors and this helps to avoid any unnecessary duplication, misunderstanding, or misinterpretation. If you have a problem relating to the program, share it with them via email. It is likely that they have come across the same problem before and are usually able to make helpful suggestions and steer you in the right direction. To learn more about when and how to use tutorial support, please refer to the Tutorial Support section of this student information guide. This will help you to ensure that you are making the most of tutorial support that is available to you and will ultimately contribute towards your success and enjoyment with your training program.
Work colleagues and family
You should certainly discuss your program study progress with your colleagues, friends and your family. Appleton Greene training programs are very practical. They require you to seek information from other people, to plan, develop and implement processes with other people and to achieve feedback from other people in relation to viability and productivity. You will therefore have plenty of opportunities to test your ideas and enlist the views of others. People tend to be sympathetic towards distance-learners, so don’t bottle it all up in yourself. Get out there and share it! It is also likely that your family and colleagues are going to benefit from your labors with the program, so they are likely to be much more interested in being involved than you might think. Be bold about delegating work to those who might benefit themselves. This is a great way to achieve understanding and commitment from people who you may later rely upon for process implementation. Share your experiences with your friends and family.
Making it relevant
The key to successful learning is to make it relevant to your own individual circumstances. At all times you should be trying to make bridges between the content of the program and your own situation. Whether you achieve this through quiet reflection or through interactive discussion with your colleagues, client partners or your family, remember that it is the most important and rewarding aspect of translating your studies into real self-improvement. You should be clear about how you want the program to benefit you. This involves setting clear study objectives in relation to the content of the course in terms of understanding, concepts, completing research or reviewing activities and relating the content of the modules to your own situation. Your objectives may understandably change as you work through the program, in which case you should enter the revised objectives on your study plan so that you have a permanent reminder of what you are trying to achieve, when and why.
Prepare your study environment, your study tools and rules.
Undertake detailed self-assessment in terms of your ability as a learner.
Create a format for your study plan.
Consider your study objectives and tasks.
Create a study forecast.
Assess your study performance.
Re-evaluate your study forecast.