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November 22, 2006

Thankful for ISA

by Hap Cooper

For those of you who are training consultantsor work for a training firmI'd recommend looking into membership in ISA (Instructional Systems Association).  ISA is the association for learning providers that brings trainers from around the country together on a regular basis to share ideas and best practices.

ISA sponsors formal events, such as the Annual Business Retreat to be held March 18th in Scottsdale, AZ, that are worth the price of admission.  There are also a number of semi-formal events held around the country that allow training consultants to meet with peers to resolve issues and discuss common challenges.  But the reason I'm blogging on this right now is that I recently got a great deal of value from an ISA "pick-up" eventa quick lunch with the Executive Director, Pam Schmidt, and the Presidents of three mid-large training firms (Tom Dungan of Management Concepts, Nick Schacht of Learning Tree International and Jeff Marciano of Falmouth Institute).

Together these three people manage more than 600 staff members and are responsible for having trained more than two million people.  Moreover, Pam and the three gentlemen are bright, insightful and more than willing to help.  When I mentioned that I was launching a new soft skills training firm, they swung into action as my ad hoc steering committee.  Within an hour we had settled on a name for the new company ("Red Zone Consulting" because we help organizations convert opportunities).  But they also helped me with something much more important.  When they asked me what we did, I talked about behavioral change and how our training helps individuals increase their effectiveness—and they stopped me. 

"Are you selling to individuals?" 

"Well, no.  I'm selling to business heads and training directors." 

"So talk about how you drive business results."

Bing.  The light went off.  How often do you talk to line managers about your curriculum of programs that drive learning and behavioral change?  We sound like Charlie Brown's parents when we talk OD to business managers.  The value of this advice was...incalculable.

Oddly enough, this is what I teach other people to do and fell into the same trap myself.  So I thought I'd pay ISA back with a little plug—I have no stake in the organization other than being a highly satisfied member.

So, will I be seeing you March 18th in Arizona?

Hap Cooper is a prolific speaker and writer focused principally on the areas of change management and sales effectiveness. He is a managing director of The Baron Group, a research, training and consulting firm, and lives in Baltimore, MD.


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