Sunday, November 28, 2010

Does CIPD CEO deserve £87K bonus? Personnel Today survey NO 94%, YES 6%!

Personnel Today picked up on my Jackie Orme story and laid out the case with a link to my blog along with an official response from the CIPD.

"There is an element of Jackie's package which is performance-related, and which is linked to a scorecard of clear objectives. The main point is that against that scorecard, the Institute has had a successful year….. That level of detail is between the remuneration committee and Jackie Orme.”

Let me translate: ‘It’s none of your business. We decide and that’s that!’

Listen, we all understand that the Remuneration Committee technically decides on these things, but it is not enough to simply state you’ve had a successful year with not a single word of support, especially as the stated facts suggest the opposite.

You can see from the annual report that the CIPD have had an annus horrbilis:

Jackie Orme’s bonus up by 49% to £87,000, BUT:

  1. Commercial income down by 23%
  2. Research down by 57% and ridiculed (report pulled and CEO apology)
  3. Magazine imploded (down 83%)
  4. Revenues from the branches down by 45.6%,
  5. Investment returns bombed (down 74.7%)
  6. And don’t forget that there was also a dramatic 50% increase in the number of staff on £60k plus from 14 in 2009 to 21 in 2010.

Devastating survey

The comments on the Personnel Today website were mostly negative, so they launched a survey. These are the results so far:

Do you think the CIPD’s performance in 2009-10 justifies CEO Jackie Orme’s bonus?
So far YES 6%, NO 94%

The poll ends on December 7th, so get your vote in now.

An overwhelming rebuke I’d say.

Credibility at stake

But there’s a wider issue at stake here, which is the very credibility of the CIPD. By failing to explain the £400k salary, and in particular the huge increase in her bonus to £87,000, the CIPD are in no position to offer advice and guidance on pay to others.

Their paper on bonuses on the public sector (recommending them strongly) was seen by many as a rather odd and idiosyncratic message in these times of austerity, especially as it was published close to the disastrous ‘Quango’ paper, attacking organisations that weren’t quangos, but charities, just like the CIPD. The paper had to be pulled and an apology issued by Jackie Orme, when the CEOs of those charities rounded on the CIPD for their amateurism.

If the CIPD was a large organisation with a large number of employees, I’d have some sympathy with a total package of £400k, but it is a charity and technically a SME, as it has less than 250 employees. Jackie Orme, in accepted this package from a weak remuneration committee of just three board members.

New President’s murky past

Let me add another warning. Gill Rider, the incoming President, was the Head of HR across Whitehall. To put it another way, Head of Civil Service Capability Group (widely seen as inefficient and incapable) and Head of Profession for Civil Service HR, widely criticised as being responsible for the excessive salaries and bonuses for top Civil Servants. You may not know much about Gill Rider, but she was subject to a severe mauling from the press after the government awarded a £400 million contract to De La Rue Printers for passports. Turns out she’s a Director of de La Rue, and although resigned briefly, returned as a Director the very day the contract was awarded. She was also accused of nepotism by appointing colleagues of hers to top Government posts. The whole murky story is here. The CIPD is turning into a second-rate dictatorship lurching from one incompetent leader to another.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Skype learning – 7 great benefits

You can always spot a fabulous technology when it can be used as a verb, like email, text, tweet. I’ll ‘Skype’ you, is one of those wonderful verbs. Over the last two years I’ve been doing voluntary Maths and Science tuition for kids that find these subjects difficult. It’s been a mix of face-to-face and Skype. So what follows is a short comparison between these two techniques.


Skype is one of the wonders of the web, mainly because it’s free. Who would have thought that videoconferencing would cost nothing and that any old Joe from any old computer, and many phones, could do it for free? In these frugal times that’s a gift from the heavens.

Death of distance

Skype is a classic ‘death of distance’ technology. It quite simply frees us from the tyranny of location and cost. Both teacher and student can be literally anywhere. There’s nothing worse for a young person than having to trek round to a tutor’s house in the dark to do some ‘learning’. Booting up Skype is so much quicker and easier.

Increased focus

Skype forces both teacher and student to focus. This may be because you feel that you’re using up valuable online resource, even though it’s free. In any case, there is real sustained attention, which I think is better than a one-to-one face-to-face session. You are far less likely to drift off-task, as either teacher or learner. That means more learning in less time.

True dialogue

The fact that you’re not sitting next to them, and leaning into them, gives them time to breath, think, reflect and respond in their own time. It’s far more measured, with properly paced, dialogue, as the teacher is less likely to talk over the student and more likely to wait until they give a thoughtful response. Dylan William has shown that teachers tend to ask questions then jump in too early when the student fails to respond. I’ve found his 3 second rule (wait 3 secs before saying anything) much easier when online. Both sides take greater care to participate in a structured and constructive dialogue. Of course, you can be even more structured using the message service, which forces you to wait until the other person has responded with a written (and therefore considered) answer.

Prevents peer problems

But it’s the subtler issue of peer distance that really surprised me. Let’s face it, adults and teachers are not the peers of teenagers. We’re the opposite of peers, in the sense that whatever’s cool for us is the opposite of cool for them. I’ve found that being online, brings with it a healthy form of psychological distance that prevents peer problems. It’s more of an adult to adult conversation in the sense that the technology is a leveller. It puts you both on the same psychological plane.

Shared learning resources

When it comes to doing things, like setting a problem, responding with an answer, illustrating a point with a diagram or downloading a past paper or online resource such as BBC Bitesize, you can do so while keeping the Skype channel open. No need to have the video on, just have the new window full screen and the audio dialogue can continue. This is great as you both have your full attention on the content, not the psychological noise you get in face-to-face sessions.


You can record your Skype sessions for free, integrate with outlook, create alerts, use whiteboards, tutoring tools (just click on ‘Conversation’ then ‘Extras)’. There’s literally dozens of tools that allow do anything from customise to the sharing of files and resources.


Some of these virtues are simple and clear; it’s free and frees you from the tyranny of location. Others advantages are more psychological; increased attention, better dialogue and levelling out of peer effects. Lastly, there’s the practical advantages around shared online resources. Bottom line: Skype’s a vastly underused tool that’s made for learning.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NLP: scientific paper suggests it’s a “pseudoscience” that should be “mothballed”

NLP is one of those topics that has been abandoned by academia and psychology but still soldiers on in the training world. To be fair, the NLPers have retreated to a position of 'science and evidence is irrelevant'. However, as Christopher Hitchins often says, "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." I was pleased, therefore, to receive a pre-publication paper from Tomasz Witkowski that takes all of the current academic work on NLP, including that which purports to support its theory, and puts it to the test. The paper’s title is, 'Thirty-Five Years of Research on Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP Research Data Base. State of the Art or Pseudoscientific Decoration?'

Why is NLP completely absent from psychology textbooks?

Despite its aggressive marketing and application in training, Witkowski asks; ‘Why is NLP completely absent from psychology textbooks?’ Rather conveniently, Bandler didn't think that empirical testing was necessary and is openly contemptuous of such an approach. However, it is important to look at the theory from a perspective that is free from the biases of its practitioners (as they believe the theory and make money from the practice) and the patients (who may be subject to manipulation and false belief).

Neuro-Linguistic Programming Research Data Base

Witkowski starts on NLPs home territory with the Neuro-Linguistic Programming Research Data Base found on the web pages of NLP Community. It is the largest of such databases and includes hundreds of empirical studies from 1974-2009, and is often used by NLP proponents to defend the empirical nature of their theory and practice. First, he applied a credibility filter to the database (the respected Master Journal List of the Institute for Scientific Information in Philadelphia) to identify the reliable journals. This took the 315 down to 63.

A qualitative analysis of these 63 articles showed; 33 relevant empirical studies, 14 that were of little or scientific significance and 16 that appear to have been included in the database by accident, as they weren’t relevant. Of the 33 relevant papers; 18 were non-supportive of the NLP tenets and the tenets-derived hypotheses (54.5%), 9 supported NLP tenets and the tenets-derived hypotheses (27.3%), and 6 had uncertain outcomes (18.2%).

He then applied a national test, based on relevance and impact, to find that the papers NOT supporting NLP had more status in the academic and professional world. He concludes that, "The numbers indicate unequivocally that the NLP concept has not been developed on solid empirical foundations". His point is that the numbers alone don't tell the whole story, what matters is the weight of the evidence. A problem uncovered in the supporting papers was the common absence of a control group, and trials that could not be seen as scientifically valid. The non-supportive papers, that showed no evidence for the eye movement hypothesis (Thomason, Arbuckle & Cady, 1980; Farmer, Rooney & Cunningham, 1985; Poffel & Cross, 1985; Burke et al., 2003) and preferred modalities (Gumm, Walker and Day (1982), and also Coe and Scharcoff (1985)), were much more rigorous. Elich, Thompson and Miller (1985) tested claims that eye movement direction and spoken predicates are indicative of sensory modality of imagery and showed no evidence for the NLP-derived hypotheses. Graunke and Roberts (1985) tested the impact of imagery tasks on sensory predicate usage, again showing no evidence for NLP theory. By this point the case was clear, the case for the defence was baseless.

Sharpley, Einsprach & Forman and Heap

Witkowski builds on the metastudies of Sharpley, Einspruch & Forman and Heap published in the 80s, to show that NLP claims are still unproven. Interestingly 11 of the original Sharpley studies (1984) are not in the NLP database. Not surprising, as Sharpley in his first review dismissed claims of PRS, eye movements, self-reporting, predicate matching and the ability of NLP to change clients. In his second review, building on the results of Einspruch & Forman (1985), Sharpley (1987) he went even further, dismissing the claims made for its therapeutic benefits, namely anxiety, pacing and metaphor. Finally, NLP is dismissed as a method for improving performance by the US Army (Swets & Bjork, 1990). “The conclusion was that little if any evidence exists either to support NLP’s assumptions or to indicate that it is effective as a strategy for social influence.” Heap (1988) drew similar conclusions, after examining 63 empirical studies. PRs, eye movements, predicate matching and their role in counseling, were dismissed as baseless. This is exactly what Witowski confirms, when considering subsequent research.

Bifurcation from academia

Witkowski’s discussion is particularly relevant. He makes the point that much of the research in the 80s was designed to test NLP on the back of its popularity. The file drawer effect would suggest that many non-supporting studies were quietly dropped. What is clear is that there was a stark bifurcation between theory and practice. The NLP community went on to aggressively market its wares, while serious academia ignored the whole field as irrelevant and unworthy of research. This is similar to the difference between astrology and astronomy. No one is interested in testing astrology, as it is so patently weak in its hypotheses and predictive ability.

Conclusion: pseudoscience that should be mothballed

What is so powerful about this paper is the fact that he climbs into NLPs back yard to expose their so-called supporting evidence, and found it wanting. A damning statement is made about the status of the evidence invoked by NLP theorists and practitioners, “The base (NLP database) is commonly invoked by NLP followers and indicated as evidence for the existence of solid empirical grounds of their preferred concept. It is most likely that most of them have never looked through the base. Otherwise they might have come to the conclusion that it provides evidence to the contrary – for the lack of any empirical underpinnings” This is pretty damning. The paper asks a key question: “Is using and selling something non-existent and ineffective ethical?” Witkowski’s answer is clear: that is “pseudoscience” and should be “mothballed”.

Fees: blame 'clubby' Universities

What role have the Universities themselves played in the recent brouhaha over fees? Peter Scott, himself a Vice Chancellor blames the university 'clubs' for the mess. Thinly disguised vice-chancellor clubs such as the Russell Group (see Wendy Piatt left), 1994 Group, Alliance Group and Million+ Group have turned from being discussion groups to campaigning groups. As Universities are represented by Mickey-Mouse unions, these so-called clubs have stepped into the breach and started firing off some very odd salvos.

Self-serving hierarchy

The Russell Group’s hideous harridan Wendy Piatt has been campaigning hard for higher, uncapped student fees, way beyond any fiscal or social sense. Rather than club together to reform themselves, they decided to group themselves into a self-serving hierarchy. Rather than question their profligate capital spending, low occupancy rates, agricultural calendar, dull lectures and failure to tap into alumni donations, they simply became groups with begging bowls. This lobbying fell on deaf ears, as the politicians simply saw them as a divided mob, vying with each other for funds, rather than building the future.

With the notable exception of Martin Bean of the OU, who has fought hard for an alternative model in HE; more support for part-time students, private capital, new teaching methods etc. and Peter Scott of Kingston, Vice-Chancellors have fallen into line, queuing up for their MBEs, CBEs and knighthoods (by not rocking the boat).

Myth of managerialism

Of course, it’s wrong to blame Vice Chancellors alone, as Universities are largely run by Councils and Senates, which are largely run by academics. Few layman, and in fact few academics, really know how and who runs Universities, as most are not interested. Despite common claims of managerialism (litmus test for woolly thought), few private sector types exist in these structures and fewer still have any real power and influence. It’s academics and ex-academics who fuel the fire. If students want to occupy buildings they could do worse than the HQ of the Russell Group; 1 Northumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5BW.

Friday, November 19, 2010

CIPD: CEO Jackie Orme on £400k salary, £85k bonus for failure

Jackie Orme is fast becoming the Fred Goodwin of personnel and development. Just released accounts see her pocket a 400k salary. Her £85,000 bonus, is up by 49% from £57,000 last year. Not bad for an organisation whose commercial revenue has plummeted (down 23%), research down and ridiculed (down 57% & report pulled), magazine imploded (down 83%), investment returns bombed (down 74.7%) and membership angry and alienated about a command and control culture that leaves them with less services and starved of cash. A curious position for the supposed leader of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, the main professional body for HR and training!

Poor leadership

Forever twittering on about ‘leadership’, the CIPD is a rock-solid case study in poor leadership. All Orme has achieved is fiscal failure, while awarding herself a £400,000 salary and obscene bonus. This is a manager whose rewards are truly in inverse proportion to achievement and performance. On top of this she’s awarded herself a nice little 6k on top of her base salary, and don’t forget the 13k of benefits in kind – whatever that means. Then there’s the pension. She’s also creating a culture of greed through a dramatic 50% increase in the number of staff on £60k plus from 14 in 2009 to 21 in 2010. There’s no end to this gravy train. What are the remuneration committee playing at?

Collapsing commercial revenues

From her written text in the Annual Report you'd think the CIPD had had a bumper year. Despite its aggressive push into commercial activities, using an acquisition and its brand to squash commercial competition, its revenues are down by 20%. This is all the more surprising as they bought a consultancy i.e. bought income this year. Take away this acquired income and you have a drop in commercial revenues of 23.7%. Revenues from the branches are down by 45.6%, revenue from investments down by 74.7%. Of course, this all means that there’s been a lot less spent on membership services, education, research and branches. So much for measurable KPIs!

Bridge Communications: a bridge too far

Then there’s the odd acquisition of a consultancy, something that has been widely criticised by members. Surely the CIPD, as a charity, is in the business of supporting its members, not competing against them for business. The sum paid (£3.8 million plus a £900,000 earnout) seems massively overpriced. In any case, it’s not right to buy an advantage in the market which you’re supposed to serve. If I had a HR consultancy, I’d be none too pleased that my subscriptions have gone into buying my competitor.

People Management: managed to collapse

The CIPDs house magazine (a dull, bi-weekly recruitment rag) has gone into almost terminal decline under her watch, with an 83% decline in revenues - yes 83%. Feedback suggested that almost everything was wrong with the magazine; low on features, lack of innovation etc. It's going to be relaunched, apparently but you can't relaunch a shipwreck.

Research: a calamitous year

Much is also made, by Jackie Orme, of the CIPDs research activities. What she didn't mention was the huge PR disaster, when they published a research report attacking the spend on Quangos in Education and Skills (seen as a thinly veiled attack on rivals). Tom Richards, the young researcher responsible for the report had nowhere near the depth and experience to do this type of report, so it was sketchy and wildly inaccurate, so factually wrong that several CEOs wrote public letters decrying the document, eliciting a groveling apology from the CIPD and it was pulled from their website. Then there’s the opinion pieces, that are overtly political, promoting, for example, a bonus culture in the public sector (wonder why?). Oh, and by the way, revenues in this area plummeted by 57%. Success - I think not.

Conclusion – fiscal failure

Under Jackie Orme, the CIPD has managed something quite unique; collapsing commercial revenues, an expensive acquisition, reduced services to members, disastrous magazine performance and poor quality research. Serious questions were asked about her qualifications and ability when she was appointed. Those questions have now been answered. The AGM is at 13:15 on Tuesday 7 December 2010 at the Royal College of Physicianson, open to all members. Go along and ask a few scary questions.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

E-learning Age Awards - dressed to skill!

First, a big congratulations to Mark Harrison. I worked with Mark for years at Epic and can confirm the judges' views that he's positive, personable and gets things done.
Congratulations also to the E-learning Age guys for a full house and a fun night out. The Marriot on Grovenor Square was packed to the guddles with well scrubbed e-learning types. Necklines wer lower and heels higher. Our hostess for the evening was dressed in a 'Spartacus: Blood and Sand' affair (I mean this as a compliment) in a low cut, lime green, silky piece that matched perfectly the E-learning Age brand pantone. What planning! The guys were tuxed up; although it was more Moss Bros than Saville row. The women had pushed the fashion boat out; some in racy speedboats, others in sleek, expensive yachts and just a few tugboats. Prize for best dressed man goes to Donald Taylor, the James Bond of e-learning (checkout his twitterpic). Good to see the man who runs Learning Technologies 'Dressed to Skill'. You've also got to love Clive Shepherd, this man can do no wrong and was his usual urbane self, urging us all to enjoy our night out and put aside any scepticism around awards. Clive has reached that enlightened state of Buddhist baldness. He will, forever, look the same age.
Brighton Rocks
Brighton was easily the top source of award winners, with Epic, Kineo, Brightwave and Edvantage all winning awards. Epic hit the jackpot with a programme for BA, Kineo for Marks & Spencer (well done Stephen Walsh) and of course Mark Harrison, Brightwave for PWC (well done Virginia Bader) and Edvantage got a well deserved Silver for Production Company of the Year (well done to the irrepressible Andrea).
MP for a day
Amused to hear that Lightbox had won the game/simulation award for Parliament's Education Department, called 'MP for a day'. The game, apparently, is packed full of cheats, where you vote for personal advancement, collect lobbyists, rack up your expenses score, while keeping the rioting populace at bay.
Open U & Open Learn
The Open University won the Social media Award for Open Learn. I'm not wholly convinced that this is Social Media, as it's a bunch of largely text documents online; actually a bit of a disappointment given the millions spent on it. However, not to quibble, I love the OU.
Death Award
Not good to see BAT win the Corporate Distance Learning Award. Since when did learning how to kill people through cancinogenic products become a worthy, award-winning pursuit. I wonder if the shameless mob who went up to collect the award sneaked out for a sly ciggie afterwards?
Food was superb but one disappointment was the distinct lack of irreverence and rowdiness. Gone are the days when champagne was drunk from client's shoes, buns thrown when drunken comperes told tasteless jokes and comedians who gave awards, clueless about the very idea of e-learning (all true). It was all very polite, too polite.

Meeting the needs of compliance for an external regulator or an internal workforce

Gold Winner: PricewaterhouseCoopers and Brightwave

Silver Winner: Atlas Interactive

Bronze Winner: SAI Global/AstraZeneca

Best use of mobile learning

Winner: Learnosity

Best use of rapid e-learning content

Gold winner: Bupa Health and Wellbeing UK and Brightwave

Silver Winner: Everything Everywhere

Bronze Winner: ispeakuspeak

Best use of synchronous e-learning

Winner: Hibernia College

Best use of social media for learning

Gold Winner: OpenLearn, The Open University

Silver Winner: GradeGuru, by McGraw-Hill Higher Education

Best learning game, simulation or virtual environment

Gold Winner: Lightbox Education and Parliament’s Education Service

Silver Winner: St George's University of London

Bronze Winner: Market Class

Most innovative new product or tool in e-learning

Gold Winner: MyWorkSearch

Silver Winner: AiSolve in partnership with Train4trade Skills

Bronze Winner:TAG Developments

Best e-learning project securing widespread adoption

Gold Winner: SEI – The Romanian IT-based Education System

Silver Winner: GlobalEnglish Corporation and ArcelorMittal

Bronze Winner: e-Learning for Healthcare: e-Learning Anaesthesia

Best online or distance learning programme – Not for profit

Winner: IMC (UK) Learning and the Fire Service College

Best online or distance learning programme – Corporate learning

Winner: Infinity Learning and British American Tobacco

Best online or distance learning programme – Education

Gold Winner: University of Edinburgh and Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

Silver Winner: EF Englishtown

Bronze Winner: Hibernia College

Excellence in the production of learning content – Not for profit sector

Winner: One Plus One and Nelson Croom

Excellence in the production of learning content – Public sector

Gold Winner: Gloucester Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and e2train

Silver Winner: e-Learning for Healthcare: e-GP

Bronze Winner: Screenmedia: The Big Plus – Work Skills Academy

Excellence in the production of learning content – Private sector

Gold winner: Epic and British Airways

Gold Winner: Marks and Spencer and Kineo

Silver Winner: Autonomy e-learning and Volkswagen Group

E-learning internal project team of the year – Public sector

Winner: Capita National Strategies

E-learning internal project team of the year – Private sector

Winner: Home Retail Group

E-learning industry award for outstanding achievement – Corporate

Winner: Fusion Universal

E-learning industry award for outstanding achievement – Individual

Winner: Mark Harrison – Kineo

E-learning development company of the year

Gold Winner: Nelson Croom

Silver Winner: Edvantage Group