A new way to learn PMD Pro

A guest post by John Cropper, Director of Capacity Building Solutions

How do you help people doing good to do it better? This has always been one of the main challenges with training NGOs in project management. Most NGO staff working on projects work long days and often long nights. They spend a lot of time in communities, on the road and in difficult and often hard to access locations. In addition, they often have to respond to multiple and often unpredictable demands ranging from humanitarian crises to unplanned visits from HQ or donors. It is like juggling but with an ever varying number of balls in the air at the same time.

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LINGOs Global Learning Forum 2016: Can Your Organization Host?

A message from Ross Coxon, Director of the Learning Collaborative

Ross_CoxonI would like to thank Heifer for their generosity in providing us with such an amazing venue and such great hospitality, as well as thank all the other agencies who have hosted us in the past. We really appreciate a chance to see your working environments and learn a little bit more about your wonderful organizations.

GLF Attendees have asked LINGOs to set a date and location for next year’s GLF so they can start planning. Before we can do that, we need a host.

It is a long and proud tradition that a LINGOs Member hosts the Forum. Would your organization consider joining Heifer International, PATH, FHI360, MercyCorps, TNC, CRS and CARE as members who have hosted a LINGOs meeting?

Hosting the GLF can be a fun and rewarding experience! The LINGOS team does most of the heavy lifting, with help from the Planning Committee.

You are eligible to host the meeting in 2016 if:

-you would like to host the LINGOs family
-have access to a facility that can host up to 140 people
-have an amazing logistics person who can work with us

Please reach out to me directly if you are interested or need more information. I look forward to your responses, and we are already getting very excited about the coming year and the Global Learning Forum 2016!

Making Co-Creation Happen in 2016

A message from LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx about the 2016 LINGOs Co-Creation Agenda

Chris_ProulxTwo weeks ago at Heifer International, 100 learning professionals gathered at the LINGOs Global Learning Forum to engage, discuss, and share their ideas for how to continue to use learning to improve the effectiveness of organizations in the international development, humanitarian, conservation and social sectors.

As part of the conference, we facilitated an interactive brainstorming to identify the top priorities around which the LINGOs community could co-create new solutions in 2016. We invited participants to submit their ideas for projects that would make a difference to their organizations, make a difference to the sector, and have deliverables that could be created in 2016.

We are still looking for input from members of the community who could not join us the Global Learning Forum. You can provide us with your ideas for projects in the LINGOs Online Community.

So far, we have been reviewing and summarizing the input from the brainstorming session.  The top five priorities of the community so far are:

  1. Digital Badges: Credentials that transfer with employees from organization to organization mapped to a list of competencies with evidence the competencies have been retained.
  2. Professional Competency Frameworks: Shared competency model (80% solution) – with focus on tools/resources/guidance for implementation for your organization – for common key field positions.
  3. A Platform for Field Practitioners: Common knowledge/Tool/Sharing L&D platform with user-generated content and best practices organized around topics such as Environment, Economic, Poverty reduction, Health/public health, Agriculture, Food safety, Disaster relief, Gender, Civil society, Education, Water security, Sanitation, Technology.
  4. An Excellence in Leadership curriculum with certificate: Create a peer mentoring network among NGO senior leaders. Group existing courses into a cluster for organisation leadership (on and offline). Develop a learning path and a certificate aligned around core competencies.
  5. Marketing/Branding playbook for rolling out online learning: LMS marketing toolkit and do-it-yourself resources.

We are looking for your continued feedback, ideas, and suggestions for how your organization can contribute to any of these project priorities. The LINGOs staff is reviewing each of these highly ranked initiatives for which ones can be worked on in the coming year. We are considering factors such as: other related resources and initiatives in the sector, potential for reach and impact, existing resources within our member organizations, staff resources, and ability for quick wins. We will have more information before the end of the year on how to join working groups for 2016. Until then, keep sending us your ideas, feedback, and contributions.

Introducing the LINGOs Learning Collaborative

Guest post by LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx

Chris_ProulxEleven years ago, six international NGOs interested in improving their learning technologies and training for field staff began meeting informally, to co-invest in and learn from each other. From those early meetings LINGOs was born, and it has since evolved to become a learning and capacity-building community of over 80 international NGO “members.”

Now in its second decade, LINGOs continues to grow: In the past several years, we’ve developed our first sector-wide credential, PMD Pro, and partnered with other NGOs on deeper learning initiatives. Even so, in the eyes of many in the sector, LINGOs remains a “membership organization.”

Starting today, we are taking big steps towards expanding our community and the concept of what learning in NGOs (and beyond) can mean. I am pleased to announce that after a three-month search, we have selected Ross Coxon as our first Director of the Learning Collaborative!

First, a bit about Ross: While he has been with LINGOs for a year in our Project Ross_CoxonServices group, facilitating PMD Pro training and developing and enhancing our curricula, many of you may also know him from his nine years as the Head of Learning and Development for Islamic Relief. While at IR, Ross grew the L&D department into the highest-ranking internal department on staff surveys, co-authored an entirely new management development program grounded in the culture and values of IR, introduced LINGOs to IR (thanks!) and was active in the various L&D communities in the UK.

Ross stood out as the ideal candidate to lead our transition from “membership” to the “Learning Collaborative” based on his passion for learning, experience in the field, ideas and vision for a broader and more engaged community, and his overall tenacity and energy for results. Congratulations, Ross, and we’re excited to see all that you’ll do in this new role!

So, what’s behind the idea of the “Learning Collaborative”? For those of you who attended our Annual Member Meeting in Portland last year, you heard me discuss my concept of the “learning ecosystem.” Following that meeting, I spoke with members, field staff, CEOs, and learning providers about the future LINGOs learning ecosystem, and found that three key points emerged from our conversations:

  • It’s about learning; no matter where, how or by whom it is deployed. LINGOs got its start in technology, yet it’s clear that the distinction between e-learning and learning has blurred. Our focus needs to be on the broader spectrum of learning – while highlighting and providing solutions for the powerful role that technology can play. The sector has also recognized that learning is being created both inside and outside traditional L&D departments, at headquarters and in the field. As a result, LINGOs can and should work to meet the needs of this wider community of professionals engaged in learning and development. The decisions to launch the Global Learning Forum this year as an open event and to focus a Forum track on local capacity building are just a few of the ways that we’re bringing innovative ideas and new practitioners into the conversation.
Learning leaders from NGOs in Asia gathered in April at IUCN Bangkok with LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx and Project Services Director John Cropper.
Learning leaders from NGOs in Asia gathered in April at IUCN Bangkok with LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx and Project Services Director John Cropper.
  • Geography matters. When I joined LINGOs, 75% of our members were headquartered in the United States – a fact which did not reflect the geographic distribution of NGOs, or the breadth of innovative learning practice in the sector. So, we’ve committed to proactively expanding our reach and inviting a much broader range of development actors into our community: NGOs and non-NGOs, US-based organizations and global ones. As a result:
    • Two-thirds of our new members this year are based outside the US and the UK.
    • With Ross’ selection as Director of the Learning Collaborative, half of our leadership team is now based outside the US, and most on the team have significant field experience in the Global South – another step towards building a more global LINGOs. (We are currently in four countries and six time zones – not bad for a small team!)
Two-thirds of our new members this year are based outside the US or UK.
Two-thirds of our new members this year are based outside the US or UK.
  • The sector needs deeper community and collaboration. The desire for more frequent, richer, and more diverse ways to build community, share best practices, and co-create solutions is strong. Coming later this month, we will beta-launch the LINGOs Community Site, where you will find and create new solutions, how-tos, and best practices while informally connecting with the community. And at the Global Learning Forum, we are dedicating part of Day Two to designing a shared work agenda for 2016 – with the goal of collaborating to create tools that will benefit the entire sector.

As part of this transition, Marian Abernathy will be assuming a new role as Marian_Abernathyour Partner Engagement Manager (when she has finished planning and managing the Global Learning Forum)! For the first time ever, we will have a person dedicated to recruiting and managing our private sector partners and supporters, with a focus on finding new ways to maximize the value and benefit for our members. At the same time, she will have a little more free time to spend with her family, which is richly deserved after five years as the Director of Membership. Please congratulate Marian on her new role and join me in thanking her for leading our community with so much enthusiasm and energy.

Speaking of the Global Learning Forum:

  • Our session schedule is live!
  • We have the same number of people now registered that we had in Portland last year—with six weeks to go. If you are not yet registered, now is the time…and if you are already registered, invite a friend or colleague who is working on learning in our sector.
  • We have three partners this year who will be providing content, analysis and/or expert facilitation. Look forward to conversation and insight from Brandon Hall Group, the Learning and Performance Institute and the Bridgespan Group.
  • Our lead sponsor, Microsoft, will be showing off some cool technology for learning using the Office Suite at our evening reception (I got a sneak peek last week while in Seattle – you’ll want to see it)!
  • We will be announcing the first ever winner of the Eric Berg LEAP Award for innovation and risk taking in our field.
  • Thanks again to Heifer for hosting us at their fantastic campus. See you there!

Do You Want to Help Your Organization’s Managers Succeed? Come Learn With Us!


This guest post is by Mike Culligan, LINGOs’ Director of Last Mile Learning and one-half of the expert duo (with Sam Davis of Save the Children UK) leading the management development
Pre-Conference Workshop on October 13. Check back on the LINGOs blog for more posts from our workshop leaders and keynote speakers! For more information on LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum, visit our website.

chess-e1434637123955The relationship between managers and their employees is a key predictor of the overall health of an organization.  Strong managers result in more productive, engaged and committed employees.  These employees, in turn, contribute more effectively to the strategy and goals of the organization.

However, while the potential impact of strong manager-employee relationships is generally accepted, often organizations have a hard time acknowledging how difficult it is to get this dynamic right in the first place, and fail to recognize the real impact to the organization when teams fail.  Too often, when we retrace our (mis)steps from an undesirable outcome, we focus exclusively on the concrete inputs – budget, calendar, resources (human and otherwise) – without acknowledging that a significant cause can be dysfunctional team dynamics, inadequate communications, or any of a number of weaknesses that contribute to poor management.

So how does an organization avoid this problem?  Too often, we resolve to “hire smart people” – development professionals who are good at their technical area of focus (health, watsan, small enterprise development, agriculture, etc.) – and expect that they will grow into the role of a manager as they are promoted through the ranks.  This leaves new managers in the position to teach themselves, at cost to their own development and that of their employees.

The alternative, developing a training program for new managers, is daunting.  The steep time and development costs of creating a management training program is prohibitive, the skills required to create a curriculum are often unavailable, and organizations often lack the budget to acquire the training materials to implement the program.

Enter LINGOs.  This month, representatives of LINGOs member organizations are initiating a series of meetings in England, the US and online to look at ways that we can improve the management capacity building of our agencies by working together.  The premise is simple: While each of our organizations is unique, good people management is based on several precepts that apply just about everywhere – even in organizations of diverse structures and missions.   Are there ways we can learn from each other and share resources, so that we make good management a far more manageable task (excuse the bad pun)?

These meetings will culminate at the LINGOs Global Learning Forum’s Pre-Conference Workshop, “7 Steps for Creating a Management Development Strategy in Your Organization.”  There, participants will work on developing a blueprint for management training in their organizations.  We’ve been collecting and analyzing the experiences of organizations that already have management development programs, and exploring their curricula, competencies, and skill maps. When you participate in the Pre-Conference Workshop, you’ll be learning from these other agencies’ experiences: tuning in to the commonalities we’ve found between them, discussing their lessons learned, and identifying key success factors.

So whether you have a management development strategy that you’re looking to revamp, or you’re just facing the task of compiling one, the Pre-Conference Workshop will provide a map of what already works for organizations much like your own.

Find more details and register for the Pre-Conference Workshop here. We hope you can join us on October 13!

Take the Survey: How Does Your Organization Learn at Work?

LINGOs logoA recent survey by Jane Hart asked her blog readers to rate 10 different ways they learn at work.   As you can see here, the results of the survey are provocative, and challenging to Learning and Development (L&D) teams.  However, her results likely don’t represent the reality of the learners we serve in the development, relief and conservation sectors.  While 3,500 readers responded to the survey, very few were from the global South and over 50% of the respondents worked in HR/L&D.

So, let’s explore the different ways that development, relief and conservation workers learn!

Please share the link to this brief survey with your learners around the world.  We want to know how learners in your organization rate 10 different ways they learn at work.  We will keep the survey open for one month, and results will be published in the next LINGOs newsletter.  We will then use the data to:

  • inform a series of articles that outline the challenges of the new world of learning
  • identify models to evolve the traditional role of L&D teams, and
  • introduce LINGOs resources that help address the new realities of learning in the workplace.

Please share the link to the survey widely and often!  The URL is:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/CYNVVSK

If you’re interested in learning more about the resources available to NGOs through LINGOs, sign up for our monthly newsletter here.

Social Learning: A Case Study from Syria

Mike Culligan

By Mike Culligan, Director of Last Mile Learning

In his book The Future of Work, Jacob Morgan observes that “the traditional way to learn and teach was largely guided and dictated by organizations who set out training programs, manuals, and set courses. Technology has connected employees and information together anywhere, anytime, and on any device. This means that learning and teaching can happen between employees without official corporate training programs or manuals. Have a question? Tap into the collective intelligence of your company.”

Morgan’s observations underscore a fundamental shift in the way organizations interpret the concept of “workplace learning.” Nowhere is this shift more apparent than in the work that LINGOs is doing with its partners in the Last Mile Learning initiative. In Syria, for example, we are working with the Syrian NGO Forum to set up a learning platform that supports the staff of over 90 NGOs (local and international) responding to the crisis in that country.  While the platform will serve as a channel to distribute a collection of Arabic-language eCourses, the NGO Forum is equally excited about using the platform’s front-end to establish a system of social/networked learning that helps emergency responders to connect and share knowledge via groups, discussion threads, blogs, wikis and  document repositories.  The Syria context is especially challenging for learning because relief workers  are located in three countries, do not have free passage between the areas in which they work, and often are unable to attend coordination meetings and trainings.  To remedy these constraints, the platform will provide users access to “just in time learning”, but will also provide the “just in time information” that is critical to supporting the people they serve.

Jane Hart recently reviewed Morgan’s book in her excellent Learning in the Social Marketplace blog and concluded by asking ‘How is your organization supporting the ‘learning worker”?’  LINGOs’ work in Syria provides a window into the new opportunities organizations have to promote both formal learning and social/networked learning through the new LINGOs learning platform.

Interested in learning more? Join Mike for a one-hour webinar on Thursday, May 14 as he shares 7 lessons from the social platform launch in Syria. Details and registration here.