An Open Letter to Tony Bingham and the ASTD Board of Directors

Dear Tony,

On Tuesday, May 6th, you announced that our entire organization has changed our name, logo, focus, colors, etc. Effective immediately.

You said that you’ve spoken with countless CEOs and other leaders who recognize our efforts and how important our field is.
You highlighted three executives, Senior Vice Presidents and higher, to tout the change. You emphasized the fact that you kept this change a secret for 2.5 years.

Listen now to the voices of the tens of thousands of us who will never be an executive.
Listen to the vast majority of the organization you lead.
Listen to the people you are supposed to serve.

LISTEN!

We wanted to take this journey of change with you. You denied us. Why?

We wanted to share our ideas, thoughts and suggestions about how we can grow. You denied us. Why?

We have opinions to share with you. You never asked us. Why?

I agree with the new logo.I mainly agree with the new name, although many of us would like to include performance.
I agree we are more than training.
I agree this is a new century and we need to embrace change.

Change comes about because of stakeholder buy-in.

I’m a stakeholder.

I argue that all of us who work day in and day out in cubes  are more of your stakeholders than any CEO or CLO.
We, the privates on the front line, are the people you are supposed to serve and support – not the generals in the Pentagon.

Listen to us. Ask us what we want. You don’t have to implement our choices, but least ask.

Currently, I’m evaluating the benefit I get from each of my professional affiliations.
That means I’m evaluating what is important to me, Tricia Ransom. My priorities are an organization that:

  • Talks WITH me.
  • ASKS me what I want.
  • Is genuine.
  • Provides realistic, tangible and relevant benefits.
  • Is transparent.

I don’t need theory. I don’t need books.
I can go to twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook to learn most everything that was presented at ASTD 2014.
I don’t need an organization that decides what is best for me.

Please, reach out to the tens of thousands of members. Not on your website or your LinkedIn group. And not with an email that uses the exact script you used on Tuesday.

Reach out to us where we live now. Ask us where we’ve gone and why. Please.

Next year, no more executives on the big screens. Resonate with your audience. Have one of us, in our cube, with all of our messiness. Show us the reality of who we are.

Sincerely,

Tricia Ransom

Instructional Designer, eLearning Developer, Virtual Training Facilitator, ILT Facilitator, audio voice over creator, performance supporter, Social Media, Connector, Project Manager, Cat Herder, cube-dweller, IMPORTANT ATD MEMBER

About Tricia Ransom

Patricia Ransom: wife, daughter, friend. Learning, laughing, living. Chicago, Illinois, downstate. Townie, urbanite, traveller. Note: The opinions expressed on this blog belong solely to me and should not be assumed to reflect the opinions of any of my employers past, current, or future.
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7 Responses to An Open Letter to Tony Bingham and the ASTD Board of Directors

  1. Pingback: From ASTD to ATD: Naming Opportunities | Building Creative Bridges

  2. Pingback: An Open Letter to Tony Bingham and the ASTD Boa...

  3. tonyastd says:

    Hi Tricia,

    Thank you for your open letter to me and the board of directors, and for engaging with us on site at the conference two weeks ago and in offline conversations since then. I appreciate your sincere willingness to learn and to understand the background behind our change.

    As you can imagine, I am not able to respond to every post, comment, or discussion thread. But I do read them all and I’m addressing the themes that come up via my blog posts, so that the entire community hears from me directly. To that end, here is a link to the first blog post about member input, and chapter and CPLP questions: http://bit.ly/1orOMCe.

    And here is the most recent post about why talent development encompasses the work of trainers, instructional systems designers, performance improvement professionals, and so many others who are responsible for developing others: http://bit.ly/RafOj1.

    In your letter you mentioned wanting the organization to seek the input of members and practitioners – not just CEOs and learning leaders. This happens every day with our community of practice managers. They are our eyes and ears in the field and are always seeking input and content from practitioners to share with the larger community.

    Thank you for participating in our incredible global learning community.

    Tony

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  4. Tony’s response seems very reasonable and rational. And as the head of a large member organization, he probably did what was necessary – he made a call (along with the Board) while recognizing that he/they were never going to make everyone happy. I appreciate his point about engaging a sampling of the broader community through the communities of practice.

    Nonetheless, I will probably go to my grave thinking that they missed an amazing opportunity to demonstrate leadership, vision, and creativity by coming up with a better name/acronym (here are a few suggestions, in case they ever want to re-consider: http://tinyurl.com/q279ubd).

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  5. Janeé Johnson says:

    As an ASTD member since 2008, I don’t agree with how the name change was thrust upon us, without our input. I absolutely agree with Tricia on all points in that an opportunity to hear the voices of paying members, not CLOs should’ve been consulted. I’m also not convinced that this organization needed to change its name in the first place. I think you can build bridges without changing who you are.

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  6. Tricia – I like your letter, well stated and to the point. I also appreciate that Tony took the time to acknowledge and reply to your missive.

    I agree with Brian. If you run an organization that has a few hundred people within it, then perhaps you can survey all the people and take the time to gather input. However, anyone who has been part of a project meeting, focus group, kick off meeting etc., with any more than 10 people knows that total agreement is simply not in the cards, much less trying to wrangle the opinions of 40,000 head strong members and chapter leaders. As Henry Ford said, “If I had asked potential customers what they wanted, they would’ve said a faster horse.”

    Sure, I think performance development might have made a better statement of who we are as an organization than Talent development – but you know what – a rose by any other name… all I know is that I’m pleased we have moved away from the limited title of “Training”.

    Janee – We are all in the business of improving talent, in whatever way talent may be described. If you are developing courses, you are developing the talent for the end user. If you are a consultant, you are working with organizations to develop the talent within. If you are a LMS administrator you are managing the talent of the people within your system. Get my point? Did you read the information Tony submitted in his response before you replied?

    I understand the perception of not being included – that being said, my bigger concern is that we have a consistent value proposition to send to corporate America, which right now we don’t. “Training” Handbooks, “WorkPlace Learning and Performance Institute”, “CPLP”, “Talent Developers” who are we? I know they are working on ironing this out at it is in ATD’s benefit as it is ours. So, with this question out there, I’m not concerned about not being asked about a potential name change.

    Sorry Tricia – I didn’t mean to hijack your blog to stand on a soapbox. As I have done throughout the last couple of weeks since our return from ICE – I will point everyone to David Kelly’s Blog post, What’s in a Name? http://davidkelly.me/2014/05/whats-name-plenty/

    He clearly outlines the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of the rebrand. Now, perhaps after all it’s time to stop carrying on, and actually carry-on with what we do best – develop, support, consult and facilitate learning to OUR people in OUR businesses.

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  7. Pingback: Six Steps for Successful Change Management

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