Lectica's mission is to build tools and methods that advance learning, development, and real-world competence. We do very little direct work with organizations. Instead, we train coaches, consultants, and businesses to work with our learning tools. However, we do make exceptions, especially where research and innovation are involved. Here, are a few examples.
From 2002 to 2006, we worked with the U. S. Intelligence community to (1) study the development of leadership skills especially skills for managing VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, & ambiguity) conditions; (2) develop a leadership decision-making course that doubled the amount of learning that took place relative to other courses offered at the time; and (3) describe developmentally informed competencies for management roles. Our LDMA (Lectical Decision Making Assessment) was originally developed during this program, as were the General and Precise Role Complexity Analyses we use to determine role fit.
We examined the development of leadership decision-making skills in a large military academy, finding no evidence of developmental growth following a semester of leadership development in an experience-based program that included almost no reflective activity. Because previous research had shown repeatedly that learning without reflection produces slower growth than learning with reflection, we worked with the Academy to design a study in which groups of students engaged in more or less reflective activity. We found that increasing the amount of reflective activity increased the rate of development. This result is consistent with developmental research conducted with children and adolescents.
An energy start-up designed an experiment in which its top team took the LDMA then as a group—followed all of the learning suggestions in the LDMA, meeting regularly to discuss their successes and failures. The rate of growth achieved during this experiment (.21) was equal to or greater than the amount of growth seen in the most successful leadership programs we have evaluated. (See below for a comparison table.)
Applying VCoL (Virtuous Cycle of Learning) to the challenges faced by busy executives brought about effective and life changing benefits.
In early 2017, a colleague and I were engaged to design and implement a leader development program for a major Australian multinational corporation. The program featured structured residentials in addition to developmental coaching. The coaching was based on the diagnostic insights provided by the Lectical Leadership Decision-Making Assessment (LDMA) and the Lectical Self-Understanding Assessment (LSUA). The purpose of the program was to ready participants for more senior roles. Participants were in demanding roles, and as it turned out, they shared a concern that their challenging work schedules inhibited the amount of time they could invest in learning new skills.
VCoLing – “Start with real issues first”
The program commenced with a vibrant 5-day residential, and participants emerged with the motivation and energy that fresh insights often bring, setting learning goals based on these insights. Unfortunately, most participants set goals without taking daily workplace demands into account, and many of them later expressed the view that their goals were unachievable due to job related time constraints.
Because time constraints emerged as a perceived inhibitor of learning, we
decided to show participants how to use the Virtuous Cycle of Learning (VCoL) to build time-management skills—by helping them create a series of time-management related VCoLs. This enabled them to address two topics simultaneously. The first being how to address the often conflicting priorities of their work whilst secondly, creating the opportunity to optimise learning using the VCoL approach.
Editor’s note: VCoL is a learning cycle with four simple steps—(1) set a learning goal, (2) gather information, (3) apply what you've learned in a real-world context, and (4) reflect on the outcome. Regular VCoLing speeds up learning and improves learning quality while building real-world skill.
The power of VCoLing – Getting the ‘small things’ right first
Participants were coached in VColing and committed to spend 2-3 minutes each day to carry out and record a VCoL related to time management. They agreed to continue this practice for at least 2 weeks, to experience the practice of VCoLing as a routine. It also impressed upon them the value of recognizing everyday challenges as opportunities which can be resolved with VCoLs that are simple,
relevant, and timely. At the two-week review, most participants had regularly applied VCoL to their time management challenge, leading to a number of reflections, including:
Our insight relates to the importance of coaching participants in the skill of VCoLing early in their development journey by focusing their attention on something small, relevant and powerful. This enables the benefits of VColing to emerge quickly.
Over a two-year period, every manager/leader in an entire city government participated in a Leadership Program that used Lectical Assessments for evaluation and to support learning. We found that the growth rate of senior leaders during these two years predicted the growth rate of their direct reports. Senior leaders' who grew more during the program also received higher ratings from direct reports than those who grew less.
Representatives of a large financial institution approached one of our certified consultants because they wanted to evaluate the collaborative capacity of senior teams in the organization. They decided to conduct an experiment in which leaders each took their own LDMA, then took an LDMA collaboratively as part of a team of peers. Team scores were lower than the capabilities demonstrated by the individual with the highest score on any given team, strongly suggesting that the collaborative capacity of participating leaders was not great enough to allow them to effectively leverage one another's perspectives when addressing a complex problem.
We are about to undertake a 3-year randomized trial of our recruitment products in a medium-sized financial institution. Together, we will examine the effectiveness of our recruitment approach in predicting retention, engagement, and productivity.
The table below shows average Lectical growth for participants participating in several leadership programs. In some of these programs, Lectical Assessments were embedded in curricula that had been informed by our learning model, VCoL+7; in others, they were not. The average growth for the 7 programs that were not informed by VCol+7 was .083, whereas the average growth for the 3 studies that were informed by VCoL+7, was .21. (Learn more about our research on the validity and reliability page.)
|Study||N||Interval||Program length (hrs)||Embedded||Mean growth|
|IT 2004, LDMA||40||6 mos||60||No||0.06|
|IT 2005, LDMA||32||6 mos||60||Yes||0.27|
|MH 2010, LRJA||43||13 mos||42||No||0.13|
|AU 2010, LDMA||28||12 mos||43||No||0.09|
|ZV 2012, LDMA||18||4 mos||40||Yes||0.18|
|NA 2012, LDMA||24||1 mos||40||No||0.03 n/s|
|NA1 2013, LDMA||16||4 mos||40||No||0.05 n/s|
|NA2 2013, LDMA||19||4 mos||40||No||0.07|
|ST 2012, LDMA||27||6 mos||40||No||0.15|
|CI 2013, LDMA||512||9 mos||40||Yes||0.18|
“I thought I was a good learner. In school, I got straight A’s, found it easy to grasp new ideas, and always did well on tests. But when I was promoted into my first leadership position, my “academic” knowledge wasn’t enough to make me successful. I was close to giving up on leadership when I took my first LDMA. One of the suggestions in my report was to learn how to VCoL. I watched the VCoL video as suggested and the proverbial light bulb glowed my brain. Knowledge isn’t the same as skill! My coach helped me learn how to VCoL by using everyday decisions as little learning experiments. Soon, I found myself VCoLing without even thinking about it. Three years later, I’m loving this leadership gig—and I’ve been promoted twice.” —Denise R.
If your organization is interested in conducting research with our assessment and learning tools, please contact us.