Lectica's mission is to build tools and methods that advance learning, development, and real-world competence. Here are a few examples of projects that we and our accredited consultants have completed during the last 20 years.
Contributed by Jonathan Reams, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
An ongoing challenge for many educators is getting students to engage subjects deeply enough to maximize the achievement of learning goals. This issue was present for me in a course I teach on coaching in a master's in counseling program in Norway. The culture among students was for lecturers to inform students about what was important to take from readings, which were often done just prior to exams. Informed discussion in class was a rarity. Over the years I made many attempts to shift this culture, with mixed results. These were primarily focused on cajoling the students to read before class and to come prepared to engage in discussion.
Then in 2020, I implemented a VCoL (Virtuous Cycle of Learning) structure to the course on many levels. This was aided by implementing an LMS (MyQuest) with a natural VCoL-oriented structure. At an overall level, the set is the learning goals for the course, which have many components but can be chunked into the main goal of learning how to apply helping skills in the context of coaching other student leaders. Seeking information comes primarily through the curriculum readings. The "apply" step is doing two coaching sessions. Reflection comes at the end of the course, sharing video clips of their coaching, getting feedback, and discussing in small groups. The final essay exam asks students to integrate all of this to explore moments of insight in relation to the curriculum.
Within this larger structure, using the MyQuest LMS allowed me to break the material into small chunks. For each class day, students were required to make their way through a series of structured activities. For each of these, I made 2-5 minute videos to contextualize each reading then asked some reflective questions to help them connect the information to their experience. I also had occasional prompts for them to post to a class discussion forum and respond to each other.
The results have been encouraging. I no longer need to do any lectures in class. I experience better questions coming from the students and more robust discussions. I observe more engagement with practice and experimentation in their coaching session videos. The robustness of discussion in their exams, linking personal reflection and theory has improved considerably on average. While implementing a more explicit VCoL structure has not solved all of the challenges in achieving learning goals, it is clear to me that there has been substantial progress. Future iterations and refinements will inevitably take this further.
Contributed by Jonathan Reams, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
I teach a course on coaching in a master's in counseling program. One of my main challenges is to break coaching skills down into micro-skills, then help students learn how and when to implement those micro-skills in their coaching practice sessions. These efforts are partly supported by implementing a VCoL structure to the overall course. In addition, I introduced three micro-VCoLs targeting different coaching-related skills. I introduce VCoLing to my students by giving them a starter set I designed around framing their coaching when they introduce themselves to a client. A bit later in the course, students practice a micro-VCoL called "Getting Clear About your Motives." Midway through the semester, they practice a "Clarifying Questions" micro-VCoL which is designed to help students recognize when a so-called clarifying question is an opinion in disguise. With this last micro-VCoL, students were given time to practice in trios in class. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to properly debrief their learning, so I invited them to post what they had learned in the class discussion forum.
I was impressed by the depth and diversity of the descriptions students provided. What follows is one example (shared with permission).
"I am used to asking questions when talking to and listening to others. It actually became a meme around my friends and me when I was younger. ... it feels natural for me to ask clarifying questions as I always like to get a broader understanding of things and to be sure that I understand the different contexts given to me. Now, what is interesting is that, when trying VCoL, I actually caught myself wanting to give my opinion [instead of asking real clarifying questions] which probably means that I have [done this many times] before. This, for me, shows the importance of simple exercises like [the Clarifying questions micro-VCoL].
My first thought about this VCoL was: Wow, this is just common sense, isn’t it? This is easy! But it ... was hard to act on. An exercise like this gives me the opportunity to become aware of things like [asking questions that are really opinions] and hopefully helps me learn something new."
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 all members of its top team took the LDMA. After receiving their results, the team members 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 was equal to or greater than the amount of growth seen in the most successful leadership programs we had evaluated up to that time.
Contributed by Mark Keily—firstname.lastname@example.org
Applying VCoL (Virtuous Cycle of Learning) to the challenges faced by busy executives brought about 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 prepare 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, enthusiastically 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 were inhibiting learning, we decided to teach the participants to practice a learning technique called VCoLing, which can be practiced in context in real-time. These features make VCoLing a great learning technique for individuals who are under time pressure. VCoLing involves working a learning cycle with four simple steps —(1) setting a learning goal, (2) gathering information, (3) applying what you've learned in real-world contexts, and (4) reflecting on the outcome. VCoLing in-the-moment in real-world contexts speeds up learning while deepening knowledge and building competence.
To help participants learn how to VCoL, we worked with them to create a set of wirtten VCoLs designed to help them build some of the skills they identified as important. All participants committed to practicing these VCoLs each time life presented them with an opportunity to practice one of the targeted skills. Most participants practiced multiple times a day for a period of 2 weeks. At the two-week review, participants reported progress in the development of their VCoLing skills as well as the skills targeted in the written VCoLs. They also reported an increased understanding of learning as a process—especially the role of real-time reflection when learning from experience.
Insights gained by program developers
The program developers discovered the value of (1) including participants in the process of identifying skills to practice, (2) focusing narrowly on the skills they view as most critical to their own success, then (3) developing relevant VCoLing practices designed to support the development of those skills.
Over a two-year period, every manager/leader in an entire city government participated in a Leadership Program that used Lectical Assessments both for program evaluation and to support learning. We found that (1) participants who took more Lectical Assessment grew more than those who took fewer assessmetns, (2) the growth rate of senior leaders during these two years predicted the growth rate of their direct reports, and (3) senior leaders' who grew more during the program also received higher leadership 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, 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.
Contributed by Denise R.
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 in 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.
Contributed by Benny Ausmus, Big Change Group
Leeson Group, a full service solar provider for home & business, was taking on new and larger challenges and needed to transition to a new organisational model that didn’t require as much direct oversight from its founding director.
As its business scaled and took on larger opportunities and more complex challenges, Lesson Group realized that increasing decision-making competency and capability within the organisation was essential to reducing dependence on its managing director and founder. To meet this need, Lesson Group identified two key roles in the areas of engineering and operational support that needed to be defined and filled.
Lectica conducted a General Role Complexity Analysis of organizational layers and several Precise Role Complexity Analyses for specific roles. The results informed an assessment and development solution that was used to help Leeson Group make critical hiring decisions.
As a result of this work, Leeson Group was able to appoint several candidates whose mental skills and abilities were well-matched to specific roles. To further support these new leaders, we created a strategic development plan for the organisation’s key personnel, reducing dependence on top leadership and increasing stability and profitability.
Lesson Group now has a strong, data-driven system for workforce planning and recruitment, and a clear process and methodology for growing its capabilities and leading the market into the future.
If your organization is interested in conducting research with our assessment and learning tools, please contact us.
IES (US Department of Education)
The Spencer Foundation
Dr. Sharon Solloway
The Simpson Foundation
The Leopold Foundation
Glastonbury School District, CT
The Ross School
Rainbow Community School
The Study School
Long Trail School
The US Naval Academy
The City of Edmonton, Alberta
The US Federal Government