Bridging Knowing and Doing in Teaching Management (Interview)
Bridging Knowing and Doing in Teaching Management (Interview)

Dr Robert Dobay is an influential business thinker, learning and development professional, and change manager who bravely goes against the mainstream and challenges conventional leadership and business practices. He has unique experience in business and leadership development, organisation transformation, and change management. He fulfilled global executive roles at IBM and Getronics, among others, before he founded his own top-notch consulting and L&D company.

Here is what Robert shared in an exclusive interview for MERIT before his participation in the annual MERIT Summit 2019.

What is the portfolio of corporate learning and executive programmes that you provide?

We design and implement high impact development processes and programmes instead of delivering classroom training courses. We work on improving individuals and we also intervene at group and organisational levels. Our portfolio includes change management and leadership development programmes, as well as the Act2Manage app, a mobile learning innovation providing managers with in situ support to demonstrate better people management skills. This digital micro-learning tool helps them turn knowledge into action.

What are the three outstanding features that your organisation is known for?

We work in close partnership with our clients, putting together development concepts that are often different from the company’s initial idea. It is also critical that we co-create solutions to establish engagement at the emotional level.

In many cases we go against the mainstream, for example by systematically building on what the clients are already good at instead of curing their weaknesses or shortcomings. A strengths-oriented approach is at the core of everything we do.

No matter how good a training programme or a change plan is, it will be of little use if it does not translate into action. Our interventions are always heavy on follow-up elements. The primary reason for developing the Act2Manage app was to support a larger number of managers and team leaders to learn by actions while they do their daily jobs.

What makes your corporate learning solutions effective?

Over the last two decades we have observed that much management learning does not take place in formal training situations. Managers get relevant impulses for their development every day, and we have to find ways to provide learning opportunities linked to their current leadership challenges on the job. The Act2Manage agile learning app offers simple and practical suggestions and inspiration covering a wide range of people management issues in 3- to 5-minute chunks. Our clients have proved that this gamified application can effectively be combined with various leadership development programmes and initiatives as a follow-up tool.

What types of organisations benefit most from your executive education services?

Primarily, international companies with a global presence use the Act2Manage app: organisations that are disappointed by the results of traditional training and are open to new and innovative approaches. A wide range of clients can benefit from our services, from Finance to Telecoms through Manufacturing to professional services.

When can organisations expect to see the results of a corporate learning programme?

There are a large number of initiatives available on the market focusing on knowledge transfer. However, behavioural change requires more than just the provision of information. It is critical that we also assist participants in putting that learning into practice. Managers will develop new habits only when they try out what they have learned and become confident that it actually works. Micro-learning content and polite nudging to make specific commitments offers the opportunity for instant modification of behaviour.

In addition, our data shows that a gamified mobile tool can lead to a higher engagement level, especially if it is combined with a variety of development approaches.

How can collaboration between organisations and corporate learning providers make a difference for business success?

It is rather difficult to track down which development initiative actually contributed to business results and to what extent it influenced the final outcome when compared to other factors. Success in itself can be judged from several perspectives. Our customers and users recommend Act2Manage to other companies, which is likely to mean that they see business value in using our leadership development offering. We have also observed that user groups regularly report business situations where they benefited from using the application.