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All About Rapid Retooling

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
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Below is a Q&A with Lawrence Polsky and Antoine Gerschel, authors of the new ASTD book Rapid Retooling. Lawrence and Antoine’s book teaches learning professionals to continually adapt to an ever-changing workplace. Rapid Retooling will be available for the first time in the ASTD 2013 bookstore in Dallas!

Please provide a brief summary of your book:

  • “Rapid retooling” is a response to constant (and often complex) changes that require organizations to perpetually update their competencies. The book presents a process to quickly re-skill, re-focus, and re-energize employees to achieve results in a changing business landscape.

How is your perspective on this topic different from what else is out there?  

  • Instead of complicated change management processes and methods, we highlight the practical business approaches (best practices) that executives and managers use to help their organizations rapidly change. We’ve interviewed executives from around the globe and across industries for this book. The book is a digest of their statements.

What should readers of your book come away with? 

  • tools to increase their teams’ productivity during rapid change by focusing on key priorities
  • methods to increase employees’ business acumen
  • strategies to increase innovation
  • techniques to motivate their teams during rapid change
  • best practices for training programs during global rapid change

What should people know about you?

  • We have worked for over 20 years first as business leaders, then as consultants to leaders on five continents where we lived, witnessed, and implemented a lot of change. We are the co-founders of PeopleNRG, a consulting practice helping executives rally their teams around new ideas and taking them in new directions.

What was the hardest part about writing a book?

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  • In the final week of writing, three days before our manuscript was due, Hurricane Sandy hit the East coast. We had planned to meet in New York City for three days to put the finishing touches on our book. Instead, without electricity and in the midst of chaos, we had to come up with a new writing process.

    Lawrence sat in his car so he could keep his phone—our substitute communication channel—charged, as we worked on restructuring and editing our chapters. While working on the book, we were also busy tending to the urgent needs of family and friends in the aftermath of the storm. In the end, Sandy became the perfect example of a “rapid retooling” situation. We applied the tools in this book to keep focused and energized on our end goal.

What do you like best about the ASTD International Conference & EXPO?

  • Having the chance to keep up to date on the latest trends and ideas in training, and meeting people who are on our mailing list but we have never met face to face! And being challenged and inspired by other practitioners, and hopefully inspiring them in turn.

Why did you choose to publish a book?

  • This is our third book. We wrote this one because we have worked with and witnessed dozens of companies over the past five years that were forced to change quickly and on a large scale—whether due to economic, technological, or competitive challenges, or a change of leadership. These companies have had to find ways to rapidly retool themselves. Some have done so successfully, others not so well.

What is your favorite book? Why?

  • Lawrence: Creative Visualization, by Shatki Gawain.  The simple techniques in this book have helped me and many of my coaching clients create extraordinary results at work and in their personal lives.
  • Antoine: It’s a tie—Good to Great by Jim Collins, and The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni. Both are incredibly practical books on how to be a great leader.

What is your favorite ASTD or business book? Why?

  • Our favorite ASTD book is Leaders: Start to Finish by Anne Bruce. It’s an awesome resource for any new or middle-level manager, as well as training professionals. Like her other books, it is written in a way that inspires you to be a better leader. Plus it has many practical pearls of wisdom that you can use right away to improve results with your team.

You can catch Lawrence Polsky and Antoine Gerschel at their education session, TU209: Rapidly Retooling: Five Steps to Staying in Lockstep With a Rapidly Changing World, on Tuesday, May 21 from 1:45 – 3 p.m. in Ballroom D3/East Fork, and at their book signing following the session from 3:15 – 3:45 p.m in the ASTD 2013 conference bookstore.

About the Author
Mr. Polsky spent 20 years in OD & Learning, teaching more than 10,000 professionals worldwide before co-founding Teams of Distinction. With a Masters in Organization Development and a lifelong education in human behavior (beginning at the age of 9 at the kitchen table) Mr. Polsky has been a life-long student of human behavior in and out of the workplace and prides himself on bringing his kitchen table wisdom to boardroom roundtables.
About the Author
Before co-founding Teams of Distinction, Mr. Gerschel was the COO of a $17 million multi-media learning company in Europe and the Director of global leadership development and e-learning for Sanofi-Aventis Pharmacuetical. Mr. Gerschel speaks globally on a regular basis and is fluent in five languages. Fusing his diverse corporate career and international knowledge, Mr. Gerschel offers clients a unique expert’s take on raising the bar on their productivity. Since 2008 he has educated and inspired more than 30,000 leaders on five continents through his speeches, coaching, training, and books;  www.teamsofdistinction.com
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