“Developing people requires passion in your own development,” declares author Sunny Stout Rostron. Her obvious passion embraces a diverse source of learning opportunities and adopting the techniques promoted could be comprehensive or piecemeal, with readers invited to radically improve as performance developers or to simply ‘spice up’ existing development programmes.
The proposed programme material reflects different learning styles by focusing on exploration of individual and group feelings to nurture innovation and enhanced performance. Self-awareness and planning are promoted as a means to enable personal goals to become ‘dreams with a deadline’.
Rostron urges learning the speech and coping skills of an actor and using films as a method of development. The Godfather, for example, becomes a learning resource for leadership and management. Music is also advocated as a way of generating a learning environment and encouraging creativity. Ultimately, participants are expected to embrace an intrusive psycho-analytical experience.
There are a number of useful ideas and exercises tucked away. Edward de Bono’s six thinking hats exercises offer useful ideas on changing perspectives, and use of visualisation like this underpins many of Rostron’s ideas.
Performance developers are told: “Your job isn’t to defend your point of view, it is to facilitate thinking, learning and discovery.”
However, the book fails to deliver in these areas. It is blighted by the optimistic conjecture that learners will freely expose their innermost feelings and insecurities.
Reliance on prior learning, promotion of jargon and overuse of slogans accentuates its shortcomings. Its redeeming value lies in one-to-one coaching situations with fully consenting participants.
David Owen is a senior personnel officer for Luton Borough Council and is a freelance trainer and lecturer. His current reading includes Influencing with Integrity by Genie Z Laborde.