The latest training and learning products reviewed

Format DVD and supporting materials
Price £1,299 (excl. VAT)
From Video Arts
Tel: 0845 601 2531

The past year has seen Video Arts release a lot of inventive, but collaborative, material drawing on established TV shows, such as The Apprentice.

This new release sees Video Arts back on the territory it made its own: a warm and humorous film starring well-known, but not stellar, character actors. These include the ubiquitous grand Dane Sandi Toksvig, who does the voiceover.

Her comforting tones lead us through The Art of Selling, which uses right and wrong scenarios to teach the four key stages of selling in both retail and financial situations. These are: winning the customer’s confidence; discovering their need; the importance of product knowledge; and closing the sale. The package repeats the mantra of how to create opportunities to increase sales and why it is important to listen to the customer.

This has something for everyone, as it looks at many different scenes, which all sales staff can relate to. We visit a department store, a DIY store, financial services and a shoe shop. With an eye on major markets, however, Video Arts has included specific DVD extras for both the retail and financial sales – these cover areas such as handling complaints and dealing with obnoxious customers.

The film’s aims are transparent throughout: once we view the wrong way to approach the sale, it is easy to anticipate what the right way will be. But I don’t see this transparency as a bad thing. A training department could use it with confidence for any staff member who deals with customers. It easily achieves its aim of ensuring that staff who deal with customers learn the key skills, techniques and behaviours of selling.

I also felt that the demographics were handled well – the range of actors ticked all the diversity boxes. The support materials are comprehensive and make the package viable as either a self-taught or course option.

This is a solid product, and because of its general and accessible nature, which make it equally suitable for induction courses as well as refresher material, it offers plenty of mileage. 

Relevance? five out of five

Interactivity? three out of five

Value for money? five out of five

LEADERSHIP FOR INNOVATION – How to organise team creativity and harvest ideas

Author John Adair

Price £12.99

From Kogan Page


ISBN 0-7494-4800-8

The founder of IBM, Thomas J Watson once said: “Don’t try to get your wild geese to fly in formation.”

He was referring to the conundrum of how to foster free and brave thinking in a structured environment, but his words are also a suitable if cryptic synopsis of this offering from John Adair.

Adair wants to help leaders of all types meet the challenge of innovation and achieve profitable growth through team creativity, looking at the links between leadership, creativity and change. Using extended case studies, with expanded learning points on Google, Honda and 3M, he covers topics such as the characteristics of innovators, organising for team creativity, creative people’s expectations, creative leadership, managing the criticism of ideas and overcoming resistance to change.

The book is better at asking questions than providing the answers, but I enjoyed it very much. It is beautifully written and, as is to be expected from someone of Adair’s years and experience, it is packed with warmth and wisdom. This is a good-value buyfor any organisation’s bookshelf.

Useful? four out of five

Well-written? four out of five

Value for money? five out of five


TALENT ASSESSMENT A new strategy for talent management

Authors Tony Davis, Maggie Cutt, Neil Flynn, Peter Mowl and Simon Orme

Price £55

From Gower Publishing


ISBN 978 0566 087318

Gower’s books are often encyclopaedic in approach, and this guide to talent management is no exception.

The authors present a manual on dealing with different personality types and to overcoming the old adage that 80% of a company’s results can be attributed to 20% of its employees.

This is a solid, hard-working manual that gathers together any pertinent material on its subject. For example, there is a comprehensive guide to the full range of personality questionnaires.

Surprisingly though, for a reference work of this nature, it also takes the reader into some difficult territory and asks the tough questions. It looks at what’s wrong with performance appraisal and what happens when a talent management strategy gets it wrong.

There is plenty of material that an HR or training department could implement directly, such as the useful chapter on knowledge assessment prior to skill enhancement.

Keeping a copy of this in the corporate library is equivalent to having a consultant to hand.

Its cover price reflects the value of the information and tools inside, and as such it is remarkable value.

Useful? five out of  five

Well-written? four out of five

Value for money? five out of five

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