How much would you expect to pay for the collected works of the Professional Learning Unit of Shell International E&P? Probably a lot more than the $195 asking price for Shell’s new CD-ROM training tool. Aimed at “leaders and managers in all types of businesses and organizations” the CD claims to “enable key management skills to be learned at the workplace on a just-in-time basis.”
Shell have done a moderately good job of addressing the (tough) problem of migrating a large amount of textual information onto a CD. Nothing more than an internet browser is required to access the information, unless you want to be able to search the CD. In this case the low-tech, html-alone solution comes unstuck. There is a search form, but this is only for an ‘online’ version of the material. The material is organized into 9 “portfolios”, which can be investigated at a high level - via “sound bites” or in more depth through “Learning Modules,” including the “latest thinking (as of 1999) from international business schools, writers on management, and other quality source material.” Other resources on the CD include a review of distance learning and business school courses. The only real gotcha of the Toolbox is the fact that, as you drill down, you may get to a “short, 1 page, evaluation of the material we have used and are prepared to endorse.” Additional material from the distance learning packages “can be provided by TSL on a mail order basis.”
We checked out the sound bite of the “Focus Externally” section. This gave a meticulous account of Shell Expro’s 12-step benchmarking process and warned of “benchmarking blues” - common causes of failure such as seeing benchmarking as a competition, learning what needs to be improved, but not how to improve it, or alternatively, staying “too close to home.” Shell believes that if you want “really new” you must look outside your own industry.
We investigated the “growing your business" section expecting to find some practical tips. We found instead some interesting generalities and caveats, and advice to “look to the long-term” and a commendation of the Price-Waterhouse distance learning packages, which can be ordered separately.
If you are a management student or a technical manager planning a career change, this material may help select schools or give a complementary vision. If you are looking for fixes to everyday sorts of management problems you may be overwhelmed by the theory and anecdotes. If you are just curious, the CD may give you an insight into what makes Shell tick, and could be useful background for vendors and service providers. But any real-world use would mandate the material being searchable.
The Shell Leadership Toolbox, www.TechStandards.co.uk
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