Archive for November, 2011

Why not look for a new challenge to start off 2012? We currently have several potential roles at Saffron so if you think that you have something to offer then we would love to hear from you!

Current vacancies

Office Administrator

This role is responsible for dealing with all HR and accounts administration, working closely with the wider office team and providing office management for the whole company.The successful candidate will be focused, driven, have great attention to detail and be able to deal with competing priorities in a calm way. In return you can look forward to being an important part of a vibrant team in an exciting, dynamic environment.

Click here to download the full job profile with details of responsibilities and required skills, competencies and experience. To apply please send a copy of your CV and a cover letter to

Instructional designer

This is a unique and highly challenging role that is integral to the successful delivery of projects. It combines project management and client liaison responsibilities with creative and quality assurance responsibilities. You will lead the development and delivery of training courses and business communications, acting as a content consultant for clients by analysing their requirements and authoring the solutions.

Click here to download the full job profile with details of responsibilities and required skills, competencies and experience. To apply please send a copy of your CV and a cover letter to

Team leader and instructional designer

This exciting, challenging role involves leading a team in the development and delivery of training courses and business communications. You will be involved in resource planning, process improvement and the development of junior team members, in addition to managing and authoring your own client projects. You’ll be working on multiple projects across a variety of subjects and sectors, whilst also forging a strong team environment and giving and receiving regular constructive feedback.

Click here to download the full job profile with details of responsibilities and required skills, competencies and experience. To apply please send a copy of your CV and a cover letter to

Next time that you go to a business presentation, stop for a moment and take a look at how many people are typing away on smartphones or tablets whilst the speaker is talking. Is this evidence of a more active listener contribution and a higher level of efficiency, or of a short attention span? I’d suggest that this phenomenon isn’t because people are distracted by new technology, but instead that the audience participation in the group business presentation is changing. In my opinion, three of the main technologies responsible are:

  • Twitter
  • Smart Phones
  • Tablets

It’s now possible to comment on #eventhashtags in real time, letting other people know what you’re listening to. But is this a good thing?

If my old head teacher were to give a talk during which devices were in constant use, he would probably complain about a device dependent society, and a lack of respect. The counter argument is that these devices actually increase learning by collating content more efficiently, allowing sharing with others and lead to a more active contribution than passive listening. Craig Taylor’s article makes the point that somebody taking notes with a pen and paper would not be frowned upon, so why is an iPad any different? Personally, I think that the truth is that technology has evolved faster than presentation etiquette has allowed for. Some business people may have been giving talks for decades, but the use of mobile devices for learning is a fairly new trend, and the impression of a listener looking distracted by a screen rather than being attentive is hard to shake. So I’ve come up with some guidelines to help reconcile these conflicts, and ensure that everyone gets the most out of presentations. For this entry I suggest the following tips for participants in talks, next week I will have tips for presenters!

  • Remember why you went to the talk: Although new technologies have given an extra dimension to presentations, nothing beats the impact of fully engrossing yourself in what somebody is saying. You have taken your time to go and attend a talk, so try to only tweet and mind map when it’s necessary, and not just for the sake of it. If you wanted to follow the backchannel you could have stayed in the office!
  • Respect the speaker: There is a degree of trust involved with letting these devices become a part of a presentation. Although a tablet is great for making notes, it’s up to the listener to make sure they don’t distract themselves with that quick game, email, app etc. Set a good example!

  • Sometimes you just have to listen: I believe there are some times when you have to focus 100% on what somebody is saying. Devices divert some of your brain power, even if it’s only a fraction. So sometimes you need to put them away. I challenge anybody to absorb a lecture on quantum physics whilst paying anything less than full attention … It would also be difficult to grasp an emotive video clip, a tough question from the audience or a new concept without using your full concentration. Recognise these moments.
  • Use technology to police your own behaviour: Think about how you can get the most out of your device whilst still listening. For example, just because it’s a “device down” period doesn’t mean you can’t set up a voice record on your phone before putting it down! (And no, that isn’t cheating, that’s being innovative). Or what about a tab on your phone with just the essential apps for presentations so you aren’t tempted to get side tracked? You could also use privacy and time locks on certain contacts to avoid the impulse to message friends -  the options are endless.
  • Moderation: Think about whether or not the contributions that you are making through your device are meaningful. If 5 people have already updated the #hashtag with a new speaker do you really need to do it as well? Also, if the presentation is available afterwards make notes that are relevant to you but don’t just copy content – this is a waste of time and attention.

What are people’s thoughts on this? Have behaviours really changed? Are people on the whole becoming bad listeners? Be sure to visit the Spicy Learning Blog next week for my top tips for presenters.

Finding time for learning in a time hungry world
Julie Wedgwood

Many working people often comment that they are just too busy to invest any time in their own development. The list of regularly heard excuses include having too much work to do, pressing deadlines to meet, an inability to find a quiet place or escape constant interruptions and, particularly at the moment, the constant stress of making sure they are performing and seen to be performing as they try to retain their job. Other people feel that it’s up to their employer to organise personal development activities or training. Add the current economic climate to the mix, and you’ll find many workers reporting that management are disinterested in developing their staff because of the current squeeze on budgets.

But if workers really are too busy to: join a short webinar (or watch the recorded version); download a podcast; read a blog, book or magazine article or; watch a short clip on YouTube, just how are they managing to keep up with what’s changing in their world of work? And why do many workers seem to wait for their employers to provide on-going skills and career development opportunities? That might have been the model in the 20th century.

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