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Dec 27, 2011 Detailed discussions about Learning Outcomes

Detailed discussions between Christina, Lynne, Kimberly, Riet, Deborah, and Patrick about the first draft of the 'Learning Outcomes' document of Edition: 2011, Date: Oct 25, 2011.


Dec 9, 2011 from Christina

I've read once through and find the flow well organised. This structure of presentation reads logically and should make for easy understanding by a lay person. Nice work here.

I do have a few immediate comments and questions in response:

  1. I understand this is primarily specified as Western Etiquette. > From an easterner's perspective, Western generally means European and American. Except for dining etiquette where the European and American styles are noticeable different, do we mean and therefore should we clarify "Western Etiquette?" to avoid this confusion.

    Response A. OK. We will specify "Western" to mean North American (Canadian/U.S.) unless specifically stated as "European", at least for Level 1. (As European etiquette may consist of many differences between countries, it might be easier to deal with the most common, by number, in Level 1, which is N. American, and then introduce the many different European styles in Level 2 and beyond. Hope this make sense.)

  2. Is there a need for some cross-cultural footnotes covering major world economies that are not Western i.e. Japanese, Chinese and Indian? Will this help people from these cultural backgrounds with growing economies relate better to IITTI's professional image guidelines?

    Response B. Great idea! It helps in marketing too!
    Should we do it in Level 1 or Level 2?
    Riet's response (Jan15,2012): Maybe we add some simple basics in Level I (if you focus on hotel personel for instance), it might be helpful to know something about people from specific differences in non-Western economies. Don't forget Brazil, as one of the major upcoming economies! Things like handshakes, eye contact, Mrs or Miss, Yes and no... ? More in depth in Level II and III

  3. Under "Professional Appearance", a footnote to the effect that "while National Attire may in some local and regional events be considered Formal Business Attire, they are not appropriate for international events."

    Response C. OK. It is added to Edition 2012, Date: Jan 6, 2012

  4. On page 10 we really need to relook the guideline on Hosiery as too many modern misses do unfortunately consider the idea of wearing hosiery ancient. I suggest a modification that reads, "hosiery should always be worn with Formal Business Attire unless no-hosiery is approved by the company."

    Response D. OK. It is added to Edition 2012, Date: Jan 6, 2012

  5. I would omit specifying the networking skills on Pg.13 to "North America". This seems fairly international and applicable to networking also in Asian cities. Let's check with everyone if to their knowledge, this also applies in countries outside USA.

    Response E. I have consulted with Kimberly, and she is OK with calling it 'international'.
    Riet, what do you think?
    Riet's response (Jan15,2012): Most comments seem international to me. Some seem "light" to me, superficial, like not more than 10 minutes for a conversation. We take much more time over here [in Europe] to get into a conversation. Some don't but those people are considered as trying too hard to spread as many business cards as possible, which is not positive. So there might be minor differences. But I can live with International.

    As for the highlighted comment on eating something before a networking event, this is useful advice that should be included.

    Response F. OK. It is maintained in Edition 2012, Date: Jan 6, 2012

  6. On page 28 with the place setting diagram, it would be helpful to also illustrate the drinking glass and the napkin.

    Response G. OK. It is added to Edition 2012, Date: Jan 6, 2012

  7. Interview skills I think, should be in Level 2, not 1.

    Response H. OK. 'Interview skills' on p13 is taken out of Edition 2012, Date: Jan 6, 2012 and moved to Level 2.

  8. Use of desert utensils is important, not too lengthy and should be included in Level 1 for completeness.

    Response I. OK. 'Use of desert utensils' is maintained in Edition 2012, Date: Jan 6, 2012

  9. On page 40, there are some Guidelines with the Learning Outcomes. Patrick, please clarify what we are supposed to do here?

    Response J. They were guidelines for the wordings when I started writing the Learning Outcomes with a small team at Greenwood. We wanted to have a consistent style throughout the document.

I am happy to go over the document at greater length and send additional inputs within the next couple of weeks, if any. As a second round later and for thoroughness, it would be more efficient if we could each focus on a section for fine-tooth review and editing in greater details.

Response K. Yes, for the next step, we can divide up and each focus on a section. Kimberly is thinking the same. I will coordinate this.

Dec 8, 2011 from Lynne

Kimberly and Patrick, fabulous work! Thanks for doing the groundwork for this important phase for all of us. I agree with Christina's comments and would agree that occasionally European and N. American dining guidelines differ a bit.

My comments are mainly to do with terms open to interpretation, especially in the appearance section. The etiquette sections are naturally more specific. For example, when the documents are translated we will probably be asked to define words such as: angular shapes; smart; relaxed; semi-formal, best, fits with the culture, richer, refined, understated, hook. They are obvious to us because we use them all the time and we will have to really define what we mean for audiences who are not familiar with this information.

Response L. This is where our model of 'open-source' might help by encouraging and recruiting local native image consultants to contribute to the translation.

Patrick, do you want us to give specific comments and/or additions at this point? Or are we discussing the concepts?

Response M. Just the concepts at this point please. We can go through the details once we have consensus with the overall structure.

Dec 12, 2011 from Christina

The 3 level conceptual framework is functionally useful and logical. What occurs to me is that how Level 1 is so far defined as "Basic" is akin to a minimum "keeping up" of image competencies while Level 2 starts what looks like how we would define to be an international standard. Is my understanding correct?

Response N. Exactly! Level 1 can be thought of as helping business people from doing embarrassing acts, while Level 2 allows them to be flexible and be able to apply to situations outside of what they had seen during their training.

Once we all agree, I'll be clearer to review the Learning Outcomes for Level 1 as truly basic, and this should therefore be kept simple. To take this a step further in considering its value, I would imagine then that in terms of demographics of IITTI takers, this would be relevant for the majority of the population who are in one way or another connected with other people in their communities, whether commercially or otherwise.

Response O. Yes, if Level 1 is to be a relevant standard with mass-market appeal, we should design it to be relevant for in-country application, that is, applicable for people to be used in their own country. This group of people is, by far, much larger in terms of number. Level 2 can deal more with people traveling outside of their own country to do business.

Dec 15, 2011 from Riet

This is a great start. Also from my side a few comments:

  1. Already in the beginning: the following list is used.
    1. Formal Business Attire -- most formal
    2. Smart Business Attire
    3. Business Casual Attire -- most casual
    I am not sure about the naming in other European countries, but at least in my country Business Casual is more formal than Smart Casual. This means that we cannot simply use those words. Formal - Semi-formal - informal could be an alternative, to avoid confusion.

    Our Smart Casual could be jeans with a jacket, kind of trendy way of dressing.

    Response P. This does avoid a lot of confusion. I have consulted with Kimberly and she is all for formal - semi-formal - informal.
    Deborah, Christina, Lynne, what do you think?

  2. The Basic level as presented now goes into detail on a lot of subjects. It may be an idea to take some portions away to take them to Level 2, while other more obvious things can be added. For instance
    1. Some gestures that are and are not appropriate (sometimes the same gesture means something else in different countries).
    2. Drinking coffee: take both cup and saucer in your hands while drinking coffee.
    3. Presenting cookies: just enough for everybody or more than enough, depending on the culture.
    4. Do you need to eat all your food, drink everything that is presented etc. Or can you simply say no, or no thank you.
    5. Waiting for your turn in a waiting line. Waiting to be seated (not everywhere expected).
    6. How about drinking alcohol?
    7. When is it time to go ? What can you do? What will not be appreciated?
    8. Bring flowers, when.
    9. Accepting presents etc.

    Response Q. Kimberly and I had difficulties on what should go in Level 1 and Level 2. It does get tricky when we don't have a clear picture of who our audience is. We need to agree on the profile of a typical student for our different levels.
    Can we come to a consensus on the profile? (I have re-listed below the profile as proposed in the previous 'General Discussion' on Dec 23, 2011.)

    Riet's response (Jan15,2012): I agree on the profiles, if we focus on China/Asia. When we focus on "worldwide" this profiles will not work. I suggest to stick with our first scope (China) and create the learning outcomes and the test. Later we can make a special version for other continents with another home base. That will help to look from the perspective of the continent. The test for every other continent will just need another page on the website.

    Level 1 Profiling:
    Name: David Wang
    Location: Shanghai, China
    Age: 24
    Education: Bachelor of Business Administration,
    Fudan University (a top university in China, something like Princeton in the U.S.)
    Job: Hotel assistant beverage manager at the Shanghai Hyatt, first job, 2 years experience since graduation
    Travel: No business travel needed. No personal travel outside of country because of cost.
    Background: Family are all in Shanghai.
    Father is in his early 50's working as an editor for a fashion magazine. He also graduated from Fudan University in the early '80s.
    Mother is in her late 40's working for an import/export trading company. She graduated from a vocational college in the early '80s.
    David lives in a 600 sq-ft apartment together with his parents.

    Level 2 Profiling:
    (Same David Wang, at age 32, after successfully obtained the IITTI Level 1 Certification, eight years later)
    Jobs since then: Promoted to hotel beverage manager at Hyatt two years since Level 1.
    Transferred to marketing and sales as assistant manager three years since last position.
    Promoted to senior assistant marketing and sales manager last year.
    Travel: Some business travel for hotel management training. Some personal travel outside of country.
    Personal life: Met Wendy Wu who works at the same hotel as a front desk clerk.
    Married two years ago. No kids.
    Bought a small 500 sq-ft apartment.

    Level 3 Profiling:
    (Same David Wang, at age 35, after successfully obtained the IITTI Level 2 Certification, three years later)
    Jobs since then: Promoted to sales manager at Hyatt two years since Level 2.
    Travel: Extensive business travel for hotel leadership as a coach. Some personal travel outside of country.
    Personal life: One baby girl, 1 year old.

    Here is our attempt in modifying what Riet suggested, and grouping what we would like to be in Level 1 and 2:

    Work-to-do List:

    1. Gestures (Level 1) also cross-cultural differences between Asian and North America.       Lynne, Christina, Riet, Deborah
    2. Drinking coffee with saucer (Level 2: finer points of drinking coffee. Basic coffee drinking is in Level 1.)       Riet
    3. Presenting cookies (Not common in N. America. European etiquette points are deemed best presented in Level 2 because of its many finer differences.)       Riet
    4. Eat all food? (Level 1)       Riet
    5. Waiting in line (Level 1)       Riet
    6. Drinking alcohol? (Level 1)       Deborah
    7. Time to go ? (Level 1)       Riet
    8. Bring flowers, when. (More advanced. Level 2 or 3?)       Riet
    9. Accepting presents etc. (Including giving presents. More advanced. Level 2 or 3?)       Deborah

    I have also taken the liberty to put names down next to each item to help write the particular outcomes.
    Can you help write the outcomes for these parts above please? I have everyone working on the 'gestures' part because this is an important point, and I would think everyone has her particular pet peeves! Kimberly and I have also been working on the gestures (or what we called cultural faux pas).

    Here is our list of faux pas:

    - stone-faced when meeting stranger saying 'hello' to them

    - answering cell phone when in other people's office

    - answering cell phone when in a meeting

    - answering cell phone in a thoroughfare and blocking the way

    - smoking and throwing cigarette butts everywhere

    - eating with mouth open
    - eating noisily
    - slurping their noodles
    - making a mess at the table

    - picking noses

    - spitting
    - spitting into garbage cans

    - leaving behind dog poo without picking up

    - speak loudly

    (These may have overlapped with other contents in the document, but we thought these are 'gestures' that are serious enough to be listed again.)

    Riet's response (Jan15,2012): I love the faux pas section as Level I materials.

    Learning Outcomes for:

    1. Gestures: know what gestures could cause misinterpretation by international audience
    2. Coffee drinking (I am willing to define learning outcomes; maybe find words during a conversation about drinking coffee with one of you)
    3. Same with the other topics. Everything depends on what is the Level I perspective. When traveling you need to know more specifics than when international people come to you, or how "international" is done in your own country....

  3. Tipping on page 39 is very different, and depends of the circumstances. In many countries service is included. In other countries you need to pay for the service by giving a tip. I am not sure that those percentages can be applied everywhere.

    Response R. OK. If there are a lot of variations in Europe, we can put this in Level 2 as a more-advanced topic. We will indicate what we have written now is a rough guideline for North America. Added to Edition 2012, Date: Jan 6, 2012

If I think of students that come over to my country: what cultural shock would they experience? When I think of basic, it is on the topics that someone needs to know as behaviour on a personal level, immediately when entering a country. Maybe second in more depth and business level. I only come to this idea after reading all these learning outcomes. Thanks to this document I get an idea of the whole.

Response S. Riet, the assumptions used to write the Outcomes is slightly different from what you described. While it does try to focus on the behaviour on a personal level for Level 1, as it is an essential skill, the focus was not particularly on someone traveling to another country, but rather, someone needing the essential skills to receive outside visitors to their country. I will discuss more on this below (in Response V.) with Deborah's comment because it is a similar topic.

I would suggest we list all additional topics as well, without getting into detail and spread them over the 3 levels. So that we have a complete overview of the whole.

Response T. Riet, great ambition! I will start this "big list" so that we can all see the whole with a bird's eye view. Expect something by the end of January.

Thanks for all the work so far. If you need anything more specific I will start finding out how it works in the different countries in Europe.

Response U. Thanks for your initiatives! It would be great if you can start collecting information about etiquette of the different countries in Europe. We will need it sooner or later for sure. (And it may be sooner than we think!)

Riet's response (Jan15,2012): I will.

Dec 20, 2011 from Deborah

You and Kimberly have done a great deal of work on this! Thank you!

As for the overview and direction of the three levels, I like Riet's comments regarding what people may experience or need to know when they first arrive in a country as the basic level, followed with conducting business in that country. Without clear guidelines for identifying levels of expertise things may become overwhelming and confusing. Is the plan to have standards for various cultures, or focus on western standards?

Response V. I had debated with Kimberly about what we should consider as "basic" vs. "standard". If we borrow from Christina where Level 1 would be "...relevant for the majority of the population...", and the consensus we had where we will build Level 1 as a mass-market, catch-all, pervasive product without exam proctor but just the written exam, we need to decide if first-arrival-in-a-country would be essential for most people in say China or India.

The difficulty lies in both arguments have merits (first-arrival is a basic need vs. not needed by the masses). What we can do is this: after the 'work-to-do list' in Response Q above is done, we can collectively group those that are absolutely essential and leave them in Level 1, and move the others to Level 2. Will this work?

Riet's response (Jan15,2012): For me this will absolutely work. We could also decide earlier to make this choice. First arrival in a country can be a very good start for Level II.

Here are a couple quick comments about the outcomes:

Under place settings, I would disagree with forks ever being placed on the right with the exception of a seafood/oyster/cocktail fork.

Response W. OK. It is added to Edition 2012, Date: Jan 6, 2012

Tipping is such a broad topic it would be difficult to set percentage standards.

Are you looking for more information at this point?

Response X. I think for Level 1, just a general awareness that, in North America, tipping is expected would suffice. Later on in Level 2, we can write more about tipping then.

Dec 21, 2011 from Lynne

Just a few more thoughts from me:

I was wondering how we are going to divide up the information in each level of the exam. If you consider the learning outcomes they follow a proven taxonomy or learning curve. This runs in this order:


Our exam levels should reflect this increased sophistication in learning. These are purely suggestions and can be flexible but could be useful for discussion purposes and a place to start.

For example, our lowest level exam could be purely testing knowledge and comprehension on rules of appearance and etiquette.

A higher level of learning is Application. The exam can test the knowledge they have learned and ask them to apply it to different or new situations.

The highest level of learning is Evaluation and Assessment. Our highest level exam could be presenting complex scenarios and choices in appearance and etiquette and asking them to judge appropriateness, or design their own solutions.

Response Y. Great thinking! Thank you Lynne! These add depth to the whole concept! I have re-attached a diagram from our previous discussion of Dec 23, 2011 to indicate what we can do in using this model for depth while still be able to add new materials in Level 2 and beyond.

To alleviate the problem of naming the casual / formal categories of clothing I suggest that we use Level 1-3 and define each level or category.

Response Z. Are you suggesting to use a clothing Level 1-3? I worry if this clothing Level 1-3 would be confused with IITTI Level 1-3. That is, users would think IITTI Level 1 is all about dressing in a "Level 1" way, IITTI Level 2 would be all about a "Level 2" way, and so on. How about adapting Riet's suggestion as Response P above? That is, formal - semi-formal - casual(?)

Dec 21, 2011 from Christina

Lynne, good idea to use the Levels in place of dressing terminology. Also, the need to distinguish learning outcomes in terms of depth of learning is a very good thought.

Patrick, with our current definition on IITTI's Level 1 Basic as "Keeping up", I was wondering if the extent of details we have on this first draft for Level 1 might be too much. My suggestion is that we aim to go wide in terms of knowledge scope about basic dress and grooming as well as behaviour and communication; but that we need not go too deep in terms of details. For instance, the type of prints (page 9) could be generalised as "small prints no larger than the size of a small coin. Quirky prints such as cartoons are inappropriate for business."

Response AA. Makes sense! I am all for a progressive learning model where each level adds details and insights.
Can you (all) suggest other wide-scope topics to be included for Level 1? I will gladly put all the new outcomes into the document. Then we can form consensus to see what should stay in Level 1 and what should be moved to Level 2.

I also suggest including social media etiquette somewhere on pages 19 and 20 section. This trend is here to stay and test takers would benefit from gaining awareness that social media 'behaviour' impacts a person's image and from gaining some knowledge on managing their social media profiles. It is a known fact that part of the due diligence companies are doing when hiring new candidates is to check on the applicant's background on the internet. I know of cases where job opportunities are lost because of some dangerously silly information the candidate posted on their FB.

Response AB. Thanks for your reminding. Yes, social media is increasingly being used to prosecute criminals too. I have added a section on 'Social Media' to Edition 2012, Date: Jan 6, 2012.

Riet, what you highlighted about Business Casual being more formal than Smart Casual applies in Asia as well. On Pg.4, let's add "with sleeves" and "sleeveless" to "More formal" and "Less Formal Business Casual Attire". Not only are sleeveless dresses appearing to be a trend at office but in the hot weather cities like Singapore, it has become an issue at companies I train where management are telling us that women are getting more bold with spaghetti straps and revealing clothes.

Response AC. OK. Added to Edition 2012, Date: Jan 6, 2012

Riet's response (Jan15,2012): Another wide scope topic:

  • Latest trends: for example what Christina describes (sleeveless dresses) (Trends in international business in Asia?? If we want this test be worldwide acknowledged then this will not be easy... )

  • Dec 27, 2011 from Lynne

    Thanks for your conversation with Kimberly.

    I will look through your suggestions and get back to you. I think that a two day training seems like a reasonable timeframe to suggest to trainers. But, one thought that popped up: do we need to concern ourselves with the training timeframe of individual programmes?

    Response AD. I agree. We shouldn't need to concern with the actual training timeframe of individual programs. Each image training school can decide their own curriculum and schedule. We will not dictate their private business operations. What the exercise of considering the 15-hour goalpost was about having a "feel" of the approximate size of the program. That is, we know we want something around 15 hours, not 3 hours, not 50 hours or 100 hours. We just want a ballpark figure. It will help us to more easily decide if our Learning Outcomes amount of content is too small or too big.

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