Friday, January 20, 2012

#Sheena Iyengar: How to make choosing easier | My Synthesis from her video

This is Sheena Iyengar video. A must watch for designers and solution providers. Love her speech, modulation and simplicity. It will do a lot good to remember her messages and look at how we can apply it in our relationships while providing solutions to clients.

 Here is how I could relate to my own approach towards e-Learning solutions and SCRUM teams.

1. Limit choices to client for accepting and appreciating your solutions better: Do not show too may design options of screens. Create maximum of 2 and adapt screens to not more than 4-5 templates per course.

2. Provide concrete consequences of each decision or change or requirement to drive projects towards closure. Make it more visual and real than writing documents and pushing more and more descriptive text.
Make weekly charts on budget and schedule burn and forecast. Use it to iterate on impact of every request on schedule by making what-if scenarios to drive the acceptance on a holistic level. Create a minimal working proof of concept to iterate on the working.

3. To me this is important : Categorization. You can handle more categories than choices as categories help you to tell them apart. This is critical to understand why metadata is important in web world. Why we should assign semantics and leave a trail of our own synthesis to make web world more intelligent. So categorize your options and limit choices within each category. Create a short team and project vocabulary that is distinct and has unambiguous meaning. Apply folksnomy and taxonomy in communications so that it is easy to index and refer it from archives

4. Condition for complexity. Gradually introduce new features and move from simple to complex. Introduce one/few features at a time in solutioning world. A reason may be why niche tools that  accomplish one task well than multi-approach tools could be why we stick to the app and become loyal users for a long time.

When you introduce a new interactivity, animation, new process, a revision to an existing priority, allow and give sufficient time for its acceptance. Do not rush on releases or changes in a train mode. Rather bursts of releases at predictive intervals enables to understand changes better.

A great use of time watching this video. Highly recommend it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

e-Learning towards direct empowerment - My wish list for 2012!!

e-Learning as an industry has succeeded to hold on to its promise of 

1. just in time,

2. just in need and

3. just on request access to information and training all these years.

In the last few years I have been happy to feel and see the following transitions in e-Learning projects.

1. The project success rates have gone up and initial cynicism of adoption has gone down.

2. IT departments have now entered the domain to sponsor e-Learning projects (while it was earlier primarily sponsored by business teams). Hence the adoption of e-Learning solutions in main stream IT initiatives will augur good news for the industry work force.

3. e-Learning as a medium while still being initiated as a cost control mechanism in training (at least first time adopters start small on this basis) has blended itself well with ILT initiatives and has started becoming main stream in delivering on results and improvements.

4. The awards, reviews and recommendations have all grown up and cloud based solutions have made their mark and e-Learning as an industry is a leading adopter of these technologies.

What I wish to see in this year and my focus areas will be on the following trends.

1. Proliferate Meaning to Mobiles: Apps on mobile, Social Media on mobile and Transactional communications have held sway on mobile usage. In this scenario, making learning happen on mobile and vying the same screen space with multiple tasks on same device is a tough challenge. I am not talking of m-learning or making courses available of mobile.

I will be looking forward for meaningful solutions that are making sense for professionals that enable doing their job better.

2. Move over Learning Management Systems to Dynamic Learning Systems: LMS has, by far been thought of as a single window application to launch e-Learning courses and show reports on progress and performance.

Sadly, the dynamic interactions and re-living reading history has not got adequate attention in the e-Learning journey. Remember, when we were learning from a book, we take notes, book mark, highlight, talk to peers, read journals, magazine, reference books rehearse some quotes, sentences in our quest to understand the subject well. We try to rephrase them and analyze these multiple records to create our own internalization of content. While these are considered as functionality and tools are built enabling them as functionalities, their way of usage within courses often leads us to get distracted in juggling between multiple apps.

When we look at our own bookshelf, we tend to look at history, open a book and try to remember our learnings, scan through random pages, check the marks, notes, scribbles and get new perspective within revised context and experiences. This dynamism in e-Learning course-ware currently is boxed within courses themselves as few functionalities in header and footer or navigation panel instead of a naturalisitc progression towards deeper knowledge and wisdom.

My take is to see a different paradigm of dynamic learning being adopted by industry and next evolution for great learning involvement come from more dynamic learning systems and platform. We would need such action tools while learning or recording own contexts from where the learners are getting the content.

3. Power to Users for Learning Exchanges: I am a big fan and had in earlier blog posts shared that learning exchanges and facilitation, needs to be at forefront of any learning medium. I wish that social media platforms are harnessed and creates a system of good, steady learning exchanges that makes e-mediums a powerful learning accelerator and transformation tool. Also more power and time is accorded to live human interactions and not just promote tools and applications to rule our learning environment.

Happy Learning for life time!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

SCRUM way for productive meetings

Next time, you want a productive meeting don't  share the agenda. Instead share a questionnaire that each one needs to represent themselves in the forum.

SCRUM in its definition emphasizes 2 meeting models in each sprint  - stand up and retrospective. Both have different purposes yet same goal - make meetings productive and useful. The tools I use are surprisingly simple and hence sharing it here.

The tools are:

1. Questionnaire:

For stand up, I use a mind map to record standup meetings. The key questions people need to prepare each day for the meeting are:
a. Can I finish my next day tasks as planned ?
b. What risks do I foresee and what is the support required ? 
c.My next days tasks are: ___ , ____ and ____.
d. My previous day tasks status is ___
e. I want to share that ____ (share problems solutions ideas, etc)
For Retrospective, the template I use has following simple questions.

1. list at least 3 positive points you experienced in the project?
2. list at least 3 negative points you experienced in the project?
3. list at least 3 important take away learning’s from the project?

4. Rate your experience while working on the sprint ?
5. Rate the competitiveness of team working with you ?
6. Which team member would you like to give a credit ? (this is the motivation question for team to feature themselves in each sprint).

Each member fills it and sends it before the meeting. Without which the moderator doesn't start the meeting. This is the ensure that members speak well thought out points and not adapt their pitches at run time.

Questionnaires allows you to think through the audience required and the participation and expectation from each teams so that meetings are steered to be productive.

 2. Rules of game:
In both stand ups and retrospective the rules of game is simple.
a. Each member gets their turn to speak.
b. Any disagreements can only be registered and only when floor is open to discussions the differing points of view can be shared. 
c. No insinuations or personal attacks allowed.
d. Moderator decision is final.

3. Moderator
The meeting organizer becomes more of a floor coordinator and time manager. According to individual styles, you can choose to conduct the meeting. The only key is to enforce a timer based system so that preparation becomes key with every member and equal opportunities are presented.

Not necessary that you use the tools in sprints or SCRUM context meetings only. As I have seen, am sure, you could see a transformation in participation of all members and no one would ever complain that meetings are boring and long winding.

Use in any business context and I shall be happy to showcase your results on this blog.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Self Quote

"Being indispensable locks you into continuation. Dispensing yourself, then is the key for disruptive growth."

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