Thursday, April 10, 2014

#perspectives14 The Spark

Using Buffer (timed twitter)
Also using Snapcaster (broadcasting tweets)
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Speaker: Lyn Heyward, Cirque du Soleil (another one best to have seen)

Door 1: Great Expectations
- Everyone has a wellspring of creativity
- Tap into it every day and in real life
- Practice.
- Every situation. Every encounter is a creative opportunity
- You have so many choices.
- We are all looking - but not always certain what it is

Door 2: Surrender to your senses
- Our world is constantly changing
- Sometime we are the instigators.  Often - on the receiving end
- Are we sensing everything out there
- Journey inward - technique. Only progresses when go beyond mechanics
  + Gotta trust senses, intuition and self
- Capture new ideas and experiences as occur.  EVEN if don't seem valuable.

(How do you break things down. What are the order of the senses in an experience?  What is the core and which do you want to emphasize?)
Go to the source

Door 3: Treasure hunting and creative transformation
- They look for tough-minded entrepreneurial spirit.  First wave - very street performers
- Second wave - more educated and disciplined.  More refined relationship with the paying spectators
- Third wave - athletes. Intense discipline.  Individual
  + Where they started doing "training"
- How do we take all three
- Don't do traditional casting.  Scouting looking for individuals.  (like sports). Closed auditions.  They are looking for the individual and hidden talents then build show.
- General training - bringing candidates around world.  Have them do things never done before + evaluate core HUMAN value
  + Can you work together to solve problems
  + Risk taking
  + Share?
  + Learn quickly?
- They hire for what they might become and how can contribute.

Creative transformation - So...who are you?
- Who are YOU?!?  Strip them of stereotypical tics and behaviors.
- Work on getting raw being
- Often we define through jobs etc.  Not through creative emotions.
- Lots of onion-peeling....

4 keys
- Work outside of comfort zone
- Try new things and take risks
- NEVER repeat yourself
- Apply creativity to everyday tasks AND to projects

The openness is what is what opens to the creativity.

Door 4: The Nurturing Environment
- Transition from individual to team
- As leader, our most important responsibility is to create an environment for creativity, productivity and personal growth.
- At Cirque - everyone is expected to be generous, creative and "give up" ideas
  + Applies to EVERYONE
- Looking for team players. Try to cultivate

Designer / costumer collaboration.  The creative and the implementor.

Look outside your world and take responsibility for what you are working on.  What THEY are working on.

Also have to understand how the environment we work in impacts the work itself.

They do "dress rehearsals" of the artist before goes out on the show.  For the WHOLE company.
They get a chance to see the performance and say goodbye to the artist.
Teamwork - very prolific.

The decoration of the playground also important.  Remider on a journey.

Door 5: How constraints, challenges, differences and consumer expectations become creative catalysts.
- Restraints help with creativity  Requires resourcefulness.
- Help become motivators for getting the job done.

"There are many ways to do something"
"What best represents you?  Your brand?"
What we do does NOT have to be expensive to evoke the emotions. (or get the job done)

What do you do best?
How do you do that within the "restrictions"?

Also important to understand what is happening around you.

How do you spead positive messages?

Cirque pyramid:
Amazement (92%) / Happiness (88%) / Exhilaration (77%) // Sadness (23%) / Fear (18%)
Urge to surpass myself (23%) / Nostalgia 30%) / Spirituality (31%) / Hope (32%)

Door 6: Risk Taking: Do you ever get burned?
Creativity is all about courage.
Courage to try. Courage to fail. Courage to share the experience.

"You have got to learn to leverage the creativity and credibility you have earned over the years."
You take the risk. you live with the risk. you go beyond that risk.

Complacency is the single biggest risk you take. And least productive.

We have to practice risk taking. "We call this research and development"

Technology to enhance human performance.  NOT replace.  (for Cirque and I think for all of us)
- The human has to stand out.

Door 7: Keeping it fresh
- How do you help it grow.
- How do you keep motivated between projects?
- People notice what the elders are doing.
- How do you encourage?  make them better?
- Employees have to be recognized for what they are doing.
- Gotta be committed to look at product from outside perspective.
- They have artistic directors listen to comments in audience.  They try stuff throughout.
- Don't lose sight of the vast human potential around him.  Share success with EVERYONE.

Continuing questioning relevance in the environment.

Expose folks to product.  Will encourage sense of ownership. AND share success.
- Let the employees oogle the work first.
- also encourage activities.  Let the employees up on stage to play.
- Let people come forward to show their talent too


Wednesday, April 09, 2014

#perspectives14 UNThink

Turn negative stress into positive pressure.
Take control through action.
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Presenter: Erik Wahl
(This is one of those presentations that would have been better to film vs. my notes)
(Check the #perspectives14 twitter feed)

"Who can draw?"  Nothing.
But if he goes to the high schools - 8-10%
Preschools - everyone.

At what age does our creative energy dry up?
Young.

The challenge is how to remain an artist as we grow up.

How do we build emotional connection?

Creativity is the new corporate capital.
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Look at the space "between the notes"

The Introduction to Poetry - J. Evans Pritchard.
- Objectively calculate the value of each poem and stanza.
- Score the poem and its greatness. THEN you will enjoy it.
- "Bah"

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Go outside your comfort zone.
- Fear Factor - all about going outside the comfort zone.

Sometimes it pays to take a risk and take action on an idea.
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Trail of breadcrumbs from an umet goal - always goes back to fear.

Fear of the unknown
False evidence appearing real

We let fear paralyze the creative thought process.
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Fear KILLS Performance
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Amplify your opportunity to scale.
If want to grow your org - got to grow your people
Find ways to emotionally connect
Find meaning
Connect

What is a creative idea WORTH?
What is it worth to expand your (tolerance) of risk.
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Southwest - "hire for attitude, train for skill"
Hard to train flexibility, adaptability, deal effectively with onslaught of changes....

Built decisions on people and how they are trained and supported with that core.
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Imagination is MORE important than knowledge - Einstein
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Past experience and success can be the greatest factors that hold you back.
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We were all taught, trained, disciplined to be "logical"
- We were trained to search for one, proper, standardized solution.
- Gets worse and we inflict this on others.
- We are taught to become risk averse, and "busy"

We talk about innovation and creativity
But when it comes time to write the check - we do what we have done before...

Linear, logical still necessary.  But FAR from sufficient.
Esp. not to compete and engage.

How do we work and hire smarter vs. working harder and harder......
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Trust is the strongest form of currency

If you can humanize your brand - you are better equipped to succeed.
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Internet revolution = trust revolution
Internet is social
Retaining talent, recruiting talent = trust

The future of business is social.
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We have got to learn to communicate.
(and we have to learn candor)

The future is in building the trust out.

Amplify trust.
Spread out to scale.
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The art of great leadership going forward will be in the science of intentionally slowing down,.
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How do we build back emotional connection. (Heart)
(This will require slowing down......fighting the addiction to "busy")
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Breakthrough thinking - if we break out of the corporate-speak....get more human and access the emotional portion of our mind
This is where breakthrough results blossom.
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Sometimes - "gotta get out."
Especially when you "lose everything"
(wish I recorded this - because I can relate.....)

What are you repressing?
What is dormant?

Really - disruptive strategies, creativity, etc.
Not genetic.
Really expressing self.
Looking at things from another perspective.
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Creativity is a practiced and disciplined skill.

Emotional connection
(This has been a huge theme this morning)
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How?
How are we going to re-awaken the child-like imagination?
How to re-awaken the artistry?
Harmonize notes?
Build the emotional connections that drive future effort?
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What standardized testing, six sigma, best practice etc does - it stigmatizes being wrong.
We become afraid of being in the "bottom"

In building a culture of innovation....what happens if you have the best baseball team but the game has changed to basketball.

Trust is the holy grail.

How do we motivate and empower our students?  Help those individuals become the best possible version of themselves.

How do we look at the challenges of business as an opportunity?
Business as usual no longer cuts it.

Remember: education is an industrial model.  Same with our organizations.
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Create opportunity by changing the game.
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(Hey B-Sharps!  This person Geocaches his artwork! Find it you keep it.  1:45pm - will launch clues where painting hidden @erikwahl and skillsoft twitter.  Let's go look for Elvis!)

Look at the ordinary and take the risk / opportunity to create the extraordinary.
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See what those around you see - but have the courage to twist the landscape


#perspectives14 Big Data

(Went out to find a plug)

Speaker: John Ambrose (SkillSoft)

McKinsey Big Data paper

Deloitte Human Capital Trends 2014

Overwhelmed Employee - businesses today are struggling to adapt to 21st century
- HUGE increase in data
Employees interrupted by information all day long

Compounded by the fact that we have the most generationally diverse workforce ever

Imperative for us to find better ways to absorb data
- Through tech
- Through better implementation
- Make it simpler

Characteristics of Overwhelmed Employee
- Checks cell phone 150x per day.
- Can only focus for 5 minutes at a stretch (if we are lucky)
  + Attention span plunged from 12 minutes in 1998.  (Yikes)

- People try to contact multiple ways now and not wait.

Everything is "one big now"
- Not just mere speeding up.  Amplification of EVERYTHING happening at this moment.
- Diminishment of what is NOT.
- Becomes very hard to keep site of goals and future

Antidote - how do we deal with the data that is overwhelming us?
- Answer to data overload is data.
  + Like the flu shot
- If we think about data - we can imagine ways we can improve the lives
- Its about using the data more intelligently.

Lots of ways to look at this
- Drive revenue (Wal mart, Visa, Amazon....)
- Decision-making
  + but most people don't know where to start
- New jobs (data interpreters)

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(Trick - use data to determine what is the best course of action.  What will make you more effective in the things you are trying to do.  What problem are you trying to solve?)

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(Caesar's example - they are using data to optimize the person's experience.  They seemed to start with a question - "how do we get the customer to come back?")

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas as data
(This is why the guy came to my room with the speaker gift bag.  He KNEW I was in the room. Kinda creepy actually)
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Each module and element in SkillPort - a piece of data.
What are the user content interactions.
Then what is the sequencing?

What is the payoff?
- Key to successful learning program
  + Engagement, alignment, adoption, value

- These are driven top-down

Big data opens complementary path.  Successful knowledge transfer happens at individualized / personallized level.

Find what they need when they need it.  PULL vs. PUSH.

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Transform
- Learner centered world.
- Away from program centric to user centric

(How do we empower people to learn?)

(So the first step, for me, is to define the measurable behaviors.  What evidence will I have that we are moving towards a Learning Organization)

SkillSoft
- Improving user engagement.  (From what to what.  Also - run models and algorithms. Working on this now.)

Big Data
- Engagement sensors. 
- Recommendations engine
- Visualization of WHY you are getting that recommendation

(wandered off at this point to take care of some work stuff)

#perspectives14 Leadership Lessons

Dear SkillSoft....
These beanbag chairs are still epic.
We should have those in the morning sessions instead of chairs.

Maybe I'll ask them to drag them in to the session I am giving this afternoon.
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Speaker: Jack Welsh

Innovation and competitive advantage
- Innovation = little steps becomes a big deal

Mindset - reward every little improvement every day.

Find a better way every day - this is a "headset"

"Innovation" scares people
"I can't innovate!  That's for someone else!"
Engage every single person to find a better way.
Then REWARD and CELEBRATE!

Faster accounting system, new customer program, turning screws...

These small things make your company competitive
AND you engage every mind.

"Innovate" - don't wait for the "innovators to innovate"

Praise the small victories.

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Known for candor.
What is the argument for candor in the workplace?
How do you walk the fine line between honest and hurtful?

Candor means searching for the truth.
Not about being rude.

If looking for strategy // tactic - need truth.

Candor about your relationships with your people.

Why don't we reward candor? (This is where I feel like I am really lucky in my org)

"You have no right to be a manager without demonstrating to your people knowing where they stand"

Simple piece of paper.  What are you doing well. Where can you improve.
And they can come back too.

Honest conversations.  Not rude. Not hurtful. Honest.

Get the real stuff on the table.

NEVER let your people come to work not knowing what you think of them.
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Characteristics of effective leaders

EEEEP - energy, excite, edge (make decisions), execute (get the damn thing done), passion (do it with passion, caring)

4 more things (past 10 years)
- Get in the SKIN of every employee.  Sweat with them and make relationships.  Try to understand. (1 to 1 relationships)
   + Today - everyone has same information.  So how do you get everyone engaged?

- Become the "Chief Meaning Officer".  Make it CLEAR why they are there.  Everyone needs purpose.  Give them a purpose.  Where are you going? Why are you going there? Rinse and repeat.

- Be the sweeper.(see Curling)  Get the crap out of the way!  Don't layer in reports / bureaucracy etc.  Let your folks do their job and flourish

- Generosity gene.  People who LOVE to give raises.  People who give credit.  Never steal an idea. Excited to see people grow.  Gotta love to see others flourish.
  - The Employee thieves don't thrive anymore
  - Kissing up and kicking down doesn't work anymore
  - This CAN be learned.
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Hiring - Hiring great people is brutally hard.

Even when we know people, we don't know how they will behave at the next level.

Too often you hire a dud and you hang onto the dud because you are embarrased.
If have a Generosity Gene.  The cheapest money you will ever spend is severence.

Gotta love them as much on the way out as much as on the way in.

Hardest job in the world.
Own your mistake
Be candid
Take care of them 

This will also help build a better organization.
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Differentiation

- Lots of flak on that. 
- "Business is like a game - the team that fields the best players wins."

Baseball teams manage out the weakest people.

Differentiation - unfair if the employees have no idea where they stand and can't grow.
Only works in environment with candor and opportunities.

People don't want to hang out in the bottom 10.
People want to work places where they have a chance to be winners.

If you are candid, open and fair - you will field the best team.

Worst manager - "Kind" person.  "I can't tell them they stink."
- Don't want to surprise them.
- Very cruel to not be honest with people.

You have to field the best team.
T&D - your job is to help build this team.

HR MUST report to CEO.

The job is ALL PEOPLE!
The rest is crap around the thing.

An HR person has to be well-respected,
Training is critical
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A learning organization is the ultimate competitive advantage.
Open to learn from EVERYWHERE.
Have that - you win.
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What leaders need to keep in mind during transition
- Clarify the vision. - Where we are going, WHY we are going there, How are we gonna get there (behaviors), consequences

- "More with less" usually = fewer folks.

- Here is what is in it for you.  Most companies forget that.
Those consequences..has to be in the forefront of any big change initiative.
Change has to be on a personal level.

Don't hide.
Explain what is happening, why it is happening and what is in it for them.

Gotta get under everyone's skin.
That is the game.
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Strategy - to make strategy reality, find the big a-ha

- One objective every day of strategy session
- Get outside the organization
- Get outside the politics

slide 1 - what does the playing field look like.
- nitty gritty. What are the details...Especially about your competitors
- What's going on in the industry.
- Make sure everyone in room knows.

slide 2 - what have they done in the last 12 months to change the playing field
- what did the competitor(s) do.
- Why does the playing field look this way

slide 3 - what have YOU done to change the game.

slide 4 - what are you worried that they might do (may be most important slide)
- How are you taking care of your resources (ie - the person they might steal)

slide 5 - what are you going to do in the next year to change the playing field
- This is the strategy.
- Strategy is not a big book of theories.  Strategy is you and them on the playing field.

Don't get tied up in the charts and powerpoints.

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Speed to Market / Agility / Simplicity

As a leader
- Self-confidence (only self-confident people can be simple)
- Simplicity
- Speed (how fast and agile are you?)

See someone with business-ese - they are playing a game.

When a company is simple and straight-foward, they will be fast.
You will never get that with non-self-confident people CYA.

Speed when people are given the self-confidence to take risks and get out there.
Speed is the winning ingredient.

Go for the damn decision!
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New ventures

In any initiative - the personnel counts more.

Your appointment (who is in charge) speaks more than the speeches.
Wrong people in the positions....you've said volumes about how important you REALLY think it is.

Gotta discern when to bring the company culture and issues to the table and when to respect the local issues.
- That discernment - really important.
- Requires touch
- Requires understanding of culture - destination AND own culture.

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His mentors / influences
- Peter Drucker (named - but lots of them)

Worst idea corporations have EVER had - the "Mentoring Program"
You should see EVERYONE as a mentor!

Pick and choose what you like and need.
Stuff you don't like - ignore it.

If you look to find a better way every day EVERYONE is a mentor.

But - if you are stuck with a mentor that is assigned to you that isn't well liked, you are stuck.

Pick the best and grab it.
But don't get stuck in one person's mold.
That person may be carrying too much of a load for you to deal with.
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The leadership techniques work.
They work in different size companies.

Online MBA - teach on Monday, Practice Tues - Thurs, Return on Friday to share.

Welsh institute - Strayer

Want to promote people within the company.
Using all business practices.
Faculty has a customer.  Customer is the student. Faculty fired when get bad grades from students.

Series of online programs in leadership, change management, strategy.
Partnered with SkillSoft to move these ed programs to companies.
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Learning organization is the ultimate competitive advantage.

If you can get your team to field the best players...you "win"
Doesn't matter if small company of minite.

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Wants to be known for building leaders.
Creating atmospheres where people have fun.

Your job - to make it an environment where people have fun.

(People learn when they have fun)

Performance, performance, performance.

Greatest responsibility - make it exciting for people who depend and count on you.
They really don't care who the CEO is.
They care about YOU.
And you have to care about them
Gotta give them a chance to grow and flourish.

Leadership is like having a garden.
May get some weeds, but fertilize and keep tending.

If work is not fun, shame on you.

Reward systems - find ways to reward people and make sure one of them is NOT going to dinner with YOU.
- They spend all DAY with you.
- Reward on THEIR terms.

Make it fun.
Build leaders.

Get them rich in the SOUL AND the wallet.
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Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Superiority of Backroads






My road buddy.....
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I chose to do a grand southern road trip for Up 2 All of Us and Ecosystem 2014 this year.

My initial thinking - since it was easier for me to drive down to Greensboro, NC...then I was looking at turning around, driving BACK to DC, THEN getting on a plane to Orlando the next day...I might as well drive the whole loop.

With the weather being as dodgy as it was ... best choice I've made in awhile.  I would have never made it to Ecosystem 2014.

Besides, I figured the road trip would give me the opportunity to:
- take the Mustang out for a lengthy road trip
- Visit an uncle in the Florida Panhandle I haven't seen in 20 years
- See the extended family in Merritt Island (just MISSED getting a winning lottery ticket) and Orlando without worrying about transportation
- See some friends I haven't seen in 18 years in Savannah
- eat REAL BBQ (not the stuff that passes for BBQ in the mid-Atlantic)

I forgot how much I enjoy driving off-interstate.

The quickest route between Greensboro, NC and Monticello, FL is mostly US and Georgia state highways once you hit Augusta.

I discovered that driving the backroads is a lot less tiring than just zoning out on the interstate.
4 hours on I-95 was a LOT more exhausting than 7 hours noodling between Augusta and Monticello.

I suspect it is the forced interruptions of small towns, interesting turns, varying landscapes.
The rhythm of cruising spots interspersed with areas you MUST pay attention.

Having a working GPS helped with the confidence-level. Google Navigator on mobile phones = best use of mobile devices EVER. 
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Those forced interruptions in really good conferences, classes, online sessions and workshops are the things that make those work.

Not the constant pounding of information in an effort to "get it all in".

The interruptions need to be a variety of activity.  Not "ok - let's take a 10 minute break."

Personally - I've tried to keep the courses I've designed under 60 minutes (under 30 if I can help it). Mostly because I find my audiences over the years have balked at longer sessions.  And, honestly, because I find teaching sessions longer than that tiring.

Still - for longer engagements, I have to keep in mind that if I can manage to provide different activities (not "ok, let's change subjects" or "let's look at another program on this computer" ) I'd likely have a better chance of having an engaged audience. The trick will be to have that activity still point folks towards the objective(s).

It was a good thing to learn.  And I think I may take backroads more frequently.






Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Accessibility - the Ariadne GPS Experiment

This past fall, the Mobility Guru and I were chatting at his cube. I was telling him about my accessibility experiments and my Dad.

You know, Wendy, we should probably add Disability Support to the Mobility Roadmap. Actually, we probably should have done that in the first place. We could use this stuff you are working on professionally - though I know why you are doing it. Have you heard of Ariadne GPS?

Ariadne GPS is an app for iPhone that allows the blind to navigate.
If the worst case scenario comes to pass - I want Dad to be as independent as possible. Maybe the iPad is the wrong form factor? Plus - Dad has an old-style clamshell phone that he only uses for emergencies. None of us have his cell number. Hmmm.....
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One of the other things I am learning is that I too am inclined to lean on my eyesight when testing. When testing apps for the newly (and somewhat suddenly) blind - this is not the best way to go. I need to figure out how to teach someone who is blind. Which means I need to reduce the reliance on my OWN eyesight. Get in the student's shoes....

It was humbling how frightening it was to close my eyes and follow.

Even more interesting to learn how the emotional charge of the situation (I'm doing this for my Dad!) impacted my ability to focus and learn. (Hint: it made it harder). 
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As of this writing - the necessity for this tool isn't immediate.  Dad is doing well. 
Not seeing great (imagine Vaseline on your glasses with some clear spots), but still seeing.
Still, it's good to know these resources are out there.

To those of you developing for the blind and who keep us all focused on accessibility and Section 508 compliance when we develop our materials...

Thank you.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Guerrilla Change Management






Wonder Woman as Gorilla - by Stonegate
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Sitting by the pool in Orlando with Brian Dusablon during Ecosystem 2014, he turned to me and said
Wendy - you should write about Guerrilla Change Management!

I have in the past. But it has been awhile (like 2007 awhile....) 

And I was hearing a lot of noise at the conference about requiring resources and lots of money for real change to occur.

Screw that.  Why be that helpless?
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Benefits I've seen using Guerrilla Change Management (Wendy-style)

- A network.  I find people are awesome about providing help - especially if you thank them a lot and give them public credit when your project works.

-  Rapid Skill Acquisition.  I hoard "tools".  Applications, ideas, information, skills.  The more tools I have in my tool kit - the better I am able to find the "right" solution for a situation.

- Faster "project" turnover - because 9 times out of 10 the proof-of-concept is good enough.  The client is happy and you look like a genius.  Don't forget to thank the folks who help you.

- More leverage when asking for money / resources.  It's much easier to ask for money when you have something that sorta kinda works but can obviously use said resources.
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When performing Guerrilla Change Management, you need to make the following assumptions:
  + I have no money
  + I am the only human resource available

Activity 1: Go talk to people.
- People who are impacted by the problem you have identified and are trying to solve.  NOT their managers - the actual people.
- People who are smarter than you who have tried to tackle the problem
- People who are good sounding boards whether they are affiliated with the problem or not. 
- Thank each person profusely and give them lots of credit when the thing works.
- If you find yourself asking permission to do the thing you are setting out to do - you are doing it wrong.

Activity 2: Scavenge for materials
- What "free stuff" is lying around your environment?  A site-wide webinar system? A site license for a development tool? Free stuff on the internet?
  + As soon as you start asking for money or another person's time to do something- you are doing it wrong.
  + "No" is a perfectly appropriate answer.  Thank the resource-holder and look elsewhere.  No one has a monopoly on tools. And no whining about your "rotten luck".
  + If the money / time  is freely given - you have just gotten a bonus!  Thank that person profusely and give them lots of credit when the thing works.

Activity 3: Figure out how to use the materials you scavenged
- Independent online help of any ilk is the best approach.
  + Unless you have a really good relationship with the expert in that tool - As soon as you start asking for another person's time - you are doing it wrong.
  + If the time is freely given - you have just gotten a bonus!  Thank the person profusely and give them lots of credit when the thing works. 
- If the tool is too complicated and sends you running to ask for formal training - go find another tool that does something similar.  No one has a monopoly on tools. 

Activity 4: Take what you have found and go solve the problem

Activity 5: Repeat Activity 1 (Go talk to people) with the thing you created to solve the problem.  Get feedback.
- Thank the people profusely and give them lots of credit when the thing works.

Activity 6: Repeat activities 4 and 5 until either
- the problem is solved (often the jury-rigged solution you just created is good enough)
- you got the information you needed from your proof-of-concept and now have leverage to go ask for money / resources / people
- you realize you have completely mis-identified the problem and need to chuck everything and start over (this is not a bad thing - just a learning thing)

The folks I work with seem to like this approach.
Hope this helps.