Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A New Strategy for Reporting

I've been working with Sally to create a new implementation plan. She and the director have been working on a strategic plan for this LMS.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Scope Shrinkage

Monday morning, I put in the final batch add of our staff in our SkillPort LMS.

No groups.
No increase in reporting capabilities.
Very little that actually met the requirements we so painfully gathered.

At least it is progress.

It is also incredibly disappointing.

So how did we get here?


Throughout the entire project, the senior business analyst has been struggling to create an accurate organizational chart from our enterprise system.

We were running short on time. The senior business analyst was not only struggling to automate the process, she was also pulled into a politically sensitive project that wound up taking all of the time she needed to work with us.

I called the Senior HRIS administrator to figure out how to get the information I needed to create the organizational structure manually. Mostly - position names.

I had the rough structure from the error report from our last test. My planned process - pick through the error report, find the errored position code in our enterprise system, create the new batch add group file. Once I have enough - add the groups and affected users. Pull a new error report. Repeat until I have all the groups in and the error report comes up clean. Figured it would be about 16 hours of monotonous administrative and spreadsheet tasks.

Right before I asked the HRIS administrator how to find the information I needed, I found it. And an unpleasant surprise....

We had 2 position codes for the University President.

Essentially - our "accurate" enterprise system had 2 parallel organizational structures. One for the old president and one for the new one.

The HRIS administrator heard me groan on the other end of the line.

Wendy - if it makes you feel any better...there is another project.

Please don't say "I.... M....." (No, I will not name the project. Some of us have turned it into a "drinking game" and I don't want to ruin the fun.)

Nope - this is for salary planning and merit pay. We have to have an accurate organizational structure for this to work. It all has to be done by Open Enrollment.

So if I can convince the primary stakeholder that waiting for this project to end will help us in the long run, we'll be OK.

She's involved in this salary planning project.

I GUESS that's good news.....


Thankfully, that primary stakeholder is Sally. I am convinced she is a saint - because anyone else in her position would have completely flipped. Especially as she has spent the past few months watching this project slowly shrink into nothingness.

I laid out the issues.
- We don't have a way to get an accurate organizational structure out of our enterprise system.

- Our top level has 2 position codes - the base of our organizational structure. If the top level has 2 codes (one of which is deactivated), how can we expect our organizational structure to be correct?

- The other project she is on is going to correct this issue.

- That other project is due about the time we do the upgrade in October.

- We are getting more sandbox time around then. (Such is the joy of hosted solutions - our access to a testing environment is at the whim of the vendor).

- If we put the users in, at least we can do assignments on the university-level to individuals, including course registration. So we at least gain a small something.

We took a look at our current timeline for all of the pieces of our project.

I think we can do this Wendy.


I'm very fortunate to be working with an understanding stakeholder.
However, I can't help but feel I have "failed" in some way.
Such is the risk you take when retrofitting a solution around pre-existing resources.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Creating Magic

Jon Matzner, one of the coaches at my gym, reminded me of Derek Siver's story of his encounter with a great teacher.

Sometimes, it takes another set of eyes from an unexpected direction to revisit an idea.

Jon looked at Kimo as the type of teacher he wants to be. One with high expectations that inspires high performance in his pupils. I see that in Jon's coaching. I try to do the same thing in my classroom. Lots of focus, little fluff.

What made Derek's interaction with Kimo so magical wasn't just a motivated teacher with high expectations - it was a motivated student who craved the challenge.

I realized, upon reading this essay more carefully, that I want to be the type of STUDENT that can take the pace. That expects that much more from myself. That can be fully present in that moment.

It also forced me to ask myself if there is really any "goal" that will motivate me like that? And upon reflection, I have realized that I am very lazy. It's been OK to move at the standard pace. My excuse has been "well - it's more likely to stick that way."

But what if....

What if I could be that student? The one who craves challenge? The one who needs the adrenaline rush? What would that feel like? What needs to happen to get there? What needs to be sacrificed?

Figuring out how to be that student can only help me be that teacher.

QuoteGarden - Learning

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Update on Life and Stuff and Things

I had the Captivate 5 post hanging out for the past month. Partially to really put the product through its paces. Partially because I just haven't had time to write much.

Work Things

Been extra-special busy at work this past year. There will be a write-up of the SkillPort LMS project in the near future.

I've had a number of online tutorials out for review for 6-12 months that are finally coming back to me. One of the bonuses working for a university - they move slooooooow. Managed to get one set up and should have the 2nd (larger and more complicated) set completed by the end of September. Good times.

My audio recording tools + Windows 7 = bad juju. I think I may finally have the gremlins trained.

Michael, the web guy, has been freed from my clutches. After working together through an amazingly complicated project, he's taken that project and his other assignments and run with them. I tell him every day how thankful I am to have real help.

Personal Stuff

Shelving the going back to school thing for now.
1) As much as I tried to talk myself into it, my heart just wasn't in it.
2) Life got a little crazy

My significant other and I are purchasing a house. We will be moving in early September. I learned some things about house-buying.
1) There are a LOT of people who want their fingers in your money

2) The process is amazingly complicated

3) It takes just one crazy person (in our case, the listing agent for the house we are buying) to make the process even less pleasant than buying a car or getting teeth pulled. That's saying something.

4) It is very important to have a great buyers agent to smooth things over when the crazy person attacks. I sense that for 95% of real estate transactions, there is at least one crazy person in the mix.

5) I hope to not do this again anytime soon.

What little spare time I have had left has been spent at the gym. More as a sanity check than anything else.

I'd like to thank the more consistent bloggers and tweeters for keeping me informed and up-to-date with doings in the eLearning space. I've been taking much more than I have been giving recently. You have no idea how much I appreciate the input and ideas.

Attempting Big Goals with Others

Hugh MacLeod - of course

This week, our team had a sit-down with our new deputy muck.

He asked if there was anything he could do to help.

My colleagues had already voiced everything I could think of, but since he expected an answer - I told him about my big hairy audacious goal for the next 5 years.

To build a system where an employee can easily find any information and/or training he or she needs to get better at his or her job.


The difference between this big hairy audacious goal and most of the big goals I have is the need for others to perform particular tasks to help achieve the goal.

Many of my goals have used others for information and mentorship, but I am the one who ultimately has to perform the work.
- Building a useful tutorial library and support system for a particular application
- Losing 25 pounds and increasing strength
- Finishing my Masters degrees

Occasionally, I will have one partner-in-crime who helps with the heavy lifting
- Creating a Moodle site
- Creating a mobile synchronous online meeting system (in the days before cheap webcams and WebEx)

This time - I need many others to perform the work too.

Learning to play well with others has been a long-time challenge of mine. Simply learning to ask for help has been a challenge.

It has dawned on me that I am now starting the advanced class in collaboration. Adding others to the big hairy audacious goal technical team and trusting them to do their piece has been the theme for the past year or so.

When it is just me, or me and one other person, the politics are easy. Communication and division of labor is easy. The more players - the more complicated.

- Does everyone you need to work with see the value of the big hairy goal? Sometimes, the resource you need the most has the least need for your little project and couldn't care less whether you succeed or not. Doesn't even matter if the mucky mucks SAY it is valuable and "prioritizes" it (whatever that looks like).

- Who does what? Often - with more people, there is some skill overlap. Or, skill overlap with other parties saying the other person should do it. Or, no one with the skill set and pointing fingers at the person for whom the big hairy goal is most important and telling them they should figure it out - even if they are miserably ill-equipped to do so.

- What is the timeline? Do we all agree? Can we all meet it? What other priorities are on each team-member's plate? Does everyone share the same work-ethic? Do they all see the timeline in the same way (a suggestion or a drop-dead, no-flex deadline)?

- Do all of our managers agree about the level of prioritization? Because with more people, the more likelihood the management gets involved. The higher the likelihood of your project being hijacked for the purposes of political posturing.

The more people you need to do the heavy lifting for the big hairy audacious goal - the higher the likelihood of failure. The greater the need for diplomacy, tact and salesmanship.

Basically, all of the skills required for "leadership."

Right now, I'm being tested. And this time, I can't just throw up my hands and either run away or do the damn thing myself.

Looks like I'm "leveling up" whether I want to or not. Wish me luck.....

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thoughts on Captivate 5

I had hoped to stall the upgrade a bit longer. Unfortunately, our purchasing arm ixnayed those plans - forcing all new users to purchase Captivate 5.

This is a major UI change, so I had to get up to speed pronto. I have 2 groups purchasing Captivate 5 and starting the eLearning conversion process.

Below are my thoughts.


- Digging the new tabs and the ability to see properties on the same screen. Took some getting used to, but now that I know where to look - I'm a fan.

- The lack of a storyboard view really threw me. Finally figured out that I needed to expand the Filmstrip to see all of the slides and move things around.

- Big change in my personal workflow - I need to remember to set the Object Styles for each of the standard objects first thing - BEFORE I start filming. It will make the filming process much easier.

- Took awhile to figure out the Master Slide concept. I can see how this will work great if I am using different backgrounds throughout my presentation. I need to experiment more to see how this is going to work most effectively and why you would create multiple Master Slides.

- No more saving separate Captivate Template files. Now I need to create a baseline project. Makes sense. Especially since most of the people I work with tend to copy/paste items from old projects anyway rather than work from set templates.

- Once I took care of the Windows 7 audio problems, Captivate 5 seems to have a much better audio processor.

- Adore the copy/paste slide feature and the ability to have multiple projects open at once. Hooray!!!!

As with any UI change, this one is taking me a while to get used to its quirks. Right now, I am slower with my development and editing. Thankfully, I had a much easier time wrapping my head around the UI logic than I did with Office 2007.

Overall - liking the new Captivate. Haven't tried the Mac version yet since my MacBook Pro is in the process of melting (don't ask). If anyone has any further feedback on Captivate 5 - please comment.