Archive for category Tools

Service Blueprint Template

Earlier this week someone shared a ‘service blueprint’ with me.  It was a one page summary of key information regarding a methodology for a repeated service.  I’ve now used it twice with minor adaptations on methodologies that I’m currently designing.  It’s a very easy way to summarise key information about a methodology on a single page.  I’ve found it especially useful to (1) communicate expectations with multiple parties who need to undertake tasks (2) identify gaps in a methodology or toolkit.

A basic generic template is shown below and can be downloaded at this link.  If you do download it please post a comment below.  It would be useful to know what you are using it for and any adaptations you make to it.

Here is a quick guide to content of the service blueprint by row:

Stage – Break methodology into a series of stages and give each one a title

Maximum Duration – Estimate maximum duration for each stage.  You could also give a maximum / minimum range, or an estimated duration for projects of different scales or complexity.

Physical Evidence – List key physical artefacts that will be produced during a stage.  These provide evidence of completion of key tasks in each stage.

Customer Actions – Most projects have an end customer, be they internal or external.  Identify key actions / tasks for customer in each stage.

Consultation Actions / Group X Actions – Add a row for each key party that has to complete actions / tasks for any stage.  This is similar to a ‘swim lane’ in a process map.  Identify key actions / tasks for each party in each stage.

Tools & Templates – List key tools or templates that should / could be used in each stage.

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How to Use Twitter Lists

I’m currently facilitating a Social and Collaborative Learning Essentials (SCLE) course for the Australian Institute of Training and Development.  One of the course modules is about using social media to support learning.  During this module I facilitate a slow Twitter chat.  I post one question per day for 5 days about using social media for learning.  For many course participants this is their first experience of a Twitter chat – sometimes their first experience using Twitter.

For new users one of the challenges of getting value from Twitter is learning how to create a high quality feed of resources and conversation.  Once you start following many people your feed can become quite cluttered.  If your interests are varied you may find that the content jumps around from one topic to another as you scroll through your feed.  Twitter lists can help with this challenge.

One of the SCLE participants asked me how to use Twitter lists.  I created the screencast demonstration below to show her how to create a list, add people to list and subscribe to other people’s lists.  (If you’re interested – I created this screencast using Zoom.)

If you prefer to follow written instructions for using Twitter lists you can refer to the Twitter help centre.

For some useful ideas about how to use Twitter lists to improve your engagement with others look at How to Use Twitter Lists to Follow Thousands (and Appear Superhuman).  Note – I hate the title of this article.  For me the quality of connections and engagement matter a lot more than quantity and appearances.  However, the ideas for using lists are solid.

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Social Learning and Shadow IT

I’m currently facilitating a Social and Collaborative Learning Essentials (SCLE) course.  This course is offered through the Australian Institute of Training and Development.  It runs in a virtual environment over eight weeks.  This week I’ve refreshed the curated content used in the course.

One person whose work I always check on when I’m refreshing this course is Julian Stodd*.  I find Julian Stodd’s research, thinking and practice around Social Leadership both insightful and practical.  I also appreciate his philosophy that all his work is imperfect and is continually evolving.

Source: https://julianstodd.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/the-invisible-organisation-why-social-leadership/

In a recent series of Training Journal podcast interviews Julian spoke about power, trust and the social age.  I added Part 2 to the SCLE resources.  I was especially interested in Julian’s research on high value communities (of practice) in the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK.  Amongst his findings are that:

  • their most valuable communities are informal ones, not ones ‘given to them’ by the organisation
  • top communities are ones they were invited into – someone reached out to them to join the conversation
  • the primary focus of these communities are ‘conversations of improvement”
  • most important thing is ‘choreography of engagement’, the way people are welcomed into the community

The group studied use 17 different technologies to interact on a daily basis, of which 16 are not controlled by the NHS – they are ‘shadow IT.’  If organisations want to leverage the power of social learning they need to move beyond an environment of control.  This includes controlling the technologies being used to enable conversation and community.

If you do an internet search on the term ‘shadow IT’ you will find a lot of articles talking about how the IT department can regain control of the tools and platforms being used.  This is not especially useful to people in the organisation who are turning to tools that help them to get the job done, improve productivity and cut through red tape.

My curiosity was recently piqued by a white paper from Cognizant on 21 Jobs of the Future.  These are jobs that are envisaged to be required within the next 10 years.   One of these is ‘Bring Your Own IT Facilitator.’  The purpose of this role is to ‘fuse shadow-IT operations with digital workplace strategy.’  In describing this role Cognizant commented:

“We see the growth of shadow-IT as an immense opportunity for IT to collaborate with business units and individuals who have mastered the art of working without IT.”

While acknowledging the valid concerns that shadow-IT raises (just Google it) I find this a much more positive and useful perspective.  Shadow IT is here to stay.  People are finding value in using all sorts of consumer tools and platforms, as evidenced in the social learning sphere by Julian’s research.  If we are going to support people to engage in high value conversations let’s shine a light in the shadows (but not too brightly lest we kill the conversation) and embrace shadow-IT.

* Confession – I have a social learning crush on Julian Stodd.  Just look at the language he uses to talk about social interaction – ‘choreography of engagement’ is a beautiful phrase.

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Getting to Grips with my Newsletter Tools – for Now

I had wanted to start a newsletter for over 12 months before I finally did it.  I had completed a newsletter ‘toolkit’ session with my mentor Katie Mac (from Katie Mac Publicity) over 6 months before I published my first one.  What stopped me was (1) making time to develop content, and (2) not having the skills to design and create the newsletter template.

I addressed both obstacles by engaging someone with the skills to co-design the newsletter look and feel and then set up the template in MailChimp.  Paying for this service increased my motivation to find and protect the time to develop newsletter content.  I tend to work best to deadlines, so created an arbitrary deadline of July 2018 to release my first monthly newsletter.

I’m currently working on content for my September newsletter (a little later than I had intended to, but will release it this week).  I decided it was time to take over the technical newsletter production tasks.  My designer provided an online demonstration of how to replicate a previous newsletter and update both the content and design elements.  It’s actually very straightforward.

I’ve also used Canva for the first time to edit titles for articles within the newsletter.  This is an unexpected bonus as I’ve been looking for a reason to learn how to use Canva.  I often see attractive visuals online that other people have created using Canva and have yearned to be able to produce my own.  Today I took my first baby step toward this goal.

The general approach that I’ve used to developing skills needed for my newsletter is one that I commonly apply to get things done in my business.  Where I don’t have the time to figure out how to do something myself I engage someone who can do some setup efficiently then get them to train me.

I also recognise that while it makes me feel good to master new tools it may not be the best use of my time.  Particularly as I am shifting how I work and adopting a business model rather than a solo practitioner model, my time will be better spent on strategic, high leverage activities such as business development, marketing and sales, product development and some delivery.  I may end up outsourcing technical newsletter production again or engaging a team member who does this work alongside other operational and administrative tasks.

PS: September 2018 newsletter theme is social learning.  Newsletter goes on on 21 September – sing up now on website to receive a copy.

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What I Learned This Month – August 2018

Using Personas in My Work

I’ve noticed that I’m using personas, especially the empathy mapping component, more frequently and fluidly in my work.  I posted a daily dispatch about this in late August.  I often share this introduction to empathy mapping with others if they are curious or I want to use the tool with them.

Use of an Online Collaboration Tool

I recently project managed the refresh of the Learning and Performance Institute’s Learning and Development Capability Map (yeah – it’s a mouthful – #LPICapMap rolls off the tongue easier).  The updated Map will be live in October 2018.  Our process evolved during the project and we realised that we needed to engage experts and leading practitioners around the globe to write or update skill descriptions.  We had a limited timeframe for our 40+ volunteers to produce their deliverable.  I set up a Slack group and added a channel for each working group.  I’m convinced that using this tool was critical to enabling the working groups to effectively work together under tight deadlines, and we would never have me the deadline if we had used email alone.

A Quiz a Day

This is a non-work example of learning as a by-product of an activity that has many other purposes – amongst them a bit of family fun.  I recently stayed with my parents overnight.  My 92 year old grandmother lives with them.  After dinner every evening my mum gets the daily quiz from the newspaper and whoever is there joins in answering the questions.  It’s great with social bonding, helps keep my grandmother’s brain active, and we all get to learn a little something and feel closer in the process.  Thank you Mum!

Your Turn

What about you?  What is something you’ve learned recently?  How have you been learning?  What group activities do you build learning into or see it as an incidental outcome?

What could you share with others?  (Nudge for all the leaders reading this – sharing your learning with your team is a great way to role model and encourage continuous learning.)

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Personas as an integral part of how I work

I’m noticing personas popping up more frequently in my work.  Two years ago I wasn’t using personas in my work.  A year ago I would have made a very deliberate choice to use a persona to explore an aspect of a problem or opportunity.  Now there is a fluidity to when and how I use personas that has embedded itself in how I work and think.  In part this is a consequence of having  developed and delivered the ‘From Order Taker to Performance Partner’ workshop four times with Arun Pradhan earlier this year.  Development of personas was a step in the performance-based process at the heart of this workshop.  Perhaps this level of exposure and repetition has just ingrained the value of personas as part my process.  They’re an efficient and effective way to undertake people-centred exploration of issues and opportunities.

Example – Thinking about augmented workers

Last week I got ‘stuck’ writing a blog post about Industry 4.0 and tacit knowledge.  When this happens it sometimes helps me to hand-write, exploring what I know about a topic and what questions I have.  As you can see from my note-book page below I started to explore what people need to learn to become an augmented worker (people working closely with robots and Artificial Intelligence).  I very quickly drew up a small human shape and symbols to prompt me to brainstorm what a person would need to think, feel and do to be effective as an augmented worker.  While this is just a rough first draft, it illustrates how I used a persona to get a human-centred perspective on my question.

 

Example – Designing a New Operating Model

In July I ran a workshop with a software training team whose leader wanted to define a more sustainable operating model.  I wanted to introduce them to personas as a tool for designing learning and performance solutions.  I also saw a personas as a useful way of exploring the needs and motivations of different groups important to design of a new operating model.  It is easy to overlook the experience of the team itself as a stakeholder – so this is where we started.  I facilitated development of a persona for a representative member of their team.  I used an expanded version of the persona for this where we identified their motivation, pain points and needs in doing their job and providing a service.

Where and How Are You Using Personas?

A number of recent guests on my Learning Uncut podcast have spoken about how they use personas in their work.  Although the tool originated in design of products and services, it is being adopted by more Learning and Development professionals.  Personas are rapidly becoming a mainstream tool in learning and performance solution design.  I note that Connie Malamed wrote an article about using personas for Instructional Design way back in 2009.

How are you using personas?

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Video Conferencing – the impact of seeing someone

Today was podcast recording day.  Every second Wednesday (generally) my Learning Uncut co-host, Karen Moloney, and I record one or two episodes.  Our guests join us on Zoom, a video-conferencing tool.  We always start with the video on so we can welcome our guest, answer any questions, and ‘settle in’ before we start recording.

However, we have been turning the video off at the start of recording, so we can’t see each other during the conversation.  We have done this to reduce the load on internet bandwidth and improve the quality of the audio.  While we have been happy with the audio quality, it has impacted the natural flow of the discussion.

Earlier this year I was a guest on The Good Practice podcast, and noticed that they leave video on throughout the conversation.  One of the things I enjoy about this podcast is the relatively casual conversational tone.

Today Karen and I trialled leaving the video on during podcast recording.  We did have a technical hitch about 20 minutes into our first recording, but it’s not clear if the use of video contributed to the problem.  The second recording was fine.  Both conversations felt more comfortable with the benefit of body language.  I noticed smoother ‘hand-offs’ in the discussion, shorter pauses, and fewer occurrences of people talking simultaneously.

I generally find using video-conferencing improves the quality of one-on-one or small group conversations over phone / tele-conferencing.  It’s easier to pick up on the nuances of communication conveyed by body language.  Conversations flow better.  People tend to focus more as it’s clearer if they are multi-tasking or not paying attention.

In my experience Skype for Business is a greatly under-utilised tool in organisations that have it.  It provides versatile, reliable video-conferencing that you can launch in the moment from your computer, or for scheduled meetings.  If you aren’t already using video-conferencing and have access to an easy to use tool give it a go.

PS: If it’s not intuitive how to use your selected tool, you can probably find help resources online.  Don’t wait to be trained.

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