Archive for category Tools

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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