When ideas can not wait

my ideas on a napkin

I was out having dinner when an idea popped up about a task I need to do at work, so quickly on the napkin it went.  Thank goodness for the invention of napkins!

The thing with “impulse thoughts” moments like these, is that the information are never detailed enough.  All you have is a rough picture and outline of what you want.  Sometimes that is all you need, and detailed action plan and strategies will derive afterward when you have the time (and some decent writing device like paper or computer) to work on it.

This reminds me of a book called ‘The Back of the Napkin’.  It focuses on the fact that everyone has a hidden talent and preference to visual representation of information.  From presenting information, problem solving, to creating frameworks and strategies, you should be able to jot rough drawings down and go from there.

Have a look at this and this for some examples of brilliant ideas which later became famous ventures and projects.

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The headaches of having a command & control management style

In this modern society organisations who embrace collaboration and take on transitional leadership styles will succeed.  So why is the command and control management style still around?

Command and control management style will lead to disaster – who would want to stay in a firm with people barking orders at you?  However, it is the preferred and effective management style being used in emergency management agencies such as the police, firies, ambulance, SES and the army.  That is fair enough – If my life is in danger, I’d rather see someone barking orders at people to save my life, and for those people to respectfully obey and comply.

However, even emergency management agencies have administrative office staff who provides support to ensure the smooth operation of the agency, so how do you lead and manage this group of staff?  The challenge here is for the leader to be able to recognise a different management style is needed for the non-operational staff, and to be able to switch between the two styles depending on which group you are managing.

This is easier say than done.  The leader may have had a whole lifetime experience of living under the command and contol management style, it will be extremely hard for him/her to learn and switch to another.

In the end, the people who suffer are the supportive staff because no matter which agency you look at, they will always be the minority group in numbers, that plus they are not the core service operational staff, so they will always be overlooked and their needs if acknowledged at all, are not important.   Do you have any recommended readings on emerging management tactics for the emergency management sector that tackles this challenge?

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Mindflash – a learning management tool

Came across a new elearning tool today:  Mindflash.

It is a combination of authoring tool, LMS, and LCMS all in one.   The authoring side is not so strong – it takes your existing powerpoint slides, video, documents and convert them into a course.  You don’t do the initial creation or editing in there.  It is quite simple to use though.  Once the course is created, Mindflash generates a website for you.  This site address is where your trainee will go to do the course.

The site acts as the LMS and LCMS, so that your contents are managed in the cloud.

The great thing with this simple tool, is that it has a reporting tool so that you could see the progress of your students, and has administrative tools such as customising the invitation and reminder emails.

What about quizzes and certificates?  It’s in there as well!  Not quite sure its cost, but you can download a 30 day trial to test it out.

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Infographics – visual representation of data

I need to catch up on the industry trends happening at the moment in various industries – the more I find out, the more I am amazed at how little I know.

We all work in an environment where there is so much data and information to go through each day, then come report and presentation time we will be dumping the same amount of data and information to our audience.  We need a way to present this same information in a manner that is easy to understand and aim to achieve high impact.

I am not talking about just a diagram such as pie chart or bar graphs.  I am talking about INFOGRAPHICS.

Infographics – new word, new trend, existing concept delivered in new and better packages.   One of my all time favourite personal development course is “Essential Writing Skills – Create Clarity” by Patricia Hoyle.  She teaches you how to shape your words and sentences to achieve high impacts.  Well, Infographics is the graphic version really.

10 awesome free tools to make infographics:  http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/awesome-free-tools-infographics/

But my favourite at the moment, is a new tool call “Visual.ly”.  The site currently offers sharing and uploading of infographics.  But you will soon be able to create it on the site as well.  I can’t wait…. If you are a bit puzzled as to what infographic looks like, or the capacity infographic could do for you, just have a look at the samples provided by its members.  I was impressed, you should too.

Here’s a video to give you a bit more info on Visual.ly.

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Webinars on Training and Learning

Recently I have attended two webinars, both from CommLabIndia.  I find their website full of resources, and I am also a member of their LinkedIn network group.

The two webinars I attended were:

session 1:  Learning Design Process

This session is about identifying individual performance gaps, match the correct intervention and different training methods.  Now because CommLabIndia specialises in  elearning, so of course we are talking about the design process in terms of elearning as well. 

There is so much details in this webinar it takes time to digest.  However, I like how they have identified the main Design Models into categories below:

  • Scenario based model
  • Problem based model
  • Discovery model
  • Situational based model
  • Storytelling
  • Guided model

It might seem simple, but I think having this list of model in front of me when I am creating elearning sessions would definitely help with the design of the contents and how to engage the audience.

session 2: eLearning Deployment Strategy

I was hoping the deployment strategy would give me the step by steps of a project plan to roll out an elearning project, but unfortunately that was not the case.

This webinar focuses on Synchronous and Asynchronous learning modes, the benefits of each and therefore when to use them.

Synchronous learning = same time, different place.  Best use when location is a challenge, when group dynamic and collaboration required, and when live support is needed.

Asynchronous learning = different time, different place.  Best use when the topic is not too complex, when contents are already available, and when the elearning tools are easy to use.  This is your typical elearning module that you see on an LMS system.

Fair enough.  The learning needs / mode of each are different, so of course it would then change your deployment and delivery decision.  Their recommendation is actually to use a blend of both.

Within the session, it also talked about the most popular Virtual Classroom Applications for synchronous learning.  They are:

  • Go to meeting
  • Microsoft live meetings
  • Adobe Connect
  • WebEx Training Centre

The above is in lowest to most popular.  I have only used Go To Meetings, but will sure check out the other three options.

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How to Show Passion and Enthusiasm in elearning materials?

Without a doubt, the trainer’s passion and enthusiasm for the topic is very important when it comes to training.  If you are not interested in your own topic, how are you supposed to expect your audience to do the same?

Well, this is a big dilemma in the elearning world isn’t it.  Your audience is not able to see your passion, they can’t see your arms waving around or that big smile and glow in the eye when you are getting into the detailed and interesting part of the course.  I tried to do my voice over with a big smile on my face (believe me, it comes through the voice) and talk slightly faster to demonstrate my enthusiasm, but the trouble is, the audience may find it too fast to follow.  I am scratching my head here… do I need to record multiple video clips of myself talking so to show passion?  It might work, but it kills the creativity of elearning though.

The other possible option, is to hire voice over talents – professionals who make cleaning chores sound like the most fun activities to do in a workplace.

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Using LinkedIn for Professional Development

How do you use LinkedIn?  I see many people who simply set up their account with the minimal information, displaying maybe just their resume details.  On the other hand, there are a few who use it wisely for networking purpose, sending frequent updates of their business to those in the same networks, thereby promoting themselves and being seen.

I must admit I am only relatively new to LinkedIn – I haven’t venture out to find and test all of its capabilities yet.  However, I will say this – it is such a brilliant professional development platform.

Forget about looking through training catalogues for suitable courses, seminars and conferences because I am getting plenty of learning from the networks I am in.  I have joined a few which seem to have a high number of memberships and are related to my work, then BANG! – everyday I get updates on professionals around the world who shares their expertise via the discussions they create.

I like it.  With so much knowledge gathered all in one place, it would be a waste not to tap into their knowledge base.

Now here’s an interesting statistics for you, results from a recent survey (by Lab42) of 500 LinkedIn members.  Which group do you belong?

  • 61 percent used LinkedIn as their main source of online professional networking,
  • over 80 percent belong to one group or more on LinkedIn, and
  • top executives reported using LinkedIn primarily for industry networking (22 percent) while nearly 1/4 of entry level respondents (24 percent) used it for job searches.

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