Well my professional values stem from being prepared, process driven, I value data and information, I’m huge on aesthetics and branding, I always establish a colorful vision for projects trying to break the mold of what we’ve been doing and take risks for something bigger and better … and I just love what I do, I think the outlook for distance education and eLearning as a whole is bullish – not you to adopt a mobile mentality though. The landscape of the world is changing and I look so forward to it at this point in time. It’s a healthy challenge for sure. And I’m extremely motivated by it.
I’ve been in the training & education field since I was 16 training soccer teams all around the states of NJ and PA. I’ve always, always, always preached preparation first and foremost to players of all ages. Come prepared, make sure you’re in shape, make sure you can run a mile in 5 minutes, prepare yourself for a 100 minute game even though games are only 90 minutes. Prepare by following a diet. etc. etc. etc.
That’s the foundation for what I do every single day in our field – preparation.
I’ve found out over the years preparing well and asking yourself (and others) questions along the way allows you to uncover gaps you may not have seen before.
With proper preparation, in any field, you need to decipher a vision for the project at hand, establish concise business goals you need to meet, gaps you need to fill, you need to always consuming data and new information to use, (I love data. I love digging and finding numbers to become further informed), you need to assemble the right team, and you must communicate clearly. That’s a little about me and what I value the most. There’s no such thing as over-preparing in my mind.
- Trying hard to please EVERYONE! I’ve unfortunately adopted a ‘YES MAN’ mentality in my current role due to my widespread professional skillset (and everyone knowing it). My approach to improving that perspective is to find a company with structure. If the company doesn’t have structure, planning and proper information flow, then it’s a free-for-all.
- Knowing my workload limits. I’m always first to raise my hand if a work assignment, or project comes in … it looks good you know? But I need to remember as I’m growing and moving up the ladder, that my work becomes more and more important to an organization, and there’s certainly a threshold of spreading myself thin.
- Being detailed and colorful. Which allows me to extract a plethora of information and processes before a project ever begins, and providing elaborate detail to team members and stakeholders before a major project begins.
- Assessing Risks & Being Forward-Looking.
- In terms of risk – seeing far down the road enough to identify roadblocks, whether it be technological barriers, cultural barriers, informational gaps, lack of clarity in content, instruction that is not clear and/or doesn’t meet the business goals, and so on. Basically uncovering them before we get to them and knowing how to approach when and if that time comes.
- Now in terms of being forward-looking … I can’t tell you how many times just looking ahead to, for example, new releases in software that saved myself and the company time and resources, just by being aware of industry trends & changing landscapes.
- Being A Team Player.
- Breaking the mold. The thing about the industry of eLearning & ID it’s a lot of cookie cutter stuff I’ve noticed and a lot of the industry is content. I’m not talking about everyone but people I interact with at conferences and other walks of life, seems to be following the same playbook. So I’ve made it somewhat a personal goal to always challenge the industry status quo. Using new technologies is a big one. Like how many times can you deliver something using Storyline or Captivate.
Well as it says on the Mars website, the company values 5 things: QUALITY – RESPONSIBILITY – MUTUALITY – EFFICIENCY – FREEDOM.
- The quality is show through my work.
- I always take responsibility, for positives and negatives.
- Being in a global learning environment I can’t think of anything being more mutually beneficial to the company than internal learning and training.
- Doing your job with clarity, under proposed budgets, and ahead of schedule – essentially total efficiency.
- And maintaining a sense of freedom in not fearing risk or failure. And of course a work-life balance and that seems to run deep in the veins of Mars.
- First, starting Red Card Cancer in grad-school. That immediately gave me credibility and confidence knowing the top medical institution in the world for the last 21 of 22 years then, wanted in on my creation. Since inception the organization raised over $1.5m, has an active BoD, and has interns running the company under the leadership of Hopkins. I was also honored as an honorary captain at the NY RedBulls vs. DC United MLS game in 2012. It directly relates to what I do every day because it was a daunting challenge of raising a clear awareness, educating a community, and having that community take action online. We incorporated gamification that was and still is very infectious.
- Second, being chosen for a MasterCard commercial for their Simplify Commerce payment platform. It was a testament to my planning and how to plan for interactions with mobile checkout processes.
- Third, winning Best Design for a self-paced Level 1 course at the 2015 TechEd conference for my U.S. Navy eLearning course.
- Well, first 90 days I will certainly be assessing the ease-of-use of the learning platforms and how materials are published. I’ll also be offering new authoring programs if they are not being used already. One of my strengths (if you remember) is breaking the mold and creating something better and more effective.
- Bringing enthusiasm for our industry, and energy of course.
- Endorse my skills & industry values to team members so they know my strengths.
Oh, there’s no doubt about that. Let me use an analogy if I may that pertains directly to the success and motivation in my life thus far.
- With the game of soccer, when on the field, you need to take into the account a person receiving a pass from you: Where to pass, the velocity, the timing, providing verbal or body gestures to signal what’s coming, etc. You don’t want to put them in a position to get the ball stolen in a crucial area that makes them look bad, or even get hurt with a careless pass. It relates to the workforce because clients, peers and vendors will be counting on you to deliver with quality and on time. Their job depends on you also.
- Another example from soccer is dealing with pressure. I was standout player growing up and through college – I was the goal scorer. A lot was riding on my shoulders every single game, and I was motivated by it. Having your peers look you’re in the eyes, people you work with, or play with knowing their counting on you to deliver something exceptional … that’s pressure I love taking on and then sharing credit for successes. That’s how you keep breeding motivation within a team.
JOB RELATED Q’s
Preparing for millennials hitting the workforce!!! Those darn millennials!
No but in all seriousness, its the biggest foreseeable challenge we have in human education. How do you get across to and win the attention of the generation that gets over 400 alerts on their phone per day? So even if you do get them to take a course, watch a video, fill out a survey, or whatever learning medium you’re providing … how do you make sure they stay focused and engaged throughout! You seriously need to make sure they are on “Do not disturb mode” before they can access learning content. Whoever cracks this nut will be a wealthy person one day!
MANAGEMENT AND DIRECTING
- Always interview the business subject matter experts first. As tempting as it can be to get into the guts of the system with a star developer, your priority is to understand how the system is used and the business process it supports, not how the system works.
- Establish trust. SME interviews can seem a lot like that scene from Office Space where high-end consultants were brought in to figure out who to fire. Explain why you are doing what you are doing and why you need their help. Taking time to explain how the information will help you can go a long way in creating an open environment.
- Establish credibility. Maybe the SME has gone through this activity a handful of times before. Where are the results of those meetings? Come in with a defined agenda and set of questions wherever possible. Be ready to show you’ve done your homework and aren’t asking them questions you could answer for yourself. Always let them know what your next step is so they know this conversation won’t fade into the ether.
- Get your SME to talk. Ask them to show you how to use the system or explain a business process. Ask open-ended questions to encourage dialog.
- Let them talk. If you get a SME talking, don’t stop them. Listen carefully and encourage them to continue. Ask follow-up questions.
Tips for rooting out requirements:
- As you are listening to your SMEs, try to think in terms of cause and effect. Oftentimes your experts speak in “effects.” True gems of system functionality can be found in the causes: How does that happen? What makes that happen? Why does that happen? Building cause and effect relationships as you understand system functionality uncovers gaps in information.
- Be wary of the happy path. Things go wrong, but not everyone thinks about what goes wrong. Ask questions like: Does every record move to the next step? Are some records handled specially? What kinds of issues happen here? What are some of the things you look for in this process?
- Be equally wary of those who speak in exceptions. It really helps to understand the happy path first. In these situations you’ll need to refocus the conversation with questions like: If that doesn’t go wrong, what happens? Does every record go through that process? How often does that happen? Tell me about a “perfect” record.
- Watch for unexplained specifics, such as “this happens every Tuesday morning” or “I can an email from accounting”. What’s really going on here and how does the system support that business process?
- Be curious. Ask why, why, why to the point of being slightly annoying.
Common Objections to Doing a Requirements Review
- But I email the document out for review, that way everyone can do this when it works for them and I get better input. Let’s get honest here for a minute. In today’s workplace, people have competing priorities and are constantly multi-tasking. Opening up and reviewing that document is not the most exciting or probably the most pressing the most pressing task on their list. Few stakeholders will provide their best input in this manner. Those that will are probably conscientious enough to read the document before your meeting and come prepared.
- I want an email sign-off because it’s traceable. Nothing about the requirements walk-through precludes an email sign-off. But if your reason for using email is to get a passive sign-off and cover your you-know-what, not to actually create the alignment that the sign-off actually entails, then you are doing your technology team a disservice.
- My stakeholders don’t have time. Then one of two things is wrong–either you’ve identified the wrong stakeholders or you’re working on the wrong project. Either of these issues might not be your fault. But if the people benefiting from and contributing to the project can’t spend 2 hours in a room finalizing what exactly that project is supposed to do, there are larger issues at play.
When you sit down to review a requirements specification in a meeting, you know that people are actually reading it. You also will find that one comment leads to another and that can help discover new requirements before it’s too late. Besides, a review meeting cultivates a certain accountability – if you ask your stakeholders to look you in the eye and confirm they are ready to take the next step with the project.
How to Facilitate a Requirements Review Session
- Set the stage. Send out an email/calendar requirements with the document and a description of how the meeting will go. Let everyone know that their role is to provide any feedback on the requirements and ultimately sign-off on the document. Re-iterate this message at the beginning of the meeting.
- Be prepared. Have a few extra hard copies. If possible, project the document onto the wall using an LCD unit.
- Lead the walk-through section by section. Give everyone an appropriate amount of time to read and consider the requirements in that section. Ask for comments, clarifications, and questions. Ensure the discussion focuses on the requirements, not how to build them or what tasks need to be done or the marketing plan. As the review group agrees to updates, note these on your hard-copy or make them electronically where everyone can see them.
- Ask for sign-off. Say “I’ll make these edits and distribute an updated copy. Provided I get all these notes incorporated, is everyone prepared to sign-off? Are there any lingering issues or concerns?” Look at everyone in the room for a visual cue.