August 1, 2014

Living in New England just went south

Boston
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My family and I live up in southern New Hampshire, about 1 hour north of Boston and the mayhem that followed yesterday’s race. My wife and I moved here in 2002, after we met in Washington, DC and live there for four years. We left the busy-ness of DC and made our way to northern Massachusetts, where my wife grew up, when we decided to have children and raise a family.

The city has always been a place to go when we need a break from the comforting slowness of New Hampshire life. The ability to get a taste of the city is great for both my wife and I as adults, and the exposure to everything the city has to offer, good and bad, is important and necessary for raising kids. Unfortunately, the events of yesterday afternoon have changed what visiting Boston means to us. [Read more]

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Training and Education – What is the correct value for you?

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As Continuous Improvement practitioners, it is natural (even a passion) to always seek ways to improve ourselves and the value we drive to our colleagues and the companies for which we work. During our quest for this personal and professional development, sometimes we know precisely which areas we wish to improve our skillsets and where we need to concentrate our efforts, and sometimes we seek to satisfy a curiosity of some subject matter.

Once we decide on what we wish to learn, we need to decide on what level of knowledge and competency we wish to possess at the conclusion of our being taught and, most importantly, we need to ensure that the method we select for conveying of that knowledge and competency to us will yield those expected results. Therefore, during this evaluation process, we must always remember the following corollary; the level of effort required is directly proportional to the depth of the knowledge and competency acquired.

We must also evaluate the “Comparative Value” of the efforts and results, with Comparative Value being defined as; “the investment requirements associated with gaining the knowledge versus the benefit gained to oneself and one’s company.” [Read more]

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If the student has not learned, the teacher has not taught

presentation teacher
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For all of us with children, we understand that each of our kids understand things in their own way and, to complicate things, the way they absorb information tends to change slightly as they develop.

As business professionals, however, we tend to ignore learning styles and simply dump information into emails, shared workspaces, and whiteboards expecting everyone else to understand our words and our intent. The worst of us will then proclaim that anyone who doesn’t understand simply isn’t qualified for their position. Sometimes this goes all the way to the point of exercising hiring/firing authority to simply dismiss people who don’t see the world according to the same point of view, or not hiring them in the first place. [Read more]

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Presentation tip: Don’t rely on the presentation

conference room presentation
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Don’t rely on your presentation to capture the audience, rely on you ability to present.

By presentation, of course I mean PowerPoint decks or other visual aids. Quite frankly, unless you have something technically complex that can only be understood with a graphical depiction, or you have something uproariously hilarious that can only project its humor when seen. If you do not have these things, then you really don’t need slides at all.

My short speaking experience is already telling me – don’t even think about opening that PowerPoint file until after you have perfected your what you will say and how you will say it. [Read more]

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I don’t recommend lunch & learns

Lunch_Time_by_X_Night
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I’ll probably incur the wrath of quite a few consultants and HR organizers out there, but I have to state my case. I simply hate the practice of “Lunch and Learn” sessions.

My objection is simple: Lunch time is my time. When it is lunch time, I like to read, surf the web, play games on my smart phone, take a walk, run an errand, or shoot the bull with my friends. I even like to eat while doing these things, too.

What I absolutely don’t want to do during lunch is talk about work. [Read more]

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Why your PMP prep doesn’t feel like reality (and why it shouldn’t)

A Break in Reality
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I feel lucky to have the benefit of my time spent trying to understand the Lean paradigm because it is offering so much insight into what the PMI framework is trying to do. It is establishing a standard. It is offering a methodology for managing projects against which all other management styles, and outcomes, can be measured. In a way, it depicts the ideal – if all projects, everywhere, operated in the way the PMI describes, then all projects would deliver on time, within budget, and with inputs from all stakeholders at every level of the organization – including customers.

Is that reality? No. Of course not. [Read more]

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The difference between learning and understanding

Learning the basics
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Learning is a fairly linear phenomenon. You examine a decision, look at the outcome, and determine the causal chain. It is incredibly useful, as well as simple and straightforward. This is, usually, the manner in which we educate others and ourselves. Do this and get that.

Learning is about seeing things only for the result they provide. Understanding, however, necessitaties examining the context of a decision and the basis for the process in the first place. Whereas learning is forward-thinking (do-this-get-that), understanding is backward looking (do-this-because-of-that) and, therefore, understanding is an essential component of the “Know Why” paradigm. [Read more]

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More on kids and the wisdom gained from teaching baseball

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So, it struck me, that when we interview candidates or assign people to tasks based on what they tell us about themselves, we are really only going on that person’s interpretation – which may be very different from our own. Different professions have attempted to make the understanding of the job standardized by instituting certifications and licenses, however, there is still a great deal of variation in the ability to understand and implement those standards. There is still one universal truth – the definition of what constitutes “good” is often developed after the fact and is done so according to subjective interpretations by someone with a need to save face. [Read more]

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Less Dad, more Grandpa

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TweetSeveral times, I have heard people say that we need to get rid of the paternalistic, parenting relationships at work and gravitate more towards relationships based on patience, trust and mentoring. Every time I hear that sentiment, I get a shiver up my Dad spine, because it tends to reflect a lot of things about [...]

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The Waste of Interpretation

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TweetSay what you mean.  Mean what you say. Speaking clearly is just another one of those things that seems like it ought to be easy to do, yet remains remarkably elusive.  Very often, when we’re speaking, we will say something that makes perfect sense to us, but our audience doesn’t understand.  When we’re listening, we [...]

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