Monday, October 19, 2009

Mission: Impossible?

Is it really that hard to write a good mission statement?

Fast Company's November 2009 issue has an excellent short article by Nancy Lublin about mission statements. Nancy compares real mission statements with the random garbage that is spewed by the Dilbert Automatic Mission Statement Generator and challenges the reader to spot the difference (hint: you can't...)

I think the keys to a great mission statement are threefold:
1) it's singular - a mission statement is just as important for what it doesn't say as for what it says
2) it's a rudder - it makes it clear what every individual should do when presented with multiple options
3) it's unique - it defines what you do differently from (almost) everyone else

How's yours stand up?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Keeping busy!

It's been a busy week...

  • Finished class number 11 (out of 13) for my Masters in Adult Education and Training...
  • Started class number 12
  • Packed up my office and went 'open work' (ie: homeless)
  • Received my Kindle DX and loaded it with brain candy
  • Delivered slide:ology webinars to South Korea and Singapore. Both went really well...
  • Helped an internal team build their vision statement
  • Ended up on the winning team in an HR Iron Chef challenge!
  • Facilitated a team session with DiSC, Tuckman's model, and the ever-awesome spiderweb
  • Got in a hike at Alum Rock Park
  • Watched the Yanks sweep the Twins (Yanks/Angels should be a great series)
  • Watched the Giants beat up on the Raiders (or is that 'beat down')
  • Worked with Randy Emelo on Part III of our Mentoring Conversations Model
  • Worked with Ed Muzio on the instructional design of the workshop version for his upcoming book
Yep... it was a good week.

Monday, October 5, 2009


Rock Sculpture at San Francisco Maritime Park

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Glance Test

Over the past six months, Nancy Duarte and I have collaborated on a job aid that measures "personal perception of signal to noise ratio in a still media". This tool came from two themes in her book "slide:ology" that I found particularly useful.

The first theme was that of slides as a 'glance media'.
That is, like a billboard, a slide should convey its message to the viewer in three seconds or less.

After reading slide:ology, I took this concept quite literally, and started testing slides that I saw against a 'glance test'. I would show a slide for three seconds and then put it down. Could the audience correctly identify the message of each slide? In my tests of typical business slides, most failed... miserably. In fact, so absurd is the concept of 'getting' a typical business slide in three seconds that the test usually provokes laughter.

This leads to the second theme - Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR).
If a slide fails the glance test, it either lacks signal (to amplify the message) or has too much noise (distracting from the message). Or both.
Usually both...

Applying the design principles that Nancy articulates in slide:ology, we created a 'scorecard' so that a user can measure the SNR of any slide. Now, bear in mind, Signal and Noise are relative to the viewer. I like to say "one man's signal is another man's noise".

For example, an image of a starving African child might amplify your message for one audience member, or it could just as easily provoke such an emotional response that it clouds the message for another audience member.
You must know your audience.

The Glance Test has turned out to be a powerful tool. I have used it with teams to measure their signal to noise before attending a slide:ology workshop. The typical business score is 4 parts signal to 7 parts noise (4:7).
After the workshop, scores soar to 9:1 or better.

My experience to date indicates that a score of 5:1 or better will create a slide that passes the 'three second glance test'.

Nancy has a post on her blog that I strongly recommend. She shares the 'glance test' in a pdf, and shows two examples of presentations that she recently scored at Stanford.

While increasing signal requires some skills that must be learned, reducing noise is quite easy - less words, less colors, simple images. Most of the presenters that I've coached find that reducing their noise (which increases their SNR) makes a dramatic difference in their presentation.

So, visit Nancy's blog, download the tool, and start using it!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Show Me The Numbers... Live!

Stephen Few at Fort Mason

I just spent the past three days at Stephen Few's West Coast Data Visualization conference, exploring the use of data in presentations, dashboards, and analytics.

Stephen's books are fantastic, I recommend you pick up all three. The conference basically walked through each book. If you can't or don't find the time to read, these workshops are an excellent substitute.

If you have already read the books and understand them, the value proposition falls off dramatically. The question and answer segments were useful; as were Stephen's demonstrations of some of the leading software products. I could have used more activities, but that's a personal preference.

Ultimately, Stephen's passion for this topic and the mix of attendees made this an event worth attending.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

San Francisco Mining

Mining for data, that is...

I'm headed up to The City this week for a three day workshop with Stephen Few of Perceptual Edge. There are eight of us going from KT, so it should be fun.

We'll be at Fort Mason, under the shadow of the Golden Gate, across from Alcatraz. Sourdough, chowder, and Anchor Steam are on my 'to-do' list.

Pictures to follow!

Friday, September 18, 2009

huesworks mission and vision

I carry index cards with me everywhere I go.

Most of the cards are blank, but not all.

Among the 'used' cards I carry are my to-do list, works-in-progress, and my mission/vision/values cards. A few days ago, my colleague Mike and I were discussing a project I'm working on. He asked, "Does it align with your mission?"

I answered, "Let's find out" and pulled out my cards.
As soon as I read my mission, 'provoke positive learning moments through constructive conversations', we both nodded.
That was easy, I thought.

Just like spotting the flag on a golf course, or a lighthouse on a coast, having your mission and vision in a place where you can see them insures that you won't go off course.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Learning the Kirkpatrick Levels

The gang gets together

For the past two days, we've had the pleasure of learning from Jim Kirkpatrick, co-author of "Implementing the Four Levels". In this photo, our team (Mike Gilbert, Brent Bloom, Martin Woodrow, Jim Keller, Kevin Weafer, Jim Kirkpatrick, Keith Bartholomew, and myself) closed out the event.

The workshop helped us identify ways that we can better evaluate the success of programs that we're going to implement during the next fiscal year. We were challenged in many ways, and gained a lot from the experience.

I would highly recommend that you discuss your key learning programs with Jim. You're likely to identify more ways to measure the success or failure of your program.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What I Did This Downturn...

Remember those "What I did last summer" essays?

I'm reminded of them for two reasons:
1) It's 'back to school' season
2) Our business appears to be picking up again

Our previous CEO, Ken Schroeder, used to say that what you did during a downturn would determine how you did during the following upturn. He considered any downturn to be a time for retooling and refreshing skills.

The biggest impact this downturn had on me was a lack of business travel. Since 1993, I've spent anywhere from 30-95% of each year overseas - mostly in Asia. In the past 18 months, however, I have not made a business trip.

As a result, I've been able to engage in a number of projects that have given me amazing developmental opportunities:
  • I started my Master of Arts in Adult Education and Training at the University of Phoenix. I'll finish it in three months. I've met smart people that I wouldn't have otherwise met, discovered the foundations of adult learning, and witnessed the power of online learning.
  • I led two very challenging and rewarding projects at work - a mentoring program and a 'reboot' of our development process
  • I met Nancy Duarte, author of slide:ology, and spent the past 9 months working with her and her incredible team to provide instructional design consultation on the slide:ology workshop. This has been one of the most rewarding projects of my life.
  • I spent two great days with the VizThink community; meeting Dan Roam, Jessica Hagy, and Dave Gray, among others. It was a very stimulating event.
  • I was certified as:
    a DiSC profiling facilitator by Ken Blanchard Companies
    a facilitator of The Leadership Challenge Workshop
    a facilitator of Edward deBono's Six Thinking Hats
    a facilitator of Power Speaking's High Tech Speaking
    a facilitator of Vervago's Precision Q+A Workshop
    a facilitator of CMOE's Applied Strategic Thinking Workshop
    a facilitator of InsideOut Coaching
  • I was able to spend two days with Cal Wick of FortHill, learning The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning
  • Randy Emelo of Triple Creek and I created the Mentoring Conversations Model and have written a series of six newsletters to introduce the model
  • I completed a training workbook, based entirely on manga-like images. The new workbook has been a big hit, particularly with our students for whom English is a second language.
  • I continued to put my new-found drawing skills into practice for storyboarding
In the next few weeks, I'll be attending workshops run by James Kirkpatrick and Stephen Few, so the learning hasn't stopped.
I would not have been able to enjoy most of these opportunities in a boom market, so I consider myself very lucky.

What about you? What did you do this downturn?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Facilitator's Toolbox Update

I was discussing facilitation tools with Tracy Barba of Duarte Design a few weeks ago.

As we talked about some of the difficulties of meeting facilitation, I shared a couple of my favorite tools.

I then realized that I haven't updated the huesworks toolbox in awhile, so here you go!
The updates include:
  • Five Finger Facilitation
  • The Facilitation Diamond
  • Storyboarding


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mentoring Conversations Model

I've been fortunate to work with Randy Emelo, CEO/President of Triple Creek Associates, for the past few months on a writing project.

We're writing a series about Mentoring Conversations. This new model suggests the conversations that are necessary to guide anyone from orientation to decision making on an issue. Randy and I wanted to provide a tool that could be both diagnostic and prescriptive.

The first issue of our six part series introduces the model. Each of the following articles will explore the conversation zones in detail.

Randy is a smart, smart guy with a lot of expertise in mentoring. I highly recommend that you read his back catalog of newsletters!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

I draw to see...

I like to draw.

But it isn't because I'm good at it...

I like to draw bcause it forces me to look more closely at the world around me. I don't spend enough time drawing, but - then again - I don't spend enough time doing anything.

At dinner the other night, I pulled out my index cards (don't leave home without them!) and drew this 2-minute sketch of Anige. I wish I was more confident in my strokes, but it captured the way she looked at that moment and I'll take that.

You can't draw and not look... at least I can't.
If nothing else, that's the gift that drawing gives me: focus.

Drawing forces me to be in the moment. To stop. Look. Reflect. And make a connection from my eyes to my brain to my hands (hopefully with a quick stop at the heart, but who can say?). Isn't that a pretty good description of learning?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

5 Applications for Video Coaching

Last week, Ken Wells and I co-facilitated a "High-Tech Speaking" Workshop at KT.

The course is excellent. We had a great time working with the attendees.

But this post is about video coaching. The High Tech Speaking workshop uses one-on-one video coaching to help attendees see their strengths and weaknesses. It makes them aware of the gap between what they feel (I feel so nervous!) and what the audience sees (But I don't look nervous!).

Video is a very powerful tool. So powerful, in fact, that I wonder why it isn't used in all training? Here's a list of five places where I would apply video training or coaching.

  1. Presentation Skills: This one is obvious. In fact, I'll say that you should never do presentation training without video coaching.
  2. Team Activities: We almost always tape team activities (like the spiderweb). Activities create, in 20 minutes, interpersonal dynamics that would take a year to see in 'normal' operating mode. When we capture these on video, teams can see how they ignored one employee, or divided into cliques, etc. One of my favorite uses of video.
  3. Coaching: In many of my coaching sessions, coachees want to practice a dialog that they will have with a manager or peer. When they do their 'rehearsal', I sometimes video tape them (just using the video function on my pocket digital camera). We can then replay the video and look at body language, tone, and facial expressions. Very useful.
  4. Coaching Role Plays: In courses that teach managers who coach, role plays should be videotaped. It's very difficult for anyone to sense how they come across, and they don't always trust feedback. Video is objective.
  5. Customer Interface Role Plays: Used in the same way as Coaching Role Plays. One person plays the hot customer, while the other tries to defuse the situation. Replaying on video allows both to make constructive feedback.

The possibilities are limitless, but I'd start with these five.

How have you used video for training and coaching?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Restroom Iconography XIV: Half Moon Bay, CA

Welcome to the Jungle!

We had lunch at the Flying Fish Grill in Half Moon Bay a few weeks ago. It's a small restaurant with decent, if overhyped food.
They have a single restroom that is in the building, but to quote my New England friends, "You can't get there, from here".

If you want to wash your hands or - ahem - do something else, you must walk out of the front door, turn left through the patio, turn left and walk the length of the building past the take-out window, turn left and go around the back of the building, turn left into the back door, look up at the sign above, walk past the company bulletin board and pantry, turn left into the kitchen, say 'Ola' to the cook staff, turn left into the back room where tacos are being made, turn left once more, open the door, and enter the restroom.

You have walked about 400 feet to reach a toilet that is 25 feet from where you were dining.

Strange, but at least they have fun with it.
There are at least three of these 'Restroom Safari' signs to help you find your way.

This is one case where it is truly about the journey, not the destination.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Little Things...

Is it a cliche? Yep.

Does that diminish its truth? Nope.

Little things are big. Very big.
But only if you notice them.

This photo is a closeup of a ladybug in Half Moon Bay. Easy to overlook, but very cool to watch over the course of 5 minutes.

Tonight, Angie and I walked to La Paloma, our friendly neighborhood Mexican Restaurant. When we got there, we saw a yucca in bloom. Beautiful. Fortunately, we noticed it. It stood about 4 feet above our heads. If we had taken our car, we would have never seen it.

On the way home, I was plucking fruits and flowers for Angie. I grabbed a persimmon. I pulled some small flowers and tossed them to her. Finally, in our complex, I got a handful of little purple flowers and presented them to her. "Do you know what those are?", she asked.

I looked at them and realized I was holding lavender. Really? I took a deep breath.

Very cool. Lavender is growing in our complex.
I love lavender - in my top five scents, with sandalwood, frangipani, and pizza.
I'm sure there's another, but I'll save one spot for the unexpected...

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I love it when a plan comes together...

Brent Bloom and Nancy Duarte allow me to join them
Yeah, that quote gives away my age, but who cares?
I've been working with Nancy Duarte - author of "slide:ology" - since last September, building "slide:ology@kt".

"slide:ology@kt" is a day-long workshop, based on her excellent book, that is customized to our environment at KLA-Tencor. Nancy and her whole team at Duarte have been amazing to collaborate with. They are smart, fun, and very, very cool.

All of our work came to fruition this past week, as Brent and I delivered the workshop to thought influencers and leaders in KT. One senior executive who was holding an all-hands meeting the next day put these principles into immediate practice. He told us the difference was clear and powerful!
How great is that?

It's interesting, though... I've never been a long-haul kind of guy.
I'm a 'high I' in DiSC profiling: creative, energetic, with the focus of a butterfly: cruising from flower to flower, drawn by whatever grabs my attention.
This is one of the longer projects I've ever stuck with. It wasn't hard to stick with, because the project has been endlessly interesting. I've learned so much from Nancy's content and approach.

On one hand, the process has been energizing and rewarding. On the other hand, as soon as we finished Thursday's session, I crashed. I've been flat-out exhausted for the past 48 hours.

That's why I had to tweet, "I'm tired... but it's a good kind of tired."

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Restroom Iconography XIII: Mountain View, CA

A couple weeks ago, Angie and I had an excellent lunch at Cascal, in Mountain View, California. We'd been there before, but I'd never used their restroom. I know, I know - too much information, but stick with me...

On this occasion, I did use the restroom. On my way in, the tile door icons immediately caught my eye. I reached into my pocket for my camera and found it wasn't there.

Damn... I've been posting interesting restroom icons on this blog for the past year and was bummed to miss these.
I immediately started planning my next visit to Cascal - with a camera. I'm sure this says something about me, but I'm not sure what exactly it says. And I'm not sure I want to know...

Anyway, I made it back to Cascal this past week, with my buddy Ed Muzio. We had an excellent meal - ceviche, queso fundido, paella, and a Cuban wrap.

At the end, I excused myself to 'take photos of the bathroom icons'. I thought I'd mentioned this little hobby of mine to Ed, but his expression indicated that I hadn't.
I explained, and then shot these.

I love gesture drawings. Rodin's sketches of Cambodian dancers are some of my favorite images. So, you can imagine how pleased I was to add these to my icon collection.

I'm not sure which I like more - the toreador or the flamenco dancer. So, I offer both.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our "Dress Rehearsal"

Ed Muzio (2nd from left) and the KT Gang

On Wednesday, our longtime friend Ed Muzio spent the day at KT, introducing us to a very cool simulation.

Ed is author of Four Secrets to Liking Your Work, a book I highly recommend to anyone who wants to find more joy in their work. The excellent companion website contains case studies and examples from the book.

On Wednesday, Ed took our team through an exercise called "Dress Rehearsal". It's a complex game that simulates matrixed organizations, played by 9 - 13 players. It tests time management skills, teamwork, critical thinking, resource management, role definition, negotiating skills, and a lot more. It's fast-paced and fun (in a stressful sort of way).

We did well, beating the median scores in every round.
I can't say I'm surprised. We have a well-rounded team with a great attitude. Results always come before ego with this group.
We took away a lot of learnings from the exercise. I'd share them, but I hate to give away the game.

You can find more information about "Dress Rehearsal" from Ed's company, Group Harmonics.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

slide:ology @ KT

The incomparable Nancy Duarte at KT

Today was a very cool day.

Brent and I delivered the slide:ology workshop to a select audience of executives and influencers at KT. The turnout was great and the buzz was amazing.

Slide:ology author Nancy Duarte was in the house.
Duarte Senior Designer Eric "The MacGuyver of PowerPoint " Albertson was in the house.
A bunch of my favorite colleagues and internal clients were in the house.
Pizza... was in the house. What could be better?

Have you ever seen a lightbulb go off over someone's head?
Well, I saw 40 of them go off today. It was awesome.
We shared the principles of slide design. We looked at the results of an internal team that saw an 1800% improvement in slide design (yes... 1800%!!!).
We practiced a new way to create slides. We saw a change.

So, get off your butt. Buy slide:ology. Take the class.
Change your slides. Change the world.
Now (if not sooner).

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Six Disciplines of slide:ology

Wow... it's a busy time.

I've got three major programs going on at work.
I'm just finishing the 10th class in my Masters program (out of 13).
I'm proofreading a buddy's book.
I'm co-writing a series on Mentoring with another buddy.
And I'm finishing my first book proposal.

I'd consider saying no to one or two of these projects, except that every thing I'm working on informs every other thing I'm working on. Does that make sense?

An example:
I've been working on a project to introduce slide:ology into our company. I want (no... need...) to change our corporate culture around presentation skills.
So, we've worked with the amazing team at Duarte Design to build a slide:ology program that completely kicks butt.

I've also been working with my colleagues on strengthening the learning process in our company. We want to see learners practice and reinforce the skills they acquire in our classrooms. A few months ago, we brought in Cal Wick from Fort Hill to lead us through the Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning. It was a great day, and coincidentally occurred one week before the first slide:ology workshop.

I put the 6D's into action. We had slide:ology attendees send us 5 slides as pre-work for the workshop. I then graded the slides on the slide:ology criteria.
We used those slides as the content for the workshop and guided the attendees through exercises to improve their slide design.
Then, we opened up a 6-week window to support and reinforce the learning. Each attendee could send me 5 new slides. We coached them through this entire process.

The result? How about an 1800% improvement against the criteria? How about raves from executive review? Pretty cool, huh?

Slide:ology is awesome. The 6D's are amazing.
Mixed? Two great tastes that taste great together!
Like Long Island Iced Tea and and Filet Mignon...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Thinking Strategically

Our learning team with author Steven Stowell (2nd from right)

The phrase 'strategic thinking' is one of the more dangerous phrases in the business lexicon.

Everyone says it.
Everyone agrees it's important.
Everyone nods a lot when discussing it.

Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that no one has the same definition in mind...

I'd suggest that strategic thinking belongs with 'pornography' in the "I don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it" Hall-of-Fame.

Because of this, I was pleased to see that Steven Stowell had a book called "Ahead of the Curve: A Guide to Applied Strategic Thinking". Steve co-wrote two of my favorite coaching books - "The Coach" and "Win/Win Partnerships", so I felt pretty confident that Ahead of the Curve would have some great insights.

I wasn't wrong. Ahead of the Curve addresses strategic thinking - with a little 's' - for everyone. In Steve's mind, a decision about buying a house or choosing a college is a strategic decision - so everyone should have some strategic thinking skills.

It's a great point, and a really good book.

We brought Steve in last week to lead a workshop for us, and then we received certification to teach the course. The workshop was fast, practical, and interesting. The attendees learned a lot.

Steve is an excellent facilitator, and a truly generous soul - with both his time and his knowledge. If you're looking for a course on everyday strategy, I would recommend checking out Steve and his company CMOE.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Restroom Iconography XII: Santa Clara, CA

Yes, it's time for another addition to my ongoing collection of restroom icons.

This one comes from "La Paloma", our favorite neighborhood Mexican restaurant: home of amazing chorizo con huevos, excellent flan, a dozen camarone dishes, and my favorite long island iced tea.

Oh yeah, and a very, very cool staff.

Anyway... we've been going there for over 6 years now, but I hadn't shot the restroom icons until tonight.

This, of course, is the restroom for senoras and senoritas.
Everytime I shoot one of these, I worry that a woman will open the door and scream, just as I'm shooting the photo.

It hasn't happened yet, but it's inevitable, isn't it?

On the other hand, it might actually be worse if I caught a photo of some dude exiting the mens room, while I'm shooting the horn-tootin' hombre here!

I guess that's just proof that to be an artist is to take risks?

Ah, yes... We must all suffer for our art...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Get out of your shell

Walking throught the woods of New Jersey, I found this beautiful turtle shell.

Beautiful... but the turtle was dead.

I'm a big turtle fan, so this was sad - but also a reminder that staying in your shell doesn't guarantee anything.

We read every day about people with amazing houses and pathetic lives, so enjoy what you have.

And get out of your comfort zone once in a while!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Customer Delight: Carved in Wood...

A couple of weeks ago, my colleagues and I were certified to lead the program "InsideOut Coaching". At the end of the session, we were told, "Your certificates will be mailed to you."

Okay... cool... no big deal, we thought.

Today, I received my 'certificate'.
In a box.
A heavy box.

When I opened it, I found the etched piece of furniture shown above.
Seriously... it's not often I'm left speechless (trust me)... but this did it.
If that wasn't enough, there was an personalized letter from our coach - George Knight.

Wow... wow... and wow!
Attention to detail. Delighted customer. Name your buzzword.
But we were definitely buzzin!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Book Review: Rules of Thumb by Alan M. Webber

I love Confucius. And Sun Tzu. And Tom Peters.

I love profound little learning nuggets, so when I saw a book titled "Rules of Thumb", I bought it immediately.

Title: "Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths for Winning at Business Without Losing Your Self"
Author: Alan M. Webber

Genre: Business
Summary: The cofounder of Fast Company Magazines shares 52 insights that he learned from the best...

Favorite Quote: Here are my three favorite rules from the book.
  1. Rule #11: Speed = Strategy
  2. Rule #23: Keep Two Lists: What gets you up in the morning? What keeps you up at night?
  3. Rule #34: Simplicity is the new currency.

Strengths: A quick read. Clearly written. A number of good stories.
Weaknesses: Of the 52 rules, only 5 were 'a-ha' to me. Too many of them seemed like a Tom Peters remix to me. If you're going to respin old standards, you had better write brilliantly. Mr. Webber writes functionally, not brilliantly.

Conclusion: If you've never seen a book like this, you'll probably enjoy it. Otherwise, flip through it in a bookstore.
Post-it Flags: 6 flags

* Each time I find an interesting quote, model, image, or idea in a book, I mark it with a Post-it flag. The more flags, the more value I found in the book.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reading, Reading, Reading...

One great thing about vacation is that I get to catch up on my reading...

This week, I've read:
  • Ignore Everybody by Hugh MacLeod
  • Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath
  • Metaphorically Selling by Anne Miller
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Rules of Thumb by Alan M. Webber
  • What Got You Here Won't Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith

I learned something from each of these, but if I had to pick two of these to recommend, they would be Made to Stick and Ignore Everybody.
If you're not sure if either one is right for you - take a look at their excellent websites

Monday, June 22, 2009

Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning

Last week, we brought Cal Wick, co-author of "The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning" into KLA-Tencor for a full day workshop based on the book.

I'd seen two of Cal's co-authors - Andy Jefferson and Roy Pollock - present before, and felt like we could learn a lot from the research that their company, Fort Hill, has done.
I was right. This is not a workshop for the feint of heart. The 6Ds will challenge even the most robust learning strategy. But if you want to create a repeatable learning process, you can't be afraid to shine light into the darkest corners of your plan.

We're proud of what we do as a learning organization at KLA-Tencor, but during the workshop, we found some weak points where we can push ourselves to the next level.

The 6Ds are:
  1. Define the Business Outcomes
  2. Design the Complete Experience
  3. Deliver for Application
  4. Drive Follow-Through
  5. Deploy Active Support
  6. Document Results

I feel like there's a lot more I can do with my programs to Drive Follow-Through. Fortunately, I generated a number of new approaches to do just that, with the toolkit that we received in the workshop. I have to give a shout-out to Michael Papay, who pulled this all together and was super responsive in getting a quick turn-around for us.

You can learn more about 6Ds at the Fort Hill website.
I would also recommend taking the 6Ds challenge, if you think you're up to it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Learning Every Day...

Today I received my latest shipment from Amazon.

  • Job Aids & Performance Support by Allison Rossett & Lisa Schafer - I'm on a serious Job Aid kick right now. A really good job aid eliminates the need for training, so I'm striving to become a world-class job aid designer
  • The North American Indian: The Complete Portfolios by Edward S. Curtis - As I've made clear here, I'm a big fan of the photography (and dedication) of Edward S. Curtis. I got this out of print book used from Amazon.
    I love photographing people. If you do too, you need to have this book.
  • Reaching the Animal Mind by Karen Pryor - no, this isn't a comment on my audience, who are fabulous. Instead it's a tribute to the fact that I always learn something from Karen's work with animals. I didn't realize that there is now a skill known as TAGteaching (TAG = teaching with acoustical guidance). I'll be taking the online training for this soon and will let you know how it goes!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Top 5 Training/Business Books

I am often asked to recommend books.

It's tough... 
Do I tell you my favorites?
Or the ones I think are the 'best'? Whatever that means?

Instead, I'll tell you the 5 books that I have most often picked up and read - or at least referenced - in the past year.
  1. slide:ology by Nancy Duarte 
    Hands down, this is number one.
    If you want to know anything about slide design, this is the bible.
    There's a lot here I didn't understand a year ago, but as my skill has grown, so has my understanding.
  2. Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko
    Whenever I want to think 'out of the box', I turn to this outstanding reference.
    Michalko captures more innovation exercises than you can ever need. 
  3. Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
    The word 'bible' can be applied to four out of these five books.
    McCloud has definitely written the bible for anyone who wants to understand comics.
    Since I've been working on a manga-workbook for one of my classes, this book has been my constant companion. 
  4. Don't Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor 
    It may not be a popular thing to say, but we can learn a lot about training people from dog and dolphin training. Concepts like shaping, reinforcement, incompatible behavior, and successive approximation should be part of Training 101 - but aren't.
  5. Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni 
    Not much to say about this except that it's clear and effective.
    We use it with teams constantly.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Visual Ethnography, Art, Obsession, and Inspiration

While in New Mexico, I renewed my fascination with the photography of Edward S. Curtis.

If you don't know his name, you certainly know at least a few of his remarkable photographs.

I just finished reading "Shadow Catcher: The Life and Work of Edward S. Curtis", an excellent overview of the man's obsessive journey to capture the Indian way of life. 
He spent 23 years (1907-1930) chasing these images and basically went broke in the process. 
It's a dramatic story, to say the least. 

But not a sad one. 
From all accounts, Curtis loved what he did and did what he loved. From this I take inspiration.
He was, without question, a remarkable man who produced remarkable images.

In regards to his work, I'll quote George Bird Grinnell, who said, "The results which Curtis gets with his camera stir one as one is stirred by a great painting. When we are thus moved by a picture, and share the thought and feeling that the artist had when he made the picture, we may recognize it as a work of art."

Amen, brother...

10 Tips for Tele-Training

Over the past few weeks, I've successfully conducted a number of Tele-training courses with clients in Asia.
I was skeptical regarding phone delivery, but the clients love it, and I have to admit that they're learning the material just as well as my classroom students do.

I want to share some of the process I've used and capture best practices for your use.

What is Tele-training?

Tele-training is training that occurs over the telephone.
There are no other technologies in usage during Tele-training (no live video, no web browsers, no computers, no transmitted slides).
Slides or documents are used/driven at the receiving end of the training, if needed.

Why Tele-training? Because it:

  • Eliminates travel costs
  • Accelerates delivery cycle-time (no waiting for an instructor to fly)
  • Makes training available to all (working at home, from an airport, or a remote office, for example)
  • Enables economies of scale across offices or regions
  • Attracts more diverse training audiences across offices or regions
  • Reduces or eliminates technical barriers (such as slow video connections, software incompatibilities, passwords, etc)
  • Can reduce classroom time, as homework is assigned for offline completion
  • Is less expensive for the client
  • Simulates the actual work environment, since much of global work today is done by telephone

What Tele-training has been conducted?

I've used Tele-training for a number of audiences and courses, such as:

  • Coaching skills for Service Managers across the US.
  • DiSC Behavior Profiling for Korean Sales and Service Managers.
  • Global Culture Training for a engineering group in Singapore
  • Employee Development Training for HR Business Partners in Asia.

Is Tele-training just Instructor-led training over the phone?

For Tele-training to be successful, the course must undergo some level of redesign.
This redesign may be minor, or it may be extreme.
One of the above courses, for example, was redesigned from an 8-hour instructor-led course, to a 4-hour Tele-training.
The tele-training is now conducted as two 2-hour sessions, with pre-work and home-work between the two sessions.
This allows the content to be delivered in half the classroom time.
Additionally, the materials were redesigned as an interactive, visual workbook.

This new workbook is easier to read and far more engaging.
It also eliminates the need for a PowerPoint slide deck, as the visuals are integrated into the workbook.

What are the Best-Known Methods for Tele-training

I'm continuing to learn, as I conduct more sessions, but here are the lessons thus far.

  1. The course must be reviewed and redesigned for Tele-training. Do not attempt to deliver an instructor-led course by phone without customization.
  2. The learning and performance objectives must be very, very clear.
  3. The course should be exercise-based. Tele-training is not a format for lectures.
  4. Pre-work and homework must be completed. If not, the objectives will not be met.
  5. Sessions should be limited to 2 hours, unless there is significant co-facilitation on the receiving end.
  6. For a two-session course, there should be 48 hours between sessions (example: Tues & Thursday). Shorter periods will not allow time for homework. Longer periods limit retention.
  7. In most cases, classroom sizes should be limited to 8, to provide adequate participation.
  8. A champion/facilitator should be on the receiving end of the course. In each successful session to date, there has been a champion on the receiving end of the training who has helped facilitate materials and discussion.In all cases, the facilitator has been familiar with the me and my methodologies. This makes the process seamless for the participants.
  9. Materials should be engaging and clear. The instructor is not be in a position to entertain learners nor to explain ambiguous materials. Tele-training will test the clarity of your materials.
  10. I keep a list of all attendees and specifically call on individuals for Q&A. This ensures involvement, engagement, and evaluation.

My goal for next year is to conduct at least 3 workshops a month by tele-training.
I'm currently reviewing all of my courses to see how I can adapt them for this mode of delivery. Planning the participants pre-work and homework assignements is key making the program work.

What are you experiences (as a facilitator or student) with tele-training?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Restroom Iconography XI: Taos Inn

I'm always on the lookout for unique Restroom Iconography. 

Given the number of petroglyphs in New Mexico, I suspected that I'd find a lot of different icons in the hotels.
I was wrong.

Still, here's one I did find.

This icon marked the restroom at the Historic Taos Inn.
It's clearly patterned after the petroglyphs that dot the countryside.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Butterfly or Moth...

I don't only catch snakes and lizards.
Today, at Alum Rock Park, I caught a butterfly. Or a moth. 
I wasn't sure.
Either way, Angie was pretty impressed that I caught one with my bare hands.

Mrs. Remington was my High School English teacher.
She always said, "It's a sad day when you don't learn something new".
It's probably the best advide I've ever received... 
So I decided to learn something new.

I googled "Butterfly or Moth" and found out that this is probably a butterfly, because:
  1. It has knobs on its antennae
  2. It sits with it's wings upright and closed

I had no idea those were the discerning characteristics of a butterfly... but now I do!
How cool is that? 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Business Storytelling

There's a reason why storytelling has such a bad rap in corporate America.

The reason? Because to most executives, Business Storytelling = B.S.
Too much noise. Too much meandering. Not enough meaning.

Executives want to hear a story...
That's why they are forever asking, "What does this mean?"
But most of us aren't giving those executives a story, we're just giving them context.

I'm afraid that most people don't know how to tell a business story or how to tailor it to their audience.
It's not that difficult, actually.
I'm not saying it's easy... but there are a few pointers you need.

In my next post, I'll show you the NO B.S. formula.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

John Wooden's Pyramid of Success

When discussing leadership, you just can't go wrong with John Wooden, legendary former coach of the UCLA Bruins basketball team.

I'm a big fan of his Pyramid of Success. I may think it's a little more complicated than it needs to be, but I didn't coach 10 NCAA champions - so I'll assume he knows more than me...

Enjoy... and find more on Coach Wooden's website.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fun with Fishbones

Last week, I facilitated a fishbone diagramming session with an in-house team.

I really enjoy the practice of drawing a fishbone, which seems to surprise a lot of people.

Fishbones are very useful, so here are a couple of tips:
  1. Write a clear problem question for the 'head' of the fish. Something like, "Why are 50% of customers dissatisfied with operation of Product A".
    Not, "customer dissatisfaction" - vague problem statements lead to a messy fishbone.
  2. Use the 4 Ps (or the 4 Ms) as the primary bones of the fish. The 4 Ps (process, product, place, and people) are my favorite, but the 4 Ms (man, machine, method, material) work as well. These will make sure you consider a wide range of possibilities.
  3. Use a separate sheet of paper for each of the 4 Ps. In the photo, you'll see the head in the bottom left of the photo, and the 4 'bones' in the center. The outside sheets of paper build off of the 4 P's.
  4. Divide your fishbone team into 4 groups. Have each group take a separate sheet and start working on it. They should answer the problem question for their 'bone' - for example "Why can process cause 50% of customers to be dissatisfied with operation of Product A."
    This step eliminates the waste of time that occurs when someone suggests an idea and everyone wonders what 'bone' to put it under. Endless discussions like, "Is hiring a process? Or is it really under people?" will paralyze a fishbone session.
  5. Make sure the 'whys' are expressed in negative terms. Don't just write 'documentation', write 'documentation is not available in Japanese'.
  6. As energy decreases, rotate the four groups. They will then mark-up and add to the work of the previous group. Do this until all groups have added to all four 'bones'.
  7. Paste the bones together. All the above should take about 45 minutes.
  8. Rate each major 'bone', on a scale of 1 to 5 - how likely is it to be a cause of the problem.
  9. Split into teams to attack the most likely causes!

This high energy approach makes fishbones fun and effective. 
Give it a try.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

God is in the Details

A River stone adorned with a natural lei

While I'm gregarious and fascinated by people, I love solitude - the kind of solitude that Edward Abbey so perfectly captured in "Desert Solitaire".
I hate it when Angie goes home to see her parents. I miss her constantly (she is - literally - the yin to my yang), but it's good for me.

Today, I went for a hike. Alone. Where I might usually be chattering to Angie, today I just wandered quietly, looking and listening. It was a sunny warm day with wildflowers bursting everywhere. 

Wildflowers in Alum Rock Park

German Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said, "God is in the Details". It's a quote that was often applied to Frank Lloyd Wright's obsession with detail.
Today, I lingered on the details.

Caterpillar walking

Lingering on details is something I've tried to do more of at work. More quiet. More listening. More thinking. More reading. Allowing more space for details to emerge.
I'm not good at it, but I'm working at it. 
Surprises emerge, and that's a good thing.

By looking for details, I also found a gray fox, which just goes to show that the search for detail can sometimes lead to big things as well.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Revenge of Lego Glenn

Want to see yourself as a Lego character?

Want to see me as a Lego character?

Well, too bad...
Lego Glenn is here.
He's a got a big-ass book in his hand and he's not afraid to use it!

You can make your own mini-lego-me here.

A Cinco de Mayo Recipe for Good Times

Want a recipe for a great evening?
  1. Get some warm weather
  2. Find some cool people
  3. Go to a nice place
  4. Pick an interesting topic to discuss
  5. Hope for some serendipity

Last night met all the above criteria.
  1. After a couple of weeks of (by California standards) crappy weather, the sky cleared and the temperature warmed up last night.
  2. Brent and I met up with Randy Emelo and Brian LaComb, of Triple Creek Associates for dinner.
  3. We went to Santana Row - the best place in San Jose for atmosphere on a nice night.
  4. We had an outstanding conversation around mentoring and some of the best practices that Triple Creek is implementing. I left with a brain full of ideas, and more questions than I came with (always a good thing).
  5. It turned out to be Cinco de Mayo. I should have known that, but didn't. Still, it was a happy surprise.  We had drinks outside, listening to music and enjoying an energy that you don't usually see on a Tuesday night.

I highly recommend that you visit Triple Creeks website and visit the resources section.
Randy writes a great newsletter and is very generous with podcasts, as well.

They are good people doing some great work, so check them out!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Book Review: Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched

I reviewed Amy Sutherland's "What Shamu Taught me about Life, Love, and Marriage" in a previous post.
An enjoyable, quick read - it was a no-brainer to add "Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched" to my reading list.

I love reading 'behind-the-scenes' articles and books. 
I'm fascinated by processes - always wanting to see a well-made "making-0f" documentary on a DVD.
"Kicked" is exactly that. 

Amy Sutherland spends a year at the Exotic Animal Training and Management (EATM) program in Southern California, where she tracks students and subjects through all the highs and lows you would expect in any school - but where the students are more passionate about learning than most of us were in college and the subjects can literally kill you.

Sutherland disappears, simply observing and reporting the events of the year. This is not her story, which is a great choice, as there are plenty of stories here to be told already.
It's been a long time since I picked up a book that I literally couldn't put down.

If you're interested in animals, interested in learning, or just like a good story: pick up "Kicked, Bitten, and Scratched".

Friday, May 1, 2009

Book Review: Dancing in the Mind Field by Kary Mullis

I've got a week off from my Masters program... which means I get to pick my own reading!

Surprising even myself, I choose to dig into Nobel Prize winner Kary Mullis' "Dancing Naked in the Mind Field". 
I found it in a used book store and was hooked after reading the chapter "The Attack of the Loxosceles Reclusae" a hilariously off color recounting of his reaction to a series of spider bites.

The whole book fits this profile - funny, clever, and surprising at every turn. Science should never be boring, but sadly, it usually is.

Well, fortunately, Kary isn't a geek in a white coat. Let me rephrase that... he is a geek in a white coat, but he's also much more.
His childhood stories of launching rockets to see if the frog astronauts come back, of mixing random chemicals to see how they react (often badly), his fascination with bodies (particularly female ones)... these are all stories from my youth (and the youth of a million American males like me).

One of my favorite books is Michael Crichton's (yes, the Michael Crichton of ER and Jurassic Park) "Travels" - an autobiographical journey into what's possible, if not explainable, in this world. I had always hoped for "Travels 2", but Crichton died a few years back. 

Fortunately, it looks like Mullis wrote it for him (and me).

Here's one of my favorite straightforward rants from the book:
The temperature of the earth is due to the size and shape of the orbit that it follows around the sun, the angle that its rotational axis is tilted to its orbit, the length of its days, the radioactive decay and residual gravitational heat deep below the crust, and the elements that were here from the beginning, and God knows what else, but not us.

We are a thin layer of moss on a huge rock. We are a little biologic phenomenon that makes words and thoughts and babies, but we don't even tickle the soles of the feet of our planet.
I don't have to agree with all his opinions to enjoy all his stories.
Here's an article about him, if you're interested.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Graffiti Practice!!

Ever want to be a graffiti artist, but don't have the balls to actually deface public property?

If that description fits you, today is your lucky day!

Fakeproject Corporation (what a great name...) has a free downloadable coloring book for aspiring graffiti artists.

Practice tagging without getting tagged!

*This is one of my favorite graffiti images of all time. It's a painting of Musashi Miyamoto (as portrayed by actor Mifune Toshiro). This was on the retaining wall for the train tracks at Sakuragicho Station in Yokohama, Japan - a particularly fertile location for graffiti.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Crappy Presentations...

I work with some of the smartest people on planet earth, and yet...

And yet, the presentations that I have to sit through can only be described as torture. Well, not for everyone. Most people just look away and tend to their computer or blackberry.
But for anyone who makes an effort to stick through the presentation, it's somewhat akin to that scene in Clockwork Orange where Malcolm McDowell gets his brain pummeled with degenerate images.

Wait... did I say 'somewhat akin'? Umm, no - it's exactly like that. Or worse?

Please don't do that to anyone, I beg you.
Buy slide:ology, Presentation Zen, and Beyond Bullet Points -  and then practice their theories.
Promise me... please?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Don't Believe Everything You Read...

Here's something I had never seen before... at least not in the US.

I was driving down El Camino Real (the Kings Highway, but that's another story) to my workshop in Los Altos last week. I knew that the Residence Inn was near the junction at San Antonio Road, at 4460 El Camino Real (click to enlarge the image).

When I crossed San Antonio, however, I saw that I was in the 2600 block... Look at the San Antonio Inn. The address is 2650.

"What? Twenty more blocks?" I said, with a few f-bombs mixed in...

Then I came to my senses, and did a lap of the block, finding my destination.

Not only is one side of El Camino Real in the 2600 block, while the other side is in the 4400 block - both sides are EVEN!!
Hmmm... don't see that everyday, do ya?

Once again, though, I learned the value of trusting my instincts, rather than following the signs.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

14 Books on my Reading List

My reading list has grown dramatically, as I picked up a load of treasure at my two favorite used bookstores - Recycle Bookstore in San Jose & Bookbuyers in Mountain View. 

Here's what I picked up:

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Here Lies Treasure...

With Eric Mead at the CMOE workshop

Yesterday, my colleague Ken and I attended a two-part workshop by CMOE (Center for Mangement & Organization Effectiveness), in Los Altos California.

We spent the morning exploring "Applied Strategic Thinking", which included a strategy game called Journey for Jewels. Modesty won't prevent me from saying who won (ahem... the team I was on doubled the nearest team). The session was fun and information.  Definitely worth checking out.

In the afternoon, we spent time with CMOE's "Coaching Skills" workshop. This is one of my favorite coaching models. I first saw it about three years ago. I decided to take a refresher, since I was already there for the Strategy session.
I wasn't disappointed. CMOE has created a strong, research-based model that I use as the foundation of much of my coaching. 
I would highly recommend you take this course.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Visual Display of Text

Lyrics to "Chasing the Goddess", post-Wordle

This is just way too cool...

Wordle is a webapp that takes text and creates a graphic representation of frequency, through size. Got that?
You can manipulate the text, colors, and layout.

The image above is a Wordle representation of one of my songs, "Chasing the Goddess".
As a total word and image geek, this makes me unreasonably happy...
I'll be doing all my songs!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

When a plan comes together...

I love it!

This was a very busy, but productive weekend.

I got my PT cruiser fixed (wheel bearing problem) just in time for warm weather.
I got my room cleaned just in time to not have Angie kill me (or to have anything fall on me).
I made significant progress on a work project.
I completed a paper for my class.
I booked us two weekends - June and September - at one of my favorite hotels in the world (the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego) at a 50% discount.
I rec'd two dvd's by my favorite director, Hong Kong's Wong Kar Wai. The films, Fallen Angels and Happy Together shound be on everyone's 'must-view' list.

yep... good weekend!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Art of Argument

While Angie and I were camping last week, we had the 'pleasure' of listening to an argument in a nearby campsite.

As we talked the next day, we decided that there were 6 reasons why people argue:
  1. Because they're right - these folks fall into three categories:
    a) Those that know they are right. Stay away from them. You aren't going to get anywhere, unless you're engaging in a Type 4 argument (having fun). In that case, party on!
    b) Those that think they are right. You can actually have a productive argument with someone who thinks they are right.
    c) Those that want to be right. Someone who's arguing about something they love (like family or religion) might fall in this category. You should ask yourself if this is an argument you're willing to win. The fallout may be too great.
  2. Because you're wrong - These folks don't have a right answer. They just believe that you're wrong. You'd better have a great evidence, because you don't have any credibility with them on this issue.
  3. Because they're obstinate - They have a stance. They don't know if it's right. They don't care if you're wrong. They are not going to move.
  4. Because it's fun (for them) - I sometimes fall into this category. I like to argue for sport, with no attachment to outcome. And, I love to watch tightly strung people blow a gasket. If you're highly strung, you probably don't want to enter an argument with me or someone like me.
  5. Because they think the situation calls for a 'devils advocate' - It often helps to get an alternative point of view. Some people occupy this role strategically. Others do it as a way of life. Occasionally, the position is assigned to someone.
  6. Because it helps them think - Debating helps me think. I'll sometimes argue both sides of an issue within a half-hour. I'm not tied to any position yet.

You can see that it's pretty important to see why someone is arguing.
And, it's just as important to understand why you are arguing.
Purpose changes the dynamics.

So, next time you're in an argument, try asking, "Why?"