Sunday, October 14, 2012

Project Management - celebrate small achievements

Purpose of this Blog

To encourage professional workers to recognise their small achievements, celebrate the small achievements and share the small achievements across the work unit.

Project Management - the importance of celebrating small wins at work

Managing projects can be a complex process involving time, risk and priority management. Managing multiple projects that involves working with a multitude of clients and within a hierarchy of positions, over distance and involves "wicked problems" requires strong hard and soft management skills. The soft management is more difficult to identify and yet it has significant impact on the success of a project. This blog discusses  soft management skill. It focusses on enabling achievement recognition to benefit the individual and the work unit.

Recognising achievements and failures effect the personal attachment to the project and in general the potential successful outcomes. Most importantly it effects the disposition of the business unit. Failures have the biggest influence and recognising successes is harder to recognise. Interested 3rd parties within the unit can quickly identify failures even if they are hearsay. As the failure predisposition  is persuasive it is important to construct a disciplined process  that identifies achievement of tasks and celebrates achievements gained.

The Hard 
The hard is well documented and can be managed through sequential and complex project management processes. The hard is important as it is the common path to maintain relevance, effectiveness and efficiency.
  • A Project brief identifies the purpose, objectives, completion measurements, risks and timelines. 
  • A Project plan assist the manager in identifying each component (variable) and engages a method of attack. Project based applications need to be employed to assist in managing the complexities and enabling the project to be completed within predicted time and budget. (All things considered and planed for)
  • Project iterations realigns the project as unknowns are identified and key component alter. 
The Soft
The Hard doesn't account for the what Dr. Teresa Amabile calls Inner Work-life. Her thesis is that Inner Work-life influences the outcomes of professionals in their efforts to be successful.
  • Inner Work-life = Perceptions, Emotions, and Motivations.
The inner working life effects the outcomes of a project as it influences the  individual mindset and transmits influence onto the culture of the work unit . A work unit is largely a construct of people. Each person has a inner work-life is and each inner work-life influences  each other inner work-life. A work unit success is heavily influenced by the interaction of each inner work-life.  Dr. Amabile's research identifies companies who have failed due to the inner work-life of the workers.

The Soft - working units
Learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions (Principles of connectivism WikiPedia). A working unit is as strong as the connections occurring within. To achieve a strong working team the following soft needs need to be committed to;
  • an understanding of the teams worth.
  • a sense of active contribution to the development and well-being of the team.
  • the sense of improved collective competence.
  • individual willingness to develop interpersonal support.
  • a willingness to collectively share and celebrate success.
The Progress Principal video
Is based on how workers make sense of their workday. If the person's inner work-life is positive they perform better. Dr Amabile states the making progress is the biggest influence on an inner work-life.
  • Progress influences Positive inner work-life influences better performance
  • Progress can be achieved through small wins
  • Small wins influences Positive inner work-life influences better performance
  • 28% of small things had a strong impact on peoples work-lives
    • Negative small things (setbacks): are stronger than positives (2 to 3 times stronger). Negative small things effects on the inner work-life can last up to 2 days
    • It is important that positive wins are celebrated to counter the significant effect setbacks inflict on the individual and ultimately the team.
Harness the Progress


Key Points
To harness small wins individual workers need to;
    • focus (30min on what is meaningful to the workers self-worth and what is important for the organisation)
    • and keep track of small wins.
Managers can assist through;
    • providing catalysts - goals and importance of work to the unit.
    • supporting autonomy - how to meet the goals
    • enabling resources - to get the work done - help and access
    • and providing the human support - respect and value
Harness the Progress Strategy
  • Daily - weekly small success plan 
    • 5 minutes what Tasks  needs to be achieved 
      • start of the day
    • 30 minutes Focus 
      • tasks that promote self worth and is important for the unit
      • any time of day but requires no interruption
    • 10 minutes Diary 
      • end of day reflection
      • small successes 
    • 15 minutes Celebration and Communication
      • daily or weekly 
      • small successes that have been achieved
      • via the work unit's social media (G+ circles) communications system.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

21st Century: The Learning Challenge Part 2

PISA (Programme for International Student Assessments) results are aligned with 21st century skills (critical thinking and problem solving)

  • The future of learning will focus on problem-centred instruction and will dismiss the 20th century methods and curricula that is based on basic skills.
    • Teachers need to dismiss instruction that outputs master memorizers, regurgitators and fact toters (testing for the correct answers).
    • Teachers need to enable instruction that outputs problem solvers.  
    • Teachers need the skills to manage “ill defined" problem based learning programs.
    • Students as problem solvers need to have critical and creative skills.
    • Students need to access technologies that supports problem solving.
    • Technologies cannot be limited to a standardised "one size fits all".
  • The present situation in schools is that instruction is largely 20th century based. 
    • Most teachers prerequisite learning standards based on emphasis of memory, regurgitation and recall - with technology as an add on.
    • A minority of teachers prerequisite learning standards based on rigorous thinking and authentic problem solving with technology as the conduit.
  •  The change from 20th century instruction requires leaders to;
    • direct teachers to modify their methodology to output problem solving learners.
    • employ technologies that afford critical thinking and problem solving

Education Leaders need to support the minority of teachers who are applying 21st Century learning practices and direct the majority of teachers to stop employing 20th Century didactic practices.
  • 21st century requires people to access and use computers in a different manner than in the late 20th century.
    • Schools and computing technologies.
      • Whilst profound technologies become transparent through ubiquitous application, the computer technologies in the school are still devices seperate to the core of learning. The computer technologies do not play an ubiquitous role in learning. They are an add on.
      • Computers technologies do not have a pervasive presence in learning.
      • Computer technologies are generally associated with 20th century pedagogical practices
        • didactic teaching, 
        • content delivery -  ingestion and regurgitation.
        • testing for the right answers 
      • Schools need to invest the time to develop a learning culture based on critical thinking and problem solving  that sources a complexity of computer technologies to enable ubiquitous learning.
        • Ubiquitous learning is a revolution. 
        • Ubiquitous learning is the function that calls on ubiquitous technologies.
        • Ubiquitous technologies need to be transparent to be persuasive.
      • Instruction and the activity of learning needs to be transparent to be persuasive
        • Learning is lifelong and lifewide 
          • Divisions between the classroom and normal life needs to blur.
          • Division between classroom technologies and normal life technologies need to blur.
        • Learners take control of learning as active and participants in the discovery and creation of knowledge.
          • Instruction needs to be student centred and not teacher centred.
          • Computer technologies needs to be controlled by the student. Students are active in the choice of and the application of technology.
        • Students apply their identity as a resource and contribute their experiences to the learning culture of the classroom, school, local and global community.
          • Instruction engages learners  to meet their aspirations and realize their potentials.
          • Computer technologies are chosen for personal needs and aspirations. 
          • The computer technology options should be broadened in range and mix to accommodate interdisciplinary problems.
          • Learners need to use/apply a repertoire of digital media to develop adaptive computing skills based on conceptualisation, pattern recognition, schematization, taxonomies, domains of knowledge/content, appropriateness and identification of relevance.
        • Students need to be connected
          • Instruction needs to encourage distributed cognition, collective intelligence and collaborative cultures.
          • Computer technologies need to have the capacities for collective participation and collaborative creativity.
Computer Technologies cannot be used as an add-on to instruction. For computer technologies to be ubiquitous the instruction needs to be ubiquitous. The function of problem based learning requires that the form of computer technologies are to enhance distributed cognition, collective intelligence and collaboration. 

Ubiquitous learning can only occur when the instruction and technologies are in unison to meet the needs of the lifelong lifewide learner. In essence the learner needs to have control of the learning and technology. Teachers and service providers need to empower the learner to take control and not with-hold responsibility.

21st Century: The Learning Challenge Part 1