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    Wednesday
    Oct082008

    Better Presentations

    I make a fair bit of presentations for class and for work and like many of you always thought my presentations were pretty good, not great, but darn good and I was sure of that.

    Well, I had to prepare a presentation specifically about making better designed presentations, and in my research and preparations for this, I came to realize that about 90% of the presentations I have made have been absolute crap.

    I am really taking about the visual design of the presentations, mostly tedious bulleted slides, maybe some screen prints, or gasp! Clip Art to tray and jazz things up.  I always know what I am talking about (well almost always), but the visual element of my presentations have been sorely lacking.

    In developing my new and improved presentation I relied heavily on Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds, and to a lesser extent by some great examples of visual design on SlideShare

    From Presentation Zen I cam to realize that simpler is always better, and really understanding the material is  the key to developing and delivering a great presentation.  From SlideShare I found dozens of examples of excellent design.

    Here is the presentation I gave on 'Effective Use of Visual Aids'.  It ran about 30 minutes live, and while I know there is still room for improvement, it is a thousand times better designed than my normal stuff.


    The direct link is here, take a look and let me know what you think. 

    Now do I have time to re-design all my class lecture slides in time for Winter?

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    Monday
    Oct062008

    A Call for help

    Please HR Tech vendors, help!!!

    I am preparing to teach my HR Technology Class at RIT this Winter, and I am hopeful that I can recruit some assistance and partnership from the HR Technology community.  I am in need of some 'hands-on' experiences and exercises for my students in HR Tech, and I really need some folks in the vendor community who would be willing to participate.

    My ideal scenario would be to obtain access to a hosted demo or test instance of your software, set up and design some scenarios for my class, and let me really learn what cutting-edge, enterprise HR software is all about.

    In the past the only important vendor that has shown willingness to participate in my class is SpectrumHR, and I can't say how fantastic and supportive they have been to work with.  They have been over and beyond my expectations.

    But what I could use the most is for one of the major Talent Management vendors to step up. Anyone from SuccessFactors, Halogen, or Taleo

    How about Workday? I would kill for the chance to get my class in any of these packages.

    Look at it this way, if the economic crisis is here, you may have some time on your hands for some 'pro-bono' work.

    So, I am asking, no basically begging, if anyone can help me on this, or knows someone who can, drop me a note at steveboese@gmail.com, or leave a comment.

    Thanks!

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    photo credit - FlickR - aspengull

    Friday
    Oct032008

    Yammer it up

    Today we had a mini-crisis with our application that lets Student employees self-register for an Employee Self-service account to view their Payslips, sign up for direct deposit, and view other personal information online. The existence of the problem became known to me when I received an e-mail with the relevant details.

    The specifics of the problem are not important, but it was sufficiently complicated that from report to resolution I received a total of 17 e-mails from four different people in less than one hour.

    A total of six people were copied on the original e-mail, so in classic e-mail fashion as everyone who jumped into the issue kept checking 'Reply All' every time the web of the e-mail trap spread and spread.  And of course, each message itself got longer and longer and larger and larger as all prior messages were appended to the next message.

    So in total we ended up with 102 distinct e-mail messages, with the entire content of the original message included in full on each and every message.  That must be some great e-mail that we now have 102 copies of it stored on our server.

    And all this because across the organization, no other collaboration tools are widely used.  Sure one or two of my HR colleagues uses IM to contact me, occasionally we open an IM chat room.  I have started a wiki that only has been used my me and one other colleague (although I suspect he is starting to give up).  

    I claimed my organization's domain on Yammer - which would have been the perfect tool for all this dialogue.  Almost all of the 102 emails were a sentence or two. And other folks who may have been of assistance may have seen the exchange, impossible in e-mail if they were not included from the start. So far only three others in an company of 3,000 have signed up. And two of the three are the HR folks who just IM me anyway.

    So many tools are so far superior to e-mail for collaborative work and problem solving, why am I not able to get my organization to see that?

    Any suggestions? Because I am not getting the message across.

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    Wednesday
    Oct012008

    Walls

     

    I know of an organization that does not want their IT folks who support the enterprise HR and Payroll systems to have IM clients installed on their desktops. The reason for attempting to place a wall between them and the people they support? 

    photo credit - FlickR -Joriel "Joz" JimenezThe IT development manager is afraid that the HR and Payroll end users (who are all IM users), will directly contact the IT staff with questions, issues, problems, rather than following the established protocols of sending all issues and requests to the IT manager first, who then by some shadowy process assigns out tasks one at a time to the development staff.

    Prohibiting IM use by the IT staff doesn’t make any sense, and anyway with services like Meebo, Twitter and Yammer, as well as web versions of the other major IM environments, isn’t even practical or enforceable anyway. But putting that aside for a minute, let’s consider some reasons why organizations would choose to operate this way.

    1. A need to ‘control’ workers rather than ‘manage’ an organization – in today’s world this is really not sustainable for too much longer. Staff will tire of this arrangement, turnover will increase, and positions will go unfilled as the ‘buzz’ on the environment starts to spread.
    2. A general lack of a collaborative spirit or said differently, an environment where problems are either ‘your problems’ or ‘my problems’ never ‘our problems’. It seems like too many IT departments want to spend quite a bit of time making sure that IT isn’t ever blamed for things going wrong or things not getting done.
    3. Lack of the correct tools and technologies to enable better collaboration between the ‘real’ users and the IT staffs meant to serve them. This is the area that is most interesting to me, and an area that I try to focus on in my HR Technology class. Wikis, Zoho applications, internal social networks, Ning, heck even Facebook can all be utilized in one way or another to better foster and enable collaboration across the organizations.

    The truth is that the walls and barriers will come down anyway. Banning IM use is folly, would an organization also remove telephones, e-mail or talking?

    Smart organizations should be making efforts to increase openness and collaboration, not the other way around.

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    Sunday
    Sep282008

    Flowgram

    I made my first Flowgram today. 

    Flowgram is a web-based tool for developing demonstrations with narrative that can include web pages, videos and photos.  The Flowgram tools allow you to explain your concepts, web pages and photos.  Potential uses include training type demonstrations, adding depth and context to 'flat' content such as photos, or creating a more interactive way to describe web information.

    Here is the results of my first efforts at Flowgram, it is a very brief overview of our faculty wiki:

    Honestly, I found the tool fairly easy to use, but I do wonder how much value I can realize from it in the context of my class.  I do not think I would assign my students any type of project that would require Flowgram.

    Anyone else seen or tried this out?

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