Weekly Tip #1: Your Life is Your Wealth and Currency

THE SANDAL

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These Weekly Tips are from my speech at the 2016 Muslim Women’s Literary Conference: “Just Let Me Bee: Finding Your Creative Niche”

What are you thankful for today? What are you celebrating? What are you harvesting?

What is your life for? What are you here for?

The worker bee is a female. The queen is a female. The guards, nurses, foragers, pollinators, honey makers,…all females. She lives for a month but leaves behind honey that doesn’t expire, as well as flowers, fruits, vegetables for the rest of creation. She is virtually working from the day she is born until the day she dies. As for the male bees, they are called drones–they don’t live as long. Their main role is to impregnate the Queen and leave enough sperm to keep the colony thriving for about 8 years. His work is to keep the bees reproducing–keep the colony alive so they…

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Making the Case for Employee Development

Employee Development Plan

If organizations follow a similar style or method as the one proposed in the above PowerPoint presentation then employees such as myself will have nothing to worry about in terms of development within the organization and for oneself. I currently work for an organization that paid for me to get my Bachelor’s degree, however, once I was done and wanted to pursue higher education they suddenly got cold feet. Their idea of higher education was following a different path rather than pursuing a Master’s degree. They wanted me to go and pursue a Certified Public Chartered Underwriter (CPCU) designation, which is basically getting a Master’s degree in insurance studies. I don’t see myself staying in the insurance industry for my lifetime so I felt that a different path was necessary at this time. I wish that the organization that I work for decided to pay for my Master’s degree, however, that was not the case so I had to take my own personal development into my own hands.

The first thing that I decided to do was to choose a degree program and school for which to get my education. Formal education is a way that many people advance themselves and it is a way to attain higher pay, new opportunities for advancement, and career change. “These programs may involve lectures by business experts or professors, business games and simulations, adventure learning, and meetings with customers” (Noe, 2010, p.350). Formal education is not just the degree-seeking individual it includes formal training programs and lectures that a learner may take as well. I frequently sign up for formal lectures and training seminars to advance my knowledge and stay current on trends in the business world as well as advance myself spiritually as I believe that is the foundation upon which all other knowledge lies. I also take online course through an Islamic University to advance my knowledge in the Islamic sciences. This semester I am actually taking four courses not including my graduate study work. I find that having a balance between secular and religious knowledge is important in my life because of how I live my life and how much I value religious knowledge.

Another way that I am working on developing my skillset and education is by doing volunteer work. I work with a group called the Tajdeed Institute where we provide training, events, and mentorship to inner city disenfranchised youths and young adults. I work as lead instructor/financial and event coordinator with the group. I gain a lot of experience working with youth and young adults who come from a background that is very different from mine, however, I can see myself in so many of them as it seems like the problems I faced growing up are similar problems that they are facing now. We provide more than just training to them we provide mentorship and friendship. I also work as the chief event coordinator for the organization where I arrange for scholars to come to town for special events to teach the community. You can read more about my latest event here. I will continue my volunteer work and mentorship activities as both of these allow me to help the community I live in as well as gain valuable work skills necessary as I move forward in my life and work. “Most mentoring relationships develop informally as a result of interests or values shared by the mentor and protégé” (Noe, 2010, p.371). The young men that I work with really look up to me as a mentor and rely on my expertise in helping them achieve their goals, stay out of trouble, and make good decisions in their lives.

By concentrating on my formal secular education obtaining my Master’s degree, my education in the Islamic sciences, volunteering to train youth and young adults, coordinating events, and mentoring young adults I will be able to continue to develop my skill set and personal development. It would be great to utilize more of these skills in the organization that I work for, however, my current job duties don’t allow me to utilize all of these skills. I am able to do some event management and mentoring on the job, however I am not able to get the same formal education that I get outside of work through my various schools. My work offers many different courses in many subject areas; however, they are not degree granting courses. For the time being I will continue my personal development plan as well as work with my organization to offer more employee development now and in the future.
 

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Pace, A. (2010). Unleashing positivity in the workplace. Training and Development, 64(1), 40-44.

 

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High-Tech Training

           Technology has changed the way we do everything in our lives including the way we educate our children and ourselves. Compare education without technology to the medical profession without technology. 40 years ago if you had shoulder surgery you would end up with a huge scar, however, today with the advent of technology if you have shoulder surgery you end up with a couple of little dots on your shoulder. Technology has improved the way we are able to do many things from surgeries to educating ourselves. Technology today is so powerful that people can be learning from the comfort of their homes at any time of the day in their pajamas and be getting the same education as someone going to a brick and mortar school in the cold of winter. “Technology is helping teachers to expand beyond linear, text-based learning and to engage students who learn best in other ways. Its role in schools has evolved from a contained “computer class” into a versatile learning tool that could change how we demonstrate concepts, assign projects and assess progress” (Kessler, 2010). I can remember being in elementary school and having to go to computer class where we worked on what at the time where high tech computers learning and playing games that today kids and probably even myself would laugh at. We had floppy disks when I started using computers and then moved to three and a quarter hard disks for our programs. Loading times were incredibly long and the interactivity was limited. Today in most places we have computers in every classroom, iPads with every student, and all sorts of other technologies in the classrooms helping to advance education. Faster loading times, programs on DVD, downloadable programs, live streaming instruction, and interactivity on every level enhancing our learning and promoting the transfer of training.

The transfer of training has had help from Apple over these past few years with the introduction of iPod touch and iPads as these devices are allowing our students to be on the go and still take their education with them wherever they go. “The iPod touch provides students with an opportunity to access a wide variety of online materials, including lecture recordings, readings, materials, and videos from the university’s learning management system, as well as download high-quality images” (Noe, 2010, p.296). We now have education in our pockets or in our bags with these technologies. My daughter at 15 months old began using an iPad and programs designed to teach the alphabet and phonics to children, programs like Starfall on the iPad helped her learn to speak clearly and learn the alphabet as well as all of the sounds of the letters before she was one and a half. By the time she was two she was spelling words. Now that she is three she is writing and in the early stages of reading. These interactive programs have helped to advance technology beyond what we thought was possible even five years ago before the introduction of such technologies. I see the future of technology with these portable devices only getting stronger and adding to education. I see the programs becoming more interactive and the possibility of new programs that really take advantage of the senses with more interactivity and really making use of the touch and motion technology so that our entire bodies are becoming involved with the technology.

As we move further into this century and technology completely envelops education multimedia training and advancements continue to advance and provide interactivity and instruction to students worldwide. Multimedia training combines the use of audiovisual training methods with computer-computer based training methods and gives students an opportunity to watch and interact with the instruction. These multimedia training environments allow students to interact with instruction and learn from where every they are. “Multimedia training methods include computer-based training, CD-ROM, e-interactive video, the internet, video, virtual reality, and simulations” (Noe, 2010, p.301). Multimedia has the potential to allow teachers to explain things that are too big or two small to demonstrate in the classroom. They can also allow teachers or trainers to demonstrate things that happen to quickly or too slowly in a physical classroom with simulations. There are so many possibilities for simulations and multimedia presentations that the only limit would be the limit of creativity behind the designers making the programs and multimedia presentations. “Asking children to learn through multimedia projects is not only an excellent form of project-based learning that teaches teamwork, but it’s also a good way to motivate students who are excited to create something that their peers will see. In addition, it makes sense to incorporate a component of technology that has become so integral to the world outside of the classroom.” (Kessler, 2010). The future of multimedia training will probably see the use of more multimedia projects as a way for students to demonstrate their ability to utilize multimedia and education together and as we move forward I see the learners getting younger and younger utilizing multimedia and creating their own multimedia projects.

Talking about old slow computers that were the top of the line at the time really got me thinking about how far we have come with the advancement of our computers and the technology that many of us use on a daily basis to educate ourselves, interact and connect with community members, connect with family, and explore the whole world around us. Education has become increasingly faster with the faster processors and computers we are using nowadays to learn on. Computer-based training (CBT) is a way for people to educate themselves with just a computer. “CBT is an interactive training experience in which the computer provides the learning stimulus, the trainee must respond, and the computer analyzes the responses and provides feedback to the trainee” (Noe, 2010, p.303). Many learners lack the time or resources to go to a brick and mortar school daily or even a few days a week with the busy lives that we live today. Children, jobs, family, errands, paying bills, and living life prevent many of us from attending a regular standard learning environment. CBT helps to fill that gap by providing courses that learners can complete on their own and at their own pace and receive feedback from the program as they progress through it. Organizations in the future will begin to utilize CBTs to help them train employees and transfer training to them. Schools will use CBTs to help students who do not have the ability to attend regularly scheduled classes so they can advance themselves in their pursuit of knowledge. CBTs will become a mainstay in education and in the future will include more interactivity like voice recognition and voice commands. We are already seeing this type of technology hitting the market with talk to type programs and programs that can respond to questions like Apple’s Siri. Your voice is your command and I see CBT programs taking this technology and utilizing it to make learning more interactive as we move further into the future.

The virtual world has really given way to advancements in technology and education. Virtual reality and virtual worlds have allowed learners to enter into new dimensions and new possibilities of learning that a few years ago we wouldn’t have thought possible. Virtual reality gives learners the sense that they are really within a different environment with three-dimensional learning experiences that allow the learner to experience any environment that is programed into the computer system. Devices attached to the learners allow the computer to pick up information about the learners movements and transfer it into the computer giving real-time representation of the learner’s movements and actions. Virtual worlds on the other hand allow users at computers to visit entire worlds where they can interact with people all over the world or attend lectures on the far side of the planet with people they have never met before. Virtual worlds rely on avatars that can look like anything the user wants them to look like. So learners can take on new personas in these virtual environments. “Second life is a computer-based, simulated online virtual world that includes a three dimensional representation of the real world and a place to host learning programs or experiences” (Noe, 2010, p.321). These virtual worlds and virtual reality advancements have allowed learners to be someone they are not, experience life as someone else, learn across the globe, interact with people in virtual environments, and learn through virtual classrooms, webinars, simulations, and role play exercises. The future of the virtual worlds and virtual environments see the reality of them becoming more real and more lifelike making the learners experience learning through them closer to real life and advancing the possibility of increasing the transfer of training.

As technology moves into this new millennium and we move further away from paper magazines, newspapers, and textbooks, we move into a new era of digital books for learners to learn with. We can all remember lugging around four or five textbooks from class to class and having heavy big backpacks to carry around all of our textbooks. Although it may have been good exercise technology has introduced advancements here too. We now have e-books that we can download onto our mobile devices like our smartphones, iPods, and iPads. We could be carrying around an entire library of books on one of these tablets instead of carrying around a heavy load of textbooks. “E-books hold an unimaginable potential for innovating education, though as some schools have already discovered, not all of that potential has been realized yet” (Kessler, 2010). E-books not only lighten the load of what we are carrying but the PDF files make searching for topics easier and quicker. The future potential for e-books is limitless in their potential for adding simulations and interactive features in the textbooks. There could also be stimulating visualizations that are built into the e-books that add another level of cognitive sensory utilization into the books for the learners.

Just as the medical profession has made huge advancements with the advent of technology removing huge scars from our bodies from surgery and becoming less invasive, technology has just as equally advanced the advent of education making education more accessible, more interactive, and more appealing to more senses making the learning more attractive and helping to increase the transfer of training to the learners. “Most new technology training methods are superior to traditional methods because a positive learning environment can be built into the method” (Noe, 2010, p.337). Education and technology are now linked together at a level where they cannot be pulled apart and the future will show how these two work together to advance learning and increase the transfer of training as we are using more senses and have a greater cognitive sense over how we receive our education moving forward.

 

Apple Inc. (2012). iOS: Siri. Retrieved from http://www.apple.com/ios/siri/

Kessler, S. (2010). 8 Way technology is improving education. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2010/11/22/technology-in-education/

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Starfall Education. (2012). Starfall ABCs. Retrieved from http://www.starfall.com/n/level-k/index/play.htm?f

Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E. J. (2011). Telling ain’t training. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

 

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Planning for a Needs Assessment

In a hypothetical scenario Whole Foods Market the Supermarket chain has decided that they are going to introduce a product line of natural organic spreads to their stores nationwide. Whole Foods Market’s customer service policy is to satisfy and delight every customer and they stress that that means every single customer. Their stores are designed with that in mind and they train every Team Member to have that mentality. With many new products Whole Foods Market spends time training their Team Members about the product in order to be able to answer questions that customers may have as well as to be able to better sell the product. With many new products Whole Foods Market also promotes that product by offering free samples of the products so that people can try the new products out before they buy them. This is a training needs assessment for the new organic spread that Whole Foods Market will be introducing to their stores later this Fall.

A training needs assessment is a valuable tool that is used as the first step in the instructional design process to ensure that training is correctly used, has the correct content in it, and trainees have the basic skills necessary for the training. A training needs assessment looks at the many pressure points that suggest that training is necessary. Some of these pressure points with this specific scenario are that Whole Foods Market is introducing a new product line and that they want every customer to be satisfied. If their Team Members cannot answer questions about this new product line that will be introduced throughout all of its stores then they will likely not be satisisfying all of their customer base. Based on research done by Whole Foods Market this new natural organic line of spread will be very popular so Team Members are going to have to be on top of knowing everything about them in order to be able to satisfy every single customer.

As this will be a nationwide rollout of a new product there will need to be many Team Members involved in the needs analysis to get their buy-in. This will have to start with the head of new products and work its way down to the district, area, and store managers. Then within the store the company will need buy-in from the department head and then the floor employees who will be answering questions about the new spreads as well as selling it and providing samples. “Because the goal of needs assessment is to determine whether a training need exists, who it exists for, and for what tasks training is needed, it is important to include managers, trainers, and employees in the needs assessment process” (Noe, 2010, p.105).

There are many questions that would need to be asked during the needs assessment. Here are the questions that would need to be asked and the phase in which they would need to be asked in. Following the question I have put who the question should be asked to.

Organizational Analysis Phase:

1-    How is the new product going to satisfy your customers? All Team Members

2-    How is the new product going to support the company’s strategic direction? Management

3-    What type of training do you typically provide with new product lines? Management

Person Analysis Phase:

1-    Which employees will this affect? Management

2-    How have the employees in this division done previously with new products? Management and Store Team Members

3-    What type of information do you need to know about a new product to ensure that you are able to satisfy and delight every customer? Store Team Members

4-    What are the biggest problems that you typically encounter with the introduction of a new product? All Team Members

Task Analysis Phase:

1-    What tasks will need to be done to market this new product that you are trying to deliver? Management

2-    Do the employees need new knowledge to talk about these new products? All Team Members

3-    Do the employees have the ability to perform the tasks associated with the new products? All Team Members

4-    Are there any other circumstances that we should know about surrounding the new products that will cause changes to the equipment or environment because of the new products that employees will need to be aware of? Management

In addition to asking all of these questions to create the training needs assessment we will also need to review Whole Foods Market documents and records to ensure that we have all of the information we need to create the best training for this new product. We would want to see previous training documents for similar product launches that were nationwide. We would also want to see all information about the new product so that training can be designed around the product.

In order to gather all of the necessary information about the product and the needs of the employees the following techniques would be used. Questionnaires would be used to gather data from a large number of people especially in those instances where all Team Members need to be questioned. Questionnaires are inexpensive, they can reach a large number of people, and the data is easily summarized. A needs assessment involves interviews, observations, and potentially even surveying employees” (Noe, 2010, p.131). In addition to the questionnaires interviews would be conducted with Team Members and management who have previously been involved with new nationwide product rollouts to gather their insight into how new products have been released previously, what information they needed about the products, and what could have made the product releases even better for their customers. Interviews would be good for uncovering the details of previous training needs, providing current training needs, as well as causes and solutions to problems that were faced in the past. Unlike with the questionnaires the interview questions can be modified as the product is rolled out or new information is discovered. Finally that last technique that would be employed would be to review Whole Foods Market training and product documentation about new product rollouts. These technical manuals and records of previous rollouts can provide a great source of information and depending on how successful these previous rollouts were they can even provide a framework for this product rollout and training.

By following these steps, asking these questions, and using these techniques a quality training needs assessment can be developed for the new natural organic spreads that Whole Foods Market will be introducing in their stores later this fall. An important aspect of this training needs assessment is that it is involving all levels of management. With management involvement the Team Members will know that they have the necessary support to deliver satisfaction to every customer. “To determine whether training is needed to solve a performance problem managers need to analyze characteristics of the performer, input, output, consequences, and feedback” (Noe, 2010, p.122). The needs assessment will answer all of the questions that management will have about their Team Members and provide them with the necessary information to develop training that will meet the needs of the new product and keep in line with the strategic objectives of the company to satisfy every single customer.

Noe, R. A. (2010). Employee training and development (5th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

 

 

 

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The Truth about Training

Click here for my Training Elevator Speech

Here is the transcript of my elevator speech to a member of a fictitious organization’s management team about why training is important and a necessary asset to help strengthen an organization’s strategy.

Good afternoon Dr. Burke. I’m glad I caught you because I wanted to talk to you about the new training program I am proposing to the board this week. I realize that you are not fond of additional training and believe that typically it is the environmental factors that need to be dealt with as opposed to more training, however, as a key board member I need your support for this program and I’ll tell you why it will assist our organization strategically. Training our employees in these key areas that I’ve laid out in my proposal will help attain strategic business objectives, which will help us gain a competitive advantage over our competition. This is because our assets which, are our human capital will be better apt to make better business decisions that will save us money, they will also have the necessary soft skills needed to close the deals, and they will have developed exceptional customer service skills from the training programs that I am proposing. The proposed training courses will be technology-based learning and that type of learning has increased over 30% in the last decade. This will keep us in line and ahead of many of our competitors when it comes to training our people. Training is more than classroom time. There needs to be a commitment of resources and funds to allow for the implementation of the training to take affect in the work environment. Training is a team effort and we need your buy-in as a key member of the board to make this happen. Without your support there will not be the designated funds for the training program and even if we move ahead without your support the employees will not feel as comfortable using the new knowledge and skills they can learn from the program without knowing that you are behind them 100%. How about I come by your office around 2pm today and fill you in on more of the specific details regarding the program.

 

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The Knowing-Doing Paradox

Every journey starts with the first step you take no matter how small or large that step is, it is all about that first step toward doing. We need to move beyond words and take that first step beyond just knowing about something. Now, I don’t know if the journey will be easy or whether or not it will be successful, however, I do know that if you do not take that first step toward doing then nothing will happen. The end results of doing something, anything, is better than knowing all about it and doing nothing. “After all is said and done, there is more said than done” (Thorp, 2009).

We all have those things in our lives that we know we should do regularly and make part of our routines like flossing, eating healthy, and exercising. Yet, many of us while we know we should do it never move from that point of knowing into that phase of doing and we remain in that paradoxical void of nothingness. The nothingness I refer to is knowing the benefits of something, understanding the reward of it, and realizing the potential of it yet remaining stagnant about actually taking action and doing something about it. “We all have a desire to achieve things, and this desire is stronger or weaker in each of us depending on how much risk we are willing to take, how important the outcome is to us, and how much we will all benefit from the improvement” (Gerson, 2006, p.13). The article by Gerson that discussed the missing link in human performance improvement inspired me.

Actually I think I found the inspiration bug a few weeks ago and this was just the catalyst to get me going even further. I sat in on a lecture of a good friend of mine who was teaching a religious course on the preparation for Ramadan, the holy month where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for a month. In the lecture my friend Shaykh Mendes talked about different seasons. Not the seasons we are used to thinking about like summer and winter but spiritual seasons. He said that there were spiritual seasons that happened also and if you set your sail in one of these spiritual seasons that you would get caught up in a wind that would take your spirit high. I feel as though I have been caught up in one of these divine winds and as of late I have been moving away from the paradoxical nothingness to a more action-based way of living. Granted it has only been about three weeks but it only takes 21 days to form a habit so I am just about there in making these changes a habit. When analyzing human performance we must be very aware of this word called “habit”.

Habits of our performers and the habits of ourselves affect our future performance. Hence when going for a new job the interviewer is so interested in your habits from your previous jobs to see if they can gauge how you will perform on the new job. “When habits and rituals are aligned and applicable to a performance, you will usually get a high-level performance. When they are not aligned, people will revert back to their old habits at the expense of changing them to improve performance” (Gerson, 2006, p.14). Our habits that we create for ourselves and live our lives by daily create our comfort zones that we live in. Moving outside of one’s comfort zone can be uncomfortable depending on how big of a first step toward doing one is about to take. More people will tend not to break a habit of theirs if it involves something that is uncomfortable and involves some amount of pain. In my case it is exercise and eating healthy. Steps that involve some level of comfort or pleasure are easier habits to begin and harder habits to break, like eating a bowl of junk food right before bed time or sitting around on your comfortable couch and watching five or six hours of television. “The knowing-doing gap confronts the paradox of people who know too much and do too little” (Curwood, 2007).

A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to change my life and get healthy again. There is a complex that few are aware of during pregnancy and that is that many men gain weight too. My wife and I just welcomed our newest addition to the family, a baby girl name Safiyya. My wife with her incredibly super human high metabolism has lost all of the weight she gained in a month but I am still dealing with my extra 25 pounds. Luckily it is better than my first daughter because with her I gained 45 pounds. I decided that I was going to move from knowing to doing and become a pseudo vegetarian not eating any type of meat for more than two days in a row in a week. This is something that a little over 1350 years ago the second Caliph Umar ibn Al-Khattab commanded the Muslim society to do. He said that all of the extra meat made people fat. I know that people were much thinner back in those days because they did not eat as much meat and processed foods so I thought I would start doing and take that first step. “Research demonstrates that the success of most interventions designed to improve organizational performance depends largely on implementing what is already known rather than from adopting new or previously unknown ways of doing things” (Curwood, 2007). Although this particular quote refers to organizational performance the same can be said about individual performance. We as people know a lot. There are many of us that can rattle off thousands of facts about this and that but unless we are actually moving away from just knowing about it and doing it, it is not going to help us. Action counts more than elegant plans, fancy words, and complex concepts.

I took my second step yesterday and began to exercise again. It is hard taking that first step toward pain and breaking the habit of just sitting around and playing with the kids or watching television. But I did it and although it may not have imitated a workout from the biggest loser it was a start and it was my start to a new beginning of doing. “As Albert Einstein once said “You cannot solve a problem by applying the same thinking that got you into the problem in the first place. Unless the problem is recognized and addressed, we will continue to build houses of cards, and suffer the consequences when they fall” (Thorp, 2009). My problem was my unhealthy way of eating, eating way too much, and not exercising. In Islam bad innovations are looked at to be something that takes one downward and away from the straight path. The mother of all Muslims the wife of The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said that first innovation of the people after his death was that the people began to overeat. Our society has turned itself into one that relies on technology to do everything for us which has made us lazy, we overeat until it hurts because all the processed food tastes so good, and then we spend millions of dollars on antacid because our stomachs hurt so bad.

Well, I’m tired of my stomach hurting and I’m tired of being part of the millions maybe billions of people who know what is good to do, good for them, and will give them reward if they just take that first step yet sit back and do nothing. “One definition of insanity is doing the same things and expecting different results” (Thorp, 2009). Are we all crazy! Because all we do is do the same thing over and over and expect to get some divinely different results from our actions. The time is now. This is the time to take that first step whether painful or not and make something different of your life. This is the time to make changes in your life and get on the right track. “No single intervention can achieve performance success in isolation from others” (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2004, p.104). Human performance improvement involves making and taking multiple steps to improve the blockage and decrease the performance gap. So the question you must ask yourself is this. Are you ready to take your first steps towards your new life?

 

References

Curwood, B.B. (2007). Narrowing the knowing-doing gap in investments through effective fund governance. Retrieved from http://www.imca.org/cms_images/file_2017.pdf

Gerson, R. F. (2006). The missing link in HPT. Performance Improvement, 45(1), 10–17. Retrieved from the ProQuest Central database.

Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E. J. (2004). Training ain’t performance. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E. J. (2004). Beyond training ain’t performance field book: Strategies, tools, and guidance for effective workplace performance. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.

Thorp, J. (2009). The knowing-doing gap. Retrieved from http://www.thorpnet.com/2009/07/the-knowing-doing-gap/

 

 

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Scope Creep!

I remember the very first project that I was the project manager on. We were to look at our Field Supervisors position and essentially make the position better. I remember getting the project and at first thought I thought how are we going to make this better and what does making it better entail. Everybody had input to start the project off. I received input from my project champion, from my sponsor, and from the Lean Six Sigma Black Belt who was mentoring me on the project. In our define phase we defined the supervisor position as well as the duties that supervisors perform. The supervisors performed many duties and some of them we decided not to touch become those specific processes that they did could be entire projects on their own. Thinking back it seems that maybe we should have taken more time in the define phase because as we moved forward other things kept being added into the project. One root cause of scope creep is “failing to realize that perhaps certain aspects of the project still make it too large to manage” (Long, 2011). Our project was huge as there were over 40 distinct and separate processes that the supervisors did and it was difficult to decide which processes to look at to improve and which ones to leave alone. The team and I attempted to discover which processes the supervisors felt gave them the most trouble or took the longest to complete so we could narrow down the scope of the project and focus on the processes that would make the biggest impact by this project and save us time which equates to saving us money and giving us more productivity from the supervisors.

We attempted to only select some processes that the supervisors did and put those processes in scope, however, many of the processes connected to other processes that we had listed as out of scope. “If your project encompasses a process that is contained within one functional area, there’s a very good chance that you’re original project scope only encompasses a portion of the process but eventually it will encompass the entire process” (Long, 2011). The problem that kept coming out of our project was that many of the things that we did kept going back to items that were listed out of scope either because these processes were too large to be contained within our project, because there was another project working on that specific process, or we were told that these items should be listed out of scope by our sponsor and champion. It was very frustrating to have a project that kept experiencing issues of scope creep and when things were added into the project or we were told we should look at something else also the project just kept growing and it seemed like it would never end. If I were in charge at the company I would have gotten rid of this project and broken it up into smaller more manageable projects that focused on just one specific process or task that the supervisors performed that way the scope of the project could be easily managed.

It doesn’t seem like the company really knew what they wanted from this project which was another problem with the scope problem we had in this project. “Scope creep is the pejorative name given to the natural process by which clients discover what they really want” (Suresh, 2005). The company knew that they wanted the supervisor job to get better but they did not know how they wanted it to get better or what the project should entail. My project was also the second project that was designed to make the supervisor job better. The first project with a different name was essentially doing the exact same thing. Sufficed to say neither project was successful. “In most case, clients are unable to specify exactly what they want in the beginning until they see the product. It is also often difficult for business users to visualize how the new system will be until they see it” (Suresh, 2005). We designed a new process and a set of procedures that the supervisors could follow but when we presented it the company said that it was not what they wanted. It was a real shame that all of that work and two years of my life went into this project and nothing came out of it except a lot of lessons about what to do and what not to do on the next project.

I realized that on future projects I needed to evaluate any changes that were presented and present the benefits and disadvantages of each of these changes. It is also wise to “identify and evaluate alternative changes that might accomplish the same ends with greater benefits and/ or fewer disadvantages” (Portny et al., 2008, p.375). This project that we were on should have been split up into about five or six separate projects that could focus on specific processes that the supervisors did. Had I been in a higher level of authority that is how I would have approached this project especially looking back and seeing that a previous project that was looking at the same thing was not successful. The lessons learned from the previous project should have been studied in more detail by the project sponsor, me, and the other key stakeholders in the company so that we didn’t make the same mistakes twice. “Avoiding scope creep is not possible. However, monitoring it, controlling it, and thereby reducing some of the pain is possible” (Portny et al., 2008, p.376).

Long, K. (2011). Scope creep! Managing process improvement project scope. Retrieved from http://www.processrenewal.com/files/scope%20creep.pdf

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Suresh, B. (2005). Scope creep management. Retrieved from http://www.projectperfect.com.au/info-scope-creep-management.php

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