Resources for ELG Agile PM for elearning development

From Session 204, November 2, 2011 DevLearn 11 – references and resources

Keynote PDF – Agile Project Management for elearning development 9.8 MB is available here on SlideShare. NOTE UPDATED LINK 23 MAY 2012

Online resources:

Kanban  – Joseph Flahiff


Agile benefits

Agile online tools


  • David J Anderson, Kanban,  2010
  • Jim Benson & Tonianne DeMaria Barry, Personal Kanban: Mapping Work | 
Navigating Life, 2011
  • Pete Deemer, et al, The Scrum Primer, ver 1., 2010
  • Jim Highsmith, Agile Project Management, 2010
  • Henrick Kniberg, Scrum And XP from the Trenches, 2007
  • Henrick Kniberg & Mattias Skarin, Kanban and Scrum, Making the most of both, 2010
  • Project Management Body of Knowledge, 4th Edition, 2008
  • Ken Schwaber, Agile Project Management with Scrum, 2004
  • Ken Schwaber & Jeff Sutherland, Scrum Guide July 2011
  • Michele Sliger & Stacia Brokerick, The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility, 2008

1 November additions from the trip out

  • Mike Cohn, Succeeding with Agile: Software Development with Scrum, 2010
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Connectivity woes (and a little science)

Last week my usually robust and reliable broadband DSL connection experienced a work slowdown. Being organized, I started to document “speed” and populated a spreadsheet. After a day of download “speeds” ranging from 1.40 to 2.18 Mbps, I called ATT.  After 15 minute wait, spoke to a tech and replicated the troubleshooting, pinged the line (all was “fine”) and then brought in a line engineer who found a noise issue, did some tweaks and performance improved for a short period and then back to dismal performance, way below the expected 3.1 – 6.0 Mbps. We Lleft it as a wait and see if performance improved.

Fortunately there are now options in broadband and I checked out Clear, an internet connection via wireless 4G. This Clear retailer offers a 48 hour demo to check coverage since we all know the wireless disclaimers: actual speed may vary.  The Clear modem worked well in the house however I only could achieve three bars consistently.  I used the Clear modem during a GoToWebinar presentation that used VOIP. It worked well with very few audio hiccups. During the session I ran a speed test with results of 2:41 Mbps. With the modem on an extension cord and out in the front yard I did get five bars.

The ATT performance issue resolved itself  (after a tech visited the utility pole on the street) and performance is back to expectations, 5.81 Mbps as I write this post. So Clear is an option but only if they can provide an outdoor modem with a better line of sight to the cell tower. According to the retailer, outdoor modems are “in the works.”  So, do I look into the ATT fiber solution or stay the course with twisted pair DSL?

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Newly hired exec performance / Psychopaths?

From the May 2011 ASTD T&D  magazine, we learned that Newly Hired Executives Not Performing Up to Par [note login required to ASTD]. Poor interpersonal and leadership skills in collaboration, influence and ability to build relationships lead to these costly failures.  On Monday May 16 The Daily Show [note entire episode],  John Stewart’s interview with author Jon Ronson, The Psychopath Test. Ronson, an the amiable Brit and author of The Men Who Stare at Goats, set out to explore the world of madness and build his psychopath spotting skills.  He reports that 25 % in prison, one percent of the general population and FOUR PERCENT of corporate chiefs are psychopaths.  So in connecting the dots, these execs must be psychopaths, right? Well, probably not, but certainly a fun thought.

The study found that the failure rate for external hires was nearly the same as internal: 27 versus 23%. Suggestions to mitigate include building a formal onboarding team to guide the new executive into the role. For those that do behave like psychopaths, at least we can provide some coaching so that these execs appear empathetic.

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Really, 20% job growth rate in HR?

I listened to Josh Bersin’s keynote at their 2011 Impact Conference – The Business of Talent on Wednesday April 27. Kudos to Bersin and Associates for streaming this event and sharing with those that couldn’t attend. Josh talked about the Borderless Workplace and its components – Recruiting, Management, L&D, Leadership and HR all framed with this borderless concept. “Borderless-ness” is about breaking barriers and boundaries across age, role, gender, culture and nationality. “Borderless-ness” will require different skill sets; leader competencies; embracing social media for L&D, sourcing of talent, cross-silo collaboration. OK, I buy all that. What struck me in the keynote was Bersin’s statement that job growth through 2018 will be 10% and for HR it will be double that – 20%! Really? This strikes me as too high. Maybe organizations have realized that they cut way too deep in HR and need to restore internal capability? Outsourced/offshore recruiting didn’t workout? Tech investments in performance management systems actually need champions, owners and coaches to realize value?  Those with organizational roles in my network (CLO, learning leaders) see the lean years continuing with focus on controlling cost. No one is predicting significant L&D job growth. So, we’ll see. Standard Dennis Miller caveat applies, “hey, that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.”

UPDATE May 4, 2011

You can view the Bersin keynote here (for a few weeks). The referenced statistics can be found as a PDF on the US Department of Labor site here.  The prediction is is on page 101, matrix code 10-1070 through 13-1079.  So, we’ll see.

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Learning reflections week of April 10

Inspired by Harold Jarche and David Kelly, my goal is to post weekly some key experiences and learnings from the past week.

Grass roots Social Media to save County Libraries

Friday April 8, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners announced a proposal to close 13 of 17 libraries in a county of 700,000. This proposal was a response to the local  budget crisis. That day a Facebook page appeared titled “Save Cobb Libraries.” On Monday morning there was less than 1,000 likes. The page was a call to action to communicate your opposition and attend the Tuesday, April 12 9 AM Commission meeting. By Tuesday, the page jumped to 3000+ likes, a Twitter account (@keeplibraryopen) and a silent read-in protest across from where the commission meets. This effort led to 4,000 e-mails to the commission and 200+ library supporters in attendance according to the live blogging from the event. The commission voted to keep all the branches open and look at other approaches. My role – passing along to friends, neighbors and colleagues in the County.  Best I can tell, five participated and shared with their networks.

What I learned – the FB community did a great job of moderating the comments when the anti-tax, anti-government, anti-Republican (Cobb is very Republican) crowd became shrill. The effort didn’t turn into a shouting match about money but one of the value of libraries.

ELG Online Forums – Rapid Authoring Tools and Design Approaches

The mostly monthly two day sessions from the E-learning Guild  offer great insights, tips and techniques from fellow professionals. These forums do have a cost that I feel is well worth the additional investment. The Guild has a growing archive of who’s who presenters in our field. Last week’s sessions offered an  approach to rapid analysis with Michael Noble and Michael Hassett,  Allen Communications; applying Nancy Duarte’s Slide:ology in rapid design with Laura Fried and Ethan Waldman, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters; and Thiagi and Tracy Tagliati, The Thiagi Group, on a faster, cheaper and better approach to design.

From Allen Communications – a modified SWOT is their pragmatic tool for a quick analysis across seven people and a variety of voices in 2-3 hours. The team from Green Mountain reminded us that sculpting is 90% destructive and we should keep that in mind as we chose and design our visuals. Secondly, use brainstorming find better descriptors to avoid cliche images/graphics. Thiagi introduced the Four Door model for elearning –  library,  playground, cafe and assessment  (or torture center, his words). Tip – start with the assessment center first, then build the others. Six secrets – learner control, design activities not content (content goes into the library), don’t reinvent the wheel, open minds with open questions, blend everything and start with one question then add more.

Big History –  TED Talks

The Big History project is aimed at high school students to “foster a greater love of learning.” In eighteen minutes, David Christian narrates a history of the universe. Collective learning is what sets us apart from other species. We can share our learning over time and then develop technologies that continue to give our species an advantage. “Collective learning is a very powerful force and it’s not clear that we humans are in charge of it,” as he references nuclear weapons and fossil fuel burning. Hopefully through collective learning we can appreciate complexity and fragility as well as the dangers we can pose to our planet. You should subscribe to TED.


This viral twitter meme started by Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) after his program on Monday April 11. Jon Kyle (Arizona Republican senator) misrepresented the abortion statistics from Planned Parenthood stating that 90% of what the group does is abortion. The actual number is 3%. Rather that saying the the Senator misspoke, a staffer “clarified” that it was “not intended to be a factual statement.” The meme continues to date and I had over 900 RSS in the reader before killing the feed. Lesson – be truthful, those bytes of info will be out there forever. Had Kyle admitted he mixed up some numbers, this story probably would have died. The world is full of clever, smart (ass) and connected people. One of my favorites:

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Zero sum?

Why are we driven to play zero sum games? Appears to me that we’ve lost the willingness to compromise, to take the long view and look for win-win or perhaps give-give. Given our fiscal situation the one give is that taxes must go up and spending must go down. Stephen Colbert parses this nicely on April 11, 2011 show regarding the deal to keep the government open. On who won (meaning Obama versus Boehner),

“…one person has to be broken, weeping on the floor in the fetal position, while the other stands over him cackling in triumph. You know, compromise.”

Colbert Report 4/11/2011 – Who wins?

Watch the entire clip for a great debate tool – my comment was not intended to be a factual statement per Jon Kyl’s (shall we say) non–factual statement about Planned Parenthood. Great fun on Twitter with this hashtag:#NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement.

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Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator

From Dean Baker, a handy calculator that demonstrates the fiscal challenges of our health care system and clearly shows that inefficiency will drive future deficits. Will be very noisy through the 2012 elections.

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Yes, my Marketing Sucks

As a small business owner, I’ve known this for some time. This year as a self development activity, I planned to research and improve marketing for dBolen and Associates, Inc. My “marketing” has been limited to networking, activities in professional associations, web-site, some limited buys of advertising.  The challenge that consultants have is that we cannot follow the textbook approaches to marketing for retail and manufacturing. My business has come from referrals via my network. Browsing the nearby library, found Mark Stevens Your Marketing Sucks. This is the best marketing resource I’ve found and he actually addresses  marketing for service providers like accountants. Stevens calls his approach extreme marketing.

Extreme Marketing is:

  1. Marketing is an integrated process (not discrete spends for advertising, direct mail, it’s the process of generating sales/profits)
  2. Identify innovative initiatives that can command the attention in the marketplace
  3. Integrate all of the elements of your marketing program
  4. Do not engage in any marketing activities that fail to produce a positive return
  5. Pick the low-hanging fruit
  6. Don’t be linear
  7. Be persistent, relentless, inventive, counter-intuitive, challenging, combative, strategic, and tactical (location 323 – 349 in Kindle)

In Extreme Marketing, you must have systems in place to determine effectiveness. Is your marketing $1.00 generating more than $1.00 in return.

Your Marketing Sucks is a great book even providing case studies and a relevant real world-plan. I now have the eBook.

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Send me an executive summary

Great idea from Jan Schultink in his blog, IdeaTransplant – Send me an executive summary. Although his post is focused on the world of investors, we as learning professionals should develop a pitch mindset. Jan’s alternative to the executive summary, “I am sending you a 5 minute pitch.”

My tweaks – create a short, visual document, no more than 2 pages. Explain the approach in plain language. Focus on the problem and your solution. Your objective is to get attention and get invited for a full pitch to help solve you client’s business problem.

This approach might have served me well in a project that didn’t end well.

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Building better managers at Google

Interesting story in the Sunday NYT on Google’s journey to improve managers. Being Google, a tremendous effort was undertaken in analysis leading to  – the Eight Google Rules. Nothing earth shaking here as paraphrased:

  1. Be a good coach
  2. Empower your team, don’t micromanage
  3. Express interest in team members success and well being
  4. Don’t be a sissy, be productive, results-oriented
  5. Be a good communicator, listen to your team
  6. Help your employees with career development
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
  8. Have key technical skills so you can advise the team

Interesting that coaching skills is number one. In my last corporate role, we set on the journey to build a a high performing workplace. Success here was predicated on managers and leaders being great coaches. However, we discovered that current managers/leaders were terrible coaches. Why was that? These manager/leaders never received coaching in their formative roles. When presented with 360 feedback, many struggled since this was the first time these individuals received candid feedback from peers, leaders and subordinates.

Hopefully Google will invest development for all managers to become excellent coaches since I suspect that’s not a developed skillset.

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