Learn and Lead

About continual learning and leadership

Designing a Stop Sign

Need I say more... although I have a feeling it's not just the clients, we probably do this to our process too... and perhaps this is what the developers feel about getting reviews from SMEs, reviewers and editors...

CEO Blogging - 2

In continuation of my earlier post on CEO and corporate blogs, I found this video on Mark Oehlert's blog.

My Lessons in Change Management

Last year I reduced my weight by about 16 kgs. It was an interesting journey. In the process I learned many things that could be applied to the corporate world, especially when one is required to bring about changes in the organization.

The biggest challenge in losing weight was to have determination. And my wife was very determined that I lose weight. When bringing about major changes in an organization, it is important that senior management is determined and committed to making things happen.

I tell my friends that the first step towards losing weight is to get a digital scale. Measurement is critical when you want to bring about changes. And accuracy of measurement is very important. It is imperative that you measure and monitor progress. Measure and plot on a graph of your progress. I measured my weight around the same time each morning, trying to wear just about the same number of clothes. Try to keep the parameters that impact what you are measuring constant. This helps provide a better measure of progress.

One of my colleagues remarked sometime back that she discussed this weight loss tip at home. Her husband told her that he will get her five digital scales if it makes her lose weight. So of course, only measurement is not enough to bring about change but a very critical first step.

I discussed my journey over last year with my wife. Determination and measurement helped get the program off the ground. My wife told me that the most difficult thing for her was to get me to eat alternative food that would be equally exciting and yet help me reduce weight. My body and mind was so used to certain eating habits that it is very difficult to change. The alternative had to be equally exciting so that the mind and body doesn’t keep reverting to the old habits. In organizations, we are used to our old processes and ways of doing things. The change has to be equally exciting for people to adopt. Bring about change is difficult, and it helps if the new processes, tools, structures etc. has things that will be exciting for everyone.

It seems the hypothalamus needs about one year to adjust to the new weight and start controlling the food intake. So the new weight needs to be maintained for at least one year before the body will completely adjust to it and you will not gain weight again after losing it. In an organization change initiatives will die a natural death if they are not continued for a period of time. We will revert to our old processes and ways of working if the changes are not in place for a sufficient period of time.

I have slowly started gaining weight again. I think senior management needs to revitalize its determination to keep the weight under control :-).

Image courtesy: Lusi at Stock.xchng

Why is Audience Analysis Required?

A worldwide survey was conducted by the UN. The only question asked was:

"Would you please give your honest opinion about solutions to the food shortage in the rest of the world?"

The survey was a huge failure:
  • In Africa they didn't know what 'food' meant,
  • In India they didn't know what 'honest' meant,
  • In Europe they didn't know what 'shortage' meant,
  • In China they didn't know what 'opinion' meant,
  • In the Middle East hey didn't know what 'solution' meant,
  • In South America they didn't know what 'please' meant,
  • And in the USA they didn't know what 'the rest of the world' meant.

What is Blended Learning?

Clive Shepherd redefines his own definition of blended learning in his recent post.

A blended learning solution mixes social contexts for learning (self-study, one-to-one, small group, larger community) with the aim of increasing learning effectiveness, and/or mixes learning media (face-to-face, online, print, etc.) to increase efficiency, in the context of a particular learning requirement, audience characteristics, and practical constraints and opportunities.

Clive’s does a great job in separating the method and the medium. I quite agree with Clive.

In my view, blended learning can be simply defined as a combination (blend!) of self learning (asynchronous) and teaching (synchronous). Self learning could happen in form of going through predefined learning path, using various media for content (books, whitepapers, wikis, blogs etc.). Teaching could happen in classroom, web conference, virtual classroom etc. Like Clive says, it is the method and not the medium.

Social Networking and Outlook Integration

I installed the Xobni Outlook plug-in a while back. It was initially fun checking out my email analytics. It even analyzes my email and tells me trivia like who responds to my emails faster. All very good but it mainly provides trivia information that I don’t really use. So soon the plug-in was in Collapse mode in Outlook, relegated to one of the many plug-ins that seem interesting initially.

What caught my fancy is the recent Xobni release of LinkedIn integration. The plug-in now provides a LinkedIn link of email sender in Outlook bar. It also provides the phone numbers of the person from the Outlook Contacts. Nifty little feature that integrates my most used email software with my social networking site.

It would be interesting to see if they can also show photograph of the contact from LinkedIn and really personalize the contact info.

New Look at eCube

eCube now has a new look and feel. I wanted something bright and refreshing. I used the WP-Polaroid for Blogger template that I downloaded from eblog templates. It took more time than I expected but in the process I created a blog template upgrade checklist. I realized that there is too much code (analytics, tracking, label customization etc.) that is embedded that needs to be ported to the new template code. And the widgets got all messed up in the new template so I had to create many widgets all over again. Getting the author name was a challenge and I still don’t have the post date (only post time is visible).

There is still some fine tuning to be done over the next few days. I still don’t know how to automatically archive the Blogger poll widgets (so bear with them on the side bars). And the Outbrain rating stars still don’t appear on the posts. And post contributors will need to log on to their Blogger Dashboard to be able to create a new post on the blog till I figure out how to get back the top Blogger navigation bar.

Like it, hate it, have suggestions for improvement? Do post your comments on the new interface. There is also a new poll about the interface. Do drop by and provide your feedback.

Update: eCube has moved to Worpress platform on an independent domain: http://e3cube.co.in.

Blogging & New Media Workshop by IBNMS

I attended two sessions of the Blogging and New Media Workshop organized by Indian Blog and New Media Society. I was actually surprised to see a relatively large turnout. There would have been approximately 100 people. That’s not bad for a Sunday evening session and a working day Monday evening session. The audience was very varied in terms of their experience as a blogger and I commend how the presenters, Ajay Jain and Abhishek Kant, handled the audience questions with patience. There were also a significant number of women in the audience so it’s not just the men who are blogging in India.

Quite honestly I thought the audience would be really interested in blogging, learning through blogging and exploring new avenues. Most were interesting in knowing how to make money through blogs. No harm but whatever happened to learning and personal growth through blogging...

The sessions I attended were on Marketing your blog, Benefits of Blogging for Executives, Business and Professionals, and How to Make Money as a Blogger. I found congruence in many of the tips in the sessions and in one of my previous posts on blogging. A part of the session was dedicated to corporate blogs and how companies can benefit through blogging. Companies should not only use blogs but also other social media sites to manage their brand and monitor what’s being said about their brand. Some important tips of companies were not to outsource blogging, and have people other than just CEOs and PR/Corp Communication Manager to communicate with the readers. There are some examples of corporate blogs. I had posted some examples in my earlier posts on corporate blogging and tips on running a team blog.

There was an interesting session on SEO, SEM and generally marketing your blog. I didn’t know that links to authoritative sites like Wikipedia improved your search ranking. And that broken links on you site can have an adverse effect on your search ranking. When Google search engine searches your blog, it also adds links on your blogs to its search. So having inbound links (links to your own blog pages) are better than outbound links. However out-links to relevant blogs does increase your search ranking. What statistics to measure was also discussed. I found an interesting post on a quick primer on various web metrics and how to use them.

It was good to see a large turnout for the workshop and to see the audience interacting in the workshop. With the Indian blogging scene growing exponentially, I am sure groups like IBNMS will make a significant contribution. Here’s wishing IBNMS all the very best for their future workshops.



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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my personal opinions. Content published here is not read or approved in advance by my employers and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of my employers.

Creative Commons License This work by Manish Mohan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 India License.