July 2014 v9no3
Building Capability
The Bigger Picture
In This Issue
The Big Picture
Chicago eLearning & Technology Conference
Draw Me a Picture
Google Glass Design Standards
Mini-Rant: Collaboration Can Be Painful

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Check out some past posts! We share two methods for understanding, documenting, and communicating capability in Capability Model vs Capability Development Path.
Or, join in as we whine about the challenges of keeping up with a continuously growing To Do list in "Real Time Management." 
As always, we welcome your ideas and comments.
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PRH_4  As digital technology advances, it gives us increasingly more tools for improving performance. It is a great time to be in the business, as long as we keep our focus truly on improving performance and building capability. You can spend a lot of time trying to make some computer program do what you want and there isn't always a payoff for all that effort.
  In this issue we've got a couple of articles that target the management level of a performance group. The Big Picture focuses on thinking strategically about supporting the business. It tees up a couple of topics that we will address further in upcoming issues. Things like how to analyze a job or process, how to address the changes driven by new products, how to structure a content architecture to enable re-use of content assets, and how to build development paths that speed up the time needed to reach capability.
   We've also got a couple of nifty/eye-candy-style posts. One is a nice-looking and informative infographic about depicting information visually. The other dives into the Google Glass design standards...which apply to lots of design situations, not just Google Glass app development.
  Of course, we've got a mini-rant as well. We've seen more than enough articles bashing the ADDIE model lately. If you don't know what that means, that article might not be for you, but then again it might. It really comes down to whether it is better to plan and design solutions before building them or just trying stuff. Not to give it away, be we come down on the design side.
  I hope you enjoy this issue of the newsletter. If you enjoy reading it, please forward it to a friend or colleague. Any comments or suggestions about content are welcome. We are very interested in hearing what you think. 


Peter R. Hybert, CPT  

Principal Consultant

The Big Picture
Analysis and Architecture


Where is Your Focus?


   In some situations, it is easy for organizations and professionals to lose focus on the bigger human performance or training picture in their business. Articles come out promoting the next trends in learning, like "m-learning," social media, etc. Conferences and expos celebrate creative solutions. Vendors show off nifty interactions and interfaces. All that sounds like a lot more fun that building capability or improving the throughput of a process.


   Except, in the context of the business it is serving, learning is really a support function. There is only one reason a business should be training employees...to build capability so employees can perform their tasks. And quite often, basic is just as effective as cutting edge (or even more so) and can be deployed faster. Sure it would be fun to make a computer animation and embed it into a web-based program. But it might get the job done if you just shot a video using readily available equipment and posted it imperfectly where people people can find it. The 80% solution right away vs. the 100% solution much later (and after spending much more money).

Keeping a focus on employee capability and work process improvement and away from technology and media requires working on the big picture and not getting trapped in the smaller picture.

For why you need analysis and architecture, check out the blog: The Big Picture


Chicago eLearning & Technology Showcase
Check it Out!


   We (and several others) will be presenting at the Chicago eLearning & Technology Showcase in a little over a week on Tuesday, 8/5 at the NIU Naperville Conference Center, 1120 E Diehl Rd in Naperville.


   The PRH Consulting session will address the rules and tips for using graphics in eLearning (or other training). Those rules address ownership and re-use issues as well as instructional effectiveness considerations. Plus there will be some "how-to" tips on making GIFs and embedding video. It will condense a lot of lessons we learned the hard way.


   There will be 25 other presentations over the course of the day and the event is usually very well attended. If you are in the area and can make time for it, we highly recommend it. You can get more information or register at their website http://chicagoelearningshowcase.com/



Infographic About Visual Information
Visuals Improve Communication Effectiveness, Speed, and Comprehension


  Here is a pretty succinct argument for using icons, graphics, and other visual display techniques to convey information quickly and clearly. It looks good and seems intuitive.


  Admittedly, the linked post and associated infographic would be even more persuasive if they had included citations. But, nonetheless, the graphic includes comparisons that further support their message and which seem to fit your experience as a reader of the information. 


  Check it out yourself at: Why Your Brain Loves Visual Information

Google Glass
Great Design Standards

   No matter what you think of Google Glass, nobody will know whether it was a good idea for years to come. In fact, it may lead to lots of other good ideas, even if it were to fail in the market. We had an invitation to get on the ground floor and buy a set...couldn't do it though...$1,600 was a little too steep for something to play around with. (Probably a smarter move would be to invest the $1,600 on Google stock.)


  But attached to that invitation was a link to the site Google set up to convey design standards. Since I think Google stuff generally looks pretty good, I had to check it out, even though I have not interest (or qualifications really) to be a Google Glass developer.


  Turns out, it is a great site for a couple of reasons. One is that they took the time to set out some standards to allow the entrepreneurs out there to build useful apps without creating as much chaos as has happened in the past.


   Secondly, if you think about the standards the right way, they pretty much apply to any tool, process, or training program. 

  1. Consider the constraints of the device (or medium). 
  2. Don't make your "thing" the focal point. Instead, make the task or performance the focal point. 
  3. Build for people. Use images, colloquialisms. Make it friendly and fun.

    Those are just three principles I derived from reading the pages. Maybe everybody knows these three things. But, apparently not everybody actually applies them. And the Glass pages show and explain plenty of examples.


   So, we recommend checking it out just for personal benefit. But if you end up buying Google Glass and later developing apps, let's get together...we want to play with them. (And, Google has similar sites for other products like their Cloud Platform, and Android Apps as well.)


Check out the Glass Developer Site


The Bleeding Edge 

   Training program design and development can be similar to programming...at least if this programmers tirade is somewhat accurate if exaggerated (which I have no reason to doubt). Warning: The language can be abrasive and inappropriate but if you get past that, the humor is undeniable. Example line "Not a single living person knows how everything in your five-year-old MacBook actually works" to describe how the scope and complexity of the programming makes it to big to manage. Or, for a more wordy sample: "...there are more "standards" than there are things computers can actually do, and these standards are all variously improved and maligned by the personal preferences of the people coding them, so no collection of code has ever made it into the real world without doing a few dozen identical things a few dozen not even remotely similar ways."
   If you don't want to take the time to click the link, that is your call but you are missing out. My summary of the post is that programs are written with lots of people providing different inputs based on varying levels of expertise backed by varying levels of influence to address individualized views of the problem to be addressed, quite often based on what the team members know how to do vs what is actually needed. Training programs and projects can get that way too. Probably everything collaborative is like that.
   According to some, the cure for troublesome collaboration is to give up on an orderly thought process and just try stuff till we get something that works (or, until we get tired of the whole thing and quit). Check out our mini-rant on the blog: Tired of ADDIE-Bashing
Thank you for your interest in PRH Consulting! For more about our company, approach, and experience, please visit our website at www.prhconsulting.com.  
We hope you think of us the next time you need help improving or supporting performance.


Pete Hybert, CPT


PRH Consulting Inc.
20 Danada Square West, #102
Wheaton, IL  60189

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