Friday, November 11, 2016

Why I am not more effective. Yet.

For the past few months, I have been thinking consistently and deliberately about how I can be more effective in my work. Though most of that time is usually spent thinking about how I can I be more productive, I do not think productive is the right word. 

Productive implies doing more work, or even just being busier. When you look up the definition of productive, the stress is on producing more. You might see the word “results" in the definition of productive, but the bias is towards producing more.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe people who produce more, are generally more successful. You cannot sit on your ass, do the minimal amount of work, and expect to be successful. I think saying to oneself, “I work smarter not harder” is an excuse for taking long lunches and going home early, while everyone else stays to help one more customer, make one more sales call, or fix one more bug.

I want to be more effective, not more productive


I don’t want to just worker harder. Just do more. Just work longer hours. Just spin my wheels. 

I want to be more effective.

Like you. I have plenty to do. More work than I can get done. The choices I have for work to do is enormous. 

Oh yeah.

I have choices, baby. 

More choices of thing to work on than I do choices of spaghetti sauce. 

The question, of course is, “What to choose?"

But what is effective?

This has been on of those times when I needed to consult Peter Drucker. As I have done more than a few times in my career, I turn to Drucker for advice, in the form of his book, The Effective Executive

I turn to Chapter 3: What Can I Contribute?

And it hits me like a ton of bricks in the opening paragraph:
“The effective executive focuses on contribution. He looks up from his work and outward towards goals. He asks: “What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?” 
“His stress is on responsibility.”

1950s pronouns aside, this always wakes me up.

At least for a moment.  

The intoxicating allure of busy

I find it easy, intoxicating, to get bogged down on everything I could do in a day. And in the quest to do more, I do a lot more tasks that make me feel busy and productive and helpful, but do not answer the question, “What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?”

After all, I have to prepare for that meeting at 11. I have to say “Yes” to helping create that campaign.” I have to help Cynthia with her project because she has a deadline tomorrow, and her customer needs it done.”

I am not saying these urgent tasks should be ignored (well, maybe I am), but I have been working hard to spend most of my time on the fewest tasks that can make the largest contribution to the most important results of my company (I should apply this idea to my family life, as well. Another blog perhaps?).

Every day, I struggle with the push and pull of being effective and being busy. 

I lose. 

A lot. 

But I am winning more. 

As Drucker advises me on page 57: “Commitment to contribution is commitment to responsible effectiveness.” 

A daily effort to commit. A daily practice.

My commitment is growing. Even though, for some reason, I do not make such a definitive statement as “I will ONLY work on tasks that make a contribution to results” or “No more busy work for me” or “I will never eat fried foods again. Ever.” 

Maybe you have that level of discipline. I do not. But I am consciously thinking about being more effective. Every day.

There is a deeper truth to all this, but I do not trust you enough to share that yet. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

This Heart Rate Training Thing Worked For Me and I Have the Strava Data To Prove It

Metabolic efficiency training. Heart rate training. Slow down to speed up. The Maffetone Method. Just do whatever Sally Edwards tells you to do. Just drink UCAN all day. Eat nothing but liver and avocados. Whatever you want to call it…it kinda worked for me.

Here is how it happened:

It all started in December 2015.

It actually started in 1999, when I first read one of Sally Edward’s books on heart rate training (I think this is the book I read: Heart Rate Monitor Guide Book). Sally Edwards has a new book which is pretty good: Be a Better Runner.

Long story short, I bought a Polar heart rate monitor and started doing my easy runs at the slow heart rates recommended in the book. It was slow.

Too slow.

I didn’t stick with it.

I couldn’t.

I wouldn’t.

I was impatient.

I was embarrassed.

Running that slow was awful and so unintuitive and a seeming anathema to speeding up that I could not stick with it.

Fast forward to December 2015.

I listened to two Trail Runner Nation podcasts about metabolic efficiency training and one with Phil Maffetone about speeding up by slowing down. Something in these podcasts clicked for me and I decided to go for it. The best part of the Phil Maffetone podcast was when Maffetone talked about Mark Allen (the famed Triathlete he trained. Allen: "I can’t train that slow." (implying it being embarrassing). Maffetone: "Train at night."

I immediately bought Maffetone’s book. You should too: The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing.

When I started off….my heart rate target was 135. I did not get tested in a lab. I didn’t want to spend the money, so I just used the Maffetone formula. That put my heart rate target at 135 beats per minute. So, when I went for a run, I would not allow my heart rate to exceed 135….I wanted to burn fat a fuel and train my aerobic system. 

My pace from a run in December 2015. Avg HR 133.

In other words, just do what these experts said to do. They were my coaches, right?

So, when I ran, I ran slow. And I mean slow. 13 minute mile pace. Sometimes it was 14 minute mile pace. It was not running or even jogging. I was trotting. Frankly, I could have walked at the same pace, at a slightly lower heart rate and saved some energy.

I feel you, Mark Allen. It was embarrassing.

For the most part I stuck with it. Embarrassing as it was. It’s not like I made steady, linear, “up-and-to-the-right” progress, either. It seemed like a long, frustrating plateau of slow misery.

But I stuck with it.

What made it more frustrating was that my heart rate monitor (a Polar FT60) seemed very unreliable. I would be going along at 132 beats per minute……then all of a sudden, it jumped to 155. Nothing changed. I did not hit a hill. I did not speed up. A black bear didn’t just appear out of that bush on the Juniper Mountain Trail between Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows like it did in 2013.


The heart rate monitor just spiked. As soon as I started walking, it skipped back down to 132. Cool. I started running again. Boom. Back up to 155. That happened all the time. I changed batteries. I washed the chest strap. That helped a little. This went on for two months. I finally gave up and just ran based on breathing out of my nose as a gauge. I figure I was running at basically the right heart rate if I could run and breath out of my nose. Its not perfect. But I was able to overcome the frustration of technology that seemed to make things worse.

By the way. Is this normal for a heart rate monitor? For a Polar? What’s your experience?

After going along with this “nose breathing” method for a month or so, my pace did not seem to pick up. Looking at my Strava data my pace did increase. But, I thought, maybe because I was running at a faster heart rate. And since I was not using a heart rate monitor, I did not know for sure.

Finally, I sent my heart rate monitor in to Polar to get it serviced. That charged me about $25 and repaired the transmitter.

I guess they did. Who the hell really knows?

It seemed to work, so...since April 2016, I went back to using the heart rate monitor. I noticed my speed did increase. I was running in the 11-12 minute per mile pace on runs now. Hmmmm. That’s cool. Still slow. But better. Is it really working?

Maybe so.

I was inspired.

And with the InsideTrail Rodeo Valley 50K coming up in June, I was gaining confidence.

Anyway, in December, when I started this. I had a secret goal that I would run under 10:00 min/mile pace at that heart rate. I mean…..if this works, and I speed up, why not go for a big goal. 9:59 pace consistently for these “easy” runs. Maybe even on my long runs.

That would be awesome.

April and May were productive months of running for me, with a (mostly) reliable heart rate monitor, I stuck to the plan. Except for one day a week, when I ran the trails at Rancho San Antonio Open Space and just bombed straight up for 4 or 5 miles before turning around and running down. No heart rate monitors on those days. I just ran as heard as I could without bonking to the point when I would have to walk up the hill.

I stuck with it.

I did get faster.

Way faster.

In June, I did a five mile run. All splits were below 10:00 min/mile. Can you believe it?

When I did this run, I did not go out with any goal to do any split targets. It was not a test run. I just did an easy, normal 5 mile run. On the morning route a take for many of my weekday runs. 

My pace on a run in June 2016. Same route about the run above. Soooooooo fast for a slow run. Avg HR: 134

It was just a normal run.


Now I am hooked.

I love running slow. Because I am speeding up.

Love it.

Because I love running fast.

I ran the Rodeo Valley 50K in Marin on June 11. I ran it pretty slow…..but I was not that sore afterwards and was running by 3 days after the race. Feeling great.

Then I ran the Broken Arrow Skyrace 52K 7 days later. I dropped, but not from being tired. That’s a long story worthy of a blog post.

I am hooked.

Did I say that already?

I am also hooked for another reasons. Running at this pace provides other benefits:
  1. It takes the guess work out of what’s an easy run. That's “easy" now. Run at a pace just under that heart rate. Done.
  2. It takes the guess work out of how hard or fast run run on any given day. My heart rate tells me that.
  3. I don’t get sore anymore. Hardly ever. So I can run more consistently, and I can run more. 
  4. I don’t carry food or water on runs up to 2 1/2 hours, unless its hot.
I left out a lot of details. But that is the story.

What questions do you have? Has anyone else had similar results?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Company Culture Decks Are So 2012: Enter the Culture MOOC

Cushard Confidential MOOC Culture Deck

There has been a lot of recent activity surrounding the importance of company culture and its link to company success. Netflix caused a notable stir with their culture deck called, "Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility," which Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg described as possibly "the most important document ever to come out of the valley." Hubspot made a similar splash with their Culture Code presentation about what makes Hubspot tick. And don't forget about Zappos and its culture focus. The Netflix and Hubspot presentations are slick and may well be the secret to these two very successful companies.

The problem is that these presentations follow a one-to-many distribution model and much can be lost in translation. It turns out there is a potential solution to this problem. The Massive Open On-Line Course (MOOC) Let's look at three principles of MOOCs to guide how an executive team could teach it's culture to all employees.

Massive, Open, and Asynchronous

MOOCs allow for a many-to-many approach to teaching culture, and for executive teams to participation directly with all employees who choose to participate. Because a MOOC is massive and open, companies can open culture discussions to employees all over the world and even to prospective employees who are currently in the recruiting process. What better way to educate prospective employees about your culture than to invite them to participate in the company culture MOOC?

The asynchronous nature of a MOOC allows for executive-level participation because it remove the necessity for busy executives to be available in person at a certain time. Senior leaders can participated in off hours, between meetings, on airplanes, or where ever else they have a few free minutes.

Structured and Facilitated

Following the model of a typical MOOC offered by Coursera executive team members can facilitate discussions on specific culture topics and truly engage people in conversations about the company culture and what it means to live and act on the culture. This is an excellent way to feel the pulse of an organization and to engage in on-going conversations on specific topics related to its culture. This kind of insight does not come out of employee surveys.


During each weekly unit of a MOOC, participants are assigned to take action on culture values and report back to the group on their results. "Last week, I tried to put the customer first, but my manager reprimanded me for giving away the store." Think about how valuable it would be to share that result in a facilitated discussion with peers, managers, and an executive-level facilitator. People will really know how the company wants people to treat customers after that discussion. The silver bullet of culture success is to get a large group of people to guide their actions using the principles laid out in the company culture.

What makes MOOCs compelling for an executive team is two-fold. First, a MOOC provides an executive team a persistent opportunity to get their message across about culture. Second, it allows a many-to-many model of engaging employees on an important topic. I'd venture to say that for any company touting teamwork and collaboration as a part of their culture, they should already be using MOOCs as a means for teaching culture.

This blog originally appeared on the humancapitalist blog.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

This Kindle Sample Made Me NOT Buy the Book 

Cushard Consequential Trendology Building Advantage through Data-driven Real-time MarketingI like getting samples on Kindle. Sometimes I load up a few samples, so that when I have a few minutes to read, I can jump into a sample. Sample books are great ways to test the waters and decide if a book is worth buying. Great move by Amazon.

Samples are also great because it does not take a huge investment of time, and you can read in spurts. I don’t like to read in spurts with full books. I feel like I need to have at least 30 minutes to get into a read reading session. Anything less, doesn’t allow me to get into the book, so I feel like it is a waste of time.

But if I have 10 or 15 minutes, starting a book sample is great.

Often times, after a read a sample, I buy the book (ok, sometimes I get it from the library).

In this case, however, a sample made me NOT buy the book. I knew from reading this one story, that I would not like the book.

The book is called Trendology: Building an Advantage Through Data-Driven Real-Time Marketing.

The story early in the book is about how Arby’s tweeted Pharrell Williams because he was wearing a hat that looked like the Arby’s logo hat. Arby’s tweeted….in the moment, during the Grammy’s, while everyone was watching:


The likes and retweets and fun engagement took off. It was one of those tweets that went viral. What a success. So many lessons I could learn and might be able to apply in my own work to increase engagement and create buzz for the products I market.

What a great book this is going to be, right?

Not so fast.

That story of a huge marketing success made me not want to buy the book.

Wait. What?

Why did a successful story, a story that turned out to be great, make me not want to buy the book?

Because the punchline of that story was that it was a success because it generated buzz and lots of retweets.

Don’t get me wrong. I would love to have lots of retweets. I guess. I know I am supposed to say that. So I said it.

But……what I was really thinking while reading that story was:

"Who cares about social engagement?"

I was waiting for the punchline to be, “…AND…traffic to Arby’s restaurants increased by X% and sales increased by X%."

But. Sadly. No.

I was actually sitting there thinking Arby’s was in the business of selling roast beef sandwiches.

This hit me hard because, by coincidence, I had recently finished listening to an episode of PNR This Old Marketing podcast with Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose.

PNR told a story about how XEROX generated over 1,000 new sales appointments and increased its sales pipeline by $1 billion with a content initiative, Chief Optimist. At the end of the segment Joe Pulizzi commented, “Yeah, but how many Facebook likes did Xerox get?"

And that’s the point.

Why the hell do I care about social media engagement? In fact, I am in marketing, and I do not run reports on page views, likes, shares, or anything of the sort.

We track three metrics:

  1. Subscribers (to our newsletters, blog, etc)
  2. Number of MQLs and SQLs and the conversion rates
  3. Dollar value of pipeline revenue

That is pretty much it.

Maybe I should do more. But ultimately, if our marketing efforts contribute to increase the revenue pipeline, sales will close many and the business will grow.


Have you read Trendology? Does it get better later in the book? Should I revisit it? Comment below and set me straight.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

My Notes: The Rise of the Revenue Marketer

These are my notes from reading The Rise of the Revenue Marketer by Debbie Qaqish

They want proof that marketing is making a real impact on revenue. - loc 220

In this new model, marketing’s key role will be providing behavioral intelligence to sales. - loc 281
Bill Cushard Blog The Rise of the Revenue Marketer
Chapter 1 - Key Play

Take the initiative to understand more about Revenue Marketing and determine is this is a strategy for your company and your career. Begin by answering these questions:

What am I going to do about revenue?
Is what I’m doing as a marketing leader good enough?
What are my peers in my industry doing?
What is happening in my organization and in my industry?
Do I need to change the status quo?

Chapter 2 - The Revenue Marketing Journey

1. Traditional
2. Lead Generation
3. Demand Generation
4. Revenue Marketing

Demand Generation:
Instead of sending one-off emails to the masses, this stage is characterized by targeted and on-going nurture programs across all phases of the buyer journey.

Revenue Marketing

When the CMO of VP of marketing walks into a senior management team meeting, they come with two different reports. The first is a report showing the revenue contribution from marketing over the past month, quarter, or year. The second and more powerful, is the Marketing Forecast Report that forecasts revenue impact from marketing for the upcoming period.


Chapter 2 - Key Plays:

Assess where you are in the marketing journey.
Where are you, and where do you need to be.
How will you get there?
What will happen if you do nothing?
Involve your team in the assessment
Begin the Revenue Marketing dialogue with your executive team.
Begin the Revenue Marketing dialog with sales.

“Most marketing executives get the concept of revenue marketing. It’s operationalizing revenue marketing that keeps them up at night. But it’s really not that difficult if you break it down into 6 key elements: strategy, people, process, technology, content, and results. We call these elements the RM6.
Jeff Pedowitz

Chapter 3 - Operationalizing the Revenue Marketing Journey

RM6 Model

Revenue Alignment: the alignment of marketing strategies and sales goals.
Center of Excellence: Building a specific organizational structure that fly enables revenue marketing.
Change Management: managing change along the journey

Executive Sponsorship
Sales and marketing alignment
Roles, skills, Competencies
Training and development
Sales empowerment

Prospect/Customer Lifecycle
Nurture Management / Multi-channel
Funnel and Lead Management
Contact and Data Management
Testing, QA, and Measurement

“Successful revenue marketers not only develop and document these with sales, but work with sales to continually refine and optimize these processes over time.” - lloc 776


Revenue Marketing Architecture
Marketing Automation Technlogies
Data Analytics
Content Tools


Content type assessment
Personas/Buy Cycle Channels
Persona Messaging
Content Development process
Road Map and Measurement


Measurement Assessment
Revenue Attribution
Funnel Performance
Reporting Structures and Processes

Chapter 3 - Key Play

Conduct an RM6 Assessment Exercises
use assessment link from chapter
loc 937

Chapter 4 - Building a Revenue marketing Team

8 Key Competencies

VP Revenue Marketing
Business Analyst
Power User
Nurture specialist (Bill - 2015-2016)
Content Specialist (Bill - 2013-2015)
Creative Specialist
Marketing Operations (Bill - 2015 - 2016)

Chapter 4 - Key Plays

Based on the 8 competencies, assess which skills you have on your team and which ones you do not
Determine how you will get these skills, when, and with what budget (train, hire, outsource)
Determine how the new roles fit into your current marketing structure
Develop a compensation structure
Develop a training and Education plan

Chapter 5 - The Revenue Marketer Center of Excellence

The Revenue Marketing Center of Excellence is comprised of people skilled in creating, building, launching, and reporting on complex multi-channel programs.

The primary goal of this team is to first pass “sales-ready” leads to sales that close at a predictable rate for both new customer acquisition and install-base marketing, and second, to help accelerate opportunity to close velocity. This team is accountable for a revenue number and KPIs that support attainment of that number.

The center of excellence has the following functions:

Program management
Campaign services
Creative services
Content Factory (Planning and Strategy)
Best Practices
Quality assurance
Lead concierge and best practices
field/business unit marketing

"Content is the fuel for the revenue marketing engine"

A key player on the content team is the content “czar.” This person is responsible for a holistic content strategy that optimzes all content in the RMCoE. Since content is the fuel for the revenue marketing engine, this role is critical to revenue marketing success.

They work with product marketing and marketing communications to leverage correct messaging, positioning, and copy for campaigns, programs, and the website as is specifically relates to revenue marketing - not messing in general.

The content team:
Measures content efficacy
Serves channels and sales teams with sales tools

Chapter 6 - Change Management

Chapter 7 - Marketing and Sales Synergy

Revenue Marketing will not happen without Sales alignment.

marketing leadership takes responsibility for this alignment and makes it a top priority.

5 Characteristics in successful revenue marketing organizations

Both marketing and sales use a common revenue language
Both marketing and sales are vested in each other’s success
Both marketing and sales are proactive in their relationship
Both marketing and sale work together as one revenue team towards achieving, shared, revenue-oriented goals.
Both marketing and sales have goals and compensation tied to share revenue metrics.

When we take a look at the most successful revenue marketing machines, we see that marketing marketing has the same kinds of goals as sales.

Marketing needs to have revenue marketing accountability, meaning that, just like sales, they are tied to and invented to a number.

“Our marketing team is actually paid bonus on “Sales Accepted leads (SALs). When a leads coverts from MQL to SQL we’re only have way there. When sales converts an SQL and creates an opportunity, our marketing team is bonuses on that sale. So sales is actually controlling part of the paycheck for marketing."

Chapter 7 - Key Plays

Do a quick run-through of the Marketing and Sales Synergy Model:
How well educated are you and your team on sales?
Have you worked with sales to create one revenue language?
How will you create vision, build a plan and communicate?
How will you establish shared goals?

Chapter 8 - Metrics that Matter

You will mature your measurement competency over time

“My formula for impacting revenue is this: first you have to know the math. Understand the lead volumne, the conversion rates, and the value of those leads. Second, you have to manage your program portfolio. This has three parts: awareness, demand, and acceleration. Third, you need to ignite the catalyst, which is frankly, compelling content. Your catalyst is your unique point of view, which you integrate into your program portfolio to optimze results."

“They describe their contribution to the company (their metrics) in terms of pipeline, opportunities, and revenue. If they do talk about how many campaigns or hits to the website, it is of secondary importance."

Their key metrics are always top of mind, and they can aways tell you where they are in relation to their goals. They don’t have to look or pull out a spreadsheet or “go into their system.” These metrics are a constant driving force for their entire group every single day.


The hallmark of a revenue marketer is establishing a culture of financial measurement that produces RPS - repeatable, predictable, and scalable revenue growth.

Chapter 8 - Key Plays

ID where you are on the revenue marketing journey in regards to metrics. Use the Metrics that Matter chart 8.1
Establish and document your current measurement baseline
Establish what metrics that matter to the executive team
ID your measurement gaps and plan how to address those gaps

Thursday, June 30, 2016

ADP Spark: How to Get Employees to Use the HR Mobile App

When it comes time to launch an HR mobile app, you can't just send out an email and hope employees download it. Technology adoption in a large enterprise is hardly ever that easy, especially when your audience is not accustomed to using mobile apps. To encourage employee engagement with the mobile app, HR teams would do well to learn from technology marketing teams about best practices for gaining adoption of new technologies.

For new technologies to gain traction and eventual adoption, you must first learn about your different user types, and then identify what it will take for them to find enough value in the technology to start using it.

Monday, June 27, 2016

My Notes: Conscious Capitalism

These are just my raw notes that I took when I read the book, Conscious Capitalism, With a New Preface by the Authors: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.

First Principle of Conscious Capitalism: Find your higher purpose in life
Bill Cushard Blog Conscious Capitalism Notes

What is my higher purpose? > Think about it...

80% of money spent on health care spent on lifestyle …… disease causing….
of Heart Disease, Stroke, Cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, autoimmune diseases.

For Whole Foods:
  1. Educate people in principles of health diet 
  2. Create a sustainable agriculture that is also productive 
  3. Education business to evolve and become more conscious  
John Mackey - claims that “Conscious” companies out perform S&P500 by 10.5 times - Stock price.

Leaders have a sense of purpose

Servant leaders

Create a great culture

Work up through Maslows Hierarchy of needs.

Purpose search: (go off site) Discover your purpose. Legacy companies need to discover it. When the company was founded……you can bet there was a higher purpose when it was founded.

ADP Spark: Big Data Ethics Raises Big Questions

Due to the proliferation of social, mobile, cloud and connected technologies, many organizations have begun adopting big data as a means for collecting, analyzing and making strategic decisions. This has become a powerful way to unlock actionable insights across your business, but it also brings with it some concerns about big data ethics that need to be addressed.

Because accessing and storing data is so easy, some organizations "collect everything and hang on to it forever," says Ira Hunt, chief technology officer at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in The Huffington Post. He adds, "The value of any piece of information is only known when you can connect it with something else that arrives at a future point in time."

It is not just the CIA collecting data like this. Major grocery store chains, investment banks and even the U.S. Postal Service have a predictive analytics function with the sole purpose of collecting and analyzing data in order to predict buyer behavior.

But what if all this data collection takes a negative turn?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Aaron Ross: Why Aren't You Growing? You Haven't Nailed Your Niche

Aaron Ross joins Helping Sells Radio for Episode 14. Aaron, with co-author Jason Lemkin, recently published a new book, From Impossible to Inevitable: How Hyper-Growth Companies Create Predictable Revenue, which is a follow-up to the widely read and implemented book Predictable Revenue, which has been called the sales bible of Silicon Valley. Sarah and Bill talk to Aaron about two main topics. First, we talk about why we should not tell people what we do for a living, but describe how we help people. Second, we talk about the new book.

Read Episode Summary or Subscribe to Helping Sells Radio on iTunes

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hear How I Stole a Great Idea from Catherine Blackmore

For some reason, at the beginning of this episode of Helping Sells Radio, I felt compelled to confess my atrocity. I stole a great idea from Catherine Blackmore, GVP of Customer Success at Oracle Marketing Cloud. I do not know whether I feel guilty or grateful. Either, it made for good radio. You can hear it all on this episode of Helping Sells Radio.

Read Episode Summary or Subscribe to Helping Sells Radio on iTunes.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The 7 Elements of a Software Training Course Design

If you've ever asked: "What is the difference between designing a software training course and developing it...and why does it matter?" The answer is simpler than it may appear. And it is important in helping you create a repeatable, scalable, and un-daunting approach to creating software training courses.
Here is the answer:
When you design a course, you are simply defining how a course should be developed. 
In other words, a course design defines the "how." Developing a course defines the "what." When you have finished designing your course, you will have created the groundwork for what content will go into your course, which includes the diagrams, video demos, audio recordings, labs and activities, and assessments. If you do not know how to create a course, the best way to start is by creating a course design.

Friday, April 8, 2016

3 Resources to Keep Up With Mobile HR Technology Trends

The full post can be found on the Spark Workforce Management Blog

Technology is quickly and continuously changing the way people work, and it is impacting how organizations attract and manage talent. CHROs can stay on top by following a few, high-quality sources and reading them regularly. Forrester, the Mary Meeker Internet Trends Report and Forbes may help CHROS stay current and get ahead of the very latest mobile HR technology trends.

[Read Full Post]

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

My Notes: Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust

Here are the notes I took while reading Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust, by Scott Brogan and Julien Smith.

The way you build up who you are, little by little, never moving too fast, never taking too big a bite at one time. There are occasions where you suddenly have to take a big step or a big chance.

Cushard Consequential: My Notes on Trust Agents by Scott Brogan and Julien Smith

Those come later

Build a listening station
google reader

search twitter

As you build social capital and reputation - create a spectacular About Me Page

  • Always be thinking about subjects to write about
  • Make what you write about useful to others
  • find topics - Yahoo ANswers, Linkedin Groups and Answers
  • Comment on other blogs
  • Make your opinion known
Six Characteristics of Trust Agents
  • Make your own game - stand out
  • One of us - belong to a community. Have them say "he's one of us."
  • The Archimedes Effect
  • Agent Zero - Build relationships, long before business. Develop access to networks
  • Human Artists - its about understanding people / relating to ... (dale carnegie stuff)
  • Build an Army - About developing mass = when you can get a large group to collaborate, you can achieve monumental tasks
Make Your Own Game
Set your own Rules

Action - write a gatekeeper/gate jumper list
find out who owns the old games in my area

Gatekeeper Gate Jumper
Telephone Company
Print Messages
MS Office EBay
Google Docs

Figure out your gatekeepers = decide which rules you can break

Make your own Game

Playing - start figuring out the rules - everywhere
Cheating - work around - which rules can be ignored
Playing =

You win by having goals
Have goals in each


Not cheating
Work around the status quo
Modify conditions
Selling the sames things as everyone else - differently!

Create your own rules:
"Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Three Rules for your new game:
  1. When you treat people well, they treat you well
  2. The wider your network, the easier it is to get things done
  3. THe more personal the relationship, the more straightforward you can be
Build a content marketing blog, commission junction

One of Us: - Be Human

Ask about other people first
Understand the culture
Promote others 12 times more than you promote yourself
Use a good picture
If you mess up, acknowledge, apologize, act
Share a bit of your personal life
Its about relationships
Trust Test

(C x R x I) / S = T

Do favors first for others - act first

Make an Impact - leave momments often

Leave name, company name
Comment on Stories, pieces that relate to my industry
Don't explicitly link
Be yourself
Add value to the post - dont say "Hey...nice post"
Leave Comments Every day

Archimedes Effect

"With a lever large enough, I can move the world" - Archimedes

Lots of power, a lot less work.
Leverage time
Leverage relationships - networking

Actions: First steps to leverage your position with an organization

Be bold about your business purpose
Be everywhere
Be a sales person
Be relentless
Be gracious
Things to Stop and Things to Start

Stop trying to find readers for your blog
Stop enabling your existing readers to talk about you
make it easy for people to share your stuff
Stop doing your own books and research
Start looking for a personal research assistant and aggregates
Stop spending money and time building your website
Starting looking at prefab solutions like wordpress and Drupal
Stop telling everyone about your new thing
Start crowdsourcing
If you can delegate, you must
Don't write a book for money, write it > leverage for credibility (it opens doors)

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

My Notes: The Big Data-Driven Business

These are the notes I took from the book, The Big Data-Driven Business: How to Use Big Data to Win Customers, Beat Competitors, and Boost Profits by Russell Glass and Sean Callahan. I took these notes as I read the book.

2012 Forrester Blog Post - by Lori Wizdo - a potential customers can be 90% through the buyer journey before contacting a vendor.
Cushard Consequential Big Data-Driven Business Marketing Book

Drucker - Business has only two functions: Marketing and Innovation

Both of them will be led by the CMO

CEB estimates that they typical B2B prospect is 57 percent of the way through the buyer’s journey before contacting a sales person.

Book: Digital Body Language
Author Woods says, Marketers must rise to the challenge: marketers must cultivate new skills to observe and understand the buyer’s digital body language.

“Stepping Up to the Challenge: CMO Insights from the Global C-Suite Study” - a 2014 IBM study by IBM concluded: Where the CMO and the CIO work well together, the enterprise is 76% more likely to outperform in terms of revenue and profitability.

Chief Marketing Technologist blog - Scott Brinker

McKinsey Article: August 2014 - Getting the CMO and CIO to Work as Partners

Set well-defined goals together
The CMO must become metrics driven and transparent
The CIO must shift mind set (revenue driver)
Team building is essential
Think big but start small

Chapter 5 - How technology bridges the gap between marketing and sales

At CSC….the tele qualifications group basically does as many as 5 attempts to gather advance criteria on the prospect, and only the ones that pass the advance test get passed on to sales.

Driving leads that are based on data is central to the way this relationship is constructed.

DocuSign lead scoring 1.0 - This approach still informs the foundation of DocuSigns’ approach, but the company is also working with suppliers, such as Lattice Engines and Mintage, two lead-modeling software platforms, that use big data to help ID the leads most likely to convert.

Biro CMO David Karel is a data-driven marketer. When he joined the company in 2010, he was the first hire in the marketing department. His first major step was beginning to build out our marketing technology stack, a process he believed was essential to creating a marketing organization that could support the sales staff in driving revenue.

Chapter 6 - Data and the Rise of Online Advertising

At the top of the funnel, the company’s display ads targeted internet users who’s profiles indicated they were executives in relevant sectors. Zora wanted to build awareness within the largest possible relevant target audience.

In the mid-funnel, the company used display and SOME ads to engage and educate users. The ads prompted tools such as eBooks…..

In the lower funnel, the company used retargeted display advertising to offer a free trial of it’s service.

In the mid-funnel, Zendesk display ads that pushed educational content pieces resulted in more than 1,000 white paper downloads and webinar registrations. And in the lower funnel, display ads helped drive more than 2000 free trials.

Chapter 7 - using Data to Better Understand Customer and Pursue Prospects

Chapter 8 - The Arrival of Left-brained leaders and the Rise of the Marketing Department

Marketing leaders need to be focused on results / business results not just marketing metrics.

Lisa Arthur, CMP of Terradata Marketing Applications and the author of “Big Data Marketing” says many marketers may be blowing this opportunity to play a big role in their company’s destiny.

A numbers-driven approach is now not only possible but necessary to be successful.

Chapter 9 Implementing a Big Data Plan (sometimes by thinking small)

Brian Kardon, CM Lattice Engines, “You can beat much bigger, well-funded companies if you’re able to harness that data. Its a way to get an amplifier effect to do amazing things. Big Data could be the key for a lot of small companies, giving them a much better return on their marketing dollar. It’s a great leveler."

Bil Macaitis former CMO Zendesk

“The primary reason I came to Zendesk was they didn’t have a big marketing org.. Its a rare chance to build a marketing org almost from scratch. It’s a new age marketing org that doesn’t have any traditional silos…I came to build the most advanced, sophisticated B2B marketing team ever."

Macaitis had four words as his foundation

Data driven
Customer Focused.

When building the marketing org he focused on two key elements:

Content marketing
We made a couple of big investments:

created a big content team - hired 6 full-time content people. All they do is create content left and right. - content is crucial to understanding how customers are self-educating as they move through the buyer’s journey, most of which takes place online. Analyzing content pieces can provide insight into which ones are the most influential in driving prospects through the marketing funnel. (leads, pipeline, accelerate deal velocity, etc).
Hired a large analytics crew. created marketing stack. Includes 30 different kinds of software from Optimizely to Convertro. They are in charge of all the attribution, the reporting, a lot of the insight. They are in charge of training the rest of the team how to use the tools. They make sure we are leveraging all the data out there.

The ability to properly attribute what marketing tactics are accelerating prospects through the marketing funnel is vital.

Analyze the click streams

USE NPS with content and the marketing funnel when deals close. Seeking “primary reason for the score."

When Analyzing Customers , what characteristics do you best customers have in common, and where can you find more of them?

Eleven Principles to Follow When Bringing Big Data into Your Business
  1. Focus on the customer to determine what questions you want your data to answer
  2. It’s Big Data, but think small
  3. Don’t bet everything on technology
  4. Hire the right people
  5. Maintain some control of the technology piece
  6. Measure, Measure, and Measure some more
  7. Stay on top of your data and the processes around that data
  8. Conduct a data audit and strive to integrate data silos
  9. Cooperate with IT, Sales, HR, and other stakeholders
  10. Practice good data hygiene
  11. Develop a roadmap but anticipate detours 
Chapter 10 - Measurement, Testing, and Attribution

Measure a PR program - complicated but in the end a net score is created for each media hit that we can then use to tabulate monthly and quarterly scores have specific metrics that we work towards in PRs

3 Attribution Models
  1. First click attribution
  2. Rules-based attribution - assign certain value to a particular tactic based on predetermined rules.
  3. Algorithmic Attribution - Assigned values to each interaction based on statistical regression or probabilistic models (typically most accurate)
Attribution model software - Admoetry, Convertro, VisualIQ

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Maybe Learning Experience Designers Should be Outcome Engineers

Cushard Consequential: Learning Experience Designer Outcome Engineer
Photo credit:

During the week of October 21, I attended the Technology Services World conference put on by the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA). TSIA launched a new book at the conference called B4B: How Technology and Big Data Are Reinventing the Customer-Supplier Relationship, which is disrupting the way technology services are sold.

I know it does not sound like anything a learning professional should care much about. However, the main message in the book and throughout the week at the conference is so staggeringly relevant to learning professionals that our future (like the future of the technology services industry) depends on adopting the lessons discussed in this book.

Here is that message:

In a B2B world, technology services companies sold a product or service TO a business customer. In a B4B world, technology services companies achieve an outcome FOR a business customer.

Your Stakeholder Wants Outcomes

The analogy here is that a hardware customer does not want a drill, she wants a hole in her wall. It is the same with a customer who buys a CRM software solution. A CRM customer wants to improve sales not buy a CRM. Technology services companies need to take on some of the risk in the transaction and help customers achieve some outcome.

Learning and development professionals should do the same thing. Instead of offering training programs, L&D professionals should offer outcomes in the form of improved performance.

Do Your Learning Programs Achieve Outcomes for Your Stakeholders?

A traditional training department follows the old model of delivering training programs to the organization and is held accountable for delivering programs that help people learn new skills (the drill). Rarely are training departments held accountable for contributing to improving performance (hole in the wall). However, if training managers do not adapt, they are going to wake up one morning and a Chief Operating Officer is going to say, “We invest in all these training programs, but productivity has not increased over the past three years. Why are we doing all this training?"

Be Proactive

One way to avoid this potentially very bad morning is to be proactive about taking on some of the risk by helping your stakeholders achieve outcomes. One way to start thinking this way is to conduct a brief exercise. Here is that exercise:

Review the examples below, then complete the sentence below the list.
  • My stakeholders don’t want a sales training program, they want to improve sales.
  • My stakeholders don’t want conflict management training, they want the number of HR complaints to fall.
  • My stakeholders don’t want leadership development training, they want team productivity to increase.
My customers don’t want ______________, they want _______________________.

If you can answer this question, and then figure out a way to help your customers achieve what they want, you will continue to deliver value to your stakeholders. If you do not, you may receive a call from your COO one morning that you will not like.

Please share one of your sentences below in the comments and let us know what your stakeholders want.

This post originally appeared on the humancapitalist blog.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Notes: The Design of Everyday Things

Here are the notes I took on the book, The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman

Cushard Consequential The Design of Everything Things Donald Norman
  1. It's not your fault
  2. Design Principles
    1. Conceptual models
    2. Feedback - feedback is critical
    3. Constraints - constrain the choices
    4. Affordances
  3. The Power of observations
Affordance: The perceived and actual properties of the thing, primarily those fundamental properties that determine just how the thing could possible be used.

Principles of Design:
A good conceptual model - allows us to predict the effect of our actions

Seven stages of Action
  1. Forming the goal
  2. Forming the Intention
  3. Specifying the action
  4. Executing the action
  5. Perceiving the state of the world
  6. Interpreting the state of the world
  7. Evaluating the outcome
The seven stages of Action as design aids (boiled down)
  • Visibility
  • a good conceptual model
  • good mappings - relationships between actions and results
  • Feedback
Knowledge in the head

Knowledge in the world

Precise Behavior can emerge from imprecise knowledge for 4 reasons
  • Information is in the world
  • Great precision is not required
  • natural constraints are present
  • Cultural constraints are present
  • To Reduce / Eliminate Errors - Designers Should: 
Understand the causes of error and design to minimize those causes
Make it possible to reverse actions - to undo or make it harder to do what cannot be reversed
Make it easier to discover the errors that do occur, and make them easier to correct
Change the attitude towards errors - think of an object user as attempting to do a task, getting there by imperfect approximations. Don't think of the user as making errors; think of the action as approximations of what is desired
How to deal with errors:

Forcing Functions: a physical constraint - where the actions are constrained so that failure at one stage prevents the next step from happening.

Design Should:
  • Make it easy to determine what actions are possible at any moment (make use of constraints)
  • Make things visible, including conceptual models of the system, the alternative actions, and the results of actions
  • Make it easy to evaluate the current state of the system
  • Follow natural mappings between intentions and the required actions; between actions and the resulting effects, and between the information that is visible and the interpretations of the system state.
Seven Design Principles
  1. Use both knowledge in the world and knowledge in the head
  2. Simplify the structure of tasks
  3. Make things visible, bridge the gulfs of execution and evaluation
  4. Get the mapping right
  5. Exploit the power of constraints, both natural and artificial
  6. Design for error
  7. When all else fails, standardize

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How to Leverage the Power of MOOCs Develop People in Your Organization

As more organizations are becoming dispersed across multiple locations, it becomes increasingly difficult to gather people together for learning experiences. Virtual classroom technology does make this easier, but it still requires everyone one to be logged in at the same time. This is not always easy across time zones, and people are just plain busy.

An example of a huge challenge among learning and development professionals is facilitating leadership development programs among an audience of managers in multiple locations. Let's be honest, managers are famous for getting so caught up in their "fires" that they drop out of classes for something more urgent. But what if managers can attend a course on their own time, and use downtime to engage in discussions with peer managers, attend lectures, and perform assignments?

"Can this really be done?" you ask. It can. And we go to academia for the solution. The Massive Open Online Course (MOOC).

What the Heck is a MOOC?

A MOOC is a massive open online course that universities use to teach free college courses to anyone in the world. Universities from all over the world are offering free courses on a wide variety of topics. Although there is structure to a MOOC and assignments have deadlines, learners can complete assignments on their own time from anywhere in the world. If you live in Paris, Texas or Paris, France, you can attend a Stanford course, with a Stanford professor, based on the content of the course offered on campus. How cool is that?

If you have people in your organization who are located in multiple locations but need to learn the same skills, MOOCs may be a solution you should consider.

How to Leverage MOOCs In Your Organization

The easiest way to leverage MOOCs in your organization is to find an existing course that is relevant to your business and share it with specific people on your team. Coursera is a great place to start as they have courses on a wide-variety of topics. A company in New Zealand is using a MOOC to develop a new skill among some of its designers.

Another way to leverage the power of MOOCs in your organization is to design one yourself. After you select a relevant topic for a dispersed audience, you will want to design your MOOC using the following structural elements:
  1. A Lecture
  2. Reading Assignment
  3. Discussion
  4. Assignment
  5. 4-6 Weekly Topics

Emerging Delivery Method

MOOCs are an emerging learning method and will require some experimenting if you are willing to give it a try. If you do, you are breaking ground and providing a learning opportunity for your audience where one has not existed. Your high performers will likely appreciate the opportunity.

This post originally appeared on the humancapitalist blog. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

My Notes: The Innovator's Dilemma

This is just a few passages from the book that I underlined and then took down in a notebook as I re-read The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail by Clayton Christensen. 

The research reported in this book supports this view: It shows that in the cases of well-managed firms, such as those cited above, “good” management was the most powerful reason they failed to stay on top of their industries. Precisely “because” these firms listened to their customers, invested aggressively in new technologies that would provide their customers more and better products of the sort they wanted, and because they carefully studied market trends and systematically allocated investment capital to innovations that promised the best returns, they lost their positions of leadership.

Why good companies fail: 
Cushard Consequential: My Notes of the The Innovator's Dilemma Clayton Christensen

These three dilemma’s:
  • Sustaining versus disruptive technologies
  • Trajectories of market need versus technology improvement
  • Disruptive technologies versus rational investments
Principles of Disruptive Innovations:
  • Companies depend on customers and investors for resources
  • Small markets don’t solve the growth needs of large companies
  • Markets that don’t exist cannot be analyzed
  • An organization’s capabilities define its disabilities
  • Technology supply may not be equal to market demand
Managerial Decision-making and Disruptive Technological Change

Step 1: Disruptive technologies were first developed within established firms
Step 2: Marketing personnel then sought reactions from their lead customers
Step 3: Established firms set up the pace of sustaining technological development
Step 4: New companies were formed, and markets for the disruptive technologies were founded by trial and error
Step 5: The entrants moved upmarket
Step 6: Established firms belatedly jumped on the bandwagon to defend their customer base

Five fundamental principles of organizational nature that managers in the successful firms consistent recognized and harnessed. The firms that lost their battles with disruptive technologies chose to ignore or fight them. These principles are:
  • Resource dependence: customers effectively control the patters of resource allocation in well-run companies
  • Small markets don’t solve the growth needs of large companies
  • The ultimate uses or applications for disruptive technologies are unknowable in advance. Failure is an intrinsic step toward success
  • Organizations have capabilities that exist independently of the capabilities of the people who work within them. Organizations’ capabilities reside in their processes and their values - and the very processes and values that constitute their core capabilities within the current business model also define their disabilities when confronted with disruption.
  • Technology supply may not equal market demand. The attributes that make disruptive technologies unattractive in established markets often are the very ones that constitute their greatest value in emerging markets
I liked this part of the book - offers a way for managers to act.

In Chapter 4 at the end.

How did the successful managers harness these principles to their advantage?

They embedded projects to develop and commercialize disruptive technologies within organizations whose customers needed them. When managers aligned a disruptive innovation with the “right” customers, customer demand increased the probability that the innovation would get the resources it needed.

They placed projects to develop disruptive technologies in organizations small enough to get excited about small opportunities and small wins.

They planned to fail early and inexpensively in the search for the market for a disruptive technology. 

They found that their markets generally coalesced through an iterative process of trial, learning, and trial again.
They utilized some of the resources of the mainstream organization to address the disruption, but they were careful not to leverage its processes and values. They created different ways of working within an organization whose values and cost structure were turned to the disruptive task at hand.
When commercializing disruptive technologies, they found or developed new markets that valued the attributed of the disruptive products, rather than search for a technological breakthrough so that the disruptive product could compete as a sustaining technology in mainstream markets.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Scrum it: Improve Your Team’s Performance with Agile Sprint Planning

It seems like everyone is talking about agile methods, which makes it easy to find tons of articles and more than a few books on how learning professionals can and should use agile methodologies to improve the productivity and the quality of their work. In fact, a Google search of Agile Learning Design produces four million results.

The trouble I find is that most of these articles are long on abstract ideas and short on concrete methods for getting work done. In a previous post, I describe one very specific agile methodology called Scrum. In the post I focus on a foundational element of Scrum, which is the Sprint. A sprint is nothing more than a window of time during which a specific body of work is completed.

Speaking from experience, learning and development teams can have long term projects that show no visible progress. Since it can easily take many weeks or even months build training courses with no visible progress, stakeholders are left to wonder what the L&D department is doing all day long. Using Scrum and breaking up your projects into short sprints, you can increase accountability and visible progress towards a project goals.

In this post, I would like to focus on how to plan a sprint, so you can increase visible progress to your stakeholders and hold your team accountable to progress.

Planning is the Exact Opposite of a Waste of Time…Even in a Fast Moving Environment

There is a quote from Dwight D. Eisenhower I have always liked, In preparation for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. I like this quote because to makes clear a paradox that we should be OK with. On the one hand, planning is vital to success. Planning enables us to get organized, prepares us for the future, and even helps us visualize how we will perform. On the other hand, once the project begins, things can change and the actual plan can (and should) be thrown out the window because it no longer applies.

This paradox makes us uncomfortable, but in fact, we should embrace it. The fact that we go through a planning process, increases the chances we will succeed, even if the resulting plan gets changed.

This is why sprint planning in Scrum is so important. So now that we understand why, let’s talk about how to plan a sprint.

Sprint Planning

Here is the scenario. Your team has been asked to deliver a new leadership development program in the next six months. Instead of planning all of the work over the six months (or just diving right in with no planning at all), you would break up the work into six, monthly sprints each with a unique set of tasks that need to be completed.

Let’s start with the first sprint. You gather your team, tell them you need to deliver a new leadership development program in six months. But instead of planning the entire project at once, you set a one month deadline to completed a specific number of tasks on your way to the ultimate goal of delivering a leadership development program. This is sprint number one.

With your team, you make a list of everything you think you can achieve in that one month and get everyone to agree on that list. For example, the list could include:
  • Evaluate existing content that could be re-used and decide whether to reuse it.
  • Determine the need. Interview 12 senior managers and 4 key executives. Compile notes and summarize the need.
  • Evaluate vendor solutions.
  • Complete a build/buy analysis, and make a build/buy decision.
There it is. You make a list like this, and then argue over what you can and cannot realistically finish during the sprint. The critical part of this process is making a realistic list of tasks that is doable, that everyone on the team agrees to, and that are valuable enough to meet your business need.

If you get caught up in the terminology of agile methodologies with words like scrum and sprint planning, agile can sound abstract and complicated, but it is actually quite the opposite. It is a simple process designed to bring clarity and value to work and brings people together to collaborate on defining, planning, and executing the work. This increases the chances that the work gets done on time and at a quality level people expect.

Your Challenge

I challenge you to adopt sprints and sprint planning into your work of managing human capital, talent management, and learning and development teams. You will gain in two ways. First, you will increase collaboration and team work. Second, you will increase accountability on your team. Third, you will know, with heightened clarity, what work is getting done and when it is getting done, so you can easily and visibly report progress and results to your stakeholders.

If you use any agile process like this on your team, I would love to here about it. Share your process in the comments below.

This blog originally appeared on the humancapitalist blog

Monday, February 1, 2016

What To Do When a Good Webinar Goes Bad

On Tuesday, January 26, I hosted a webinar titled, SaaS Training Product and Pricing Strategies. We had a special guest, Lynn Marie Viduya, Sr. Director of Global Education Services at BlackLine. Lynn is a software industry veteran specializing in enterprise customer education at Silicon Valley companies like Siebel Systems, NetSuite, and HostAnalytics.

We organized this webinar to help our audience think about how to package and pricing training. About one third into the webinar, we started taking questions from the audience (We like interactive webinars. That’s how we roll). We took perhaps a dozen questions and based on those, there was a lit of interest in how to sell training as a subscription.

In the last 20 minutes of the webinar, there were a lot of questions, and it was getting pretty exciting. I thought the webinar was going great. And judging by the participation, the audience did to.


When a Good Webinar Goes Bad Bill Cushard
Image Source:

About 10 minutes before the end of the webinar, the network at the office cut out and disconnected me from the webinar. 

It just ended.

In mid-sentence. 

Dead air.


Lynn, a technology education professional (a.k.a., a pro), understood the problem and wrapped up the webinar so that it did not seem like such a disaster.

Thank you, Lynn.

At this point the question was, “What should we do now?” Ignore it? Follow up? Send people an email? Call our PR department and strategize about our messaging so we can consistent? Good grief.

We didn’t do any of that. 

Within about 15 minutes, we sent a simple email acknowledging the abrupt end to the webinar. I won’t bore you with the entire email, even though it was short. But I will show you the subject line.

     Subject: Yes, I got disconnected.

We intentionally wanted that email to be a authentic. And real. And not better way to be real than to use that subject line. 

Here are some results of that email:

  • 64% opened it.
  • 3 people replied to the email with comments like this:

“I also facilitate webinars, so I know how unexpected things can happen. The webinar was great."

“Thank you for the webinar this morning on pricing! It was very insightful and definitely worthwhile."

“Thank you for today’s webinar. It was helpful."

Music to my ears.

I think the lesson here is this: Stuff like this happens. It is best to acknowledge it. Own it. Be a little self-deprecating. And respond right away.

What is your take away? 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to Implement Agile on Your (Well, Any) Team

Agile development is a popular topic. So popular that even learning and development teams are talking about it. Robert Winter of CA Technologies raises this question in a preview to his Performance Improvement Conference talk in mid-April, “Is Agile Compatible with Human Performance Technology (HPT)?” And since I am an HPT’er at heart, I believe the answer is, “Yes.”

The article begs the question, “How can I implement agile development methodologies in my learning design team? This is not an easy question to answer since there are so many ways to implement agile. Scrum is one way. And when you start to learn about Scrum, you realize how applicable it is to developing learning content. I thought I would summarize the major events of Scrum, which are detailed in the Scrum Guide. Once you learn about scrum, you will go back to your team and say, “Hey, we gotta do this!"

Here are the five major events in Scrum.

The Sprint

A Sprint is a window of time (one-month, for example) during which a specified body of work is completed and, at the end of which, a feature, product, or some other “product increment” is created. In the world of learning design, a Sprint could produce and added module to an existing course or it could produce updates to an existing enterprise software training course when the software has had a major update. Once a Sprint is completed, a new Sprint begins and tackles new tasks. Sprints repeats until a product is completed or in perpetuity depending on the product.

Here is how it would work on your learning design team:

Spring Planning

All the work that needs to be done in a Sprint is listed during a Sprint Planning process. Let’s say you need to update a software training course because a new version of the software is being released. A Sprint Planning process would list everything that needs to be changed in the course. Then decisions will be made about what can get done during the Sprint time frame. This is the hard part because it is unlikely that everything can get done during the time frame you have. In other words, maybe you can replace all of the screen shots, re-write scripts, re-record the audio, but you are not sure if you can redesign the course template, like you have always wanted. During the Sprint Planning process you must make a decision to not update the template during this Sprint, but that you will do it during the next Sprint. The key is that everyone on the team is clear about what will get done during that Sprint and who will do it.

Daily Scrum

Once a Sprint begins, the team holds a daily, 15-minute meeting to discuss what will happen that day. This process keeps everyone aligned on the goals of the Sprint and keeps work moving along. The Daily Scrum is a chance to raise issues, remove blockers, and hold team members accountable. For example, during the Wednesday morning Daily Scrum, someone raises the issue that they cannot capture screen shots because the product team is still working on the reporting engine. This can impact your ability to capture the screen shots and get them into the course update during this Sprint because the product team will not finalize the screen layout until next week. This is when the team lead needs to figure out how to remove this blocker so the work can get done or make the hard choice to have updated screens during this Sprint. The point of the Daily Scrum is to raise these issues as they happen (each morning) so nothing takes the team by surprise at the last minute.

Sprint Review

A Sprint Review is a meeting that is held at the end of a Sprint to review what tasks were “Done” and “Not Done” during the Sprint. This meeting is a chance to review and demonstrate what was accomplished during the Sprint with key stakeholders. It is also a chance to discuss what was not accomplished and how and whether those tasks will be addressed in a future Sprint. Let’s continue the example of the screen shot problem that was raised in one of the Daily Scrums. It turns out, the team was unable to update the screen shots in the new reporting engine because the product team was unable to finalize the page design in time for your team to update the course. The Scrum team would discuss how and why this happened with the expressed purpose of getting the screen shots updated at the next possible time, which could be in the next Sprint or further in the future. This depends on how the product team is progressing on the new reporting engine. By taking the time to do a Sprint Review, the team can communicate to key stakeholders what got done, what did not get done, and why.

Sprint Retrospective

Whereas a Sprint Review is tactical, a Sprint Retrospective is more strategic and a chance for the team to “inspect itself” and make improvements for the future. Things that can be covered during the Retrospective are how the last Sprint went in terms of “people, relationships, process, and tools.” It is also a chance to discuss plans for making improvements in these areas. In the example of the reporting engine screen shots, a Retrospective may uncover that this issue should have been raised earlier. This way, the team leaders may have been able to talk to the product team sooner and get the design completed on time. Another possible outcome of the Retrospective could have been that the team discovers that they are much more dependent on the timeline of the product team than they thought, so when conducting future Sprint Planning sessions, they may want to invite a member of the product team to help guide the planning process. That could be a way to improve Sprint Planning and improve what can get completed during Sprints.

Is Scrum for You?

Pretty easy, right? As it states in the Scrum Guide, Scrum is easy to understand, but difficult to master. I recommend reading the Scrum Guide. It will change the way you think about how to get work done on your team. Even if you don’t adopt a full-blown Scrum process, you will find yourself adopting parts, like the Daily Scrum, Sprints, and Sprint Planning, for example.

This blog post originally appeared on the humancapitalist blog.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Two Books Aspiring Leaders Should Read This Summer

Summer is winding down, and so is the summer reading list. You have finished yours, right? We all have high hopes of reading booking during the summer only to discover that work did not slow down and the kids, who are not in school, need a bit more of our attention than we planned. Summer has no sole claim to the reading list.

Fall is a great time to read a book or two. The kids are back in school, the weather is cooling, and you are likely spending less time outside.

I would like to recommend two books that I found to be good reads, educational, and cover two critical skills that just about everyone could improve: technology and leadership. The first book is written for the non-techie who wants to learn what modern technology is capable of doing, especially software. And if software is eating the world everyone in business should understand what software can do. The second book is about leadership, and specifically how great leaders multiply genius. What a great way to look at leadership.

Here is a brief discussion of each book.

How to Speak Tech: the Non-Techie’s Guide to Technology Basics in Business

by Vinay Trivedi
Bill Cushard Blog How to Speak Tech Book

It is difficult to think about a role in business today in which you do not need to be tech savvy. This is certainly true for learning leaders who must implement learning management systems, eLearning, performance support, social learning, simulations, and mobile learning to name only a few learning technologies. If you are not tech savvy, I suggest you read How to Speak Tech: the Non-Techie’s Guide to Technology Basics in Business by Vinay Trivedi. Your goal in being tech savvy is not to be a software developer or networking engineer, but to know what web and cloud technologies can do so you can speak intelligently with technologists to get your learning technology projects completed. This book will get you there.

Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter

by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown
Bill Cushard Blog Multipliers Book

If I had to make a short list of leadership books that all managers should read, the list would include Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown. If fact, in my previous learning direction role, this is exactly what I did. I pass out the book to ever single leader, then I brought the Wiseman Group in to speak to the entire leadership team of nearly 80 executives. By reading Multipliers, you will learn that great leaders get more out of people than bad leaders, and you will learn how they do it. Great leaders multiply genius. Don’t you want your leadership team to do that?

I know, everyone has a recommending reading list, and these are just two books that I find easy to read and educational. I think you will agree. If you are a manager and have a little discretionary budget at work, buy a copy of each of these books for your team. Your team will appreciate it.

If you have read these books, what did you think of them? What other books would you recommend for a fall reading list? Share your ideas in the comments below.

This blog originally appeared on the humancapitalist blog.