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Essential skills to work and collaborate in 21st century... part 3 (Behavior)

Assigning global labels to the people of a particular country is over stereotyping. But while it may be careless to overgeneralize about the people from a single place, it would be naive to deny the existence of significant, overall differences between places and cultures (source: Robert Levine).

Deep down each culture represents a set of values which “easily” can be translated into how we work together. Do we then need everyone to understand each culture they work together with?

No, it’s not crucial you know everything… but basic stuff is important no matter culture you come from - Openness and Readiness to explore outside your comfort zone. It is usually our own comfort zone and lack of understanding and not our culture history that prevent us to work efficiently together.

So what tools do project managers need to survive in the 21st century adding behavior (culture) to the plate and actually eliminate status meetings?

Essential skills to work and collaborate in 21st century... part 2 (Technology skills)

Someone once told me: “Technology doesn’t allow you to have better meetings. It allows you to have worse meetings more easily”.

And it’s absolutely correct; if you don’t engage your team with a purpose, they will lose interest, and start working on something else (I do too...). This is not new (unfortunately) - even in physical meetings, this old adage still holds true. But in a virtual setting, it is much easier for people to work on something else.

I will not blame them - actually, I will blame the project manager for not doing his or her homework. Why them again?? - you can’t be serious? Oh yes: the project manager’s finest job is to manage team members in the most time efficient way - and this includes managing the environment where the meeting takes place.

Essential skills to work and collaborate in 21st century... part 1 (Facilitation skills)

Well, we have all become victims of globalization, in the sense that none of us have been properly trained in how to work efficiently across borders. So we all need to add some new skill dimensions, in order to survive in the 21st century. I'd prefer to upgrade our skills “the Matrix-way”, but unfortunately, we probably have to wait a couple of decades for that to be possible.

In my opinion, project managers are the ones who especially need to succeed in this, because they are the change agents in an organization. So lets talk about project managers.

Design Thinking in Education - a comment to an article "INFOGRAPHIC: Designing Service"

No doubt that "Design Thinking" has become a very hot topic in the educational space. Stanford has been good in promoting it and grow attention around it.

I attended at Stanford last year and with my MG Taylor experiences and my academic experiences I weren't that impressed. Nevertheless Stanford build a foundation for other universities around the world to think much more interdisciplinary which is great.

Another thing about is that their primarily focus is on physical product development (engineering) and not so much about designing services. The article focus more how to apply it to "service learning" which I see some challenges in.

All the different stakeholders in Education... why don't people try to understand each other?

As a student, I thought everything was uncoordinated across the teachers. Teachers were unprepared and usually used slides which were more than 10 years old. As a student, I thought learning happen in the class room… I was wrong.

As an academic counselor, I met frustrated students due to poor treatment from teachers and lack of support from the student administration. But in several cases it was because the student rarely understood the curriculum. I thought that students always were right... I was wrong.

What prevents us to work and collaborate?

A study performed by Siemens Enterprise Communications Global Research in sep/oct 2012) showed that:
  • 43% of users feel frustrated and overwhelmed by team collaboration and communication technologies that they work with 
  • 75% find their team members more likely to get distracted during ‘virtual’ meetings
  • 34% find remote team members often ‘loafing’ – not doing their share
  • 44% find it as productive as face-to-face teamwork
  • 72% would find teamwork easier if collaboration included video

If you look closer to Siemens’ survey it’s only understate that companies need to apply one Unified Communication technology which off course Siemens can provide. In my opinion it’s not the essential - it’s just another technology.

Why do we collaborate with peers?

The question is rather simple and should be straightforward. But in many cases it isn’t. And why is that? Lack of objective? common language? lack of will? afraid of losing power? How to leverage the most value from your partnership by collaborating more effectively is a question I see unanswered and unsolved.

  • “Technology doesn’t allow you to have better meetings.  It allows you to have worse meetings more easily.” (IT executive)
In the past, a stable of team members were co-located in one site and could meet face-to-face daily. And when people are around each other social interaction happens and actions, issues, disagreements, decisions gets solved in the hallway, at lunch or at the coffee machine. Then, increasing globalization and networked communications enabled a more distributed organization model over the past two decades. 

How to escape education's death valley by Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson outlines 3 principles crucial for the human mind to flourish -- and how current education culture works against them. In a funny, stirring talk he tells us how to get out of the educational "death valley" we now face, and how to nurture our youngest generations with a climate of possibility.

Changing Education Paradigms

Changing the education is not new - everyone is talking about it but few are really doing something drastic about it. One of my favor is Sir Ken Robinson

This is how I picture teaching and facilitation - and found a technology to support most aspects

An idea of  “Virtual facilitation and/or education”:

  1. Connecting facilitator/educators physical whiteboard to Web Conferencing’s whiteboard.
  2. Possibility to add up to three cameras which can follow a sensor placed on the facilitator/educator.
  3. Provide a facilitator/educator a multi-monitor option to see all participants by face and if a participant has raised a hand.
  4. Provide an option to add a tablet via Bluetooth to the computer as an extended feature for the class in order for the participant to view the content on the laptop and view the presenter live on the tablet or vice versa.
  5. Provide a tool for facilitator/educators to automatically divide all participants into groups and in the shown example divided by 4. Also make it possible for the facilitator/educator to add a specific time span for the exercise.
  6. Automatically create and launch a Web Conferencing breakout session for each group which has been automatically created in no. 5. If something fails there will be send an email to each group member with a direct link to the breakout session.
  7. In the breakout session add a tab where the assignment for the group work is loaded. The assignment has been provided by the facilitator/educator in advance. 
  8. Participants can raise questions to the facilitator/educator all the time via a chat function which can be public or private and if need the facilitator/educator can join a breakout session to listen in.
  9. Make it possible for the facilitator/educator to close down the session with a single click and make all participant return to the main session. 
  10. Create a shared tablet whiteboard session in group work based on the Bluetooth connection (see no. 4) which enables the participant to use a pen on the tablet to draw or write on a common whiteboard simultaneously.
  11. A social forum like WebEx Social, Yammer and Jive or similar will be the place to continue the offline dialogue about a the presented topic with links to recording, assignments, comments during the session, participant list and slide deck.