Why Worry About Social Media?

Ever wondered how to answer someone that asks what’s the value of all this social networking stuff? Or why would anyone ever use Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, You Tube, etc. and how do they relate to each other?

You can play the role of an expert and develop your own answer by solving the case in this posting. A great way to learn by doing!

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Introduction: Ever wondered how to answer someone that asks what’s the value of all this social networking/media stuff?  Or why would anyone ever use Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, You Tube, etc. and how do they relate to each other?

Well, here’s a way to learn by playing the role of an expert and advising someone else asking the same basic question.  The case below challenges you to test your creativity and advise someone on the impact of changes being caused as a result of social networking. In this case it’s your friends (a brother and sister) who as you’ll see in the scenario don’t understand social media, but are being impacted by it in a real way.

This scenario is based on one of the important types of change—the need to adapt to changes in the environment caused by events largely outside of your control. In this case, the change is because of social media.

To play:

  • Read the scenario below.
  • Then develop some advice.
  • If you want to share your ideas, post your response on Twitter #KAWConsulting so others can respond and share their ideas as well.

  • Better yet, share this challenge with others (friends, colleagues, etc.)  and get them to respond as well.  (It can be the start of a collaborative learning community).

  • Or, leave a comment.  (Comments will be public so be advised that others viewing this posting will be able to see them).

Scenario:

Your friends own and run a party store. The store has been in their family for 30 years. Their father started it back in the 80’s, and now they run it. The key to being successful for so long has been based on:

– Location (it’s in a suburban strip mall with easy access from several local single family house developments).

– Carrying the right inventory—supplies for birthday parties, holidays, graduations, weddings, etc.

– Affordable prices

– Marketing—they have display ads in the local phone directory, advertise in the community paper, support school events, etc.

Lately their business is going down, while they’ve noticed that one of their competitors seems awfully busy. This concerns them—along with the fact that their income is taking quite a nose dive.

Consequently, your friends hired a mystery shopper and find out that their competitor is using some strange new techniques, that frankly they had never really heard of. Apparently, the competitor has something called a Blog and writes articles on everything you need to know to plan your party or event. They seem to have fans on something called Facebook, and have created a community of enthusiastic followers, that always seem to know about their specials. They even are using something called Twitter to communicate with an even wider network. What’s more, they’ve even hired someone called an Event Specialist, who can help customers plan your party so it’s just right.

Getting somewhat frantic, your friends call you, because you always seem to be on the leading edge of everything, and ask for advice on what to do. Even though they don’t know much about the new technology, or how to use it, they know they need to do something fast and right.

Based on what you’ve heard, your gut tells you that the changes involved may be enormous and involve a lot more than just technology.

Challenge: Assume that you’re the friend. What advice would you give about:

– What your friends need to learn.

– What they need to do.

– What challenges will they face?

– What changes will they need to make?

– Who will be impacted by the changes?

– What do they need to do to implement them successfully?

– Other advice you think important.

Resources: A couple of Blogs with helpful information–look for ideas on how to use Social Media as Marketing Tool.

http://www.modernmediainstitute.com/

http://mashable.com/

Question for further reflection: What approach can you use to help your organization learn how best to use social media?

Contact Information

E-Mail KAWCONSULTING@COMCAST.NET

Copyright 2010 KAW Consulting.  All rights reserved.

Planning for a Major Change Initiative

For a major change initiative to succeed, it’s vital that the planning for it addresses key strategic, leadership and operational issues. Learn important key questions to consider when planning a major change initiative.

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Note:   This post provides a list of questions that need to be considered when planning a major change initiative. For assistance in developing a plan based on these and other questions unique to your organization, contact KAW Consulting directly.

Introduction:  For a major change initiative to succeed, it’s vital that the planning for it addresses key strategic, leadership and operational issues.  Projects that fail often don’t sufficiently address these areas and find that they didn’t have a broad enough definition of the project’s scope, didn’t include all the necessary activities, or have the needed resources to make the initiative a success.

Following is a list of questions to ask when developing the strategy for a major change initiative to help ensure your plan addresses the needed areas.  

Strategic

  • Is there a clear Vision for the initiative that clearly states why it’s being done, the reasons why it’s critical for the organization’s continued success, the benefit of doing it, and the probable impact of it on the organization?

  • Can the Highest Executive in the organization clearly explain this?

  • Is the definition of the initiative’s scope broad enough to encompass what really needs to be done?

Example: Does the initiative require a re-examination and redesign of existing business processes as well as integration of new technology? Will there be major impacts on staffing, relationships between departments, need for better teamwork, etc. as a result of the initiative?

  • Does each member of Executive Leadership have a clear understanding of the initiative’s purpose, strategic intent and true impact on their segment of the organization, and their role in making this a success? Many times this is only vaguely understood and the result is a lack of communication down the line that this effort is “critical” and the needed attention be paid to it as one of the “key things we’re working on”.

  • Is this initiative’s success reflected in key organization strategic goals and performance criteria at the executive level?

  • Are the initiative’s resource requirements understood and included in the organization’s capital and operating expense budgets?

  • Is the status of the initiative included in the organization’s key monitoring systems that evaluate progress against key strategic goals?

Leadership

  • Who has overall responsibility for implementation of this initiative? Is this clearly communicated and understood by the organization’s Executive and Senior Leadership?

  • Does this responsibility cover all the needed areas such as business impact identification and process redesign, user training, system implementation and adoption planning versus just system development and testing?

  • Does the initiative have a Leadership Team composed of representatives from impacted departments/stakeholder areas with responsibility and accountability for successful implementation in their Department?

  • Do these Departmental representatives clearly understand their roles and responsibilities? Is the success of this initiative a key part of their performance criteria?

  • Do the Departmental representatives have enough organizational authority to ensure the initiative gets the needed attention in their department/area?

  • Do the various Departments and Stakeholders have this initiative and its success as one of their key performance goals? Are the necessary resources included in their Departmental operating budgets?

Operational

  • Does the initiative’s overall project plan include all the major activity areas such as business impact analysis, process redesign evaluation, staffing and culture change needs, communications, implementation planning, user training, etc. versus just system design, testing and implementation?

  • Key Question to Answer: What are the areas someone might say “This is clearly a major area we overlooked in our planning…” if the project failed. These are all activity areas that need to be in your plan.

Example: Departments did not really understand the impact on their operations and proactively get ready for it, and experienced substantial difficulties once new technology started up. When looking at the initiative’s overall plan after the fact, it didn’t include enough attention to departmental business impact analysis as a major phase.

Training on a Shoestring

Learn how to provide your employees with the training and tools they need without spending a lot of money by creatively using what most of you already have at your fingertips to develop high value training materials and application guides that you can put on your employees’ computer desktop by simply sending them out as e-mail.

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KAW Consulting · Wilmington, DE ·  302-479-7855 · kawconsulting@comcast.net

Training on a Shoestring

Note: For examples of materials developed in the format discussed below, see www.kawconsulting.com and click on any of our Manager’s Toolkit offerings.

During periods of economic stress, your organization’s success is extremely dependent on your employees’ use of key business skills.  Yet, even though critical, during an economic crunch, many organizations cut their training efforts dramatically due to the belief that spending money on training is far too expensive and an unjustifiable use of limited resources when the organization is looking to cut costs as much as possible. 

 As typical as this reaction is, it ignores the reality that during such times employees at all levels often face new challenges requiring new skills—from employees who need to work more collaboratively with other group members or colleagues from other sections, to Supervisors and Managers who suddenly face a whole new host of problems due to dealing with larger staffs and increasingly heavier demands on their time from both above and below. 

 As a Training Manager/Learning Director this presents you with quite a dilemma.  How do you provide your employees with the support they need to learn and apply these new skills in their day to day jobs without spending a lot of money?   The answer lies in creatively using what most of you already have at your fingertips to develop high value materials that you can put on your employees’ computer desktop by simply sending them out as e-mail.  Here’s how:

 Step 1: Think Like an Employee—What Would You Want if You Were in Their Shoes?

As a first step, start by pretending that you’re the employee facing new job expectations, and are looking for something that would not only teach you what you need to know about the key new skills you need to use, but also provide you with tools you can use to apply these skills each time you use them. To find the right solution, you’d probably ask yourself the following types of questions:

  • What am I expected to do that’s different and challenging?
  • What new skills does that take?
  • What do I need to show me how to use these skills in my job?  

 The answers usually cause you to look for something that “shows me what I need to do, the steps I need to take, and has some application tools handy to refer to each time I need them.” 

 That’s why employees have always loved checklists, “cheat sheets” and simple handbooks outlining the critical steps to apply a new procedure.  That’s why so often these items are the most popular take aways from a formal classroom training program.  As a Training Manager, you can take advantage of this natural tendency and develop materials in this format.

 Step 2: Ask People What They Are Dealing With and What Do They Need  To Know?

The best way to find out what challenges people need help dealing with is to ask.  Get some people in similar positions together and ask them questions like:

  • “What’s changed about your job during the last few months?”
  • “What things are the most challenging for you?”
  • “What’s the most frustrating?”

 Their answers will quickly point you to some common skills that people in that type of position need help with. 

 For example, ask a group of Supervisors or Managers the above questions and you may hear answers like:

  • “I have to spend most of my time in meetings, and many aren’t productive.”
  • “I’m not supposed to do the work myself, but I’m responsible for making sure it’s done right.”
  • “I’m on all these special project teams, and we’re struggling getting things done.”
  • “I’m split in 50 different directions.”

 Answers like indicate that you should concentrate your efforts on providing support with things like:

  • Designing and running better meetings
  • Basic delegation skills
  • Basic team project skills
  • Time management

 If you do this for each of the major types of positions in your organization, you will soon have a good handle on the most important type of support you can provide each group.

 Step 3: What to Put in Your Materials

As mentioned previously, employees put a high value on easy to use checklists, and simple handbooks that show them how to do their challenging tasks.   Consequently, you want to develop your materials in this type of format.  Possible topics to include are:

  • Basic information on the skill such as a definition, when to use it, etc.
  • Basic success ingredients and pitfalls to avoid
  • Frameworks or checklists that cover the basic steps to use each time they apply the skill. 

 Step 4: Format Your Materials So They Are Very Easy To Use. 

Write in simple easy to understand language.  Make liberal use of lists and bullet points, so the information can also serve as an application guide. Include a separate section just for forms and checklists. Be sure to include a Table of Contents.  Include hyperlinks to take employees directly to the material they need.

 Most materials can probably be developed using your company’s word processing program. You can protect their integrity by putting them into a PDF file.

 Step 5: Distribute via e-mail.

Many trainers overlook how easy it is to get materials in the hands of employees.  Simply send them out via e-mail with the appropriate cover letter containing instructions on how to use and store them in a dedicated folder on their computer’s desktop for easy access.  Once they have a folder set up, you can add additional materials as needed.  You could, of course, also have the materials accessible on your organization’s intranet if you have one.

 Step 6: Use Materials as the Basis for Further Training

Once distributed, you can also use the materials as the backbone for further training.  One easy way to do so is to conduct any needed sessions by conference call or web conferencing software.  Participants can access the materials on their computer during the session.  For example, you might conduct a session with a group of employees on how to use the materials in some real life situations they face and bring to the call. You can also conduct sessions for Managers on how to coach their reports on how to use the materials on a day to day basis.

 In sum, these methods and some creativity on your part can help you avoid the “we don’t have any money” trap that derails so many training efforts, and start providing much welcome support to your organization’s employees during very difficult times. 

Copyright © 2009 by KAW Consulting.  All Rights Reserved.