Great new video from Microsoft Dynamics on reigniting passion for work. I just had to share it with you!
I’m not talking about Microsoft 8; we’ll have that conversation later! Multiple Intelligences (MI) is another Learning Styles theory and also happens to be my favorite. Howard Gardner published his MI theories in 1983 with updates as his research continues. Gardner’s theory explains how everyone has specific intelligences. Scholars have discovered that not everyone learns the same which can affect one’s professional and personal life. Learning needs to be accessible in multiple ways to ensure understanding, retention and adoption. Use this learning tool to better your life and the lives around you.
Literacy Works has a free MI quiz to find out what your intelligences are. Once you have the results, read on to learn about your MI.
Visual-Spatial: (picture smart) think in terms of physical space, aware of one’s environment, like to draw, read maps and day dream
- Learn best through verbal and physical imagery, drawings, video and multimedia
Bodily-Kinesthetic: (body smart) use the body well, very aware of the body and movement, like to build things by hand, communicate through body language and is touchy-feely
- Learn best through physical activity, role playing, hands-on-learning and building curiosity
Musical: (music smart) sensitive to rhythm and sound, love music and aware of all environmental sounds, prefer to study or work with music in the background
- Learn best making lessons into lyrics or songs and prefer multimedia, music and instruments
Interpersonal: (people smart) understand others, many friends, empathize easily, street smarts
- Learn best in group activities, collaboration, seminars and active discussions
Intrapersonal: (self-smart) understands the self and one’s goals, interests and needs while shying away from others, very in touch with personal feelings, intuitive and may focus on health and exercise
- Learn best through introspection and independent study with books, journaling and privacy
Linguistic: (word smart) speak very effectively with very developed auditory skills, enjoy reading, word games and creating narratives
- Learn best by reading, dialoguing and using computers, books, lectures and multimedia
Logical-Mathematical: (logic smart) tidy, always calculating and reasoning things, conceptual and abstract thinker, sees things in patterns and likes to experiment and solve puzzles
- Learn best using logic games, solving mysteries and investigating topics, must form concepts before handling details
Naturalist: (nature smart) in tune with nature, recognizes and categorizes features of one’s environment, likes to be outside doing activities like gardening, hiking and exploring
- Learn best when relating things to nature, prefers hands-on experiences and being outside
People vary in their intelligences; many have two or three that are dominant. Most educational tactics focus on verbal and logical/mathematical intelligences; imagine how many learners miss out on valuable learning experiences because of this. In order to be effective in your career broaden the methods you use to educate, inform and communicate with others. Next time try interactive media in your presentation or facilitate experiential learning for your clients with a hands-on demonstration.
Keep in mind that MI influences how one understands others, the self, remembers information, carries out tasks, solves problems and gauges success. There is even an Associated Thinking Language that goes along with each MI. Your inner voice and thinking process reflects your MI. If my boss is an Interpersonal MI, she would use words like interact, collaborate, connect, relate and perceive. If she was Logical-Mathematical, she would use words like generalize, abstract, sequence, analyze and classify.
The goal is to learn how to employ each of the intelligences, 8 is great! Empower yourself, use this knowledge to build better relationships and continue lifelong learning…and encourage others to do the same!
Who do you want working on your front line, an engaged employee or someone that may have one foot out the door? Employees need to be aligned with the organization’s vision which increases their motivation to perform and exceed expectations. Right Management conducted a survey recently and discovered that only 43.6% of employees are fully committed to their position and organization (Hartford Business, 2010).
A Gallup poll suggested that 72% of U.S. workers are “sleepwalking through their day.” Here are three ideas to facilitate superior rates of engagement. It will improve the bottom line as well as office morale. Keep in mind that genuine engagement starts at the top through modeling the desired behavior and providing support for middle management that will then be reciprocated to all employees.
- Employees need to know they matter.
This one sounds obvious, but often in the hustle and bustle of deadlines and KPI’s we forget to thank the people that matter most. How do you increase your gratefulness? There are a few ways to show employees that the organization is thankful for their daily efforts. An employee appreciation day is a fun way to incorporate a little fun alongside gratitude. Another way is to promote personal growth, on the job training and fostering an environment of lifelong learning.
- Corporate culture has to reflect the vision and values of the organization.
Branding is externally important, but it is also just as crucial on the inside. Leadership needs to walk the walk. The mission statement isn’t just on the wall in the front office; you can feel it in the air. Pick the three most essential aspects of your culture and focus on them at all levels. For example, Company XYZ decides to concentrate on communication, education and innovation. Now incorporate those values in everything you do!
- Provide flexible work options.
This one is a challenge. Workshifting is the new buzz word and basically means using the web to get your work done anytime, anywhere outside of the traditional office space. It is part of the modern business model based on the amount of time we spend on our computers. According to Telework Research Network, workplace flexibility can save organizations up to $20,000 per employee a year, help recruit quality talent, and increase productivity by 27%. To top that off, work shifters are 55% more engaged than non-shifters.
Here’s the big take away, make sure your employees feel appreciated, ensure your organizational culture reflects the vision and values of the company, and start thinking strategically about where and how your employees work. Can they work 20 hours a week outside the traditional office? Give it a try and see if they become more engaged, increase their productivity and enhance the corporate culture.
Financial management professionals are given job titles such as “Controller” – yet when I talk to these people – their #1 complaint is that things are “out of control” in their organizations.
Control is about having the power to influence or direct peoples’ behaviors.
Usually when someone does something that isn’t desirable, the reactive organizational response goes something like this:
- An emergency meeting is convened to discuss the matter. The goal is to determine “what went wrong”.
- After the determination has been made, options are discussed as to what can be done to insure that the situation doesn’t repeat itself in the future.
- New process “rules” are put into place to prevent the situation from happening again – and these new rules are communicated to the appropriate personnel.
- The situation happens again because people aren’t following the rules.
One thing that I notice consistently is that many of our clients are trying to develop processes that control events that have already taken place. For example, once an Accounts Payable invoice is received from a vendor, it is given to a Department Manager for approval. After this, it goes along with the check to a higher ranking employee for final review – and check signature. The problem is that when it is determined that the order should have never been placed with that vendor, there is very little that can be done about it – because the event took place 30 days ago.
In effect, we are trying to control something that has already taken place.
Process definition is very important to the life of a Controller. Requisitions should be approved PRIOR to the order being placed with the vendor. More time should be spent controlling things BEFORE THEY HAVE ALREADY TAKEN PLACE – RATHER THAN AFTER! So once a good process has been developed, how do you implement it – and make sure the rules are being followed? Microsoft Dynamics GP and CRM – combined with SharePoint – provide the platform and tools to accommodate and enforce the process. Let us show you how it works!
One of the many recommended Agile practices is to conduct retrospectives at different intervals during and after a project. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, in their seminal book Agile Retrospectives, Esther Derby and Diana Larsen define a retrospective as, “a special meeting where the team gathers after completing an increment of work to inspect and adapt the methods and teamwork.” This process of inspection and then adaptation has many salutary effects (listed by Derby and Larson), including improved productivity, improved capability, improved quality, and increased capacity. Here at Pinnacle, as part of our custom development process, we faithfully conduct retrospectives at least once every two iterations and at the end of each release because we have seen these benefits. However, in this post I want to reflect on a few of the less tangible benefits I have observed.
Humility: Inherent in the motivation behind retrospectives is learning what we could do differently in order to make us better. And . . . inherent in the need to do something different is the idea that what we’re currently doing isn’t optimal, or in other words, not right, or in other words . . . wrong (in some sense). In order to learn, we have to be able to admit as a team and/or as individuals that we are sometimes wrong. This, in turn, requires a degree of humility.
Done well, retrospectives result in a virtuous cycle where we admit that something is wrong, we agree to collaborate on ideas for a solution, we chose to enact one of the solutions, see that we have made progress as a result, and are therefore encouraged to go into the next retrospective willing to again humble ourselves and expose issues that need to be dealt with. While this may seem esoteric or more philosophical/psychological than practical, anyone who has ever worked on a team full of prima donnas (or even one) knows what havoc they can wreak on a team’s capacity to complete work. We are fortunate to have a great development team here at Pinnacle that is willing and able to learn from each other—and the retrospectives help remind us of the value of continued humility.
Honesty: By their very nature, retrospectives depend upon and encourage an environment of honest sharing. With all the team members in a room together and pointed questions being asked by the facilitator about issues with which all the members are familiar, it quickly becomes obvious if there are answers that are less than forthright or areas that are being avoided. In essence, the absence of an issue in the discussion serves to highlight its presence like an unseen rock causing the surface of a fast moving river to coruscate in the sunlight. It doesn’t take too many retrospectives for the participants to realize that it is just simpler to bring up every issue directly and deal with it, rather than trying to avoid it or dissemble.
Gut Confirmation: This may be one of the biggest benefits of retrospectives. Because they engender humility and oblige honesty, they become vehicles for efficiently flushing out those difficult-to-put-a-finger on issues that everyone is aware of, but may find difficult to articulate. A group is often able to pinpoint a problem better than any individual can through exploratory conversation, mutual reflection, and working through the process of questioning each other until a satisfactory explanation for the issue emerges.
Although they do take time away from “production,” we have found that retrospectives both internal technical retrospectives, and at least one retrospective per release with our customers, have improved our development process, code quality, and the overall satisfaction of both the development team and our customers.
 Eshter Derby and Dian Larson, Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great, (Raleigh, NC: The Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2006), xv.
In my experience, getting user adoption is the trickiest and the most important part of a successful system implementation. From the beginning, Microsoft has taken care, through the design of its Dynamics CRM product, to help ease user adoption. Perhaps the single best thing they did was \provide “instant familiarity” by designing the user interface to resemble that of Microsoft Outlook. Due to the prevalence of Outlook in most workplaces, users who log into Dynamics CRM for the first time are able to intuitively navigate the interface.
With the release of Rollup 5 for Dynamics CRM 2011, Microsoft has dramatically increased their user adoption appeal by introducing a mini social networking tool which can be added right into CRM called: Microsoft CRM Activity Feed. Think of this like the Facebook or LinkedIn home page that displays updates to the entities you choose to follow. Having just begun testing this tool myself, I can already see huge potential for increased communication, ease of access, and yes, user adoption!
Here is a clip from the application description at the CRM Marketplace:
“Microsoft Dynamics CRM Activity Feeds provide real time notifications and quick sharing of information that the team cares about via quick and short updates. Activity Feeds enable a user to follow and listen in on important activities that take place around the people, accounts, contacts, leads, opportunities or anything else that they care about.
Feed status updates can be posted manually by users or automatically based on pre-defined system rules through workflow. Activity Feeds can also be posted to by external applications through the Microsoft Dynamics CRM web services API. Activity Feeds expose Microsoft Office Lync real-time presence functionality so that users can initiate communication activities such as IM, phone calls and emails.”
So why do I think this will help with user adoption? When I mentioned the Facebook and LinkedIn home pages above, did you immediately get a picture in your head of what it might look like? Well, so will your users. Again, it comes back to familiarity. They will immediately understand what it is for, how they can use it, and begin to find creative uses for the functionality. Today’s end users have begun to expect ease of communication and the free flow of information from their computer applications. Providing this inside an already incredibly powerful business tool will give you the edge you need in gaining user acceptance.
The following are some images of what Microsoft Dynamics CRM Activity Feeds look like. Look Familiar?
This is a blog post about attitude and approach, rather than technique or practices and its origin was in my attendance at the Software Craftsmanship North America (SCNA) conference in Chicago this past November. As always, the SCNA organizers put on a great set of meetings and I learned a lot and was able to spend time with like-minded practitioners of the software craft. But the more I thought about it, the more the last part of that last sentence began to gnaw at me; “like-minded practitioners.”
I have an innate ambivalence bordering on antipathy toward “like-mindedness.” There is no problem with a shared set of values (like those of the Software Craftsmanship Movement or the Agile Alliance) or goals; the problem is when the group of people sharing those values ceases to view them critically and subject them to constant evaluation. They become like-minded. It is usually at about the same time that they begin to view those who disagree with them as somehow “less” than them. This may be subtle, but still present. For example, Bob Martin’s emphasis on professionalism in his books Clean Code and The Clean Coder is well founded and is something to which all developers should aspire. However, it can be a short step from striving personally and organizationally to be professional to denigrating another individual or group who does not practice software development the same way.
Not that SCNA has “jumped the shark,” and become such an organization. However, there were elements of it present and a definite “vibe” of superiority. There are two dangers I hope the Software Craftsmanship movement will avoid, and that we here at Pinnacle also seek to escape: the danger of the Inner Ring and the associated danger of hubris.
The Inner Ring is the title of a lecture by the author C. S. Lewis. In that lecture he identifies how every organization (however loose) has an official structure, but then there are the unofficial structures, the “inner rings,” that people strive to become part of. These “inner rings” have ever changing membership, but one thing that is always clear is that some are “out” and some are “in.” As Lewis says, “But your genuine Inner Ring exists for exclusion. There’d be no fun if there were no outsiders. The invisible line would have no meaning unless most people were on the wrong side of it. Exclusion is no accident; it is the essence.”
Now I don’t think for a moment that the Software Craftsmanship movement (or the older Agile movement) is intentionally excluding people or groups. However, as the movement matures there has arisen a set of criteria that define a developer as a craftsman. In and of itself, that is not bad; but it is what we need to be careful of as a movement. There is a distinct danger of chronological hubris (the first “H-Factor”). What I mean by this is that for decades many of the practices that we use to define a “professional” developer or “craftsman,” didn’t exist in their current form. Yet professional developers still existed. I venture to say that 20 years from now we’ll all be utilizing new and different tools, practices, and technologies and while the same principles will apply, the practices will change. We need to be open to a new generation and take care that our current views don’t become ossified.
I happen to work with an amazing group of people at Pinnacle who are open to new learning, eager to adapt and grow, and excited about the possibilities of what can be accomplished as we increasingly adopt the values of both the Agile and Software Craftsmanship movements. However, I view it as one of my key responsibilities to ensure that I don’t foster the creation of an inner ring or contribute to the growth of hubris on the part of myself, my team, or the rest of Pinnacle. There is so much we don’t know (and that we don’t even know we don’t know) and we are constantly learning from other developers, teams, and our customers. My hope is that reading this blog years from now, we will be able to say that we have stayed the course and have continued to grow and learn from each other with humility; the other “H factor.”
I finish with Lewis: “If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or the Important People or the People in the Know. It will not shape that professional policy or work up that professional influence which fights for the profession as a whole against the public: nor will it lead to those periodic scandals and crises which the Inner Ring produces. But it will do those things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which the speeches and advertisements cannot maintain.”