Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Useful Tools

A friend of mine wanted help in making a decision, so he made a request using a blog post and asked for comments. In addition to that he set up a poll using By using these two free tools a blog and a poll he was able to collect quantitative and qualitative data. I thought this was remarkable and I see how these tools could add value in an educational setting. Doing a Research study with a small group, this can be used to capture information and just making decisions on a whole.
Another tool that I have come across is huddle. This is a project management space, for my online class we are using it to work on a real project and it has been going well:
  • The teacher uses it to set up tasks and deadlines.
  • Email alerts are sent to the person delegated whenever a task is due.
  • Discussion topics are created for each phase and we make decisions using the discussion forum. Email alerts are sent each time a post is made.
  • Documents can be uploaded and edited online and it captures version history.
  • The client is also included in the group so when we are finish with a document we request her approval through huddle and we get email alerts when she responds
The only problem that I have had is that the discussion forum allows a limited number of texts, but we’ve worked around it by making our post shorter or dividing one post into two.

What other useful tools are out there and how can they be used to improve and make processes easier?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cracking the code!!

It’s been a while since I have made a post, so many things have been happening with me at work and me trying to regroup and re-brand myself.

The corporate world has its own culture and the quicker you learn the better your chances of success. So far I have picked up a few things here and there, so I guess you can call this my lessons learned:
  • Network, Network, Network: In Jamaica it was always emphasized that it’s not who you know but who knows you. In the corporate world this sure rings true. I have made a conscious effort to find people within the organization that work in the teams where I could possibly fit. So far so good, I am encouraged and they have told me I am doing the right thing. So you have to sell yourself, initiate intentional interactions.
  • Some people who have been through the transition process have volunteered themselves as informal coaches. I am very grateful for this and they have been a source of strength and direction for me.

Make sure you know the expectations and assert yourself: In a situation where your boss gives you a bad evaluation, do not just take it. If you don’t agree with it question it! Find out what expectations they had that you did not meet. The truth is some leads you will never be able to please. Focus on your work as it will eventually speak for itself. Volunteer for other projects outside of the team so that others can see your value…oh yeah it’s a tough fight. Never let anybody make you feel inferior, if you find that it’s making you too depress maybe it’s time to move on….the company you are working with is not the only company in the world.

Face reality and plan: I have realized that even though I am Jamaican, by virtue of being black I have joined the struggles of black Americans. The issues of race have improved significantly but remnants still remain. I must commend my organization that I work with as they have made a conscious effort to emphasize diversity and it’s not limited to ethnicity. I have not become paranoid but I have come to terms that some people though few ( I think) will make judgments about me and treat me differently because I am black! I am now reading a very good book titled Cracking The Corporate Code.
Know the competency Model: The evaluation that Co-Ops are rated against is based on a global competency model for the company. Therefore, it is very important to be graded highly effective for each. Competency models are good, they help organizations to attract the right people and they help employees know what skills are valued and make a concerted effort to develop in the areas. So when you join an organization you may want to find out if they have a competency model and read it carefully! If they have one the fact that you got the job means that they think you have them, just make sure you continuously show evidence as getting the job is half the work, the next half is staying hired.
Get some project management skills: For my wiki project I have learned from my colleagues and the lead of the project specifically that in a project you have to bug people constantly and stick by deadlines unless extremely unavoidable. If people see they can miss a deadline they will and it will make your project fail. By the way that is going good we are trying to overcome the struggles of SharePoint that I mentioned in a previous post.

Well I must say I have grown in the past 4 months, I have had my challenges…this sounds a bit cliché but they have indeed made me stronger Sizzla Kalonji songs Be Strong and Solid as a Rock have been my anthem. I humble myself as always and look forward to learn from the gurus in the field :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Personal Branding: Leveraging our Strenghts

Today I was privileged to attend the annual business meeting of the African American group in the company that I am doing my internship program. The theme was "Partnering for success: Unleashing the Leader inside you." The guest speaker was Lethia Owens and her presentation was dynamic, engaging and filled with food for thought. As part of her presentation she had us watch a video presentation by Mark (I’m sorry I don’t remember is last name) but he comes from the Gallup school of thought. His video presentation was about three (3) myths that we have that hinder us from achieving success, I will discuss my paraphrased version of the myths.
  1. As you grow you change: Before you start deciding whether you agree with this or not, let me clarify a few things. This is base on the philosophy that we have some core things that make us who we are. When we grow we refine these core things. Even if we adjust to fit situations the core things never really change. One of the participants compared it with an oak tree; even though the tree grows gets more branches, larger roots etc it still has the characteristics that make it an oak tree.
  2. You learn/grow the most in the areas that you are weakest: Mark did a survey and asked parents if their child came home with grade 'A' in English and a 'F' in Biology which subject would they pay the most attention to…and most parents said biology. However, he posits that we will grow the most in the areas that we are strongest. He is not saying that we should not try to work around our weaknesses but we should focus on our strengths.
  3. What the team needs is for us to put aside our strengths to make the team successful. You may not find a job that utilizes all your strengths but we should aim to utilize 80% of our strengths. We should find avenues where our strengths can be utilized and volunteer our strengths.
Lethia made a very important point she said sometimes what we think of ourselves is not necessarily the perception that people have of us. Therefore, we need to be aware of our personal branding. We need to make sure that our motto and our delivery are congruent.

  • What are your views about the myths?
  • What are some of the ways to manage personal branding and still be your true self?
  • How do you leverage your strengths?
  • How about re-branding?