Archive for the work Category

It’s not about the tools or technology – It’s about the culture

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity, work with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2011 by Lance Strzok

DRAFT – asking for interaction and comments below – include your name with worthy comments and I’ll include your name in the contributing authors)

In pursuit of sincere and additive collaboration, we must understand what collaboration is, the value of achieving it, what factors effect it,  and how to set up conditions for a successful collaborative environment that are optimized for the product, and sustainable for the future.

Many of the conversations I have on getting people to adopt collaborative technologies are focused on improving the ease of use of a particular tool or service, how to link it to other tools, and improving how they interact with one another to put useful information in front of an end user.  It is believed that we will get more users to use it as a collaborative tool or service if it is more intuitive and fun.  We look at Facebook, and can talk about the numbers of users, ease of use, no users manual, and go on about its growth and the platform that it is for sharing information and maintaining situational awareness.  We labor under a false belief that if we could somehow make our tools and services that easy, than people would share more and collaborate more.  When in truth, we have been putting great collaborative tools and capabilities backed by leadership and guidance in front of our workforce for over a decade now and have only moderate gains in collaborative activity and the network effect to speak to.

Although amazing progress on tools and services have taken place, and are indeed important, I don’t believe that this is where the battle for the hearts and minds of our potential collaborators  is.  Rather, I believe that the value of collaboration, how much effort it takes, and the alignment of tools, services, and processes that optimize collaborative opportunities while simultaneously removing older systems and processes is essential to maximizing the various aspects of knowledge products.

This “build it and they will come” sentiment has taken us pretty far, but there is growing recognition that the tools and services alone are not getting us that much further down the path. Tool fatigue, and password overload as well as watching software come and go over the years has taken its toll on the willingness of the workforce to engage and learn new software tools to the point of people just saying – “No”. In addition to that, we have left the old, comfortable tools in place rather than burning the ship behind us, and forcing the use of new – uncomfortable,  processes and tools. This may well be another factor in why there has been only moderate gains over the last ten years in the methods and the numbers of collaboratively produced products.

Why do tools matter?

E-mail and client side authoring software like MS Word, are largely responsible for shaping our methods of collaborating to date, and they perpetuate an individualistic authoring environment and linear processes that are quite inefficient.  What is needed is to shift from tools that support very private, inefficient content creation that is linearly pushed through an editing model followed by a dissemination process, into tools and software that facilitate situational awareness of changes, and continuous engagement and monitoring options across the continuum of activity that is knowledge production, dissemination, and updating. One that is algorithmically involved with discovering, suggesting and notifying others with similar interests, responsibilities, or expertise, and helping to connect them.  In other words, implement processes and modify the existing suite of tools to enable personalization of an authoring / engagement environment that optimizes the desired collaborative activities that benefit the knowledge worker and the knowledge product.

What needs to change?

A sense of pride in what we can achieve over that of what any one individual can achieve on their own, and a stake in ownership of the knowledge products that bear our organizational name over that of a product that has any one individuals name.  A willingness to view all production from our workforce as something we are each individually accountable for, and that each item reflects our culture of excellence and is of the highest standards and quality.

Barriers to collaborative environment establishment?

Along with the modification of tools, processes and ownership in a brand, there is a longstanding perception of individual worth that is fostered by “putting people in a workplace and establishing incentives for competing, rather than sharing. We set up processes as barriers to creative thinking and learning along with policies that fail to accommodate how people actually work together” – (John B).  We also see individual names on knowledge products along side that of our organization, thereby crediting the product to the person, not the process or collaborative environment that has created a piece of work. This individual achievement is further encouraged by our organizational awards and recognition of individual efforts, many of which carry financial reward. This perpetuates the individual author over that of the community of interest authoring of knowledge products, and sends a clear signal to authors that is in opposition to the desired collaborative environment.

Recognition

It takes work

It takes time

It takes real thought, patience, courage and professionalism

Willingness to educate

Willingness to be honest

A sense of team

A firm understanding of and belief in the benefits of the collaborative process

It takes tools that support each of the above and are embedded in the process

Communications, incentives, training, and recognition need to convey and support the messages that support a collaborative environment

 

So what do we need to get comfortable with in order to optimize collaborative benefits and activities as individuals?

Collaboration, is not particularly easy, even in the best of environments where people are seated at the same table, given even footing to speak from, and with a common goal in mind for which their expertise has been selected. Yet, it bears good fruit, while improving understanding by all group members.  This isn’t what you would normally do, nor how you would normally do it, but you are going to go, and with good intention, represent the information you believe, and the viewpoints you have in the creation of a product that several people will be working on. You must be articulate and professional in arguing your viewpoint, or if during that professional discussion you change your view in light of new information, be willing to express how or why your viewpoint has changed. In the case where your view may not be represented, you should ensure that documentation of the fact of your discussion is incorporated into the record, so that others can see the viewpoints that are opposed were discussed, and remaining arguments are supported individually with sourcing.

In sitting down and chewing on Individual productivity and Team productivity, here is a list of things I am comparing:

Speed

Richness

Quality

Points of View

Agreements and Disagreements

Knowledge transfer

Signal to noise

Author/s

Outlier – repetitiveness

Quality vs experience

Chart of speed vs richness, quality, and number of collaborators

Contributing Authors: John Bordeaux,

Again, please feel free to share thoughts, this is a start, and will be finished in the next couple of days.

Thanks – Lance.

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The Future of Writing at Work

Posted in Telecommute, Web2.0 Productivity, work with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2011 by Lance Strzok

As more and more people are writing and professing their opinions across more and more platforms of information sharing, one thing remains true across all of them – Content it King. Yep, what you say, its validity, conciseness and tone are all part of good content that will keep people coming back. In a world where people value every second of their time, if you can not provide that content consistently, then you can make it look pretty all you want, and tweak formats all day, but that won’t bring them back to read you again.

I suspect the future of writing in the office place will shift from Word and Open Office to open platforms where the words that you write are what is most important, and computers and editors will apply style, images and links to related content to enrich the content as a workflow process following its initial creation.

This makes the transportation and transformation of the words from one product into another so much easier, and style can be changed quickly and easily for past and future content. It is also easier to use and re-use it again in other products.

Think about it, how many times does the Word file you spend half an hour tweaking just so it looks right end up in several places and different platforms looking completely different? My own experience in this has lead me to writing in blogs, because it is just so easy to do. The files are small, transportable, accessible, open with a simple browser (no special or expensive software) and have some of them have built in spell checking as I write – not as a separate function. I can write from my desktop, laptop, phone, or TV and the content can be styled in any way I or someone else pleases. Not to mention that people can index it and discover it, as well as comment on it and share it with others quickly and easily. It also fits with my hope of where things will go in the future with regard to IT and work. Simple really, all I should need is an internet connection and a browser. Which is also why my recent work has been focused on browser wars and how they are doing against one another.

So to wrap things up, spend that extra half hour working on the content, collaborating with colleagues, checking your sources, and making your inner author voice shine through, and give a blog a chance – you might just come to like it for the same reasons I do.

-Lance.

Telework – Telecommute – Tell me more…

Posted in Telecommute, Web2.0 Productivity, work with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2011 by Lance Strzok

***Readers – This is a draft starting point, not a finished piece of work – I want to incorporate your good ideas (please add them to the comments section). Tell me which of the ones I have listed are ones you would have mentioned, and which ones you have issues with. If they are not listed and you share them with me I will add them to the post with attribution. Thank you in advance. – Lance.

—-

Two concepts of telework;
1) Work from home (the main thrust of this article)
2) Work from a location close to home that supports work activities (lease a desk at another building that has the network connectivity and access required – a second article if desired)

Business Pros

– Maternity
– Sick leave
– Phone call costs
– Food choices are your own, not what is available in the cafeteria (save money in food costs/ healthy choices).
– Handicapped workers have options from home
– Parking
– Savings to analysts ($400) per month in my case in gas alone
– Time saved in commute 2.5 hours in my case
– Tools required for the job – Software that helps make analysts more productive is available at home
– Bandwidth at home may be better than at work – and is subtracted from business bandwidth use, therefore bandwidth at work is better
-Hiring incentive
– Retention incentive

Business Cons

Source = http://fcw.com/Articles/2010/04/08/Teleworking-evolution.aspx?Page=1
-“There are challenges: you get less face time, you can’t do all the work from home, there can be limited accessibility, people might think you aren’t really working,” said Steve Koenig, director for industry analysis at the Consumer Electronics Association.
-Bandwidth constraints through the technology used may cause slowness
– WRT facetime, how much facetime do you really get with your manager?

Enabling technologies

– Google Voice
– Unified Communications
– DC Telework Solutions
– VM ware
– Google Docs
– Drop Box

Employee Pros

Employee Cons

Business savings (money)

-More savings are expected over time because of the hires the county won’t have to make — due to the increased output from its existing workforce.Source=
http://faribault.com/news.php?viewStory=104640

Business costs

– “A lot of information in an office is passed passively or informally,” he said. “So we are still adjusting and addressing things.” Source=
http://faribault.com/news.php?viewStory=104640

Shaw estimated a 25 percent increase in productivity, but that does come at an up-front cost.

Startup costs are $1,500 more for those working from home, according to county documents. Those estimates are based on a total of 50 county employees telecommuting. Once 100 users are added to the current system, an additional $18,000 is needed in infrastructure improvements to the county’s computer system.

“I’m definitely a supporter,” said IT Director Melissa Reeder. “But costs do not go down when you add large numbers of users to the system.”

After the initial start-up costs, telecommuting is not, as a whole, less costly. During a standard four-year technology cycle, those employees working from home still cost several hundred more dollars in upkeep.

She also said the pilot study did not factor in overall technology maintenance for telephones, computers and Internet — including licensing and labor.

But the commissioners saw those costs as manageable compared to the “real” cost savings: Labor and space.
Source=
http://faribault.com/news.php?viewStory=104640

Additional ideas related to telework-
– Keep even spread across the week, rotate to keep it fair, and lottery or luck for initial days
– If you telecommute 1 day, rotate on an annual basis by two workweek days Friday goes to Tuesday, etc…
– Traffic congestion
– Statistically, fewer accidents
– Educate managers and workforce on how the program is run – add to cornerstone
– Hiring benefit
– Retention benefit
– CO2 emissions
– What does being distributed mean to hacking attempts?
– Telework success improves COOP success
– Bad weather options
– Average commute? 37.7 miles (one way) Source = http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policy/2008cpr/chap15.htm#5
– Wireless
– Reduce command footprint within the building, and lease out additional space – potentially for the case two situation in which local Federal Employees that work for someone else can access networks not available from home. Unintended consequences of employees from diverse agencies co-located could prove to be amazing!)
– More flexible work hours
– Reduce heating and cooling costs
– Reduce electrical energy consumption
– Reduce the total number of machines and the per unit cost of replacing and maintaining them
– We will have to look closely across the organization to determine which jobs can be done remotely and how many days a week that job can be done remotely
– Telework should be framed as a privilege, not an entitlement, and it is maintained and revisited every year to determine effectiveness
-Planning ahead and having some work related projects that you can work on pre-defined should be a part of that plan
– Must be results based, monitored, and a part of the employees annual performance evaluation
– Lockers at work that allow desks to be universal when employees come in. Grab your picture, leave your lunch, have a seat, log in, and get to work locally.

——
Source=
http://faribault.com/news.php?viewStory=104640
“All the participants said their quality of life improved, they were more organized and got more done,” he said. “I would call it a success.”
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Source = http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217919

When you pay workers for their time, they’re willing to give you as much of it as you are willing to pay for. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re maximizing productivity during that time. If you told workers that they can have the rest of the week off as soon as they complete their assigned tasks and meet their deadlines for the week, you would find that five days of effort can probably be compressed to two and have a very empty office after Tuesday while everyone is out golfing.

Workers know, though, that they have to be present in the office from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday regardless of how quickly or effectively work gets completed, so instead the work gets dragged out. Finishing quickly is likely to result in additional assignments to fill the time, so there is no incentive to maximize performance. Instead, the work week is filled with unproductive time — chatting with co-workers, reading personal e-mail, surfing the Web, smoking breaks, long lunches, etc.

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Home > Human Resources > Managing Employees > Telecommuting Is Good for Employees and Employers
Telecommuting Is Good for Employees and Employers
Many managers struggle to embrace telecommuting, but it makes happier workers and has many benefits for the company as well.
By Tony Bradley | January 21, 2011
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Comments (8) Share 92
PCWorld

As technology evolves, many of the barriers that have traditionally limited telecommuting continue to disappear. The tedious standard of spending 40 hours a week sitting in a cubicle is fading as employers and workers both embrace the benefits associated with telecommuting.

When you pay workers for their time, they’re willing to give you as much of it as you are willing to pay for. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re maximizing productivity during that time. If you told workers that they can have the rest of the week off as soon as they complete their assigned tasks and meet their deadlines for the week, you would find that five days of effort can probably be compressed to two and have a very empty office after Tuesday while everyone is out golfing.

Workers know, though, that they have to be present in the office from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday regardless of how quickly or effectively work gets completed, so instead the work gets dragged out. Finishing quickly is likely to result in additional assignments to fill the time, so there is no incentive to maximize performance. Instead, the work week is filled with unproductive time — chatting with co-workers, reading personal e-mail, surfing the Web, smoking breaks, long lunches, etc.

A research study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and published by the National Communication Association found, “Employees who telecommute the majority of the work week are more satisfied with their jobs compared to those working mostly in the office because working remotely alleviates more stress than it creates.”

Kathryn Fonner, lead researcher for the study, explains, “Results of the study pointed to multiple reasons why telework is linked to high job satisfaction, namely that employees working remotely are, on average, shielded from much of the distracting and stressful aspects of the workplace, such as office politics, interruptions, constant meetings and information overload.”

*

Home > Human Resources > Managing Employees > Telecommuting Is Good for Employees and Employers
Telecommuting Is Good for Employees and Employers
Many managers struggle to embrace telecommuting, but it makes happier workers and has many benefits for the company as well.
By Tony Bradley | January 21, 2011
Print Email Share
Comments (8) Share 92
PCWorld

As technology evolves, many of the barriers that have traditionally limited telecommuting continue to disappear. The tedious standard of spending 40 hours a week sitting in a cubicle is fading as employers and workers both embrace the benefits associated with telecommuting.

When you pay workers for their time, they’re willing to give you as much of it as you are willing to pay for. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re maximizing productivity during that time. If you told workers that they can have the rest of the week off as soon as they complete their assigned tasks and meet their deadlines for the week, you would find that five days of effort can probably be compressed to two and have a very empty office after Tuesday while everyone is out golfing.

Workers know, though, that they have to be present in the office from 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday regardless of how quickly or effectively work gets completed, so instead the work gets dragged out. Finishing quickly is likely to result in additional assignments to fill the time, so there is no incentive to maximize performance. Instead, the work week is filled with unproductive time — chatting with co-workers, reading personal e-mail, surfing the Web, smoking breaks, long lunches, etc.

A research study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and published by the National Communication Association found, “Employees who telecommute the majority of the work week are more satisfied with their jobs compared to those working mostly in the office because working remotely alleviates more stress than it creates.”

Kathryn Fonner, lead researcher for the study, explains, “Results of the study pointed to multiple reasons why telework is linked to high job satisfaction, namely that employees working remotely are, on average, shielded from much of the distracting and stressful aspects of the workplace, such as office politics, interruptions, constant meetings and information overload.”

Think about it for a minute. Even if the amount of non-productive time is the same to the employer, working from home enables workers to put the “wasted” time to better use. Instead of just chatting or surfing, the worker can take care of household chores and tasks that have to be done but normally fill up “personal” time — laundry, dishes, prepping dinner. That also means that when the work day is done, the worker is free to actually use the personal time for more enriching activities than simple mundane chores.

There are a variety of other benefits for both the worker and the employer. No commuting enables the worker to avoid the stress and dangers of rush hour traffic and reclaim many hours of time that weren’t even being compensated anyway. Not sharing a work environment reduces the chances that a cold or flu virus can spread throughout a department and cripple productivity, and not having to get up and drive to work enables even marginally sick workers to continue being productive from the comfort of home. (sick leave)

Businesses can also reduce costs associated with the office itself — the size of the office, the furniture, the electricity used, the cost of heating and cooling the office space, etc.

Small and medium businesses in particular should embrace cloud-based productivity and collaboration platforms such as Google Docs or Microsoft’s Business Productivity Online Services (soon to be rebranded as Office 365). Services like Box.net, Dropbox, and Syncplicity also provide a means of sharing information between remote co-workers, and even online tools like Skype and Facebook enable communication and collaboration. Bottom line — the tools are out there and they are free, or at least very affordable.

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Source = http://venturebeat.com/2011/01/25/5-reasons-you-should-care-about-the-flexible-workforce/

Flexibility as a recruitment tool – Quickly do a mental check of how many people you know, either at the office or personally, who require “flexibility” as a key requirement to their job. They may be caring for an ailing parent, work two jobs, move often with their spouse/partner, or have young children. Regardless of why, they make decisions on where to work not just based on pay and benefits. Rather, they balance those items with how flexible their job can be in terms of hours, days of the week, commuting requirements, etc. Be flexible, because it has value in the minds of the candidate you are trying to hire or the key employee you want to retain.

It’s only getting bigger – Demand for comprehensive, real-time communication with a company’s labor force will continue to grow. Companies large and small are managing a larger, less rigid network of employees, contractors, and part-time labor. More team members are working odd hours, or working in different cities, or rarely work in the office. Companies that provide seamless products and services to tie together those distributed workforces together, allowing them to collaborate and communicate via web and mobile platforms, will have a lot of market to run with.
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Source = http://fcw.com/blogs/john-klossner/2011/01/john-klossner-federal-telework-policy.aspx

In reading about this year’s resolution one item in particular caught my attention — “Currently, 102,900 of the 1.9 million federal employees regularly work remotely. Of the total workforce, 62 percent are eligible to telework. To encourage the practice, the Obama administration has set a goal of having 150,000 government employees teleworking on a regular basis by 2011.”

—-

Source = http://gcn.com/Articles/2010/11/01/Telework-NMCI-Access.aspx?Page=2

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Software Protection Initiative has produced Lightweight Portable Security, a tool created in-house that essentially creates trusted endpoints for remote access. It is a bootable CD developed with open-source software that works with most Windows, Mac or Linux computers to create a nonpersistent trusted node for secure Web browsing, cloud computing or network access. It boots a Linux operating system from a LiveCD and installs nothing on the client computer, running only in RAM to bypass local malware and leave no record of the session.

The LPS-Public edition is small, with a 124M image that can fit on a mini-CD. It is available to government and public users as a free download and is intended to be used for casual telework and on untrusted systems needed for sensitive tasks. It also can be used to access CAC-enabled websites. The government-specific LPS-Remote Access creates a virtual government-furnished equipment node on a private computer and is available for all federal agencies and contractors. It was developed in 2009 to provide a telework tool for continuity of operations in anticipation of a possible flu pandemic.

Approved by DOD’s CIO in December 2009 for continuity of operations, LPS-Remote Access has since been adopted by more than 30 DOD organizations with more than 58,000 employees. More than 35,500 copies of LPS-Public have been downloaded from the Software Protection Initiative website since 2008.

A far cheaper, more portable, and more secure solution is SPI’s Lightweight Portable Security – Government Remote Access Edition (LPS-Remote Access). With only a CD and smartcard reader, you can have your enterprise or NIPRNet desktop appear on almost any computer in the world. Its accredited and usually free. See spi.dod.mil.
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– Primary resistance is from managers Source = http://gcn.com/articles/2010/11/01/telework-technology.aspx
However, security doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. Virtual private networks, network access controls and virtualization, which can separate data from the hardware using it, can provide adequate security. “The technology is mature at this point, but it is still relatively recent,” Quillin said.

USPTO is one of the pioneers. The agency has been promoting telework for 10 years, and as of Sept. 30, 5,654 of its employees regularly worked outside the office. Speaking at a recent conference hosted by the Telework Exchange, Turk said 75 percent of the agency’s workforce is eligible to telework, and 80 percent of those eligible employees are doing it.

To ensure security, teleworkers use remote desktop connections and save their work in USPTO’s data center rather than on their laptops.

“There should be nothing from work on the laptop they use,” Turk said. The laptops also are encrypted so that any information on them is inaccessible. “It’s a defense-in-depth process. Our risk from loss of a laptop is small.”

“Security was a big deal for us” because of the sensitive personal information that the agency maintains. “But it turned out that there was better security on the laptops than anything we could have gotten on the desktops.”

The Dell laptops that CMS uses have webcams built for videoconferencing, in addition to VPN clients, hard-drive encryption and support for two-factor authentication, including the government’s Personal Identity Verification card.

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Source = http://www.teleworkexchange.com/teleworker-12-10.asp
Today’s workplace, Berry noted, has changed and the Federal government must change with it by adopting more results-focused management and telework. “In example after example, it leads to happier, more productive employees,” he said. “And organizations that are slow to adapt will miss out on being able to recruit from among the best and the brightest.”

‘Why aren’t you teleworking?'” she told the audience. “I would rather hear about the obstacles that we need to remove, rather than all the justifications for why somebody should (telework).”

The agency is considering a boost to the number of days that most employees can telework. “We really are beginning to understand that it isn’t just a one-day-a-week thing that makes the benefit,” Johnson said.

A GSA pilot program in Kansas City seems to bear out that theory, she said. The program involves 42 colleagues from the same office and 66 percent of them now work from home five days a week. In just a few months, 77 percent of participants reported significant productivity increases, and absenteeism was down 69 percent.

The program also offers some initial lessons about how co-workers can remain connected with colleagues even while working remotely. Those who telework as a group seem to pay better attention to keeping in touch, Johnson said.

—-
Source = http://www.teleworkexchange.com/teleworker-05-07.asp#p3a

“My message to managers is to try a center for one day. See how productive you can be. Let others try telework, and watch what happens to productivity and morale. It is a real eye opener.”

—-

Sharing my Screencasting Process

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity, work with tags , , , , , , on October 4, 2010 by Lance Strzok

1) Record screencast with CamStudio version 2.0 and the “CamStudio lossless codec” that can both be downloaded at the link provided.

2) Save as an AVI file from within Camstudio.

3) After capturing the screensession, open the file with Anyvideoconverter and save as an mp4 file.

4) Open with AVIdemux for editing and save as mp4.

(The Anyvideoconverter and AVIdemux sofware steps 3-4 can now be replaced with Freemake Video Converter  Which can do the conversion and is a nice editor.)

In a little more detail, (thanks Karen),

On a computer, open the software tool called CamStudio. This tool allows the user to take a screen capture an estimated thirty frames per second and also captures audio.
Open the software that is going to be demonstrated or open the target software, such as Microsoft Excel 2007 or Microsoft Word 2007

In CamStudio, configure the settings for optimal capture of the software activities, as in this particular case, the steps in how to use Microsoft Excel 2007 or Microsoft Word 2007.

After the optimization, start the recording and begin the software demonstration. (As a side note, if a mistake is made, do not stop recording. Pause yourself and take a deep breath.

Gather your thoughts and start again at a point just before you made the mistake.

When the demonstration is complete, press the stop button in CamStudio to stop the recording.

Save the file as it is as an AVI file.

Convert the AVI file into a manageable file size by using another software tool named “Any Video Converter” to convert the AVI file into a MP4 file. This conversion can reduce the file size by ten to twenty times its size.

After the conversion, open the MP4 file with another software tool named Avidemux, for editing.

Edit out any mistakes made in the recording and save the file as a MP4 file.

Close the MP4 file and open the canned introduction recording.

Append the recent software demonstration recording to the introduction recording.

Append the canned closing to the software demonstration recording.

Save the now merged three parts of the recording, (introduction, demonstration, closing) as one MP4 file.

Distribute the learning video to the appropriate site for others to view.

You must know-
How to use and configure CamStudio, “Any Video Converter”, and Avidemux
Have the knowledge on audio and video codec’s to properly configure the three software tools mentioned above.
Know the software activity or activities that are going to be demonstrated.

—-

If you want the exact settings I  use look here:  https://gstrzok.wordpress.com/2011/04/09/my-screencasti…s-and-software/

Cheers.

Individual Performance Objectives for FY10

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity, work with tags , , , , , , on May 17, 2010 by Lance Strzok

Provide consulting and publish on IC Social Media and Collaboration issues.

– Publish information on Social Media and Collaboration. -Compose, and publish, 6 articles that highlight social media or related software tools, make suggestions that address social media use or best practices within the IC, or articulate arguments for which tools to use, when and for what reasons. – Supports CIO FY10 requirements for information sharing, knowledge management IAW http://www.doncio.navy.mil/uploads/DONCIO_Campaign_Plan_FY2010_v2_508.pdf Provide consulting on Social Media tools to the IC, departments, divisions, fleet assets and individuals on an as requested basis. Provide chat room support to A-space, Collaboration Help, Intellipublia, Compass, and Evolution IC. – Actively seek, identify, and make recommendations for business practices that may be enhanced with the use of social media tools. – Document these activities with specific customers, providing clear problems and potential solutions for lessons learned and best practices usage.

Social Media and Collaboration Training and Software implementation

– Provide a minimum of 4 courses on Social Media and Collaboration to the workforce before September 30 2010. This course shall cover at a minimum A-space, Intellipedia, Inteldocs, Blogs, Intelink, Gallery, iVideo, Microblogging, IC-Connect, Sharepoint, Tag|Connect, and Instant Messaging. – Gather course feedback and make improvements to the course. – Identify and implement software that supports IC wide collaboration and software and hardware that facilitates the movement of data from system to system for analysis.

What do you think I should be doing this year? How can these be improved? Are they Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound? I would be grateful for constructive criticism and ideas.

Individual Productivity

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity, work with tags , , on September 8, 2009 by Lance Strzok

This is blog 1 of 3 blogs I will be writing on the subject of Web 2.0/ Social Media tools and productivity. The first will be on Individual productivity, the second on Team productivity, and the third on Community of interest (COI) productivity.

These blog entries are focused on my primary customer set – the government

For this first piece on individual productivity I am assuming that you have a subject you are interested in or responsible for, and that you are open to using some of the social media / web 2.0 technologies to potentially increase your efficiency, and or improve the quality and quantity of your work.

I will assume you want or have a body of knowledge (BOK) that you consider to be true, but that you can add too or modify as appropriate, and that much of the content in your BOK has sources that can be referenced for more information. For some of you, this BOK may be a cabinet with folders and reports, but as we move along in the digital age, we may want to start to hold / put that knowledge into a knowledge management system. For many enterprise workers, your BOK is a personal folder on a network drive, but although that may work for you, when you are looking to work with others (team or COI), then some attributes of this folder you will want should be: well sourced, linkable, taggable, indexable, searchable, extensible to a Natural Language Processing tool (NLP), and some kind of tool that you can use to identify and remove probable duplicates, and a folder you can share with many people (fellow collaborators). If you are looking for a recommendation on that body of knowledge, I would suggest an enterprise wiki for the desired capabilities stated above.

I will assume that you are willing to be a part of a network of people interested in the particular subject you want to or are compelled to follow. I will assume you are active in forums or newsgroups on the subject you are interested in, and that you have established a community of interest (COI) or network of peers that you discuss the subject matter with. This is your known network.

I will also assume that you trust that the actions of other the other collaborators to be in good faith. You acknowledge that there are people working in the subject area you are following that are not known to you and are not yet a part of your known network. This is your unknown network.

In pursuit of understanding your subject, you read books, magazines, blogs, and internet content as well as view videos, and participate in chat on the subject you work. I also assume you have a standing search (discovery) for new content being created in blogs, wikis, forums, etc… This is your pulled information.

In addition to your personal search, I am sure your established colleagues and peers send you things to review and comment on, as well as include into your BOK. This information that they send you may come in various forms, email, blogs, twitter, facebook, links to journals, etc… This is your pushed information.

For this discussion we will call this new pushed and pulled information your discovery process.

This newly discovered content needs to be aggregated (gathered), self and peer vetted for accurate or inaccurate, information, and if warranted, merged with your BOK on that subject. We will call this filtering. As you filter and discard information that is not important, inaccurate, or already represented in the BOK consider tagging the articles you found new and useful information in. You may choose to also tag the ones that you discard with some kind of comment as to why you did so. With the information that you want to merge with your BOK, you will need references to the source person, journal, article, magazine etc… in accordance with local directives (ICD 206 – Sourcing requirements). We will call this merging and sourcing.

Those changes to your BOK are your own, and you may choose to modify it with comments from your peers and peer group (Potential use of Discussion Pages). Does this new information change any of your previous assessments? Is it consistent with your previously published work? Is it consistent with the work of your peers? Who should I send this too? Customers? Peers? (push). What should that update look like? Link to BOK, or tailored product in response to a vetted requirement? Some questions to act as a threshold for deciding whether to produce on this new information or not.

If based on this threshold, I have chosen to produce, has someone already started a new tailored product on this new information that I can comment on or add my information and thoughts too? Can I be a coauthor with them? I should probably search for who may have started it, and I would likely search our wiki’s, our social bookmarks, our blogs, our forums, our social networking sites and communities of interest in an effort to ensure I am not duplicating effort already underway. How and where should this tailored product be built? Where are my customers? Where are my collaborators? Can I write it in the domain of my collaborators, and then move it to the domain of my customers? How can my customers provide me good requirements if they can not view the “sausage being made”? Can I send them occasional or incremental updates to meet this need? Can I build this product in a place that my network of peers can watch it or take part in it as it comes together? Is this something we are going to claim as a jointly created product? What is the publication deadline, and who is going to ensure that it is cogent, meets the analytic trade-craft standards of (ICD – 203), is written for maximum utility (ICD – 208), can be reviewed for correct classification markings from the “Authorized Classification and Control Markings Register“, and have all of this done in a timely manner that allows the information to get too the customer before it is no longer relevant? Once I am reasonably assured it has not been started, I can start the tailored product to meet the specific customer requirement. We’ll call this production search.

So I have started a tailored product, how can I make it the best that it can be? I created the page in a wiki, and I gave it a smart descriptive name that is consistent with naming conventions. I have laid scaffolding (sections) to the tailored product that are consistent with previously published works, and with current guidance on how that information should be formatted and the content of those articles. I have included some initial metadata in the layout as well. I have added “Categories” to it to act much like tags. Now I can copy the link (URL – uniform resource locator) to it, and go back to the same areas that I went too for production search of someone already starting that report, and post a notice or statement that I have begun work on that product at the following URL… With a note on what it is, and who it is for. I leave a blog entry that describes the work to be done, and what specifically I am trying to answer. I link to it from social bookmarking (for the unknown collaborators that search for tags in social bookmarking tools). I send it to my established network in channels that I know they use. Some only use email, some are members of communities of interest, so I will post the work I have begun in a thread there because I know that they will see it and have the opportunity to work on it. They probably have an rss feed set up for new threads as well as other signals that identify when I am working on something of interest. I also mention it and the associated keywords (metadata) for that product in a chat room or two related to the subject if it exists with the knowledge that chat room tools that search for key terms will notify others as from my unknown network as to the work I have begun. It is not much to start on, but it clearly states what I am working on, the requirement, the customer, and is a call for collaboration. We’ll call this production declaration.

Now that my known network and potentially my unknown network of peers are aware of the work in progress, I can get to work on the meat of the tailored product. In general, there will be a executive summary and bottom line up front along with why it matters, who it is for, and what the particular, specific, requirement is that this product is in response too.

This is similar to college writing in that each part of the summary should link to some part in the document. I may have already laid out the scaffolding if this is a standard type product that is done fairly often. My choice and recommendation would be to use a wiki for the creation of and collaboration on this tailored product. I can slap on a (in draft banner) and (after sending a link and making discoverable via social bookmarking) my known network, my unknown network, and others can comment, change, improve, watch and edit the content that is being created – as it is being created. Those same people can invite others to watch and participate on the article or simply ensure that related content is correct that may pertain to their subject matter expertise either directly or indirectly. It is important that I set a date for completion, simply so that I can publish, but that does not mean that the content cannot live on as a living document. It also means that this is where we can pick up from again when we get back to the topic.

Another important part of completing the work in the article is to wikify and link parts of the report to related content. I may include a link to my peers related content on that subject as well. Make it rich and include a link to a survey if they choose to take it.

Once the document is completed, then distribution becomes the focus. You should send a note to the same locations that you did your “production search” for work in progress, and where you sent your “production declaration”. Whatever distribution medium you use, I would recommend you enable a way of tracking who downloads the document, and a way for readers to rate and comment on your work. We’ll call this the feedback loop (required by ICD – 208). In addition, you should make it easy for others to tag the document in its natural location so that it can be found more easily. Register the product in several places and give it meaningful metadata and tags. Again, use the chatrooms and COI pages to advertise the completed work. You may think that mentioning it earlier for people to watch may have been enough, but a lot of times, people will want to just wait for the finished product, and not be a part of “making the sausage”.

The information you get in return on who downloads the document (happens when you use knowledge tree document management system), and who comments can indicate your unknown customer base, that along with your established customer base you can start to work with for future articles that address features you may want to have and include for future work. Lets call this customer service and closing the loop as well as generating requirements.

Who tags the article is another source of information, and you can search for pages that link to that article as well (see google hacks tip on using “link:”).

So what you may see is that there are the tools, (technology) which has something to do with enabling this kind of approach to individual collaboration. Then there is your known network of people, and the unknown network of people that may be able to contribute to your understanding of the subject. There is a body of knowledge on the subject, and there is ongoing discovery of new content related to your subject that is continually taking place. There is a source repository, There is tailored product creation, continual product vetting, and then distribution, feedback and planning for future work. Looking at each piece a little closer, you may see that key technologies enable this kind of production, and I think I have described when you may use some of these here.

Your known network of peers is important, and that would be people on distribution lists, and previous work that you have established means of communicating with. Then there is your unknown network of potential collaborators that you will want to find and add to your network of people that work on your subjects. These people can be found in emails, forums, linked in, history of wiki pages, “who is watching” on a wiki page, bloggers in same subject area, people in social bookmarking that tag things the same way, chat room people searching for the same terms, authors of books, journals, articles, videos, podcasts, and other media. These people can have a huge impact on your work, for better or for worse, but your network is worth trying to expand.

There is a body of knowledge (knowledge management tool – wiki) that is easy to search, link to, author in, tag, extend, and get signals from. This body of knowledge should be indexed by something like Google desktop, or Aduna – Autofocus so that you can find information easily. To extend that, if you can get a program with a natural language processor to ingest the files there you can do a lot more with them. These items should be something you can tag as well. There is a method of discovering new information, and getting signals that the new information exists and needs to be ingested and vetted for consideration of the accuracy and meaning of as well as possibly added to BOK and whether a tailored product is warranted and if older assessments can be confirmed or need to be reconciled with the new information. Discovery is important and there are many ways to search many sources, this is where considerable work and efficiencies can be made.

I made the argument that content creation can happen in a blog with comments, but that an enterprise wiki for production would be the preferred way to go. This differs from a non enterprise wiki in that in an enterprise wiki – you are not anonymous. You have the indirect comments of the discussion page and the best track changes and logging of who is doing what that I have ever seen. You can “watch” the sausage being made, and receive notifications when someone changes or adds to the content. I think this is a far superior content creation and vetting tool that puts the content in a place where others can do anything from watch it, to just waiting for it to be finished. Everyone comes to the content, not the content being sent all around and then hobbled together in a less than timely fashion prone to mistakes and loss of time.

Lastly in distribution and advertising. These tools are very useful in getting the word out and linking to new and relevant content. Some allow you to see who is downloading the information, and some allow you to link to surveys and to tag documents into social bookmarking systems. These have numerous benefits to future work and tracking down the customers you know and those you don’t know about and should start to add to your information distribution network. Some of the tools I mention getting familiar with for ease of use in this kind of environment would be: Google notebook, or MS Onenote for easy sourcing and compiling research notes A chat tool or two, not all protocols are the same, so I would suggest you use Pidgin or Trillian that support more then one protocol A Sharepoint folder (or personal folder) of your own, or knowledge tree document management system that allows you to index and search your content as well as tag that content and create links to individual files in that content so that you can send out links, not documents Image gallery with tagging/linking capability – Picasa, Flickr Video gallery with tagging/linking capability – YouTube Email system with distribution lists and the ability to tag and share documents/ calendars, etc… – Zimbra Aduna Autofocus for indexing and search Google desktop for email and content indexing Feedreader or other RSS aggregator for RSS feeds (signals of new content) A Mediawiki driven wiki (Oh the power of a wiki- living documents with embedded history) Something like FaceBook (Keep me in touch with my colleagues/friends and their activities) Podcast aggregator (to keep track of new content in podcasts for listening to on the way to work) WordPress blog (blog in as big a space as possible) Chat room surfing tool that notifies you of new content or keywords – Google alerts For other suggestions, see my list of favorite software here.

Some everyday items/actions to consider: * Log in too and check to see if any of my watched pages on any of my wikis have changed. I may want to set up an e-mail or RSS signal/service for those notifications. * I may want to listen to podcasts on topics I care about for the rest of the time I am driving in or just NPR. * Once you have your network of known colleagues, search for other areas they are tied into like blogs, twitter, linked-in, facebook, and search for ways to automate notification of activities on their part. Refresh that network each time you start a project in a certain area because it will change form time to time. * Search for new writing on your topic at all times, and grow that list of contacts continuously (google alerts are excellent way of setting up searches for new content). * Figure out who you are a kind of consumer of, and who is consuming your information. * Set up a feedback loop *Continually groom your BOK, network of collaborators, and document your work. On a final note, this is only a beginning, and this information will grow and improve. To you, good luck, and thank for reading and leaving any thoughts you may want to leave on this post. I genuinely hope it helps you in your endeavor to collaborate more effectively as an individual or team, and to the contribute to the accurate information available to myself and others.

Slugfest -Team blog, Team e-mail, or Team Wiki page?

Posted in Web2.0 Productivity, work with tags , , , on October 31, 2008 by Lance Strzok

So I feel honored that a friend of mine has asked me to help her leverage the web2.0 tools that we have in her work environment. I want this blog to focus on customer / team communications. I want to discuss the benefits of having a group or team communication channel, what options there are, and make a recommendation that they can use. I would love it if everyone that reads this would take a moment to share their thoughts or opinions.

Benefits of a customer to team account –

– There is one receiving location for questions related to work that anyone in the group may be able to answer. Since there are a number of people that may respond, the response time may go down which may improve customer satisfaction based on timeliness. The richness of the response may be greater when more people have the opportunity to weigh in on the topic at hand. You could think of it as a group response and by not using e-mail, selecting say a wiki or blog, there can be edits and modifications that make the response richer, and if chosen by the recipient, they can be notified of updates to the response beyond that of the original response.  If you choose a blog, you will need to make sure everyone in the group has admin privileges so that they can make edits to the responses. Additionally, you may want this information to be discoverable, search able, and retained for knowledge management. This means bringing it out of email silos and onto a platform that can meet those requirements. Once you make the decision to move it to a blog or wiki instead of email, then you get some of those benefits and some added flexability. Understand that email has its place, in short, use it for person to person conversations of a personal nature where you don’t want to expose that information to others. If it is work related, you should consider the group account.

Usage-

– Now we will need a notification system for when an email comes in. In email, that is pretty straight forward, in a blog, you will need to syndicate the reception feed and everyone will need to monitor that feed so that the awareness is high and response times are low. With RSS feeds, if you already have some set up, you can export your OPML file and share it with others so that they can import it and add it to their own. Or you can have a separate OPML file for the team that you want them to monitor. OPML files simply make sharing RSS feeds easier. In the case of a wiki, the notification system can be linked to your e-mail, or sometimes you wiki software may syndicate your changes so that you can monitor them with your RSS reader. Now having the question come to the team in one location (wiki or blog), needs to be linked to a threaded response so that you and they can choose to monitor that thread and not all questions and responses that come into or leave your team. You will want to link these blog or wiki entries together so that you can refer to all the other relevant blog or wiki entries. Your options here seem to be to set up a separate wiki page under the team page to address that customer and that they can watch, or direct them to a blog. I would think that sticking with one and not mixing the two would be easier then say receiving in a wiki and responding in a blog. I think I am most comfortable with wikis, so that would probably be my preference. In this case, I would receive a question on a wiki page that I direct customers too by including it in my signature. When they leave a question, I would create a response to that question as its own page, and establish links between the page I created and the reception page. Then in the response, link back to the reception area, and put together the response. Let the customer know where the response is and what options they have for viewing it, as well as getting updates for it. I would let them know they can choose to watch that page, respond to that page, or even edit that page. For this to work in a blog, I would have a common reception area, then start a blog in response to the customer, and both parties would monitor that blog with the appropriate links to other relevant blog entries.

E-mail –

– I have little experience with team e-mail accounts, so I would ask that people really fight for their ideas if they want to argue their points on the benefits of team e-mail accounts.  My immediate suggestions are that since they are not platforms, then your search engines may not be able to discover or search for information in that area, and it is not incorporated into the archive and backed up.

Recommendation –

– I vote for the wiki.

Implementation –

– Establish a mindset, explain what the team blog or wiki page is for, and how it should be used. I would mention that links are preferred to attachments, and that links between the receiving page and the customer thread be established and maintained. Monitor the activity and be ready and available for questions on specific issues as they arise. Work together as a group to figure out what you think is best, this may promote buy in by the individuals, and keep morale high.

Please leave your CONSTRUCTIVE comments below.