Productivity has nothing to do with the latest app.

Productivity has nothing to do with the latest app. It is all about you and your behavioural style that will determine how productive you are. There is no shortage of productivity experts promoting the latest and greatest productivity apps. It is interesting how large the populations of followers these productivity experts attract. It demonstrates just how many people are interested in personal productivity.I am very interested to learn how many of these followers adopt a new app and workflow and stick with it for any length of time. In my experience, I have found a great number of people jump from app to app and different workflows in a never ending cycle of searching  for the ‘magic bullet’.The never-ending quest for productivity nirvana is a symptom of a deeper cause. This deeper cause is variable by person but there are some common characteristics:

  • Seeking perfection rather than good enough.
  • Not beginning work until the right tool has been selected.
  • Difficulty knowing how to start work and delaying the start with analysis paralysis.
  • Mistaking boredom with a lack of productivity.
  • Collecting a range of apps, tools and methodologies with bits of work created using different tools and apps.
  • Information is scattered everywhere and the person is spending time searching. 

There are three primary obstacles that get in the way of people being effective and achieving high levels of productivity. These are:

  • The organisation does not communicate its strategy well so people are not clear on what they should do to have the most impact. If the have an idea, they are not able to prioritise it amongst the fog of other tasks. 
  • The person is using workflows and tools that are not well suited to their behavioural style.  This is common in organisations that roll-out productivity software without investing in training and designing workflows. 
  • Information and knowledge sources are scattered all over the place causing people to spend hours hunting information they need to complete their tasks. In worse case scenarios people end up searching the internet for sources or re-creating information the firm already has……somewhere. 

Even with a great strategy, an organisation will not achieve its objectives if people are not effective on a personal level. The greatest strategy still relies on people executing the right tasks well and within a timeframe.

Is your LMS blocking strategy execution?

The learning management system (LMS) should be a primary support tool for ensuring strategic execution is successful. A business that is focused on strategic execution needs all people to be working on the right tasks at the right time. The whole organisation needs to know the strategic goals and their role in achieving them.  A learning management system, with the right features and tools, is ideally suited to align people to strategy and provide learning support.

One of the biggest barriers to successful execution is people not having access to information and learning to support their work. An organisation with high levels of productivity and engagement does not lose focus by people having to search for information and learning on topics they need to complete tasks. The learning management system should be a key software tool to improve productivity and engagement with learning. 

If the LMS is not performing these vital functions effectively then it is acting as a roadblock to strategy execution.  How does a well implemented learning management system support strategic execution? Below are some of the ones we have identified in our most recent implementation projects.

  • Configurable, flexible and scalable organisation structure in the LMS that accurately reflects how the business operates and its ongoing reporting needs. 
  • Ability to support large numbers of users and an extended enterprise. The performance of the LMS should not be compromised when there are large user populations accessing it. 
  • User administration of large populations is supported with the user interface, bulk actions and  adaptable configurations. 
  • The LMS includes extensive automated actions and workflow configurations to support how the  organisation operates. You should not be forced to adapt your workflows to the LMS.   
  • Reporting must be extensive and flexible. The LMS should provide senior leadership historical and predictive indicators to support decision making.
  • Integration and data sharing is essential to support the organisation’s information architecture. The LMS should not be an ‘island’ of data. 

It is critical that the selection process reflects requirements that are both strategic and tactical. The requirements are best collected and assessed drawing on a wide range of stakeholders in the organisation including the ‘C suite’.

There are just some of the areas that we assess when working on a new LMS acquisition plan with a client. This helps us assess the various LMS software options and vendors that are proactively updating their software to meet changes in the workforce and operating environments.

  • Are there plans for any mergers and acquisitions?
  • Is the business likely to open up offices in other locations?
  • Will be business adopt a remote workforce model?
  • Does the business currently support a channel or may do so in the future?
  • Will the business undertake a digital transformation project and will the new learning management system remain fit for purpose?

Guide to choosing your LMS

alternativesA step by step guide to choosing the best LMS for your needs

How many times have you walked into a store with something specific in mind only to get home and realize that you blew your budget and now are the proud owner of 10 items that you didnt need? Over the years, various LMS systems have tried to be all things to all people;  the more bells and whistles the better. With all these added features, choosing your LMS can be overwhelming and confusing which can lead to the above example. According to a survey conducted by The eLearning Guild, nearly one-third of respondents said they were not satisfied with the LMS product they were using. There could be a variety of reasons for this but one thing is for certain, in order for a successful outcome to happen, a company must know what is most important to them and make sure the LMS performs those requirements well. This short guide will help clarify how to choose the best learning management system software and avoid the exhaustive and costly mistake of selecting an LMS that is poorly matched to your company needs.
The Wrong LMS Wastes Time and Money
The investment of time and money that organizations make in learning management systems is significant and lets face it, nobody likes to lose time or money. With over 600+ LMSs on the market, it can be quite daunting to choose the right LMS let alone face the consequences that can set you back months or even years in missed learning opportunities. Having a well thought out plan ahead of time when considering an LMS is a sure way to avoid buyers remorse. It also is a great way to position yourself for optimal success when choosing a learning management system software.
Choosing the Right LMS
In 2004, American psychologist Barry Schwartz published a book called The Paradox of Choice  Why More is Less. It argued that by eliminating the amount of consumer choices will greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers. The following guidelines will set a path for success by eliminating the LMS playing field from 600 to 1.  The LMS that best fits your needs and goals.
One of the most important parts of the entire LMS selection process is in preparation. This is the time to really focus on the details.
  • Choosing an LMS is not a one person job. Its important to create a team made up of a variety of departments in your company. These folks will be using the LMS in different ways and their feedback is critical. The features an information technology person deem important may be quite different then the HR perspective, right?
  • Do you have a leader? This person needs to drive the team, an LMS champion. They should be well versed in your company s learning needs, has the backing of management and controls the budget. They should also be able to bridge the various needs of the LMS team and come to a consensus.
  • Who will be using the LMS? Its important to define your customers and the ways in which theyll be utilizing the LMS. Come up with a variety of scenarios or initiatives with the customers in mind. Map out exactly what needs to be done and what tools are needed to implement the initiative. One example would be onboarding. If you know that in the next year that your company will be hiring a lot more staff and/or expect changes in user information, it will be particularly useful to have real-time integration features with your selected LMS.
  • Make a priority list. Your team of decision makers will be a big help in narrowing down the list. Think about what your company goals are as well as some big projects coming up. Tough decisions will need to be made as needs will not be the same across the organization.
Once a priority list has been drafted, it should be fairly easy to translate that into requirements. One of the biggest traps when shopping for an LMS is asking for every feature that is available that may or may not be needed. Follow your list of priorities to stay focused and on task. An easy way to do this is with the 80/20 rule  take care of 80 percent of your needs then see how successfully you can fulfill the rest of the 20 percent. Make everything not on your list of priorities to nice to have.
Vet available Learning Management Systems
At this point, you have slowly narrowed your priority list down to only the most important features along with some nice to haves. Now, the next step is to narrow your choices of LMS providers. Your list of top 10 requirements will rule out non qualifying products. For instance, if you would like an LMS that will leverage your investment in SharePoint, then this would be a good vetting criterion. There are many different pricing ranges for products. Ballpark licensing costs are another good vetting criteria.
Product Evaluation 
  • Request for information. An RFI contains a list of all your requirements with a few questions per requirement for vendors to answer. Evaluate the vendor responses with a scorecard that allows scorers to rate how well the vendor meets each requirement on a 5-point scale. After scoring the responses to the RFI, you can rule out some of the lower-scoring vendors and continue evaluating the top contenders.
  • In use demonstrations. Invite each of the top contenders to visit your organization for a half day to demonstrate their product. A good approach is to give them all the same use case ahead of time so you can compare them equally. Again, you can use a scorecard to evaluate the vendor demonstration and rule out those vendors whose products did not perform well.
  • Trial version. As you continue to evaluate the finalists, you may ask for a trial version of the LMS software where you can explore the finalist products. Hands-on exploration will give you a better sense of the user-interface design, features and capabilities of the product.
LMS Selection  yes or no
The final step is to select an LMS. Send a Request for Proposal (RFP) to each of your finalists asking for pricing quotes, implementation timeframes and support options. If you followed the above guidelines, you should feel very confident in your choice of learning management system software.
Leverage the Benefits of Your LMS
You should take the opportunity during your LMS implementation project to review your current business workflows and amend them as desired. You want to gain productivity and automation with your LMS and not be messing around with your LMS to get it do the things you need. There are so many benefits you will gain with an LMS, among these are:
  • More engaged workforce with self serve learning and development.
  • Reduced training costs.
  • Track and report easily to manage compliance and regulatory requirements.
  • Engage with new hires and offer consistent high quality on-boarding.
  • Use the LMS for resource planning, succession planning and skills gap analysis.
In today s business environment, an LMS is the backbone for training and development and continues to gain in popularity. One of the biggest advantages of an LMS is efficiency. In fact, many companies report a 50-70% cost savings just by switching from instructor-based training to eLearning. Your LMS should be able to manage online, instructor led and blended learning delivery to gain efficiencies in all learning modalities.

Is Productivity Killing Your Business?

Productivity is a hugely popular topic and there is no shortage of authors, teachers and ‘gurus’ out there to help you get more productive. You may be using Microsoft Outlook at work but if you do a search on ‘productivity apps’ you will get an avalanche of options for your laptop, phone and tablet. Productivity is a big deal and big business. It has advanced way beyond the days of sending people to a time management program and see them return with a paper planner in a binder. If you don’t remember those days you did not miss much.

Do you ever wonder why key strategic milestones and projects are not completed successfully and on time? Is your organisation slow to respond to changing internal external pressures? Are you only discovering failed or stalled projects when it is too late?

Organisational and team productivity is not always a sum of the ‘parts.’ Every person in a team may be highly productive but this does not always translate to overall productivity when measured by successfully achieving objectives. As a leader you need to take a deeper dive and build processes that will ensure productive activity achieves outcomes.         Strategy Cascade.001

Our process on a high level includes the following and we may go into a deeper dive in subsequent posts. In addition we have a number of tools to help teams and managers execute tasks and achieves tasks more effectively.

  1. Your corporate or organisation’s strategy must be clearly ‘cascaded’ to the individual level. Each person must have ‘line of sight’ from their role to the overall strategy.
  2. Your strategy should be broken down into goals, objectives and tasks in alignment with your structure and the strategic horizons assigned to roles and job titles in your business. This is a very simple structure.
  3. The most difficult phase of achieving excellence in execution is changing the way people work together and introducing systems and discipline in at least one management process. This process includes the following steps:
  • Weekly team meetings with a structure set of questions coupled with accurate note taking, task creation, task assignments and follow up. The manager meets with the team every week.
  • The agenda is fast and focused.
    • What are you working? Is it on your work plan and/or task list?
    • Is there anything or person disrupting or distracting you from achieving completion?
    • The manager asks, “What can I do to ‘clear the path’ or support you in achieving your tasks?” This is recorded as well.
    • The manager has one day or less to follow up with the person on actions taken.

4. The meetings are fully documented and retained. I have clients who use OneNote or          Evernote to record these meetings. The information captured is excellent for use in      management meetings, reporting up the organisation and for performance reviews with the manager and team members.

This can be a major change program depending upon existing systems and processes in your business and the culture you have. This type of process must be implemented at all levels of the organisation and not focused on one business unit or functional area. All managers who will be conducting the weekly team meetings must be trained in how to conduct them and record information. If a manager is away for any reason the weekly meetings must still occur.

The end in mind for this change initiative is achieving higher levels of engagement, adaptability and competitiveness. You achieve these outcomes by enabling people to work effectively to achieve your strategic objectives.