Culture dropping


In todays development ecosystems,  “Culture dropping” can create barriers to successful team effectiveness.  What is Culture dropping?  It is adding a pseudo-context for the effect of trying to add value to a problem, that is culturally inaccurate. Media Dictionary describes pseudo-context as:

the structure of information presented through the media, which is thought by some to be fragmented and useless

Here are two examples that I have seen in development circles.

Communication Channels

When working with remote or “off-shore” teams, communication is critical to the success of the team, BUT wouldn’t you say that communication is key to all teams success?  Why is it that we must have better defined requirements and documentation for these remote teams.  I know plenty of developers that need to work on communication with the person in the cube next to them. 

I currently work for global clients and the excess documentation syndrome is very evident not just in the off-shore model, but also with the culturally diverse talent that I work with.  But maybe I am just over sensitive in this area.

Experience

In the consulting industry this is always a battle of context. Instead of the focus on the skills in the industry, persons are looked at for “experience” based upon longevity.  I have seen people hired because they have 15 years of experience, yet none in the area that is needed to solve the problem.  Time over skills is a prevailing norm in the industry. 

There are many reasons for this, but the primary one is due to the hiring managers lack of experience in the subject area themselves.  They believe that time in the industry is the cure all for solving the problems.  I have watched interviews cut short because the person “looked like they just graduated high school” or the resume wasn’t 5 pages with 10 different jobs. 

The pseudo-context of a full resume, a certain look, and longevity will result in losing some of the most talented employees, consultants, and value to your organization.

What examples can you give where “Culture dropping” has happened in your profession?

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Quick presentations


The need for solid presentation skills is everywhere. Last night I went to my daughter’s school for curriculum night and listened to a general session of information that is happening in the school and seven teacher presentations, one for each class my daughter takes.  Here are some takeaways from those presentations.

  1. Preparation:  It was noticeable who was prepared and who wasn’t.  For many parents this may be the only time they got a chance to interact with the teachers in person. Teachers with a long tenure at the school flowed much better with their presentations than new teachers.
  2. Attention:  One teacher caught my attention right from the beginning and engaged the parents in the classroom.  She didn’t talk about her credentials, classroom policies, or procedures, but had a theme that was delivered throughout the presentation.  She was the last presentation and had every parent captivated even after a long day.
  3. Enthusiasm: I recognize the length of the day for the teachers was pretty long and you may have just given the same presentation 5 times, but show some energy.  There were 3 presentations that I felt missed the mark in this area.
  4. Mood:  One of the classrooms I walked in on had the main lights off, table lamps on, and had a comfortable curl up in your chair and read a book feeling.  As you would probably guess, this was Language Arts. I felt like I was participating with my daughter in class.
  5. Organization:  I was impressed by the “Startup Slide” that my child sees every day, the handout of the syllabus, the contact information at the ready.  I was disappointed by some teachers not getting started on time, “on the fly” presenting, and running through the syllabus in a verbatim fashion.

Other observations

  • Several teachers anticipated the questions parents were asking
  • My daughter has a very educated set of teachers with varying backgrounds.  She should have a great education year
  • There were some references to teaching to the standard tests
  • Parental involvement was encouraged
  • Teachers prefer email almost exclusively
  • Curriculum changes were discussed

Parents that chose not to attend this really lost out in my opinion.  Make sure you work to participate in your child’s education.

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True impact of a teacher


DSC_0069Over the course of the last year, I have been following Dan Meyer’s blog (dy/dan).  It is great looking into the thoughts of a truly brilliant teacher.  In his latest post, Guilt is the new Merit Pay, just a short excerpt of a comment by a follower, I found the comments overwhelming.

You see, Dan is moving from being a teacher to pursuing his Ph.D.  Most of the comments were from other teachers about the impact that he has made. I want to let you know that his style of teaching has made an impact on myself as a leader and change agent.  He is teaching me how to prepare developers to learn better and faster, challenge the norm, and think about WCYDWT. 

I have used many of his posts in value sharing exercises and even participated in one of his online sessions.  Dan’s style of teaching convinces me that there is a better way.  His teaching style is not relegated to the education community, but to the world community.  Let’s share the great lessons with others and help Dan continue the foundation of excellence that he has established.

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