Rusting to success

I never thought of success in terms of rust, but I had the privilige of having some relaxing time on the plane from Chicago and I read the September issue of Business 2.0 from cover to cover. I would highly recommend this issue to ALL members of small businesses. The issue covers the latest business disruptors/innovators and also give some detials about previous disruptors such as the founders of Facebook, Google, Microsoft etc. The whole issue was filled with inspiration for small businesses to keep going and to keep thinking about new ways to help people do what they do more effectively, easier and quicker. One particular article struck gold with me. The article about Fred Franzia was elightening and VERY amusing. Wow, talk about a fish that swims agianst the current.

My favorite Fred Franzia quote from the article is:
"Success is easy if you think of it as rust: It's inevitable if you keep at it."

Amazingly that is the consistent message from all of the start up entrepreneurs that are profiled in the magazine. Keep at it, believe in yourself and work hard. The rust will take care of itself!

Putting a $ amount on trust

I bumped into a business associate the other day and he was telling me a horror story about a new LMS implementation that went horribly wrong at a large fortune 500 company. Accordingly to him they had an excellent computer systems validation (CSV) team in place and all was going well. Suddenly the company found a cheaper supplier and kicked the first guys out. The new guys came in and didn't know what they were doing and all the wheels fell off the bus. Does this sound familiar? Have you had similar experiences with 'cheaper' low quality vendors replacing 'more expensive' top quality guys and gals?

My associates seemed to be of the opinion that this is happening more and more. Companies focus purely on the $ amount being charged and don't look at the bigger picture i.e. the cost of bringing a new group up to speed, building relationships between team members, additional time spent on project management, policing the quality of the final product etc. Much of these activities can be grouped under the broad label of trust. Can you trust you supplier to deliver a quality product on time and on spec? What dollar amount can you put against that feeling of trust? Is it really worth getting someone new in and not having that trust and security? Is the example I cited a case of shortsightedness or is there more to it? Your thoughts are appreciated.

Personally I have a network of suppliers that I've selected based on both cost and quality. Once they've been selected I consider them as part of my company and I build a long term relationship based on both parties mutually benefiting. Unless their price to quality ratio drastically increases I wouldn't cut the relationship to save a few $'s somewhere else. To me, if it looks too good to be true it probably is. Putting a $ amount on a business relationship built on trust is highly risky and not worth the gray hairs. In my case I am losing hair at a rate of knots, so I have to take good care in this department.


40's up!

I was amazed when I noticed that I have posted 40 entries on this blog (this being # 41). I also counted 23 comments which I think is a great ratio of comments to posts.

Thanks for the feedback I really appreciate. I enjoy blogging although it was pretty hard to get the juices flowing initially.

Death by video?

We live in the multimedia age. One unfortunate Miss Teen USA contestant massacres a response to a question in a beauty pageant (while mentioning my country of birth) and EVERYONE watches it on Youtube – with subtitle included.

Surely given the massive amount of video that people now have access to on their cell phones, smart phones, PDA's, internet, TV, TiVO etc it makes logical sense to bombard people with video in training programs, right?

I am constantly amazed at the number of customers who want video in their training programs. The reason that I am amazed is because when I ask them why video is needed they look at me with blank stares. Apparently it is so obvious that no explanation is needed. Don't get me wrong many of our training programs use video elements/segments but these are tied directly to the objectives of the program.

So this begs the question - can a training program suffer from death by video? Surely having a video training program is much better than having just text on screen. I would say - maybe. Having the talking head video on screen for 30 minutes is just as boring as the text based page turner. Yes, I did say boring. Fact is people are busy and they want something that engages and entertains them. This is best achieved by use a combination of eLearning elements such as text, interactive graphics, audio and video. The last two elements may be limited based on your budget, time frame, deployment method etc.

Back to video. Using video is a great idea but use it in limited amounts to meet your learning objectives. What are users going to get out of the video? Why do they need to see the video? Does the video have graphics included, multiple narrators/actors i.e. will it engage the user? If you can adequately answer these questions then you should use video. The best idea is to split any video that is longer than 3-5 minutes into separate learning segments. Contemporary business people share one characteristic with gold fish, their concentration span is VERY short. This means you have to keep them hooked and using video can be a great way to achieve this.

Just make sure that your training program doesn't suffer a quick and horrible death by video.