How to Build a Do-It-Yourself non-MBA, MBA

Certificate of who's got time_

Who’s got time to do an MBA. Not me… that’s for sure.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of great people out there with great skills. Some of these people even have MBAs.

I can see the need to reskill and upskill. Especially in this weird economy. However, I haven’t got time for another qualification. And I don’t want a divorce.

Google it. MBA often correlates with divorce. It’s a real thing.

What I really need though is some new ideas. And some new tools that allow me to move forward in uncertain times.

And not everyone cares as much about degrees and qualifications as they used to. 

I decided all of this at Christmas time this year. Christmas is always a great time for introspection.

And by introspection I mean the general disillusionment and existential distress that follows too much eating, drinking and time with relatives.

But what I realised is that the best way forward for me was to look at building myself my own MBA.

And not really an MBA at all. A kind of DIY non-MBA, MBA. So I put a very fuzzy plan in place earlier this year.

What I needed, I decided, was some new inputs… a combination of things that made sense to me.

I’m sure research would suggest that eclectic approaches lead to incoherence. However, while this might be true for groups, eclecticism works on an individual level.

In other words, my choices for my DIY non-MBA, MBA don’t need to make sense to anyone except me. And I can choose them intuitively if I want to or let one thing lead to another.

So that’s what I’m doing.

Everything around me seems to be changing anyway. And rapidly. If I know one thing is true, it’s that I need to adapt to this pace of change and change too.

I also know that the toolset that I’ve been using for the last 10 years is no longer enough. At least that’s my perception.

I mean… I’m sure that I can get by on my existing toolset. But I’m no longer sure that I want to. I’m looking forward to the change and disruption that lies ahead.

Well, kinda.

What I’ve seen though, when I gaze into my crystal ball, is a mixture of opportunities and problems that I want to understand better. But I feel like I don’t have the tools to analyse them or manage them.

So here’s what I did. I had a look at what I’m interested in personally and professionally. And then I booked myself into a series of short courses over the last six months.

Three were with the Executive Education programme at the University of Auckland’s Business School. I already had a relationship with Auckland because I’ve studied and worked there.

The three courses I’ve undertaken so far have been excellent and I’ve blogged about two of them.

One I wrote about extensively. This was Service Design Thinking.

Then a few months later I picked another one. This time it was about Critical Thinking.

The one I haven’t blogged about yet was Project Management which I’ve just completed. I’ve got a lot to say about this in future posts.

One nice thing about these two-day workshops is that they keep the disruption of my life to a minimum. Each of these has been a two-day intensive in Auckland.

This timeframe is about right for me. I love Auckland, but too long and the traffic gets to me.

I’m going to write more about this soon, but the short version, for now, is that I got a lot out of the Project Management course.

It was just an introduction. And I don’t have any real desire to become a project manager.

However, I think the future of work – for myself, anyway – is projects. I know this is true for me for the last 12 months. And it certainly looks that way for the immediate future.

And managing projects is really hard.

I struggle to manage my own time and projects, let alone projects involving others. But I feel that I’ve got a basic toolset now to make sense of my own and others’ projects.

So… watch this space for more on projects and project management.

And if you’re good at maths, you’ll realise that I’ve only accounted for three of the four short courses so far in my DIY non-MBA, MBA.

The other one feels a bit weird to write about here.  But in the interests of full disclosure, I did a weekend course on sandal making at Shoe School in Wellington.

Before you judge me, there is a connection to all the other stuff I’m interested in. But I’ll have to leave that to another day.

In the mean time, check out the sandal workshop gallery here. If you see some black ostrich leather men’s scuffs. They’re mine. I designed them, cut them out by hand, then stitched and glued them together.

So much fun.

How To Develop Great Teaching Materials In 5 Steps

Screenshot 2015-08-25 22.11.00

It’s no secret that I love the process of developing new resources. That’s something that hasn’t changed over quite a few years of teaching and training.

My process for materials development has changed quite a lot of the last few years though.

I have 5 rules for myself for this process. Well, they’re more like guidelines.

  1. Solve a problem. My students tend to drive new resource creation. They just don’t know it. Most of my resource creation happens as a reaction to common problems in the learning process.
    • At the moment, many of my students are stuck on Assessment 4 in the course that I teach. In this assignment they have to collate several different kinds of evidence. I have a checklist, but I wanted to create something visual. Here’s the checklist. For my poster though, I’m only interested in the far left hand side.
      Screenshot 2015-08-25 21.56.19
  2. Start analog. I make a point of starting with my non digital tools first. I like to get the shape of the idea sketched out on the white board or in my journal. Or usually both.
    • Here’s my first draft of a poster for Assessment 4 on the white board. I started portrait and then redrew it in landscape on the left.
    • Here’s my second draft. I want people to see the different kinds of evidence they have to collect. And then make the links to their Study Guide and Assessment Guide. This time I’ve redrawn the poster in my notebook.
      Journal 2
  3. Finish digital. From the white board and journal, I move on to the digital tools. Currently, I’m learning to use Adobe Illustrator. This is a new tool for me and I’m still figuring it out.
    • Here’s a couple of printouts from early versions of the handout that I was working on.
  4. Iterate as fast as possible. I go through many different versions before I’m happy with the final product.
    • Here’s the current version in Illustrator.
      Screenshot 2015-08-25 14.27.52
  5. Realise that it’s never finished. One of the things I realised early on in my teaching career was that my resources needed to be dynamic. The content needs to evolve, rather than remain static.
    • Here’s a screen shot of the PDF of the resource (for now anyway).
      Screenshot 2015-08-25 22.11.00

How to deliver a presentation… for your NCALNE (Voc) professional development


Delivering a short presentation is part of the coursework requirements if you are completing the NCALNE (Voc) training and you’ve been part of one of our groups around the country.

From 2015 it will also be something that all our distance and online students will need to do and upload to Pathways Awarua.

Read this overview of how to prepare and deliver your presentation.

What do I need to know?

You need to know how to:

  1. Gather the material that you need and prepare to present
  2. Structure your presentation
  3. Deliver your presentation

Prepare to present

Let’s assume that you’ve got your actual material… or at least the raw material ready because you’ve actually done the work before hand. From here you need to think about your audience, your purpose, and what visuals would be helpful.

Know your audience

You may be presenting to a group of your colleagues, in which case, you may already know quite a lot about them. However, there may also be other industry representatives present. In any case, you should make sure that your presentation is targeted to your audience. You’re also pitching your presentation to your trainer or assessor.

Have you considered any of these for your audience:

  • Subject knowledge
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interest
  • Cultural heritage
  • Context
  • Expectations
  • Experience

As a rule of thumb, unless they’re in the same trade as you, you can probably assume that they don’t know what you know about your field, but that they are at least interested in what you’ve got to say and any wider application.

If you’re just recording your presentation, some of this won’t be relevant. But again, don’t assume detailed technical knowledge of your trade. But do assume an interested, nontechnical assessor as your audience.

Be clear on your purpose

The overall aim of this presentation is for you to showcase the work you have done around your Embedded LN Project. Your specific objectives in the talk should include:

  • An outline of your embedded LN project.
  • Connections between initial or diagnostic assessments you carried out, learning outcomes you designed, learning plans you created including specific learner needs and next steps, as well as the strategies, activities, and other assessment tasks you delivered.
  • A brief evaluation and reflection on what you did, especially in terms of what was effective and what you’d change in the future.

Have Some visuals

Either put together some slides in Keynote or Powerpoint. Or have a short handout or out some images to pass around to the group.

Develop any visual aids (e.g. handouts, power point slides) to help with comprehension of your presentation by the audience. Don’t overdo it, or read off your slides, but having some clear visuals will improve your delivery here.

Structure your presentation

Some guidelines:

  1. Your introduction should outline the purpose, context and direction of your talk.
  2. The body of your presentation should deliver the main information about your embedded project LN in a logical and coherent way. Cover the highlights from each of these:
    • What were your learners’ needs? E.g. outline your diagnostic assessment data.
    • What were your embedded LN interventions? E.g. Discuss the embedded LN teaching that you did including activities and resources.
    • What progress did you see? E.g. Discuss your post assessment data in relation to the diagnostic assessment.
    • What worked? Reflect on what worked and what didn’t and what you’d do to improve things.
  3. Your conclusion should encapsulate the key points from your talk.
  4. Your content should be structured to help make it easy for others to understand what you did within the time you have allocated.
  5. You should aim for smooth transitions between the main points of your talk.

Deliver your presentation

When you get up to give your presentation, make sure that…

  1. You stick to the timeframe that you’ve been allocated. Usually, 7 to 8 minutes is fine unless you’ve been told otherwise.
  2. You use language that is appropriate to the audience.
  3. You use your voice to establish rapport with the audience and maintain the audience’s interest. Pay attention to volume (how loud or soft you speak), pace (how fast you speak), pitch (Whether your voice is high or low), pauses (How you stop and start), and tone (what emotion your voice conveys, e.g. nervous, enthusiastic, conversational, formal)
  4. You use non-verbal communication to establish rapport, maintain interest, and help with comprehension of your talk by the audience. This means your posture, gestures, eye contact, facial expressions, and movement in general.
  5. Any visual aids are integrated with your delivery and your presentation conforms to specified time-frame.
  6. Your delivery demonstrates smooth transitions between main points.
  7. If you use notes that this does not distract the audience’s attention from your presentation.