The Future of Work is Project Work


The future of work, at least for me, is project work. At least it seems that way at the moment.

So… welcome to the new work order.

But project management is really one of my blindspots.

Working in education, I have a background in training, not project management, or any kind of management really.

I’m Ok with deep domain knowledge in my obscure field, but I’ve always felt out of my depth when it comes to project management.

It’s weird because in education we are constantly surrounded by the language of project management but my impression is that no one really knows what this language means.

As part of my DIY non-MBA, MBA, I’m trying to get some new ideas but also address my blindspots.

I’m slowly working through a list of things that interest me or that I think are going to help me:

Shoe school is a little left-field, I admit but that’s gonna have to wait for another time.

Most recently, I took the two-day Project Management course.

Afterwards, I caught up with the super wonderful, Wen Goble – Programmes Advisor at the Business School’s Education Education division.

She asked me a couple of questions which we recorded for the video above. Notes and other takeaways will follow soon.

 

 

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.

Service Design Thinking: Thanks to the University of Auckland Business School for the shout out


exec-logo

Updated: In collaboration with the University of Auckland Business School, get 10% off the course fees for Service Design Thinking at checkout by using this code before the end of 2018: GRAEME10

I blogged recently about the Service Design Thinking course I did through the University of Auckland’s Business School and Executive Education programme.

It was a great two-day programme and I learned a lot. They’ve featured my blog on their LinkedIn Showcase page. Thanks, team…!

For easy and quick reference, here are all the links to the seven posts I’ve written so far on Service Design Thinking.

Introduction

Some Basic Service Design Tools

Got any Service Design Thinking tips or tools? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

What are some easy-to-use Service Design Tools…? Part 3 – Customer Journey Maps


Customer Journey Map.001

Updated: In collaboration with the University of Auckland Business School, get 10% off the course fees for Service Design Thinking at checkout by using this code before the end of 2018: GRAEME10

Customer journey maps are another simple but powerful tool from the Service Design toolkit.

These sit nicely with the other tools I’ve been looking at including Stakeholder maps and using Personas.

The idea is that you map out in a highly visual way the experience of a person (or persona) over time. You can do this for different purposes. Some of these might include:

  • Collecting real-life stories from users. In my case, this might include learners or tutors.
  • Understanding how services work – don’t work as the case may be. A journey map might help you identify pain points and roadblocks or potential inefficiencies that you want to target.
  •  Envisioning future services.

All you need really is a bunch of sticky notes and a decent wall space. I like the style below where you also map the emotional ups and downs of the user journey as well.

I haven’t used this one yet, but I’ve been thinking through how I could use it in the implementation phase of the current project.

Customer Journey Map.002

What are some easy-to-use Service Design Tools…? Part 2 – Using Personas


Persona.001

Updated: In collaboration with the University of Auckland Business School, get 10% off the course fees for Service Design Thinking at checkout by using this code before the end of 2018: GRAEME10

Another easy to use and super helpful tool from the Service Design toolkit is to develop and use personas.

Here’s an alternative definition to the one in the image above from this great website:

Each persona is based on a fictional character whose profile gathers up the features of an existing social group. In this way, the personas assume the attributes of the groups they represent: from their social and demographic characteristics to their own needs, desires, habits and cultural backgrounds.

Personas can be assumption-based or research-based. And sometimes one leads to the other.

For my project, I needed to develop personas that were composites of different kinds of tutors, educators and other support personnel working in the foundation education sector.

My process for this evolved over time and I would modify it based on each group I worked with. But the basic idea was this:

  1. Get a group of tutors together who share common attributes. An example might be that they all work in an ESOL context with refugees and migrants, or that they work with Māori learners in a particular special character context.
  2. Talk about my project in a way that makes sense to the participants. Often this involved telling the story of the most recent personas created from a previous group. And then drawing out differences or similarities to their own contexts.
  3. Set up a task with two or three key questions. In this way, they were able to describe the kind of work they do and evidence that they might bring to the table.
  4. Facilitate a discussion around the emerging categories. Usually, I’m finetuning the categories with each group. By the end, I had a good idea about what categories would encompass all of the different kinds of responses I was likely to encounter.

My questions were specific to the context of my project. For example, we were looking to create a draft professional standards framework for educators and others. This meant that there were three key questions to ask.

questions.001

Responses didn’t give me the broad categories I needed for the framework. Rather, the responses allowed me to play with different categories and see how the responses fit.

The result: Now I have a selection of personas that I can use to tell stories about different kinds of tutors who may be affected by the new service that we are looking to design. This cuts across a lot of technical jargon and needless education-speak.

And that makes it easier for me to pitch the work to others when I need to in a very user-friendly way.

What are some easy-to-use Service Design Tools…? Part 1 – Stakeholder maps


Map 2.001

Updated: In collaboration with the University of Auckland Business School, get 10% off the course fees for Service Design Thinking at checkout by using this code before the end of 2018: GRAEME10

The idea with a stakeholder map is that you can visually represent all of the various groups involved in a service. This might include organisations, staff, experts and others.

I got to this late. So the image above is one that I did retrospectively after I did the Service Design course at Auckland Uni. I’d already made a start on my project but it was still helpful. The context for me is education service provision.

What it made me realise, is that when I encounter difficulties it’s because the network of relationships in my field is complex. No kidding, right?

But this helped me realise that it’s a bit like an ecosystem. Which is a polite way of saying that it’s really like a swamp.

Here’s how I mapped my stakeholders:

  1. I started with my project in the centre.
  2. Then I listed all of the key organisations or types of organisations that I needed to work with or talk to.
  3. Then around the outside, I added other influences.
  4. Finally, I added questions that I needed to think about.

What I haven’t shown on here – that some people like to add – is arrows showing linkages and relationships between organisations and groups.

If I did it would start to look like a crazy wall very quickly.

The way I’m using this now is that if I need to, I can structure discussion or thinking around one or more aspects of what I’ve mapped. And at the same time hopefully not lose sight of the bigger picture (which sometimes has a habit of slipping away when you go down a particular rabbit hole).

Key to acronyms in case you read this far.

  • TEC = Tertiary Education Commission.
  • SME = Subject matter experts.
  • ITP = Institute of Technology and Polytech.
  • PTE = Private Training Establishment.
  • WPL = Workplace literacy.
  • NCLANA = National Centre for Literacy and Numeracy for Adults (Now defunct).
  • ESOL = English for Speakers of Other Languages.
  • ITF = Industry Training Federation.
  • ACE = Adult Community Education.
  • NZCALNE = New Zealand Certificate in Adult Literacy & Numeracy Education.
  • NZCATT = New Zealand Certificate in Adult Tertiary Teaching.
  • NZQA = New Zealand Qualifications Authority.
  • PLD = Professional Learning & Development.
  • HEA = Higher Education Academy.

 

What is Service Design Thinking…? Part 4


2018 Tu Maia Workshop IMAGES on Service Design.008.jpeg

Service Design Thinking Guidelines

Updated: In collaboration with the University of Auckland Business School, get 10% off the course fees for Service Design Thinking at checkout by using this code before the end of 2018: GRAEME10

This is part 4 of a follow up on the Service Design Thinking short course I did through the University of Auckland‘s executive education programme.

Above are some service design thinking guidelines drawn from the book I mentioned in the previous post.

I’ve put my own spin on this, but there are a couple of things that the graphic above does not show:

  • One is that the creation and concept design phase includes making mistakes. Sometimes you need the freedom to make these mistakes in order to do the learning you need in order to refine your prototype.
  • The other thing is that the process is not really linear. I’ve dropped in the icon with the circular arrows to suggest this. But I think the reality is quite messy as you flip back and forth across different phases in the design process. More like the squiggle image below.

squiggle