OCM – On the Sidelines

If you have worked as an OCM consultant in any development project, you would know what the topic of my blog means. You may be one of the many OCM team members/leads who get to state their status in any project meeting right in the end. You would also be used to being called upon last to discuss any project related concerns. So, what could be the reason behind it. Let’s start from the beginning.

What is OCM: OCM refers to Organizational Change Management. The OCM team manages the effects of change in an organization which could be due to change in the structure, technical set-up or the culture of the organization. OCM activities involve regular communication with the stakeholders and end users, continual validation of the change requirement, and optimization of the environment to receive the change.

How OCM is different: How is OCM different from the other project teams like development team and  design team can be explained with the example of a house construction project. There is an architect who designs the structure of the house and there are masons and constructors who build the house. And then there is a planning/marketing consultant who tells the architect about how the aesthetics of the house will affect the people and how this design should best be presented to them.

Why is OCM important: OCM is people-centric. The entire process of OCM revolves around people – their expectations, fears, and knowledge gap. While the design and technical teams concentrate on design, development, and implementation of the change, OCM concentrates on how this change will affect the people.

OCM on the sidelines in the development project: The first impression that one gets while observing the project is that OCM tasks and its status is never the priority in a development project. I am listing down the possible reasons for this state:

  1.  No direct impact on the current milestones – This is one of the biggest reasons why OCM remains on the sidelines in any development project. The OCM tasks do not have any direct impact on the development milestones of the project.
  2.  Not in the line of fire – Since the OCM team and its activities, during the run of a project, do not directly impact the imminent progress of the project, we are never in the “middle of the things” or in the line of fire.
  3. Ignorance –  The project manager may not always be aware of the affect of OCM on the success of the project. Although, there can be a lack of judgement on part of the project leadership, the OCM lead needs to strategically place OCM as the integral part of the project.
  4. Progress and Success – It is the responsibility of the OCM lead/consultant to educate the project leadership about how the current status of OCM may not affect the progress of the project but it will definitely affect the overall success of the project. It is important for us to understand the difference between progress and success of the project. Progress refers to how successfully you finished the current milestones before moving on to another and success tells us if the achieved milestones helped reach the target/purpose of the project.
  5. OCM runs parallel to the project – OCM runs parallel to the design and development part of the project. It actually begins before the project starts and stays throughout the journey of the project, all the while, running on a parallel track. While the design and development work takes the center stage of the project and showcases the tangible success of the project, OCM remains as the backbone of the project and connects project’s result with people.

On another note, being presented on the sidelines should be taken as one of the many dimensions of the project and all teams should work in their capacity towards the common goal. Many a times, the place of OCM team in a project is dependent on how the OCM team members position themselves. The OCM team should position itself as critical to the project success because they should see themselves on a parallel track with the development team – working together towards a common goal but on different tracks – the development team on a critical path and the OCM team on a crucial path with different deadlines and targets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Training as a Solution to a Problem Situation

I am in training domain and I am drawn to provide training as a solution to almost every problem that comes my way. But, at an individual level or at an organizational level, it may  not be prudent to rush to training as an immediate solution for any problem situation. As is widely perceived, training can be a solution to any requirement or problem situation that has resulted due to lack of knowledge or knowledge gap. For other problem situations, we may have to look for coaching, mentorship, counselling, etc.

The problem situations could be any of the given below:

  1. Non-performance
  2. New technology
  3. Employees dissatisfaction
  4. Change in leadership
  5. Market competition and many more..

whenever such situations occur, the organization hires or asks its internal Organization Change Management (OCM) team to assess the situation and suggest the appropriate solution. It is very important for the change managers/agents to completely analyze all aspects of an organization such as environment, stakeholders, risks, audience, technology, etc. before suggesting a solution.

One look at the above given problem situations, and we can quickly deduce training to be a solution for problem situations arising due to non-performance and new technology. This is because, it is very apparent that with relevant training, the performance of the employees can be improved and a new technology can be taught.

However, if we look at other problem situations, training may not be a direct solution but can be a change factor. With right kind of training in place, we can bring around a situation to be more favorable one to accept any change. This brings us to understand two types of trainings: Targeted training and Affective training.

Targeted trainings are those that are conducted for immediate effect on employees performance. Examples of targeted trainings are subject related/Technical trainings that are intended to improve the subject knowledge of the employees.

Affective trainings are those that are conducted on a periodic basis to influence the feelings, general behavior, and attitude of employees. Examples of affective trainings are soft skill trainings.

Now let’s take a look at the problem situations given above and possible gaps in performance /behaviour and which training we can use to fill the gap.

Training Solution

Please note that affective training may or may not bring desired results and the change in behaviour immediately or within specified period of time. However, these trainings should be conducted on a regular basis to the wide spectrum of audience and should be repeated after a certain duration for re-inforcement.

Let’s understand more about targeted and affective trainings through the difference table given below:

Training Solution 2.png

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Write a Perfect ILT

ILT refers to Instructor led Training and is one of the commonly used methods to impart training. This method is primarily used in class rooms where the learning is imparted by the instructor to the learners. The ILT materials mainly consists of Class room training deck (PowerPoint slides), instructor and student guides, and exercise sheets. The ILT sessions are further supported by the pre-requisite online courses and post-session assessments and job aids. In this article, we will talk about how to create a perfect ILT Power Point deck.

Before starting to create an ILT, we need to make sure of the below points:

  1. The course structure* and training approach have been finalised
  2. The scope of the course has been identified and verified by the Subject Matter Expert (SME).
  3. The course curriculum has been created with the following elements clearly defined:
    • Course objectives (terminal and enabling objectives*)
    • Types of assessments or knowledge check questions to check the learners knowledge against the objectives
    • Type of graphics and content representation techniques to be used
  4. The course outline* for the course has been created

We can follow the below steps to make sure all points to create an effective ILT have been covered.

  1. Once the course outline has been created, create an initial shell based on the course outline.
  2. Enter the content for each topic leveraging the reference material provided by the SMEs.

Best Practices of ILT

3. Define and follow the quality review process to ensure the technical and language accuracy of the content.

Quality.png

In my next blog, I will write about how to create a course outline and how to define terminal and enabling objectives.

Happy reading and please post your feedback.

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*Course Structure: The course structure details the number of topics and their sequencing in the course. Ideally, the course structure is defined as follows:

Course Structure

*Terminal Objectives: Terminal objectives are the performance statements that defines a learning activity to be completed in measurable and specific terms.

Enabling Objectives: Enabling objectives are the set of supporting objectives that should be completed to achieve a terminal objectives. A terminal objective is broken down into smaller and manageable objectives.

Objectives

*Course Outline: A course outline is a document that serves as an initial content shell of the course. It contains the names and small description of the sections and topics that will be created in each course.

 

 

 

Editing Beyond the Rules of Language

If you are an editor or if your friend is the one, you will often hear them saying, “it is so hard to truly appreciate and enjoy someone’s writing, as the editor in me takes over and I start reviewing.” When we read an article simply as a reader, we are more forgiving and accepting towards the writer’s individual sense of writing unless the writing is too complicated to comprehend.

Let me draw your attention to a very simple differentiation between a reader and an editor. When we are reading an article, our concentration is more towards understanding the article. It’s only when we find it hard to follow the text written that we start reading and re-reading the text until we find the possible loophole. Whereas, an editor from the first word of the article would scrutinise the article to check how effectively it has been written. To tell you in simple words, we all enjoy morning sun as bright and warm; although every day the sun is different – it’s warmth and brightness is different – but we appreciate the sun every day. However, when the weather people (meteorologists) look at the sun, they see the difference. They are able to differentiate which day the sun was brighter or which day the warmth was more.

It’s not wrong on the editor’s part to scrutinise the article as it is not wrong on the part of weather people to measure the warmth of the sun. They are simply trying to look a bit deeper to understand what’s beneath the surface. Their review/analysis helps us in deriving points or data that can be used to enhance the writing skills of the writers or to better assess the weather.

It’s not easy to give feedback to someone on their writing – mainly for two reasons – 1. Writing is very personal and 2. Each writing bears the individual signature of the writer. Therefore, many a times, commenting on anyone’s writing may be akin to commenting on that person’s dressing sense, which again could be very personal and individualistic.

In this article, I will touch upon two points any reviewer/editor should consider even before considering to apply the rules of language or grammar.

Read it first as it is and not as it should be

We are used to writing, talking and understanding a language in a certain way.  As an editor or reviewer, you should first try to get used to the writer’s style of writing and thinking. Many language reviewers tend to force their style on other person’s writing and it’s not deliberate. For example, if I am used to forming the sentences a particular way and when I read the phrase, “By when will you be arriving tonight”, I would find it hard to go beyond these words without commenting and correcting them as “What time you will be back tonight.” Many language rules may agree with me but what the writer has written can be understood clearly and there are bright chances that the style of the writer goes very well with the entire “personality” of the document. Sometimes, in our pursuit to correct the language, we pull the language out of its roots and make it the User Manual.

Try to get the central idea of the document before reviewing line by line

Many editors make this mistake of starting their review as soon as they open the document. As a best practice, try to get the central idea of the document from the writer in a separate mail or in the beginning of the document. In case, approaching the writer is not possible, spend some time familiarizing yourself with the document. Through this document, you are meeting the writer face to face. While giving cursory look to the document and trying to relate with the writer, you will be surprised to realise how close you are getting to know the person who has written it. Many seasoned readers and editors gradually develop this knack of accurately assessing the age, gender, and experience of the writer just by looking at the document written by them. And once you know the writer, reviewing their document become much easier and more enjoyable.

Please note that the mention of ‘editor’ in this blog is more in the sphere of technical writing/instructional designing.

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Successive Approximation Model

If you are in the field of training, e-learning, or content development, you would be familiar with ADDIE model. In case you are not, ADDIE model is one of the ISD (Instruction System Design) model that is used as a base for creating training content. This model consists of five phases that take us through the entire cycle of developing training content from analysing the training needs to delivering the training to the identified audience. Given below are the five stages of ADDIE model for your reference:

ADDIE Model

Figure 1a: ADDIE Waterfall Model

TTT – Train the Trainer ; ILT – Instructor led Training; WBT – Web based Training

The original ADDIE model was a waterfall model as shown above (Figure 1a). However, the ADDIE model was modified to have Evaluation phase implemented after every phase of the ADDIE, that is, Analysis, Design, Develop, and Implementation. This modification ensured that after each phase is completed, a formative evaluation is done to ensure that each phase has achieved intended results and the content development team is ready to go to the next phase.

ADDIE_Modified

Figure 1b: ADDIE Model with Evaluation Phase

With the Successive Approximation Model (SAM) – created by Allen Interactions, we are now introducing AGILE methodology to the ADDIE model. The AGILE methodology is about introducing incremental review and feedback after each stage of the process to ensure each stage has been processed and the desired outcome has been achieved. With AGILE approach in the ADDIE model, we have entered evaluation/feedback iterations during the Design and Development phases.

The Successive Approximation model consists of three phases – Preparation phase, Iterative Design phase, and iterative Development phase – before the training program is rolled out.

SAM

Figure 1c: Successive Approximation Model

During the Preparation phase, the information is gathered to conduct the Training Needs Analysis and the training team gets ready to create the course curriculum and course design documents (Design phase). In the Iterative Design phase, the course curriculum and course design documents are created. Based on the identified design, a prototype is created for each deliverable. The prototype goes through the evaluation and subsequent feedback is received. The iteration is continued till the desired quality prototype is approved and finalised by the stakeholders.

Once the prototype is approved, the training content development team starts with the development of the training content. The completed training material, after the quality review rounds, is shared with the business stakeholders for their feedback (Alpha release). The changes are made to the course material based on the Alpha release feedback and the updated training material is released to the selected training audience for their first view feedback (Beta release). After the Beta release feedback is addressed, the course material is ready for the Train the Trainer session (Gold release).

These successive iterations during the Design and Development phases help you spend adequate amount of time on design and development of course material. Also, the regular feedback from the stakeholders ensures the necessary feedback is received on time and the training material is always checked and validated for subject matter and quality.