free associations

Monday, August 30, 2004

Less effort, more work?

To continue my thoughts (here and here) about work vs. effort, here's an interesting statistic:

IDC estimated that an organization employing 1,000 knowledge workers might easily incur a cost of more than $6 million in lost productivity as employees fail to find existing knowledge they need, waste time searching for nonexistent knowledge and recreate knowledge that is available but could not be located. Imagine the impact on an organization of 50,000 or more employees.

That's why, instead of asking employees to expend effort, organizations need to find ways to minimize effort to increase productive work.

I got this stat from a post in elearningpost. I think I might check out the article to which Maish refers in that post.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Work vs effort

It took a while, but I finally came up with my smart-aleck reply to "Folks, that's why it's called work."

No, that's why it's called effort. Folks, there's a difference.

If I were an employer, I'd want more than effort out of people, I'd want results for that effort. And the most results for the least amount of effort -- folks, that's called efficiency.

Tom Gilbert, one of the greats when it comes to human performance, talks about the cult of behavior. That's when you mistake the effort (the behavior) for the results, as in "He's a hard worker -- he stays late every night!"

Maybe he's just inefficient or slow.

But here's the real crux of the problem: is the solution to inefficiency to get people to want to be more efficient (incentives), teach them to be more efficient (training), fire the bum and get a more efficient person, or to look for the root cause, first?

Thursday, August 12, 2004

More about IM at work

Forbes has an interesting article on the subject. Here's a quote:

"People send instant messages without giving any thought to whether the other person is free," she says. "You should ask if someone has a minute at the outset." And we shouldn't take offense if someone we ping doesn't respond. "If they're online they're obviously doing something--they're not sitting there twiddling their thumbs waiting to hear from you," says Klinkenberg, "so leave them alone."

That about sums up my take on the matter -- because it's easy for us to contact someone when we have a minute, we tend not to think about the person on the other end. I think this is part of the same phenomenon as "if I'm not busy, you must not be busy."*

I also found it fascinating to see the prices these etiquette consultants charge.

Update 6/10/05: This post says it better than I can. Chat: Productivity Kryptonite
* One night, when I was working in a hospital lab, a nurse called and said:"Since you're not busy, could you..."
I replied, "Why do you think I'm not busy?"
"Well, it's slow on my floor tonight."

Instant Messaging Graduates To Workgroup Collaboration Tool - RG News

Yet another piece of collaboration software! I love new software. This looks to be a useful tool; but I wonder. IM is a blessing and a curse. It can provide instant communication and constant interruption. As if my day wasn't fragmented enough (mostly by my scattered thoughts).

It reminds me of a Monty Python short movie I only saw once -- The Crimson Assurance Company. There's a bit in there where people are trying to get work done and are getting constantly interrupted. At one point the character played by Eric Idle says something like, "You know, humans are capable of brilliant ideas, but they're fleeting and it's important not to be...." Just then a pirate ship shows up.

If anyone knows how that skit really goes, please enlighten me.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

One size fits all? Experiences with a Learning Management System (LMS)

Once upon a time there was a Greek king named Procrustes. He loved having guests, and loved it even more when they stayed overnight. He had a special bed that was guaranteed to fit the guest. Was the bed adjustable? In a way. If the bed was too large, Procrustes had the guest stretched until the bed was just right. And if the bed was too short, Procrustes had the guest shortened to fit the bed.

And that's most LMSes in a nutshell.

In the LMS I've had some experience with (which shall remain nameless) everything to be learned must be in a "course" and it must be the same format as all the other courses. And you must access the courses through the LMS.

What if you just want to look up something you read a while ago? You can't just look up a piece of information; there's no indexing by content -- only by course. And if a piece of information is in a course that wasn't defined as part of your job role -- you're out of luck again.

And in some LMSes, once you took the course, or read a section and passed the test, you couldnt even access it again!

Who remembers everything he or she's ever read or learned?

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

That's why it's called work?

Under a heading called "Search and Annoy," on the last page of its July issue, Baseline Magazine had this to say:

Corporate knowledge-worker bees can gather information more easily than they used to -- but that may not be saying much. A survey of 300 business professionals worldwide by research firm Delph Group found more than half think that the process of finding the information they need to do their jobs has improved in the past two years. However, 68% said it remains 'difficult and time consuming.' Folks, that's why it's called work.

Aside from annoying me, that last smart-aleck comment makes me wonder: what would an employer rather do: pay people for writing a report, coaching a subordinate, creating something; or pay them for the time they have to waste trying to find the information they need to do the former?

Saturday, August 23, 2003

The Quest for Health

Here's an example of a patient quiz about diabetes.
The Quest for Health

You may need to log in to the LA times.

It's done as a flat quiz -- answer a page of questions and then check your answers. Ripe for an action maze, as in Quandary, in my opinion.

Other than that, I like the navigation options in the upper right-hand corner. It seems to contain everything I might want to know about diabetes, at least an initial overview.

I also like the three buttons at the bottom of the page -- "continue story," "print this story," and "top of page."

However, "print this story" opens a Word doc. This isn't a good idea -- a lot of people surfing for info might not have MS Word. Better is to open an printable HTML page -- one that will format nicely, word wrap and such. And even better to incude a print button on the page.

Update 5/1/04
The Quest for Health changes monthly. The Diabetes article can still be found. I noticed that the current example does not have the "Print this story" button, although the Diabetes article still does, and it still opens "printable.doc" into Word.