Sandbox Time – The Importance of Play When Learning New Technology

November 18, 2009 by · 17 Comments 

Put in sandbox time to master your technologyOne challenge many teams and organizations face is getting their people to use and embrace much of the amazing collaboration software and technology that is available. In working with virtual teams, we find that many people tend to fall back on email rather than shared online work spaces – or opt for traditional conference calls rather than using web meeting or conferencing services.

Find Their Comfort Zone

The biggest stumbling block is getting your team comfortable with the new software or service and truly understanding the benefits it provides.

In short, why would it make my life or job easier?

Far too few companies provide training on these technologies – so you and your colleagues are forced to figure it out as you go along or after a very brief tutorial. This sink-or-swim mentality causes many of these powerful tools to go untouched and impedes productivity.

The secret to turn this all around is simple . . . play!

The Power of Play

Play is a non-threatening way to remove stress from learning and encourage exploration of the features of new technology. Create some type of project for your team that’s fun and everyone will be excited about using the new tool.

Want your team to start using SharePoint or some other type of web-based discussion board or collaboration space? Why not setup a place where they can share recipes, bios, and information about their hobbies and families?

Want them to use WebEx or some other meeting service? Create time to have a regular virtual water cooler where they can share photos, create a Read more

E-learning, cloud computing, distributed work, and telecommuting (Techwatch Radio interview)

September 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

I had the pleasure of joining my friends Sam Bushman and Jay Harrison, the hosts of Techwatch Radio, last Saturday on their weekly tech talk show.  I’ve been a fairly regular guest on their show over the last 5 years and always enjoy the discussions we have. What I love about their show is that, much like this blog,  they take a practical approach to technology and living a digital lifestyle.

The program consists of fast-paced news, callers, guests, and features such as the website of the week and the do’s and dont’s of tech. Sam and Jay focus on balancing technology in your life and letting hi-tech serve you, not own you! Their fun, casual way of simplifying complex issues will help the average person get up-to-speed on the tricks and tools for the times we live in.

Last week I joined them for the second half of the show and we discussed elearning, managing remote workers, the growth of telecommuting, why I’m drinking the Apple Kool-Aid (and switching to a Mac soon), cloud computing, and the shifts involved with successful distributed work. You can listen using the player below and I invite you to comment on this post and share your thoughts on these topics and our discussion.

Techwatch Radio can be heard Saturday mornings from 10-11am ET.  You can listen live from anywhere online or download past shows from their RSS feed.  I subscribe to their podcast and listen on my iPod Touch so I don’t miss a thing!

University Programs in Mobile Work

September 22, 2009 by · 7 Comments 

Education image by Cohdra

Post Graduate Programs in Remote and Distributed Work?

A blog visitor, Christian M., sent this question:

I’m a 27 year old business consultant in Germany. I want to write a PhD thesis about “work anywhere, anytime”. Do you know a professor at a university, business school etc. who could supervise a PhD thesis about this topic or do you have an advise for me to find one? He could be located anywhere in the world.

I hope you know somebody doing scientific research about this topic.

Thanks a lot,

My reply to Christian was as follows:

We do not personally know any one who does scientific research into remote work or global business teams, but I may be able to suggest a few places to begin your research.

I am listing below a few universities which offer graduate level programs in areas closely related to your field of interest. Unfortunately, only the first is a PhD program. I believe the other 2 are MBAs but perhaps someone there could offer insight. The final link is to a resource which lists PhD programs in information related fields.

It seems odd given the prevalence of distributed work in our world that the field is still so young and unformed as an academic discipline. I discovered much the same thing when I studied Comparative Religions. I always felt that one of the benefits of that was the diversity of faculty and departments I got to work with – I would get to study under  Anthropologists, Historians, Doctors of Divinity, Sociologists, and Psychologists all in the same program, with only the subject as a unifying principle. So while the newness of telework as a subject of serious study presents some challenges, it likely also presents great opportunities and flexibility.
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