Tag Archives: Training

Three Risks of Skimping on Training

From a Fool With a Tool is Still a Fool:

How many companies pony up the money for effective training? Very few, which explains why so many companies waste money on newfangled tools that never deliver their promised results.

I’ve seen this first hand, over, and over. Here are a couple of risks you take when you skimp on training.

1. No Training

Does this sound familiar?

Well, the software is supposed to be intuitive, so we don’t need training, we’ll figure it out.”

The problem is, if you put someone in front of a new tool, they’ll figure out how to do the same thing they were always doing, and nothing more. People love their habits. They like to go back to doing familiar things. I’m betting you didn’t invest all that money on new technology so that you could continue doing the same thing you were doing before, right? The new tool is supposed to change the way you are doing things, making your staff more efficient and productive, if not out right giving them the capability to do some great new work. How are they going to do that without someone leading them and challenging them to not only learn the tool, but learn a different workflow?

Imagine it everyone tried to use Twitter as a replacement for email and Instant Messaging? Boy, they’d be missing a lot.

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People Don’t Just Want Tools

Saw an article the other day that reminded me of something I rediscover with every training class.

“I teach my people on day one…’People don’t want drills, they want holes.’”

There’s something very profound in that statement. The reality that “most” people don’t buy tools, or technology, just because they want the technology. They buy it to help them accomplish something. Technology training, then, becomes much less about what the tool does and more about getting the hole you wanted in the first place.

It can be tempting in a training class to make sure you cover all of the options. If you’re teaching someone Word, for example, it can be tempting to go through each menu and talk about what each item on the menu does, and move on to the next menu and do the same, all while losing the point of why someone wants to use Word in the first place.

Frankly, a training class that simple went through the features of a tool, in order, would bore the heck out of me.

Don’t teach me everything the tool does, understand what I am trying to accomplish with it and show me how to do that! Take the time to be in my shoes, and understand my pain points, and then teach me how this new tool can be used to eliminate those pain points and get me to my end result.

When I’m doing a custom training class with a new customer, one of the first things I do is get in touch with them and ask about what they do now, and what they are trying to accomplish. With that information, I can create a class that fits with what they need, that teaches them to get where they are trying to go using that tool. Sure, I might run out of time and not explain every single feature, but that’s OK. It’s highly likely they aren’t at a point where they would use that feature anyway, and I leave them with plenty of documentation to help them understand anything that we didn’t specifically cover when the time comes that they want to start looking at some of those other options. The important thing, is that they know how to get where they are headed.

Now if they bought a tool and don’t know what they are trying to accomplish with it, that presents a whole lot of other problems, but that’s a post for another day. I’m sure some of you have seen projects like that, right? ;-)


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Ralph Losey Says Firms Should Get Out of Lit Support Business

Over the weekend Ralph posted a video on his blog, and had some rather strong opinions about what his firm is doing, and what firms should be doing in general.

I no longer have to supervise a litigation support department. Instead I manage a relationship with a vendor. It is much more pleasant, believe me. When not working on projects and serving clients, I focus my internal e-discovery firm management time on the training and education of my firm’s lawyers and paralegals. IMO this is the way it should be. Law firms should stick to their core competency, practicing law and teaching law, and should not try to run little vendor corps in their midst.

Now I don’t work in a law firm, and haven’t for a couple of years now, so I’m not the best person to comment on what Ralph has to say here. The one thing I will say, is this. Ralph’s experience with his firm and the lawyers therein, should not be taken as representative of what other firms would experience. After all, simply by having Ralph as the partner in charge of eDiscovery, they alter the reality of their situation in a way that no other firm could.

So for those of you who do work in firms or work for vendors who work directly with firms. what do you have to say about this? Should law firms focus on their core competency and get away from having in house litigation support? What about other areas, IT, Marketing, HR, etc.? Should those all be outsourced too?

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This Week’s Links (weekly)

The auto post from Diigo seems to be on the fritz today, so I’m adding this weeks links by hand. I apologize for the lack of further formatting. ;-)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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This Week’s Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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This Week’s Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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This Week’s Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Depression Stigma in IT?

Closeup fireI’ve been struggling with writing this for a couple of weeks now, but ever since I saw the article over on TechCrunch entitled We Need To Talk About Depression it has been on my mind.

The article talks about some of the stigma associated with depression and mental health in a startup company.

Building a startup is like climbing a mountain and being told you’ll only get the gear you need–harnesses, helmets, bottled oxygen–as you struggle toward the peak. Long hours away from family, responsibility to investors and users, and the fear of failure are extremely stressful and they sometimes coalesce into something more severe.
I’m not a startup founder, but as a TechCrunch writer I’ve gotten to know many, some quite well, and I’ve seen how entrepreneurship can put even the most optimistic people at risk for depression.

It got me thinking about the tech world in general. There are certain stereotypes about tech workers; we work long hours, have no social life, deal with highly stressful situations putting out all of the technical fires that happen within our organizations, etc. Those stereotypes, unfortunately, also turn into expectations. I have always thought that was one of the bigger problems with attracting females to an IT career, this sense that they would be expected to work long hours, be on call for emergencies, and non-emergencies, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, etc. (Granted, there are many other reasons why there are a lack of females in the tech world, but this is not an article about that)

Those expectations would make it difficult for someone dealing with depression as well. As John Grohol stated in response to the above article:

 Indeed. When you’re young and feel like you have endless energy, working 80 hours a week (and getting paid for 40) seems like a good idea. But it’s not. It eventually catches up to you, stresses you out, and throws your entire life out of balance.

Some of the articles written around this topic sound like thinly-veiled excuses for the discrimination and prejudice that many have experienced in startup cultures. That because these environments are stressful and demanding, it somehow excuses discrimination and stigma of mental illness.

Here’s where it gets personal to me. I’ve struggled with depression. I’ve attempted suicide before. Sure it’s been years, but this is something that I know I have to be on the lookout for every single day of my life. It’s also something that, while I freely discuss it on my other site, I don’t often discuss professionally. Continue reading

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Firing Network Admins

New office

Last week, during our user conference, I was doing a training session, one of the many I presented, on dealing with with confidential data within our platform. One of the points I made was that, at the end of the day someone with the proper skills needed to be the administrator of that platform, and as the administrator, they would have access to anything and everything. Much like a network administrator in any business, you either had to trust that person to do the job, and obey all of the proper policies regarding confidential information, or you had to do the job yourself.

On the other hand, while you certainly have to trust, you can also verify, so I showed the class how to run an audit log, which would show you if your admin had gone into a confidential project and looked at the data. I then opined that if I were in charge of a company and saw that my admin had been accessing confidential information, I would fire them right then and there, because I could no longer trust them.

That might sound harsh but at the end of the day, the folks with admin rights have so much responsibility that having one you don’t trust, isn’t worth it.

Today, I read something that made me want to go back and amend what I said about firing them. You might also want to make double sure and disable their access immediately too!

Ricky Joe Mitchell, 35, admitted that in June 2012, shortly after he learned he was going to be fired, remotely accessed EnerVest’s computer system and reset the company’s network servers to factory settings, essentially eliminating access to all of the company’s data and applications for the eastern US operations.

Before his access to EnerVest was terminated, Mitchell went to the office after business hours, disconnected critical pieces of computer-network equipment and disabled the equipment’s cooling system. EnerVest was unable to fully communicate or conduct business operations for nearly 30 days.

The company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to recover historical data from its network servers. Some data was lost forever.



Next Stop Oregon!

oregonAs if to prove that old axiom about mice and men, roughly 3 years after moving to South Carolina because we wanted to be in the South, we now find ourselves on the verge of moving about as far away from the South as we can without leaving the country.

Yes, my wife has accepted a job at the Oregon State Alumni Association. You can read more about her thoughts over on her own blog, I won’t try and speak for her.

What I do want to say about it is two fold. First and foremost, a bit of career advice. When you build good relationships with your co-workers, or other contacts, opportunities tend to find you. In this case, her former boss in Ohio wound up out in Oregon and approached her about applying for this job. When you combine that with my own experience of being recruited to my last two jobs by people I had met at conferences, the importance of relationships cannot be overstated. Continue reading

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