Archive for March, 2015

The same message received via email, voice mail, or face-to-face will have different interpretations; as illustrated by the assignment this week. One of the first rules of communication highlighted in one of this week resource videos was to make sure “communications are clear, concise, and focused” (Laureate, n.d.). The communication for this week’s assignment did not meet these basic requirements.

The sender of the communication (Jane) to the recipient (Mark) is very ambiguous in her communication. Ambiguity kills and results in misunderstanding and even hurt feelings (Laureate, n.d.). It almost feels as if Jane is blaming Mark for the missing report, we do not know from the email if the missing report is Mark’s or a different report from which Jane can obtain the information she needs. In addition, Mark may have more than one report he is working on, Jane does not specify the report nor the specific information she needs. Without stating clearly and concisely the information she is needed and a timeframe for her deadline to be met, Mark may not understand the importance of this message.

In addition, it is important that communications be customized based on individual personalities (Laureate, n.d.). Jane started to acknowledge how busy Mark is by acknowledging this is the first line of her statement. She made a serious error by inserting a “but” after this statement, undermining her sense of empathy. Had she stated: “I know you have been busy and possibly in that all day meeting today. I really need an ETA on the missing report”, leaving out the “but” the communication would have come across as more sincere.

Hearing the voice mail of the same information was a bit better than the email. In the voice mail you were able to hear the tone of voice Jane used. Jane does not come across in the voice mail as negative towards Mark as she did in the email. However, because it was worded exactly as the email the issue of ambiguity is still present and Mark may still not have a sense of urgency regarding completing this task.

The final modality presented the information in video format, with the intent of showing a face-to-face interaction. Though we could see Jane, it was not any more effective than the email, and in my opinion less effective than the voice mail. It did not reflect how someone would hold a conversation. We did get to see Jane’s body language to some degree, most was hidden by the wall she was talking over. It gave me the impression she did not want to interact with Mark. She also shakes her head no throughout indicating that she has no faith in Mark to get her what she is asking from him.

In all communications it is not just what is said, but effective communication is also influenced by “your spirit and attitude, tonality, body language, timing, and the personality of the recipient” (Laureate, n.d.). In a situation where you need to request important information from someone else, it is recommended to document this via a formal request (written). Therefore, the appropriate form for this communication would be email. One should remember when composing any form of communication, all communications should have a clear purpose, state the situation, include a solution and specify the form of response required. Jane’s communication was lacking many of these important components.

References

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). Practitioner voices: Strategies for working with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The art of effective communication [Multimedia program]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

This week, we are to reflect on a project in either our personal or professional life. I am choosing a personal project, because the largest part of the project resulted in an epic failure, and I only have myself to blame. I did not realize that I was playing the part of the project manager (PM), but after starting this course, I see PM was truly my role, and I failed.

A large oak tree fell in my backyard. The base of the tree is approximately 5 ft. in diameter and the height of the tree is approx. 50-60 ft. In addition, three smaller trees (15 ft.) needed to be cut down. Also, some basic trimming and cleanup was in order (I have an acre).

My project was to invite friends to assist in helping with cutting up the tree and removing it from the backyard. Cutting down the smaller trees, and doing basic trimming around the edges of the property, and cleanup of weeds and leaves. I have two gas-powered chainsaws, one brand new, and one older. In addition, I have a gas- powered tree trimmer, which could be used for smaller limbs. One of my friends also stated they could bring their chainsaw for some of the lighter work, as it is smaller than both of mine. I planned to have a BBQ after we were done with the tree as payment for everyone’s hard work.

In preparation for the project:

  • Invitations were sent via Facebook and text messages, with RSVP received from approximately 10 people.
    • Tasked everyone with bringing their own lawn chairs
  • Purchased a second chainsaw, bigger than the one I already owned
    • Gas/oil mix necessary to power the saws
    • Chain lube needed to keep the chainsaws in working order
  • Cleaned BBQ Grill
    • Filled Propane Tank
  • Purchased needed items for BBQ
    • Drinks
    • Meats
    • Buns
    • Condiments
    • Ice
    • Plates
    • Cups
    • Utensils
  • Mowed yard
  • Set up lights
  • Set up Lawn Chairs and Table for food items
  • Set out chainsaws, gas/oil mix, chain lube, trimmer, clippers, rakes, and shovels.

Project results: The main trunk of the tree and the larger branches are still there. The three smaller trees were successfully removed, and one of the stumps. The other cleanup and trimming was successful. Why the epic fail on the large tree removal?

Kickoff of the project went smoothly. As friends arrived tasks were divided, and equipment provided, and work began.

My original chainsaw would not start, the primer bubble was broken, and one could not be found at any of the local hardware stores. The friend’s chainsaw was electric and only able to take care of smaller limbs, same with the gas-tree trimmer. The new chainsaw was first operated by someone who said they had ‘experience’ using a chainsaw. Unfortunately this ‘experience’ was under the supervision of their grandfather, who would stop them periodically and add chain lube as needed. The chain was therefore not properly lubricated and within a short period of time, the chain would no longer cut efficiently and was ‘burnt up’. The hardware stores did not have the proper replacement chain in stock, so this would have to be ordered.

The three trees were removed and it was decided that the stumps would also need to be removed. However, this required the PM (me) to purchase a pick-ax, and only two individuals were able to use effectively. They were exhausted after removing the first stump.

The general trimming and cleanup was then concentrated on and was successfully completed, and the evening was capped off with an excellent BBQ and bonfire, effectively removing all of the trimmings.

Ultimately, I can place the failure of the main piece of the project at my feet, as the PM of the project, I did not make sure I had all of the correct resources in working order (chainsaw). I also did not assign the task of the use of the new chainsaw to an experienced user. I also did not have a contingency plan (back up parts for chainsaws and the correct equipment to remove the stumps (pick-ax). Though this was not part of the original plan, it should have been. So I overlooked an important task and equipment need (Portny, Mantel, Merideth, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008) . The project would have been more successful if:

  • Had both gas-powered chainsaws in proper working order prior to the date of the project start.
  • Assigned an experienced user to the one working gas-powered chainsaw.
    • Or communicated to the assigned user the need to properly check the level of chain lube ever 15-20 minutes of use, and refill as needed.
      • Oversaw the use
  • Realized the need to remove not just the three trees but the stumps, and purchased the correct equipment prior to the project start.
  • Delegated going to the hardware store (multiple times) to someone else, because every time I came back, another issue had arisen.
    • Staying on site overseeing the progress, may have prevented the ‘burn out’ of the chain on the one chainsaw that was capable of completing the project.

I still have the majority of the large tree in my backyard. I have had an estimate on what it would cost to have it removed professionally. I know with a bit more planning and preparation, I can get my group of friends together to accomplish this task for significantly less money and be successful. I have learned much from the mistakes I made in my planning, preparation and communication on the first project. I will be able to apply this knowledge to the follow-up project to secure a successful outcome.

Reference

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Welcome New Followers

Posted: 03/04/2015 in Assignments

I would like to welcome any new followers. I am not an active blogger, simply because of shortage of time. I do enjoy using my RSS reader to follow others blogs. I am looking forward to getting into the Project Management course. It feels like we just jumped from the frying pan into the fire, no different from the day-to-day work experience of many of us. I am enjoying the experience, challenges, and interactions with my classmates. Please feel free to reach out at anytime if you need help or just a couple of words of encouragement. I may be as stuck as you are; I do believe two minds are better than one. Good luck with the course!

Reflections

Starting this course, I was not aware of how long distance education has existed. Distance education is over 160 years old (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). It was interesting this week to look at the interview responses of the different students in the class, and consider how much perceptions about distance education or online learning still vary. As someone who would not have been able to continue their education without the benefit of online learning, I am excited to see the increase in the acceptance of online degrees by both the general population and business leaders. “Thirty-seven percent of Americans-up from 30 percent two years ago-believe online providers offer a high-quality education, and almost half of business leaders said they were very or somewhat likely to hire a candidate with an online degree over one with a traditional degree” (Grasgreen, 2014, para. 19).

Where does this leave us in the next 5 to 10 years, or even 10 to 20 years? In my opinion, online education will continue to become more acceptable as technology continues to make the world a smaller place and as we have “growing sense of comfort” with new technologies (Laureate, n.d.). I can see in the next 5 to 10 years, no distinction made between an online or traditional degrees. I can envision a world where what we now consider the “traditional” classroom, no longer exists. Will there still be brick and mortar universities? Probably, as there will still be supporters of this type of tried and true form of education. However, I can see even in these institutions the classrooms are technology centers, with the focus on the learners and not the instructor. I see a campus bookstore whom checks out laptops or tablets and not textbooks. Or perhaps we have advanced to the point where we are able to gain these ‘libraries of information ‘directly through a download directly to our brain. I am not seeing a limit to what technology is capable of, I do see where bureaucracy and the protection of personal rights will and should slow down some of the advancements.

To enhance my career opportunities and trumpet the value of my chosen field. It is in my best interests to tout the value of online education, and be a proponent of the effectiveness of online learning. To further promote instructional design in the online environment I can strive to create instructional programs where the majority of the students are able to master the course objectives and demonstrate their ability to use what they have learned in a practical environment (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp, 2013). I can ensure course design applies the appropriate learning theory and principles, taking into account the different learner characteristics by creating the necessary relationships between the different elements and components in the design model (Morrison et al., 2013).

To be a positive force for continued improvement of distance learning, I need to continue to improve myself, both my understanding of different learning theories and the proper application of these theories based on each situation. Looking back on the past eight weeks, I have been introduced to technology and tools to enhance learning. Prior to this course I was ignorant of the vast majority of these tools. To be successful as an ID, I need to stay on top of the tools technology makes available. I need to critically evaluate if these tools are effective to accomplish the learning objectives. I will need to have an understanding and comfort level working with the tools so I can design learning which uses these tools effectively.

The future of the value placed on instructional design and the success of online learning are tied together. How well we are able to perform and develop learning that is effective and unanimously considered equivalent or better than a traditional classroom may spell out the success and longevity of instructional design as a highly regarded profession, and the continued growth of online learning.

References

Grasgreen, A. (2014). Ready or Not. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/02/26/provosts-business-leaders-disagree-graduates-career-readiness#sthash.iN5jaD97.dpbs

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kalman, H. K., & Kemp, J. E. (2013). Designing effective instruction (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance learning (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.