<![CDATA[John Parsell - Blog]]>Mon, 28 Oct 2019 21:26:07 -0400Weebly<![CDATA[Having Better Conversations]]>Fri, 04 Oct 2019 00:38:15 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/having-better-conversations
Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

It's been tough to step away from work lately.  My team and I are in the process of onboarding a small company's worth of new hires within the next few months.  It's exciting, challenging, and thought consuming work.  These are the kinds of challenges I love, a big hairy audacious goal where we get to bend the limits of what we've been able to achieve in the past.     

I did however, get the opportunity to step away for a moment to see Celeste Headlee speak at the 2019 Pennsylvania Conference for Women.  She kicked off the Workplace Summit with a great keynote entitled "We Need to Talk:  How to Have Better Conversations".  Her presentation was inspiring and based off of her insight, I've been practicing a few of her tips.  My daily interactions with friends, family, and co-workers have improved.

Interested?  Read on!
  1. Stop multi-tasking, you can't do it well.  In fact it can actually harm your brain, dropping your IQ and increasing stress.  Give your full attention to the person you're talking to or excuse yourself to focus on what's important.
  2. Stop trying to change people's minds, especially with data.  People don't change their minds based off of numbers on a chart.  Instead, ask open ended questions.  A simple question can provide you with a complicated answer providing you with more details.  These are details you can use to find a common ground.
  3. Don't listen to respond, the conversation doesn't need to be about you.  As you're listening, If you have a thought that will steer the conversation towards yourself, simply note it and let it go.
  4. It's OK to say "I don't know" if you are unsure of the answer to a question.  No one expects you to have all the answers.  It can actually help to build trust because you'll be seen as more genuine.
  5. Don't repeat yourself.  If people know you will repeat yourself then they will stop listening.  They know that eventually you'll come back around to the topic again.
  6. Face to face conversations are better than email or over the phone.  In fact "Research by UCLA psychology professor emeritus Albert Mehrabian found that 7 percent of a message was derived from the words, 38 percent from the intonation, and 55 percent from the facial expression or body language".  Douglas Van Praet of Psychology Today

Interested in learning more?  Check out Celeste's website or read her book "We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter".  Quick note, this is not a referral link, I'm not making any money off of my recommendation.  I just think you can learn something, I know that I did.
<![CDATA[10 Talent Development Articles to Leave it Better Than you Found it]]>Sun, 08 Sep 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/10-talent-development-articles-to-leave-it-better-than-you-found-itPicturePhoto by Simon Ray on Unsplash
Photo by Simon Ray on Unsplash

Quick post this week due to a well deserved vacation to the Jersey shore with my family.  While walking the beach with my son, I found myself picking up some small pieces of garbage out of habit.  It got me thinking about something a friend of mine passed on to me while teaching me how to fly fish.  "Leave it better than you found it".  In a nutshell, while you are out enjoying nature do what you can to clean up after those who have come before you.  

I started thinking about how this saying applies to different aspects of my life.  In the context of this blog, it touches on how I've left the various companies, roles, projects, and teams throughout my career.  How have I left them better than I found them?  

Some examples would be implementing Kirkpatrick's methodology for evaluating projects, creating highly rated tutorials and courses for an educational university site, successfully onboarding a new Instructional Designer, running a learning hackathon, or helping to build and support a great team of learning professionals.

Even though I was on vacation I couldn't resist checking my feeds and it was a great two weeks for articles and posts shared in the Talent Development field.  If you are looking for ideas on how you can add lasting value to your organization, read on! 

  1. What to do if they just want awareness - Cathy Moore explains how to support clients who want to train for "awareness".
  2. Why 2020 Should be a Breakout Year for Training, Productivity And Engagement  - Greg Furstner discusses how the C-suite is changing its perspective about the value of learning.
  3. The Only Thing More Important Than Product/Market Fit - Nobl Academy explains how developing the right culture supports product delivery.​
  4. The Limited Role of Evidence in Ed Tech Adoptions - Lindsay McKenzie writes about how higher education institutions are investing in education technology without supporting evidence that it improves student outcomes.
  5. The Business Roundtable Manifesto:  What Should CEOs Do? - Josh Bersin explains how companies can follow through on the commitments made during the recent business roundtable manifesto.  #1 is to invest in their people.
  6. Future of Work Requires Leaders Who Value Learning in the Flow of Life - Amy Titus discusses how we need to incorporate learning into our flow of work and life.
  7. Social Success at Work - Todd Dewitt launched a LinkedIn Learning course on how to build social skills at work.
  8. Why Failure is the Best Learning Tool of All - Debadrita Sengupta explains how failure creates learning and growth.  Checkout my post on what to do when facing failure.
  9. Five More L&D Books for Learning Professionals -  Looking for some more reading on L&D topics?  Connie Malamed reviews five new L&D books!
  10. The Lowdown on Communication, Before, During and After Training - Kiara Williams gives some great tips on how to get the most out of your learning solutions with planned communications and check-ins.
<![CDATA[Be a Thought Leader:  5 Free L&D Industry Reports to get Informed]]>Sun, 25 Aug 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/be-a-thought-leader-5-free-industry-reports-to-get-informedPicture
Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash 
A few years ago I was given some feedback that I really took to heart.  I was told that If I wanted
to influence change and affect or set strategy within the organization that I would need to be seen as a thought leader.   At first I wasn't sure what to make of that feedback.  My immediate thought was something akin to "Great, now I have to become the next Josh Bersin or Richard Branson if I want to make a real impact".   

Steppping out of my fixed mindset, I did a little research to see what being a thought leader was all about.  What I found is that it's not just about popularity or fame, there's much more to it than that.  

"Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success."  Denise Brosseau of Thought Leadership Lab 

The first step in becoming a thought leader is to be informed about what's going on in the learning industry.  To that end, I've compiled a list of five free reports on industry trends from 2017 to 19.  Read on to get informed!
Free industry reports:​​
The following repots can be accessed either directly or by submitting your information to the website first.  A small price to pay for access to some great information.  I've included a one or two sentence summary about each and one key take away to help you determine if you're interested in learning more.
2019 LinkedIn State of the Workforce Report
The 3rd annual​ report from LinkedIn Learning.  This report features insight into budgeting, marketing, closing skill gaps, and working across generations. 

One key take away: 
"Talent developers prioritize understanding skills gaps in 2019  with a 32% increase year over year."
LinkedIn, 2019 State of the Workforce Report

U.S. L&D Report 2019:  Benchmark Your Work Place Learning Strategy​
​This report dives into the benefits of innovation within L&D teams and Inclusion & Diversity training. 

One key take away:  "The same L&D professionals reporting that their employees are highly engaged are 94% more likely to be offering those staff members classroom training.  No other modalities were linked as closely with employee engagement..."  findcourses.com (2019). U.S. L&D Report: 2019. Retrieved from http://www. findcourses.com/ld-report-2019

Training Magazine - 2018 Industry Report
​Presented by Training Magazine, via trainingmag.com, this survey was conducted by an outside company.  It contains detailed data on budgets, expenses, and types of training used across small, medium, and large organizations.

One key takeaway:  ​"2018 saw an increase in the average expenditure for training outsourcing:  $422,321, up from $219,265 in 2017.  An average of 14 percent of the total training budget was spent on outsourcing.  The level outsourcing is expected tos tay relatively steady in 2019."   Trainingmag.com, 2018 Industry Report

Training Industry Magazine - The Modern Learning Mindset
Note that this link doesn't provide you with access to the full report.  However, you can read  summaries of the information contained in the full version.  

One key takeaway:  "The business environment in which organizations operate today is vastly different than a few decades ago. Learning is no longer viewed in the context of an isolated, one-time training event. Learning is now viewed as a continuous process throughout the employee lifecycle, without a definitive expiration date."  Training Industry Magazine, The Modern Learning Mindset

Gallup - State of the American Workplace
This report builds upon Gallup's 2013 State of the Workplace report.  It provides a detailed analysis of employee engagement, the benefits of highly engaged employees, and the changing face of work.   I enjoyed reading their piece on matrixed teams.

One key takeaway:  "Highly matrixed employees are 14% less likely to strongly agree they know what’s expected of them at work, compared with non-matrixed employees. In the absence of well-defined expectations and frequent, clear communication, multiple projects feel like a top priority, multiple team members’ roles begin to conflict and progress slows, hurting productivity outcomes."    Gallup, State of the American Workplace Report
Combining the insights from the above reports along with your expertise and knowledge should allow you to form some thoughts on how you can enhance your learning organization.  Use this as base from which you can generate innovative ideas to solve the challenges faced by your company. 

Additional industry reports for purchase
If you are interested in doing some more research you can access additional reports from the following organizations.

What am I missing?
Please share the sites and research, for purchase and free, that you use to learn about the latest trends in the learning industry. 
<![CDATA[Four Steps to Develop Your Skills]]>Mon, 12 Aug 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/four-steps-to-develop-your-skillsLearning to Surf
Photo by Guy Kawasaki on Unsplash     
​​​My wife planned an amazing get away to Ocean City NJ this weekend.  We spent two whole days on the beach relaxing and soaking up the sun.  It was a sorely needed break from our normal day to day activities with our kids, chores, house and work projects.  Lucky for us, on day two we happened to set up our chairs on the beach designated for surfing.  We observed class after class of new surfers learning how to surf.  The instructors gave direction, then brought their students into the water to practice and apply what they learned.  Every time a student caught a wave the instructors enthusiastically cheered them on.  

As we watched, I told my wife that I loved watching people learn new skills.  That I had a real appreciation for these students as they would fall off the board and then swim back into the surf and keep trying.  It reminded me of some research that I had done on having a growth mindset and using the 70/20/10 model to craft a development plan.  She reminded me that we were supposed to be on vacation.  Fair point.  =)  
If you're not on vacation and are interested in learning how to craft a solid plan to achieve your development goals (surfing or otherwise) read on!  As a bonus I'll include a development goal of my own as an example so you can see the process in action.

In my experience and research, there are four steps to crafting a great development plan to learn a new skill or improve an existing one.

1.  Define what success looks like
At the beginning of any learning project the first question I always ask is  "What does success look like and how will you know that you've achieved your goals?".  This question cuts right to the core of the problem.   Deadlines, audience, resources, challenges, etc. none of that matters when answering this question.  Starting from where you want to be allows you to work backwards to create a plan to get you there.  

What's your goal?  Maybe you want a new role, improved emotional intelligence, or enhanced skills with an authoring system.  Take a moment to think what success looks like for you in the near or long term and write it down.  

Need some more help?  Ask yourself the following three questions from 
Quantum Workplace's list of 25 effective employee review questions.
  • What 2-3 things will you focus on in the next quarter to help you grow and develop?
  • What are your most important goals for the next quarter?
  • What do you want your next position at this company to be? How would your responsibilities change?

To keep myself motivated and add something positive to the world at the same time, I'm challenging myself to use twitter to support my favorite charity, DonorsChoose.org.  They connect teacher created projects with donors who can choose to fund them, one classroom at a time.  With that in mind, here's my lofty social media development goal.

My Example Development Goal:  I will enhance my social media skills to gain 1,000 followers (preferably donors) on twitter to help raise awareness of DonorsChoose.org and at the same time overcome my fear of sharing content online.   

2.  Choose the right mix of activities
Now that you've identified the skills you want to develop, it's time to figure out exactly how you'll do it.   A strong development plan includes a mix of formal learning and application activities, plus connecting with experts on the topic.  That's why I like using the 70/20/10 model as a guideline for creating my own development plans. 
"The model was created in the 1980s by three researchers and authors working with the Center for Creative Leadership, a nonprofit educational institution in Greensboro, N.C. The three, Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert A. Eichinger, were researching the key developmental experiences of successful managers."  Training IndustryThe 70-20-10 Model for Learning and Development

​​The 70:20:10 Institute breaks the model down as follows:
  • 70 percent of learning comes from experience, experiment and reflection.
  • 20 percent derives from working with others.
  • 10 percent comes from formal interventions and planned learning solutions.

Let's simplify this process even further with some sample activities.  Here are nine activities you can choose from courtesy of LinkedIn's 50 Activities To Use With The 70-20-10 Model.  Note...I do wish the community could land on whether the model is 70/20/10, 70-20-10, or 70:20:10.  

Sample Activities
Experience, experiment & Reflection:
  • Ask your manager to delegate new work to you
  • Take on new and challenging projects/assignments
  • Be a change champion for a specific initiative
Working with others:
  • Use 180/360 degree feedback as tool for improvement
  • Build and learn from your network – physical and online
  • Follow and participate with leading industry blogs – join the conversation
Formal learning solutions:
  • Attend LIVE and recorded webinars
  • Take eLearning courses
  • Take professional qualifications and certifications

My example activities:  
To achieve my goals I'm going to need some help, the following mix of activities should get me there.
  1. Take an elearning course on social media strategy and development
  2. Read a book on twitter marketing and increasing followers.
  3. Connect with peers via social media and in person to help me overcome my fear of sharing content
  4. Take on a new challenge (Gain 1,000 followers to increase awareness of Donorschoose.org projects via twitter)

What activities will you select?  Maybe some of the sample activities above can help you achieve your goal.  If not, there are 50 more just a click away.   Don't get hung up setting your activity ratios to exactly 70/20/10.  For example, I'd say getting my Masters in Instructional Technology flipped this model.  70 percent was formal learning, 20 percent working with others, and 10 percent from experience and experimentation. 

3.  Set a timeline and measure your results
There's no point in going through all of the effort of defining success and choosing the right mix of activities to get there if you or your leader aren't going to hold yourself accountable to achieve success.  That's why the last step in this process is to set a timeline and measure your results. This can be as simple as setting completion dates for each activity and measurement criteria.  Let's go back to my example one last time.

My example timeline & success criteria:  
Development Plan
Development Plan
 What does your plan look like?  Take a few minutes and write down your plan.  Commit to a timeline and success criteria.  

4.  Celebrate successes and learn from your failures
Just like the new surfers I mentioned earlier you will have successes and failures as you work through your plan.  Make sure to take the time to celebrate your successes.  This can be as simple as a well earned drink to mark a milestone, sharing your wins with family and friends, or taking a moment to sit back and reflect on a job well done.  

Take the time to reflect on and learn from your failures.  This is how you grow and find what works for you.  You can always change your plan if what you're doing isn't working.  Maybe you need to revisit the basics or find a mentor to overcome an obstacle.  

Do your best to keep a growth mindset and work hard towards your goals.  It won't be easy but I know that you can do it.  
"Those with a growth mindset are apt to see challenges as a natural part of the learning process. They work harder and smarter, helping them to learn and achieve more than students with a fixed mindset."  Writes Courtney Ackerman in her article Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

​I'll keep posting about my social media development plan throughout the year.  I'm looking forward to learning more about twitter, social media, and hopefully raising some awareness for classrooms in need.
<![CDATA[How to Onboard an Instructional Designer]]>Sun, 28 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/how-to-onboard-an-instructional-designer
Photo by Headway on Unsplash
You've invested time in finding the right Instructional Designer (ID) for your team.  Don't make the mistake of thinking they'll be able to hit the ground running without some support and direction.  Taking the time to onboard a new team member to your organization can pay off in higher levels of engagement and productivity.  In fact, research compiled by SHRM from clickboarding.com states that: 
  • 69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.
  • Organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50 percent greater new-hire productivity.
Follow these steps to engage your new ID and get them up and running quickly!
You don't have to wait until your new ID has arrived to begin the process of onboarding them.  Start preparing prior to day one.  Use these steps to ensure both you and your new hire are ready to work when they walk in the door.     

1.  Email your new hire with links to any articles, videos, and externally available content that you feel will help acclimate them to your organization and its values.  Within that email include a list of authoring systems, technology, and important skills you know are necessary to complete your projects and ask them to rate their capability with each.

For example, you can ask them to rate their capabilities as:
  • Unfamiliar (Haven’t used it)
  • Basic (Can accomplish simple tasks)
  • Intermediate (Use it regularly)
  • or Advanced (Able to use advanced features)

Explain that you'll use this information to create a development plan to get them the training and skills they need.  Motivated new hires may even begin to learn these skills on their own prior to their 1st day.

2.  Don’t make your new hire spend their first day waiting around to access the tools they need to be successful. Make sure they have access to everything they need to start working.  This includes:
  • Software licenses (i.e. Articulate 360, Smartsheet, Adobe Creative Suite, Slack, etc.)
  • Email address (Please don't make them start without one)
  • User names and passwords for shared accounts (i.e. Surveymonkey, elearning brothers, etc.)
  • access to necessary hardware  (I.e. Laptop, phone, mouse and keyboard, etc.)
If your company uses SSO, make sure they are setup with access to your portal.

3.  Create a list of of important people for them to meet within their first 90 days.  A 30 minute introduction should be more than enough for the initial meeting. This list should include their name, title, and why they'll be meeting with this individual.  Start with the following employees and expand from there if you need to.

  • Executives and senior leaders
  • Team members
  • Frequent stake holders and Subject Matter Experts (SME)

If you can, schedule the sessions with executives and senior leaders, making sure they’re aware of the your new hire’s role and expertise.  It’s more efficient to have your new hire schedule the sessions with additional team members, stake holders, and SMEs.  

4.  If your organization lacks a formal on boarding program, you’ll want to schedule time for them to complete any compliance training, meet with security, IT, and facilities.  There are more than likely standard procedures that they will need to be aware of within their first week or so on the job.

5.  If they aren't already, make sure your team knows that your new hire is coming and what their role, responsibilities, and initial projects will be.   This will give your team time to prepare to transfer any projects or responsibilities, make any standard operating procedure updates, and mentally prepare for the new member joining their team. 

You may want to assign your a new hire a mentor for their first few weeks.  This quote from a recent blog post by Dr. Britt Andreatta, brittandreatta.com, explains why this might just increase the odds of retaining your new ID long term.  
"According to a 2014 study by BambooHR, 17 percent said that a friendly smile or a helpful coworker would have made all the difference. Nearly 10 percent wished for more attention from their manager and coworkers."

​Day One
Your new team member has finally arrived!  Give them the welcome and day one they deserve.  Create a great impression by meeting them when they walk in the door or shortly after.  Greet them warmly and take the time to show them around, introduce them to the team, and take them to their desk.  If you can’t clear your schedule to greet them in person, make sure to ask a team member to do so.  

If you've done your pre-onboarding homework, you should have a plan ready that includes:
  • a schedule of people to meet,
  • a timeline to complete any mandatory compliance trainings,
  • access to all hardware and software needed to do their jobs,
  • and a development plan ready for them to review and act on.

If you can, take them out to lunch on their 1st day.  This is a great opportunity to get to know your new team member as a person.  You can use this time to discuss the projects they’ll be working on, your vision for the team, and challenges that you’re hoping they can help you solve. 

Week One
Onboarding shouldn't end after day one.  It takes time for new employees to learn the ropes and settle in to their new position.  Connect with them regularly during their 1st week to make sure you can answer their questions and help them find what they need.

Schedule a weekly recurring 1:1 sessions with them for their 1st 30 days.  These meetings should be anywhere from 30-45 minutes in length.  Use this time to answer questions, give them feedback on their performance, review and collaborate on the development plan you crafted with them, and help them navigate any roadblocks they have encountered.  After their first 30 days you can agree to keep the current schedule, length, and frequency or change it to suit both of your needs.

Treat these 1:1 sessions as sacred.  Your new ID will more than likely count on them to answer questions and help them navigate your organization.  If you are constantly rescheduling the meeting it can cause frustration and the feeling that your time is more important than theirs. 

Either you or a member of your team should review your style guide, templates, and development process with them.  This will help them to understand how you develop and implement learning solutions at your company.  Let them know your expectations in terms of communication, quality, and process.    

If they’re an intern or junior ID, pair them with a senior ID to help them navigate these processes.  
Shadowing offers a great opportunity for new team members to really see how work gets done.  Have the Senior ID task them with the creation of learning objects for a current project .  It’s an easy way for them to get started completing projects and adding immediate value to the team, without overwhelming them with a large scale project.

First 30 Days and Beyond  
Continue to check in with your new team member and coach them as they manage their projects, implement new ideas, and integrate with your team and organization.  Pay careful attention to how they are performing as well as feedback they are receiving from the team and other employees.  

Depending on their last role and experience level it may take some time for them to find their footing and become a high performing member of your team.  Your job is to support them, provide them with accurate feedback, coaching, and help to remove any roadblocks they encounter.

As a leader it's your job to help keep your employees engaged.  Putting in the effort to provide them with an amazing onboarding experience is a great way to make them feel welcome, integrate them with your team, and give them the tools they need to be successful.  Leading to a highly engaged employee starting on day one.
<![CDATA[Hacking the Learning Design Process]]>Sun, 14 Jul 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/hacking-the-learning-design-processHackathon

​Photo by 
Kaleidico on Unsplash

Leverage the power of a hackathon to inspire cross functional teams to develop some truly great learning solutions.

In 2018 I led Accolade's Talent and Development team to develop and implement our 1st learning hackathon we called the Designathon.  As a result we came up with some truly inspiring solutions that impacted the bottom line.  It's now a yearly event devoted to blue sky thinking, process improvement, and promoting change and innovation across our organization. 

​Here's how you can run your own!

Start with the goal in mind
Determine what you want to accomplish with your event before running it.   What are the challenges your team is facing now or in the near future?  What outcomes would help you solve them?  

Example Outcome:  At the end of the Designathon we'll have solutions presented that will reduce attrition of high potential employees this year.

Craft quality challenge statements
Once you've identified the challenges you want to tackle,  you'll need to turn them into challenge statements. (Alvin Chia, Hackathons Unboxed: A Field Guide to ideating, Leading and Winning Each written in a way that will help the teams craft solutions that fit expected out comes. 

Make sure to include any constraints in these statements as well.  They act as boundaries that the teams can use to work within or around as they form their solutions.  Are there any constraints around the solutions like budget, culture, or time?

Example:  How might we reduce attrition of high potential employees this year, without impacting current work streams, at little to no cost?
Make it a challenge
By limiting the time frame, and treating it as a competition, you provide a similar sense of urgency as being handed a tough project with a quick turnaround. 

Example:  The Designathon will run for one week with the expectation that each participant and team will dedicate at least 24 hours coming up with the solution. 

Commit to the event
There’s rarely a “good time” to run an event like this.  Whether you do it now on your own terms or later on someone else’s you’ll be investing this time either way.  Pick the time that works best for you and stick with it.

Recruit creative cross functional teams
To solve challenges you'll needed teams filled with resourceful people from across your organization and not just your learning team. This provides different perspectives, insights ,and in the end will lead to more holistic and creative solutions. (Alvin ChiaHackathons Unboxed: A Field Guide to ideating, Leading and Winning) 

Create teams with:
  • ​Experience in the process you are trying to change,
  • those who have experienced the process themselves,
  • and volunteers that are noted by their leaders as individuals that are creative and can help you come up with great ideas.  

Draft a diverse panel of judges
To evaluate the solutions, recruit judges who are directly impacted by the outcome of the presented solutions. These judges can provide relevant feedback and appropriately evaluate the solutions that ware presented.  Don’t be afraid to have some diversity of thought here as well. 

Craft a solid score card
Be very careful when developing the judging score card. How you score the solutions will heavily impact the solutions that are developed.  The elements of the score card serve as a guide for the teams to ensure they’re including the right things in their proposals.  For example, if you focus on creativity vs. viability you may end up with solutions that you can’t start implementing this year or next.  Your score card should reinforce your goals for the event.

Prepare teams for success
Communication and making resources available to the teams is of the utmost importance. Provide pre-read documentation to get each team up to speed on current processes, make them aware of the judge’s panel, and the score card in advance of the kickoff session.  (How to Run a Successful Data Hackathon with data.world) This helps to connect team members early, acclimate them to the current way of doing things, the Designathon process, expected outcomes, and to whom they’ll be presenting their solutions.

Kick off your event
Get the teams started and then get out of the way. The goal is to get the teams ideating as quickly as possible, not listening to someone talk about what they’ll be doing.  (Alvin ChiaHackathons Unboxed: A Field Guide to ideating, Leading and Winning) 

Check In
During the event, be attentive and available to answer questions, share those answers with everyone, and provide any support documents such as templates or materials.  Provide time for each team to meet with members of the judge’s panel to discuss and get feedback on their solutions.  You should check in with each team and provided feedback as well. 

Present, score, and provide feedback
On presentation day, each team should get the same amount of time to present their solutions and answer questions from the judges.  For example, give each team 10 minutes to setup their presentation, 20 minutes to present, and 15 minutes to answer questions from the judges.  During the presentations the judges use the score card to evaluate each solution.

Keep scores secret until all presentations are complete.  Ask the teams to step out while the judges discuss and deliberate each presentation.  When the judges are ready, ask the teams to return.  To save time have one judge provide consolidated feedback for each team prior to announcing the winner.

Once feedback has been given, announce the winner, their prize if any, and celebrate!  Each team has worked hard and deserves a little fun to close out the event.   The prize doesn't have to be extravagant.  Some credit or money towards items from your company store should be enough.

Evaluate the event
Ask for feedback from the teams and judges via a survey or focus groups.  This information will help setup your next event for success.

Make the solutions happen
Now that you have your solutions, don’t waste time.  Choose the solutions you want to take to the next level and put resources behind them.  (Hackathons Aren’t Just for Coders)
Reach out and ask the teams to break their solutions into workable tasks, prioritize, and get to work on what makes sense!   There’s no reason you can’t include cross-functional team members in the work.  They’re just as invested in making them happen as you are.

Closing Thoughts
Running your own hackathon\designation can seem intimidating.  However, using the tips above and resources provided in this article will help you to achieve your goals.  

As learning leaders you know the challenges facing your team and company.  This process provides you with a means to tap into the creativity of your organization, over a short period of time, to address them. 

Want to learn more?  The following resources helped me to run a successful session.
<![CDATA[Turning Failure to Success]]>Sun, 30 Jun 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/turning-failure-into-successFailure
Photo by Ian Kim on Unsplash
Sometimes even your best efforts don't produce the targeted behavior change or business outcomes your learning solution was created to solve.  Not every project will be a rousing success so it's important to know what to do when things don't go as planned.

It can be tempting to point fingers and look for reasons outside of your control as to why things went wrong.   Maybe you feel that you weren't given enough time, resources, or information to do the job.  However, what's needed now is a level head and a willingness to work together across business units to fix any identified issues and turn things around.  A deeper analysis can always be completed afterwards. 

Here's how you can turn things around:

1. Tell your leader
If they haven't heard about it already they will soon and the message should really come from you.  Use the remaining steps outlined here as a plan you can  provide to them on how you are going to turn things around, 

2. Identify the performance gaps
​Setup a meeting with key members from your team and stakeholders to discuss what's going on.  If you can get a few members of your audience and/or their leaders that's even better.  Your job during this meeting is to listen, gather information, and help to formulate a plan to fix any immediate performance gaps.  You probably won't have access to all the hard data you need but you should come away with enough information to get started. 

3.  Craft a plan to fix the issue
Your plan doesn't have to be complex but it should reflect a sense of urgency to fix the problems in both the short and long term.

Include the following items in your plan:
  • A list of the performance gaps
  • The appropriate activity to address each.  Remember, more training isn't always the answer.
  • A due date and owner for each activity
  • Success measures and reporting.  How will you know that you've improved performance?
  • A timeline and steps to implement the plan you've created

4.  Make it Happen!
One of the benefits of failure is the recognition from other teams that something is not working.  Granted, it's typically not the kind of attention that you want.  However, you can use it to access resources that may have been previously out of reach due to the urgency of the situation.   

5.  Learn from this experience
Now that you've hopefully fixed the issue take the time to write down the lessons learned from this experience.   Turn these lessons into best practices, policies, and procedures, so that it doesn't happen again. 

Remember, everyone experiences failure.  It's how you react to failure that matters.  Here's a little inspiration to get you back on track.

30 Powerful Quotes on Failure - Forbes.com
<![CDATA[Cornerstone LMS Case Study]]>Sun, 16 Jun 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/cornerstone-lms-case-studyI had the opportunity to interview with Cornerstone and discuss how we use their Learning Management System at Accolade.  For me the biggest benefits are it's reporting and curriculum management capabilities.  

At Accolade, we make sure that the content we develop can be used across the organization.  Instead of tying a module to a specific customer we do our best to make the materials generic so that they can be re-used within multiple learning solutions.  We'll then address customer and role specific content in additional self-paced learning objects or during practical application scenarios.  Having the freedom to leverage content across the organization has helped us to rapidly respond to learning needs without having to create multiple versions of materials.

Feel free to read the case study if you'd like to learn more about how we leverage Cornerstone's capabilities at Accolade.]]>
<![CDATA[Instructional Game - Lyrical Genius]]>Sun, 02 Jun 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/lyrical-geniusThe last entry in my series of instructional games is Lyrical Genius.  Learning a new language can be difficult, this game attempts to inject a little bit of fun into the process.  Players are asked to listen to a clip of a popular song and match words on the screen with the correct lyrics.
Lyrical Genius by John Parsell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Lyrical Genius
Challenge your friends to lyrical combat!
Enhance reading and listening comprehension for English as a second language students.​

Players will identify and match lyrics sung from popular songs to written words.​
Game Play:
Players will choose to play as a single player, challenge a friend, or another random player on the internet.  They'll select a genre of music or opt to play from a random selection.  Hints and instructions will display while the game loads.  Once the game has loaded, a timer will display counting down to the start of the song clip.  

When the music starts, players will have a limited amount of time to match the lyrics on the screen to what they hear in the clip.  Scoring will be affected by consecutive moves without an error.  

At the end of each round the score will be displayed and a winner announced.  If a player selected to play the single player option, they'll have to beat a pre-determined score based on the difficulty of the lyrics in each clip.  A leader board can display the scores of those who play the game. 

Suggested Components: 
  • Touch interface: Touch, drag and drop
  • Save/Load user interface
  • Music genre user interface
  • Leader board and ability to challenge online opponents in real time
  • 2D rendering
<![CDATA[Instructional Game - Mathlock]]>Sun, 19 May 2019 04:00:00 GMThttp://johnparsell.com/blog/instructional-game-mathlockGame number two on my series of instructional games is Mathlock.  Growing up I loved watching the Matlock T.V. show.  The main character inspired the plot of this mobile game intended to help children learn how to solve word problems.
Mathlock by John Parsell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
You play Mathlock, a lawyer with a gift for math and a love of hotdogs.

You must win your cases to enjoy a tasty hotdog treat.  Lose and your clients will go to jail! 

To provide middle school aged children practice solving word problems.
Mathlock: As Mathlock you play a lawyer with a heart of gold, a love of math problems, and a hunger for hotdogs.  As a successful lawyer with a history of solving cases using math there are many cases for you to take.  You'll have to be careful though because one wrong answer could send them to jail!

Clients:  Your clients need the services of a math wiz such as yourself to prove their innocence.  There is no shortage of clients and the difficulty of their cases will increase over time.  The tougher the case, the tastier the hotdog, so you'll have to bring your "A" game if you want chili with your hotdog or other tasty condiments. 

Prosecutors:  Winning your cases won't be easy.  The prosecutors you face have done their homework and will challenge you with both correct and incorrect statements in order to win.  Object or agree to their statements in order to keep the facts straight and win your case.

Judge:  The judge will provide a final sentencing at the end of each case.  If you have answered correctly then your client will go free and treat you to a hotdog.  Otherwise your client will be sent to jail for their crimes.

While the game loads you will see Mathlock attempting to order a hotdog from a street vendor.  Before his order is finished he will be called into court by the judge.  There's no time to eat now, his client is waiting.  
When the game begins the judge will provide a hands on tutorial of how to play the game.

When the actual game play begins you will be given a certain amount of time to object or abstain to the prosecutors claims.  You must correctly answer all of the questions before the time runs out.  Failure to do so will cause you to lose the case. 

At the end of each case the judge will review your work and either let your client free or send them to jail.  If your client goes free they will treat you to the hotdog that you missed out on prior to the case. 

Players will be able to pick the type of questions they want to practice, e.g. fractions, addition, multiplication, etc... to help them practice a chosen subject area.

A leader board can show how many hotdogs and the types a player has achieved and compare it with their friends and classmates.

Suggested Components: 
  • Touch interface: tap, type
  • Save/Load user interface
  • Subject area user interface
  • 2D rendering

​Next on my list is a game to help people learn a new language using popular music.