Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stumbled upon: How To Create Better Solutions

The Internet is a great place, you follow a link to a book someone highly recommends, but it is in the reviews that you find some truly great insight on how to create better solutions. I'm hanging on to this one:

The way to better solutions is:
(1) learn the value of measurements (nothing improves that is not measured)
(2) measure everything you can about important processes in your key activities (each measurement will teach you something you need to know)
(3) identify the best practices anyone has ever done in these areas (especially by looking outside your industry), and anticipate where these best practices will be in 5 years
(4) assemble best practices together in new ways that no one has ever done before to exceed the future best practice
(5) identify the ideal best practice (the best people will ever be able to do -- for communications this will be having everyone get the message in one second, like shouting "fire" in a crowded theater where smoke and flames are evident)
(6) find ways to approach the ideal best practice by applying the analogy of where humans do it almost perfectly now to your situation
(7) assemble the right people, resources and incentives to get the job done and
(8) repeat the process (you will get better at it and find better ideas, each you time you do this again).

Thursday, February 4, 2010

De Toekomst van Leren

Last week I was a speaker at the Media van Morgen symposium. I was one of 6 alumni of the master New Media and Digital Culture of Utrecht University who were asked to talk about the media of tomorrow - all from a different perspective.

Mine was learning and I just found out that the presentation has been put up online! It's in Dutch, so for everybody who's interested, here is the link:

Jago van den Akker - Media van Morgen

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

And the winner is...


We did it! We took home both prices at the Dutch annual "E-learning Congres". Both the jury and the public selected our project Hairlevel XL as their number one.

And how could they not? Hairlevel XL is a three year program for students of hair academies where the curriculum is taught for the most part by video-instructions done by cutting edge (cheap joke, I know) hairdressers. Hours of digital video, supplemented with online tests, an online portfolio to upload your own models, laminated action cards for hands-on HOWTOs when you are training in the salon and a hairdressing bible for reference. Blended learning to the max.

Watch the (Dutch) Youtube movie to get an impression:

And see here our rising star Lonnieke holding the plaque with the people of Bespeak and Philyra - our partners for the enormous undertaking which was Hairlevel XL.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Check me out on YouTube

I'm in Thailand at the moment, for three weeks of backpacking. To capture the experience, I've bought a minicamcorder and am making short vlogs about the sights, sounds and experiences I'm encountering. So if you're interested:


Friday, October 2, 2009

Great Expectations

At the moment I’m in the midst of a project where things seem to be going awry with every turn. Approaching a point where both sides are feeling resented about the whole situation and formalities are being thrown at each other. All coming down to: “In our opinion, this isn’t what we agreed upon and you have it wrong.”

Where two parties are feeling this way, both are sharing part of the blame - obviously. It is when one party doesn’t want to reconcile, that it turns nasty. When the want of a solution is being exchanged for the want of an argument, the problem isn’t the absence of a solution anymore, but the bigger problem of having the argument.

How did this happen, I’m asking myself. Different expectations are what it all comes down to. Now it is becoming apparent that on the other side there is no realistic idea about the work involved with the project. Their assumptions are way off, trivializing our efforts and exasperation at the idea that more time is needed.

We were on a tight deadline to begin with, but we could make it if everything went exactly as planned. Of course, they didn’t and now more work is involved. Unfortunately the impression is still that we’ll get it done in the same time regardless. Like… no. So it’s up to me to go out there again and try to coax and reason for more time. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Power Up! Your Presentation

This morning I gave a presentation at my former job, for old times' sake and fun. The cool thing is: they recorded my presentation together with my slides and placed it online for the world to enjoy.

So if you want to take a look:

Click here!

(presentation is in Dutch)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Paradox of Busy

2 weeks ago I was rock-bottom. Yes, truly. I felt completely out of control, not on top of things and scared stiff by the amount of things that needed to be done. I felt busy, busy, busy, I felt responsible and needed: "It will all fall to pieces if I don't finish this or that on time!" However much I was feeling stressed out, I did feel as if I had a purpose.

Now the storm is over. I'm back in charge and everything is back in order. I'm now feeling the complete opposite of myself 2 weeks ago. I took the advice to heart about protecting my time, focusing on priorities and delegating things that can be delegated. As a result, everything is running smoothly, everybody is confident about what needs to be done and I'm on schedule for all my projects.

Wonderful! Or so it should feel. But it doesn't! I feel useless! A slack! Puzzled by this paradoxical feeling, a time-management concept hit me: the tension between urgency and importance.
In our current work ethic urgency often gets misunderstood as importance. We all know days where time just seems to fly by, but at the end of the day we ask ourselves: "What did I actually do?" Those are Urgent days. Of course some of the things you've done were important, but I can guarantee you that a large portion of your day consisted of unimportant stuff. It felt urgent, but in reality it was just something distracting. Urgency is also something external: something breaks down, people fall ill, budgets get cut, a deadline needs to be moved etc. Urgency triggers a fight or flight reaction so to say: we are triggered into taking action.

Urgency overrules Importance. It's human. Also, when I applied some crude mathematics, it became even more clear. Let's say we give scores to the different categories of the matrix. The higher the score, the better it is to spend time on this category:
See what happens? Spending time on non-urgent matters is 'statistically' not preferable. When we concern ourselves with non-urgent but important matters, there always looms the impression that we are concerning ourselves with non-urgent and unimportant things, the worst category to spend time on. The safer option therefore would be to spend time on urgent matters, be they important or unimportant.

But I refuse to give in! I'm not going for safe. I'll keep trying to keep those urgent matters under control and focus on my important but non-urgent work. Because by doing so, I'm making sure my important, but non urgent work won't creep up on me and suddenly become urgent!