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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Challenges 2008

At the end of 2006, I spent some time thinking about 2007 and wrote a post challenges and predictions for 2007. This was a great exercise and the fact that I had not considered my big challenges for 2008 made it harder to do my Conference Planning for ASTD TechKnowledge 2008. When I was writing that post, I told myself that I really needed to sit down and define what I see as some of my bigger challenges right now. So, here they are ...

Well, actually before I dive in, I should provide some background to give context...

At any one point, I’m actively working with about 5 clients helping them define their direction around use of technology to support human performance. I will also be working a little bit with roughly 5-10 other clients. I typically talk with 2 or 3 new prospects each week who come to me randomly mostly based on personal introductions from people I know or through my various speaking, writing, blogging, etc. I spend probably 1-2 hours initially looking at what they are doing, and offering high level thoughts. A small percentage of these turn into actual clients and some percentage of the clients who engage my for consulting turn into clients who engage the designers, architects and developers from my staff.

In general, I love doing this. I really enjoy looking at a wide variety of interesting challenges and new ideas in different kinds of organizations. It’s fun to work for a lot of different people who often bring very creative ideas and varied skill sets. Life is not dull. In fact, if I could summarize my biggest challenge - and it's the same challenge every year - it's finding more interesting people, companies, etc. to talk to about what they are thinking about doing and trying to figure out creative ways to help. Of course, I need to break this down and think through this in more detail ...

So, when I look at 2008, some challenges jump out at me:

Challenge #1 - How do I balance time spent between blogging, direct conversations, small group virtual conversations, small group networking, speaking at virtual conferences, speaking at conferences and writing?

My goals for all of this are to accelerate my learning, continue to build my network, and find interesting opportunities. In terms of accelerating learning, blogging is definitely the best for me. However, I still get many more discussions with prospects through personal interaction and blogging lags a bit on that front. When I sit back and look at how I was introduced to various opportunities, my personal network that was built through years of different kinds of face-to-face interactions is still the biggest winner. Part of this is that geography has impact. The closer someone is, the more likely I am to work with them.

But maybe I'm missing better choices here. Can I be doing things different online to build personal relationships that rival what I have in my face-to-face network? Will this net more interesting opportunities?

Challenge #2 - How can I help individuals within corporations become better at work / learning skills?

I'm convinced there is a need here. People need help. I’m pursing a bunch of different avenues here to get smart on this topic. More on this during the year.

Challenge #3 - How do I get involved in more projects that really will make a difference?

The projects I like the most are those where I'm working directly with a start-up on their core systems, or working with a company where the project will impact people in a way that directly ties to the bottom line. There's no question of whether it has impact. There's obvious linkage to what matters. I see this happen on projects such as:
  • Metrics-driven performance support tools
  • Performance support tools and workflow
  • Integrated psychometric models
  • Matching Algorithm
Unfortunately, I randomly find these projects. I've tried various ways to get the word out and maybe my blog can help, but I'm still struggling with how to increase the likelihood that I'll find these kinds of opportunities.

Challenge #4 - Get smart on Advisory roles that would make sense

Out of the many people I talk to, in some cases it might make sense to take an Advisory role. Several have asked. Normally the conversation stops as we mutually struggle with defining a model that works.
  • I have to figure out what some of these models might be.
  • I have to figure out if and when it makes sense for me to take Advisory roles.
I'm still working through defining these challenges, and I would very much welcome any thoughts that folks have around this.


Joitske said...

Hi Tony, for challenge 1 I use timewriting. I made me aware that I don't spend a lot of time blogging. (half hour per blogpost). It helps you evaluate the situation afterwards.

Maybe you should charge money for the first exploratory talks (like Schein did?)? That sounds like advisory work.

Anonymous said...

As someone who comes from a marketing background, I would address Challenge #2 as knowledge management and vital for a "sustainable company" (the new buzz word for management education). By showing companies how their bottom line can be better managed by capturing knowledge, they will be more open to new ways of developing learning skills.

Tony Karrer said...

Joitske - I appreciate the input. I'll have to think about whether I can charge for the initial discussions.

Virginia - thanks for the pointer to the term "sustainable company" - I'm not familiar with it. One issue we face is that I think that capturing knowledge should be an indirect outcome not the primary goal. The first goal should be to help individuals. Generally, by helping them you get a result of corporate knowledge. But KM has a bad track record of doing unto the individual rather than for the individual.

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog! I stumbled upon it while googling for 'example Flash quizzes'. I run a small animation studio in Houston, TX and we work on alot of e-learning projects for kids.

I get my best peer networking connections from conferences that are the closest to our field. I get my best client connections through other clients.

We attract the most web traffic from articles that I write for Adobe. I find that writing articles for websites in your field give you the most exposure.

Tony Karrer said...

Thea - thanks for taking the time to offer your thoughts. It's a good to hear from other people what they believe works.