todo workflow

The todo process is based on agile principles (you find them below) and the goal of my todo process is to facilitate three things:

  • to PLAN: I get an overview of all potential todos and break them down into 25 minutes tasks
  • to PRIORITIZE: I make sure that I do more than things right, but the right things!
  • to REVIEW: I can check the progress on what I have done weekly “You can only manage, what you can measure”

Tools you need are:

  • asana

The todo workflow:

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At the project beginning I start with the planning game

  1. The “customer” is asked for the desired features. This features are the goals/use stories/hypothesis. The customer can be an external person or myself. Important is the interview technique for this. This is done by brainstorming  and writing the general hypothesis for the process steps down in asana.
    1. New Tasks are added with Tab-Q: I select an action title, a description like an web url, assign it to the person and select a project Title: Write down the result, with specific words and details … so that a assistant could do it.
    2. Go to my Inbox (Task assigned for me within 1 day) and priorize the tasks according to the eisenhower matrix
      1. Important: What happens if I don’t do it? Does it damage my career (3), damage my personal relationship(2), damage my health/self(1).  (Tab-H) Write down the goals for the next 1-2 years and what has to happen (persons liking you, …). If a task contributes to goal then it is important.
      2. Select all and send to upcoming (Tab-L)
      3. Urgent: When is it due? Give a date otherwise check in a month! (Tab-D) Date: Have always 3 days puffer!
  2. The “engineer” estimates the difficulty of the task.
    1. By creating dummy subtask for every (25 min pomodoro).
  3. Decide on the goals/hypothesis for the “2 week sprint”.
    1. identify the right question to prove the hypothesis and the test assessing that the goal has been done.
    2. Break the selected big goal down into small 25 minute tasks. This is important so I am not overwhelmed and also that I can do work in small breaks. 

Start working from Category 1 to 4.

  1. Short term todos that impact my long term goals. Do them now and with high accuracy. Try to prevent this the next time by planning better or saying no / telling somebody that I don’t appreciate such short notice work.
  2. Not urgents things that impact my long term goals. I plan specific times to do this todos with high accuracy.
  3. Not important to long term goals but urgent. I delegate them or do them quick by the 80/20 rule.
  4. Not important and not urgent: Do I really have to do them?

Do a Daily Scrum everyday after waking up 3 minutes:

  1. What did you do yesterday?
  2. What will you duo today?
  3. Are there any impediments in your way?

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agile principles: 
  • Collective Code Ownership:
    • find feedback groups for everyproject and demand active feedback.
    • as well as put my “code” online so everyone in the group can track and improve it.
  • Small Releases
    • Integrate so you have always  a complete version at the end of the day.
  • Simple Design
    • Just a short structure how to reach the goal. Work with hypothesis and try to prove them. Use this to break down big goals into small tasks.
  • Customer on site: 
    • Always be in close contact with the customer.Check at least once per week (either with a significant improved version or a question catalogue that is need to overcome the challenges that prevented the significant improved version last week).
  • Refactoring:
    • Don’t plan extensively for every eventuality. Focus on the next sprint. If something is wrong, change it.
  • “Coding” standards:
    • Define standards and make them available to everyone that works on the project and inform yourself on existing standards in the project. Publish your standards on your blog in the category workflows.
  • Test driven development:
    • Before you start “implementing” / prove the Hypothesis define the test when the hypothesis is proven or the goal is reached. E.g. What questions does a reader have to answer after a chapter? Check this by letting somebody read the chapter and ask the question).
  • 40h week:
    • work a maximum of 40 hours per week. Track this.
  • prototyping:
    • If you are not sure if this is the right way. Start with a prototype and experiment and learn by “try and error”. Like instead of writing a complete chapter make a fast research round and then write a short agenda/draft for a chapter.

10 most important skills in business

There are 10 skills that are highly valued by the market.

Business and Students often complain that university and school does not prepare them for the future. The results of a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers shows what are the critical skills needed in the market:

  1. Communication
  2. Teamwork
  3. Decision making & Problem solving
  4. Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work (Planning)
  5. Ability to obtain and process information (Information Literacy)
  6. Ability to analyze quantitative data
  7. Technical knowledge related to the job
  8. Computer software programs
  9. Create and edit written reports
  10. Ability to sell or influence others

In this series I will “MOOC based self-education degree” in “Essential Business Skills”. The goal is to brush my own skills up and create a comprehensive program available to everyone. In the next week I will start with communication.

The idea is inspired by http://dailyplanit.com 

Storytelling

Storytelling is one of the oldest and most powerful forms of communication. A good story well told not only increases audience attention, but is also better remembered than a list of items or facts.

Best Practices

The essential parts to a story — Every story consists of a few essential elements: an initiating incident, a protagonist, action, and an outcome. Unless your material comprises these elements, it won’t be perceived as a story.

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Just telling about an event is not always a story. Not all narratives are stories. A story contains four essential components:

1. Initiating incident. A story must have an impetus, a cause that drives someone to take action. In most stories, this is a problem — or an opportunity. Whether it’s negative (a problem) or positive (an opportunity), the more extreme this incident, the more compelling the story will be.

2. Protagonist. A story has one or more individuals (a team, organization, etc.) trying to achieve a goal caused by the initiating incident.

3. Action. The protagonist takes action to address the problem or opportunity. The story becomes more engaging if obstacles stand in the way of achieving the goal, and make it harder to obtain. The protagonist’s actions to overcome the obstacles can be the most instructive elements in stories.

4. Outcome. Once the problem or opportunity has been revealed and action taken by the protagonist, the audience will want to know what happened. Did the protagonist achieve the goal? Whether your story has a happy ending or not, the outcome must be clear.

Of course, simply having these four elements does not guarantee that a story will be memorable, instructive, or even interesting. It just means you have a genuine story. A story needs something more if it’s to stick.

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Examples of effective storytelling — Exemplar video stories illustrating IBM’s core values.

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  1. Innovation that matters — for our company and the world
  2. Dedication — to every client’s success
  3. Trust and personal responsibility — in all relationships

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Giving your story impact — But compelling stories need more than just the basic elements. Here you’ll learn storyteller “secrets” on how to make a story more powerful.

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Making your story memorable

We suggest you watch each of the video examples in the previous section (Examples of Effective Storytelling) before your review this section.

Each of the video examples had the four basic elements we identified earlier: initiating incident, a protagonist, action, and an outcome.

But these stories go beyond those basic requirement.
Below are story-strengthening elements that can raise a story’s impact. Incorporating any one of these elements can help — adding several can help even more. But whatever element you add, be sure it is genuine and appropriate, not artificially invented to try to increase your story’s power.

1. Something important at stake. A major risk will ratchet up audience interest in a story. In Dick Richardson’s “Mazel Tov” story, IBM attorneys discovered Dick’s omission of a required Sexual Harassment component in the manager program — his own career was in jeopardy because of his mistake. We want to learn what happened!

2Time lock. When a problem or opportunity has a definite deadline, it creates an urgency in the story, raises the tension and peaks audience interest.
3. Expectation violation. When audience expectations are dashed — for a good reason — the story soars.

4. Parsimony. Clutter is the downfall of an otherwise excellent story. A good story has just enough details to establish the situation and characters and move the story events forward. “Parsimony” is the absence of clutter. Aim for it.

5. Reveal information only when needed. One good way to ruin a story is to provide too much needed information all at once. Good storytellers “dribble out” the necessary background as the story is being told, usually just before that information is needed.

6. Obstacles. The initiating event causes the protagonist to take action. But if the goal is easily attained, the story won’t generate much interest. The story really crackles when a protagonist has to be clever or courageous or fortunate to overcome obstacles.

7. Abnormality. Stories stand out and are better remembered if there’s something unusual in them. In Todd Belt’s Katrina story the IBM technicians load their motor home with diapers and other items and head out on their mission. Afterwards they help dig out a homeowner’s possessions from four feet of flood sewage. These memorable descriptions send a striking and important message about this unusual endeavor for IBM techies.

8. Visual salience. A memorable story paints pictures in people’s heads by using visually descriptive phrases that connect with the audience. Dick Richardson begins by saying, “It was a pizza-box-in-the-hallway kind of project,” implying that it took the team an all-hours effort. In her Mentoring story Anne McNeill says the rural school teacher “literally had tears in her eyes” when expressing appreciation to IBM. Using visual description is a solid storytelling technique.

9. Formidable antagonist. In some stories the protagonist must face and overcome an adversary or “antagonist.” It could be a corporate competitor, an uncooperative colleague, or a force of nature. A formidable antagonist makes the story that much more compelling.

10. Underlying meaning. A story worthy of telling carries meaning. The more important the meaning, the more important the story. Sometimes that meaning is explicit and stated, sometimes not. But to lead and instruct, a story must have meaning, or else it simply entertains.

You’ve probably noticed that many of the requirements for good storytelling are the same as any good communications technique employed in a business setting. It must be concise, accurate, clear, impactful, and readable. In today’s world with remote management, virtual teams, and cross-border projects, communications is more important than ever.

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Tools / Job aids

Story capture rubric (18KB PDF) A simple tool that will help you: establish the strength of a possible story, begin to outline the essential elements, and confirm what might be missing to build an effective story.

Storyboard template (111KB PDF) Storyboarding is a series of illustrations or images displayed in an order that shows the progression of a completed motion graphic or interactive sequence. The illustrations may be photos, film clips or rough sketches. Each illustration often has notes describing any dialogue, action and/or special effects (FX) that accompany the scene.

Video production outline.pdf (24KB PDF) Bare-bones list of steps to follow for producing video for learning

[Video Captioning Tutorial] Learn how to create a well structured, designed and impactful videocasts.

FAQ

I don’t think I have any particular talent for writing or telling stories, but I can see situations where they could be effective. Are there ways to develop this skill?] Yes. Classes in creative writing are widely available, as are storytelling workshops. Toastmasters International offers an enjoyable and supportive atmosphere for improving your public speaking talents — crucial to effective storytelling. We all know people who seem to be “natural-born” storytellers. You are correct though in recognizing storytelling as a skill, and like most other skills, storytelling can be improved with knowledge and practice.

Presentation Workflow

To cut down the time I need to create presentations with others I define the presentation creation process:

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  1. First open the

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    in the office skydrive and create a copy of the template with the following name: yyyymmdd-topicdescription.pptx
  2. Get an overview of all available template with STRG-2.
  3. Then scroll down to the end of the template after the black slide and fill in the presentation topic.
  4. Then define the agenda on the next slide (breaking the presentation task down to smaller more workable junks).
  5. Create a storyline for every chapter. Creating action titles for the slides.
  6. Add notes for the content to the slide.
  7. Research the information for the slides.
  8. Then select the optimal slide template for your information.
  9. DON’T FORGET TO SYNC THE PRESENTATION TO THE SKY DRIVE SO EVERYONE CAN WORK ON THE PRESENTATION.
  10. Don’t forget to spell check!

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For a quick overview presentation or a informal occasions use your Pecha Kucha slide. For a short overview wach the following video:

 Presentation Tips:

  • Spann einen roten Faden!
  • Erzähl Geschichten und untermauere Deine Erläuterungen mit Beispielen
  • Beweg dich und klebe nicht am Rednerpult fest!
  • Verschwende keine Zeit mit deinem Ego und überzogener Selbstdarstellung!
  • Stell Fragen, egal wie groß Dein Publikum ist!
  • Lass Bilder sprechen!
  • Mach es (an)greifbar!
  • Schau über den Tellerrand und präsentiere Ideen out of the box!
  • Baue Spannung auf!
  • Bring Dein Publikum zum Lachen!
  • Leidenschaft zählt!
  • Lass Dich von anderen Referenten inspirieren (achte auf die Dosis), ohne sie zu kopieren!
  • Hole Dir immer ehrliches Feedback ein (Fragebögen sind diesbezüglich nicht geeignet)!
  • Gebe den Menschen zum Schluss immer etwas mit, egal ob Hausaufgaben, Deine Kontaktdaten, ein GiveAway bzw. Handout oder eine Handlungsaufforderung!
  • Bleibe nicht an Deinen Folien “kleben”, sondern sprich frei, ohne den roten Faden zu verlieren!
  • Nicht die Technik oder Gimmicks, sondern Deine Botschaft sollte im Vordergrund stehen und unvergesslich sein!
  • Wiederhole Deine Kernbotschaft(en), gerne auch in unterschiedlichen Worten!

Scheduling an in-person meeting with me.

SHORT SUMMARY:

  • Location: Yelp: 3.5 or more stars, $-$$, noise level: average or quiet, accepts credit cards, wifi: free (if possible), accepts reservations if possible. (Make reservations under “Dennis Seidel”)
  • Please create “Travel” appointments 1h before and 2h after lunches and 1h before / 1h after coffee.
  • Make sure calendar entries have location and backup contact info.
  • Cc: me on all correspondence. If you need action/input from me, add @Dennis: <message> near the top of the e-mail.