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Quantum theory says, “the mere act of observing an experiment changes its outcome.” What that tells me; and what I’ve found in all my experience working with great leaders, is that successful outcomes come from a dance between both strategy and tactics. Especially for first-time projects. That is, you don’t spend all your time on strategy, you also don’t spend all your time on tactics. Instead, you spend the right amount of time going back and forth between them.
This might seem “duh”, but most business insights are that way.
Let me explain the rationale.
Strategy is a goal and a plan to get there. Tactics are the individual actions necessary fulfill the plan and reach the goal.
If you put all your effort on strategy, you might find yourself wrestling a big hairy audacious goal, which can be overwhelming. You’ve spent the a week or 2 creating a large strategy presentation deck and now the only natural course is to get buy in from your management and peers. After which you’re in an iterative mode, revising your strategy deck and re-pitching the strategy.
What you’ve also lost is the insight that you get from working on tactics. these learnings can give you insight to switch the strategy for the better. It’s important to keep your plans open to such “ah-ha” moments and not stifle them because they go off “script”.
On the other hand, if you spend all your days on tactics without a strategy, you’ll just be doing things without a clear vision of where you want to be or how you’ll get there. People around or under your management won’t be able to help you because they don’t know where you are going with it.
Without a destination you can find yourself going off tangent and not working towards the big picture. It also becomes difficult to truthfully justify your results when you don’t know where you are going.
To sum it up, don’t spend too much of your time in one place, instead dedicate time going back and forth: strategy, tactics, strategy, tactics, and so on. Set the pace for your intervals based on your specific situation. The intervals don’t have to be equal or regimented.
I’ve observed many leaders take this approach and it helps them:
Hope this helps, thank you for reading. I’ll look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments, likes, and shares.
Found one of our employees junk filtering wasn’t working and had to open up a ticket with the Microsoft Office 365 support team (great customer service btw), and they helped me figure out where the filtering was turned off. Below is a way to do it through powershell for the whole company.
$LiveCred = Get-Credential
$Session = New-PSSession -ConfigurationName Microsoft.Exchange -ConnectionUri https://ps.outlook.com/powershell/ -Credential $LiveCred -Authentication Basic –AllowRedirection
( this command can be used to see if the Junk filtering is enabled or not)
Get-Mailbox | Set-MailboxJunkEmailConfiguration –Enabled $True
When I got a chance to represent Local Wisdom as a mentor and judge at the recent HackRU Hackathon, I became a little nostalgic.
You see, even though I’m the UX/Design guy, I’ve always had my hands in technology and I’ve always been supportive of the “Just try it out and see if it works” mentality that the hacker ethic represents.
One of our SPA504G phones from Cisco was in recovery mode when I tried to set it up. Our vendor at Dynamic Strategies, Inc http://www.ds-inc.com/ (shout out to Kyle!)was able to point me in the right direction to fix this problem: https://supportforums.cisco.com/docs/DOC-10011
It takes a while to run, but allows you to recover the phone. Here’s the link to the most important piece which is the recovery program itself: https://supportforums.cisco.com/servlet/JiveServlet/download/10011-1-66712/spa50x-7-4-4-recovery.zip
Princeton-based digital agency Local Wisdom appointed Tom Gebauer to the role of Associate Director of User Experience, beginning July 2, 2012. In his new role Gebauer is responsible for managing a team of user experience designers and working with clients to produce custom digital platforms that achieve specific business objectives. He will work closely with the Chief Marketing Officer, Pinaki Kathiari and Creative Director, RJay Haluko to provide ongoing architecture guidance and creative expertise.
Gebauer brings with him an impressive history of driving business across diverse industries. He joins Local Wisdom from Dow Jones where he served as a Creative Director and was responsible for leading a user experience team of over 25 employees in addition to providing creative direction for various products that extend across web and mobile platforms. Gebauer specializes in products that involve large quantities of data including search engines and people databases.
“This is a terrific time for Tom to join our group. We are seeing a huge increase in the number of clients who look for a local company that can provide end-to-end mobile solutions,” explains Kathiari. “His user-experience thought process, creative ingenuity, and experience with Fortune companies works perfectly with our philosophy and approach to provide clients with digital solutions that bring results.”
Prior to Dow Jones, Gebauer served as an independent consultant to a variety of companies that spanned diverse industries including pharmaceuticals, advertising, and higher education. Gebauer attended the Savannah College of Art and Design and completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design and Visual Communications at The College of New Jersey.
“Local Wisdom’s unique focus on client solutions in addition to research and development is a great model for an agency of the future. This expertise ensures that clients get the most creative, cutting edge, and forward-looking solutions for their unique needs across all platforms,” says Gebauer. “I love being in a position where I can work on a team with such creative firepower and dedication to innovation.”
Conducting company meetings can be costly and eat up valuable time, which is why it’s important to make sure they are as productive as possible. Check out the meeting cost calculator that Mike found a few months ago. Here at Local Wisdom, we try to keep our meetings efficient and enjoyable. There are a few things we do before, during and after the meeting to make sure that we accomplish our goals. We’ve outlined some guidelines below to help you.
First of all, it’s important to have fun throughout the day. Creativity emerges when people in the room are enjoying themselves and engaging in conversation, so it’s important to laugh often.
Every meeting should have a facilitator who enforces the ground rules and keeps everything running smoothly. The leader is responsible for creating the schedule and agenda. Overall, it is this person’s job to focus all of the people in the room so that they are able to stay on task and move forward.
Who to Invite
Be careful about who you invite and always make sure to do your homework first. Those who are involved with the projects that are going to be discussed should definitely be invited. However, it might be beneficial to also include people who can provide input on the topic or gain knowledge about what is being discussed.
Provide as much advanced notice as possible. When meetings are planned ahead of time it is more likely that people will have clear calendars and be able to attend. Scheduling a meeting early also gives you a deadline to have certain work completed before the start of the meeting. Waiting until work is completed before scheduling the meeting can cause delays and missed opportunities.
Set up recurring meetings if you find you need to talk about the same topics or projects with the same group. For example, we began scheduling “scrum” times for reviewing work and answering questions. Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning we meet to review architecture and design at a standing time. We no longer have to juggle times and locations for meetings and reviews. It may take a week or two to get this rolling but everyone’s schedule will eventually adjust around it.
State the Objective and Agenda
Whether the meeting is scheduled or standing, it’s important to state the objectives and agenda to ensure everyone is on the same page from the start. The objective should define what should be accomplished by the end of the meeting. The agenda could include a list of topics, activities, or discussions that will help us to achieve our meeting objectives. The goals and agenda should also be written somewhere for everyone to see. We keep a standard area of the whiteboard dedicated to writing these out. Following an agenda will help keep the meeting organized and productive.
Once the objectives and agenda are reiterated, introduce everyone in the room quickly and explain why they’re there. Sometimes not everyone is required to be there the whole time, especially during reoccurring meetings. As certain topics become irrelevant to people, they should be free to go if they wish.
It’s not uncommon for discussions to go into tangents. Identifying topics that are not specifically aimed at key points, but may be important later, are called our parking lot items. We take note of these topics and come back to them at a later time or maybe even a different meeting. This approach keeps the focus on the topic at hand and helps us achieve our meeting objectives.
Convergent and Divergent Thinking
Use convergent and divergent thinking in order to stay organized during ideation meetings. Convergent thinking encourages participants to think out loud and speak their ideas without any parameters. Ideas, good, bad, or irrelevant, are all accepted. Divergent thinking brings everything together and identifies which ideas are pertinent and can be made actionable. Splitting the two ways of thinking provides time for imagination while keeping a realistic mindset.
Who’s Doing What and When
At the end of the meeting, review who is doing what and by when. Make sure everyone is clear on what they should be doing next. Give people time to ask questions and get clarity. A follow up email of the meeting minutes should be sent to the attendees.
Following these guidelines has helped Local Wisdom stay efficient while not being stuffy and boring. There are hundreds of other meeting tips and tricks, what are some ways that your company conducts effective meetings and how have they been beneficial?
“The Multi-armed bandit problem
The multi-armed bandit problem takes its terminology from a casino. You are faced with a wall of slot machines, each with its own lever. You suspect that some slot machines pay out more frequently than others. How can you learn which machine is the best, and get the most coins in the fewest trials?
Like many techniques in machine learning, the simplest strategy is hard to beat. More complicated techniques are worth considering, but they may eke out only a few hundredths of a percentage point of performance. The strategy that has been shown to win out time after time in practical problems is the epsilon-greedy method. We always keep track of the number of pulls of the lever and the amount of rewards we have received from that lever. 10% of the time, we choose a lever at random. The other 90% of the time, we choose the lever that has the highest expectation of rewards.
def choose(): if math.random() < 0.1: # exploration! # choose a random lever 10% of the time. else: # exploitation! # for each lever, # calculate the expectation of reward. # This is the number of trials of the lever divided by the total reward # given by that lever. # choose the lever with the greatest expectation of reward. # increment the number of times the chosen lever has been played. # store test data in redis, choice in session key, etc.. def reward(choice, amount): # add the reward to the total for the given lever.
Lets say we are choosing a colour for the “Buy now!” button. The choices are orange, green, or white. We initialize all three choices to 1 win out of 1 try. It doesn’t really matter what we initialize them too, because the algorithm will adapt. So when we start out, the internal test data looks like this.
|1/1 = 100%||1/1=100%||1/1=100%|
Then a web site visitor comes along and we have to show them a button. We choose the first one with the highest expectation of winning. The algorithm thinks they all work 100% of the time, so it chooses the first one: orange. But, alas, the visitor doesn’t click on the button.
|1/2 = 50%||1/1=100%||1/1=100%|
Another visitor comes along. We definately won’t show them orange, since we think it only has a 50% chance of working. So we choose Green. They don’t click. The same thing happens for several more visitors, and we end up cycling through the choices. In the process, we refine our estimate of the click through rate for each option downwards.
|1/4 = 25%||1/4=25%||1/4=25%|
But suddenly, someone clicks on the orange button! Quickly, the browser makes an Ajax call to our reward function
$.ajax(url:"/reward?testname=buy-button"); and our code updates the results:
|2/5 = 40%||1/4=25%||1/4=25%|
When our intrepid web developer sees this, he scratches his head. What the F*? The orange button is the worst choice. It’s font is tiny! The green button is obviously the better one. All is lost! The greedy algorithm will always choose it forever now!
But wait, let’s see what happens if Orange is really the suboptimal choice. Since the algorithm now believes it is the best, it will always be shown. That is, until it stops working well. Then the other choices start to look better.
|2/9 = 22%||1/4=25%||1/4=25%|
After many more visits, the best choice, if there is one, will have been found, and will be shown 90% of the time. Here are some results based on an actual web site that I have been working on. We also have an estimate of the click through rate for each choice.
|114/4071 = 2.8%||205/6385=3.2%||59/2264=2.6%|
I have not discussed the randomization part. The randomization of 10% of trials forces the algorithm to explore the options. It is a trade-off between trying new things in hopes of something better, and sticking with what it knows will work. There are several variations of the epsilon-greedy strategy. In the epsilon-first strategy, you can explore 100% of the time in the beginning and once you have a good sample, switch to pure-greedy. Alternatively, you can have it decrease the amount of exploration as time passes. The epsilon-greedy strategy that I have described is a good balance between simplicity and performance. Learning about the other algorithms, such as UCB, Boltzmann Exploration, and methods that take context into account, is fascinating, but optional if you just want something that works.”
Local Wisdom brought home two awards from this year’s annual competition held by The Art directors Club of NJ. This non-profit organization is comprised of professionals whose creative services bring excellence and knowledge to the design world. Since 1961, the goal of the ADCNJ has been to discover new ideas and techniques while providing an opportunity for local artists to showcase their work.
We are proud to say that this year Local Wisdom won honorable mentions within the categories of Self Promotion and User Interface Design for localwisdom.com. Internal projects work a bit differently, we are able to communicate openly and often to adjust architecture, design, and copywriting based on progress. This is how the concept of the “slices” of content came to be.
This is the second year in a row that Local Wisdom has been awarded distinction in the ADCNJ competition, last year for our mobile app Weatherwise, and we will continue to submit new projects in the future. Entering these competitions is important because it gives us the chance to show off our talents while being vetted against industry experts. We feel that winning these awards helps our company grow with confidence and notoriety.
We have great respect for what the Art Directors Club does for the design industry in New Jersey as well as what they do for the next generation of talent in educational institutions. To find out more information about the ADCNJ visit http://www.adcnj.org/.
To read about the awards Local Wisdom took home from last year’s competition visit Two Gold, Two Silver, One Bronze…Five Awards Line the Shelves at Local Wisdom!
We would like to thank Pinaki Kathiari (Architecture), RJay Haluko (designer), Tracy Severino (copyrighter) and Melissa Penta (developer) for their creative genius and hard work to make localwisdom.com a success.
It’s not uncommon for people working in the IT industry, or any area for that matter, to want to hold onto something that sets them apart from their colleagues. There will always be Information Technology professionals who prefer to keep their knowledge to themselves. With the job market what it is today, it’s likely that those who are intentionally hoarding information do so because they believe it keeps them from becoming expendable and secures their position within the company. Although there are pros and cons to hoarding information, most would agree that sharing information with colleagues is beneficial to the growth and value of both a company and an individual.
There are a couple of reasons why a person would feel like they need to hold onto information that only they know. One of the main reasons is because they feel insecure. The employee might feel uncertain about the quality of their work or their job security so they feel it is important to hold onto a personal skill that they possess in order to remain competitive in the company. Others may just feel the need to hide information from their peers in order to feed their own egos. On one extreme side of hoarding you make yourself important because you are the bottleneck. People always have to go through you as a gateway because you are the gatekeeper. Everything is very tightly controlled by that person.
While there are few cases where hoarding information helps the individual, most of the time this type of behavior actually lessens their value. When encountering a situation where a colleague is unwilling to share, co-workers often find ways around them because it is apparent that they are not really a team player. Also, by sharing your knowledge you put people in the position to support you as you move up in the company. Without learning from or sharing with your peers there is little room for growth and improvement. As a result, a hoarder might become stuck in the same position for a long time.
Now that the disadvantages have been discussed it is important to know the some of the reasons why a collaborative work environment is beneficial to a company and an individual.
Let’s say the person didn’t show tell-tale signs they’re a hoarder. There are a couple of ways to approach this situation if hoarding becomes a problem within a company.
Local Wisdom incorporates the sharing of knowledge among the team into our corporate structure. We emphasize the importance, advantages, and benefits of sharing on both the company and each person’s career. So, if everyone seems to benefit from working in a collaborative environment, why does hoarding information remain a problem in some companies? Have you experienced working with a person who is reluctant or refuses to share information? How was your situation handled? We’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Found this to expose some of our printers to the internet. Here’s the details (http://www.google.com/cloudprint/learn/):
Google Cloud Print is a new technology that connects your printers to the web. Using Google Cloud Print, you can make your home and work printers available to you and anyone you choose, from the applications you use every day. Google Cloud Print works on your phone, tablet, Chromebook, PC, and any other web-connected device you want to print from.