Categories
Decision Making

Water Shortages Arise from a Failure to Do Strategic Planning – They Are Not an Excuse Not to Do It


NAO 25th March

Tackling water resource issues is one of the five priority risks
the Committee on climate Change identified in its 2017 climate
change risk assessment. If more concerted action is not
taken now, parts of the south and south-east of England will run
out of water within the next 20 years.

This will of course lead to ever more
Coronanimby
moaning that we don’t have the resources to build
the houses we need. Or as bad that we should force people to move
to places where they will be rained on more and be greatful for
it.

We have absolutely no shortage of water in the UK. Rather we
let most of it flow into the sea without being used. Most
countries have long ago solved the technical problem of getting
water from where it is to where it is needed. Some solutions date
back to the origins of civilisation.


In the era of privitisation there was a reaction against large
scale interegional water transfer solutions as ‘white
elephants’ such as Kielder or expanding transfers from Wales to
the Midlands. With no separation of wholesale and retail markets
there was no incentive for bold long term cross basin
improvements. The government has intermittently called for a
National Water Strategy, rather like CaMKox expecting everyone but
the National Government to write it.

We don’t need a fully singing and dancing national water grid
to make progress. Small scale interegional and new reservoir
programmes are going ahead. Already in Essex in hot summers
Essex gets around 1/3rd of its water from the Great Ouse
Catchment.

A single pipeline from Derwent Mouth/Long Horse Bridge on the
Derwent/Leicestershire Border to the Farmoor Reservoir, and the
proposed reservoir at Abingdon, a distance a little over 120km, and
mostly on the 150m contour
line
, would link the catchments of most of the rivers in middle
England and completely solev the water supply situation for Camkox.
Existing rivers like the Great Ouse, and gravity, allow water to
flow where growth needs it. Lets call it the Long Horse
Waterway. Boris previously
stated support for the idea
without stating where or how. I
would expose the Southern section south of the Nene as a Canal and
use it as a major flood relief and recreational resource linking
pleasure boats from the Great Ouse, Avon Thames and Nene systems.
Why doesnt England’s Economic Heartland fund a feasibility
study?

So why are we not getting such proposals from the wholesale
water companies?

I remember reading a couple of years ago Anglian Waters
strategic plan. It was a brilliant piece of work with
sophisticated GIS modelling of supply and demand. But it was
completely wrong. Wrong because it only included growth in local
plans, and not most of the growth in the capital planning period
which wasn’t yet in local plans . There’s the rub of it.
Non existent strategic planners not telling actually existing water
planners where to put the pipes and reservoirs.

Historically England has been bad at Water Cycle planning. It
rains so much we take it for granted. In arid countries all
planning begins and ends with where it rains and gravity. In my
recent mini ‘lecture’ tour i threw in the deliberately
provocative point that all 5 New Towns in Hertfordshire./est Essex
were in the wrong place, and the Ministry of Works had advised
Lewis Silkin that feeding 5 new towns into the always limited
capacity Rye Meads treatment centre was impractical. If we had
listed we would have now 5 new Towns feeding into the Ouse
Catchment in south Cambridgeshire (and we might again).


The Long Horse Superpipe

Categories
Project Management

Resources for Remote Work (March 2020)

We’re living in extraordinary times, and many people will be
working from home for the first time.

Trust me, working from home is great. But it is a shift in
mentality. And we’re all in this together.

I decided it would be OK to share some free and paid resources
that you might find useful to help you keep your projects and teams
moving forward, wherever you find yourself based over the coming
weeks.

Mike Clayton has drafted a 7 step response plan for project
managers*
to prepare your projects and teams. “Hope is not a
strategy,” he writes.

Zoom* is one of
the online tools I use for meetings. They have a basic plan that
gives you 40 minute meetings for free (or unlimited time if it’s
just two of you on the call).

They’ve removed that restriction for schools in certain
countries, so if you are part of the education community, check out
if that applies to you
. They are limiting people joining Zoom
calls by phone though, so this is a free option that will work best
if everyone on the team has speakers and a microphone built into
their computer.

If Zoom isn’t your thing, then there’s a list of software firms offering free or
lower cost options here
, or upgrades. So if you want to check
out Microsoft Teams or another conference call tool I like
(Vectera), then see what you could be using to help your teams
switch to remote working.

I’ve made my project management bingo cards free so you can
share those with your team and play on your conference calls.

Get them here
.

I’m dealing with health worry by keeping busy with work and
also playing iPad games, because that gives me screen time but
keeps me off Twitter. I’m currently working through the Bridge to
Another World adventure game series. I’ve also started to write a
list of things I’ve managed to get done to move my projects
forward and also to prepare for lock down, if it happens for
us.

For example, I’ve bought Easter cards even though I don’t
normally send them, as it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing anyone
over Easter. As a project manager, I’m task-orientated, and being
able to see that I’m actually doing something is helping.
Look ahead. Plan. You’re good at that.

I’ve signed up for some online training (to do with blogging,
not project management). If you think you might have extra time at
home, could you spend it learning something? I’ve got a couple of
webinar recordings you
can watch here
. There are over 170 free webinars to watch on
projectmanagement.com (some more
interesting than others).

elizabeth at desk

Also, PMI have extended the deadline for the current Project
Management Professional (PMP®) exam until the end of December
(with the new exam being available from January, not July 2020). So
perhaps it’s the right time for you to be doing some practice exam
questions*
to keep your skills up until you get to a testing
centre?

I’ve updated a couple of articles on working virtually. Read

4 easy tips for better virtual meetings
, and tips from Nancy
Settle-Murphy’s book
Leading Effective Virtual Teams
.

Also, I don’t typically promote my 1:1 mentoring support
services for project managers, as my slots are normally filled
through word-of-mouth recommendations and current clients.

But in light of everything that’s going on, and people
contacting me to ask about it, I’ll do my best to open up
additional times. You can check
out my diary to find a slot here
).

Look after yourself and your project teams.

* These links are to affiliate partners, meaning if you click
them and then go on to buy something from that website, I may make
a small commission at no cost to you, which goes towards continuing
to provide a ton of free resources for the project management
community. They are products I use myself and definitely recommend.
Thanks for your support!

Pin for later reading:

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Resources for Remote Work (March 2020)
appeared first on
Girl's Guide to Project
Management
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Categories
Project Management

Great leaders rise during a crisis

"When life gives you lemons, make
lemonade.” Elbert Hubba

​As COVID-19 has put most of the Western world in lockdown,
managers, leaders and their teams are finding themselves with a
plethora of new challenges. People have to quickly adapt to working
from home, protect the physical and emotional well-being of
themselves and others, revamp businesses to better serve the public
and simply staying afloat.

Picture

When a crisis hits it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, to let our
emotions run away with us and to get distracted by the many threats
and limitations we face. And whereas our physical safety will
always come first we have to be determined to not let fear dominate
us. Out of crises and extreme threats can emerge incredible
opportunities for individuals, organisations and for society as a
whole. As we navigate our way through uncertainty, we must seek not
just to overcome the crisis, but to learn and grow from it – and
that’s exactly what good leaders help us do.
Leaders always put people first
John Maxwell,
author of 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership says that during a
crisis, real leaders rise and become visible. They show up with
openness, honesty and clarity and they always put people first.
They ask What is best for the people? How can I lift them up? How
can I serve and help them get through the crisis and get better
from it?
With a solid focus on people, good leaders rise above the
circumstances and see into the future. Their ability to manage
their emotions helps them to stay focused and become ambassadors of
hope. The key is to keep fear at bay and to not get emotionally
caught up in the crisis. But how can the leader give hope to others
and show up with clarity when things are so uncertain? In spite of
not having all the answers and not knowing when the crisis will be
over, leaders can convey that this too shall pass. They also put
a great deal of effort into clearly communicating why they’re
making the decisions they are. Being clear, honest and authentic is
often more important than the decision itself.
Together we will find a way through
Maxwell
says that during a crisis people want authenticity more than they
want perfection. The leader needs to always tell the truth and stay
close to people. And it takes a great deal of courage to tell the
truth and admit to not having all the answers. The crisis is an
opportunity to set clear priorities, to leverage the team and to
convey that together we will find a way through. That’s what hope
is. Hope is saying that together we can make things better. It’s
not the same as optimism, which is simply the belief that things
will get better. It takes no courage to be an optimist but it takes
great courage to have hope.
During a crisis, great leaders stand out by inspiring people to
develop the right perspective. They help people focus on what
they can do and let go of what they cannot control. We cannot
control the external events of a crisis but we cancontrol our
choices and our responses. As Maxwell reminds us: When life
gives you lemons, make lemonade! It’s about getting the best
out of the situation and using our creativity to solve new
problems, to serve and to build wherever we can. This may be the
time to review existing practices, to forge new relationships, to
adapt and to innovate. Take this opportunity to put people first
and to send a message of hope. Together we can overcome this crisis
and we can make things better.

If you liked this post, you may also like:

10 Tips for Handling Conflict


The secret to authentic leadership on projects


Every interaction with your team is an opportunity
to increase the connection


Become a better communicator with DISC profiling


What are the differences between management and leadership?


​Project leadership: Challenge the status quo

Categories
Decision Making

The Coronimbys – Lets Quarantine them Forever

A new breed has come forth on twitter in recent days. The
coronimbys. They never really liked human beings anyway, seeing
them as a resource consuming, pollution creating blight (except for
them of course), with this misanthropy used to resist housing, HS2,
new airports, new anything all in a pseudo environmental anti
development brand of eco-fascism why denies all hope of human
ingenuity to fix, mend and restore the environment.

Oh how they now welcome Covid, it gives them the perfect excuse
to say aha we now no longer need the housing. It has all gone
away because of recession. Hang on I havnt noticed a mortality
rate, like the Black Death, of 30% (which byu the way led to the
biggest wave of new settlement building in history in the 14th
Century as the economy recovered.) Of course if we can create
trillions at teh stroke of a bankers pen to keep the economy going
we can do so for housing. And if every major currency does it
there is no risk of inflation if we keep workers occupied and
producing. That was the lesson of the major ‘homes fit for
heroes’ wave of house building immediately after the last global
pandemic in 198-19.

Categories
Project Management

The Social Project Manager [Interview]

Social Project Management with Peter TaylorThis interview was
first published in 2015.

How do you balance the need to collaborate with the governance
and control that’s required in a project environment?

That’s the question answered by Peter Taylor’s new book, The
Social Project Manager.

Today I’m interviewing Peter, whom you might know as The Lazy
Project Manager.

He’s a bit of a character on the UK project management scene
and a respected author and commentator particularly since, like me,
he also does the job.

I’m delighted to have had the chance to talk to him again, so
here we go.

Peter, we last spoke about your books a while back when
‘Get Fit With The Lazy Project Manager’ came out. Now you’ve
written another book! How do you find the time?

Well I am ‘productively lazy’ as you know! Actually I find
writing a relaxing and inspiring activity, especially when I write
about something I feel passionate about.

Add to that the fact that I spend a lot of time travelling and
being on a plane for hours on end which is a perfect period for
being creative.

Your book is The Social Project Manager. How do you
define social project management?

When teams can enjoy the benefits of both the structure of
formal project management and the rich online features available in
today’s online collaboration environments, the results are very
powerful.

It is a balance between that traditional centralised, top-down,
authoritative model and the decentralised, bottom-up, collaborative
model.

Social project management is based upon the philosophy that, in
order to be successful, most projects need the structure of a
project plan together with suitable governance but with the
value-add of the associated emergent collaboration and coordination
tools and techniques.

And what is a social project manager?

I have found, over and over again, that project managers know
what is expected of them, and they want to do a great job, and they
want to remove the inefficient practices they have to work with
each day.

The common access to open information through collaborative
‘social’ tools allows for faster impediment removal and higher
levels of inter-project activity to remove such inefficient
practices.

Therefore a ‘social project manager’ is someone who both
recognises this and embraces it for the greater good of the
project.

This is Peter's book, The Social Project Manager

This is Peter’s book, The Social Project Manager

Social media tools have been around for a while.
Hasn’t everyone got it by now?

I agree they have been around for a long time but I feel we are
only just now on the cusp of the project management profession
understanding what they can do for them and their projects and for
organisations to realise the investment potential.

We still have a long way to go but those who ‘get it’ will
have a significant advantage over others.

I think we’re moving away from social media as a
‘thing’ in project management and more towards online
collaboration tools. I know it’s only a change of terminology but
I think the distinction is important because it splits out what
many executives might think of as the part of social media that is
a waste of time. What do you think of that?

I agree, this is linked to a maturing of social project tools in
the marketplace.

Note that this is a maturing not a matured marketplace, we are
seeing a lot of niche players and tools out there and a
consolidation underway of perhaps the emergence of a true
enterprise project management social toolset.

There is also perhaps a need for clarity of difference between
the personal ‘social’ world and the ‘business’ social
world. This I would say is a combination of personal discipline of
behaviour linked with guidance from the organisation of use.

I speak of three levels of project social communication:

  • Social within Project (that is all about the project tasks and
    progress and challenges)
  • Social about Project (the interaction of the project with the
    wider stakeholder community)
  • Social around Project (the people to people communication not
    necessarily related to the project as such but about the team
    members)

All three are valuable and all three need to be supported.

Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor sitting with a big pile of the books he has
written.

That’s a great distinction. How can you use social
practices to mitigate the requirements and constraints for
governance? I know that’s one of your hot topics given your
professional interest and research into PMOs and
sponsors.

You are right but I do believe that they can exist ‘hand in
hand’ in most project situations, and even where there is a need
and demand for more traditional and centralised governance/control
they can still be a great ‘value add’ I think.

The most effective PMOs empower their project managers and free
them from rigid constraints; social project tools bring value to
such empowerment.

Regarding sponsorship my issue is about getting project sponsors
prepared to ‘do the job’ – when they are prepared then I am
sure they will adopt any social project communications means, but
where they aren’t then social project tools will make no
difference most likely.

Social project management

Can you give me an example of where social project teams
have worked on a project and being social has helped them
succeed?

The book contains a number of what I call ‘social stories’
and one I particularly like is as follows:

A project was underway inside one organisation and the project
manager was doing their best to act in a ‘social’ manner and
started communicating through various social media channels to a
wide stakeholder community.

They were surprised one day when a senior executive contacted
them with an observation that, and without going in to specifics,
made them aware that there was something happening inside that
organisation that

a) they were unaware of – and in truth they wouldn’t
necessarily be expected to be aware of at their level of seniority
and;

b) impacted significantly part of the project that they were
leading (and here of course you would say that they should have
been made aware of this prior to this point).

The project manager had had no direct contact with this
executive prior to this contact and information exchange, it was
only through the project social communication had this
conscientious executive identified the need to share with the
project manager.

It was therefore only through the reach of social media that an
important consideration was made aware to the project manager who
could have led the project in happy ignorance up until the point
that the project ‘failed’.

Of course you have to challenge why an organisation might work
in this ‘need to know’ manner but you know what? That is
sometimes politics!

Your book contains lots of tips for social project
management. Can you give me one tip for readers to implement on
their projects tomorrow to be a bit more social?

Yes the book covers a few such tips but perhaps one important
one is: Projects need collaboration, a project manager cannot do
‘it’ all themselves and there would be little value in what a
single individual can achieve anyway. Projects are, after all, the
way companies get things done.

The key here is that a project manager is the person responsible
for accomplishing the stated project objectives, we all know that.
Nowhere is it ever stated that a project manager does everything,
of course not.

A project manager does not directly get involved in the
activities that produce the desired end result, but rather oversees
the progress and interaction of the various resources allocated to
that project in such a way that reduces the risk of overall
failure, maximises potential success and thereby delivers the
expected benefits, whilst managing costs and quality.

Peter Taylor quote

You write that there is no simple template to follow.
But is there one first step on the journey that readers should
start thinking about? How do you get started?

I would say that a great place to start is by opening your mind
to what this social project world might offer.

This is, in many ways, the reason I wanted to write this book,
to allow people, project managers, and project team members and so
on, to read what others think about the potential of the evolving
world of the social project manager.

By having this insight as to what might be achieved then I would
hope that all project managers could help shape the social future
of project management.

They could become true Social Project Managers balancing
collaboration with centralised control in a project driven
world.

Thanks, Peter!

About my interviewee:

Peter Taylor is a PMO expert and author of the number 1
bestselling project management book The Lazy Project Manager, along
with many other books on project leadership, PMO development,
project marketing, project challenges and executive
sponsorship.

In the last few years he has delivered over 200 lectures around
the world in over 25 countries and has been described as ‘perhaps
the most entertaining and inspiring speaker in the project
management world today’.

His mission is to teach as many people as possible that it is
achievable to ‘work smarter and not harder’ and to still gain
success in the battle of the work/life balance.

The post
The Social Project Manager [Interview]
appeared first on
Girl's Guide to Project
Management
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Categories
Project Management

Get Your Projects Fit with The Lazy Project Manager

Peter TaylorThis interview was first
published in 2014.

I am not fit. Since having my two boys I am heavier than I have
ever been, except while pregnant.

My only exercise is balancing in small spaces while standing on
the train to work. I fuel getting up for the night feeds with
cereal bars and chocolate croissants.

Luckily, my projects are healthier than I am. All projects
benefit from a health check now and again. Peter Taylor, the Lazy
Project Manager, has just written a book about it, Get Fit with The
Lazy Project Manager.

I spoke to him about how to make sure our projects are as
healthy as possible and don’t become the ‘ex-projects’ of
tomorrow.

Peter, how does the Lazy Project Manager get
fit?

Well, not through excessive physical activity in my case,
although there is nothing wrong with that at all of course.

The new book is a look at the reason, the value, the process and
the opportunities to assess the ‘health’ of your projects in
order to sleep easier at night, safe in the knowledge of inevitable
project success (and I am using the word ‘inevitable’ with the
common meaning of ‘more likely than before’ you
understand).

My inspiration for this book comes from many sources and many
experiences of doing the right thing and running a ‘health
check’, a ‘lessons learned’, a ‘retrospective’ etc and
also from seeing the real consequences of submitting to all of
those pressures out there in project management land that we all
face, and not doing the right thing.

So in fact this is the ‘productive lazy’ thing to do, work
smarter (in the short term by running a health check) and not
harder (in the long term by letting project issues grow).

What’s the point of a health check?

It doesn’t matter where you are in the project lifecycle, even
if you are nursing a wicked hangover from the post-project live
celebratory party, there is always benefit and opportunity to do
some sort of ‘health’ check and learn something of value.

Perhaps not for this project but certainly for the next one, and
the one after that, and so on.

Peter Taylor quote

OK, so perhaps we should start with a clear
understanding of the terminology. Tell me what you mean by health
check.

There is often a lot of confusion with regards to the three,
incorrectly interchangeably used terms – Audit, Health check and
Post-mortem.

I was even astonished to hear someone once talk about going
‘agile’ with their companies post-mortems – really!

Agile – Quick and well-coordinated in movement; marked by an
ability to think quickly; mentally acute or aware combined with
Post-Mortem; occurring after death.

For clarity and intelligent application here are the dictionary
definitions:

  • Health check: A thorough physical examination; includes a
    variety of tests depending on the age and sex and health of the
    person.
  • Audit: An official examination and verification of accounts and
    records, especially of financial accounts, a report or statement
    reflecting an audit; a final statement of account or the inspection
    or examination of a building or other facility to evaluate or
    improve its appropriateness, safety, efficiency, or the like.
  • Post-mortem: Occurring or done after death, of or relating to a
    medical examination of a dead body (also autopsy). For further
    clarity and greater intelligent application think of it like this:
    When was the last time a person survived multiple autopsies?

Therefore a ‘health check’ for a project is an opportunity
to assess likely success or outcome and take actions to improve
that prognosis for the good of the project and the business.

Peter Taylor

OK, so what was the inspiration behind writing a whole
book about it?

My inspiration for this book comes from many sources and many
experiences of doing the right thing and running a ‘health
check’, a ‘lessons learned’, a ‘retrospective’ etc and
also from seeing the real consequences of submitting to all of
those pressures out there in project management land that we all
face, and not doing the right thing.

So in fact this is the ‘productive lazy’ thing to do, work
smarter (in the short term by running a health check) and not
harder (in the long term by letting project issues grow).

That sounds like the same overarching philosophy as I
wrote about in my book, Customer-Centric Project Management. In
that, the project manager creates continuous dialogue with the
stakeholders to avoid the same problems and not let issues
fester.

Does the project manager do the health check
to?

Ideally a health check is run by someone external, but
sympathetic, to the project – for objectivity.

There are tools that can be used and these are OK but the
downside to them I have found is that they highlight the negative
but don’t praise the positive.

The act of reviewing a peer’s project is one that requires
tact, understanding, and strength of belief as well – not
something a tool does.

The PMO, if you have one, can be an ideal source of facilitators
who have the rights skills and experience to undertake the health
check.

Get Fit with Lazy PMOK, that’s clear. But
what role does the project team have in the health
check?

The project team are definitely to be involved; the facilitator
will interview personnel from the project including but not limited
to the project manager, project sponsor, end users and members of
the project team and the health check will typically assess:

  • Project organisation and staffing
  • Project processes
  • Project planning and reporting
  • Requirements
  • Budget and spend
  • Benefits and outcomes.

There will be other aspects of course depending on the type of
project that is under review – an IT project for example may take
a close look at the technology e.g. software release/design,
testing, systems architecture etc.

Social project management

OK, I’m convinced and I know what to do. When should
project managers run a health check?

At the very least I would suggest a health check is regularly
undertaken at the end of the plan phase but ideally it can be done
many times throughout the project.

There is a second time when a health check should be initiated
and that really is ‘when it is needed’, that is if something
has occurred that makes an urgent demand for an objective
assessment of the project.

Don’t wait if this is before the end of the planning phase,
and don’t discount a further health check just because you
conducted a health check earlier in the project lifecycle.

What do you do get after the health check?

The output from the health check will be a formal report which
will detail actions and recommendations that need to be agreed by
the project steering board.

Fine. So what do you do with the results? Any tips for
communicating the output to your stakeholders?

The work to do will include assigning the relevant actions with
owners and planned completion date. It is the responsibility of the
project manager, perhaps supported by the PMO, to chase up the
actions to ensure they are completed in the appropriate time frame
and report further to the steering board.

However you choose to report back on your health checks it is
advisable to offer a visual representation along with any
‘wordy’ report.

Peter Taylor

Peter Taylor, co-author of Strategies for Project
Sponsorship

Thanks, Peter. Tell us about your other
work.

I have three more books, a follow up to Leading Successful PMOs
which is called Delivering Successful PMOs, and a book on project
marketing called Project Branding (RMC) along with a book all about
what attracts and challenges young project managers to our
profession called Real Project Management (Kogan Page).

Peter Taylor’s alter ego is The Lazy Project
Manager.
Peter’s book, Get Fit with The Lazy Project
Manager is available from his website and from Amazon in eBook and printed
format.

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Get Your Projects Fit with The Lazy Project Manager
appeared
first on Girl's Guide to
Project Management
.

Categories
Decision Making

Sychronous Entertainment

It’s kind of sad that HQ Trivia, a mobile live game show, is
no longer running. This should be its moment. Much of the world has
spent the last week quarantined in their homes and are unable to
watch live sports as every league has suspended play. Currently,
the news is the only live event we are experiencing together –
and though necessary, that’s not been a fun experience. The
synchronous lighthearted entertainment that HQ provided would be a
welcome respite from the day-to-day boredom of quarantined life.
While there will always be a place for asynchronous entertainment
like Netflix & HBO, it’s already become clear to me that live
events satiate a different need.

Over the last week of quarantine, I’ve used live products more
than I ever have before. This weekend, me and 150k others
participated in #ClubQuarantine
hosted by DJ D-Nice
on Instagram Live. A friend had to cancel
his in-person birthday party, so we all hopped on a hangout to
toast drinks. Rumble, the gym I frequent in real life, began doing
exercises on Instagram Live at 9 am every morning. The real-time
energy of the instructors and live messages from other participants
made the experience fun while also holding me more accountable than
the instruction of pre-recorded videos.

People have used their time at home to learn to continue to
learn together. Our portfolio company, Outschool, hosts live
learning classes online. My younger sister, currently quarantined
in my childhood home, has begun taking a creative writing class on
the platform. My coworker, Matt, has leveraged Zoom to host
a virtual pizza
making class
. Not
Boring Club
has moved there in-person events online –
hosting daily lunches, meditations, and a trivia night. People are
figuring out ways to connect virtually through fun and creative
ways.

I would bet more entrepreneurs are working to fill the
synchronous entertainment gap society is experiencing. There are so
many talented producers and entertainers currently sitting at home.
I’d love to talk to the people currently building tools for those
creators to share their talents live.

The post Sychronous
Entertainment
appeared first on Union Square Ventures.

Categories
Decision Making

Teaching Online

I have been teaching in one form or another since college. I
helped pay for graduate school by teaching other grad students. For
most of my life, teaching has meant standing up in front of a group
of people and explaining things to them in a large group
setting.

But, like many things, that is quickly changing right now.

I mentioned that we have a new group of analysts at USV. And we
are doing an onboarding program for them where the various partners
at USV take turns teaching them things they will need to know
during their time at USV.

When we planned this onboarding program, we thought those
classes would take place in person. But now they are taking place
online.

This week, I am going to teach a three-hour class on cap tables
and liquidation waterfalls. These are the spreadsheets we use to
track everyone’s ownership in a company and how much money each
shareholder gets in a sale transaction. While much of this is
straightforward, there are edge cases that can be pretty gnarly. I
am looking forward to teaching this class.

As I prepared for it this weekend, I decided to create the bare
bones of a google sheet that will have one tab for the cap table
and another for the liquidation waterfall.

The three analysts will act as the three founders of a company
and we will simulate three rounds of financings and then a sale of
the company.

We will all be in the google sheet together and also in a zoom
room together. I will coach them through the exercise but they will
do all of the work.

And as I was planning all of this out and building the bare
bones google sheet, I thought to myself, “this may be the single
best way to teach this material that I have ever come
across.”

I have taught this material to many people, but never quite like
this.

We are leveraging two technologies that have come of age in the
last ten year; collaborative documents (google sheets) and
videoconferencing (zoom). And we are using project-based learning
in a small group setting which has always been one of (the most?)
powerful teaching/learning model.

The question I am wondering about is once I teach this subject
this way, will I ever want to teach it any other way? I think maybe
not.

USV TEAM POSTS: David Gabeau — Mar 22, 2020

Sychronous Entertainment

Albert Wenger — Mar 21, 2020

Putting the Economy in Suspended Animation: A Proposal

Hannah Murdoch — Mar 18, 2020

Joining USV

Hanel Baveja — Mar 18, 2020

Joining Union Square Ventures

Nick Grossman — Mar 17, 2020

The Great Shift to Video

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Decision Making

The a16z WFH Podcast: Remote Work and Our New Reality

In the latest WFH episode of the a16z Podcast — recorded all
remotely, of course — a16z general partners Connie Chan in
consumer and David Ulevitch in enterprise discuss with Lauren
Murrow the swift rise of remote work and virtual …

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a16z WFH Podcast: Remote Work and Our New Reality
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Categories
Decision Making

Introducing Everyday Experts: A New Podcast

For the past six months, I’ve been working on a new podcast
called Everyday Experts , where I profile people from a variety of
jobs and industries about the people and systems behind the work
they do.

I know a lot of business podcasts already exist. But I wanted
this to be different. Rather than look to people we might
traditionally perceive as de-facto experts (that’s to say, CEOs,
renowned entrepreneurs, or celebrity figures), I wanted to help
uncover great leaders in unexpected places. That’s to say, people
you might come across in your day-to-day life, but not necessarily
recognize as experts.

Bus operators. Physical therapists. Beauticians. The local bar
owner who’s always there to take a shot with you when you need
one. The veterinarian who sees you only when you’re at your worst
and worried sick about the health of your favorite pet.

To kick things off, I rounded up a group of people I’ve gotten
to know personally — all of whom work face-to-face with their
customers or clients — and I asked them: “Can I interview you
about the work you do? I’d like to understand what makes you an
expert in your domain, and what the rest of us can learn from
this.”

We have a lot to learn from people who work face-to-face with
others

Amazingly, many of them said yes. For this first season,
that’s exactly who you’ll hear from — a diverse slate of
individuals who have taught me a lot about what they’ve learned
from working so closely with people in so many different contexts.
All together, these stories, and so many more, offer a unique take
at the work we do and the people we meet along the way.

I was getting very excited to launch this podcast and expose
some of their stories to the world. And so were they. But then,
COVID-19 hit, and everything changed. Under strict “shelter in
place” or quarantine regulations, bars have been shut down,
physical therapy practices have temporarily closed their doors, and
beauty services have been deemed “non-essential” businesses,
shut until further notice.

Due to the very nature of the work they do, most of these
individuals are no longer able to do their jobs. Or, they have been
disrupted in profound ways. As a result, the interviews I conducted
— all between October 2019 and February 2020 — started to feel
more like “time capsules” than real life.

It’s a scary time, to be sure. The world is collectively
holding its breath as we wait and see what the full impact of this
virus will be. And as for anybody who held a job in any
people-first industry, ranging from hospitality to theatre, there
is simply this moment, this pause, from everything they have
known.

Given all that, it doesn’t feel quite right to launch this
podcast now. At least, not as intended. But, their jobs aren’t
going away forever — if anything, maybe their absence will remind
us what a crucial role they play, and how much more we’ll
appreciate then when they’re back. So I’m going to give it some
time to see how things are looking on the other side.

For now, I wanted to share my trailer with you, to get a sense
of what to expect in this future podcast. If these sound like the
kind of stories you’d like to hear first-hand, please subscribe,
and you’ll be among the first to know once I officially launch.
Until then, stay healthy, and I welcome your ideas about other
Everyday Experts that I might profile in the future.

Tune in here or subscribe at everydayexperts.co .

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