Sometimes we get to lead or manage and other times we get to roll up our sleeves and experience every part of the creation process. And, that includes all of the mistakes and testing along the way.
As I transition from leading to delving into more of the details of creating, I’ve had my own comedy of errors. These are all part of the process and are exposing atrophied skills and simultaneously providing the opportunity for growth. It’s all kind of fun and the end products are still yet to be refined. Join me as I continue on this journey of becoming.
Episode 34 – Show Notes
- The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande
Episode 34 – Transcript
This is Rebecca Clark. Episode 34. Testing the pilot
This podcast is for anyone that knows they haven’t yet found and offered up their best work but are compelled to seek it out and do it. Are you ready to move your desk?
I am conducting a pilot test right now of a program that I am creating, and I’m really excited about it, but I’m really surprised at all of the amateur errors I am making, so I want to go back a few years. I was actually in grad school.
So, I’d been working for a few years, and I decided to go back to school and I’m working in this cohort. We have all kinds of projects were working on, dealing with creating online learning systems and performance support tools and learning products. And underlying all of this or these principles and skills were using, you know, to be project managers and instructional designers and to learn how to ask the right questions and work in teams. But I’m on this project. Shout out to Steve Arrington, we both for on this project. We’re working on a prototype for a performance support tool. Now, if you don’t know what a performance support tool is.
Think of something like TurboTax or H and R Block, and they did not pay me to say that I don’t have any advertisements on here, but they allow you as an individual to go through and fill out your own taxes. And whenever you have questions, you click on something and it pops up a box or takes you to a page where you can learn Maur or just enough for you to make a decision to put an entry in a date. A field that’s on the screen. And we were working on a prototype for a law office for some kind of internal support tool for them to do their work.
And we had borrowed a video camera, and I think it was just Steve and I that went to this law office, and we’re supposed to record someone doing something on their computer to see how they worked. It’s kind of like a usability test, and I was in charge of making sure the video camera was charged, and I took that seriously, and I plugged it in and thought it was all charged wasn’t my camera, so maybe there were some nuances I didn’t know. Well, they’re obviously were because that’s part of this story.
We get to the law office and we talk for a few minutes. Then we say, Hey, we’d like to look over your shoulder and record and we get the video camera out and Steve setting it up and starts to record and no kidding. A couple minutes in it stops recording. Well, somehow in this process, I didn’t bring the cord of court, didn’t work or something, and we could only record a few minutes. And so this was an agonizing experience because some small thing like electricity and battery life played into us being able to deliver a product and not being able to deliver the type of product that we wanted to now.
Somehow we worked through it and gathered information in a different way and, of course, created a prototype and presented that to the others in our cohort. But that was something that came back to my head recently as I feel like I’ve gone through this comedy of errors. As I learned to pilot a program that I am creating now, it’s super interesting to me, is grad school was very hands on, which I loved was the perfect program for me because I was experiencing using all kinds of different software and systems and tools and got very comfortable with testing out different types of product in that way.
And I took that into my initial jobs after that because it was a slight career change, even though I had teaching originally in part of my background. Now I was part of teams and organizations that needed help creating learning materials for adult learners. But my experience with that just lasted a couple of years before I got into the Project Management, production management, end of the Training and Development Field and Learning Systems. And so at that point, you know, I was informed I’ve done the troubleshooting before. I’ve done the creating before, and I’ve had to respond to customer questions.
Yet when you move into that project manager production manager role, you start moving into managing, writes a year you have so many projects. At least that was my experience. There’s so many that you take all that prior knowledge and you’re using that to inform your decisions and to guide people, mentor them and troubleshoot and to help frame requirements and to ensure they meet the right deliver bols and everything. But you are no longer in the position to do the actual troubleshooting. You ask all the right questions and make sure people think about the right things when they’re troubleshooting and learning new tools and setting up a situation to be recorded or to create materials and products for a delivery.
But you may not realize that some of those skills atrophy until you go to do a pilot like me. Now. In the last few years, I was in a director roll, and it was more of the learning management systems. And so, yes, you learn a ton in that role, and you ask the right questions and do everything you can with the business process, re engineering and helping people think about the impact on help desks and thinking aboutthe students and faculty and all these different people that need to use the system.
But there again, I’m not rolling up my sleeves to do all the trouble shooting in the tools and making sure the solution is delivered, even if I’m part of helping people produce that so here I am firing myself from that work and creating all of my own. And so I’m back in that position of being the person that has to try things out and be prepared and be ableto walk through everything. And there’s part of me, the humble part of me, the kind of wishes that I had someone videotaping what I’ve gone through to try to pull off some of these videos and coaching because I have an office space in my home.
But I don’t have it configured quite right yet because every time I record something I’m maneuvering and moving things around and making sure something’s show. Some things don’t show and realizing that when I choose to use certain markers, they make noises, which is annoying because my mic picks up the sound. But if I use other markers and I have to make sure that I am using the right paper or the white board, but then when I’m using the white board, I have to make sure that the Sun position has not changed from the 15 minutes before when I positioned it properly.
Otherwise, it’ll show all of the slates in the blinds and Of course, you can put him up or down whatever. It’s still gonna show shadows and all of these things. We have this white board I purchased, and sure you can put chart on it and everything. But not until I started recording videos that I realized that it’s kind of small and I’m kind of tall. And so it looks like there’s this giant managing this small white board, so realizing, Wait a second. Maybe I shouldn’t be standing with this or if I am, I have to put the legs up, put it on the table, and then it might be a little bit too high for me.
But maybe it works best if I position it behind me and I sit down. Well, that’s a whole different configuration. If you are trying to sit down and have a white board or charts that you’re referencing or have near you than if you’re standing up somewhere because then this also matters where you position your camera. You don’t want a low camera that you use when you’re sitting for when you are standing and recording. At least I don’t. There’s a massive difference in what you see and the angles.
And so this is a comedy of errors that aren’t so funny. Some of the time right? And I made some of these same mistakes on my podcast is I’m going back because thank goodness I gave my podcast service some feedback, and maybe they’ve gotten it from a lot of other people, too. But now I can re upload if it’s not quite right without messing up the data of who’s already listened to it on everything. And so I have, like, 10 episodes where I forgot to turn back on the microphone.
So the computers trying to pull what I’m saying and there’s a very tinny sound and I sound like I’m in the distance. And when your amateur you’re like, Wow, this is good enough. Well, now, as I learn a little more, it’s not good enough, so I’m going back and fixing some things. And even as I go to fix things, I sometimes forget to turn on my microphone. So the these little things trip me up, and that has been what’s been so amazing to me being back in this position where I’m creating the videos, I’m creating the worksheets.
I’m uploading them. I’m editing and sure I’m not gonna be doing all that in the future, but I’m someone who actually likes to go through and do it all first. So I understand the level of effort required and the types of tools and time that’s required. And then I can turn some of this over to someone else. But it’s been so interesting to me to see all of the different little nuanced pieces and parts that I have to make sure I do like muting it just the right times and pushing all the right buttons on microphones and computers and extra lights and positioning cameras and lights and boards the correct way.
And, of course, let’s not even get started on personal appearance It which is an area that some of us do not have a talent, and I’m working on it for all those people that have been worried about me my whole life. I am definitely working on it, but that’s a whole different comedy, right? You think you got your hair right? Your makeup right? You think I ke this outfit will work because I know I’m gonna use this color marker and I’ve got this lighting and all this stuff, and then you’ll be all set to go and then realize, Oh, I don’t have on my microphone.
And it’s a microphone that goes around the back of your neck, goes over your ears and is in front of their face. And then it’s also connected with a USB to the computer, which is a separate part, which is part of the reason I have these on and off issues. But anyway, how do you get this on you If you have long hair? Well, you got to put your hair up. Put this on. Then put your hair down. And in the process you may bump the computer or or you mess up your hair, you do something.
So by the time you actually hit the record button, you look like a mess and the lighting’s changed yet the just that again. So sometimes just all of these little adjustments taking just an extra 10 minutes here, and they’re completely changes what you have set up and you have to start it again and reposition computers or lights or boards or whatever. And it’s been a great experience because what it would have happened if I hadn’t called this a pilot. If I had gone into the performance, so to speak, without having run through this, it might have been fine and people might have accepted it.
But I have decided that I want to show up better than what I am showing up for in this pilot. And so how perfect is it that I am doing the pilot so that I can discover all of these things about the process that I had for gotten? I can see how I look and interact on camera, which is a different experience than podcasting, and decide what I want it to look like and where I need to improve and change and very valuable experience. And the interesting part is I get to be this person in front of a small group of people.
So they’re seeing all these imperfections play out, and I’m asking for feedback. But I know I’m not gonna get every little nuanced thought that they have about it At the same time, it’s okay if I don’t get any feedback because the the most true feedback for me right now is watching my own work in action and sitting here and replaying it in going okay. Gotta change that. Next time. Gotta change that. Oh, that’s doing pretty well. Oh, I’m going to do that next time. I’d like to say that the same way next time, or I’m gonna completely change this up next time and not do it at all to certain parts of what I’m offering.
And so there are a lot of lessons learned going on through this comedy of errors and testing and all these behind the scenes situations. And I’m hopeful that the people in the pilot as I openly share with them these weaknesses and mistakes and lessons learned that they will walk away not saying Oh, that was office, Really, But that they will walk away saying, Hey, I learned something from what was offered, even though her hair was out of place for half of that or what was that strange pink sticky note hanging on the edge of the chart the whole time that she didn’t address kind of thoughts?
I hope they will see that this is a pilot and it’s okay to pilot, especially with a small group of people that you trust that will give you honest remarks and things that make you think about what you can improve on. So go out there and try pilot something in your life in your work and be willing to fail forward and be willing to take a look at yourself and be reminded of all the pieces and parts involved and creating whatever it is you’re creating. And you start to look at some of the production value of what your friends or people you follow online are doing if it looks different than what you produce as a final thought in this process, I’ve been reminded of a book I read years ago that still sticks with me, and it’s the checklist manifesto by a tool, Guan Di and again, I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly.
But he wrote about how the effectiveness of doctors and pilots went way up when they had a checklist for some of those little things that needed to be accomplished each time they started a procedure or started a trip, and it was important because those little things mattered. But at the same time you didn’t want the doctor, the pilot focused on them and having to remember them if they needed to free up their brain for the more analytical, decision making type of thinking that goes into those professions.
And so the checklist allowed their brain to be freed up, but because they were an expert there easily able to go through the checklist because they’ve done it many times before. And it made sure that set of tasks got completed while also ensuring that the pilots and the doctors could operate effectively in their particular environments. Take a look at that book if you haven’t, there are a lot more stories in it. But I am reminded that I need a check list now for my pilots and for my products, because this is now part of my life.
And at some point I will get to the same place I was before where, from a project management perspective or director perspective, I will be able to delegate others to assist me in this work. But right now it’s pretty powerful to experience all again and be reminded of what everyone worked on these past few years as I got to be in the role I was in, and they got to be in the role where they’re actually rolling up their sleeves on some things and ensuring that all the buttons were pushed.
All the muting was done correctly. All the pictures were cropped. All the configurations in the system took place and every part of the process was addressed and positioned us for success. Embrace the piloting process. It’s the way to grow and improve and offer up your best work. Have a great week. Thanks for listening to the show today. If you enjoyed it, I’d love if you’d write a review and share the show with your friends, sign up for a weekly nudge at. Move your desk dot com. See you next Monday.