Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Corporate Training

The Benefits of the Certified ScrumMaster® Training Course

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Corporate Training, Event Recap, KAIP Academy, Learning, Sacramento, Scrum, Team Building, The WorkShop, Training, Workforce Development

By Daniel Fast, CSM

I recently had the honor and privilege of attending the Certified ScrumMaster® training at the KAIP Academy. This short, yet informative two-day class allowed me to expand my creative and mindful solution-finding skills.

The class was very different than any of my previous training events. It went beyond traditional lectures and book learning and instead focused on lively, interactive, and passionate Scrum meetings.

I recently joined KAI Partners and at the time did not know some of our staff who participated in the class. I got to meet some of our great staff using the techniques and methods from our Certified Scrum Trainer, Bernie Maloney.

Mr. Maloney demonstrated that the scrum methodology is expressive and personal. This was made clear as I got to know each participant beyond their “work” role. Learning about each person—not as a resource, but as a human who has skills beyond their title—was quickly evident in our discussions.

Naturally, it is easier to talk and participate when everyone has a voice. Knowing each person beyond their work role made one of our training exercises more approachable.

The exercise involved building a city using only LEGOs and our imagination. We started with a collaborative discussion about the initial design phase. What looked like chaos in some ways was a well-organized effort of distributed tasks. This course taught us how to capture our energy and direct it into tangible results. This mindset became second nature when we approached our list of tasks.

One of the great practices and changes in philosophy in the Certified ScrumMaster® training is the “pull vs. push.” Imagine a to-do list of a dozen different tasks, each requiring a different level of effort and time to complete them. The “push” method would have an authority drop tasks into each person’s lap—not very exciting or new. The “pull” method differs as each team member pulls a task, based on their own passion and ability to accomplish the task. The team accomplishes the full vision using their individual creative contributions.

The Certified ScrumMaster® training allows managers and teams to operate as a diverse and creative collaborative/collective—and it’s fun! As a newly appointed Certified ScrumMaster®, I look forward to continuing to add to the KAI Partners family the skills to help our clients and the community achieve success.

 About the Author: Daniel Fast is an Associate Consultant for KAI Partners. He has worked as an IT Consultant for over 18 years. Mr. Fast has managed clients in health care, SaaS companies, lobbying, and law firms. Mr. Fast has also provided direction to non-profits as board member and president. He is comfortable wearing many hats over the year as project manager, software developer, staff developer, and world champion stick fighter.

How we Can Promote Workforce Development in the Sacramento Region

Co-working, Corporate Training, Event Recap, Internet of Things, KAIP Academy, Learning, Professional Development, Sacramento, Technology, The WorkShop, Training, Workforce Development

By Terry Daffin

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Golden Sierra Workforce Tech Forum: Occupations & Skills in an Automated World, hosted by Valley Vision and Golden Sierra Workforce Board.

Valley Vision “…inspires leaders to think big and collaborate on bold, long-term solutions that improve people’s lives and Golden Sierra’s Workforce Board, “…is an industry-led board of directors who identify and solve problems within key economic sectors in the tri-county region (Placer, El Dorado and Alpine).”

As the Project Manager for KAI Partners’ KAIP Academy and the Community Manager for co-working and incubation space The WorkShop – Sacramento, I was especially interested in hearing firsthand what employers are looking for in terms of workforce development for their organization.

There were many great panelists at the forum, including Sean Moss, Senior Estimator and Project Manager for McGuire and Hester; Gordon Rogers, Project Principal of the Owen Group; Annette Smith-Dohring, Workforce Development Manager for Sutter Health; Bernadette Williams, CMI Operations Manager at VSP; and Joseph Taylor, Assistant Professor at CSU Sacramento.

Each panelist was asked to describe what they believe the biggest educational need is for graduating students entering the workforce. Here’s a sampling of what they said:

  • Gap in technical skilled labor—employees are either highly skilled/specialized or they have little technical skills
  • Up-skilling; providing skills training on the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence to an existing workforce
  • Critical thinking skills; under-preparedness upon graduation

I left the forum with the question, “What can we do to close these gaps?” As a training provider, it’s clear we need to help industry and education align their efforts so that the workforce can stay updated on new methods, software/programming languages, and other emerging skills.

Here are a few ways to stay on top of digitalization and close the skills gap:

  1. Industry and education leaders should seek out training programs that will prepare students for critical thinking, data and business analytics, problem solving, and soft skills necessary to enter the workforce and immediately become productive.
  2. Students should be encouraged to seek out internships in work-based learning opportunities (especially those that provide educational units for their participation).
  3. Employees should be encouraged to widen their professional development by taking certification courses (especially those that provide professional development units).

There is a lot we can do to close the skills gap and promote workforce development in our region. KAIP Academy is excited to offer training courses and programs for building up a more highly skilled Sacramento.

About the Author: Terry Daffin is an Executive Consultant within KAI Partners. He has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years and has over 25 years of project management experience. As a public sector consultant in the health care industry, Mr. Daffin assisted in the development and implementation of Project Management Offices that include project management, service management, lean agile and traditional product development lifecycles, and governance processes. He has been an innovation advocate and evangelist for 15 years and has implemented innovative processes for projects that he has been engaged on since 2001. Mr. Daffin currently works as the Project Manager of the KAIP Academy, KAI Partners’ training division and is the Community Manager at KAI Partners’ new co-working space, The WorkShop – Sacramento, focused on connecting innovative start-ups and the public sector.

Hey, Sacramento: City Hall Is Calling for Our Help

Co-working, Corporate Training, Event Recap, Government, KAI Partners, KAIP Academy, Learning, Sacramento, Sacramento’s Urban Innovation Agenda, Small Business, Startup Company, The WorkShop, Training, Workforce Development

Photo Credit: Sacramento’s Urban Innovation Agenda

By Stephen Alfano

Recently, when I logged into an online presentation webinar covering the subject of “Sacramento’s Urban Innovation Agenda,” I was expecting a rundown of the events and activities of the last few months.

What I got was just that, along with the details of several programs that begged for more discussion, plus an invitation to lean in, lend a hand, and hold on for the huge changes ahead for the City and the surrounding region. In short, I got the message: City Hall wants my help … and I’m all-in.

Here’s why:

  1. It will drive new business. Although the webinar format didn’t offer much of an opportunity to interact with hosts Maria MacGunigal, Chief Information Officer, City of Sacramento and Louis Stewart, Chief Innovation Officer, City of Sacramento, their presentation identified several initiatives where the tech sector will be crucial players and that translates into business opportunities for project management, program delivery, governance, and change management firms … like KAI Partners, Inc.
  2. It will support new infrastructure. For example, the presentation highlighted the Verizon 5G deal announced in November 2017, which will deliver state-of-the-art, high-speed Internet access throughout the Sacramento city limits, including free WiFi at 27 parks and common spaces. That boost in connectivity will help attract and accelerate the growth of start-ups and the supporting business services providers … like The WorkShop – Sacramento.
  3. It will fuel new workforce development. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, innovation is “the introduction of something new.” Frankly speaking, the ideas presented in the webinar have potential to reinvigorate or reinvent current workforce development planning; to shift from fulfilling tax-base or commercial real estate-focused goals to skills-building and economic empowerment programming. That shift will spark needs for more training and coaching and mentoring service providers … like the KAIP Academy.

I could easily list at least a half-dozen more reasons why supporting “Sacramento’s Urban Innovation Agenda” is good for me and my colleagues at KAI Partners. Instead I’ll blog on a regular basis about the progress of City Hall’s agenda and its worthwhile set of goals; measuring and reporting on the impact of the three areas identified above and keeping track of how the “help” (like me) is doing as we lean in on the effort. Wish me and the City of Sacramento luck. Better still give me a shout if you’re looking to lend a hand.

About the Author: Stephen Alfano is an Organizational Change Management Consultant and Communications Expert. He has 30 years of experience leading and managing internal and external marketing initiatives for both private and public-sector clients. His résumé includes providing both new business and business process improvement services to Apple, American Express, AT&T, California Department of Transportation, Chevron, Entergy, Levi Strauss & Co., Louisiana Office of Tourism, Mattel, Microsoft, Novell, SONY, Sutter Health, and Wells Fargo. Stephen currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., spearheading business development and leading the firm’s marketing and communications practice and line of business.

5 Ways to Foster Career and Personal Growth

Co-working, Corporate Training, KAIP Academy, Learning, Professional Development, Training, Workforce Development

By Terry Daffin

Change is growth. This is a simple statement that most people can probably agree on. Yet many of us resist because change is hard or we’re afraid or it’s uncomfortable.

I am entering my 35th year in the IT industry and I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of change not only in the technology industry, but in my professional career overall. Some change was planned and controlled (taking a new job or moving across the country), but many of the changes were not planned (learning a new programming language or the company I worked for going out of business) and I was forced to react and adapt to the change.

The one element that moved me through all of this change was my love of learning. With each change, there was something new to learn. There were things I wanted to learn and things I had to learn to survive. But continuous learning was the key to success each time. With each change, I experienced growth—new job, new responsibilities, new ideas, new people, new perspectives. Ultimately, each change was a stepping stone to a new challenge and success was made possible through continuous learning.

Continuous learning is not difficult, but it takes planning and discipline. Here are five things you can do today to plan for growth in your personal life and professional career.

  1. Read every day. This sounds simple, but with so many life distractions, reading is sometimes difficult to do daily. Make time to read something you are passionate about and something related to your career goals; pick a source with detailed information about a subject you are interested in learning about. I use a both Flipboard and Medium because they allow me to choose my areas of interest. Make your own schedule to read when it works best for you personally.
  2. Write and Share. After I read something, I like to jot down some notes about it. This helps me remember what I’ve read. You could write a review or a blog post about something you’ve read. Share it with someone and talk about it. Teach some one what you’ve just learned. You also might think about speaking as a presenter on the subject at your work or a conference.
  3. Practice What You Learn. If you really want to learn something new, practice it many times over to become proficient at new skill. For example, I enjoy photography and cooking. Easy to practice, right? Examine the result, get feedback, make adjustments, and do it again. Practice may be more difficult in the workplace, but if you let supervisors and co-workers know that you have something new you’d like to try, you may find that they will accommodate you and may even participate and give you feedback needed to make adjustments. Remember, don’t give up! Learn from practicing and experimenting and make adjustments necessary to produce a better product.
  4. Join a Group or an Association. This a fantastic way to grow when learning something new. I belong to several photography groups online that plan “get togethers” to practice techniques. It’s a great way to learn and get feedback without fear of failure because many of the participants are there for the same reason. There are hundreds of professional organizations that would welcome you as a participating member. If you are an entrepreneur for example, you might join The Startup Grind which is an organization that puts on events centered around new startups and innovation. There are hundreds of local chapters and certainly one near you. Groups and Associations are a terrific way to network with others who share your passion.
  5. Enroll in a Training Course. Training, whether online or in a classroom setting, is an essential part of growth. You can find any number of free courses on just about anything you want to learn, but usually the best training courses will cost you something. Training courses provide you with experts who can share details related to a topic with which they have personal experience because they have typically been practicing their craft for many years. These courses often come with a certification or an achievement credential and are valuable for your growth as a professional. Even if you have a higher-level degree from a college or university, training courses can give you valuable insights into your field of choice, making you more valuable to your organization. The growth potential is immeasurable as you will be looked upon and often called upon as the expert. This step can catapult you toward your ultimate professional goals.

Change is a part of life and you will grow while going through whatever change you experience. To maximize growth, it is essential to develop a plan and the discipline to learn continuously. You will be happy you made the investment.

About the Author: Terry Daffin is an Executive Consultant within KAI Partners. He has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years and has over 25 years of project management experience. As a public sector consultant in the health care industry, Mr. Daffin assisted in the development and implementation of Project Management Offices that include project management, service management, lean agile and traditional product development lifecycles, and governance processes. He has been an innovation advocate and evangelist for 15 years and has implemented innovative processes for projects that he has been engaged on since 2001. Mr. Daffin currently works as the Project Manager of the KAIP Academy, KAI Partners’ training division and is working to expand KAI Partners’ co-working organization into an innovation incubator/accelerator focused on connecting innovative start-ups and the public sector.

Why Employee Training Is Really an Investment in Customer Service

Corporate Training, KAIP Academy, Learning, Training, Workforce Development

Photo Credit: Stephen Alfano

By Stephen Alfano

Loop opened. Let me start by saying that I am a humanist at heart: I believe in and champion the philosophy that ultimately it is the critical thinking and rationale behind the actions of people that run any successful endeavor—especially business. I inherited this “people power” belief from my Socratic (and selfless) parents. This bent blossomed and grew with a ‘70s-era public grade school and ‘80s-era liberal arts college education. It then expanded further, and was honed razor-sharp over a 30-year marketing and business development career. Here, critical thinking and rationale took the form of extensive studying, shaping, and supporting the thoughts and behaviors of people at the center of the reaching the primary goal—satisfying customers.

“Customer service has everything to do with consistency, systems, training, and the habits you and your team create.” – Amber Hurdle, employee engagement author

Of course, considering Amber Hurdle’s insight, my preamble might sound a bit Pollyannaish to my fellow rationalist (albeit economist) peers and betters—those who might try to couch my thinking with the simple fact that without profitability, there is no business to be had. Fair enough. Customer-centric solutions delivered by educated and diligent employees don’t always spell profit in the marketplace. (The failures of Compaq, Circuit City, and Pets.com are textbook examples.) So, people—employees—are only partially responsible for effective customer service.

Statistically speaking, according to Jayson DeMers, Founder and CEO at AudienceBloom—leader in the social media audience acquisition marketing sector—in an Entrepreneur article, five out the ten reasons clients leave are directly related to employee involvement or interaction. And two more are indirectly related.

In my experience in marketing and business development sectors, I have seen surveys where 75% or more of the customer service satisfaction was employee-related, to wit: the difference between a loyal customer and one ready to walk away to a competitor seemed to hinge on the actions (or inactions) of employees. Considering that employee actions (or inactions) are mostly determined by training, investing in this area would then equate to an investment in customer service. Loop closed.

Below, you’ll find several incredibly helpful (and humanist) employee training-related links:

5 Tips for Developing an Effective Employee Training Program

Every Employee Needs Customer Service Training — Here’s Why

What the future of work will mean for jobs, skills, and wages

About the Author: Stephen Alfano is an Organizational Change Management Consultant and Communications Expert. He has 30 years of experience leading and managing internal and external marketing initiatives for both private and public-sector clients. His résumé includes providing both new business and business process improvement services to Apple, American Express, AT&T, California Department of Transportation, Chevron, Entergy, Levi Strauss & Co., Louisiana Office of Tourism, Mattel, Microsoft, Novell, SONY, Sutter Health, and Wells Fargo. Stephen currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing change management and communications expertise and support services to California State Departments.

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