Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Government

Why Workforce Development is Everybody’s Business

Government, Hiring, Learning, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Sacramento, Small Business, Startup Company, Technology, Training

By Stephen Alfano

Scan the U.S. economic forecast newsfeeds today and you’ll find nearly all of them contain or point to a reference about the status of the available workforce.

The reason for this attention is quite clear: Research continues to show the country in the middle of an employment crisis with rapidly declining rolls, due in large part to an aging population (10,000 retirees a day), coupled with the widening knowledge-base and skills gap among entry-level and mid-career candidates looking to be the backfill.

Of course, the employment crisis isn’t just a U.S. issue. Large and small employers, and national and local politicians the world over are involved in the response—especially where economic empowerment in the form of access to good paying jobs and career advancing training comes into play. In other words, workforce development is everyone’s business.

Originally designed to address the needs of personnel rather than businesses, workforce development has evolved to become an all-encompassing economic growth catchphrase used to describe multifaceted, multiphasic initiatives that attempt to knock down a wide array of employment barriers and achieve overall labor goals of a region.

Today, when business leaders and politicians talk about workforce development, they do so in terms of socio-economic reforms in education, urban planning, tax policy, and social services (to name a few of the areas affected).

Regardless of the size of their payroll or party affiliation, these community stalwarts are undeniably talking about jobs. They are talking about good paying jobs, jobs that require skills in high demand. The kind of jobs that attract—and keep—employees rooted in the region. And there’s the rub—as the Harvard Business Review (HBR) points out in a recently published article.

With insight (data analysis) pulled from requirements from job listings posted since 2008, the HBR identifies the growing skills gap found in U.S. labor pool since the “Great Recession.” In case you don’t have spare time to read the whole article, here’s an abridged version to help point out why (and where) workforce development is needed:

“[Recent research has established] a new fact: the skill requirements of job ads increased in metro areas that suffered larger employment shocks in the Great Recession … the companies that reacted to the recession by looking for more skilled workers were still pursuing that strategy five years later.”

“[Specifically, job ads in] hard-hit metro area are about 5 percentage points (16%) more likely to contain education and experience requirements and about 2–3 percentage points (8‒12%) more likely to include requirements for analytical and computer skills … [and nearly all] education, experience, analytical aptitude, and computer skills — have been found to complement new technologies … [identified in the job postings] analytical requirements by the presence of keywords like “research,” “decision,” and “solving.”

“… [it was found] that businesses more severely affected by the Great Recession were more likely to invest in new technology, and while this technology may have helped replace some forms of routine jobs, it apparently increased the demand for greater worker skills for other routine jobs.”

The Sacramento metro region was one of the areas hardest hit by the “Great Recession.” (When the “housing bubble” burst, the economy suffered another big shock with the exit of several large employers.) The resulting devalued homes and downturn in available jobs crippled the Capital Corridor’s economy—it took nearly 10 years for a modest rebound to take place.

As of October 2017, there are relatively few underwater properties left in the area inventory. Unfortunately, there are still hundreds of area residents underemployed and too few big employer prospects in the pipeline. Sounds like the right market conditions for an innovative and inclusive workforce development initiative, specifically one that will:

  1. Ensure business and civic leaders work together regularly to identify and then mitigate skill gaps in the labor pool addressing regional employment challenges through dedicated sponsorship and resource allocations;
  2. Employ empirical data analysis and change management best practices in tandem to inform and guide employers and employees on how to fulfill growing or evolving job requirements in alignment with regional marketplace growth goals and objectives;
  3. Enlist subject matter experts and key stakeholders to create processes and governance and compliance policies and procedures that will facilitate reconfiguring or reconstructing regional human resource management goals and objectives on an ongoing basis; and
  4. Engage and empower instructors and advisors to help train and promote work-ready employees for both short and long-term economic growth objectives that serve vital regional business and public sector needs for better prepared and for higher-qualified candidates.

Who’s with me?

About the Author: Stephen Alfano is an Organizational Change Management Consultant and Communications Expert. He has over 25 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.

Leveraging Lean Startup and Design Thinking Startup Sac Event Recap

Agile, Conferences, Event Recap, Government, Leveraging Lean Startup and Design Thinking event, Project Management, Sacramento, Small Business, Startup Company, Technology, Waterfall


Picture Credit: Startup Sac

By Terry Daffin

The Death of the Traditional Product Development Lifecycle

When we think of innovation, we typically think of product innovation. The tangible things we use on a daily basis go through massive change in one’s lifetime.

For example, the smartphone: Does anyone remember using a rotary phone that had to stay plugged into the wall? What about music? Does anyone still buy or play LPs? Maybe the historians, a few collectors, and the staunch laggards of society still have these items around, but they have almost totally been forgotten.

Process and methodology also experiences periods of innovation. The assembly line revolutionized the manufacturing industry over 100 years ago. Kaizen was introduced in the 1980s as an innovative improvement for manufacturing and beyond. The tech industry has certainly seen its fair share of technology products.

The process for developing those products is also changing. The traditional methods for product development is far too laborious to keep up with demand and often does not meet the needs of users once the product is complete. Private industries and even some public sector departments have move to more innovative processes and methodologies to meet the demand.

I recently attended an event sponsored by Startup Sac. The event, Leveraging Lean Startup and Design Thinking, featured presenter Jake Elia, Bamboo Creative’s Head of Products and Technology.

Jake delivered an impressive presentation and provided many examples of his own startup experiences, as well as example of other startups to accentuate points along the way. I was intrigued by his description of his own life path as a “lean startup” and pivoting when needing to do so.

I started to think my own career path and compared it to the product lifecycles I’ve used over my 30-year career in the industry. Has my life/career mirrored a traditional waterfall development lifecycle? Maybe to a certain degree, but here is what I’ve come to know about life: It doesn’t follow any set process or plan. You have to be ready to make a change when the plan falls apart.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all plans fall apart, but even a minor deviation in the plan creates some sort of change that may alter the direction of the original plan. That is also the case with product development. The big difference between the traditional development lifecycles and today’s more agile or lean lifecycles is the speed in which product builds, feedback, and changes in direction occur. The increase in “speed” can be attributed to several changes/innovations in the traditional development lifecycle process itself:

  1. Clarity of the problem being solved
  2. Frequent customer involvement and feedback
  3. Simplify the minimum viable product (MVP)

In their own way, Lean Startup and Design Thinking both take into account these three factors. So, how can you use them in your next product development project? Here are my takeaways of the presentation:

Lean Startup

The Lean Startup is a methodology and book written by Eric Reis about his experiences with startup companies. Through his experiences, he saw the need to develop and document a methodology to share with others. I recommend The Lean Startup be on the reading list of anyone who has vision with a solution to a problem and a notion to engage in a startup.

According to Reis, the lean startup “provides a scientific approach to creating and managing startups and get a desired product to customers’ hands faster. The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup … and grow a business with maximum acceleration.”

The model is simple: Build, Measure, and Learn. Here’s how it works:

  • Starting with a vision or an idea for how to resolve a problem, you create a hypothesis on how the solution might resolve a problem. This step is the clarification of the problem to be solved.
  • Then you build a minimum viable product (MVP). Your MVP should focus on the main or most important problem to be solved. Know that there may be many problems to solve which means many build iterations. Resist the urge to solve all problems with your MVP.
  • Next, you must develop measurable metrics,present to customers who have this problem, record customer feedback, and use the data to learn something about your solution.

The key is using the data to make sound decisions about the path forward. Be brutally honest with yourself and the problem you are trying to solve. The data should provide you with the information to either continue down the path you are on or pivot with a different idea. You don’t want to waste time building something no one needs or wants.

The model looks like this:

Picture credit

Think of your solution to a problem as an experiment. Experiments are valuable not only to prove your hypothesis was correct, but to prove your hypotheses was incorrect as well.

Design Thinking

According to Stanford Graduate School of Business, Design Thinking is a “user-centered way to conceive and create a successful product.”

The Design Thinking model is similar to Lean Startup, however the customer interaction is at the beginning and may be a more beneficial method to use when your customer has known problem.

The model is simple and is meant to be more expedient than a traditional model because it is also iterative.

The phases of Design Thinking include Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. The model looks like this:

Picture credit

  • The Empathize and Define steps are critical to making crystal clear the problem to be solved. The interviewer should probe the customer for pain points. These steps are to get to the root cause of the problem.
  • The Ideate and Prototype steps are to come up with solutions and to build an MVP. Problems are prioritized and prototypes are simplified focusing on the most important problems to resolve first.
  • Finally, Test your solution by presenting to customers and collecting feedback to be used in making the next decision on what to move forward with. Rinse and repeat!

Unlike traditional develop lifecycles, the Lean Startup and Design Thinking methodologies are highly iterative to simplify build cycles and involve frequent customer interaction and feedback to provide data for plan adjustments.

These and other innovative process improvements are becoming more and more the norm. Even the Federal government has recognized this is true in order to meet the demands of the general public. Case in point, the Federal General Services Administration created an office known as 18F to deliver “digital services” in response to the failure of the website that was developed for the Affordable Care Act.

California is also beginning to ramp up its own digital service methodologies as evidenced by the recent contract award by the California Child Welfare Digital Services project to CivicActions for development of the Department’s new system.

The traditional development lifecycle is not dead yet, but it may be on its last leg. How are you pivoting to these innovations and changes in development?

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 has 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. He has worked with the California Medi-Cal Management and Information System (CA-MMIS) division of the Department of Health Care Services, California Franchise Tax Board, Commission on Teacher Credentialing, California Department of Consumer Affairs, California Board of Equalization, and California Department of Water Resources. Mr. Daffin is currently working on a project for KAI Partners to expand an existing co-working organization into an innovation incubator/accelerator focused on connecting innovative start-ups and the public sector.

Sacramento Business Journal TechEdge Event Recap

Co-working, Conferences, Event Recap, Government, KAI Partners, Marketing, Sacramento, Sacramento Business Journal TechEdge Event, Small Business, Startup Company, Technology

By Terry Daffin

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Sacramento Business Journal’s TechEdge event, held at the McClellan Event Center.

The event was well-attended by about 200 techies, startups, investor groups, incubator groups, and other individuals and groups interested in how to plug into the innovation explosion in the Sacramento region.

As I walked through the technology fair that was set up for vendors to display their offerings and shared what KAI Partners is embarking on in the way of a co-working/Incubator space in downtown Sacramento, I was taken aback by the openness and collaborative atmosphere of this group.

Many of the vendors and attendees I talked with were excited about more growth and even introduced me to others who they thought could help on our journey. I met and spoke to two founders of incubator/accelerator programs already here in Sacramento and they shared with me what they are doing, how they got started, and what they were planning to do in the future. The atmosphere was not one of competition, but one of growth for our region.

At the event, there was a program in which several speakers discussed what the future looks like for bringing innovators, startups, and investors to Sacramento.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui kicked off the event by speaking about how “Sacramento is on the move” and “the place to be” for innovation. She talked about how state and local government are embracing the innovation surge by changing policies to make it easier for businesses to start and thrive in the Sacramento region.

Rep. Matsui spoke about an initiative the City of Sacramento has regarding autonomous vehicles and noted that Sacramento will be a “test bed” for such innovation. She even talked about collaboration efforts with DMV to establish standards and mentioned the recent partnership with AT&T and how Sacramento will be building out infrastructure to support the new 5G technology to achieve net neutrality in our region.

Lokesh Sikaria of Moneta Ventures spoke about the exciting future growth in Sacramento. Of the eight largest trends in the tech industry, Sacramento will see explosive growth and opportunities in four:

  1. AI and machine learning
  2. Big data
  3. Autonomous vehicles
  4. Health 2.0

Mr. Sikaria asked, “Why Sac? Why Now?” and cited the following:

  • 200k + shared workforce
  • 20% of applicants of jobs are from the Bay Area
  • 300k + college students in the region
  • 50% lower cost of living than the Bay Area
  • Each tech job creates 5x the growth

In addition to the great speakers, there was a panel of startup business founders discussing how and why they came to the Sacramento region. The stories about their migration to the Sacramento region were unique, but had common themes such as the lower cost of doing business, the large number of experienced tech people, and the quality of life. They all said that before coming to Sacramento to explore doing business here, their perception of Sacramento was negative and that it was only after they came here and saw the growth and the transformation and the quality of Sacramento that they decided to make the move.

Overall, it was a very positive event with lots of excitement by everyone who attended. I think these are exciting times for our region!

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 has 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. He has worked with the California Medi-Cal Management and Information System (CA-MMIS) division of the Department of Health Care Services, California Franchise Tax Board, Commission on Teacher Credentialing, California Department of Consumer Affairs, California Board of Equalization, and California Department of Water Resources. Mr. Daffin is currently working on a project for KAI Partners to expand an existing co-working organization into an innovation incubator/accelerator focused on connecting innovative start-ups and the public sector.

KAI Partners is Hiring!

Agile, Backend Web Developer, Communications, Corporate Training, Government, Hiring, Human Resources, KAI Partners, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Project Management, Sacramento, Scrum, Small Business, Technology, Training

kai-partners-is-hiring

A new year typically brings some introspection, the setting of goals and aspirations, and the shifting of priorities. Along with the typical “lose weight” or “go to yoga,” maybe you’ve also been feeling the desire to change an aspect of your career. Luckily, KAI Partners is currently hiring! Take a look at the roles for which we are hiring—maybe your dream job is waiting here! Note: All positions are on-site positions based in the Sacramento, California region.

Communications Consultant
The Communications Consultant will play a key role in planning, coordinating, and developing communication and messaging for a large organization. The focus of the Communications Consultant is to act as a single point of contact for all external division communications, which are both written and oral. The Communications Consultant will provide full-service communication services, new media, public awareness, educational outreach, communications strategy, stakeholder, sponsor and program research, and more.
Click here to apply or to view the job posting in its entirety (via ZipRecruiter)

Delivery Manager (Scrum Master)
The Delivery Manager (Scrum Master) shall work to resolve or remove impediments within the team, help manage the team’s relationships with outside stakeholders, facilitate team continuous improvement, and coordinate solution implementation and delivery with other Delivery Managers. This individual should have the ability to develop relationships with all levels of the organization and have outstanding political savvy. We are looking for enthusiastic problem solvers who thrive on being engaged at all levels of the project.
Click here to apply or to view the job posting in its entirety (via LinkedIn)

Backend Web Developer
The Backend Web Developer engages with a number of stakeholders to act as a bridge between current compliance requirements and the new compliance requirements. The success of the Backend Web Developer requires a dedicated professional who possess analytical, programming, and data architecture skills. The Backend Web Developer will need to have experience using modern, open source software to prototype and deploy backend web applications, including all aspects of server-side processing, data storage, and integration with frontend development.
Click here to apply or to view the job posting in its entirety (via LinkedIn)

Training Consultant
The Training Consultant will work across a number of stakeholders, both state and vendor, who collaborate to design, develop, and deliver training solutions to impacted end users within the organization. The Training Consultant should have the ability to develop relationships with all levels of the organization and have outstanding political savvy. The Training Consultant should have in-depth knowledge of training design methodologies. Knowledge of business process and OCM methodologies are preferred.
Click here to apply or to view the job posting in its entirety (via ZipRecruiter)

We look forward to receiving your application today!

Civic & Gov Tech Showcase Event Recap

Civic & Gov Tech Showcase, Community Service, Conferences, Data Management, Event Recap, General Life/Work, Government, Information Technology, Managing/Leadership, Project Management, Sacramento, Small Business, Technology

civic-gov_tech_showcase
Photo Credit: Innovate Your State

By Guest Blogger Tony Oliver, Penny Wise Consulting Group

One of KAI Partners’ own partners, Tony Oliver of Penny Wise Consulting Group, recently attended the second annual Civic & Gov Tech Showcase in Sacramento. According to event sponsors Innovate Your State and the City of Sacramento Mayor’s Office for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, “The Civic & Gov Tech Showcase is an opportunity to connect civic minded entrepreneurs, government leaders and potential investors to showcase innovation and encourage collaboration and support of new technologies to improve government.” We asked Tony to share with us his thoughts on the event, so take it away, Tony!

It was an interesting event, with the first 30 minutes focusing on discussing the benefits of Sacramento for companies either looking to move from the Bay Area or seeking to open local offices.

After a 30-minute break, there were two hours of quick 8-minute presentations by startups with a focus on government or civic issues. The main thread weaving them together: These are the types of projects that once upon a time, the bigger tech outfits would (or would not) address, often only if million-dollar contracts were present. Now, however, these smaller outfits are offering the counties and cities an opportunity to fix big problems with their nimbler, web-enabled software.

A few of these startups caught my eye, including:

  • A.R.G.O Labs: More diverse than the others, its focus is on leveraging civic data science tools to deliver public services more efficiently
  • Caravan Studios: More of a container to solve problems; their presentation actually had a case: disseminating information to disadvantaged students from the nation’s 100k public schools on where to find free activities and meals during the summer
  • CityGrows: Streamlines and provides a transparent view of how permits, processes, etc. are offered by the cities
  • Civic CrowdAnalytics: Crunches civic data with Natural Language Processing, i.e., sentiment analysis
  • MeWe: Inspection software used to carve a big dent in the backlog of public sector inspections
  • Organizer: A volunteer-focused startup
  • Pinpoint Predictive: More of people analytics, similar to Civic Crow Analytics above
  • ShiftSpark: Citizen lobbying
  • SpeakEasy Political: Templates and assistance on direct marketing campaigns for issues
  • Support Pay: Combination of communication platform and payment and verification system for child support expenses and collaboration
  • Voter: Tinder-like, used to connect with like-minded voters

It sounds like this year’s Civic & Gov Tech Showcase featured some great startups that can help positively influence our government and political processes! KAI Partners thanks Tony for his thoughts on this event and will be looking at these companies—and others making their way to the Sacramento area—in the future.

About the Author: Tony Oliver is a project manager by trade, a marketing guru by profession, and a lifelong learner from birth. His best trait is an inquisitive mind, which drives his desire to understand not just the “what” but also the “how” and more importantly, the “why” and “why not?” Tony is experienced in supply, pricing, demand, and consumption analysis and holds an MBA in marketing from a top 20 school (UNC Chapel Hill) and an undergraduate English Literature degree from Georgetown University. With 15+ years of experience with Intel and Cisco, Tony is fully bilingual (English, Spanish) with a working knowledge of French, as well as a seasoned public speaker and instructor of Project Management and Presentation Skills courses.

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