Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Sacramento

5 Ways to Jumpstart Your Professional Development

Conferences, Event Recap, Human Resources, KAIP Academy, Learning, Sacramento, SAHRA—The Sacramento Area Human Resources Association, SHRM, Training

By Melissa McManus, Ed.D and SHRM-CP

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a Human Resources Conference sponsored by SAHRA—The Sacramento Area Human Resources Association, a professional organization of which I am a member— titled People, Purpose, Passion!

It was a great two-day event showcasing topics current to the field of human resources, including legal issues, talent management, and technology, just to name a few. Not only did the event provide great opportunities for learning, it provided networking opportunities with vendors in the industry and other human resources professionals in the greater Sacramento area. These types of events are important to attend as they build upon knowledge in my specific career field.

I’ve talked before about planning your career development goals. Professional development is the next step in this process and includes what you do to achieve these goals. It allows you to continue to be competent in your chosen career and provides career growth and learning for you as an employee. In addition, it can be a valuable tool in aligning with your company or organization’s strategic plans. Smart and innovative organizations strive to hire and retain the top talent in their industry—if you want to stay relevant in your career, professional development can help make you a valuable asset within your organization.

There are many ways to continue to hone your career craft and remain a commodity in your chosen career field and industry. Today I want to share a few activities you can do to jumpstart your professional development:

  1. Join a professional organization that focuses on your career. As an HR Practitioner, I belong to two professional organizations.
    • Benefits: Access to latest information in my field; access to information regarding seminars, webinars, conferences, and certifications; and opportunities to network.
  2. Attend a professional conference specific to your career.
    • Benefits: Meet industry experts, gain new and important information in your industry, and network with others in your field.
  3. Sign up for webinars and seminars that highlight or focus on a specific area in your career.
    • Benefits: Provides a way to get new or updated information in your industry in shorter, more concentrated, and often less expensive (or free!) doses.
  4. Read a book pertaining to your field.
    • Benefits: A quick and easy way to learn what might be new and exciting in your industry; also provides flexibility in timing, as you choose how this fits into your schedule.
  5. Mentor someone in your industry or specific career.
    • Benefits: The ability to teach someone what you know and transfer that knowledge demonstrates the highest mastery of the subject matter; plus, it feels good to give back.

These are just a few of the many options out there that you can take advantage of to stay on top of your professional development. What are some things that you have done to stay current in your field or industry?

About Melissa: Dr. Melissa McManus is a Human Resources Professional and research guru. One of her greatest strengths is her resolute ability to soak in new information and her never-ending thirst for knowledge. Melissa has a Master’s degree in Counseling, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, career development, research, writing, training, and knowledge transfer. She is passionate about life and describes herself as an avid bookworm. In her free time, when she is not running her kids to gymnastics or karate, Melissa enjoys reading (a lot), wine tasting, being with friends/family, and spending time with her husband and two children.

Equifax Data Breach: Next Steps

Cyber Security, Information Security, Information Security Management System (ISMS), Information Technology, ISO27001, KAI Partners, Ransomware, Sacramento, Small Business, Startup Company, Technology

As you may have heard, there has been a major breach of data at credit bureau Equifax.

It’s now more important than ever to protect yourself. To check whether you were affected by this data breach, visit: https://www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/. It’s quick and easy—it took our staff less than a minute to check their status.

If you were compromised, check out this article on ways you can protect yourself:
http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/07/technology/business/equifax-data-breach/index.html?iid=EL

Remember, KAI Partners can help your organization assess its security protection through our small business information security risk assessments and Information Security Management System frameworks.

Fanning the Innovation Ecosystem Fire in the Sacramento Region

Co-working, Conferences, Event Recap, Extend Your Runway, Sacramento, Small Business, Startup Company, Technology

Photo Credit: Greater Sacramento Economic Council

By Terry Daffin

It’s been an exciting time for the entrepreneur community in the Sacramento region.

  • It started with an announcement that the Founder Institute will officially launch its newest chapter in Sacramento based on the overwhelming response to the open house events they have hosted targeted at startups in the Greater Sacramento area.
  • As part of their Extend Your Runway campaign, Mayor Darrell Steinberg; Barry Broome, President and CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council; and a host of Sacramento entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and local government innovation proponents infiltrated the heart of Silicon Valley to pitch a group of local entrepreneurs that Sacramento is the place to be for startups and innovation. Citing the benefits of direct access to talent via UC Davis and CSUS, cost of living efficiency (over 50% less than Bay Area), and access to the entire mega-region competitive marketplace (12.2 million people), Mayor Steinberg stated that Sacramento has the “attitude” to become one of the nation’s great locations for innovation and entrepreneurial startups.
  • Kevin Nagle, one of area’s most well-known entrepreneurs and partnership owner in both the Sacramento Kings and Sacramento Republic FC, spoke to a group of entrepreneurs in Davis at a Startup Grind Sacramento. Nagel relayed his own journey as an entrepreneur, sharing with the audience that he, along with other venture capitalists in the area, are interested in investing in startups here in the Sacramento region and encouraged them to stay in the region as opposed leaving for the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. He said that these venture capitalists were small in comparison but that he and other investors were planning to build a fund starting with $100 million that could reach as much as $250 million with the addition of other investment dollars from the area. This, he said will, “light a fire that has already been lit and make it go faster.”

So, what is this “fire” Nagel alluded to and how do we keep it burning?

In my view, the fire is the innovation ecosystem that has been sparked by creatives in many industries in the Sacramento region such as the arts, food and agriculture, and tech, among others. It is exciting to see and feel the energy and momentum the region has going right now. While a transplant from the Deep South, I have been a resident in Sacramento for 30+ years and have never been more encouraged by growth and opportunity than what is happening in our city and our region.

So, what will it take to fan the flames of this fire? Here are three things that I believe in combination will help the fire burn faster:

  1. Entrepreneurs: We need entrepreneurs to both stay and relocate to our region, and take up residence in business and in life. The entrepreneur is where the innovation begins. This fire is a nonstarter without the startup small business entrepreneur.
  2. Incubators and Accelerators: We need these institutions here in our community to help entrepreneurs mature not only the product they are selling, but the business that produces the product. Yes, the entrepreneur can probably figure these things out on their own, but studies have shown that the 5-year survival rate of business nurtured by incubators is 87%. By comparison, the survival rate of those entrepreneurs who do it alone without the support of incubators is only 44%.
  3. Venture Capitalists and Investors: When you ask seasoned and serial entrepreneurs, “What was the biggest challenge you faced during the startup of your business?”, you will most often hear “funding” or “under capitalization.” Sacramento has a short list of investors and venture capitalists who have publicly announced that a large percentage of their investment portfolio will be for companies in the Sacrament region. That is truly a huge benefit to local small businesses.

If we want our ecosystem for innovation to achieve success and become sustainable and scalable, these three things need to occur in combination. We need all three logs on the fire so others will see the smoke, come to investigate, and join in the excitement. Let’s keep this fire burning 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 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.

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.

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The Human Resources Generalist and SHRM-CP

General Life/Work, Human Resources, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, KAIP Academy, Learning, Managing/Leadership, Onboarding, Sacramento, SHRM, Small Business

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you an update on the professional journey of Melissa McManus, Ed.D. When we last spoke, Melissa was KAI Partners’ Research Analyst and is now our Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Certified Professional.

 KAI Partners, Inc.: Melissa, tell us about the transition from Research Analyst to Human Resources Generalist and SHRM-CP.

Melissa McManus: As the Research Analyst, I was doing multiple work tasks, including human resources. Since I was already doing bits and pieces of HR, you could say that I grew into my current role as HR Generalist and SHRM-CP. It was the logical next step and a seamless transition.

KAIP: What is your favorite thing about being in HR?

MM: The variety is absolutely one of my favorite things about being in HR. There is always something different and new, and that is exciting to me. Most people are afraid of change or afraid of doing different things; on the other hand, I enjoy it and I am more afraid of monotony—doing the exact same thing day in and day out.

My new position allows for this constant change and variety. While the tasks may be the same or similar they are also new and different. Some examples of this are getting to work with different people and personalities and the constantly-changing HR and employment laws. This guarantees that I stay a life-long learner because I need to stay current on all laws and what is happening in HR. In that same vein, my HR certification will also keep me current in all things HR as I have professional development credits I must earn each year to keep my SHRM-CP current.

KAIP: From your recent blog post on career development and your self-appointed title of Lifelong Learner, we know these things are important to you. How does getting the SHRM-CP highlight that?

MM: Getting my SHRM-CP was important to me not only for my career development but also personally, as well. I take great pride in being a knowledge-seeker and staying current in my profession. I think that it says a lot about the type of person I am and it also communicates that I want to be the best at my job and how far I am willing to go to do that.

KAIP: We also know you love research. Have you found an opportunity to get back to your roots as a Research Analyst?

MM: I still get to do research as part of my work. Research is part of the territory for me and inhabits all areas of my life! In my current role, there are many instances where I get to put my research guru hat on. While my focus is in the daily tasks surrounding human resource management, this includes a variety of tasks, even research.

Thank you, Melissa, for sharing your journey! How have you made transitions in your career? Share your story with us in the comments!

About Melissa: Dr. Melissa McManus is a human resources professional and research guru. One of her greatest strengths is her resolute ability to soak in new information and her never-ending thirst for knowledge. Melissa has a Master’s degree in Counseling, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership with a focus in Human Resource Development. Melissa’s professional interests include human behavior, career development, research, writing, training, and knowledge transfer. She is passionate about life and describes herself as an avid bookworm. In her free time, when she is not running her kids to gymnastics or karate, Melissa enjoys reading (a lot), wine tasting, being with friends/family, and spending time with her husband and two children.

Quick Q&A with Melissa:
Daily, must-visit website: SHRM.org
Preferred genre of music to listen to at work: Country, always!
Best professional advice received: Never stop learning and don’t let anyone tell you what you are worth—only you can make that determination!
Top productivity hack: Changing up location/scenery. Because I work from home, every now and again I need a different view, which helps to recharge. Also, making sure to take breaks or walk around is a good alternative if you work in an office or specific location.
Book you can read over and over again: If I have to pick just one…Pride and Prejudice and the entire Harry Potter series. There are so many more, but these are the ones came to mind.
Most-recent binge-watched show: Tiny House Hunters

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