Welcome to our portal to the interesting, informative and inspirational. Stuff’s about to get real. Explore the minds of Motivation Technologies’ leadership team, Dick Estes, Beat Bartlome, Steve Hoerner and Zach Lips.
Intro by Dick
There’s a lot of information going around about the coronavirus and COVID-19. Motivation Technologies developed this insightful resource for our own employees to separate the fact from the fiction and help keep them safe and informed. The article was shared on LinkedIn and between employees and their families. The more we know about this unprecedented situation, the better equipped we’ll be to persevere and meet the demands of our changing social and economic landscape.
Intro by Zach
If you haven’t seen how microlearning can push across knowledge in short, fast, well-positioned bursts, you need to check out this short article. MoTech has been perfecting these formats for years.
By Dick Estes
Uncertainty causes anxiety for everyone. Whether it’s a company reorganization, political unrest or the recent COVID-19 pandemic, employees are concerned about their future. As we navigate through the uncertain times in today’s business environment, it is imperative that management tackle situations head-on and ensure a rational and focused effort to navigate through uncertainty. Below are areas crucial to helping ease employee anxiety and build confidence in management in uncertain times.
Communication – Frequent and open communication is an integral part of any well-run company. During times of uncertainty, communication for all levels of management needs to be amplified. Many employees are being forced to work from home during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Working from home has advantages for some and challenges for others. Managers need to have consistent communication to get a pulse on what’s working and what needs to be modified to ensure employees have a favorable environment to get their work done. It’s human nature to want reassurance that everything will be fine.
Confidence – Employees need to feel comfortable with management and trust in them to make the right decisions for the betterment of the company. Many times, managers will make a knee-jerk reaction to an issue to address it quickly without really thinking it through. Thoroughly analyzing an issue and coming up with the best possible solution will show employees that the company truly does want the best for the organization and will instill confidence within all levels.
Adaptability – Companies MUST be able to adapt to changing environments and business conditions. Those that adapt will survive and those that don’t will perish. It’s that simple. How a company looks today will probably be very different than what it will look like a few years from now. As companies adapt to change, it is imperative employees get on board with the changes being made. Having employees buy in to the changes being made is key to help relieve some of the uneasiness that comes with changes.
Compassion – Treat your employees like you would want to be treated if they were managing you. Sometimes as managers, it’s easy to feel a sense of empowerment over others in the organization. Managers need to feel heightened compassion for others during times of uncertainty. Managers should take a step back and mentally reverse roles with their employees and get a sense of how they would feel with whatever change is occurring.
Trust – Managers must trust employees to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Unwanted employees in an organization will be weeded out. Excellent employees need to be given the freedom to thrive and do their job in whatever business environment a company faces. Micromanagers will cause undue pressure in uncertain times.
Bottom line: Managing in uncertain times is not easy. It requires open communication, confidence, adaptability, compassion and trust. Being able to address these areas will give your company an opportunity for a more positive outcome as uncertainty diminishes.
By Beat Bartlome
What’s in it for You?
Tell almost any corporate concern with a staff to train about the values of a customized LMS platform and they’ll eventually reply with “What’s in it for me?”
And rightly so. According to a study by the Brandon Hall Group, nearly 40 percent of U.S. companies that use eLearning are less than satisfied with their Learning Management System. Off-the-shelf LMSs can only go so far to meet the needs of a company. And while some businesses may find their training needs met with one-size-fits-all, out-of-the-box programs, many more require a robustly customized platform that reflects their ideal business process flow.
That’s where Motivation Technologies rides into battle on a thundering stallion, a wind-rippled banner unfurled over the battlefield of staff training solutions. Too dramatic? Probably so. But with years of handcrafting customized learning programs for some of the world’s largest companies, we think we’ve earned the right to a little exaggerated cinematic imagery.
But let’s rein in the horses for a moment and ask a basic question:
Do You Really Need a Custom LMS?
Seriously. Do you need a heavily customized Learning Management System that informs and reinforces your brand ideals and process flow, or are you better off adapting to a prefab product that meets your needs? Is extensive LMS customization necessary? Do you want a right-for-now platform or one that is future-proof and tailored for a long-term, comprehensive fit?
Chances are you want it all. To have access to a program with your name and brand all over it is limitlessly appealing. But deciding on a custom LMS is a big decision. They aren’t just handed out like trick-or-treat candy or Mardi Gras beads. Not everyone should have a custom LMS. It takes a commitment to time and a fair amount of courage to pull it off. And, like anything exclusively designed, the upfront costs are considerably higher than their generic counterparts. It’s always easier to pick an off-the-shelf system. But those nonspecific programs have a higher rate of missing the mark and becoming rapidly obsolete.
So, yeah. You probably really do need a custom LMS.
Think Outside the Generic, Dull, Common, Uninspired Box
For those businesses daring to dream big and take bold chances, the rewards of a custom LMS are plentiful. But thinking big and taking chances are not without their share of considerations.
Don’t let your requirements be limited by past experiences. Learning systems should adapt to your needs, not the other way around.
Reasons FOR a Custom Solution
Reasons AGAINST a Custom Solution
Reporting + Analytics
The numbers don’t lie. They may bend the truth ever so slightly to prove a point, but for the most part, they can be trusted inherently. Most high-end custom LMS systems require a powerful analytics system that allows for real-time reporting on any kind of activity within the system. Everything is trackable.
A customized LMS platform offers in-depth reporting and full-spectrum analytics. This includes:
The best superheroes know that with great power comes great responsibility. For powerful LMS systems, with higher costs comes a great responsibility to provide profound data and analysis. If you’re not getting this for your money, you need to rethink your choice of superhero.
The Dark Side of LMS Customization
Okay. So it’s not all springtime and sunshine in the world of LMS customization. Pitfalls happen. Increased costs without increased benefits can happen. So can vendor lock, that moment when you realize the relationship just isn’t working and you want to see other people but you’ve got this contract binding you together. Over-customization can make your LMS more difficult to manage. Then there’s the dreaded Open Source Factor, that awkward moment when multiple vendors and third-party vendors present an overwhelming glut of homogenous base products, leaving you with a severe case of LMS burnout.
Why Motivation Technologies? Aren’t They Just Another Vendor?
Yes! And no! With nearly two decades in the industry and a key client list featuring some of the world’s biggest brands, Motivation Technologies leverages its tight-knit, small company vibe to do gargantuan things. Smaller vendors are better suited to giving clients more of their attention, providing a personalized experience that goes way beyond the project brief. Our small business configuration is large enough to feature seasoned professionals with years of experience in account management, solutions development, creative arts and more.
What we offer is training without limits, customized solutions that build knowledgeable staffs, as well as brand awareness, identity and advocacy. Now, reread that last sentence, but imagine it with sweeping, emotional end theme music playing over it. And probably a crane shot that pulls back to reveal the daring Motivation Technologies logo as the credit roll beneath. Wow. That was a great movie.
Intro by Beat
The reward strategy is in full force at MoTech. We’ve always known what this article explains: that points, credits, badges, leaderboards and recognition go a long way in motivating staff and reinforcing learning.
Intro by Steve
The human brain is one seriously complicated machine. This article I found totally confirms it. Read about how the intricacies of the brain shape exciting new learning techniques.
By Zach Lips
Having spent much of my professional career as an agency Creative Director, I know the value of creativity, in both the workplace and in personal life, even in times of crisis. Maybe more so in times of crisis.
With gyms and parks closed during the coronavirus quarantine, people have adjusted their fitness routines by taking advantage of home exercise equipment, scheduling regular runs, bike rides and walks in the neighborhood or even practicing yoga to streamed video instruction. For creative types, it’s just as important to exercise those creative muscles during this time of forced self-isolation.
Aristotle had a word for it: catharsis, defined by Britannica as “the purification or purgation of the emotions (especially pity and fear) primarily through art.” The fabled Greek philosopher proposed that the purpose of tragedy was to provoke “terror and pity,” thereby affecting the catharsis of these emotions. We’ve come to accept the term as a process of releasing the tensions of repressed emotions as a form of relief. Like music soothing the savage beast or uptown funk gon' give it to you, the power of art has curative properties for the human psyche. Don’t believe me, just watch.
In times of crisis, whether personal or national, those with creative talents see the value in their art as restorative and therapeutic, an outlet for emotional energy. A global pandemic that pushes the population indoors to shelter in place seems like the most opportune moment for musicians to embrace their instruments as a form of release, a time for painters and illustrators to gravitate to their canvases and sketch pads to express themselves artistically. Writers take to their computers and notebooks to let their words do the talking, perhaps resulting in accomplished poetry, stories, plays and memoirs. Dancers convert living rooms into dance studios and reel off parlor pirouettes in balletic style. Honestly, there’s enough streaming content on Netflix, Hulu and Disney+ to last a lifetime of quarantines. But avoiding the TV and making your own art is pure catharsis that binging Tiger King could never produce.
Your Brain on Grief
Neurologists and brain researchers have identified an area of the brain that deactivates when one experiences sadness and grief. The left hemisphere of the brain concerns itself with hope, joy and other social emotions, while the right hemisphere processes emotions like fear and anxiety. Grief jacks up the right hemisphere and deactivates the left. So, left-brain functions like logic and analytic thought, reasoning, science and math skills become suppressed at the expense of the right brain’s stock in trade: art and music awareness, intuition, imagination, holistic thought, insight and creativity.
Now, I’m no neurologist. I’m a Creative Director. But it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to make the cerebral leap between grief and creative energy. The cathartic nature of expending creative energy during periods of grief and crisis has measurable effects.
A Creativity Call-up
The international crisis we currently find ourselves in sees us sheltering in our homes as a preemptive way of not catching or spreading the novel coronavirus. For those of us who fancy ourselves as creative types, it’s a time to call up our talents and use the arts to relieve some tension. For those who claim no creative ability, I say: Perfect time to get some.
You always thought it would be cool to write a book? Start outlining. Convert thoughts and ideas to written words. You used to enjoy art class in school? Bust out some paper or a sketch pad or order some paints and canvases online. For people who love music but couldn’t imagine ever playing an instrument: Ever tried a ukulele? They’re inexpensive, simple to learn, easy to play and the perfect accompaniment for a backyard luau. I have musician friends who are recording albums remotely, sharing tracks back and forth and compiling songs without the need to be together in a studio. Quarantine creative collaboration.
Here are a few other ideas to express your creativity at home, pandemic be damned.
Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have become surrogate stages for performers denied their traditional venues. Musicians and songwriters have been posting live performance clips. Established performers denied nightclubs and regular show outlets have enlisted the help of livestreaming services and live social media platforms to bring their music to their fanbase, offering virtual front row seats to fans. If you’re musically fluent, use your smartphone to record yourself performing a song. Then post it for your legion of adoring Facebook fans. And Aunt Rachel.
Famed B-movie director Roger Corman is curating his “Corman Quarantine Film Festival” and calling for submissions. The cult director of Bucket of Blood and Attack of the Crab Monsters is challenging established directors and would-be Scorseses to submit their mini masterpieces. The rules include 1. You have to stay home and stay safe and film the video inside your house or in the backyard; 2. The short must be filmed on a cell phone; and 3. It must be under two minutes. Can’t wait to see Attack of the Quarantine Monsters.
Ever heard of Taylor Swift? You may be surprised to learn that this multi-platinum album-selling chart topper got her start singing karaoke at ten years old. So there’s hope for you! Convert your family room into a makeshift karaoke bar simply by accessing YouTube and searching out karaoke versions of your favorite songs. There’s a plethora of karaoke videos, complete with lead vocal-less songs and scrolling lyrics. No special equipment required. Even if you have no aspirations to hit the Billboard Hot 100, it’s always a blast to belt out songs you love. You can even sing Taylor Swift songs and put her to shame.
Hey, as long as you’re stuck in the house, why not go a little Marie Kondo on your crib and unleash your inner interior designer? Seek out tips for cleaning, organizing, rearranging, decorating and decluttering that’ll make your place seem new, different and visually compelling. Hell, Taylor Swift was probably into interior design as a kid too.
You don’t have to be a poetry snob or even know the 15 types of poetic forms to enjoy the literary art and pluck up the wherewithal to produce a nice poem. Challenge yourself to write a haiku (three lines of five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables) about some daily observation. The next day, pen a witty (perhaps bawdy?) limerick (five lines of a single stanza with an AABBA rhyme scheme). On Day 3, conquer a sonnet (14 lines using the ABAB rhyming structure with a concluding couplet at the end). Progress to lyric poetry, the ballad, an elegy and a villanelle. At the end of the quarantine, you’ll have a collection of poetry to share with the world (except the bawdy limericks; keep those to yourself).
Talent is Subjective
Keep in mind that creativity isn’t limited to the traditional arts. I’ve known individuals who are absolute artists at gardening, cooking, woodworking and home decorating. It’s a perfect time to let those talents blossom as a personal extension of creativity. Practice and perfect magic tricks. Learn to dance. Launch a podcast or start your own YouTube channel. Write a script then use your iPhone to shoot your own in-home mini-epic movie, starring your family. Edit it on your computer (there are a ton of editing programs available). Paint portraits of your family members. Start your novel. Tie-dye some old T-shirts. Assemble a photo collage. Whip up a museum-caliber meal one night. There’s no limit to creativity. And a crisis just might be the best time to let yours shine.
Intro by Dick
Special thanks to Brian Baumgartner, Kevin from The Office, for taking the time to send a special shout-out to the entire MoTech team. Working from home for 8 weeks now and still going strong. What an awesome team! Miss everyone and I'll see you all soon... in the office.