Strategy, Planning, Implementation
For Learning & Collaboration Across Distance
FutureU™ consulting services for planning and strategic thinking can help you:
- Get buy-in from your decision-makers.
- Identify and secure financing and other resources.
- Plan a pilot program to test and introduce your initiative.
- Decide between your own online space or an off-the-shelf product.
- Choose the right delivery options to meet your stakeholders’ needs.
- Plan an entire organizational “university.”
- Lay the foundation for an enhanced and expanded learning community or community of practice.
Our Best Advice
The best strategic consulting advice that FutureU™ has to offer is just this—for a project to get off the drawing table, it must qualify with at least these three prerequisites:
- Executive level sponsorship.
- Resource allocation.
- Stakeholder inclusion.
No matter how badly needed, no matter how clever the anticipated outcomes, without these three fundamentals, no project has a chance to even launch let alone reach completion.
- Executive level sponsorship is required to avoid turf wars and provide permission for resource allocation.
- Resource allocation makes sure the project will have a budget, staff, and any tangible assets that are required.
- Stakeholder inclusion increases buy-in throughout the organization, without which the project’s deliverables or recommendations will end up on a shelf, in a drawer, or in “the round file.”
Sponsorship and resources can be obtained through strategic conversations and negotiations.
Stakeholder Inclusion is the keystone for success. Want to get people interested in the solution to your problems? Ask for ideas from those who will be the most affected by your project.
You ask. They answer. You listen!
Especially in any collaboration, learning, or technology initiative, ask stakeholders at least these three questions about the issue, challenge, or problem you’re working on:
- What are you using or doing for that right now?
- What would you like to use or do for that in the future?
- What else is on your mind?
The first two questions encourage participation and yield answers that are immensely helpful to the project.
The last question shows that you are listening and interested in what stakeholders have to say. No matter how you word the third question, respondents will tell you what’s on their minds.
Asking these questions creates an experience of respect, openness, and concern which has immeasurable long-term benefits.
Technologies for Collaboration and Learning
Often, the challenges you face, and the solutions we provide, involve technologies for collaboration and learning across distance such as:
- Online meeting software (e.g. Zoom or WebEx)
- Online team support software (e.g. Asana, Basecamp, Slack, or Trello)
- Course and learning management systems (e.g. Teachable, Thinkific, Blackboard, or Moodle)
Such technologies create historic opportunities, but they also impact planning, employee morale, productivity, and the bottom line. Not always in a good way, either.
Readiness and Needs Assessments
Conducting both needs and readiness assessments of your key stakeholders helps build a successful technology initiative in 7 ways:
- You create a reality-based measure of their technological skill level.
- You get an early warning about individuals who may need extra attention.
— Because of their low level of technology skill.
— Or their attitudes toward technology itself or your authority.
- You can give those clamoring for more tools what they can actually take advantage of.
- You identify those who are set in their ways and are best left alone.
- You will be better able to plan and execute a phased roll out.
- Your rollout will better meet the needs of participants no matter what their skill level.
- You will be able to confirm potential costs for any remedial training that may be required.
The results of assessing both readiness and needs together can also help you determine if sufficient resources, interest, and support are available for the purchase, adoption, and/or expansion of the Web tools you have in mind.
Our experience with exactly these kinds of projects means that we can guide you at every stage–or at any level–to design, develop, and deliver a plan that addresses the needs you’ve identified by collecting concrete facts.
FutureU™ Consulting Services
Here’s where we come in with:
- Coaching and project management.
- Internal marketing
- to increase buy-in and engagement.
- Research and analysis
- to make it easy to tie results to productivity improvement or return on investment
- Effective tracking
- to increase engagement and encourage the application of Web technologies you’ve made available or are thinking about getting.
- Confirmation of potential costs
- for any remedial training that may be required.
- Readiness and needs assessments.
- The results of assessing both readiness and needs together can also help you determine if sufficient resources, interest, and support are available for the purchase, adoption, and/or expansion of the Web tools you have in mind.
Our experience with exactly these kinds of projects means that we can guide you at every stage–or at any level–to design, develop and deliver a plan that addresses the needs you’ve identified by collecting concrete facts.
For efficient, cost-effective implementation, we also provide a wide variety of coaching and consulting assistance, from planning and strategic thinking to choosing or upgrading your Web-based tools.
How we have helped clients at the intersection of people and technology.
The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI)
…wanted its 500+ scientists to work together across great distances, but this wasn’t happening as fast or as fully as NASA leaders had hoped, despite major investments in hardware and software. FutureU™ helped them find out why, then worked with them to adjust how they were doing things. Today, the number of scientists participating in NAI has doubled. Moreover, they now collaborate across distance every day, in multiple ways. Can FutureU take full credit for the Institute’s growth and success? Certainly not, we worked with a fabulous team of IT support professionals. But we did internal marketing and needs assessments and helped them install and ignite a booster rocket under this virtual community of scientists.
King Abdul-Aziz University (KAU) in Saudi Arabia
…wanted to bring higher education to more Saudi students around the Kingdom and the world—but KAU’s world-class professors weren’t quite ready. At FutureU™ we customized our Faculty Development Program to a Saudi sensibility and delivered it to a cohort of two dozen doctorate-level professors from a dozen disciplines. The program gave them more than technical skills; it gave them the confidence, enthusiasm and inspiration they needed to build a popular distance learning program from the inside out.
Manutan International (distributors of business supplies, furniture, and technology)
…wanted to improve teamwork and communications among its senior managers. With their annual retreat coming up, FutureU™ provided them with pre- and post-event surveys and facilitated online discussions and a “wraparound” Event Portal that gave company leaders their first direct experience of how virtual collaboration and e-learning can enhance results.