Friday, June 30, 2006

Personal reflections on Module 5

Early in this course, several folks mentioned in the forums, how much they disliked Chaos. Chaos is really just a state of dis-equilibrium. Not only does chaos have patterns, but there are also primary drivers that cause it to occur. Chapter 11 discusses some of the things that are the primary drivers for such chaos. Two major areas are work environment politics and resistance. Both are common to all consulting environments. It think it might have been useful to make a distinction between work politics and real politics. Considering that many of the class will be involved in real politics because of tax-payer supported education, I would have liked to have seen some discussion of how one deals with the frustration of dealing with contracts and grants and government related bureaucracy. I know that these are unique to educational technology (or maybe they aren' in life-long learning), but many of us are going to be dealing with such elements for a long time into the future. There were lots of comments made about such things as standards testing in schools that represent this frustration, but I didn't think that this section of the text dealt with it. Again, I wish there were a textbook that dealt more with Educational Technology than Information Technology. Maybe in the future one of these students will feel compelled to write such a text....maybe even me!

The second chapter, "Blueprint for Development" held a lot of appeal for me. This section was about continuous development of ones skill set and as such falls into one of my favorite categories, "life-long" learning. In my particular niche of working with retired or retiring people, it is noticeable that many retirees do not want to completely leave the work force. Many of those folks are realizing now, the importance of continued skill refinement because of changes and developments of their own fields. So this need for continuous development is certainly not unique to consulting. I was pleased to see it included in the text because far too often text books act as if they are the end all to learning, which is seldom ever true. And it fits perfectly into the concept of review and revision that has been so apparent in the consulting process that the text alludes to. Now that I am retired from the government bureaucracy, it has been amazing to find out what a closed system I was in. All of the bureaucracy training was pretty much within the bureaucracy. When you get away from it, you realize there was so much more to know. It was really empowering to me personally to realize that there was far more to learn than just how the bureaucracy works or how to fill out a certain form, or which policies applied when. Internal government consultants are hamstrung a bit by this. Unless they are willing to go outside of the work environment and learn more about their area of expertise, they are going to very limited in what they can learn. This was a rather short chapter but it contained a great deal of good advice about how to go about improving ones skills and self-awareness.

I also enjoyed the almost opposing views of how much one should charge for consulting services. I say "almost opposing" because the two articles seem to have different orientations as to whether one should charge by the hour or by the job. I think both views should be considered. On the one hand, I think it is probably a good idea to keep track of ones times and expenses, but also to be aware that in some cases, charging by the job creates a more creative and supportive environment in which to work. I think it ought to be the consultant's choice as to which best suits a situation. I see no problem in quoting an hourly rate, but being willing to negotiate a "by the job" fee. Either way, being aware of what kinds of time and effort are being spent on doing ones job, helps to give one an idea of whether or not a job is profitable or not and allows the consult to revise fees for future consultations.

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