Competence is a combination of Capability and Skill. If I do not have the capability for the work, no amount of developmental training will be helpful. And, I don’t have the skill, you will never see my capability. Competence is a combination of both.
Interest or passion for the work will influence the amount of time for practice. The more interested I am, the more time I will spend in practice. And if I don’t practice a skill, the skill goes away, and competence diminishes.
There is also a set of required behaviors. Practice arrives with many qualities, frequency of practice, duration of practice, depth of practice, and accuracy of practice. Accuracy of practice relates to required behaviors. Practice doesn’t make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.
When documenting a root cause analysis or risk assessment or any of the myriad other technical reports we are making a logical argument. In this post, I want to evaluate six common pitfalls to avoid in your writing.
Claiming to follow logically: Non Sequiturs and Genetic Fallacies
Non-sequiturs and genetic fallacies involve statements that are offered in a way that suggests they follow logically one from the other, when in fact no such link exists.
Non-sequiturs (meaning ‘that which does not follow’) often happens when we make connective explanations without justification. Genetic fallacies occur when we draw assumptions about something by tracing its origins back even though no necessary link can be made between the present situation and the claimed original one.
This is a very common mistake and usually stems from poor use of causal thinking. The best way to address it in an organization is continuing to build discipline in thought processes and documenting the connections and why things are connected.
Making Assumptions: Begging the Question
Begging the question, assuming the very point at issue happens a lot in investigations. One of the best ways to avoid this is to ensure a proper problem statement.
Restricting the Options to Two: ‘Black and White’ Thinking
In black and white thinking or the false dichotomy, the arguer gives only two options when other alternatives are possible.
Being Unclear: Equivocation and Ambiguity
Lexical: Refers to individual words
Referential: Occurs when the context is unclear
Syntactical: Results from grammatical confusions
Just think of all the various meanings of validation and you can understand this problem.
Good problem-solving will drive down the tendency to assume conclusions, but these probably exist in every organization.
Quality as a profession is often put into the position of being the cop or gatekeeper. There are a set of regulations and standards that must be met, and it can be easy, especially early in one’s career and without proper mentoring, to start to see absolutes.
Compromise is not a weakness in a quality professional, it is a strength.
There are times when, instead of ramping up your argment fill fore to make a case, it is better to step back and think about where you can comprise and still convince the organization to implement most, if not all, of your ideas.
Pilot programs, soft launches, workshops. These tools will help you find your allies and facilitate a solution.
Part of comprise is knowing what you can and will settle for. These questions can help:
What is the first thing I am willing to cede? It may be the timeline or a small adoption of your solution, such as a pilot project.
What is my backup plan? If the stakeholders don’t adopt my plan but offer a counterproposal, what am I willing to accept and jump on board with?
What is fueling the stakeholders’ reluctance? Ask questions, engage in “yes…but…and” practice.
Can I rework my argument? Is there an opportunity to come back with a revised pitch? Can you simplify or emphasize specific parts of your argument? Can you break it down into smaller parts – such as building blocks – first gaining support for the concept, ten gaining support for the first step to test its success, and then building support for the next step or phase?
Compromise is negotiation, and it requires all your emotional intelligence skills – patience, active listening, respect for the stakeholders’ position.
Have a vision, a plan, can really help. You will never get to 100% of meeting a requirement but being able to articulate what great looks like and then showing a plan that builds at a good clip, that allows compromise, will allow you to make continued progress and adjust as you go. Your systems will be stronger as a result.
With the current plan to start attending conferences again this spring, I’ve been working a lot on a few different presentations, which means spending a lot of time on PowerPoint presentations.
Microsoft debuted PowerPoint in 1987, and since then, it has been used to present content in meetings, conference rooms, and classrooms. There are a lot of jokes about how bad PowerPoint can be, but if you know a little about its features, PowerPoint can be so much more than mere presentation software. It can be the means for taking audiences on a truly engaging learning adventure as well as a powerful tool that supports presenters by serving as their digital co-facilitator. It just requires some work.
Making presentations for folks outside my organization always gets me thinking of best practices. It helps me concentrate on how the true value of PowerPoint isn’t to serve as an information provider—that’s the role of a presenter. The true value of PowerPoint is to support you and your presentation.
A presentation is most effective when it is focused and has a coherent narrative. Achieving that starts with defining your objectives and then taking some time to figure out how you’ll meet those objectives. Be intentional in your use of PowerPoint.
Traditional PowerPoint Thinking
Intentional PowerPoint Design Thinking
Every presentation needs slides.
My intended presentation outcomes should dictate the types of visual aids I use (or don’t use).
Every point I make needs a slide.
My slides should never compete with me for the audience’s attention; they should support my message.
PowerPoint is synonymous with your presentation.
PowerPoint is my co-facilitator.
PowerPoint is linear, and slides appear sequentially.
Using triggers and hyperlinks, it’s possible to reveal information dynamically.
Templates make a slide deck look professional.
Effective use of slide real estate and visual representation of my message looks professional.
There is a maximum number of words and an ideal font size for most presentations.
My audience should be able to read all the words that appear on a slide.
People need a lot of information on technical slides and data-driven presentations.
Slides are a visual aid for a presentation; more detailed information is better offered through handouts.
There are lots of options for animations and transitions, so they should all be used at some point.
Animations and transitions can help focus attention, but there is such a thing as too much.
I can send someone my PowerPoint deck and that should be the equivalent of attending my presentation.
Most narratives can be placed in the Notes section and distributed, along with my slides, to paint a complete picture for those not in attendance.
What’s Possible with PowerPoint?
Give a lot of thought to who is your audience. It is always a good idea to understand your audience, but when speaking to folks outside of your What (if anything) does the potential audience already know about your topic? What should the audience be able to do new, different, or better because of the time spent with you?
For example, at the upcoming ISPE Asceptic Conference, my audience understands pharmaceutical quality systems so I can start with the understanding that they understand the basics of my topic. My presentation, as a result, can go to more advanced topics and not have to explain the basics.
A presentation is most effective when it is focused and has a coherent narrative. Achieving that starts with defining your objectives and then taking some time to figure out how you’ll meet those objectives. Taking an hour or two to map out your thoughts and truly think through how best to visually represent your key points can help ensure that your presentation will be tight and focused with a coherent flow.
For each slide:
Things Conferences Should Change
Working on presentations for conferences again really reminds me of all the bad practices conferences continue to use.
Stop Using Templates: It is a common misconception is that using a template makes the slide deck look more professional. Slide templates do help with consistency, but they dramatically reduce the real estate you have to work with on your slide. By the very nature of their structure, these templates encourage a title and bulleted list format. Don’t just believe me, watch this fun video by Will Thalheimer. The more space on a slide that is occupied by professional-looking template designs and logos, the less space remains for inserting powerful imagery, text, facts, or figures.
Leverage Technology to Break Linearity: Most people use PowerPoint in linerar ways, and conference technology builds pretty much make that an inevitability. The technology exists to allow the audience to have some sort of control over the content that’s on display in front of them, and would greatly enhance the conference experience.
Bozarth, J. 2013. Better Than Bullet Points: Creating Engaging e-Learning with PowerPoint. 2nd ed. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.
Duarte, N. 2010. Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Duarte, N. 2008. slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media.
Medina, J. 2014. Brain Rules (2nd ed.). Seattle: Pear Press.
Schwertly, S. 2011. How to be a Presentation God: Build, Design and Deliver Presentations that Dominate. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Vella, J. 2002. Learning to Listen, Learning to Teach: The Power of Dialogue in Educating Adults. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Williams, R. 2008. The Non-Designer’s Design Book. 3rd ed. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.