Weekly review: Week ending January 16, 2009

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Despite feeling under the weather with the beginnings of a nasty sore throat, I had a pretty good week that taught me about some of my other interests and strengths.

I took advantage of my time in between projects to think about what I could do in order to help connect our team with clients who can use our Enterprise 2.0 consulting and application development services. Putting my internal-marketing hat on, I wrote descriptions of our services and posted the drafts on the team’s internal wiki so that our managers could take a look at them. I’m still waiting for permission to distribute that more widely, and I suspect that things would be better if we moved to a “fail-fast-and-early” model instead of a permission model. That’s probably worth another blog post after I talk to the people involved. Analyzing the competitive landscape and our differentiating strengths was fun. Writing the copy was okay, and it could’ve been better if I could’ve just released it and gotten more people involved. I think I can make this better, so stay tuned.

I posted my notes about the design and social media in the Obama campaign the day after the Unfinished Business lecture. That turned out to be almost immediately helpful because a number of people I knew hadn’t been able to get into the sold-out event, so I forwarded them my notes. It also came up during my conversation with Amy Shuen as I went over the teleconference preparations for her upcoming IBM talk on ROI of Web 2.0 at Work, and I was happy to send her those notes and my older notes on Rahaf Harfoush’s talk. My notes have also helped other people who hadn’t heard about the initial event, so it was well worth the extra half-hour I spent writing up my take-aways. I often find myself referring to things I’ve posted, and that gives me good leverage on time and lessons learned.

I mentioned this to Amy, and she was really interested in estimating ROI given the tracking tools we have in IBM and my habit of posting my presentations online. After some totally back-of-the-envelope calculations that took into account the cost of my preparation and delivery time and the value created for in-person and online audiences, I came up with the ballpark estimate of creating $140,000 of value from about $2,900 of cost. Here’s an excerpt from my internal blog post about that:

Based on the numbers, I think you should definitely spend a couple of extra minutes to put your presentation material online.. My estimated ROI for in-person talks is 1000%. Estimated online viewing ROI? 26000%. which includes both the in-person presentations I shared online plus the extra stuff I created and posted. Estimated total ROI 4900%. Very little extra effort, lots of continuing passive value creation.

The calculations have more assumptions than you can shake a stick at, but it was an interesting exercise. I don’t think there’s any IBM-sensitive information in it and the spreadsheet might give you ideas for estimating your own ROI if you give presentations or write blog posts, so feel free to download my ROI for talks spreadsheet and tinker around with it. You’ll need OpenOffice.org or Lotus Symphony to open the file.

I also analyzed the composition of the audience for Amy’s upcoming talk, using some painfully-scraped-together Lotus Script (I wish it was as fun to work with as Emacs Lisp!) to extract the mail addresses from all the messages in my signup confirmation folder. That was fun and easy, thanks to a few existing tools in IBM. I wish I had half as much information for the talks I give! <laugh> Maybe I should volunteer to help different communities organize their teleconferences, and eventually grow a system around it.

So there’s another clue: I enjoy number-crunching, particularly when it’s related to better presentations and communication. =)

The third set of activities that filled my week were the presentations I prepared. Monday’s recruiting event, Wednesday’s interns-and-Web 2.0 talk, and the New Employees and a Smarter Planet thing gave me more practice in looking for the core of a message and trying to communicate it. I’ve still got a long way to go, but it’s fun! I also had fun putting together some graphs about cat behavior (affection, proximity, nap location), and maybe I’ll someday get to Indexed-level insights. =)

So, lots of good stuff this week in addition to the goals I’d listed in last week’s plans:

  • Home and life
    • Tidy up and declutter house
    • Stay in more (except for Tuesday)
    • Make nice Sunday dinner – Skipped, just had something simple.
    • Talk to John Sullivan and Ian Eure about long-delayed Emacs book. Set Ian up with git repository.
    • Reply to mail, send out more mail
    • Read the five new books that came in, organize my book notes – Got my library script working with my Drupal book reading history, hooray! Moved my book notes into it.
    • Learn a new breakfast recipe – huevos rancheros, which I will make tomorrow
    • Do jumping jacks – three mornings
    • Get plenty of sleep
  • Do good stuff at work
    • Handle questions and brainpicking in the atrium of the Bahen Centre (University of Toronto, St. George campus) from 10:00AM – 2:30PM. (Look for the stick figures.
    • Give a presentation to FutureBlue students: Totally Rocking IBM, or How to Meet Great People and Make a Difference During FutureBlue
    • Do some more work on Lotus Connections + Drupal integration – demo calendar integration (sweet)
  • Learn how to organize and host events
    • Get ready for Amy Shuen’s ROI of Web 2.0 at Work call for the IBM Web 2.0 for Business community (sorry, IBM-internal; recordings will be posted internally)
    • Post more details about #lifecampTO. Haven’t gotten around to this yet.
  • Learn more about visual design
    • On Tuesday, attend OCAD talk about Obama campaign design
    • Make another stickfigure presentation for FutureBlue (see above)

Next week:

  • Back to Drupal 5 awesomeness because I’m rejoining the Transition2 project
  • Hosting Amy Shuen’s IBM talk on ROI for Web 2.0. Almost 300 people have added it to their calendars, so it’ll be a bit of a scramble and I expect technical difficulties, but I think we’ll make it through.
  • More drawing: I’d like to try translating some of the analyst reports and statistics into graphs and presentations. I may also experiment with making “polished” looking presentations, learning more about tools like Inkscape in the process.
  • #lifecampto – flesh out what the event might look and feel like, and find out what people think about it
  • More book notes; requested a whole bunch of marketing books

That was a great week, and I’m looking forward to another terrific one! =)

You can comment with Disqus or you can e-mail me at sacha@sachachua.com.