Introverted and fancy some quiet no-pressure chatting over a bite to eat? Join me for breakfast or lunch at #MSIgnite

Diversity, for me, also includes types of people. Some people can win through noise and sheer stamina for arguing a point, but that can really switch off introverts. It’s important to try and look through other people’s lenses. Just because they don’t respond like you, doesn’t mean that they are wrong. It just means that they are different.

I’m an introvert and I have an INTJ personality type. INTJs are personality unicorns! For others, it means that I prefer networking in quieter groups. So, I thought other people are probably like me, and would probably fancy introverted networking – or quiet downtime – on their terms. Extroverted people don’t always get how introverts work, so I’ve added a handy guide here courtesy of Blessing Manifesting:

selfcareintroverts2

 

So I thought I’d offer up the chance for a quiet chat, in among all of the noise. We could call it networking…. or just downtime. Ignite is going to be super busy and we all need to do some self-care. And that means food!

So if you fancy meeting with me in the food halls for breakfast or lunch during the Microsoft Ignite week, I’ll post up a note on my blog and on Twitter to say where we are meeting.

The idea is that it’s a casual invite for people who would like to learn, connect and share with others. Sometimes people like to chat and meet with speakers, and meeting casually for lunch or breakfast is a great way to do that, plus meet other attendees too. It’s the chance for a quiet chat about Microsoft Ignite, business intelligence, data science and the topics that get we introverts fired up inside – even if we are not shouting about it outside.

So I’ll post up on Twitter and on my blog, where I will be, and we can head off, join the queues, grab a table and a bite and a quiet chat before the sessions start.

Microsoft Ignite is going to be busy and it’s easy to feel ‘peopled out’ or ‘conferenced out’ if you are introverted. I get it and I thought it might be nice for some quiet chatting before the day starts.

 

 

 

Decency Charter for Technical Communities

I want to try and attract, recruit and retain people from diverse and different backgrounds, into technology careers and technical community.

I believe that Diversity and Inclusion is a positive asset. However, it can be cast in terms of the negative ‘Code of Conduct’. I see a CoC as leading on from a Decency Charter. The Decency Charter is a positive step that will help to recruit and retain people fro different backgrounds. A CoC is a negative step that has to react when there is a problem. I’m hoping that a Decency Charter will attract individuals who are, by nature, appreciative of Diversity and Inclusion, and it can form some thinking material for people who are not as inclusive in their approach, perhaps through a lack of opportunity to have exposure to, and knowledge about, people from other backgrounds.

I have read a lot of things which focus on technology sphere and the problems that it can bring to people who are in the minority. I know, because I am one of them. I was inspired by the Decency Pledge suggested by Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn, and I can see how it can help the technical community. Rather than a Pledge, I felt that the word Charter was more universal but I’m more than happy to take feedback and please do leave comments.

It has also been my experience that some of the best and most rich friendships have come from the technology industry and community. In this group, I am fortunate to count men as well as women and there are so many men out there who are allies, possibly without even seeing themselves as such. Their kindness is valued. I have had problems, but I believe that people are mainly good at heart.

I believe that most people are great and well-intentioned, and I do not want their voices to be drowned out by people who do not have the same good intentions, goodwill, or good behaviour of the vast majority of people.

I’d like to propose a Decency Charter, which incorporates the Diversity Charter that I raised recently. I hope that you will please leave comments and perspectives. I am not arrogant and I do not assume that I never make mistakes, and I am stating this here so that it forms part of the story.

I don’t want this to be a Jen thing. I’d like to open source this, so that tech groups can show themselves for what they are: nice, smart people who want to learn, connect and share. So here goes:

light bulb Brainstorm: Decency Charter

Goal of the Decency Charter
We want  to improve, promote and maintain a healthy ethical climate of real inclusion across our community. We embrace a healthy mix of skills, views, experience and background to ensure that technical community is available equally to everyone. 
By upholding the Decency Charter, we confirm our commitment to creating a more diverse technical community, and this is a key expression of who we are.
Status:
Draft for review by interested parties
Related
Based on earlier Diversity Charter, and incorporates it

Inspiration

The Diversity Charter is part of a wider Decency Charter. It sets out more detail about positive things that the technical community can do in order to attract, recruit and  retain people from different backgrounds.

Ideas

The main objective here is to create a visible commitment to embed inclusivity and diversity throughout the community organisation. 

What we believe

We believe that all members of the technical community are equally important.
We are part a tech community where we value a diverse network, and learn and share from one another:
regardless of age,
regardless of colour,
regardless of their ethnicity,
regardless of their religion or beliefs,
regardless of disability,
regardless of gender,
regardless of sexual orientation,
regardless of their race,
regardless of their ability or lack of ability,
regardless of nationality or accent.
We are a diverse tech community where we are all individuals with differences, but we are all members and we can all learn from each other.

What we stand for

We always seek to treat those around us with warmth, understanding, and respect. We aim to act in a responsible, professional, respectful and healthy manner. We aim to treat everyone equally, fairly and with all respect. We will work tirelessly to build a more fair and safe technical community for all. 
In particular, we won’t tolerate sexual harassment or gender discrimination. We have a Zero Tolerance approach to harassment in any form. We do not ignore the power relationships that exist, and we do not favour one group over another. We will hold the same position for all  our members, and we work towards ensuring that the technical community is a welcoming, diverse and inclusive place to connect, learn and share.
We will stand with you.

What we will do

If there is an issue, we will act upon any issues that you tell us about. When complaints arise, we will take take action in a prompt, clearly defined, and consequential manner.
It’s ok not to feel totally comfortable with other people’s viewpoints. It’s what you do about it that counts. Diversity impacts everyone. 

Ways to Demonstrate Positivity

CoC
Separate document to follow but there should be clear guidelines on what people can do if something happens to them. There is a clear need for confidentiality and anonymity.
I am reviewing this section with community leaders who represent different backgrounds. religions and perspectives so I can provide a better, whole list that shows how we can demonstrate our commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. I will blog separately when this important piece of work is at a stage for public review.

Next steps for groups to show diversity

  •  Develop an inclusive website (Example: Azure WordPress implementation with WordPress add-ins for accessibility?)
  •  Develop inclusive PowerPoint materials to assist attendees with visual and hearing impairments to navigate the educational material (https://support.office.com/en-us/article/make-your-powerpoint-presentations-accessible-6f7772b2-2f33-4bd2-8ca7-dae3b2b3ef25) 
  •  Introduce local students and apprenticeships to the  technical community. This should introduce a diversity of membership.
  •  Social media advertising can include appropriate hashtags and keywords in advertising campaigns for events in order to show supporting and connecting with diverse communities. For example: #equality #empowerment #Diversity #DiversityAndInclusion 
  •  Have a clearly identified Code of Conduct / Anti Harassment Policy to show what will happen in the event of any issues (This is the next step)
  •  logo

Financial Storytelling and Data Storytelling in #PowerBI

money-1604921_1920

As a consultant, I think it’s important to understand the numbers that make up a business. It means I can provide better advice to my customers since I can read their balance sheets, understand their financial statements, and translate these numbers into effective data visualization in tools such as Tableau and Power BI.

There are a number of accounting ratios which can be used to help determine the success – or otherwise – of a business. There is no ‘magic silver bullet’ that can help to determine definitively, but it is possible to put the ratios together to make a story that will help us to understand the business better. We can tell the story better through data visualization. So we move from data storytelling to finance storytelling.

Once we have the ‘story’ behind the accounting ratios, we can start to use these as a basis for storytelling in Power BI. In this blog series, we will start to look at the accounting ratios and how they are calculated. Then, we will look at how we can visualize this information in Power BI.

Accounting Ratios

Click here to see a bigger version.

Since we are looking at accounting ratios and how we can visualize them, let’s use this flow chart as a starting point. In the next topics, we will look at what these accounting ratios mean in more detail. We will also look at some of the McKinsey modelling, such as ROIC and the calculation of value.

Motivating Teams and Individuals: Reward Systems

What is motivation? Willingness to exert high levels of effort toward organizational goals, conditioned by the effort’s ability to satisfy some individual need or desire (Robbins, p.168). Motivation is studied in terms of how it refers to other things, such as needs, drives, goals, incentives of disincentives. (McKenna, E., 1996).

Work motivation can be described as a willingness to apply one’s efforts towards the achievement of the organisation’s goals, while concurrently an individual need is satisfied.​

What is the main interest of managers in motivation?​ Managers and Leaders need to work on motivation in order to achieve objectives for the organisation and the team​. The  aim should be to change employees’ motivations from what they are, to what the manager wants them to be (Purcell et al, 2003)​

Therefore, it is related to performance. Performance is behaviour​ because you are doing something. Concepts of performance involve ‘levels’ of performance and ‘quality’ of performance​, which means that performance is linked to measurement​. Therefore, motivation is key to achieving good performance.

The key theories of motivation involve

  • content theories – the ‘what’ of motivation – This is based on Outcome and Reward
  • process or Cognitive theories – the ‘how’ of motivation – cognitive processes used to connect effort with outcome or reward)

The ‘internal forces that impel action and the external forces that can act as inducements to action’ ​ (Locke and Latham, 1979)​.  There are three main aspects of action:​

  • direction of choice
  • levels of effort or intensity
  • duration or persistence

​Latham and Locke (1979), cited in McKenna (2000), distinguish between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic motivation is derived from expectation of receiving extrinsic or tangible reward (e.g. promotion or pension).​ Intrinsic motivation is derived from expectation of receiving intrinsic or ‘psychological’ reward (e.g. recognition, respect or an Award).

Content Theories

Content theories can be listed below:

  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs​
  • Alderfer’s ERG hierarchy – ERG (existence-relatedness-growth)​
  • Herzberg’s two factor theory​
  • McClelland’s achievement motivation theory​
  • Hackman and Oldman’s job characteristics model.​

These theories mostly adopt a universal approach, and they assume all people possess a common set of needs. They assume that people have a bucket of motivations that await gratification, and this is used to explain why people choose to act in one way and not another.

Content Theories are described next:

Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs is probably the most well-known, and the theory probably stops there for a lot of people. However, it was later refined by other content authors, and then the emphasis turned to more cognitive theories.

heirarchyofneeds

Credit: Penn State Leadership https://sites.psu.edu/leadership/2014/11/29/prepare-for-success-path-goal-theory-and-maslows-needs-hierarchy/ 

 Alderfer’s ERG theory summarizes these needs into three related needs:​

  • existence needs​
  • relatedness needs​
  • growth needs.​

More than one need can be activated at any one time, and we can regress back to a lower need if a higher need is not met. This is known as the ‘frustration regression’ process.

McClelland’s Achievement Needs Theory (1961) perceives motivation as being influenced by three trait-like needs: achievement, power, affiliation and belonging. Traits are based on experience and can be developed and honed, for example, through training or positive reinforcement through hierarchical positioning.

2318744_635513412058845000-1

Herzberg (1996) is consistent with the earlier theories of Maslow, and, at its simplest, states that people are motivated towards things that make them feel good, and away from things that make them feel bad. There is plenty of empirical evidence to support this idea; if you consider going to the gym at 6am as an example, how does that make you feel? Most people will stay in bed because it makes them feel good. Herzberg applies this idea to the workplace.

two-factor-theory-herzberg-toolshero

Credit: https://www.toolshero.com/psychology/theories-of-motivation/two-factor-theory-herzberg/ 

Cognitive Theories

Cognitive Theories, or Process theories, view humans as actors who want to produce an impact and an effect on their environment, and that humans are fundamentally life-long learners who want to learn skills and new things. We have a need for new information, data and wisdom. Certainly, in my experience, no customer ever has ever said ‘We have enough reports and data now’. We always want to pitch forward with our data.

In this view, humans are essentially purposeful and individua. We understand our risks, and we make plans and set a course. These cognitive or process theories acknowledge choice, and discuss how behaviour is initiated, directed and re-directed, and terminated altogether.

The key theories include:

  • expectancy theory​
  • goal-setting theory​
  • equity theory.​

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory  postulates that individuals will behave or act in a certain way because they are motivated to select a specific behaviour over other behaviours. The choice depends on their expectations on what they perceived the outcome of the behaviour to produce.

f0070_01

Vroom’s Expectancy Theory

F (Motivation) = V x I x E

V = Valence or value an individual places on  the reward. ​

I = Instrumentality or the extent to which the individual believes carrying out an action will lead to positive reward/outcome. ​

E = Expectancy or the perception that a behaviour/effort will lead to desired level of performance.

Locke’s Goal Setting Theory (1968) may be something that you use a lot. Have you seen SMART objectives? They arise from Locke’s theory. Goals must be:​

  • specific and challenging​
  • capable of objective measurement​
  • attainable and time bound​
  • owned and accepted by employees.​
  • Prompt, precise feedback required so people know how they are doing​

Equity Theory (Adams, 1965) postulates that employees consider the inputs they bring to the work in relation to the outputs. It is a balance between inputs and perceived rewards they gain as a result of their inputs.  ​It is particularly important for performance appraisal and reward, since a perception of unfair or unjust treatment will be demotivating.

Does money motivate?

It is implied as a motivator in content theories e.g. Taylorism, Maslow, Locke  etc and therefore is implied as a motivator.​ Barber and Bretz (2000) suggest that money is among the most important factors for people when deciding on a job.​ Anecdotal evidence from exit interviews shows that money is the key reason why demotivated employees leave the job or they leave to earn more elsewhere.

Some theorists argue against the idea that it is a main motivator, such as eming, Herzberg, Kohn, Deci and Ryan, Pfeffer​. The theme here is that a job gives people meaning, purpose, commitment and engagement. Job satisfaction is also considered to be a primary motivator.

Some research shows that money can reduce the effectiveness of intrinsic engagement. For example, Deci et al (2001) found that “rewards as a motivational strategy is a risky proposition”.

A reasonable conclusion is that money is a motivator for some and most will not work without pay, but it depends on individual circumstances and other factors.​ “The question of whether money is a motivator that can lead to improved performance is a very complex one and the answer is by no means clear” (Latham 2007).

Here, we can combine expectancy and equity, by perceiving it as a vicious cycle for some individuals. The individual might be motivated to increase inputs, in the hope of getting increased rewards or outputs. People who are underpaid can see their role in terms of cost rather than value, thereby decreasing overall performance of the team because the competition within the team has been increased. If the value of the role is perceived as equitable to the cost, or amount of pay or reward, then the perception of fairness and balance is met.

Position and reward distribution need to be met fairly, or one team may not feel valued. If the reward distribution is perceived as being concentrated at C level at the expense of others, this can result in a perception of unfairness. There have been plenty of stories recently about overpaid C-suite members!

The reward mix is also important. The gender pay gap is well documented, and the finding is replicated across the world (Costa Dias, Joyce, and Parodi, F., 2018).

Conclusion

The reality is that motivation is a difficult and complex topic and there is the element of choice. That said, understanding people’s motivations can impact performance so there is a real need to understand this complex topic, in order to demystify people’s choices and make possible predictions and outcomes on their behaviour.

References

Adams, J. Stacy. “Inequity in social exchange.” In Advances in experimental social psychology, vol. 2, pp. 267-299. Academic Press, 1965.

Alderfer, C.P., 1969. An empirical test of a new theory of human needs. Organizational behavior and human performance4(2), pp.142-175.

Barber, A.E. and Bretz, R.D., 2000. Compensation, attraction, and retention. Compensation in organizations, pp.32-60.

Costa Dias, M., Joyce, R. and Parodi, F., 2018. The gender pay gap in the UK: children and experience in work. Institute for Fiscal Studies. https://www. ifs. org. uk/publications/10356.

Latham, G.P. 2007. Work motivation: History, theory, research, and practice ISBN 0 7619 2017 X; 337 pages. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Locke, E.A., 1968. Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives. Organizational behavior and human performance3(2), pp.157-189.

Maslow, A.H., 1943. A theory of human motivation. Psychological review50(4), p.370.

McKenna, E.F., 2000. Business psychology and organisational behaviour: a student’s handbook. Psychology Press.

Vroom, V.H. and Yetton, P.W., 1973. Leadership and decision-making (Vol. 110). University of Pittsburgh Pre.

 

 

 

 

Advice from a tech Mom on getting teens to learn to code

Advice from a tech Mom on getting teens to learn to code

Like many teens, my son is interested in gaming and YouTube. As a tech mom, I was keen to encourage him to learn to code. He didn’t really understand why I am so passionate about tech, data and working hard at it. In the past month, we’ve made a real transition from his initial stance to having to drag him away from coding tutorials so he can get to bed at a reasonable time on a school night. I thought I’d share how I managed to turn it around, and I hope it helps.

I recognize that, as a parent, I can influence my teenager but the reality is that his peers are just as influential — if not more. So I decided to use that reality in order to help me.

Try a Hackathon. No, really. Try it.

You don’t need to code to attend a hackathon. People are friendly and happy to pitch in and show you what they are doing. It’s a great community way to learn.

As a first step, I decided that I’d take my teen to a hackathon so he could see other kids coding. He has been seeing me code since he was born and it wasn’t enough to switch him over to learning the skill by himself. Therefore, I worked out that he needed to see his peers coding. I took him to a Teens in AI event in London and it was amazing. There will be other hackathons and they are easy to find on the Microsoft events website or even Eventbrite. My son was inspired to learn more about coding simply from seeing other teens code, and how these programming teens were at the nexus of each and every project. In other words, the rest of the hackathon centred around these teens, and it was inspiring for him and also for me. At the end of the day, he was determined to learn to code and we agreed that I’d buy him a book on Python.

Books or online material?

I chose a book so my teen could learn to program. The reality is that online courses are great, but being online is a great distraction. I noted that he researched Python and saw this counting as ‘working’ but I wasn’t sure he was making the switch to actually doing coding. So I bought a Python book which really helped him to concentrate and feel a sense of achievement as he progressed through the pages. There will be many coding books which you can purchase on Amazon or EBay, or you can look in your local library.

Which language should you choose?

We chose Python because it has a focus on data and maths, plus it has good visualization so he can see the end result. The maths angle has the potential to improve his maths skills, and I believe that’s crucial for kids throughout the school years.

There are other languages and another good place to start is HTML, CSS and Javascript since new programmers can get results quickly.

Office Skills

I’d also recommend that teens learn Office really well. Everyone thinks that they are an Excel expert but there is so much scope in Excel to do different things. Microsoft offer good tutorials for beginners and that’s a good place to start.

My teen is learning to touch type and that’s helping, too.

I hope that helps.

Why I wish I’d never backed the Gemini PDA campaign

In December, I had my first experience with Indiegogo, and I backed a campaign to purchase a Gemini PDA. To date, the campaign has generated $2,294,143 which is 284% of target. So there’s plenty of money sloshing around.

As of now, it is May 2018 and despite promises, and a product tracker that seems to be only consistent in its incorrectness, I still do not have my device. This is despite the fact that the Gemini PDA is now available to buy now with delivery mid-June. Initially I was happy to wait until I understood that the device worked but now I’m concerned that I’ve been bypassed. So here’s a lesson in customer service:

In this world where we live in a culture of ‘now’ and constant updates, the silence is disconcerting.

There seems to a precedent where they answer emails reactively when asked about the device. There’s nothing proactive. There is a facility on Indiegogo whereby companies can send updates, but these are coming less and less; only one in May. I’d rather see companies hire a temp or an admin person to look after this and send out proactive emails to update customers. Marketing isn’t difficult and there are plenty of good SaaS offerings for cheap.

I have had no email communication since January when I will get my order; in Indiegogo, it still shows as ‘Order Placed’ which means that it isn’t ready to be shipped yet. I was relying on a Facebook page on when I’d get my device. I’m writing this on 29th May, and this means it is not likely to get here by end of May, which is officially two days away. I feel fobbed off with a Facebook post that said devices would be released, but nothing individual. As a backer, I expect to be treated like an individual; what about people who aren’t on the Facebook page? I expect more communication than this, particularly in this tech-savvy, ‘share everything’ world we live in.

I was an Admin on the Facebook page, but I have taken the decision to remove myself from it. I’ve been as constructive as I can in sending feedback, but my goodwill hasn’t been reciprocated. Now it’s on general release with mid-June date and I still do not have mine. The website says ‘Available now’.
I am disappointed by the lack of communication and I can’t continue to be associated with this situation. Being admin of the Facebook group for Gemini PDA makes me part of it. It feels like I’m endorsing it by continuing to be admin, and I’m absolutely not. People shouldn’t be joining an FB group to get information about their orders, particularly when it involves hundreds of pounds. It’s not a small amount of money. I think I’m being treated in this way because I’m letting them, and I hope that this sends a message back to them regarding customer care and treating backers.
As for my device, if it ever arrives, I’ll probably stick it on eBay, unopened.
It’s not just the poor service that’s made me write this post. I saw a post entitled The Gemini PDA, the Perfect PC for People on Low Incomes? No, no, and no again. Planet haven’t proved themselves worthy yet. Their solution is just out on general release. I was poor – achingly poor – growing up in a rough part of Scotland. Being poor is a hundred thousand humiliations and I have suffered many of those, and I remember what it’s like to be hungry and cold. I still buy second-hand clothes to this day, and I think about every penny. The PDA isn’t cheap. For the poor, being recommended a device which costs hundreds of pounds isn’t going to lift people out of poverty. I lifted myself out of poverty by educating myself, and that meant better access to good libraries, with great facilities and long opening hours. It also helped the loneliness of poverty; you can’t just go and sit in a posh cafe and mingle, for example, so a free reading group where you weren’t expected to part with cash was a great way to spend an evening and certainly better than living in a cold flat. I had this experience and it pains me that the New York Times reported yesterday that libraries have had their funding cut by a third, which is a short-term decision which does not harness the opportunities offered by bringing educational facilities to the poorest.

I don’t believe that Gemini PDAs are a good option for the impoverished, at that price range, and certainly not given the ‘start up’ phase that they are in – if you want to call it that. There can be other, more robust, long-term solutions that are proven and earned trust to help Britain’s vulnerable.

As for me, I’m not sure if I will keep the device or put it, unopened, on eBay. I regret having taken the decision to buy it on Indiegogo and I should probably have got myself an expensive Bluetooth keyboard for my Google Pixel instead. That would really allow me to ‘Type and create on the move.’

 

 

 

Artificial Intelligence Mentoring with Teens in AI

After listening to Satya Nadella’s BUILD keynote this year, I was inspired to do even more with my background in Artificial Intelligence. As a Microsoft Regional Director, I relish in sharing in the positive and forward-looking vision that Microsoft gives because I do think that they are changing the future in many ways.  If you want to see the highlights of Nadella’s keynote, head over to YouTube here for the official Microsoft YouTube channel.

What is Teens In AI? It’s close to my heart because it combines my two loves: technology and diversity. The objective is to increase diversity and inclusion in artificial intelligence.
Teens in AI aims to democratise AI and create pipelines for underrepresented talent through a combination of expert mentoring, talks, workshops, hackathons, accelerators, company tours and networking opportunities that give young people aged 12-18 early exposure to AI for social good. The vision is for AI to be developed by a diverse group of thinkers and doers advancing AI for humanity’s benefit. So…..

I’m excited to be an Artificial Intelligence mentor at @TeensInAI’s Artificial Intelligence Bootcamp & Hackathon.  For more information, visit the Teens in AI website.

There are still places left at the #Hackathon with code ACORNFSM free for kids on free school meals and ACORN80@ gives 80% off – come learn about AI with top industry mentors @MSFTReactor 2-3 June.

I hope to see you there!