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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

100 Bloggers Needs You

Monday, November 28, 2005

Kolabora - Robin Good

What is kolabora?

Kolabora is an independent forum about online collaboration, Web conferencing and real-time live presentation technologies, and the issues, problems and solutions relating to them. Kolabora is an online set of shared public spaces where anyone can find detailed information about the world of online work and collaboration.

I am Robin Good, and I am the mind, heart and legs behind this project. Kolabora is authored, written and maintained by me.

Kolabora is my main online publication and meeting space for everything "online collaboration", "web conferencing", "live presentations".

Continuing the exploration into online (i.e. virtual) work and collaboration, I found this site as one of Robin's.

It does have an RSS feed.

It has a great overview of Flock, the still in beta tool built upon FireFox.

She has an Online Guide To Web Conferencing And Live Presentation Tools

Lots of good stuff here. Come and explore!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sudoku Master

From the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine comes this profile of one master behind the Sudoku puzzle. Wayne Gould did not create the puzzle itself but did write a software progam that creates the puzzle for publication.

Interesting insights on how a jurist (yes, he started as a lawyer and worked as a judge) made the transition to programmer and puzzle maker.


Thursday, November 24, 2005


I have so much to be thankful for:
for just being able

My thanks to you for your contributions to this life!

More blogs about happy thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

How to make a virtual 3-legged stool

Let's start with a concept that I picked up at a HDI conference many years ago; the three legged stool is required for good business.

People + Process + Technology = Good Business.

Of course, it is not as simple as that. You need the right people in the proper position. You need a fully documented process where everyone knows and works within their roles and responsibilities. You need all this enabled by appropriate technology. Assuming these three legs are in place and solid, then the stool will support good business. Try to put technology in place without training the people and adjusting the process (if necessary) and you will find disaster on some scale.

So time moves along and business teams become virtual. Folks on the same team are no longer located in the same building, some are no longer in the same state, nevermind the same country. But the team objectives have not changed, the project or product is still required on time and at or under budget.

How should teams work in this virtual space?

Ken Thompson
and Robin Good are glad you asked that question. They have proposed a solution. They have gone so far to have created a manifesto for their proposal.

I highly recommend reviewing the manifesto on ChangeThis.

This manifesto will be fuel for some future postings. I spend a lot of time at work in virtual teams so this is something I will be attempting to use and will report back on how it goes.

If you have the need to work in virtual team and the opportunity to explore this area, I would like to hear what you have to say.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

ThirdAge Blog Carnival

Jory Des Jardins is hosting this week's ThirdAge Blog Carnival at Pause.

Plenty of good writing there. Check it out!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox

Jakob publishes the Alertbox weekly and it is always full of good insights. This week is no exception. It covers accessibility, particularly for disabled users.

How can someone lacking in sight read this blog?

How would a screen reader work for them?

Good questions.

We assume everyone is wired with broadband cable and a powerful system.

But if they're not, what can we do to help them read this blog?
or search the web?

Read the Alertbox for some insights on what can be done.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Seth on Conferences

Maybe you saw this already. Maybe you caught it like I did via ?IC@TomorrowToday.Biz

I mentioned earlier that the Good Experience Live dates were announced for GEL 2006.

Seth is one of the scheduled speakers.

Hmmm. Is Mark nervous?

No, I don't think he is anymore so than he normally would be.

After all, this is Good Experience Live and not just any conference!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Beanie Babies are still around

Did you know that?

I was being silly earlier and one thing lead to another, and I wondered if Beanie Babies were still around. And they are!

You can also purchase a special edition I "heart" Alabama, I "heart" Louisiana, and a I "heart" Mississippi in red, white, and blue to benefit the Katrina Relief effort.

Which reminds me, did you hear that more people were taken by Katrina than 9/11?

Note, this does not make 9/11 any less a tragedy, just makes Katrina and power of nature all the more respected. I hope!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Third Age Blog Carnival

Evelyn Rodriguez at Crossroads Dispatches is hosting this week's Third Age Blog Carnival. She wraps the carnival around a tribute to Peter Drucker and the concept of legacy and does this very nicely.

It is a good thing I have not yet started to podcast. While I can say there is a lot of good writing at this week's carnival, it probably would not come out sounding well with peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Dodge Poetry Festival 2006

The dates for the 11th Geraldine R Dodge Poetry Festival have been set as September 28th to October 1, 2006. The festival returns to Waterloo Village in Stanhope, NJ.

This is quite a bit of advance notice but I will be there (if at all possible) so there may be some light blogging during that time. Trust me, there will be plenty to write about upon my return.

For a recap of what I wrote about from the 2004 Festival, you can check this link.

Alas, I was not blogging in 2002!

BC/BS and Concierge Service Delivery

I attended the New England HDI Meeting on November 9, 2005 to hear the presentation by Julianne Bride from Blue Cross/Blue Shield on the Concierge Service Delivery model they use.

I took some quick notes directly from the presentation and then wrapped the bullet points in sentence form for readability in some cases. Hopefully by reading this, you will get an appreciation for this kind of approach to service. It is a kind of one-to-one service on a grander scale than I have heard of previously. Their results are quite impressive. The customers clearly like this concierge service delivery model.

Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BC/BS) has a pilot group operating separate from their service center

They have a business technology group separate from the central IT organization. This business group is focused on their business, ensuring that the appropriate technology is being used and any upgrades, new services are carefully implemented.

To manage our customer experience, keep our promises, and create a service experience that delivers on our brand.

They refer to their group as a service center deliberately not referring to the group as a call center.

The service representatives are rewarded for specific business objectives.

Reduce repeat calls
Show genuine concern for the member
Create trust, confidence, and loyalty
Link to job and customer satisfaction

The Concierge Service Delivery model takes the approach to answer the question:
“If I were the member, how would I like to be treated?”

BC/BS identified three components for concierge service delivery:
“Take care of the details”

Generally the member calls fall into one of three categories:
Administrative reason
Benefit question
Claim question

“Take the member out of the loop” is the key value-add for the program. The service agent is empowered to either resolve the call on the first contact, or if it will take too long for them to resolve on their own, to hand it off to another group for research and follow up. This second group does have an individual that will stay with the issue until it is resolved and they keep the member apprised of status along the way. The origination service agent is freed up to return to the queue.

The service agents are measured for average handle time but only in the aggregate; i.e. monthly basis. It is more important for them to be in an acceptable range than to be hitting a particular number. BC/BS understands the nature of their business that a particular call tie can not handle all their member requests appropriately. They are also measured for quality with quality coaches monitoring their calls.

Hiring is important and they spend good time doing so. They structure a call scenario in the process of the interview. The interviewee is set up as a call agent for a cereal manufacturer. A mother calls in complaining that her child did not get the toy that was shown on the box cover. The agent is empowered to do whatever they feel is necessary to resolve the call. They test for the natural customer service nature of their candidates this way.

As part of the reward and recognition program they do “Praise bys”. A carefully coordinated drive by of the agents cube with senior executives in attendance: some applause and signs to minimize disruption in the service center, a brief presentation, including some refreshments.

They also schedule for shadow days with a real concierge from one of the major Boston hotels (the BC/BS office is located in Quincy).

The measure their customer satisfaction on a five point scale with two surveys, one transactional based approximately hundred a month and another mail based (send out 3,000 obtain usually a 1,000 response). The use a five point scale (1 low, 5 high) with the top two boxes are counted. They have been 90 or 91 percent top two box for the last five years while growing their member base from 1.6 M to 2.6 M. Quite impressive!

They are now getting into segmenting their market by health category instead of by member plan. Do folks with diabetes have needs that are different from those with a heart condition? Are there services unique to each patient condition? Can some service improvements and value add be delivered by the service center better to a segment by health rather than a segment by plan membership? These are some of the questions they are looking into as they try to evolve the Concierge Service Delivery to the next level.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Falling behind

Two days of refresher training on presentation skills, a dinner meeting, and work emails to catch up on while I was off training have shortened my evenings this week, hence the light blogging.

The dinner meeting was the monthly event for the local Help Desk Institute chapter and a good presentation from Blue Cross/Blue Shield on their Concierge Service Delivery model. I have some notes from the presentation that I'll share soon (need to finish writing them up).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Dates for GEL 2006

Mark Hurst has announced the dates for GEL 2006.

What is GEL? Good Experience Live. It is an incredible event.

I was fortunate to attend GEL 2005. You can read what I wrote about this past event using my summary posting.

I recommend making reservations to attend this next event in NYC in May, or in Copenhagen in September.

GEL 2005

This combines all my postings on the events of GEL 2005.

GEL 2005 Intro

GEL 2005 - Ron Pompei

GEL 2005 - Yuri Lane

GEL 2005 - Flying Karamazov Brothers

GEL 2005 - Jimmy Wales

GEL 2005 - Alexandra Schwartz

GEL 2005 - Updates coming

Creating a Good Experience

GEL 2005 - Sona Chawla

GEL 2005 - Barry Schwartz

GEL 2005 - Dan Dubno

GEL 2005 - Bob Mankoff

GEL 2005 - Theo Jansen

GEL 2005 - Laurie Rosenwald

GEL 2005 - Rick Smolen

GEL 2005 - Ross Kaufman

GEL 2005 - Bruce Shapiro

GEL 2005 - Charlie Todd

GEL 2005 - Dee Breger

GEL 2005 - Russell Shorto & Charles Gehring

Ego Strength

Monday, November 07, 2005

Metrowest Symphony Concert

We went to the Gala Fund Raiser Dinner for the Metrowest Symphony on Saturday night.

The Program

Overture to Der Freischutz --- Weber

March to the Scaffold from Symphonie Fantastique --- Berlioz

Night on Bald Mountain --- Mussorgsky

Ballet Music from Faust --- Gounod

Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walkure --- Wagner

Sorcerers Apprentice --- Dukas

Carolyn plays the viola and joined the group back in March. She enjoys playing with them. It is a "real" orchestra and she is learning so much.

The conductor, Peter Cokkinias, is a class act. It is a delight watching him lead the group. He is energetic, real, fun-loving, a wonderful musician and leader.

Each piece of the program was introduced by a member of the orchestra. They were able to provide some insight into the piece, how it came to be, what it was about, what to listen for... Nice introductions from folks we would not normally hear from. By this simple device, he got the orchestra more involved and likewise, the audiance more involved in each piece.

When he stepped to the podium to raise his baton for the Sorcerers Apprentice, it was not a surprise to see him bend down and put on the Sorcerers hat. It was a totally fitting moment. And for all the times I have heard this piece (several times in Fantasia alone), this I believe is the first time I heard it played live. One I will remember for many years.

Third Age Blog Carnival

Yes, a new carnival starts this week on the Third Age Blog. It will rotate amongst volunteers each week thereafter.

The current schedule can be found here.

Guess what?

If you look closely, you'll recognize at least one of the bloggers with a posting in the first carnival when it comes out on Tuesday.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Crap Circles

Clarke Ching's I Think Not, Baby Puppy highlights this good article from HBR on Crap Circles.

What are crap circles?

Even if you don't recognize the term, you probably have seen them somewhere along the way.

Crap circles are usually found in fancy PowerPoint presentations where a process is depicted in one continuous circle. The problem with them is that in some cases, the continuous circle simply does not make sense. The HBR article by Gardner Morse provides some nice examples of these errors.

Enjoy the reading. It is short and sweet.

Then be prepared to challenge the next crap circle you see!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Best Buy's Holiday Gift Organizer

Received the Holiday Gift Organizer in the snail mail today. I am impressed.

Nice design. Compact. Colorful. Front inside pocket.

Sections for Younger Kids, Older Kids, The Men in Your Life, Friends and Family, and Your Own Wish List.

Inside the back cover, a holiday shopping planner. A couple of cards that can be punched out and used as shopping lists.

Well done.

If you have a Best Buy in your neighborhood and get one of these, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Anger Management

I surprised myself this evening.
For the first time in a long while, I lost my temper all so briefly with a phone call.

Well, it was the third phone call during the night.
From the same fund raising organization.

I contribute once per year and have been fortunate to increase my contribution a little bit over the years. They should have the records. They should make the records available to the phone people. The phone people should also update their contact management system with the record of each call. The second and third person should have known what I had already told the first one.

I feel sorry for the third caller.
She was probably in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It was not her fault. It was the organization's fault.

If they don't have a contact management system, they should.

If they don't make the records available to the callers, they should.

If they don't call again, they might get my normal contribution this year.