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The Context Of Design Thinking And Its Application In Employee Skill Training

Design thinking is a crucial pillar in today’s problem-solving imperatives. In fact, it is being pursued as a unit course in various institutions across the globe, thus underlying its importance in aiding objective human thinking. It’s not a specific property for designers. Far from it, it has emerged as an innovative solution-seeking tool for all great inventors and innovators.
 
By description, it is a design methodology used for tackling complex problems that are virtually unknown or ill-defined, through a careful evaluation of the human needs involved, understandably restructuring the problem, by brainstorming to create many solutions, and by adopting a direct approach in testing and prototyping. It helps us come up with creative ways to solve nagging problems that stem from us and especially in the workplace setting.
 
The ‘overwhelmed/overburdened employee’ is a common term in HR offices across many organizations in the world. Employees are faced with a huge challenge in regards to coping with fast-paced technological and office changes in the working environment. This had led to a massive stagnation in productivity, prompting HR heads to look for new ways to reduce their employees’ stress and workload.
 
While evaluating many options, this model of thinking has posed as a helpful tool for HR managers when dealing with their vexed employees. IT training, in particular, has helped shape the productive realms of many companies out there.
 
Let’s explore how this thinking domain can be used to plan employee skill training:
 
Empathize
If you want to show concern for your employees, first empathize with their situation. Seek to understand the needs of the employees deeply, what they lack, what they need, and the challenges that they are likely facing. This will act as the basis of plotting the problem and working on the next phase of solving it.
 
You can collect data in this phase through empathy maps and journey maps. In the latter, you endeavor to steadily track the day-to-day activities and tasks of employees. This is achieved through observations or structured interviews. In turn, it aids in elevating the thinking process.
 
Through empathy maps, you ponder on collected findings and synthesize them keenly. Here, you seek to establish how an employee is thinking, their feelings, and insights into the probable root cause of the problem.
 
Define the Problem
After a comprehensive analysis of the collected data; the problem definition phase should follow. The idea here is to locate the underlying root of the problem concisely. HR should seek to utilize an analysis framework to help address problems affecting the holistic being of all employees. Therefore, each issue would require a list of underlying causes: lack of motivation, lack of knowledge/understanding, or just lack of skill.
 
Once the root cause(s) are clearly defined, a clear problem statement should be drawn up alongside performance goals that are firmly based on actual drivers. 
 
Think Solely About Employee-Based Solutions (iterative learning)
Conventionally, customers are at the heart of every organization’s dealings. They inspire and drive the company’s objectives because they are crucial in profit making. However, employees have greatly suffered while working ‘behind the scenes.’ Such situations have led to employees feeling discontent and work under immense pressure, which inevitably leads to underperformance. To avoid this, the experimental learning concept can be utilized by HR offices to engage employees more by creating solutions that directly suit the situations they encounter daily.
 
Here, trainers are removed as the center of focus. An iterative ‘reflection’ cycle is established to tap continuous employee feedback in a bid to sharpen their skills. This method helps employees adapt to new technology through a well established IT consulting network. In the long run, employees don’t forget how they handled a particular problem, and this effectively raises a firm’s productivity.
 
Support Employee Tasks with Simple Technology (Ideate)
The simplest way to support employee-working experience is by not sidelining them unprepared with changing technology processes. As an HR Manager, fully engage your employees when transitioning to new tech by making use of effective training or consulting services. Specific training needs can be assessed and addressed within the organization or with a third party industry expert. 
 
According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends Report, design thinking was isolated as crucial in crafting the employee experience. 79% of those interviewed identified it as imperative. However, almost a similar percentage agreed that a lot of compliance programs and training are still based on outdated modes of meetings and processes.
 
The report also recommended the need to put necessary consideration on employees through proper IT training for far colossal efficiency. One way to make this work is by drawing a connected roadmap of skills and information needed at certain work intervals. Shedding off overwhelming and irrelevant amounts of data for new employees is vital in retaining their concentration and output. What’s more, a customizable app can help employees undertake appropriate tasks at the specified time, thus resulting in higher revenue for the long term.
 
Implementing an Intuitive Tech Learning Approach (Ideate)
The basis of this argument is that not every employee is the same. All of them are differently gifted and shouldn’t be forced to use one inflexible technology or system that doesn’t cater to their individual needs in a buzzing work environment. This mode of critical thinking brings to life personas such that fictive employees representing a defined group of external employees are drawn up. In this set-up, the personas should be able to learn and work efficiently within their own small environment while quickly utilizing their own skill set and the required information to make things work.
 
An HR manager can replicate this working scenario through the use of role-plays. This can be achieved by conducting short-term soft skills training sessions to sharpen their ability to handle similar situations. In the case of new technology, video-replays on how to use it in a one-on-one customer scenario can help relieve the pressure and spur the employee to be more productive.
 
Prototype and Testing
Here, the HR Manager should run a couple of tests to ensure whether the desired model of skill training is working. One way to get started is by crafting a simple prototype of the technology required, probably as a single module to establish its viability.
 
The new technology should be vigorously tested during prototyping to pinpoint any leaks, disjoints, or performance issues. Structured walkthroughs can be implemented to help employees navigate the solution through proper IT training sessions.
 
What’s more, HR should conduct sessions to get the employees’ views, emotions, or feelings regarding the new solution. In case of any cause for concern, the prototype should be improved until it meets the intermediate needs of its users.
 
Iterations are also a common occurrence in this phase. Refinements and alterations are curved out to make sure that the final thing suits every employee in some understandable capacity.
 
Wrapping Up
Design thinking is crucial in any organizational setting in making sure that employees sync properly with the technology in place. This will go a long way in improving their productivity.

Wondering why Cisco is teaching network engineers Python in addition to their core expertise?
 
Yes, arguably there are many other tools available to use to automate the network without writing any code. It is also true that when code is absolutely necessary, in most companies software developers will write the code for the network engineers. However, networks are getting progressively more sophisticated and the ability for network engineers to keep up with the rate of change, scale of networks, and processing of requirements is becoming more of a challenge with traditional methodologies. 
 
Does that mean that all network engineers have to become programmers in the future? Not completely, but having certain tools in your tool belt may be the deciding factor in new or greater career opportunities. The fact is that current changes in the industry will require Cisco engineers to become proficient in programming, and the most common programming language for this new environment is the Python programming language. Already there are more opportunities for those who can understand programming and can also apply it to traditional networking practices. 
 
Cisco’s current job boards include a search for a Sr. Network Test Engineer and for several Network Consulting Engineers, each with  "competitive knowledge" desired Python and Perl skills. Without a doubt, the most efficient network engineers in the future will be the ones who will be able to script their automated network-related tasks, create their own services directly in the network, and continuously modify their scripts. 
 
Whether you are forced to attend or are genuinely interested in workshops or courses that cover the importance of learning topics related to programmable networks such as Python, the learning curve at the very least will provide you with an understanding of Python scripts and the ability to be able to use them instead of the CLI commands and the copy and paste options commonly used.  Those that plan to cling to their CLI will soon find themselves obsolete.
 
As with anything new, learning a programming language and using new APIs for automation will require engineers to learn and master the skills before deploying widely across their network. The burning question is where to start and which steps to take next? 
 
In How Do I Get Started Learning Network Programmability?  Hank Preston – on the Cisco blog page suggest a three phase approach to diving into network programmability.
 
“Phase 1: Programming Basics
In this first phase you need to build a basic foundation in the programmability skills, topics, and technologies that will be instrumental in being successful in this journey.  This includes learning basic programming skills like variables, operations, conditionals, loops, etc.  And there really is no better language for network engineers to leverage today than Python.  Along with Python, you should explore APIs (particularly REST APIs), data formats like JSON, XML, and YAML. And if you don’t have one already, sign up for a GitHub account and learn how to clone, pull, and push to repos.
 
Phase 2: Platform Topics
Once you have the programming fundamentals squared away (or at least working on squaring them away) the time comes to explore the new platforms of Linux, Docker, and “the Cloud.”  As applications are moving from x86 virtualization to micro services, and now serverless, the networks you build will be extending into these new areas and outside of traditional physical network boxes.  And before you can intelligently design or engineer the networks for those environments, you need to understand how they basically work.  The goal isn’t to become a big bushy beard wearing Unix admin, but rather to become comfortable working in these areas.
 
Phase 3: Networking for Today and Tomorrow
Now you are ready to explore the details of networking in these new environments.  In phase three you will dive deep into Linux, container/Docker, cloud, and micro service networking.  You have built the foundation of knowledge needed to take a hard look at how networking works inside these new environments.  Explore all the new technologies, software, and strategies for implementing and segmenting critical applications in the “cloud native” age and add value to the application projects.”
 
Community resources: 
GitHub’s, PYPL Popularity of Programming Language lists Python as having grown 13.2% in demand in the last 5 years. 
Python in the  June 2018 TIOBE Index ranks as the fourth most popular language behind Java, C and C++. 
 
Despite the learning curve, having Python in your tool belt is without a question a must have tool.

Machine learning systems are equipped with artificial intelligence engines that provide these systems with the capability of learning by themselves without having to write programs to do so. They adjust and change programs as a result of being exposed to big data sets. The process of doing so is similar to the data mining concept where the data set is searched for patterns. The difference is in how those patterns are used. Data mining's purpose is to enhance human comprehension and understanding. Machine learning's algorithms purpose is to adjust some program's action without human supervision, learning from past searches and also continuously forward as it's exposed to new data.

The News Feed service in Facebook is an example, automatically personalizing a user's feed from his interaction with his or her friend's posts. The "machine" uses statistical and predictive analysis that identify interaction patterns (skipped, like, read, comment) and uses the results to adjust the News Feed output continuously without human intervention. 

Impact on Existing and Emerging Markets

The NBA is using machine analytics created by a California-based startup to create predictive models that allow coaches to better discern a player's ability. Fed with many seasons of data, the machine can make predictions of a player's abilities. Players can have good days and bad days, get sick or lose motivation, but over time a good player will be good and a bad player can be spotted. By examining big data sets of individual performance over many seasons, the machine develops predictive models that feed into the coach’s decision-making process when faced with certain teams or particular situations. 

General Electric, who has been around for 119 years is spending millions of dollars in artificial intelligence learning systems. Its many years of data from oil exploration and jet engine research is being fed to an IBM-developed system to reduce maintenance costs, optimize performance and anticipate breakdowns.

Over a dozen banks in Europe replaced their human-based statistical modeling processes with machines. The new engines create recommendations for low-profit customers such as retail clients, small and medium-sized companies. The lower-cost, faster results approach allows the bank to create micro-target models for forecasting service cancellations and loan defaults and then how to act under those potential situations. As a result of these new models and inputs into decision making some banks have experienced new product sales increases of 10 percent, lower capital expenses and increased collections by 20 percent. 

Emerging markets and industries

By now we have seen how cell phones and emerging and developing economies go together. This relationship has generated big data sets that hold information about behaviors and mobility patterns. Machine learning examines and analyzes the data to extract information in usage patterns for these new and little understood emergent economies. Both private and public policymakers can use this information to assess technology-based programs proposed by public officials and technology companies can use it to focus on developing personalized services and investment decisions.

Machine learning service providers targeting emerging economies in this example focus on evaluating demographic and socio-economic indicators and its impact on the way people use mobile technologies. The socioeconomic status of an individual or a population can be used to understand its access and expectations on education, housing, health and vital utilities such as water and electricity. Predictive models can then be created around customer's purchasing power and marketing campaigns created to offer new products. Instead of relying exclusively on phone interviews, focus groups or other kinds of person-to-person interactions, auto-learning algorithms can also be applied to the huge amounts of data collected by other entities such as Google and Facebook.

A warning

Traditional industries trying to profit from emerging markets will see a slowdown unless they adapt to new competitive forces unleashed in part by new technologies such as artificial intelligence that offer unprecedented capabilities at a lower entry and support cost than before. But small high-tech based companies are introducing new flexible, adaptable business models more suitable to new high-risk markets. Digital platforms rely on algorithms to host at a low cost and with quality services thousands of small and mid-size enterprises in countries such as China, India, Central America and Asia. These collaborations based on new technologies and tools gives the emerging market enterprises the reach and resources needed to challenge traditional business model companies.

Getting involved with the IT, or Internet Technology industry, is a way for you to break into a variety of potential coveted career paths and job openings. Whether you prefer working with the back-end of programming or if you enjoy improve user experience while browsing online, there are many different in-demand IT skills that are useful to obtain today if you are seeking a career in the tech industry yourself.

Cloud Computing

Working with cloud computing, otherwise known as "the cloud", requires you to work within various types of servers that store and access data globally from any location. With the increase in mobile usage, cloud computing is becoming even more prevalent in today's society. When you want to work with cloud computing, understanding the basics of programming and network security is a must. Working in cloud computing is a way to help with building new applications, expanding companies online as well as allowing anyone internationally to locate and access a specific blog, website or mobile app.

UX Design

UX Design is also known as user experience design. A user experience designer specializes in understanding the usability and overall experience a web visitor has when browsing on a site or blog. UX design is essential to ensure that all visitors on a website are capable of navigating the blog properly and accessing the site's content with ease, regardless of the browser they are using or the type of device that is being used to access the site itself. Cross-browser compatibility and ensuring that all websites you are working with are accessible via mobile platforms is another responsibility of many UX designers today. Working in UX design is highly recommended if you believe you have an eye for "good" web design and if you have an interest in improving the overall experience web users for a specific audience have when visiting the blog or website you represent or that you are building for yourself.

IT Security

IT security is one of the fastest-growing positions throughout the entire IT industry and field. IT security requires you to understand network infrastructures as well as how to properly manage each server individually to provide security and protection from potential hackers and online thieves looking to steal sensitive data and information. Maintaining the security of a network and all servers for a company is only becoming more popular with the expansion of mobile phone usage along with the growth of the Internet altogether.

Understanding the variety of IT skills that are in demand today can help you to better decide on a path that is right for you. The more you understand about various IT skills, the easier it is to find a position or career in your future that is most suitable for the type of work you enjoy. Whether you are looking to develop new apps or if you are interested in managing the security of company servers, there are hundreds of positions and skills that are in demand in the IT industry today.

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the hartmann software group advantage
A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Germany since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about Cisco programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized Cisco experts
  • Get up to speed with vital Cisco programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
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