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Technology Training in Tough Times: New Ideas to Help

  A few months ago we held a one day management offsite which included some inspiring words from the top, a great (but ...

by / June 19, 2009

  A few months ago we held a one day management offsite which included some inspiring words from the top, a great (but free) motivational speaker, a Q/A open mike, a brainstorming session and updates on significant projects from across our enterprise. For the project updates, I challenged our infrastructure directors to come up with creative, entertaining and fun ways to present the required information and still keep everyone interested. No one wanted "death by powerpoint" after a big lunch.

  The entire team exceeded my expectations with funny skits, short videos, surprising pictures, and yes a few powerpoints slides that got across the information and intrigued the audience. One of the "no budget" videos was extremely well-done with slow-motion, music and more. I was blown-away by the talent in the group, and the teams even used their own home equipment. After the event, I starting thinking about how to capture that energy and continue to motivate and train the rest of our IT staff during these tough economic times when training budgets have been cut and out-of-state travel has been eliminated.

  Fast-forward two months and check-out our Michigan Department of Information Technology (MDIT) Service Management Center (SMC) Training Video.  This YouTube video actually achieves five significant objectives for us:

1)  Offers new staff a short (6-minute) overview of how we manage technology with the SMC processes and procedures.

2)  Offers (very low cost) improved training for exisiting staff who are asked to read and understand  fairly long (and somewhat boring) manuals on processes and procedures regarding how we manage incidents, what's a critical system, why the "red card" is so important, why we have a morning "day start" call, etc.

3) Shows our customers how we keep an "eye on government" in a 7x24x365 manner. We also discuss emergency response (for situations like virus outbreaks) at the SMC. The YouTube video offers an inexpensive form of communication and marketing for MDIT. 

4) Motivates staff. Help them understand the importance of what they do every day. YouTube and other new media channels are now the manner in which information is typically consumed for many in society. 

5) Brings our "way of life" in managing technology in Michigan to life for others. Videos with real people portray a story much easier than white papers or training manuals.

From a broader perspective, government technology professionals must be using new media to our advantage during these challenging budget times. Ken Theis, our MDIT Director and Michigan CIO, has articulated a vision for an online "MDIT University" which will provide our staff free (or very low-cost) technical training on various tracks from a myriad of Internet sources. All of these courses and training opportunities can be tracked in one portal to match indivdualized employee career advancement plans and professional interests.

 We're living in a time when our children and staff are uploading videos and pictures onto Internet sites every day at home. In my opinion, we can't afford not to use YouTube and other "hot" technology tools at work for training and other professional purposes.  

 At a time when MIT is offering over 1900 free courses online, we must relook at training. Likewise, Yale and many other universities are doing the same. There is even an iTunes university which enables mobile learning. The number of free webcasts, webinars and other technical training opportunities is exploding right now, and CxOs need to be taking advantage of what is cheap and free.   

What are you thoughts on low-cost training? Have you created your own government YouTube videos? Can you please share links in the comments section?

I'd also love to hear your views on our SMC YouTube video. (Remember that it was done in-house with a $0 budget.)


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Dan Lohrmann Chief Security Officer & Chief Strategist at Security Mentor Inc.

Daniel J. Lohrmann is an internationally recognized cybersecurity leader, technologist, keynote speaker and author.

During his distinguished career, he has served global organizations in the public and private sectors in a variety of executive leadership capacities, receiving numerous national awards including: CSO of the Year, Public Official of the Year and Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader.
Lohrmann led Michigan government’s cybersecurity and technology infrastructure teams from May 2002 to August 2014, including enterprisewide Chief Security Officer (CSO), Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) roles in Michigan.

He currently serves as the Chief Security Officer (CSO) and Chief Strategist for Security Mentor Inc. He is leading the development and implementation of Security Mentor’s industry-leading cyber training, consulting and workshops for end users, managers and executives in the public and private sectors. He has advised senior leaders at the White House, National Governors Association (NGA), National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), federal, state and local government agencies, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and nonprofit institutions.

He has more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry, beginning his career with the National Security Agency. He worked for three years in England as a senior network engineer for Lockheed Martin (formerly Loral Aerospace) and for four years as a technical director for ManTech International in a US/UK military facility.

Lohrmann is the author of two books: Virtual Integrity: Faithfully Navigating the Brave New Web and BYOD for You: The Guide to Bring Your Own Device to Work. He has been a keynote speaker at global security and technology conferences from South Africa to Dubai and from Washington, D.C., to Moscow.

He holds a master's degree in computer science (CS) from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and a bachelor's degree in CS from Valparaiso University in Indiana.

Follow Lohrmann on Twitter at: @govcso

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