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How to Increase Your Shares and Click-Through

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How to increase your shares and click through. An example of CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer

Building quality content and creating consumer appeal to reach your target market takes a new mindset. These five takeaways help in a world of social marketing: Topic, Title, Graphic, Lead Paragraph, and Content.

As Erik Jul points out in I Don’t Like to Write, it is fun having written! But even if you have written, it is no good having a site nobody visits. This post is a follow-on to, Increase Traffic to Your Website and Love the Results, because I am passionate about marketing, social, and the web.

The Topic

  1. Topic: This is the first thing to identify. What do people want to read? Want to know about? Want to Share? And most importantly which of the above answers is a topic you want to write about? Writing is always better when you like and want to write about a topic. With these questions answered you have a topic.

The Social Post

The next three items are new and go together because they are picked up by social sites when posting a URL. On social sites, people will share, re-post, and re-tweet regardless of content. They do this because they like what is communicated in the post itself. This might not have been as important in the past, but times they are a changin.

  1. Title: When creating a title, ask yourself, is it a good title? Is the title catchy? Is the title shareable? Additionally, you can now rate your Title on CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, to get another thought on the value of your title. Let’s look at rating from a recent popular in your network list from Twitter.
  2. Graphic: All posts, topics, or web pages need a good graphic. Create a graphic which is related to your topic and one which is interesting. Ask yourself, is it catchy? Is it shareable? Whenever I am out and about I take pictures. Pictures of all kinds of items. Now I have these available to use. And do not forget Memes, graphics with text on top, as people love to share memes.
  3. Lead Paragraph: The first paragraph is picked up by social sites when you provide the page URL. This paragraph, in conjunction with the Title and Graphic may be the only thing people read as they may not follow the link to your content. Make your lead paragraph something people will want to share all on its own. Convey the worthiness and message summary of your topic in the lead paragraph.

And Then There is Content

  1. Content: This has been important for the past decade as a way to increase page rank on search engines. People do want good content. If you desire people to come back to your site, good content is a must.
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Fllng n Th Blnks

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Fill In the Blank

By Erik Jul

If you read the title, you probably already have a sense of the topic: Filling In The Blanks.

How did you know that? In response to visual stimuli (the title), your brain did you a favor by filling in the missing letters (the vowels, in this case) in order to make sense of what you were seeing.

Take a minute to thank your brain…

…for making it easy to read an incomplete string of letters, form words, and make meaning. And for the billions of other times just today that your brain has taken much more complex and equally incomplete sensory data and rendered for you a version of the world that makes sense. Mostly.

At least, to it.

Neuro- and cognitive scientists refer to a principle of closure:

“The mind’s tendency to see complete figures or forms even if a picture is incomplete, partially hidden by other objects, or if part of the information needed to make a complete picture in our minds is missing”

Take another minute to thank your brain. It’s doing the best it can, and it certainly hopes that you appreciate it.

You see, the brain practically lives just to make sense of things, and it loves doing so in the most efficient way possible. Which often means using limited data to predict the reality that the data represent. In fact, as soon as the brain has a “good fit,” having matched sensory input against a memory bank of possibilities, it serves up it’s best offering.

Now, better take another minute to be concerned about what your brain is telling you.

And, if you are a business or requirements analyst, take a long minute to ponder the thousands of times you and others, in perfectly well-managed joint application development sessions, have thought that you understood the customer’s need based on your acceptance of the meaning that your brain provided based on limited information.

And if you are now taking a minute to wonder, “How can we decrease the chance that we are accepting in our requirements workshops as “true and complete” what our brain is providing based on incomplete information? I would completely understand.

And I would recommend practicing the Rapid JAD principles.

Now, scientifically approved.

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Aha!

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gamma-brain-waves-300x208[1]

by Erik Jul

Is there room for a “Business Insight” in the profession of Business Analysis?

We are trained and practiced in the skill and art of analysis: Ishikawa diagrams, process flow diagrams, value-chain mapping, and a host of other techniques.

Used effectively, the tools and trade of a Business Analyst help to uncover problems and potential solutions, often methodically and with considerable, well, analysis.

Complementary approaches invoke imagination. Role-playing games, personas, brainstorming, mind mapping, and other creative activities can cultivate clarity and novelty.

And then there’s the “Aha!” moment, Newton’s apple or the displaced water in Archimede’s bath. Eureka!

Modern neuroscience, using electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and well-structured experimentation can now document brain occurrences associated with insight including gamma wave bursts of 40 Hz.

Researchers and authors John Kounios, Ph.D., of Drexel University, and Mark Beeman, Ph.D., of Northwestern University, outline their findings in The Eureka Factor, Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain (New York: Random House, 2015), calling the gamma wave burst “the spark of insight” (p. 71). The gamma wave burst is associated with the linking of mental maps–the creation of new neuronal pathways–and seems to provide the energy necessary to both bind these new pathways and bring the associated insight to consciousness.

The implications, which I will explore in a future blog, are exciting. Can we encourage insight, and if so, how? Do analysis and insight affect each other? What’s a Business Analyst to do?

Meanwhile, think back on those times when, in a flash, an idea seemed clear, a solution suddenly appeared, and brilliance was yours if even for a moment.

These are your Aha! moments, and they might be the fastest way to revise quickly!

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Bundling

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By Erik Jul

Bundling is a tidy idea.  Consider the humble bundle of sticks.

Bundle of Sticks

Useful.

Or the Roman fasces, shown here on the reverse of a U.S. Mercury dime, or Winged Liberty Head, dime.

Fasces

Powerful.

What makes each bundle desirable?

  • Utility
  • Fitness for a purpose
  • Ease of use
  • Similarity or complementarity of components, or
  • Some other bundle-making attribute that ties the individual pieces together

When selecting from a backlog of functional requirements, product owners and developers must select and form a bundle for the next development sprint.

This may seem like–or it may be–and easy job.  More often than not, however, it is fraught with decisions, trade-offs, and compromises.

What makes a good bundle?  Something must tie them together.

  • They implement a coherent feature.
  • They trace to user stories or epics.
  • They build upon a prior bundle.
  • They are required for a subsequent bundle.
  • They match the velocity of the development team.
  • They can be implemented in the current environment.
  • The account for any technical debt from previous bundles.

Of course, any bundle is only as good as its constituent requirements, which must be clear, correct, complete, consistent, unambiguous, verifiable, traceable, and testable.  Rapid JAD techniques greatly assist these objectives.

Creating the right requirement bundle is the basis for a successful development sprint, and a good bundle starts with a strategically stocked product backlog selected from a bank of user stories or epics.

Executing these challenging business analysis and project management tasks can prevent a bundle from becoming a bungle.

What’s in your bundle?

 

 

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IIBA Professional Development Day 2015 – Conference Presentation

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Rapid JAD: Getting more of what  you really need — faster — in JAD sessions

#rapidjad

IIBA-2015-Conference

What’s Behind Rapid JAD?

  1. Advanced collaborative planning
  2. Single-source documentation
  3. High design visibility

Actionable Development Specifications

  • More Complete
  • Faster
  • More Engaging

Capture Now

  • Interpreting even your own good meeting notes can be challenging
  • Interpreting someone else’s notes can be even harder
  • Basic content and relative importance can be muddled or lost altogether
  • Time for revising or transcribing information is limited, and never a much as you were counting on
  • Memory fades (if I’m remembering correctly!)
  • Video
  • Transcribing
  • Audio

Document Once

  • Why do anything twice?
  • Put the information into the environment where it’s going to live long-term
  • “Document once” does not mean “one document”
  • One Note

Visible to All

  • Visible means in real time and at any time. Visible to all is not time bound to a meeting.
  • “Audible” is “Visible.” Capture what was said and you can read back to those in the room for validation
  • Push or pull
  • This provides instant feedback.
  • This increases confidence and agreement
  • Shortens the feedback loop
  • Seeing things can help to identify gaps

Revise Quickly

 

What are the risks if you’re not revising quickly?

  • Other rely on the documents; may make incorrect decisions based on old information
  • Revise Quickly means in real time and at any time
  • Document management repository
  • Send notification of changes or ask for changes

Benefits of Rapid JAD

  1. More time for critical thinking by Business Analysts & Designers
  2. Shorten Time to Development
  3. Increase Business Buy-In
  4. Others?

What is Rapid JAD?

Use #rapidjad to Tweet a definition of Rapid JAD in your own words: Search Twitter.com for #RapidJAD

I Want to Start Now!

 

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Do it Now or Do it Later?

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Three Simple Note-Taking Tips
Guaranteed to Make the Most of
Your Meetings

“Tomorrow.  Tomorrow. I love you, Tomorrow.  You’re only a day away.”

So sings Annie in the eponymous movie or Broadway musical.

Aileen Quinn singing Tomorrow in the 1982 movie Annie
“Annie” – 1982

But waiting even a day, or any time, really, may be too much when you are capturing information in a Rapid JAD session or any information-gathering interaction.

And tomorrow is much too far away to start getting value out of any business meeting.

Using just three simple Rapid JAD principles can guarantee greater value–faster–from any information-gathering session.

Who Will Take Notes?

From the beginning of time, note-taking in meetings has a long history of modest improvements at best (OK, the creation of writing was a big step forward) and long-lived deficiencies at worst.

You’ve been in that meeting where the note-taker, or scribe, is drafted as an afterthought.  “Anyone willing to take notes?” goes the plea.

Silence.

Assuming any notes are taken, here are some glaring problems:

  • Interpreting even your own good meeting notes after the meeting can be challenging
  • Interpreting someone else’s notes can be even harder
  • Basic content and relative importance can be muddled or lost altogether
  • Time for revising or transcribing information is limited, and never as much as you were counting on
  • Memory fades (if I’m remembering correctly!)

There is a remedy: whenever possible, ensure that you are capturing input as fully as possible in real time during the Rapid JAD session.

“Taking Notes” Just Grew Up

No one would think that listening closely and then relying upon memory would be an acceptable substitute for even the most rudimentary note-taking in a JAD session.

Of course we take notes! But not all notes are created equally.

What makes a good note?

  • Accuracy
  • Completeness
  • Consensus

What makes a good note possible?

1. Captured Now

Most would say that note-taking is a real-time event by definition.  Almost always true, yes.  So how can we improve upon what’s going on during a real-time note-taking session?

Capture the note in its final resting place such as a meeting minutes template, a requirements document, a wireframe or process-flow diagram or other artifact.  This can eliminate transcription or copying, and if a note belongs in two or more artifacts, go ahead and put them there now, that is, during the note-taking session.  Why wait?

2. Made Visible to All

Now that we’re capturing information, consider the value of letting others in on it.  By projecting the notes (on a screen in the meeting room or on a networked computer screen for remote participants, or both), all can see the note-taking process.

Yes, it gets suddenly harder to spell while typing in front of others.  Use this as a humorous moment and then get on with the task.

This facilitates an immediate feedback loop: listen, type, view, read, respond.  Beyond demonstrating that you are capturing key information (or not), this transparent process helps ensure that the notes are, in fact, accurate and complete.  And when they are, you will have won consensus (if not unanimity) and the trust of your team.

But wait! There’s more!

3. Revised Quickly

I’ve already mentioned the real-time typo that will be pointed out (and corrected) in real time, but revising quickly has a greater, more liberating quality: it relieves you from the tyranny of having to get it right the first time.

If your first take is not perfect, revise!  Expect it.  Welcome it.

Revising quickly has a second liberating quality: note-taking is really information shaping.

Add. Delete. Revise. Until, by consensus, and to the best knowledge of those participating at the time, the captured information is as accurate and complete as possible.

So don’t wait.  Make capturing information the center of every Rapid JAD session. Whenever possible and practical, display notes on a screen for all to see.  Revise, revise, revise, and confirm notations with participants to ensure accuracy, completeness, and consensus.  Store in an accessible collaboration tool and notify or distribute artifacts to parties according to the project’s communication plan.

When capturing notes in this fashion, you’ve used the Rapid JAD session–and the Rapid JAD principles–to create an artifact accepted by those present and ready for action or wider review, as appropriate.

All of a sudden, doing notes later–today or tomorrow–seems silly.

Sorry, Annie.

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Rapid JAD Advances Engagement Management

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Why Engagement Management?

Engagement Management is all about business and information technology (IT) teams working together. This may sound easy. Just talk and draw some stuff up. But effective and efficient communication at the level needed for software systems development can pose many challenges. Perhaps you are familiar with this great cartoon which illustrates the challenge of clear communication?


All of these individuals–the project manager, the architect, the developer, the salesman–can read and hear what is to be built, carry on a discussion about the project, and then set about working on just what they think they understand.

However, as Erik Jul points out in Visible to All, communication can be difficult. The larger the project, the more complex the solution, the greater the risk when it comes to clear communication.

Rapid JAD has a solution we call Engagement Management.   

Engagement management tightens the communication link among team members, customers, and stakeholders because all communications are:

  • Planned in advance
  • Clearly documented
  • Revised as needed, and
  • Available to all.

Making project information such as action plans, risks, decisions made, tasks, designs, and workflows readily visible aids the essential two-way communication needed to go from project inception to successful project delivery.

Who Needs to Be Engaged?

A communication plan will identify the stakeholders, their interest in the project, the format of the communication, how often to communicate, and who is responsible for the communication. Of utmost importance is identification of the business expert who will, on a daily basis, be available to answer questions that come up from the IT team. This business expert will be appointed by the business as the Product Owner.

The Product Owner, representing the business and the Project Manager, representing the IT team, work together on details of the communication plan and who will be responsible for the various pieces of the plan. Even in a large organization where tools are readily available, there still needs to be discussion and planning between the business and IT around communication.

Where Should Engagement Take Place?

Rapid JAD addresses two types of engagement: people (meetings) and artifacts.

For people, the ideal place for engagement is in the same room with a projector or shared visual display. This is not always an option as teams can be geographically separated. When geographically separated a tool such as Go To Meeting makes it easy to share what is being seen in one location with team members in another location. Some tools also provide video conferencing which is a plus for geographically separated teams. Whatever tool is used, shared visibility is key for people who are getting engaged with the system development. You want all members of the engagement capable of viewing the same objects.

For artifacts, visibility is again a key factor. Not only is collaboration important, artifacts need to be visible to all. Where do you put the project vision? Where do you put the requirements? Where do you put the designs? The workflows? The tasks? The issues? Project artifacts must be readily accessible and visible to all who are part of the project.  This engagement factor is key to success. 

What Focuses Engagement?

Artifacts, and their related processes, focus engagement.

Regardless of what is being worked on, team members from both the business and IT need to be engaged and jointly developing and reviewing project artifacts. Key artifacts for engagement are:

  • Project Vision
  • Requirements
  • Definition of Done
  • Change Management Plan
  • Story Boards / Wireframes
  • Business Workflows
  • Technical Designs
  • Design Decisions
  • Issues
  • Tasks
  • Risks
  • Milestones and Timelines
  • Team Roster & Contact Information

How Do We Accomplish All of This?

Collaboration tools greatly enhance engagement.  While the use of Collaboration tools varies from company to company,  half of the 379 respondents to a poll on the Intranet Professionals LinkedIn group indicated that their company uses SharePoint. To ensure success, regardless of the collaboration tool used, both the business and the IT team must be able to access and use the tool.

Collaboration tools provide a way for everyone on the team to be engaged with the current artifacts. Whether you are concerned with business workflow, interface design, technical decisions, or even project vision, having one location with the current information is critical.

The tools you use for engagement will play a large part in implementing the Rapid JAD principles for accelerated system design: Capture Now, Document Once, Revise Quickly, and Visible  to All.

When Should Engagement Start?

Informal engagement starts before a project is approved, during development of the business case and associated cost benefit analysis. Once a project is approved Engagement Management should start with identification of the Product Owner for the business and the Project Manager for the IT team. Together the two take ownership of the project and collaborate on the Engagement Management plan.

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Visible to All

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Are you listening?  Are you hearing?  Do you understand me?

Customers and clients wonder.

Did I hear you right?  Am I understanding you correctly?  Did I get it right?

Business analysts ought to wonder to themselves.  All the time.

Communication is not easy, as the familiar illustration of communication theory, below, illustrates.

Communication TheoryIn this model, communication seems fraught with peril. Here’s the problem:

“I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure that you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

More simply: Message sent may not equal message received, and this translates into risk.

The risk of specifying–or developing–a system that does not meet your users’ need, wastes time, and costs more.

Visible to All

Rapid JAD principle #3, Visible to All, increases the likelihood of achieving mutual understanding quickly.

Capture Now (principle #1).  Document Once (principle #2).

And while your doing that, make the process and the artifacts Visible to All whenever possible.  Your Rapid JAD participants can see (and hear):

  • That you are listening closely, and
  • Getting it right (Revise Quickly, principle #4)…in real time.

When posted to a common, shared platform, all participants–and even those not present in the Rapid JAD session–can access and view the emerging state of understanding.   Consensus grows.  Trust deepens.

And now you’re ready to Revise Quickly (principle #4) as new facts emerge and understanding deepens.

4-Rapid-JAD-Principles

 

 

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Rapid JAD in Large Projects

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Rapid JAD: Accelerated System Design Processes

Rapid JAD (Joint Application Design) in large projects provides Vision Development and encourages business leaders to think outside of their box.

Setting The Stage

The business has completed a Cost Benefit Analysis and approved development of a new system. The requirements for the system have been documented, an RFP (Request For Proposal) was issued, and now there is a contract in place. This process can take a long time and the team leading the development may not include the same people who documented the requirements of the system. This means there will be many instances where the development team and the business leaders have a different understanding of the requirements. The development team only has what was documented, and while this may be clearly written, words still leave room for variation in interpretation. The business leaders know what they need and have a background which adds to their understanding when they read a requirement, yet still there can be requirements which they are not clear about as they read.

JAD sessions provide the opportunity for both teams to discuss their understanding of the requirements and work to a mutual agreement of what needs developed to meet the needs of the business. In Rapid JAD sessions this will include discussions about the Definition of Done.

Vision Development

A new software project means change and change can be difficult. Not everyone likes change. Rapid JAD sessions provide a framework for creating an atmosphere of enthusiasm toward the coming change through Vision Development. Shaping a vision of the system to be developed, including improvement in processes, provides a source for motivation which will be needed as work on the project moves forward.

Having a vision for the new system is exciting. The business will be able to complete work in a new way and the business leaders are helping to shape that new system.  Processes which are not efficient today will be improved. This is Exciting! With excitement and enthusiasm business leaders armed with a clarifying vision of the system to be developed share and ask for input from co-workers. As this continues the vision and enthusiasm toward the coming change spreads.

A clear vision of how things will be improved drives a motivation for change. Without this motivation both development and change are much more difficult. Vision Development is one part of the Rapid JAD sessions which set a large project on a course for success.

Change

People who have done things the same way for a long time develop habits. The way they complete work becomes a process. They complete one process and proceed to the next. It may have been taught to them to do it just as they have been for as long as they can remember. Their goal is to accurately and efficiently complete the process. When their process is done the next process can start.

Rapid JAD sessions are led by a development team which is not entrenched in the current process. Therefore the development team will see ways to complete the requirement with a different perspective. What is the purpose of the requirement? What is the end goal? What is the best way to complete the end goal? As a result of viewing the requirements from a different perspective new process possibilities are introduced. This assists the business leaders in thinking about different ways to complete their goal. The business leaders start thinking outside of their box, becoming creative and designing new processes. This too is exciting!

Summary

Through discussion of requirements and the creation of new processes both a clarification of vision and a positive enthusiasm for change is developed using Rapid JAD. These are two important factors needed for success in large projects.

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Revise Quickly

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Practicing the first three Rapid JAD principles–Capture Now, Document Once, Visible to All–creates artifacts of all sorts such as requirements statements, definitions of done, process flow diagrams, wireframes, system state diagrams, technical specifications, and myriad other documents, diagrams, charts, pictures, lists, and tables as may be required.

And they will all need to be revised. Quickly.

The fourth Rapid JAD principle–Revise Quickly–accelerates learning and helps to build consensus and shared understanding.

Be prepared to modify artifacts based on the discovery of new information, feedback from others, or your own deepening understanding.

Whenever possible, plan to modify artifacts during JAD sessions. This real-time revision evidences a dedication to attentive listening and capturing new learning. If the occasion allows you to display the process on screen, making it visible to all, you can be more confident of gaining consensus agreement or creating a shared vision before the session is over.

Yet even such artifacts may continue to be living documents for some time, subject to frequent, if minor, revision.

Figure 1, below, illustrates a smoothed learning curve over time.

Figure 1. Typical Learning Curve
Figure 1. Typical Learning Curve

Learning is rarely this predictable, and is more typically incremental, with chunked learning interspersed with periods of consolidation (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Incremental Learning
Figure 2. Incremental Learning

Learning in the Rapid JAD model incorporates frequent feedback followed by quick revision and deepened learning.

Figure 3. Feedback Loop
Figure 3. Feedback Loop

Revised frequently, often in real time, and made visible to all, discovery can be a shared experience, consensus grows, understanding is firmed, and the learning cycle can be accelerated.

Revise quickly.

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