Software: A Ninth House Roundup. (Ratings)

Article excerpt

Partnering for Results, Reframing Change, Virtual Teams, and Innovation: WOW! Projects

Ninth House continues to distinguish itself with top-notch production values and extensive use of audio and video. In addition, its use of the CD-ROM to deliver high-band-width media has let Ninth House courseware move beyond the current text, graphics, and low-resolution small-box video used by many (most?) online courses.

Although high-end graphics can enhance a program, it's still the underlying instruction that's most important, and the Ninth House approach is effective for illustrating key concepts. There is, however, one drawback: The extensive use of audio and video clips means less content is covered in depth. Not as much information can be conveyed by audio clips as by text. Ninth House counters by using a variety of video, text, audio, and graphics to create entertaining, as well as informative, sequences. Typically, an expert on a video clip introduces the topic; the learning points are then conveyed with graphics, audio, and some text on several screens. Between modules, a video story often underlines the key points or sets up the next topic. Sometimes, multiple-choice questions assess knowledge; the longer courses use simulations to provide practice and assessment. Questions are also asked that require the learner to consider or use job-related information.

As mentioned, Ninth House uses CD-ROM to get around the technical challenge of bandwidth and reliability for delivering video and audio to a desktop. That works well as long as someone views the training on one computer. During the review, I used two different computers and had a problem remembering to carry the CD-ROM with me from one to the next. The courses require a couple of plug-ins, and I had some difficulty installing them. I was able to troubleshoot on my own (the plug-ins weren't installed properly during setup), but I did place a call to Ninth House's support center and received a call back within a couple of hours.

I reviewed four Ninth House management courses: Partnering for Results, Reframing Change, Virtual Teams, and Innovation: WOW! Projects. The strongest of the group is Innovation: WOW! Projects by Tom Peters. Whether you agree with Peters, he does cut a compelling figure, even in video clips. He puts forth a simple, easy-to-remember process for fostering an entrepreneurial mindset in employees to create projects with big impact. Much of the instruction is delivered through video clips, and there's a story about kids and a lemonade stand to illustrate the main points. The course also has the learner identify a WOW! project and asks questions throughout the course about how to develop it. Pre- and post-tests measure what you learn.

Two of the courses, Reframing Change and Virtual Teams, are short and not particularly memorable. The substantial course, in addition to Innovation: WOW! Projects, is Partnering for Results, which presents the Mindshift model for successful partnering.

To evaluate a partnership, each company's stage of development is assessed and classified into one of six stages. Each manager is then identified as one of six personality types, and finally each partner's perspective on the project is described as one of four personality types. That's a lot of personalities!

Maybe it's just me, but the busier I become, the more I need the simple in K.I.S.S. not to feel stupid. At the least, I need strong job aids as take-aways if there's to be any chance of adopting the model once I'm back on the job. Additionally, I want to know how this model was derived. Is there any data that supports its development? In other words, if I use this model, how do I know it will increase my chances for successful partnerships? Larraine Segil created the Mindshift approach, and I think any course would have to use her book Intelligent Business Alliances in conjunction with the course to be effective. …