My first few days of using Sparkol Videoscribe

When someone draws out diagrams and develops discussion using a white board, it’s a more interesting and far more powerful than looking at a bunch of presentation slides. Sparkol Videoscribe uses animated pens to draw on a white board. 

So I’ve decided to try it and bought a months subscription.

These are my experiences:

  1. It’s pretty intuitive and adding images to presentations is easy. These can selected from the Videoscribe library or imported.
  2. Learning how to use camera setting is one of the first things to learn as this gives you more control over the whiteboard builds (individual whiteboard areas are the equivalent to presentation slides). As you build the presentation, the whiteboard elements are added to a timeline on the bottom of your screen. The properties of each of these can be changed e.g. build time, colour, pen used, font etc.
  3. Creating a video and then adding a sound track is easy if you only want music running through the presentation. Again, sound files can be selected from the Videoscribe library or imported. What you can’t do is add your own speech to individual slides. If you want a narrated presentation you have to record this and import it. Then adjusting slide timings can be time consuming. If you need narration, planning the presentation and narration needs care – unlike using presentation apps, you can’t really create it as you go.
  4. Adding new content (i.e. a new whiteboard area) to a presentation can mean that all new elements of a whiteboard are now at the end of you timeline. Dragging them to their right location in the timeline can take time as each element of a build has to be selected in turn. Planning your presentation on paper first is a good practice

I’ve now created two and these are on youtube at and

I think Videoscribe is great!

XONITEK Blog Repost: Why are 70% of all Process Improvement Projects Failing?

I’m reposting this blog as the extract below relates to my earlier blog post The Myth of The Quick Win I agree strongly with the point: It is also important not to take Quick Wins for the end point of the project. Refer to the Project charter and complete with what you and the project Sponsor have agreed. In my words, don’t get distracted by the glitter of the Quick Win!

Quick Wins are great, but there is a danger that they become unstructured

Sometimes a proposed project produces a lot of Quick wins which are dealt with as they are discovered. There is nothing wrong with that. There are however a few points that need to be observed:

– When the solution is already known.

– Care should be taken not to ASSUME the ‘known’ solution is the correct one.

– It is also important not to take Quick Wins for the end point of the project. Refer to the Project charter and complete with what you and the project Sponsor have agreed.

– When the proposed project is entering the area of creativity we should not use a DMAIC methodology but stay with PMBOK methodology.

– Making sure the Project is viable is very important and is done with the help of a prioritization matrix – complete it with your team.

The Myth of the Quick Win

The myth of the quick win. Brian Hunt 30/09/14

Finding ‘quick wins’ or “picking low hanging fruit’ is an often used cliché thrown around by people who don’t really understand the fundamentals of process improvement. Finding a quick win may only be addressing a symptom but it can be easily measured and applauded as an objective achieved, with subsequent kudos to the manager who found it. But it may miss the systemic, deep rooted issues that lead to these problems in the first place.

It’s important to spend time understanding how things work, how processes, people and technology connect together within an organisation. Does everything fits together in the most effective way? Are the swim lanes in one department aligned with the swim lanes of the departments upstream or downstream? Looking for quick wins in individual departments may provide local improvements but the majority of process problems seen in an organisation are caused by the handovers between internal functions (e.g. poor handover between design and production departments) or external ones such as suppliers and customers.

The people who have more awareness anybody in an organisation of where the problems are and where the quick wins can be found other people in the process. This is demonstrated by the research published 25 years ago by Sidney Yoshida which defined an Iceberg of Ignorance

4% of the problems are known to senior managers

9% of the problems are known to middle managers

75% of the problems are known to supervisors

100% of the problems are known to frontline workers

This means that 96% of the problems are not known to the top managers. Yet the senior and middle managers are generally the ones that make the call to “find quick wins”. Typically, the front-line workers are not consulted. Instead the organisation may decide that the approach to take is to train a group of Six Sigma belts who will suddenly gain the insight and understanding of problems that is already available to the organisation if they would just speak to the people at the bottom of the organisational pyramid.

Management may wrongly assume that, just because someone wears overalls, they are not capable of creative and valuable insights and ideas. When this is the culture, people tend to keep their ideas to themselves although they may discuss them with their colleagues. The discussion will typically end with “why bother, they won’t listen anyway”. But when these people are listened to and their ideas acted on, more ideas will follow. Being respected for having knowledge, ideas and insight lifts their self-respect and leads to better and more sustainable improvements. And of course, is how quality circles started. These had a brief existence in the early 1980s in the UK and then faded away because management failed to understand how to manage the people in them. This is commented on in an article Quality Circle Criticised as a formalised hunt for people to blame for the problems that it identified in The Economist, Nov 4th 2009

I’m speaking from experience. I spent nearly twenty years working on the factory floor and worked with bright people who were ignored and eventually gave up thinking of new ideas, recognising that keeping ‘ones head below the parapet’ was the safest option!


Holacracy, the ‘hottest trend of 2014’ according to Forbes, is a system of working that recognises that self motivation is more powerful than being told what to do by a manager. Self managing organisations with shared values can respond faster than where people have to wait for decisions and authority. Holacracy supports agile working. Read more about it here.