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Nov 6, 2012 Priorities

Nov 6, 2012 from Deborah

Hello Patrick,
I spoke with Kimberly this morning and gained some clarity about where we are at overall with our project.
All that has been accomplished to date is truly amazing. Your vision is so timely. I tend to get lost a bit with so many emails bouncing back and forth and unclear about our priorities. Here is what I see as our priorities. 
1.  Exam Questions - currently we have 50 and our goal is to have 100 to 200.
2.  Pilot Exam - Christina is conducting a pilot exam in Singapore in January. Goal is to conduct several to evaluate the integrity of the exam.
3.  Promotion  -  Manuals, White Paper, Website, Articles, etc.
Are there any other main areas I am missing?
May I recommend we focus on one area at a time? Of course, we will continue to develop other areas, but I think we may make more progress if we are focused.
1.  Exam Questions - provide questions in a seperate document that we can review. Maybe we could divide into 3 pairs to develop as many questions as possible for one of each of the 3 subject areas. We would then submit our questions to the group for review. If further questions are needed, we could repeat the process by rotating each group to a new subject area.
2.  Pilot Exam - I would like to know what our ultimate goal is for this step. Is our target companies and organizations only? Would they need to have gone through training to order to take the exam? What do you envision for this step? Would there be value in taking a small number of questions and using them as a pre-test and then a larger number for a post-test? Would there be value in testing individuals who have not taken a program to evaluate their skill level without any formal training? Are there any guidelines for how the test be delivered?
3.  Promotion - I am hesitant to 'roll out' the project until we have some of these foundational pieces finalized. As we complete each step, I become more clear about the value and purpose of what we are doing. This will make it easier for us all to speak with one voice.
One additional thought regarding the levels and exams - It may be useful to have add-on testing modules that would be specific to a culture. This would be much like learning various languages. English is recognized as the standard for international business, but if someone doing business in a Spanish speaking culture they would be wise to learn the language. A person would not have to complete the various cultural add-ons, but it would demonstrate a higher level of competency and would clarify some of the possible confusion in developing the questions.
I apologize for the long email filled with my randon thoughts and questions. I look forward to your comments and insight. 
Thank you!

Nov 6, 2012 from Patrick

Hi Deborah,

Thanks for the itemized priority list.   I will address them point-by-point.

1.  Exam Questions - dividing up the team into 3 pairs as you suggested would be a great way to get it done.  How should we pair up?  Can you work with Kimberly to suggest a structure?

2. Pilot Exam -
First, to the current frontline.  Christina/Serena are exploring ways to work with Nanyang Technical University (NTU) to introduce the IITTI Exam.  The biggest issue is whether to charge a nominal fee or offering it free.  NTU suggested we should go free at this stage, and it is very good advice.  But as you had said before, people don't value free stuff very much.  So I suggested to Serena that NTU may consider "sponsoring" the Exam by paying a token $20 charge total.  This way, both NTU and us can say that the Exam is not free but sponsored.  Under such condition, students taking the Exam may feel differently, given that it is paid for by their school.  I am still waiting for a response from Serena.

On a strategic note, in keeping in-line that we should have a two-pronged approach, namely, Prong #1 would be targeting banking HR's and Prong #2 graduating business students, the pilot exam is designed to achieve Prong #2: university business students.

But if we do it right, our Pilot Exam can actually be more than that.  If these students would start to use their IITTI certificate on their resumes, it would have a positive influence with HR's receiving them.  So the Pilot Exam can almost be thought of as "killing two birds with one stone", so to speak.

For the last two months or so, I have been getting my team in building the backstage logistics.  One of the main features is the concept akin to a phone card.  I am calling it an:

                                Exam Pass

This will make our system look and feel more professional, and with the absolutely minimal administrative work for the partnering university and for ourselves.  (I will go more into this exam pass in future emails.)

To further pin-point answering your questions (in blue):

      Is our target companies and organizations only?
      Yes, in particular, banks and financial institutes are our first set of targets.  As a two-pronged approach, finance students is our other group.

      Would they need to have gone through training to order to take the exam?
      Not at this stage.  Why?  Because it would be hard to force test candidates to go through training first before the exam. 
Eventually, it would be ideal to have all candidates gone through training before the Exam.  But that may not be the sentiment of some of the university administration at this point.  The biggest barrier to our success is one of ignorance, indifference and entrenched views. 

      What do you envision for this step?
      We may have a solution: As we are planning on setting the passing mark to be 85%, there are good chances not everyone will pass.  And that would be a good thing: people would then appreciate they don't know what they don't know, and will be more incline to get proper training.  But this will take time.

      Would there be value in taking a small number of questions and using them as a pre-test and then a larger number for a post-test?
      I am not sure what you mean by a "post-test".  Can you please elaborate?  Currently there are several pre-test sample questions that students can see.  They are on the IITTI website at:

                       IITTI web  |  For Students  |  Sample test

(This sample test is for instructional purpose, and contains the answers.  The real test don't give out the answers so we can reuse the questions.)

      Would there be value in testing individuals who have not taken a program to evaluate their skill level without any formal training?
      Yes, as above, having a high watermark of 85% passing mark, we let people know that this is serious.  People who treat image and etiquette as "mickey mousy" shall be humbled!  (Believe me, MANY technical people treat soft-skills as fluff!  I don't have to look far!)

      Are there any guidelines for how the test be delivered?
      Yes, as mentioned above, we will use a "phone card" concept where exam candidates will be purchasing this phone card.  They will enter the code of this card into their account in order to "buy" entrance to one sitting.  The exam will be hosted by a reputable university (such as NTU).  There is a document called "Student Exam Manual" being reviewed by Serena.  Perhaps I can distribute this to everyone who might want to run a similar pilot to get further feedback(?)

3. Promotion - Yes, I think it is premature to promote wide-scale at this point.  A pin-point strategy would be best so that any kinks can be more readily dealt with before it gets too big.





Nov 6, 2012 from Riet

What about this: We offer taking the exam for free in order to have the first experience. However, if they want a certificate they pay $ 20,00
I think it would be OK to offer it completely for free for the first 200 people, as WE want it launched, WE want the feedback, WE want to test the whole etc.
As you said, Patrick, if the students start to use the IITTI Certification on their resume something else can start happening in the direction that WE want to go. Look what businesses do in order to get Likes on Facebook. They offer a lot for free.
Statistics are also very important for us. Testing people without any previous education in this field will provide a 0-situation for us. So we might want to include a question in the beginning:
  • did you get any training on image and etiquette previous to this test? If yes, how?
  • by reading a book 
  • trained by my family 
  • formal training 
  • how many hours?
What a huge project is this. Thanks for your guidance and work, Kimberly and Patrick.

Nov 6, 2012 from Deborah

Hello Everyone,
I like the idea of taking the exam for free and if they would like a certificate there would be a small fee. My reference to 'free' is more in line with offering free classes and services in general. Typically, they are not valued.
I also like your questions for the testing. The truth is, we have all been taught social skills. The question is, who taught us, and was the source knowledgeable and current?
The more we dig into this project, the more interesting and complex it becomes. I am thoroughly enjoying the journey!

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