A Difficult Opportunity

By Bob Higginbotham
Director, On-Demand Content & Standards

Albert Einstein wrote, “Out of difficulty comes opportunity.”  Such as it was when I inherited a project from my previous boss here at AVIXA because of the difficult opportunity presented to all of us in March of 2020. 

Long before that, a deal was made, and the contract was signed.  We hired a highly respected and celebrated educator for the UK to teach a course at InfoComm 2020. It was to be a derivative of an IT service management course about AV service management.  It was to be part of our traditional 3-day education program presented ‘live and in person’ by Noel Bruton.

Here is what Noel has to say about himself and his course (in his native dialect):

About Your Tutor

‘This course was designed by Noel Bruton, a management consultant and bestselling author of numerous books specialising in IT and tech support management. Noel will be your impassioned and enthusiastic tutor. His AV experience goes right back to mic’ing up bands at college in the ’70s, running AV/VC workgroups for global companies, designing AV service management practices for universities, and composing, mixing, and mastering videogame soundtracks. The originator of terms, methods, and techniques in the tech management field, he is referred to in his native UK as ‘the godfather of [tech] support’. If you use the words ‘desktop support’, ‘quality index’, or ‘escalation’, you are quoting Noel Bruton.’

Who Should Attend?

‘Heads of any AV technical workgroup – either in-house or as a service provider - where tech support resolutions and conducting projects are part of the typical workload, especially where that work comprises interaction with end-users and corporate authorities.’

So, fast forward to now and to our AVIXA virtual education program born directly from adversity surrounding the pandemic. Now we teach globally attended live courses over two weeks instead of three days. These are taught using virtual platforms and are taught, facilitated, and planned from home offices. They are well received, and it looks like they are here to stay.

But who knows?

Here is what Einstein wrote in a letter about experimentation:

‘You make experiments and I make theories. Do you know the difference? A theory is something nobody believes, except the person who made it. An experiment is something everybody believes, except the person who made it.’

I believe our virtual courses in our current format will be successful until they are not. So, we are offering Burton’s course starting in September, stretching out over five weeks and virtually live from the UK.

Here’s Mr. Burton’s delivery diary for the course:

How Is it Delivered?

  • Online Tutorial 1: Course introduction, 30 minutes
  • Student study period 1, approximately 1 week
  • Online Tutorial 2: Checking understanding, 2½ hours.
    • Module 1 - Course Introduction
    • Module 2 - The Role of the Manager
    • Module 3 - Leadership Essentials
  • Student study period 2, approximately 1 week
  • Online Tutorial 3: Checking understanding, 2½ hours.
    • Module 4 – Planning Stage
    • Module 5 – Processes and Relationships
  • Student study period 3, approximately 1 week
  • Online Tutorial 4: Checking understanding and final examination, 2½ hours.
    • Module 6 – Delivery Stage
    • Module 7 – Staff Engagement
    • Epilogue and Exam
      • exam question paper to be available from your AVIXA account.
      • exam is open book, invigilated by webcam.
  • Candidate scans completed answer paper and emails it to invigilator and puts the original in the mail to invigilator.

What you will learn

  • Workgroup leadership, consisting of orchestration of department resources and representation of the workgroup to the business, both as service provider and for dovetailing with shadow IT and vendor-provided escalation routes.
  • People-management, including staff development, setting, and monitoring production and productivity expectations, governing workload variety, skills redundancy, scheduling non-reactive work, motivation, and job satisfaction.
  • Informed decision-making, including key performance indicators, critical success factors and other statistical analyses to get beyond service levels into throughput parameters; and to match service delivery with customer satisfaction.
  • Lead the department from the front, to represent it according to your vision for its position, role and standing to its host organisation, clients, and users.
  • Anticipate demand and orchestrate resources both within and outside the immediate workgroup to meet that demand in accordance with true need and affordability.
  • Orchestrate manpower and other resources to ensure the workgroup’s entire workload is appropriately staffed so that nothing gets missed and all priorities are met, for both reactive and project work.
  • Identify, measure, monitor and act upon key performance indicators and use statistical functions against these to inform management decisions in correcting and improving service, not just after-the-fact (Management Information) but also in real time (Decision Support); use these to regulate and improve workload throughput as a vital contribution to eventual achieved service-levels.
  • Use a seven-stage skillset management programme to commoditise technical knowledge so that it can be imparted at the appropriate level; use this to eradicate Single Points of Failure, remove bottlenecks, increase skills redundancy, increase departmental service versatility, and replace management technical responsibilities to increase management involvement and quality.
It was a difficult opportunity that led us to experiment with virtual collaboration as a sustainable global communications platform. Its continued success depends on those who do the hard work of leading and managing collaboration technology systems and serving the people who keep the platforms running. It might be a coincidence that Mr. Burton’s course is available now, but it is certainly here just in time. I think Dr. Einstein would appreciate the irony.




Bob Higginbotham
AVIXA, Director, On-Demand Content & Standards

Bob is an AV industry SME and holds CTS-D and CTS-I certifications. He has founded, owned and operated regional AV integration businesses and held management, design, advisory and director positions at national firms. He is currently Director of On-Demand Training and Standards at AVIXA.