J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

October, 2013

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Strategic Talent Acquisition

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    "Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships." -- Michael Jordan

    I've been asked recently about competitive talent acquisition strategies.  I'm not a recruiter and I don't play one on T.V., but I thought I would share what I've seen work in the real world.

    People are the life-blood of any company.  They generate new ideas and find new ways to create value.  I’ve seen teams, orgs, and companies grow or die based on the people they acquire, and their talent management strategies.  Brain drain, as we call it when top talent leaves, is a very real threat to any otherwise big, bold, goals and initiatives.

    Here is my five-minute brain dump on what works when it comes to attracting top talent:

    1. Be the company people want to work for.  You’re effectively building a tribe whether that’s Amazonians, Googlers, Softies, etc.  People want to belong to something that’s worth it.
    2. Have leaders that people want to work for.  People really do “follow the leader.”  In fact, a career strategy for many smart people is to “ride the coat tails” of people that make things happen.
    3. Live the values that create compelling work environments and world-class leadership.
    4. Do work that matters.  People spend way too much of their life at work to work on things that don’t matter in some way, shape or form.  Nobody likes to be a cog, unless it’s a meaningful cog for a wheel that matters.
    5. Map to business strategy, objectives, priorities, and outcomes.  When you get a bunch of smart people on the bus, with nowhere to go, people get used or abused or neglected.  Aligning talent to the future business is a great way to skate to where the puck will be.
    6. Evaluate against ROI.  This forces thinking through the value and what good looks like and how to measure, which are all good things.
    7. Recruit from academia and try-before-you-buy with internships and temps.
    8. Provide flexible work styles so anybody can work from anywhere, anytime.  It’s a digital economy and there’s a new world of work.
    9. Set a high bar.  Top talent likes to work with top talent.  People love the chance to work with other great people.   Just watch how many great directors and actors stick together, or how many actors took a role for the chance to work with XYZ.
    10. Surround them with smarties.  Smart people are addictive.
    11. Provide competitive compensation, but differentiate through the promise of unique work experience and by working on the world's top problems for your niche in the market.
    12. Co-involve hiring managers reduces surprises on both ides.
    13. Do pro-active sourcing.
    14. Work with top talent recruiters.  They’re tapped in.  It’s a business where capability, results, and reputation shine through.
    15. Make employment branding more than lip service.
    16. Draw from a holistic talent pool.
    17. Reach around the world to find the world's best at what they do.
    18. Drive from an integrated talent management technology platform.
    19. Dive deep on marketing intelligence and leverage smart social networking.
    20. Connect to succession and workforce planning to align to growth plans.
    21. Make on-boarding as hassle-free as possible, whether that includes relocation, or whatever.

    Note, I didn’t plan on 21, but I’m glad I landed there. 
    How lucky.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The Power of Values

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    “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” -- Henry David Thoreau

    Values are the ultimate lightening-rod.  They bring people together, or divide them apart.

    If you don’t get how much values shape a company, from the people they hire to the people they fire, check out Video interview with Simon Sinek about the Golden Circle.

    When you do great work that makes your soul sing, it’s usually because you have a strong values alignment.   When you combine values with a clear vision, and a powerful mission, it’s the ultimate key to unlocking greatness, in yourself, others, and the company or arena you’re in.

    Here is a sampling of values from some companies you’ve probably heard of.   You’ll notice some patterns across, but you’ll also notice some distinctions.   It’s the distinctions that can tell you things like whether a company is innovation-centric, or social-centric, or consumer-centric, or information-centric, etc.

    Microsoft Values

    Here are the Microsoft values:

    As a company, and as individuals, we value integrity, honesty, openness, personal excellence, constructive self-criticism, continual self-improvement, and mutual respect. We are committed to our customers and partners and have a passion for technology. We take on big challenges, and pride ourselves on seeing them through. We hold ourselves accountable to our customers, shareholders, partners, and employees by honoring our commitments, providing results, and striving for the highest quality.

    Amazon Values

    Here are the Amazon Leadership Principles:

    1. Customer Obsession.  Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.
    2. Ownership.  Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job."
    3. Invent and Simplify.  Leaders expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by “not invented here." As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.
    4. Are Right, A Lot.  Leaders are right a lot. They have strong business judgment and good instincts.
    5. Hire and Develop the Best.  Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others.
    6. Insist on the Highest Standards.  Leaders have relentlessly high standards - many people may think these standards are unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver high quality products, services and processes. Leaders ensure that defects do not get sent down the line and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.
    7. Think Big.  Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.
    8. Bias for Action.  Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study. We value calculated risk taking.
    9. Frugality.  We try not to spend money on things that don’t matter to customers. Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention. There are no extra points for headcount, budget size, or fixed expense.
    10. Vocally Self Critical.  Leaders do not believe their or their team’s body odor smells of perfume. Leaders come forward with problems or information, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing. Leaders benchmark themselves and their teams against the best.
    11. Earn Trust of Others.  Leaders are sincerely open-minded, genuinely listen, and are willing to examine their strongest convictions with humility.
    12. Dive Deep.  Leaders operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, and audit frequently. No task is beneath them.
    13. Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit.  Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.
    14. Deliver Results.  Leaders focus on the key inputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion. Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.

     

    Google Values

    Here are the Google Values:

    1. Focus on the user and all else will follow.
    2. It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
    3. Fast is better than slow.
    4. Democracy on the web works.
    5. You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
    6. You can make money without doing evil.
    7. There’s always more information out there.
    8. The need for information crosses all borders.
    9. You can be serious without a suit.
    10. Great just isn’t good enough.

    Apple’s Values

    Here are Apple’s Core Values according to CEO Tim Cook:

    • We believe that we're on the face of the Earth to make great products.
    • We believe in the simple, not the complex.
    • We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.
    • We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
    • We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
    • We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
    • We don't settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we're wrong and the courage to change.

    And here are the Apple Values in the Apple Employee Handbook, circa 1993:

    Apple Values are the qualities, customs, standards, and principles that the company believes will help it and its employees succeed. They are the basis for what we do and how we do it. Taken together, they identify Apple as a unique company.

    These are the values that govern our business conduct:

    1. Empathy for Customers/UsersWe offer superior products that fill real needs and provide lasting value. We deal fairly with competitors and meet customers and vendors more than halfway. We are genuinely interested in solving customer problems, and we will not compromise our ethics or integrity in the name of profit.
    2. Aggressiveness/AchievementWe set aggressive goals and drive ourselves hard to achieve them. We recognize that this is a unique time, when our products will change the way people work and live. It is an adventure, and we are in it together.
    3. Positive Social ContributionWe build products that extend human capability, freeing people from drudgery and helping them achieve more than they could alone. But beyond that, we expect to make this world a better place to live. As a corporate citizen, we wish to be an economic, intellectual, and social asset in communities where we operate.
    4. Innovation/VisionWe built our company on innovation, providing products that were new and needed. We accept the risks inherent in following our vision, and work to develop leadership products that command the profit margins we strive for.
    5. Individual PerformanceWe expect individual commitment and performance above the standard for our industry. Only thus will we make the profits that permit us to seek our other corporate objectives. Each employee can and must make a difference. In the final analysis, individuals determine the character and strength of Apple.
    6. Team SpiritTeamwork is essential to Apple's success, for the job is too big to be done by one person. Individuals are encouraged to interact with all levels of management, sharing ideas and suggestions to improve Apple's effectiveness and quality of life. It takes all of us to win. We support each other and share the victories and rewards together. We are enthusiastic about what we do.
    7. Quality/Excellence.  We care about what we do. We build into Apple products a level of quality, performance, and value that will earn the respect and loyalty of our customers. At Apple, quality management is critical to our continued success.
    8. Individual Reward.  We recognize each person's contribution to Apple's success, and we share the financial rewards that flow from high performance. We recognize also that rewards must be psychological as well as financial, and we strive for an atmosphere where each individual can share the adventure and excitement of working at Apple.
    9. Good Management   The attitudes and behaviors of managers toward their people are of primary importance. Employees should be able to trust the motives and integrity of their supervisors. It is the responsibility of management to create a productive environment where Apple Values flourish.

     

    Facebook Values

    Here are the 5 Facebook Values:

    1. Focus on Impact.  If we want to have the biggest impact, the best way to do this is to make sure we always focus on solving the most important problems. It sounds simple, but we think most companies do this poorly and waste a lot of time. We expect everyone at Facebook to be good at finding the biggest problems to work on.
    2. Move Fast.  Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.
    3. Be Bold.  Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time.
    4. Be Open.  We believe that a more open world is a better world because people with more information can make better decisions and have a greater impact. That goes for running our company as well. We work hard to make sure everyone at Facebook has access to as much information as possible about every part of the company so they can make the best decisions and have the greatest impact.
    5. Build Social Value.  Once again, Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected, and not just to build a company. We expect everyone at Facebook to focus every day on how to build real value for the world in everything they do.

    IBM Values

    Here are IBM’s Values (as determined by 319,000 IBMers around the world that engaged in an open "values jam" on IBM’s global intranet):

    1. Dedication to every client's success
    2. Innovation that matters, for our company and for the world
    3. Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships

    Keep in mind, the fastest way to know the values is to know the leader, since values flow down (and people tend to hire people like themselves.)   Also, remember that values are not what you say, but what you do, since actions speak louder than words.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Graham Doig on Value Realization and How to Realize Value from Enterprise Social

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    This is a guest post by Graham Doig on Value Realization applied to Enterprise Social software projects.   You can think of Value Realization as simply the value extracted from a process or project.

    Graham is a Business Strategy Consultant (BSC) at Microsoft. He helps Microsoft’s global customers to realize their investment in Microsoft products.  He does that by working with them to align their business and technology strategies and achieve successful adoption. Graham works with both customer business and IT groups to help them develop a strategy to realize change and drive productivity within their organizations.

    Graham holds an MBA and PhD from Loughborough University. He is a regular presenter at conferences and contributor to the academic press. He also regularly lectures on a range of information technology topics to MBA courses at leading UK universities.

    I’ve asked Graham to share some of his key insights and lessons learned in the art and science of Value Realization from his adventures in the field, across real-world customer engagements.

    Without further ado, here is Graham Doig on how to realize value from Enterprise Social software projects …

    The Essence of Value Realization

    Today Value Realization is a critical element of any effective IT enabled business change. It consists of the set of activities that are required to ensure the delivery of the value that is expected from a business investment. But before value can be realized some important things have to happen:

    1. Something has to change; no change, no value;
    2. The change has to deliver measurable benefits; if it can’t be measured it’s not a benefit;
    3. The value of the benefit needs to be defined;
    4. Someone needs to own the delivery of the value.

    Once all of these things have happened then Value Realization can start to take place. The essence of Value Realization is that over a period of time the value being attained from the change is monitored and measured by the benefit owner. The objective is to ensure that the full projected value is attained within the expected timescales.

    The Social Computing Phenomenon in the Enterprise

    Social computing has become commonplace in the range of personal communication tools that are available today. Almost everyone who has access to a computer and the internet is familiar with Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In to one degree or another. It is estimated that Facebook now has over a billion engaged users and Twitter has more than 350 million tweets per day. These applications now provide ordinary people with enormous power to communicate, to converse, to comment, and to criticize or praise. So can this capability be transferred to the enterprise and can it be done in a manner that delivers business value? Well the most recent statistics suggest that most businesses believe that it can. In a recent MIT Sloan report the response was that the importance of social business to the organization had increased significantly between 2011 and 2012. This increase was identified in all industry sectors and the increase in importance ranged mainly between 10 and 20 percent. The challenge for all enterprises now is to translate this recognized importance of social computing into uses that deliver business value.

    Using Enterprise Social to Deliver Business Value

    The first challenge that is encountered when trying to identify how social computing can be used to deliver business value is that Enterprise Social does not take the form of a traditional app that supports the day to day operation of the business. Neither does it deliver the capabilities required for measuring the performance of the business. On the face of it you could conclude that there is no clear role for social computing to play that can directly deliver value to a business organization. This would be wrong! Although identifying the value that Enterprise Social can deliver might be harder that with more conventional IT apps, business value can still be identified if you look in the right places.

    Today there are two major forms of Enterprise Social emerging. The internal view which focuses on Social Productivity and topics such as Employee Engagement and Team Collaboration, and the external view that is focused on Social Marketing such as Marketing Campaigns and Social Media Monitoring. Both Social Productivity and Social Marketing have the potential to deliver business value. Being linked more closely to more mature business activities such as marketing and CRM, Social Marketing provides clearer opportunities for generating business value. This can include increasing the speed of customer adoption of new products and delivering increases in customer satisfaction. Being less mature, the opportunities for Social Productivity to delivery business value are harder to identify but they do exist. Social Productivity can lead to value being realized such as reduced staff attrition rates, and improved speed to market with new products.

    Realizing Value from Enterprise Social

    So if business value can be generated by the use of Enterprise Social how can this value be identified, quantified, measured and realized? This is arguably the biggest question of all. A key tool that is available for addressing this challenge is the ACME model:

    • Activate – a social network has been activated to enable connections;
    • Cultivate – the social network is cultivated to drive quality interaction and adoption;
    • Mine – the information generated by the social network is mined to obtain Insights;
    • Execute – the insights are used to initiate and identify action that we then execute to realize value.

    By applying the four steps of the ACME model business value can be identified and Value Realization can then be used to track the attainment of this value. The first step in the ACME model is Activate; a social network must be activated before anything can be done to generate or realize value. Activation assumes identifying and defining a purposeful network i.e. the network has to support a recognizable community that share a common interest, pain or need. Effective activation means that the community adopt and use the social network and that they participate by engaging in quality interaction. It is the interaction that takes place in the social network that generates mineable information.

    The second step, Cultivate is a critical activity that must be undertaken to ensure the growth and success of the social network. A poorly subscribed and underutilized social network is unlikely to produce very much mineable information and is not likely to deliver much business value. A network requires a critical mass and level of activity before it will attract and grow new members. Without sufficient activity so as to be useful, the network will wither and collapse. A social network that can deliver business value thus must be active and vibrant and this can only be achieved through active cultivation.

    The next two steps in the ACME model are the two that are most crucial for value identification and Value Realization. Step three is Mine; the information that flows from the social network must be mined effectively. It is possible to mine all the information that is being generated by a social network in an attempt to generate insights and whilst this is an acceptable approach it is very dependent on luck. An enterprise that adopts this approach for mining information from a social network is hoping to get lucky! An arguably more effective approach for mining this information is to focus on information that is relevant to the enterprise. Relevant is all about measuring the right thing, not everything. The right thing for every enterprise will be different but there is a standard set of information categories that can usually be considered. These standard information categories typically include:

    • People – who is involved; a customer, an employee, a regulator
    • Location – where is it happening; a city, a country, a retail outlet
    • Product – what product are people talking about; a car, a chocolate bar, a movie
    • Events – what has happened; a purchase, a complaint, a promotion
    • Time – when did it happen; today, yesterday, next week

    By being relevant and focusing on these types of information categories an enterprise is no longer hoping to get lucky; it knows what it is looking for. A critical enabler for effective mining is social analytics, undertaking appropriate analytics on the information flowing from social networks is a paramount activity required to unlock the potential value from Enterprise Social. It is the analytics that generate the insights that are the seed corn for value. These insights could include gaining a better understanding of customer needs, identifying what consumers think about our product compared to a competing product, or finding out what citizens really think about a government policy. However, gaining insights is not enough, the fourth activity of the ACME model, Execute, has to take place for the potential value to be realized. The action can be executed by an individual, a team, or the organization as a whole but without something changing, an action, the insight will be valueless. It is only by executing an action that value can be realized. Typical actions that insights from Enterprise Social can generate might include monitoring and responding to customer complaints faster, responding positively to dissatisfaction being expressed in employee social networks, identifying patterns of exceptions and developing new products from early identification of new trends.

    Execution also brings us right back to Value Realization because execution means Change and it is change that delivers business value. The actions that are taken should have clearly defined measurable business benefits; the value of the benefits and how they will be measured needs to be defined; and someone must take ownership of the benefits and the value that will be realized. It is only through effective Value Realization that Enterprise Social will be successful within your customers’ organizations.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Steve Ballmer Quotes

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    This is my roundup of Steve Ballmer quotes.

    I wanted to gain new insight into what Ballmer is really about.  I find that quotes arranged in meaningful buckets can help tell a story and provide a new lens.  In fact, I was actually surprised by what I ended up with.  I anticipated a focus on Vision, Business, and Boldness.   What surprised me was the themes around Agility, Empowerment, and Innovation.

    Buckets aside, Ballmer behind the scenes is very different than Ballmer on stage, or in the media.  I hope that this collection of quotes helps show more of that range.

    Top 10 Steve Ballmer Quotes

    1. “Developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers.”
    2. “Great companies in the way they work, start with great leaders.”
    3. “I like to tell people that all of our products and business will go through three phases. There's vision, patience, and execution.”
    4. “People-Ready is a natural extension of our founding vision of empowering people through software. Today we take this to the next level by showing how these tools now work together in new ways to enhance innovation and drive greater value for business.”
    5. “The key is that for every business we have is to offer the things that pop every six to nine months, things that pop every couple of years, and things that pop longer than that.”
    6. “The world is changing, but so is Microsoft.”
    7. “This is a very large business that still has incredible possibilities.”
    8. “We can believe that we know where the world should go. But unless we're in touch with our customers, our model of the world can diverge from reality. There's no substitute for innovation, of course, but innovation is no substitute for being in touch, either.”
    9. "We talk about empowering people and businesses to realize their potential. We think of computing devices as tools — tools to entertain you, tools to amaze you, tools to let you be amazing."
    10. “We want to give people the ability to do what they want, where they want, and when they want on any device connected to the Internet.”

    Agility

    “All of our major businesses can have a short-twitch capability every six to nine months to a long-twitch capability. We can't make customers wait three to four years for things they need every few months.”

    “Our goal in making these changes is to enable Microsoft to achieve greater agility in managing the incredible growth ahead and executing our software-based services strategy.”

    “These changes are designed to align our Business Groups in a way that will enhance decision-making and speed of execution, as well as help us continue to deliver the types of products and services our customers want most.”

    “This is all about having great leaders who can drive agile innovation and agile decision-making.”

    “This will be a place with some structure, but structure that aids teamwork, not politics and bureaucracy, ... Nothing solves big company' ills quite like a strong focus on accountability for results with customers and shareholders.”

    “We need to improve agility.”

    Big Bold Bets

    “All in, baby!. We are winning, winning, winning, winning.”

    "I love what we’re doing with Windows 8, and it’s a bold bet.  We’re reimagining our number one product. That’s cool. But it’s not for the fainthearted.  It takes a certain boldness and a certain persistence."

    “Our people, our shareholders, me, Bill Gates, we expect to change the world in every way, to succeed wildly at everything we touch, to have the broadest impact of any company in the world.”

    "The one thing that I think separates Microsoft from a lot of other people is we make bold bets.  We’re persistent about them, but we make them.  A lot of people won’t make a bold bet.  A bold bet doesn’t assure you of winning, but if you make no bold bets you can’t continue to succeed.  Our industry doesn’t allow you to rest on your laurels forever.  I mean, you can milk any great idea.  Any idea that turns out to be truly great can be harvested for tens of years.  On the other hand, if you want to continue to be great, you’ve got to bet on new things, big, bold bets.  It’s in our value statement; you go to our website."

    “Throughout our history, Microsoft has won by making big, bold bets. I believe that now is not the time to scale back the scope of our ambition or the scale of our investment. While our opportunities are greater than ever, we also face new competitors, faster-moving markets and new customer demands.”

    Business

    "But Microsoft’s founding was when somebody said, hey, software is a basis for business. That’s what Bill Gates and Paul Allen did. That turns out to have been an amazingly correct and important thing, correct and important for Microsoft and correct and important for many, many entrepreneurs who have come since."

    “I do think that there is such a strong interest in demand for improvements in information technology that we will continue to see a pretty strong information technology sector, no matter what happens with some of these global economic factors.”

    "I'd say [one of] the things that eat at me the most ... is new business models. Learning a new business model or developing a new business model is so hard."

    "Sometimes you are lucky. Ask any CEO who might have bought something before the market crashed (in 2008) ... Hallelujah! Putting everything else aside, the market fell apart. ... Sometimes you’re lucky.”

    “The small-business market is the biggest part of the computer market, ... We really need to get after that.”

    “You have to cut out parts…react to what the market is telling you. You get into trouble if you assume that you’re going to reach critical mass too quickly—because it’s most likely that you won’t. Through all these trials you can’t lose patience.”

    "Ultimately progress is measured sort of through the eyes of our users.  More than our investors or our P&L or anything else, it’s through the eyes of our users.  We have 1.3 billion people using PCs today.  There was a time in the ’90s when we were sure there would never be 100 million PCs sold a year. Now there will be 375 million sold this year alone."

    “We had too many products that we were trying to sell to too few customers in the mid-market.”

    Consumer and Enterprise

    “Everyone likes to differentiate between business and consumers but I don't see the difference really. Most people are people. I get personal and business mail and I have one set of contacts from my life. I don't want to manage two sets. I want one view of my world.”

    "In the year 2000, people were still saying Microsoft would never be an enterprise company.  Now a lot of people wonder whether Microsoft is still a consumer company! I mean, really?  But I’ve got to tell you we had no enterprise street cred in the year 2000.  We were still trying to prove ourselves to enterprise IT managers."

    Empowerment

    “Accessible design is good design.”

    "But if we were trying to write it the original way, I guess it would be a computer on every desk, every pocket, every watch, every data center, every everything. But in a sense technology is a tool of sort of individual choice, individual creativity, individual empowerment, individual access, and mobility sort of just brings that more to the fold."

    “Getting the most out of their people is on the mind of every business leader I speak with. (We) are passionate about the idea that the right software can provide the tools to empower workers to become the drivers of business success.”

    “IBM says we have a team of consultants and we can help you innovate. But at the end of the day, unlocking people potential is better. Having people collaborate to make the right decision is more productive.”

    "It’s always great when you get a lot of people pushing themselves to do better, be better, invent better, better serve, better lead customers in new directions."

    “Our company has to be a company that enables its people.”

    “The number one benefit of information technology is that it empowers people to do what they want to do. It lets people be creative. It lets people be productive. It lets people learn things they didn't think they could learn before, and so in a sense it is all about potential.”

    Innovation

    “Look at the product pipeline, look at the fantastic financial results we've had for the last five years. You only get that kind of performance on the innovation side, on the financial side, if you're really listening and reacting to the best ideas of the people we have.”

    “So, I think the output of our innovation is great. We have a culture of self-improvement. I know we can continue to improve. There is no issue. But at the same time, our absolute level of output is fantastic.”

    “The lifeblood of our business is that R&D spend. There's nothing that flows through a pipe or down a wire or anything else. We have to continuously create new innovation that lets people do something they didn't think they could do the day before.”

    "The truth of the matter is it’s hard to invent anything.  It’s hard to invent a new thing, and it’s just as hard to invent another new thing.  I think we’ve been pretty successful, but it’s hard.  It is hard."

    “We're about to kick-start a new growth engine for the mobile industry. To grow, the wireless industry needs to provide end-to-end solutions and innovative services. We're creating great new tools to do just that.”

    Internet

    “Eventually the Internet will be accessed by PC, television, and wireless devices.”

    “More of what we do will live on the Internet, ... Nobody will have software products in 10 years. Everyone will have products and services. It will be hard to tell the difference between software products and services.”

    “There will be this kind of quantum leap forward in the way people use the Internet over the next several years. There will be ushered in a next generation Internet user experience. That will be marked not only by the introduction of additional devices that take advantage of the Internet, but it will be marked by a whole new set of ways for programs to work together, for users to share data with one another and with programs, and basically, almost a whole new user interface model of the world.”

    “We have an incredible opportunity...to revolutionize the Internet user experience. We need to deliver our next generation services platform in order to do that. And we need Bill Gates 100 percent focused on helping architect that.”

    “We need to deliver a breakthrough version of Windows that allows PCs and servers to support these next-generation services and host them out there on the Internet."

    Leadership

    “All companies of any size have to continue to push to make sure you get the right leaders, the right team, the right people to be fast acting, and fast moving in the marketplace. We've got great leaders, and we continue to attract and promote great new leaders.”

    “Bill brings to the company the idea that conflict can be a good thing."

    “Great companies have high cultures of accountability, it comes with this culture of criticism I was talking about before, and I think our culture is strong on that.”

    "Leaders really do need to hit the exact right balance on what I'd call the optimism realism curve. If you're not realistic, you lose respect from customers, partners, shareholders, press, employees, if you're not realistic. But if a leader can't be optimistic, if a leader can't say, life is going to be better, we're going to take share, we're going to improve this situation, if you can't sort of handle being optimistic and realistic at the same time, I think it [will be hard for you] to be a great leader."

    "The key isn't to quibble with the style that somebody uses or the approach. The key is to grade the results."

    “We realized we needed to give our core leaders deeper control and accountability in the way they run their businesses, while at the same time ensuring strong communication and collaboration across business units.”

    Software

    “And we learned an important lesson: Today's business software doesn't look enough like today's businesses."

    “IBM is increasingly a services company ... and we are, at the end of the day, a software company.”

    “We are still not getting in the manufacturing industry, ... We will provide the infrastructure that lets those in the manufacturing industry do their jobs.”

    “We will make our products work out of the box.”

    The New World of Work

    “At Microsoft, we're investing heavily in security because we want customers to be able to trust their computing experiences, so they can realize the full benefits of the interconnected world we live in.”

    “By bringing together the software experience and the service experience, we will better address the changing needs of our customers' digital lifestyles and the new world of work.”

    "My kids will never understand that it used to be kind of hard to access and find things, and know what the world knows and see what the world sees. Yet it becomes easier and easier every day."

    “There are a variety of different things that fall under the social banner. We’re adding what I’d call ‘connectivity to people’ into our core products, The acquisition of Skype is big step down that path toward connecting with other people.”

    “Under Ray's technical leadership and weaving together both software and software-based services, I see incredible opportunity to better address the changing needs of our customers' digital lifestyles and the new world of work.”

    "With Windows 8 we think we usher in a new round, a round of mobility, a round of natural interface. The cloud makes computing in a sense more seamless, more transparent, kind of more every day, more every minute than ever before. I think that’s very powerful."

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The Recipe of Great Leaders: WHY, HOW, WHAT

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    clip_image002“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” — Bill Gates

    Seasoned leaders focus on WHAT, and then HOW.

    Smart leaders start with WHY.

    So the obvious conclusion is that the right recipe is WHY, WHAT, HOW.

    But that’s the surprise.

    The most effective leaders know the recipe is WHY, HOW, WHAT.

    HOW is the key to success for the long-haul.

    HOW is often the difference that makes the difference.

    HOW is where execution happens.

    HOW is where you figure out sustainable ways.

    HOW is where you figure out Operating Principles so you can take on big challenges and nail whatever WHAT that comes your way.

    If you master Ability to Execute, you bridge Strategy + Execution.

    HOW is especially interesting because it’s where people can shine.   If you’ve read The Patterns of High Performance, you know that individuals produce their best results when they use their personal HOW.

    It’s the journey and the destination. 

    WHY is the juice for the journey.  HOW is your recipe for the journey.   WHAT is the destination.  If you master your HOW, you can enjoy the journey, and you’ll be better prepared for any destination you set your eyes on.  Of course WHY will filter the destinations you choose.

    It’s elegance in action.

    The key is to treat HOW as a first-class citizen.  Execution is often a differentiator.   If you master and mature your HOW, you can move up the stack to take on bigger and better things.

    Use your HOW to chop any challenge down to size.

    Another way to think of it is, “Masterful HOW” trumps “Ad-hoc HOW” or “Heroic Efforts” time and again.  There are exceptions, but it’s not sustainable.  

    Those that invest wisely in their HOW execute with confidence, can do product line engineering, and create sustainable work-life balance, and use “Ability to Execute” as a competitive differentiator, among the sea of failing and flailing.

    For a great video on the power of WHY, HOW, WHAT, check out Simon Sinek: How Great Leaders Inspire Action.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    What are the Most Useful CIO Resources?

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    What are the most useful CIO Resources you turn to?

    Here are a few I know of …

     

    1. 800 CEO Read
    2. Accenture (Latest Thinking)
    3. Booz Allen (Ideas & Insights)
    4. CIO Enterprise Insights
    5. CIO Insight
    6. CIO Magazine
    7. CIO Today
    8. Cognizant (Future of Work)
    9. Deloitte Press (Where Ideas Prosper)
    10. Directions on Microsoft
    11. Forrester
    12. Gartner
    13. HBR (Blog Network)
    14. IBM Exchange
    15. KPMG (Research)
    16. McKinsey & Company
    17. Microsoft Office of the CIO Blog
    18. Next at Microsoft
  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Strategy Must Be Dynamic

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    "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." -- Winston Churchill

    Competitive advantage is a moving target.  Static strategies fail in the long run.  Strategy needs to be dynamic. 

    The challenge never ends.

    Strategy is an ongoing game where the playing field changes over time.

    In the book, The Strategist: Be the Leaders Your Business Needs, Cynthia A. Montgomery writes about how strategy competitive advantage is a changing thing and how strategy needs to be dynamic.

    The Unfolding Story of Apple

    Montgomery uses the story of Apple to help illustrate how it could be easy to fall into the trap of complacency or get a false sense of security.

    Montgomery writes:

    “Given the grand transformation, it's appropriate to ask: 'Is Apple there yet?  Despite its late-century troubles, does it now have a sustainable advantage?' I often ask EOPers this question when teaching the Apple case.  It is tempting to shout, "Yes!," as classes often do, or maybe even retort, 'Do you have to ask?'  Apple has reinvented its innovative purpose and, taunting them for their lack of creativity.  Case closed?

    I think not.

    In 2010, Apple's computer market share soared to about 11 percent, but that's hardly the mark of a dominant industry player.  Otherwise normal people will camp outside an Apple store for the latest iPhone, but smartphones based on Google Inc.'s Android software substantially outsold the iPhone in 2010, according to NPD Group, a market research firm.  Windows-based competitors to the iPad are coming fast and furiously.  Such tablets might well become the fourth golden age, replacing the traditional personal computer as the center of the digital hub while becoming products sold largely on price.  And there's no guarantee that the iPad, the iCloud ecosystem, or their successors will be the ones that head the pack a couple of years from now.”

    Long-Term Sustainable Competitive Advantage is Rare for a Reason

    Competitive advantage isn’t a durable thing, even though some exceptions might make it appear that way.  The greatest advantages show up during the times of the greatest changes.

    Montgomery writes:

    “Conventional wisdom would say that the goal of strategy is a long-term sustainable competitive advantage.  I challenge that view.  Such advantages are rare and for good reason.  As Schumpeter showed, peaks in market growth and profitability often come from change, not stasis.  Henry Ford dominated care sales with a single, affordable model until Alfred Sloan's General Motors beat him with a line of differentiated products.  Polaroid owned instant photography until digital imaging shut it out; many broad-service hospitals were monopolies until low-cost focused providers started chipping away at their base; colleges with sprawling campuses owned higher education until community college, for-profit organizations, and distance learning challenged them with different economic models.”

    Sustainable Competitive Advantage Misrepresents the Strategists Challenge

    You can’t count on one competitive advantage to win the ongoing game.  Strategies aren’t “fire and forget” and they should not be set in concrete. 

    Montgomery writes:

    Zeroing in on one competitive advantage and expecting it to be sustainable misrepresents the strategists challenge.  It encourages managers to see their strategist's challenge.  It encourages managers to see their strategies as set in concrete and, when spotting trouble ahead, go into defensive mode, hunkering down to protect the status quo, instead of rising to meet the needs of a new reality.  To be sure, competitive advantage is essential to strategy, and the longer it lasts, the better.  But any one advantage, even a company's underlying system of value creation, is only part of a bigger story, one frame in a motion picture.  It is the need to manage across frames, day by day, year over year, that makes a leader's role in strategy so vital.”

    Whatever Constitutes Strategic Advantage Will Eventually Change

    Whatever is a competitive advantage will change over time.  The need to add value will continue to shape it.

    Montgomery writes:

    “This organic view of strategy recognizes that whatever constitutes strategic advantage will eventually change.  It underscores the different between defending a firm's added value as established at any given moment and something far more important: ensuring that a firm continues to add value over time.  This is what endures -- not a particular purpose, a particular advantage, or a particular strategy, but the ongoing need to add value, always.  The ongoing need to guide and develop a company so that it continues to matter.“

    Value Has to Be Measured by the Current Environment

    Your products and services need to change with the times, to keep adding value in the changing environment.

    Montgomery writes:

    “This is not to say that great resources and great advantages are not built by businesses that enhance their core differences over time.  But the products and services that embody those differences must evolve and change, as Apple learned, the hard way, their value has to be measured by the present environment, not the one that once was.”

    Straining to Navigate While Keeping the Ship Afloat

    The challenge is building the plane while you’re flying it, or sailing the boat while you’re fixing it.   It’s a balance of being in the thick of things, while at the same time, taking a look from the balcony.

    Montgomery writes:

    “Quite painfully, that may mean that, like the shot of Theseus, the keel may need to be rebuilt or the ship may need to sail in a very different direction.  As my executive students like to point out, this challenge rarely happens when you're sitting in a dock.  It's a hard realization that the planks have to be changed while you're sailing, while you're also straining to navigate and working hard to keep the ship afloat.”

    The Challenge Never Ends

    Staying in the game means the challenge continues.

    Montgomery writes:

    “On his return to Apple, Jobs had to remake the computer company plank by plank while also keeping it from bankruptcy -- rebuilding not in a rainstorm, but in a hurricane on the high seas.  He got it right for the most part, but as even its archrival -- the once undauntable Microsoft – has discovered, the challenge never ends.”

    Personally, I’ve been a fan of strategy.  After all, as Zig Ziglar said, "People do not wander around and then find themselves at the top of Mount Everest."  

    But it’s the Agile strategist that helps a venture survive and thrive for the long haul.

    And, a ruthless focus on the customer and flowing continuous value is the North star.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Cognizant on the Next Generation Enterprise

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    As a strategist, I need to stay on top of how the world of business is changing, especially from an IT perspective. 

    The world of business is changing faster than ever.  

    Changes are happening in the ways we work, business models and processes are evolving, customers are changing what they value and how they buy, and technology is transforming and shaping the next generation Enterprise.

    Likewise, the smart CIOs and IT organizations are significant shapers of the next generation Enterprise.  They are doing so by rethinking business models, reinventing the organization, and rewiring operations.

    In their whitepaper, Making the Shift to the Next-Generation Enterprise, Cognizant shares 8 future-of-work enablers you can evaluate against to help you build a strategy to future-proof your business.

    Key Challenges Shaping the Next Generation Enterprise

    According to Cognizant, the following are unprecedented, relentless and perplexing challenges that organizations of today face:

    • Economic volatility
    • Globalization
    • Changing consumers
    • Changing workplace
    • Technology advancement

    The 3 R’s:  Reinvent, Rethink, and Rewire

    According to Cognizant, the following are the 3 R’s of corporate model transformation to future-proof your business:

    1. Reinvent: Updating the Business Model.   Cognizant says: “In some cases, companies are putting customer opinions and ideas at the center of their R&D model to ensure new products and services will succeed in the market. In others, business-to-business suppliers are using social networking to improve their delivery and replenishment models. In all these cases, moving to a collaborative business model opens new channels of talent, knowledge, expertise and capability.”
    2. Rethink: Creating New Process Models.  Cognizant says: “Next-generation enterprises will master these two elements — breaking up the value chain in core and non-core activities and orchestrating a virtual network of service providers for the latter. The idea is to leverage virtual teams of talent and knowledge wherever they exist geographically, rather than relying on what is embedded in the organization.”
    3. Rewire: Focusing on a New IT Architecture.  Cognizant says: “The challenge for IT is to undertake significant shifts in its traditional thinking to support the new areas of focus. This includes customer-facing core competencies; intuitive user interfaces inspired by consumer-facing mobile applications; collaborative business models involving customer and supplier co-creation; and virtual, globally dispersed teams focused on executing knowledge-intensive business processes.”

    8 Future-of-Work Enablers

    According to Cognizant, the 8 future-of-work enablers are as follows:

    1. Community Interaction.  Interacting/engaging with users through social media.
    2. Innovation.  Creation of an environment to breed and enable innovation of products and services, in the form of open, closed and virtual innovation.
    3. Worker empowerment.  Empowering the workforce to be location-agnostic through communication-rich mobile devices and enabling a culture of collaboration and creativity for millennial employees.
    4. Virtual collaboration.  Building platforms of collaboration to enable the virtual environment.
    5. Customer empowerment.  Empowering customers by providing cutting-edge tools and media to improve the customer experience.
    6. Commercial model flexibility.  Flexibility to choose between being asset heavy vs. asset light (Cap-Ex vs Op-Ex; buy vs. lease), as appropriate.
    7. Value chain flexibility.  Flexibility to choose and source value chain elements from anywhere; disaggregating people from functions.
    8. Flexible service delivery.  Flexibility to choose and source infrastructure from anywhere (e.g., cloud, mainframe, client/server, etc.).

    Mapping the 8 Future-of-Work Enablers to the 3 Areas of Transformation

    According to Cognizant, you can map the 8 future-of-work enablers to the 3 R’s of corporate model transformation as follows:

    Future-of-Work Enabler Business Model Business Processes Technology
    Community Interaction     X
    Innovation X X  
    Worker empowerment X X X
    Virtual collaboration   X X
    Customer empowerment X X X
    Commercial model flexibility X   X
    Value chain flexibility X X  
    Flexible service delivery   X X

    Hot Spots for Future of Work Maturity

    According to Cognizant, you can evaluate against a specific set of KPIs within each area of corporate model transformation:

    Business Model Business Processes Technology
    1. Global marketing effectiveness
    2. Supply chain optimization
    3. Value chain optimization
    4. Millennial channel focus
    5. Talent acquisition and retention
    6. Virtual teaming policy
    7. Facility footprint optimization
    8. Customer interaction through systems of engagement
    1. Business process agility
    2. Process regional adaptability
    3. Process componentization
    4. Process standards management
    5. Customer engagement and involvement
    6. Potential for personal development
    7. Process virtualization pervasiveness
    8. Collaboration effectiveness
    9. Remote operational effectiveness
    10. BPaaS adoption rate (or "as a service" adoption rate)
    11. Adoption potential of systems of engagement
    1. Application portfolio extendibility
    2. Workload asset optimization
    3. Infrastructure management globalization
    4. Customer empowering application portfolio
    5. Worker empowering application portfolio
    6. Degree of "any device, anytime, anywhere" realization
    7. Enabling virtual collaboration
    8. Mobile and remote device communications
    9. Data storage and processing agility
    10. Social architecture development

    Outperforming the Competition

    According to Cognizant, there is a prescription for outperforming the competition:

    Tomorrow’s corporate winners have already started to adapt their corporate operating models. Based on a survey of 25 Fortune 500 companies, we have found that, on average, organizations are aware of future-facing concepts and capabilities, and they have begun enabling these capabilities in pockets of the organization. However, the initiatives are inconsistent and not always focused on the strategic business agenda.”

    The Role of the CIO and the IT Organization is Evolving

    According to Cognizant, CIOs and IT organizations are shapers of the next generation Enterprise:

    “Woven into this trend, we are seeing that the most mature adoption is happening at the technology layer of the corporate operating model. This suggests that the IT organization, and perhaps the role of the CIO, are evolving as drivers and shapers of the next-generation enterprise. This is not all that surprising, given that a large aspect of this work is underpinned by technology that powers long overdue business process transformation. We believe the real opportunities will present themselves as the business models are rethought and the operations/ processes are reinvented, along with this trend to rewire the technology.”

    Additional Resources

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Life Hacks on Sources of Insight

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    I now have a life hacks category on Sources of Insight.   It includes strategies and tactics for hacking life and how to live a little better.  It includes posts on life, life quotes, lessons learned in life, and what is the meaning of life.

    My latest addition to my life hacks bucket is 37 Inspirational Quotes That Will Change Your Life (or at least your mind.)

    There are more than 120 articles in the life hacks bucket as of today.

    Where to start?

    If you’re not sure where to start, start with That Moment Where the World Stops.

    If you’re feeling ambitious then read 50 Life Hacks Your Future Self Will Thank You For.

    If you want to dive deep, read Happy vs. Meaningful: Which Life Do You Want?

    Enjoy and in the words of Bruce Lee, “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”, and “Simplicity is the key to brilliance.”

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    What are the Keys to Winning in Any Economy?

    • 0 Comments

    I'm lucky to have an interview with Irv Rothman, CEO of HP Financial Services.

    I’m always happy to learn from CEOs and I especially enjoy the way they look at the world.   Edward de Bono has spent a lifetime teaching extraordinary executive thinking skills to ordinary people, and I’m a big believer in learning business skills for life.

    Irv wrote a book called Out-Executing the Competition, where we he shares leadership lessons he's learned about surviving and thriving in any economy.

    I asked Irv a handful of questions, some about work, some about life.

    The most important question I asked him was what’s the most surprising insight you’ve learned about out-executing the competition.  Here’s what Irv said:

    “That it is not price. The creation of and execution on a genuine value proposition is the true source of sustainable competitive advantage and the best chance of retaining a customer for life…which should be an imperative.”

    I think Irv’s right, and that makes perfect sense to me.

    I’m a believer in customer-connected engineering.   Your customer is a strategic decision.    Once you know your customer, you need to know the pains, needs, and desired outcomes.   If you have empathy for the pains and needs, and if you know what good looks like, then you have a great shot at taking the lead.

    Then it comes down to your ability to execute.

    The surprise here is that in order to execute well, you need to innovate in your processes, or you’ll be pushed out to market (too expensive, too slow, too irrelevant.)

    The other surprise is how difficult it can be to truly generate new business value.  As I’ve said before, business value generation is the new bottleneck.    It takes a lot of customer insight, empathy, market awareness, innovation, and agility to know how to generate new business value on a consistent basis.  In fact, this is where innovation and agility are crucial.  You need an execution capability that supports exploration and new business development.

    On a good note, the basics are timeless.  As Peter Drucker taught us, "The purpose of business is to create a customer."  So if you can get clarity on who you want to serve, figure out a profitable niche of the market where you can compete by playing to your strengths, capture the value in an elegant way, and master generating new value, then you are ahead of the game.

    To truly master the game, though, you have to stay on top of trends, and master creating systems, ecosystems, and digitizing core processes.

    If you can do these well, then you, too can be the Jedi Knight of strategy, out-execute the competition, and get the compound effect from spending the right time, on the right things, the right way, with the right energy.

    That is the challenge.

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