Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
"Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who'll argue with you." -- John Wooden
There’s a very simple way to get smarter.
You can get smarter by creating categories.
Not only will you get smarter, but you’ll also be more mindful, and you’ll expand your vocabulary, which will improve your ability to think more deeply about a given topic or domain.
In my post, The More Distinctions You Make, the Smarter You Get, I walk through the ins and outs of creating categories to increase your intelligence, and I use the example of “fat.” I attempt to show how “Fat is bad” isn’t very insightful, and how by breaking “fat” down into categories, you can dive deeper and reveal new insight to drive better decisions and better outcomes.
I’m this post, I’m going to walk this through with an example, using “security” as the topic.
The first time I heard the word “security”, it didn’t mean much to me, beyond “protect.”
The next thing somebody taught me, was how I had to focus on CIA: Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability.
That was a simple way to break security down into meaningful parts.
And then along came Defense in Depth. A colleague explained that Defense in Depth meant thinking about security in terms of multiple layers: Network, Host, Application, and Data.
But then another colleague said, the real key to thinking about security and Defense in Depth, was to think about it in terms of people, process, and technology.
As much as I enjoyed these thought exercises, I didn’t find them actionable enough to actually improve software or application security. And my job was to help Enterprise developers build better Line-Of-Business applications that were scalable and secure.
So our team went to the drawing board to map out actionable categories to take application security much deeper.
Right off the bat, just focusing on “application” security vs. “network” security or “host” security, helped us to get more specific and make security more tangible and more actionable from an Line-of-Business application perspective.
Here are the original security categories that we used to map out application security and make it more actionable:
Each of these buckets helped us create actionable principles, patterns, and practices for improving security.
Here is a brief description of each application security category:
Input and Data Validation How do you know that the input your application receives is valid and safe? Input validation refers to how your application filters, scrubs, or rejects input before additional processing. Consider constraining input through entry points and encoding output through exit points. Do you trust data from sources such as databases and file shares?
Authentication Who are you? Authentication is the process where an entity proves the identity of another entity, typically through credentials, such as a user name and password.
Authorization What can you do? Authorization is how your application provides access controls for resources and operations.
Configuration Management Who does your application run as? Which databases does it connect to? How is your application administered? How are these settings secured? Configuration management refers to how your application handles these operational issues.
Sensitive Data How does your application handle sensitive data? Sensitive data refers to how your application handles any data that must be protected either in memory, over the network, or in persistent stores.
Session Management How does your application handle and protect user sessions? A session refers to a series of related interactions between a user and your Web application.
Cryptography How are you keeping secrets (confidentiality)? How are you tamper-proofing your data or libraries (integrity)? How are you providing seeds for random values that must be cryptographically strong? Cryptography refers to how your application enforces confidentiality and integrity.
Exception Management When a method call in your application fails, what does your application do? How much do you reveal? Do you return friendly error information to end users? Do you pass valuable exception information back to the caller? Does your application fail gracefully?
Auditing and Logging Who did what and when? Auditing and logging refer to how your application records security-related events.
As you can see, just by calling out these different categories, you suddenly have a way to dive much deeper and explore application security in depth.
Let’s use a quick example. Let’s take Input Validation.
Input Validation is a powerful security category, given how many software security flaws and how many vulnerabilities and how many attacks all stem from a lack of input validation, including Buffer Overflows.
But here’s the interesting thing. After quite a bit of research and testing, we found a powerful security pattern that could help more applications stand up to more security attacks. It boiled down to the following principle:
Validate for length, range, format, and type.
That’s a pithy, but powerful piece of insight when it comes to implementing software security.
And, when you can’t validate the input, make it safe by sanitizing the output. And along these lines, keep user input out of the control path, where possible.
All of these insights flow from just focusing on Input Validation as a security category.
Another distinction our team made was to think in terms of threats, attacks, vulnerabilities, and countermeasures. We knew that threats could be intentional and malicious (as in the case of attacks), but they could also be accidental and unintended.
We wanted to identify vulnerabilities as weaknesses that could be addressed in some way.
We wanted to identify countermeasures as the actions to take to help mitigate risks, reduce the attack surface, and address vulnerabilities.
Just by chunking up the application security landscape into threats, attacks, vulnerabilities, and countermeasures, we empowered more people to think more deeply about the application security space.
Using the security categories above, we could easily focus on finding security vulnerabilities and group them by the relevant security category.
Here are some examples:
Auditing and Logging
Again, using our security categories, we could then group threats and attacks by relevant security categories.
Here are some examples of security threats and attacks organized by security categories:
Now here is where the rubber really meets the road. We could group security countermeasures by security categories to make them more actionable.
Here are example security countermeasures organized by security categories:
As you can see, the security countermeasures can easily be reviewed, updated, and moved forward, because the actionable principles are well organized by the security categories.
There are many ways to use creating categories as a way to get smarter and get better results.
In the future, I’ll walk through how we created an Agile Security approach, using categories.
Meanwhile, check out my post on The More Distinctions You Make, the Smarter You Get to gain some additional insights into how to use empathy and creating categories to dive deeper, learn faster, and get smarter on any topic you want to take on.
"Innovation—the heart of the knowledge economy—is fundamentally social." -- Malcolm Gladwell
I’m a big believer in having clarity around what you help your customers do.
I was listening to Satya Nadella’s keynote at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, and I like how he put it so simply, that we help our customers transform.
Here’s what Satya had to say about how we help our customers transform their business:
“These may seem like technical attributes, but they are key to how we drive business success for our customers, business transformation for our customers, because all of what we do, collectively, is centered on this core goal of ours, which is to help our customers transform.
When you think about any customer of ours, they're being transformed through the power of digital technology, and in particular software.
There isn't a company out there that isn't a software company.
And our goal is to help them differentiate using digital technology.
We want to democratize the use of digital technology to drive core differentiation.
It's no longer just about helping them operate their business.
It is about them excelling at their business using software, using digital technology.
It is about our collective ability to drive agility for our customers.
Because if there is one truth that we are all faced with, and our customers are faced with, it's that things are changing rapidly, and they need to be able to adjust to that.
And so everything we do has to support that goal.
How do they move faster, how do they interpret data quicker, how are they taking advantage of that to take intelligent action.
And of course, cost.
But we'll keep coming back to this theme of business transformation throughout this keynote and throughout WPC, because that's where I want us to center in on.
What's the value we are adding to the core of our customer and their ability to compete, their ability to create innovation.
And anchored on that goal is our technical ambition, is our product ambition.”
Transformation is the name of the game.
Satya Nadella is All About Customer Focus
SatyaSatya Nadella on a Mobile-First, Cloud-First World
Satya Nadella on Empower Every Person on the Planet
Satya Nadella on Everyone Has To Be a Leader
Satya Nadella on How the Key To Longevity is To Be a Learning Organization
Satya Nadella on Live and Work a Meaningful Life
Sayta Nadelle on The Future of Software
You hear Mobile-First, Cloud-First all the time.
But do you ever hear it really explained?
I was listening to Satya Nadella’s keynote at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, and I like how he walked through how he thinks about a Mobile-First, Cloud-First world.
Here’s what Satya had to say:
“There are a couple of attributes.
When we talk about Mobile-First, we are talking about the mobility of the experience.
What do we mean by that?
As we look out, the computing that we are going to interface with, in our lives, at home and at work, is going to be ubiquitous.
We are going to have sensors that recognize us.
We are going to have computers that we are going to wear on us.
We are going to have computers that we touch, computers that we talk to, the computers that we interact with as holograms.
There is going to be computing everywhere.
But what we need across all of this computing, is our experiences, our applications, our data.
And what enables that is in fact the cloud acting as a control plane that allows us to have that capability to move from device to device, on any given day, at any given meeting.
So that core attribute of thinking of mobility, not by being bound to a particular device, but it's about human mobility, is very core to our vision.
Second, when we think about our cloud, we think distributed computing will remain distributed.
In fact, we think of our servers as the edge of our cloud.
And this is important, because there are going to be many legitimate reasons where people will want digital sovereignty, people will want data residency, there is going to be regulation that we can't anticipate today.
And so we have to think about a distributed cloud infrastructure.
We are definitely going to be one of the key hyper-scale providers.
But we are also going to think about how do we get computing infrastructure, the core compute, storage, network, to be distributed throughout the world.
These may seem like technical attributes, but they are key to how we drive business success for our customers, business transformation for our customers, because all of what we do, collectively, is centered on this core goal of ours, which is to help our customers transform.”
That’s a lot of insight, and very well framed for creating our future and empowering the world.
Microsoft Explained: Making Sense of the Microsoft Platform Story
It’s great to get back to the basics, and purpose is always a powerful starting point.
I was listening to Satya Nadella’s keynote at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, and I like how he walked through the Microsoft mission in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.
“Our mission: Empowering every person and every business on the planet to achieve more.
(We find that by going back into our history and re-discovering that core sense of purpose, that soul ... a PC in every home, democratizing client/server computing.)
We move forward to a Mobile-First, Cloud-First world.
We care about empowerment.
There is no other ecosystem that is primarily, and solely, built to help customers achieve greatness.
We are focused on helping our customers achieve greatness through digital technology.
We care about both individuals and organizations. That intersection of people and organizations is the cornerstone of what we represent as excellence.
We are a global company. We want to make sure that the power of technology reaches every country, every vertical, every organization, irrespective of size.
There will be many goals.
What remains constant is this sense of purpose, the reason why this ecosystem exists.
This is a mission that we go and exercise in a Mobile-First, Cloud-First world.”
If I think back to why I originally joined Microsoft, it was to empower every person on the planet to achieve more.
And the cloud is one powerful enabler.
A while back, a colleague challenged me to find something simple and sticky for the big idea behind Sources of Insight. After trying several phrases, here’s the one that stuck:
Skilled for Life
He liked it because it had punch. It also had a play on words, and you could read it two different ways.
I like it because it captured the big idea behind Sources of Insight. The whole purpose behind the site is to help as many people improve the quality of their life as possible.
I’ve found that skills can make or break somebody’s chance for success. And, I don’t just mean from a career perspective. To be effective in all areas of our life, we need skills across several domains:
Skilled for Life is meant to be a very simple phrase, with a very intentional outcome:
Equip you with the skills you need to survive and thrive in today’s world.
It’s all about personal empowerment.
Not everybody gets the right mentors, or the right training, or the right breaks. So Sources of Insight is designed from the ground up to be your personal success library that helps you make your own breaks, create your opportunities, and own your destiny.
By sharing the world’s best insight and action for work and life. By providing you with very real skills for mastering emotional intelligence, intellectual horsepower, creative brilliance, interpersonal relationships, career growth, health, and happiness (yeah, happiness is a skill you can learn). And by providing you with principles, patterns, and practices for a smarter, more creative, and more capable you.
To give you one simple example of how happiness is a skill, let me tell you about the three paths of happiness according to Dr. Martin Seligman:
You can think of them like this: The Pleasant Life is all about pleasures, here and now. The Good Life is about spending more time in your values. The Meaningful Life is about fulfillment by helping the greater good, using your unique skills. It’s giving our best where we have our best to give, and moving up Maslow’s stack.
When you know the three paths of happiness, you can more effectively build your happiness muscles. For example, you can Discover Your Values, so that you can spend more time in them, and live life on your terms.
That’s just one example of how you can improve your self-efficacy with skill.
There is a vast success library of everything from inspirational quotes to inspirational heroes, as well as principles, patterns, and practices for skills to pay the bills and lead a better life. Sources of Insight is a dojo of personal development, and your jump start for realizing your potential.
I invite you to check out the following page on Sources of Insight, where I share what Skilled for Life is all about:
Skills empower you.
“If You Want To Go Fast, Go Alone. If You Want To Go Far, Go Together” – African Proverb
I blew the dust off some olds posts to rekindle some of the most important information for work and life.
It’s about dealing with people you can’t stand.
Whether you think of them as jerks, bullies, or just difficult people, the better you can deal with difficult people, the better you can get things done and make things happen.
And the more you learn how to bring out the best, in people at their worst, the less you’ll find people you can’t stand.
Everything I needed to learn about dealing with difficult people, I learned from the book Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst, by Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner.
It’s one of the most brilliant, thoughtful books I’ve ever read on interpersonal skills and dealing with all sorts of bad behaviors.
The real key to dealing with difficult behavior is more than just recognizing bad behaviors in other people.
It’s recognizing bad behaviors in yourself, the kind that contribute to and amplify other people’s bad behaviors.
The more you know, the more you grow, and this is truly one of those transformational books.
I’ve completely re-written my pot that provides an overview of the big ideas in Dealing with People You Can’t Stand:
Dealing with People You Can’t Stand
Even better, I’ve re-written all of my posts that talk through the 10 Types of Difficult People, and what to do about them.
I have to warn you: Once you learn the 10 Types of Difficult People, you’ll be using the labels to classify bad behaviors that you experience in the halls, in meetings, behind your back, etc.
With that in mind, here they are …
Here are the 10 Types of Difficult People at a glance:
I warned you. Are you already thinking about some Snipers in a few meetings that you have, or is there a Yes Person driving you nuts (or are you that Yes Person?)
Have you talked to a Think-They-Know-It-All lately, or worse, a Know-It—All?
Never fear, I’ve included actionable insights and recommendations for dealing with all the various bad behaviors you’ll encounter.
If all this talk about dealing with difficult people, and having silly labels seems like a gimmick, it’s not. It’s actually deep insight rooted in a powerful, but simple framework that Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner refer to as the Lens of Human Understanding:
The Lens of Human Understanding
Once I learned The Lens of Human Understanding, so many things fell into place.
Not only did I understand myself better, but I could instantly see what was driving other people, and how my behavior would either create more conflict or resolve it.
But when you don’t know what makes people tick, it’s very easy to get ticked off, or to tick them off.
Here’s looking at you … and other people … and their behaviors … in a brand new way.
25 Books the Most Successful Microsoft Leaders Read and Do
Interpersonal Skills Books
Personal Development Hub on Sources of Insight
Personal Development Resources at Sources of Insight
The Great Leadership Quotes Collection
I know several people looking for inspiration.
I believe the right words ignite or re-ignite us.
There is no better way to prime your mind for great things to come than filling your head and hear with the greatest inspirational quotes that the world has ever known.
Of course, the challenge is finding the best inspirational quotes to draw from.
Well, here you go …
I revamped a few of my best inspirational quotes collections to really put the gems of insight at your fingertips:
Each of these inspirational quotes collection is hand-crafted with deep words of wisdom, insight, and action.
You'll find inspirational quotes from Charles Dickens, Confucius, Dr. Seuss, George Bernard Shaw, Henry David Thoreau, Horace, Lao Tzu, Lewis Carroll, Mahatma Gandhi, Oprah Winfrey, Oscar Wilde, Paulo Coelho, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Stephen King, Tony Robbins, and more.
You'll even find an inspirational quote from The Wizard of Oz (and it’s not “There’s no place like home.”)
Here are a few of my favorites inspirational quotes to get you started:
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.’”
— Mary Anne Radmacher
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
— Dr. Seuss
“It is not length of life, but depth of life.”
“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by every moment that takes your breath away.”
“You live but once; you might as well be amusing.”
— Coco Chanel
“It is never too late to be who you might have been.”
— George Eliot
“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
These inspirational quotes are living breathing collections. I periodically sweep them to reflect new additions, and I re-organize or re-style the quotes if I find a better way.
I invest a lot of time on quotes because I’ve learned the following simple truth:
Quotes change lives.
The right words, at the right time, can be just that little bit you need, to breakthrough or get unstuck, or find your mojo again.
Have you had your dose of inspiration today?
"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." -- John C. Maxwell
How many people do you know that talk a good talk, but don’t walk the walk?
Or, how many people do you know have a bunch of ideas that you know will never see the light of day? They can pontificate all day long, but the idea of turning those ideas into work that could be done, is foreign to them.
Or, how many people do you know can plan all day long, but their plan is nothing more than a list of things that will never happen? Worse, maybe they turn it into a team sport, and everybody participates in the planning process of all the outcomes, ideas and work that will never happen. (And, who exactly wants to be accountable for that?)
It doesn’t need to be this way.
A lot of people have Hidden Strengths they can develop into Learned Strengths. And one of the most important bucket of strengths is Leading Implementation.
Leading Implementation is a set of leadership skills for making things happen.
It includes the following leadership skills:
Let’s say you want to work on these leadership skills. The first thing you need to know is that these are not elusive skills reserved exclusively for the elite.
No, these are commonly Hidden Strengths that you and others around you already have, and they just need to be developed.
If you don’t think you are good at any of these, then before you rule yourself out, and scratch them off your list, you need to ask yourself some key reflective questions:
I’ve seen far too many starving artists and unproductive artists, as well as mad scientists, that had brilliant ideas that they couldn’t turn into reality. While some were lucky to pair with the right partners and bring their ideas to live, I’ve actually seen another pattern of productive artists.
They develop some of the basic leadership skills in themselves to improve their ability to execute.
Not only are they more effective on the job, but they are happier with their ability to express their ideas and turn their ideas into action.
Even better, when they partner with somebody who has strong execution, they amplify their impact even more because they have a better understanding and appreciation of what it takes to execute ideas.
Like talk, ideas are cheap.
The market rewards execution.
“Startups don't win by attacking. They win by transcending. There are exceptions of course, but usually the way to win is to race ahead, not to stop and fight.” -- Paul Graham
A startup is the largest group of people you can convince to build a different future.
Whether you launch a startup inside a big company or launch a startup as a new entity, there are a few things that determine the strength of the startup: a sense of mission, space to think, new thinking, and the ability to do work.
The more clarity you have around Startup Thinking, the more effective you can be whether you are starting startups inside our outside of a big company.
In the book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, Peter Thiel shares his thoughts about Startup Thinking.
It’s the mission. A startup has an advantage when there is a sense of mission that everybody lives and breathes. The mission shapes the attitudes and the actions that drive towards meaningful outcomes.
Via Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future:
“New technology tends to come from new ventures--startups. From the Founding Fathers in politics to the Royal Society in science to Fairchild Semiconductor's ‘traitorous eight’ in business, small groups of people bound together by a sense of mission have changed the world for the better. The easiest explanation for this is negative: it's hard to develop new things in big organizations, and it's even harder to do it by yourself. Bureaucratic hierarchies move slowly, and entrenched interests shy away from risk.”
One strength of a startup is the ability to actually do work. With other people. Rather than just talk about it, plan for it, and signal about it, a startup can actually make things happen.
“In the most dysfunctional organizations, signaling that work is being done becomes a better strategy for career advancement than actually doing work (if this describes your company, you should quit now). At the other extreme, a lone genius might create a classic work of art or literature, but he could never create an entire industry. Startups operate on the principle that you need to work with other people to get stuff done, but you also need to stay small enough so that you actually can.”
The strength of a startup is new thinking. New thinking is even more valuable than agility. Startups provide the space to think.
“Positively defined, a startup is the largest group of people you can convince of a plan to build a different future. A new company's most important strength is new thinking: even more important than nimbleness, small size affords space to think. This book is about the questions you must ask and answer to succeed in the business of doing new things: what follows is not a manual or a record of knowledge but an exercise in thinking. Because that is what a startup has to do: question received ideas and rethink business from scratch.”
Do you have stinking thinking or do you beautiful mind?
New thinking will take you places.
How To Get Innovation to Succeed Instead of Fail
Management Innovation is at the Top of the Innovation Stack
The Innovation Revolution
The New Competitive Landscape
The New Realities that Call for New Organizational and Management Capabilities
“Remember this: Anticipation is the ultimate power. Losers react; leaders anticipate.” – Tony Robbins
Have you ever noticed how some leaders have a knack for "the art of the possible" and for making it relevant to the current landscape?
They are Visionary Leaders and they practice Visionary Leadership.
Visionary Leaders inspire us and show us how we can change the world, at least our slice of it, and create the change we want to be.
Visionary Leaders see things early and they connect the dots.
Visionary Leaders luck their way into the future. They practice looking ahead for what's pertinent and what's probable.
Visionary Leaders also practice telling stories. They tell stories of the future and how all the dots connect in a meaningful way.
And they put those stories of the future into context. They don't tell disjointed stories, or focus on flavor-of-the-month fads. That's what Trend Hoppers do.
Instead, Visionary Leaders focus on meaningful trends and insights that will play a role in shaping the future in a relevant way.
Visionary leaders tell us compelling stories of the future in a way that motivates us to take action and to make the most of what's coming our way.
Historians, on the other hand, tell us compelling stories of the past.
They excite us with stories about how we've "been there, and done that."
By contrast, Visionary Leaders win our hearts and minds with "the art of the possible" and inspire us to co-create the future, and to use future insights to own our destiny.
And Followers, well, they follow.
Not because they don't see some things coming. But because they don't see things early enough, and they don't turn what they see into well-developed stories with coherence.
If you want to build your capacity for vision and develop your skills as a Visionary Leader, start to pay attention to signs of the future and connect the dots in a meaningful way.
With great practice, comes great progress, and progressing even a little in Visionary Leadership can make a world of difference for you and those around you.
7 Metaphors for Leadership Transformation
10 Free Leadership Skills for Work and Life
10 Leadership Ideas to Improve Your Influence and Impact
Emotional Intelligence is a Key Leadership Skill
If your team or company isn’t thriving with innovation, it’s not a big surprise.
In the book, Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of building Breakthroughs, Larry Keeley, Helen Walters, Ryan Pikkel, and Brian Quinn explain what holds innovation back.
Goofy innovation techniques are at least one part of the puzzle.
What holds innovation back is that many people still use goofy innovation techniques that either don’t work in practice, or aren’t very pragmatic. For example “brainstorming” often leads to collaboration fixation.
Via Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of building Breakthroughs:
“Part of the Innovation Revolution is rooted in superior tradecraft: better ways to innovate that are suited for tougher problems. Yet most teams are stuck using goofy techniques that have been discredited long ago. This book is part of a new vanguard, a small group of leading thinkers who see innovation as urgent and essential, who know it needs to be cracked as a deep discipline and subjected to the same rigors as any other management science.”
The good news is that there are many innovation techniques that do work.
If you’re stuck in a rut, and wondering how to get innovation going, then abandon the goofy innovation techniques, and cast a wider net to find some of the approaches that actually do. For example, Dr. Tony McCaffrey suggests “brainswarming.” (Here is a video of brainswarming.) Or check out the book, Blue Ocean Strategy, for a pragmatic approach to strategic market disruption.
Innovate in your approach to innovation.
No Slack = No Innovation
The Myths of Business Model Innovation
Some people specialize in a narrow domain. They are called specialists because they focus on a specific area of expertise, and they build skills in that narrow area.
Rather than focus on breadth, they go for depth.
Others focus on the bigger picture or connecting the dots. Rather than focus on depth, they go for breadth.
Or do they?
It actually takes a lot of knowledge and depth to be effective at integration and “connecting the dots” in a meaningful way. It’s like being a skilled entrepreneur or a skilled business developer. Not just anybody who wants to generalize can be effective.
True integration specialists are great pattern matchers and have deep skills in putting things together to make a better whole.
I was reading the book Business Development: A Market-Oriented Perspective where Hans Eibe Sørensen introduces the concept of an Integrating Generalist and how they make the world go round.
I wrote a post about it on Sources of Insight:
The Integrating Generalist and the Art of Connecting the Dots
Given the description, I’m not sure which is better, the Integration Specialist or the Integrating Generalist. The value of the Integrating Generalist is that it breathes new life into people that want to generalize so that they can put the bigger puzzle together. Rather than de-value generalists, this label puts a very special value on people that are able to fit things together.
In fact, the author claims that it’s Integrating Generalists that make the world go round.
Otherwise, there would be a lot of great pieces and parts, but nothing to bring them together into a cohesive whole.
Maybe that’s a good metaphor for the Integrating Generalist. While you certainly need all the parts of the car, you also need somebody to make sure that all the parts come together.
In my experience, Integration Generalists are able to help shape the vision, put the functions that matter in place, and make things happen.
I would say the most effective Program Managers I know do exactly that.
They are the Oil and the Glue for the team because they are able to glue everything together, and, at the same time, remove friction in the system and help people bring out their best, towards a cohesive whole.
It’s synergy in action, in more ways than one.
Anatomy of a High-Potential
E-Shape People, Not T-Shape
Generalists vs. Specialists
I’m a fan of monthly plans for meaningful work.
Whether you call it a task list or a To-Do list or a product backlog, it helps to have a good view of the things that you’ll invest your time in.
I’m not a fan of everybody trying to make sense of laundry lists of cells in a spreadsheet.
Time changes what’s important and it’s hard to see the forest for the trees, among rows of tasks that all start to look the same.
One of the most important things I’ve learned to do is to map out work for the month in a more meaningful way.
It works for individuals. It works for teams. It works for leaders.
It’s what I’ve used for Agile Results for years on projects small and large, and with distributed teams around the world. (Agile Results is my productivity method introduced in Getting Results the Agile Way.)
A picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s just look at a sample output and then I’ll walk through it:
What I’ve found to be the most effective is to focus on a plan for the month – actually take an hour or two the week before the new month. (In reality, I’ve done this with teams of 10 or more people in 30 minutes or less. It doesn’t take long if you just dump things fast on the board, and just keep asking people “What else is on our minds.”)
Dive-in at a whiteboard with the right people in the room and just list out all the top of mind, important things – be exhaustive, then prioritize and prune.
You then step back and identify the 3 most important outcomes (3 Wins for the Month.)
I make sure each work item has a decent name – focused on the noun – so people can refer to it by name (like mini-initiatives that matter.)
I list it in alphabetical by the name of the work so it’s easy to manage a large list of very different things.
That’s the key.
Most people try to prioritize the list, but the reality is, you can use each week to pick off the high-value items. (This is really important. Most people spend a lot of time prioritizing lists, and re-prioritizing lists, and yet, people tend to be pretty good prioritizing when they have a quick list to evaluate. Especially, if they know the priorities for the month, and they know any pressing events or dead-lines. This is where clarity pays off.)
The real key is listing the work in alphabetical order so that it’s easy to scan, easy to add new items, and easy to spot duplicates.
Plus, it forces you to actually name the work and treat it more like a thing, and less like some fuzzy idea that’s out there.
I could go on and on about the benefits, but here are a few of the things that really matter:
I find a plan for the month is the most useful. If you plan a month well, the weeks have a better chance of taking care of themselves. But if you only plan for the week or every two weeks, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, and the next thing you know, the months go by. You’re busy, things happen, but the work doesn’t always accrue to something that matters.
This is a simple way to have more meaningful months.
I also can’t say it enough, that it’s less about having a prioritized list, and more about having an easy to glance at map of the work that’s in-flight. I’m glad the map of the US is not a prioritized list by states. And I’m glad that the states are well named. It makes it easy to see the map. I can then prioritize and make choices on any trip, because I actually have a map to work from, and I can see the big picture all at once, and only zoom in as I need to.
The big idea behind planning tasks and To-Do lists this way is to empower people to make better decisions.
The counter-intuitive part is first exposing a simple view of the map of the work, so it’s easy to see, and this is what enables simpler prioritization when you need it, regardless of which prioritization you use, or which workflow management tool you plug in to.
And, nothing stops you from putting the stuff into spreadsheets or task management tools afterwards, but the high-value part is the forming and storming and conforming around the initial map of the work for the month, so more people can spend their time performing.
May the power of a simple information model help you organize, prioritize, and optimize your outcomes in a more meaningful way.
If you need a deeper dive on this approach, and a basic introduction to Agile Results, here is a good getting started guide for Agile Results in action.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …
It’s not A Tale of Two Cities. It’s a tale of the Innovation Revolution.
We’ve got real problems worth solving. The stakes are high. Time is short. And abstract answers are not good enough.
In the book, Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of building Breakthroughs, Larry Keeley, Helen Walters, Ryan Pikkel, and Brian Quinn explain how it is like A Tale of Two Cities in that it is the worst of time and it is the best of times.
But it is also like no other time in history.
It’s an Innovation Revolution … We have the technology and we can innovate our way through radical transformation.
We’ve got some real problems to solve, whether it’s health issues, poverty, crime, or ignorance. Duty calls. Will innovation answer?
“People expect very little good news about the wars being fought (whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or on Terror, Drugs, Poverty, or Ignorance). The promising Arab Spring has given way to a recurring pessimism about progress. Gnarly health problems are on a tear the world over--diabetes now affects over eight percent of Americans--an other expensive disease conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and cancer are also now epidemic. The cost of education rises like a runaway helium balloon, yet there is less and less evidence that it nets the students a real return on their investment. Police have access to ever more elaborate statistical models of crime, but there is still way too much of it. And global warming, steadily produces more extreme and more dangerous conditions the world over, yet according to about half of our elected 'leaders,' it is still, officially, only a theory that can conveniently be denied.”
Innovation has been answering. There have been amazing innovations heard round the world. It’s only the beginning for an Innovation Revolution.
“And yet ...
We steadily expect more from our computers, our smartphones, apps, networks, and games. We have grown to expect routine and wondrous stories of new ventures funded through crowdsourcing. We hear constantly of lives around the world transformed because of Twitter or Kahn Academy or some breakthrough discovery in medicine. Esther Duflo and her team at the Poverty Action Lab at MIT keep cracking tough problems that afflict the poor to arrive at solutions with demonstrated efficacy, and then, often the Gates Foundation or another philanthropic institution funds the transformational solution at unprecedented scale.
Storytelling is in a new golden age--whether in live events, on the radio, or in amazing new television series that can emerge anywhere in the world and be adapted for global tastes. Experts are now everywhere, and shockingly easy and affordable to access.
Indeed, it seems clear that all the knowledge we've been struggling to amass is steadily being amplified and swiftly getting more organized, accessible, and affordable--whether through the magic of elegant little apps or big data managed in ever-smarter clouds or crowdfunding sites used to capitalize creative ideas in commerce or science.”
The pace of change and the size of change will accelerate exponentially as the forces of innovation rally together.
“One way to make sense of these opposing conditions is to see us as being in a time of radical transformation. To see the old institutions as being challenged as a series of newer, more agile ones arise. In history, such shifts have rarely been bloodless, but this one seems to be a radical transformation in the structure, sources, and nature of expertise. Indeed, among innovation experts, this time in one like no other. For the very first time in history, we are in a position to tackle tough problems with ground-breaking tools and techniques.”
It’s time to break some ground.
Join the Innovation Revolution and crack some problems worth solving.
Innovation Life Cycle
The Drag of Old Mental Models on Innovation and Change
“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” – Peter Drucker
I’m diving deeper into patterns and practices for innovation.
Along the way, I’m reading and re-reading some great books on the art and science of innovation.
One innovation book I’m seriously enjoying is Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of building Breakthroughs by Larry Keeley, Helen Walters, Ryan Pikkel, and Brian Quinn.
Right up front, Larry Keeley shares some insight into the journey to this book. He says that this book really codifies, structures, and simplifies three decades of experience from Doblin, a consulting firm focused on innovation.
For more than three decades, Doblin tried to answer the following question:
“How do we get innovation to succeed instead of fail?”
Along the journey, there were a few ideas that they used to bridge the gap in innovation between the state of the art and the state of the practice.
Here they are …
Larry Keeley and his business partner Jay Doblin, a design methodologist, always balanced three dimensions of innovation: a theoretical side, an academic side, and an applied side.
“Over the years we have kept three important dimensions in dynamic tension. We have a theoretical side, where we ask and seek real answers to tough questions about innovation. Simple but critical ones like, 'Does brainstorming work?' (it doesn't), along with deep and systemic ones like, 'How do you really know what a user wants when the user doesn't know either?' We have an academic side, since many of us are adjunct professors at Chicago's Institute of Design and this demands that we explain our ideas to smart young professionals in disciplined, distinctive ways. And third, we have an applied side, in that have been privileged to adapt our innovation methods to many of the world's leading global enterprises and start-ups that hanker to be future leading firms.”
Innovation is a balance and blend of analysis and synthesis. Analysis involves tearing things down, while synthesis is building new things up.
“From the beginning, Doblin has itself been interdisciplinary, mixing social sciences, technology, strategy, library sciences, and design into a frothy admixture that has always tried to blend both analysis, breaking tough things down, with synthesis, building new things up. Broadly, we think any effective innovation effort needs plenty of both, stitched together as a seamless whole.”
Game-changing innovation is an orchestration of the ten types of innovation.
“The heart of this book is built around a seminal Doblin discovery: that there are (and have always been) ten distinct types of innovation that need to be orchestrated with some care to make a game-changing innovation.“
The main idea is that innovation fails if you try to solve it with just one dimension.
You can’t just take a theoretical approach, and hope that it works in the real-world.
At the same time, innovation fails if you don’t leverage what we learn from the academic world and actually apply it.
And, if you know the ten types of innovation, you can focus your efforts more precisely.
I’m always on the hunt for people that do what makes them come alive.
Artists in particular are especially interesting for me, especially when they are able to do what they love.
I’ve known too many artists that lived painful lives, trying to be an artist, but never making ends meet.
I’ve also known too many artists that lived another life outside of art, but never really lived, because they never answered their calling.
I believe that in today’s world, there are a lot more options for you to live life on you terms.
With technology at our fingertips, it’s easier to connect with people around the world and share your art, whatever that may be.
On Sources of Insight, I’ve asked artist Rebecca Tsien to share her story:
Why I Draw People and Animals
It’s more than a story of a digital artist. It’s a journey of fulfillment.
Rebecca has found a way to do what she loves. She lives and breathes her passion.
Maybe her story can inspire you.
Maybe there’s a way you can do more art.
Business model innovation has a couple of myths.
One myth is that business model innovation takes big thinking. Another myth about business model innovation is that technology is the answer.
In the book, The Business Model Navigator, Oliver Gassman, Karolin Frankenberger, and Michaela Csik share a couple of myths that need busting so that more people can actually achieve business model innovation.
Business model innovation does not need to be “big bang.” It can be incremental. Incremental changes can create more options and more opportunities for serendipity.
Via The Business Model Navigator:
“'Business model innovations are always radical and new to the world.' Most people associate new business models with the giants leaps taken by Internet companies. The fact is that business model innovation, in the same way as product innovation, can be incremental. For instance, Netflix's business model innovation of mailing DVDs to customers was undoubtedly incremental and yet brought great success to the company. The Internet opened up new avenues for Netflix that allowed the company to steadily evolve into an online streaming service provider.”
It’s not technology for technology’s sake. It’s applying technology to revolutionize a business that creates the business model innovation.
“'Every business model innovation is based on a fascinating new technology that inspires new products.' The fact is that while new technologies can indeed drive new business models, they are often generic in nature. Where creativity comes in is in applying them to revolutionize a business. It is the business application and the specific use of the technology which makes the difference. Technology for technology's sake is the number one flop factor in innovation projects. The truly revolutionary act is that of uncovering the economic potential of a new technology.”
If you want to get started with business model innovation, don’t just go for the home run.
Cloud Changes the Game from Deployment to Adoption
Cognizant on the Next Generation Enterprise
Drive Digital Transformation by Re-Imagining Operations
Drive Digital Transformation by Re-envisioning Your Customer Experience
The Future of Jobs
Life’s better with the right words.
And life quotes can help us live better.
Life quotes are a simple way to share some of the deepest insights on the art of living, and how to live well.
While some people might look for wisdom in a bottle, or in a book, or in a guru at the top of a mountain, surprisingly, a lot of the best wisdom still exists as quotes.
The problem is they are splattered all over the Web.
My ultimate Life Quotes collection is an attempt to put the best quotes right at your fingertips.
I wanted this life quotes collection to answer everything from “What is the meaning of life?” to “How do you live the good life?”
I also wanted this life quotes collection to dive deep into all angles of life including dealing with challenges, living with regrets, how to find your purpose, how to live with more joy, and ultimately, how to live a little better each day.
Did I accomplish all that?
I’m not sure. But I gave it the old college try.
I curated quotes on life from an amazing set of people including Dr. Seuss, Tony Robbins, Gandhi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Dean, George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Confucius, Jonathan Swift, Henry David Thoreau, and more.
Yeah, it’s a pretty serious collection of life quotes.
There are many messages and big ideas among the collection of life quotes. But perhaps one of the most important messages is from the late, great Henry David Thoreau:
“Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.”
And, I don’t think he meant play more Guitar Hero.
If you’re waiting for your chance to rise and shine, chances come to those who take them.
E.E. Cummings reminds us that there is more to living than simply existing:
“Unbeing dead isn’t being alive.”
And the trick is to add more life to your years, rather than just add more years to your life.
Life quotes teach us that living live on your terms starts by defining yourself. Here are big, bold words from Harvey Fierstein that remind us of just that:
“Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.”
Now is a great time to re-imagine all that you’re capable of.
It’s not usually the things that we do that we regret. It’s the things we didn’t do:
“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.” – John Greenleaf Whittier
Have you answered to your calling?
One sure-fire way that many people find their path is they aim to leave the world at least a little better than they found it.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children…to leave the world a better place…to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s a reminder that we can measure our life by the lives of the people we touch.
7 Habits of Highly Motivated People
Boost Your Confidence with the Right Words
The Great Inspirational Quotes Revamped
The Great Leadership Quotes Collection Revamped
Confidence is one of those things that makes all the difference when it comes to realizing your potential.
So many people have great ideas and great ambitions, but lack the confidence to follow through when it counts.
They hold themselves back.
Their amazing and bold ideas turn into lackluster ideas, as fear starts talking (if they talk at all.)
A while back, a team in HR interviewed me on confidence, because enough people pointed back to me as somebody they saw as confident.
What HR wanted to know is, where does my confidence come from?
For me, it mostly came from a relentless focus on making impact.
I put my focus on doing great things, creating raving fan customers, and taking on big challenges.
Where you put your focus, instantly changes your confidence.
If you’re too worried about how you look or how you sound, then you aren’t putting enough focus on the amazing thing you are trying to do.
So it wasn’t confidence per se. It was more like putting my focus on the right things.
But there was more to it. I was confident because of a few basic beliefs:
Another thing that helped is that one of our leaders was relentless about “exposing our thinking.” He wanted us to always detach ourselves from our ideas. He wanted us to present ideas without being attached to them so they could be criticized and evaluated in more objective ways.
This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how difficult it can be to detach yourself from ideas. But the beauty is that when you are able to do this, your focus changes from defending your ideas, to really helping to create better ideas. And this little shift takes you from fear or lack of confidence, to purposeful exploration, with full confidence.
Anyway, I think we become the thoughts that we think, so I think it’s really important to fill our head with the right words on confidence.
To that end, here is roundup of some of the greatest confidence quotes of all time:
See if you can find at least three that you can use to help add more juice to your day.
If there is one that I find myself referring to all the time, to remind myself to get up to bat, it’s this one:
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – William Shedd
I learned it long ago, and it’s served me well, ever since.
While that one reminds me to do what I do best, it’s really this one that inspires me to expand what I’m capable of:
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” — Anaïs Nin
I hope you find the right words that give your confidence just the boost it needs, when you need it most.
It’s time to blow your mind with the amazing things going on around the world.
Each year, I try to create a bird’s-eye view of key trends. It’s a mash up of all the changes in technology, consumerism, and ideas that seem to be taking off.
Here are my trends for 2015:
Trends for 2015: The Year of Digital Transformation
I call it the year of Digital Transformation because of the encroachment of technology into all things business, work, and life.
Technology is everywhere (and it’s on more wrists than I’ve ever seen before.)
What’s different now is how the combination of Cloud + Mobile + Social + Big Data + Internet-of-Things are really changing how business gets done. Businesses around the world are using Cloud, Mobile, Social, Big Data, and Internet-of-Things to leap frog ahead of their competitors and to differentiate in new and exciting ways.
Businesses around the world are using technology to gains insights and to shape their customer experience, transform their workforce, and streamline their back-office operations.
It’s a new race for leadership positions in the Digital Economy. With infinite compute and capacity, along with new ways to connect around the world, business leaders and IT leaders are re-imagining the art of the possible for their businesses.
While Cloud, Mobile, Social, Big Data, and Internet-of-Things might be the backbone of the changes all around us, it’s business model innovation that is bringing these changes to the market and helping them take hold.
Here is a preview of 10 key trends from Trends for 2015: The Year of Digital Transformation:
As a tip, when you read the post, try to scan it first, all the way down, so you can see the full collection of ideas. Then circle back and slow down to really absorb the full insight. You’ll find that you’ll start to see more patterns across the trends, and you’ll start to connect more dots.
I designed the post to make it easy to scan, as well as to read it end-to-end in depth. I think it’s more valuable to be able to quickly take the balcony view, before diving in. This way, you get more of a full picture view of what’s happening around the world. Even if you don’t master all the trends, a little bit of awareness can actually go a long way.
In fact, you might surprise yourself as some of the trends pop into your mind, while you’re working on something completely different. By having the trends at my fingertips, I’m finding myself seeing new patterns in business, along with new ways that technology can enhance our work and life.
Trends actually become a vocabulary for generating and shaping new ideas. There are so many ways to arrange and re-arrange the constellation of ideas. You’ll find that I paid a lot of attention to the naming of each trend. I tried to share what was already pervasive and sticky, or if it was complicated, I tried to turn it into something more memorable.
Use the trends as fodder and insight as you pave your way through your own Digital Transformation.
Motivation is a powerful skill.
It can lift you up from the worst of places, and inspire you to new heights.
After all, nothing is worse than slogging your way through your days, or working your way through a bunch of mundane tasks.
But, like I said, motivation is a skill.
You need to learn it. For many people it does not come naturally. And chances are, many of us have had bad models, bad advice, and worse, bad habits for a lifetime.
One of the most important insights I found was said by Stephen Covey long ago – satisfied needs don’t motivate.
It’s why we need to stay hungry.
Here’s how you stay hungry -- find a problem you hate, and focus on creating a solution you love.
But how you light your fire from the inside out in a sustainable way?
That’s where the 7 habits of highly motivated people comes in.
I wanted to put together a very simple set of habits and practices that actually work for building your motivational muscle and finding your inner mojo.
Here are the 7 habits of highly motivated people at a glance:
There is a lot of science behind the habits. If you’re that motivated, you can research it through bunches of books, bunches of sites, and brilliant TED talks.
But, I’d much rather that you spent the time simply adopting and applying the habits, so you can set your motivation on fire.
It’s time to do more of what you were born to do.
It’s time to live and breathe the things that you want to live and breathe.
It’s time to rise again from whatever ashes might have burned you down, and let your phoenix fly.
If you aren’t sure where to get started, first read 7 habits of highly motivated people, and then adopt habit #1:
Find Your WHY.
You’ll be glad you did.
I can see your pilot light is on already.
We live in amazing times.
The world is full of opportunity at your fingertips.
You can inspire your mind and the art of the possible with TED talks.
You can learn anything with all of the Open Courseware from MIT or Wharton, or Coursera, or you can build your skills with The Great Courses or Udemy.
You can read about anything and fill your kindle with more books than you can read in this lifetime.
You can invest in yourself. You can develop your intellectual horsepower, your emotional intelligence, your personal effectiveness, your communication skills, your relationship skills, and your financial intelligence.
You can develop your career, expand your experience, build your network, and grow your skills and abilities. You can take on big hairy audacious goals. You can learn your limits, build your strengths, and reduce your liabilities.
You can develop your body and your physical intelligence, with 4-minute work outs, P90x3 routines, Fit Bits, Microsoft Band, etc.
You can expand your network and connect with people around the world, all four corners of the globe, from all walks of life, for all sorts of reasons.
You can explore the world, either virtually through Google Earth, or take real-world epic adventures.
You can fund your next big idea and bring it to the world with Kickstarter.
You can explore new hobbies and develop your talents, your art, your music, you name it.
But where in the world will you get time?
And how will you manage your competing priorities?
And how will you find and keep your motivation?
How will you wake up strong, with a spring in your step, where all the things you want to achieve in this lifetime, pull you forward, and help you rise above the noise of every day living?
That's not how I planned on starting this post, but it's a reminder of how the world is full of possibility, and how amazing your life can be when you come alive and you begin the journey to become all that you're capable of.
How I planned to start the post was this. It's Spring. It's time for a refresher in the art of Agile Results to help you bring out your best.
Agile Results is a simple system for meaningful results. It combines proven practices for productivity, time management, and personal effectiveness to help you achieve more in less time, and enjoy the process.
It's a way to spend your best time and your best energy to get your best results.
Agile Results is a way to slow down to speed up, find more fulfillment, and put your ambition into practice.
Agile Results is a way to realize your potential, and to unleash your greatest potential. Potential is a muscle that gets better through habits.
The way to get started with Agile Results is simple.
For bonus, and to really find a path of fulfillment, there are three more habits you can add ...
A simple way that I remember this is I remember to think in Three Wins:
Think in terms of Three Wins for the Day, Three Wins for the Week, Three Wins for the Month, Three Wins for the Year
Those are the core habits of Agile Results in a nutshell.
You can start with that and be well on your way to getting better results in work and life.
If you want to really master Agile Results, you can read the book, Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life.
It's been a best seller in time management, and it’s helped many people around the world create a better version of themselves.
If you want to take Agile Results to the next level, start a study group and share ways that you use Agile Results with each other around how you create work-life balance, create better energy, learn more faster, and unleash your potential, while enjoying the journey, and getting more from work and life.
Share your stories and results with me, with your friends, with your family, anyone, and everyone – help everybody live a little better.
"In a battle between two ideas, the best one doesn't necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it." -- Seth Godin
One leadership idea can change your life in an instant.
Like the right key, the right leadership idea can instantly unlock or unleash what you’re capable of.
I’ve seen some leaders lose their jobs because they didn’t know how to adapt their leadership style. I’ve seen other leaders crumble with anxiety because they didn’t know how to balance connection and conviction.
I’ve seen other leaders operate at a higher level, and influence without authority. I’ve seen amazing leaders in action that inspire others through their stories of the art of the possible.
Here are a handful of leadership ideas that you can put into practice.
None of these leadership ideas are new. They may be new for you. But they are proven practices for leadership that many leaders have learned the hard way.
The nice thing about ideas is that all you have to do is try them, and find what works for you. (Always remember to try ideas in a Bruce Lee sort of way, “adapt what is useful”, and don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.)
If you want to get hard-core, I also have a roundup of the best business books that have influenced Microsoft leaders:
36 Best Business Books that Influence Microsoft Leaders
You’ll find a strange but potent mix of business books ranging from skills you learned in kindergarten to ways to change the world by spreading your ideas like a virus.
10 Free Leadership Tools for Work and Life
347 Personal Effectiveness Articles to Help You Change Your Game
Leadership Development in a Box
Business change is tough. Just try it at Cloud speed, and you’ll know what I mean.
That said, digital business transformation is reshaping companies and industries around the world, at a rapid rate.
If you don’t cross the Cloud chasm, and learn how to play in the new digital economy, you might just get left behind.
Sadly, not every executive has a digital vision.
That’s a big deal because the pattern here is that successful digital business transformation starts at the top of the company. And it starts with digital vision.
But just having a digital vision is not enough.
It has to be a shared transformative digital vision. Not a mandate, but a shared digital vision from the top, that’s led and made real by the people in the middle and lower levels.
In the book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee, share how successful companies and executives drive digital business transformation through shared transformative digital visions.
You need a digital vision at the top. Otherwise, it’s like pushing rocks uphill. Worse, not everybody will be in the game, or know what position they play, or even how to play the game.
Via Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation:
“The changes being wrought through digital transformation are real. Yet, even when leaders see the digital threats and opportunity, employees may need to be convinced. Many employees feel they are paid to do a job, not to change that job. And they have lived through big initiatives in the past that failed to turn into reality. To many, digital transformations is either irrelevant or just another passing fad. Still other people may not understand how the change affects their jobs or how they might make the transition.”
Digital business transformation must be led. Senior executives are in the right position to create a compelling future all up, and communicate it across the board.
“Our research shows that successful digital transformation starts at the top of the company. Only the senior-most executives can create a compelling vision of the future and communicate it throughout the organization. Then people in the middle and lower levels can make the vision a reality. Managers can redesign process, workers can start to work differently, and everyone can identify new ways to meet the vision. This kind of change doesn't happen through simple mandate. It must be led.
Among the companies we studied, none have created true digital transformation through a bottom-up approach. Some executives have changed their parts of the business--for example, product design and supply chain at Nike--but the executives stopped at the boundaries of their business units. Changing part of your business is not enough. Often, the real benefits of transformation come from seeing potential synergies across silos and then creating conditions through which everyone can unlock that value. Only senior executives are positioned to drive this kind of boundary-spanning change.”
As the business landscape is reshaping, you are either a disruptor or the disrupted. The Digital Masters that are creating the disruption in their business and in their industries have shared digital visions, and re-imagine their business for a mobile-first, Cloud-first world, and a new digital economy.
“So how prevalent is digital vision? In our global survey of 431 executives in 391 companies, only 42 percent said that their senior executive had a digital vision. Only 35 percent said the vision was shared among senior and middle managers. These numbers are surprisingly low, given the rapid rate at which digital transformation is reshaping companies and industries. But the low overall numbers mask an important distinction. Digital Masters have a shared digital vision, while others do not.
Among the Digital Masters that we surveyed, 82 percent agreed that their senior leaders shared a common vision of digital transformation, and 71 percent said it was shared between senior and middle managers. The picture is quite different for firms outside our Digital Masters category, where less than 30 percent said their senior leaders had a shared digital vision and only 17 percent said the shared vision extended to middle management.”
It’s bad enough that many executives don’t have a shared digital vision. But what makes it worse, is that even fewer have a transformative digital vision, which is the key to success in the digital frontier.
“But having a shared digital vision is not quite enough. Many organizations fail to capture the full potential of digital technologies because their leaders lack a truly transformative vision of the digital future. On average, only 31 percent of our respondents said that they had a vision which represented radical change, and 41 percent said their vision crossed internal organizational units. Digital Masters were far more transformative in their vision, with two-thirds agreeing they had a radical vision, and 82 percent agreeing their vision crossed organizational silos. Meanwhile, nonmasters were far less transformative in their visions.”
Where there is no vision, the businesses perish.
Drive Business Transformation by Reenvisioning Operations
Drive Business Transformation by Reenvisioning Your Customer Experience
Dual-Speed IT Drives Business Transformation and Improves IT-Business Relationships
How Leaders are Building Digital Skills
How To Build a Better Business Case for Digital Initiatives
How To Improve the IT-Business Relationship
How To Build a Roadmap for Your Digital Business Transformation
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” -- Zig Ziglar
Here is my collection of 101 Proven Practices for Focus. It still needs work to improve it, but I wanted to shared it, as is, because focus is one of the most important skills we can develop for work and life.
Focus is the backbone of personal effectiveness, personal development, productivity, time management, leadership skills, and just about anything that matters. Focus is a key ingredient to helping us achieve the things we set out to do, and to learn the things we need to learn.
Without focus, we can’t achieve great results.
I have a very healthy respect for the power of focus to amplify impact, to create amazing breakthroughs, and to make things happen.
Long ago one of my most impactful mentors said that focus is what separates the best from the rest. In all of his experience, what exceptional people had, that others did not, was focus.
Here are a few relevant definitions of focus: A main purpose or interest. A center of interest or activity. Close or narrow attention; concentration.
I think of focus simply as the skill or ability to direct and hold our attention.
Too many people think of focus as something either you are good at, or you are not. It’s just like delayed gratification.
Focus is a skill you can build.
Focus is actually a skill and you can develop it. In fact, you can develop it quite a bit. For example, I helped a colleague get themselves off of their ADD medication by learning some new ways to retrain their brain. It turned out that the medication only helped so much, the side effects sucked, and in the end, what they really needed was coping mechanisms for their mind, to better direct and hold their attention.
Here’s the surprise, though. You can actually learn how to direct your attention very quickly. Simply ask new questions. You can direct your attention by asking questions. If you want to change your focus, change the question.
Here is a list of the 101 Proven Practices for Focus:
When you go through the 101 Proven Practices for Focus, don’t expect it to be perfect. It’s a work in progress. Some of the practices for focus need to be fleshed out better. There is also some duplication and overlap, as I re-organize the list and find better ways to group and label ideas.
In the future, I’m going to revamp this collection to have some more precision, better naming, and some links to relevant quotes, and some science where possible. There is a lot more relevant science that explains why some of these techniques work, and why some work so well.
What’s important is that you find the practices that resonate for you, and the things that you can actually practice.
You might find that from all the practices, only one or two really resonate, or help you change your game. And, that’s great. The idea of having a large list to select from is that it’s more to choose from. The bigger your toolbox, the more you can choose the right tool for the job. If you only have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.
If you don’t consider yourself an expert in focus, that’s fine. Everybody has to start somewhere. In fact, you might even use one of the practices to help you get better: Rate your focus each day.
Simply rate yourself, on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is awesome and 1 means you’re a squirrel with a sugar high, dazed and confused, and chasing all the shiny objects that come into site. And then see if your focus improves over the course of a week.
If you adopt just one practice, try either Align your focus and your values or Ask new questions to change your focus.
At the bottom of the 101 Proven Practices for Focus, you’ll find the standard sharing buttons for social media to make it easier to share.
Share it with friends, family, your world, the world.
The ability to focus is really a challenge for a lot of people. The answer to improve your attention and focus is through proven practices, techniques, and skill building. Too many people hope the answer lies in a pill, but pills don’t teach you skills.
Even if you struggle a bit in the beginning, remind yourself that growth feels awkward. You' will get better with practice. Practice deliberately. In fact, the side benefit of focusing on improving your focus, is, well, you guessed it … you’ll improve your focus.
What we focus on expands, and the more we focus our attention, and apply deliberate practice, the deeper our ability to focus will grow.
Grow your focus with skill.
The Great Happiness Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Love Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Motivational Quotes Revamped
The Great Personal Development Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Positive Thinking Quotes Collection
The Great Productivity Quotes Collection Revamped