Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
I didn’t know whether to call this why adoption fails, or why ideas die, but regardless, they are deeply related. After all, one of the main reasons ideas die is that they don’t get adopted, so they fizzle out. It’s usage that gives an idea enough legs to blossom and bloom.
I see the same recurring patterns again and again around why ideas don’t get adopted, so I thought I’d share some.
One of the most common patterns is somebody thinks up an idea. That’s as far as they get.
This is related to the first pattern. You thought up a potentially neat idea, but you didn’t try it out or test it to find out where, or if, the rubber actually meets the road. This is where some Agile approaches have had an advantage in bridging the reality gap. I’m a fan of “spiking” and exploration. Why “spiking”? Because, you can focus on the high-risk, and test it end-to-end with a thin slice (and thin slices reveal a lot.)
The pattern I see here is somebody or some team comes up with a great idea. Then somebody decides that it’s another person or team’s job to implement it. So the idea gets “thrown over the wall.” Sure, people might write up a bunch of specs or a bunch of docs about how somebody is supposed to adopt it, but that just about never works in the early stages of an idea. It’s the startup stage. That only works when you’ve matured an idea to the point where it’s a “transaction.” In the early stages, the idea usually requires a “relationship” play, because you have to transfer a lot of tribal knowledge. You have to get the kinks out. You have to learn what you didn’t know, and you have to build some empathy around the adoption pains. This is how ideas flourish.
There is a surprise here. Usually what I see is somebody or some team comes up with the best thing since sliced bread. Then they want others to adopt it. Others don’t adopt it. So the person or team with the idea, concludes, oh, they won’t use it because, it’s “not invented here.” What I see behind the scenes though is that other people or teams would love to adopt the idea, but they don’t know how. The person or team with the idea threw it over the wall. They expect the other people or teams to figure it out, because it’s such a good idea, that it speaks for itself. The devil is in the details, and the friction or barriers to adoption wear most people out. People don’t have all the time in the world to keep playing with other people’s ideas until they figure them out.
It’s sad, but that’s how so many ideas idea.
The lesson I learned long ago is that if you want somebody to adopt your ideas is that you have to do it for them or with them. It’s a small price to pay for getting over the humps of adoption. It’s not an ongoing thing either. Once people “get it” they run with it, but only if you’ve helped them get that far to begin with.
And that’s how ideas flourish and bloom.
There’s a little trick I learned about how to have your best year ever:
Commit to Your Best Year Ever
And, it actually works.
When you decide to have your best year ever, and you make it a mission, you find a way to make it happen.
You embrace the challenges and the changes that come you way.
You make better choices throughout the year, in a way that moves you towards your best year ever.
A while back, our team, did exactly that. We decided we wanted to make the coming year our best year ever. We wanted a year we could look back on, and know that we gave it our best shot. We wanted a year that mattered. And we were willing to work for it.
And, it worked like a champ.
In fast, most of us go our best reviews at Microsoft. Ever.
It’s not like it’s magic. It works because it sets the stage. It sets the stage for great expectations. And, when you expect more, from yourself, or from the world, you start to look for and leverage more opportunities to make that come true.
It also helps you role with the punches. You find ways to turnaround negative situations into more positive ones. You find ways to take setbacks as learning opportunities to experience your greatest growth. You look for ways to turn ordinary events into extraordinary adventures.
And when you get knocked down. You try again. Because you’re on a mission.
When you make it a mission to have your best year ever, you stretch yourself a little more. You try new things. You take old things to new heights.
But there’s a very important distinction here. You have to own the decision.
It has to be your choice. YOU have to choose it so that you internalize it, and actually believe it, so that you actually act on it.
Otherwise, it’s just a neat idea, but you won’t live it.
And if you don’t live it, it won’t happen.
But, as soon as you decide that no matter what, this will be YOUR best year ever, you unleash your most resourceful self.
If you’ve forgotten what it’s like to go for the epic win, then watch this TED talk and my notes:
Go For the Epic Win
Best wishes for your best year.
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.
According to Cognizant, the following are unprecedented, relentless and perplexing challenges that organizations of today face:
According to Cognizant, the following are the 3 R’s of corporate model transformation to future-proof your business:
According to Cognizant, the 8 future-of-work enablers are as follows:
According to Cognizant, you can map the 8 future-of-work enablers to the 3 R’s of corporate model transformation as follows:
According to Cognizant, you can evaluate against a specific set of KPIs within each area of corporate model transformation:
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.”
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.”
6 Steps for Enterprise Architecture as Strategy
How To Turn IT into an Asset Rather than a Liability
Strategy Must Be Dynamic
I thought I had written about “Why Agile” before, but I don’t see anything crisp enough.
Anyway, here’s my latest rundown on Why Agile?
Remember that nature favors the flexible and agility is the key to success.
Agile vs. Waterfall
Agile Life-Cycle Frame
Methodologies at a Glance
Roles on Agile Teams
The Art of the Agile Retrospective
Little things that get in our way, wear us down. By creating a few glide paths in our day, we can jumpstart and maintain our momentum. Daily momentum is a key ingredient to making things happen.
Time management tips #5 is -- reduce the friction in your day. Friction is the resistance we feel, when we go to do something. It might be extra steps in our process. It might be clutter that gets in our way. It might be the inconvenience of where we put things. All these little friction points add up.
The goal is to reduce the bottlenecks in your day, and give yourself a handful of friction-free experiences. For example, paths in your house should not be an obstacle course over laundry or toys. Your computer desktop should have fast access to your most common apps. You shouldn't have to do awkward moves whether it's reaching for shampoo, or getting a glass, or throwing out the garbage (and finding the garbage should not be a game of hide and go seek.)
Your key measure is how you feel, and whether you have to work too hard, to do something simple. The more you have to do something each day, the simpler you should make it.
Here are a few examples that have worked for me.
If you get creative, you can find a lot of ways to simplify your daily moves and experiences. Some of the main ideas are:
The mantra is … the more friction free you can be, the more momentum you can build. Don’t let things break your stride, and don’t let things slow you down.
In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the exercise and Reduce Friction and Create Glide-Paths for Your Day to get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis.
You can also find more time management tips in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, and on Getting Results.com
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Meaningful outcomes are the backbone of meaningful work. Meaningful outcomes help guide and shape your meaningful work.
If you have a vision for the end in mind, then you have something to work towards. To figure out meaningful outcomes, you ask yourself what you want to accomplish. Another simple way to do this is to ask yourself, “What will the wins be?”
One of the challenges is when it feels like your work has no meaning. Keep in mind that you are the ultimate filter for everything that happens in your life. You assign the meaning to your work. Make the work meaningful. One way to create meaning is to master your craft. Do so by focusing on continuous learning and improvement. Teaching your craft and being a mentor for others is another way to both amplify your learning and your impact.
Work on stuff that’s valued, and remember that value is in the eye of the beholder. This makes work more meaningful. You should be aware whether it’s valued by you, by your employer, or by your customer. It’s fine if it’s valuable to you but nobody else, but be aware of it, and make it a mindful choice. You may be in the wrong line of work or working on the wrong thing.
This is a tip from my book, Getting Results the Agile Way (now on a Kindle), a time management system for achievers. You can test drive the system by taking the 30 Day Boot Camp for Getting Results, a free time management training course.
"Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often." -- Mark Twain
I created a consolidated set of Action Guidelines on Getting Results.com. Taking action is one of the most important skills you can master in this lifetime. It’s the secret sauce of making things happen at work. It’s also the secret sauce of making things happen in all areas your life, whether it’s a personal project or personal development. It’s also how you go from idea to done.
If there’s one attribute that has served me well at Microsoft, it’s having a bias for action.
Smart people with great ideas and great intentions get passed by with people that take action. When you take action, you put your ideas to the test, you find what works, you scrap what doesn’t, and you carry the good forward. When you take action, you produce results. If you don’t like the results, you change the approach, and the fastest thing you can always change is you.
Action Guidelines explains each guideline, and here is the list of guidelines at a glance:
One of the best books I've read recently is Advice is for Winners, by Raul Valdes-Perez. It's all about how to get advice for better decisions in work and life. I’ve written a deep review on it:
Book Review: Advice is for Winners
It's a great book whether you are an advice seeker, or serve in a trusted advisor role. It helps you with either role, because the author shares an in-depth look at what holds back people from taking advice, as well as the qualities that make an advisor more effective.
On a personal note, I've had to learn how to seek advice with skill, back when I first joined Microsoft. I started out in Developer Support and it really was a team sport. It was rare for any individual to have all the knowledge to address the complex issues that came our way. Instead, the key was to be very good at finding the answers and expertise around the world. It’s true that two-heads are better than one, and there is a lot of power in the collective perspective – if you know how to use it.
When I joined the Microsoft patterns & practices team, I had to learn how to be good at both seeking out experts as well as giving deep advice about how to put our platform together and make the most of it. One of the biggest challenges I faced on a daily basis was conflicting advice from qualified experts.
At the end of the day, I learned how to use test cases to find and validate the answers and solutions. To do this well, I need to use scenarios and context both to weed out generic or irrelevant advice, and to be able to test advice. Interestingly, the key to finding a solution often involved being able to "repro" (reproduce) the problem or challenge.
Once you could "repro" the problem, you could share it with others and get their heads in the game. Also, often while trying to create a repro, you would find out what the real problem was, or at least, get clarity in the decisions and assumptions.
Sometimes, trying to reproduce the problem wasn't practical, so instead, the goal would be to understand the context or scenario as best you could, and construct a skeletal solution in incremental steps. This way, when somebody tries to duplicate the solution, if something doesn't work along the way, you can usually backtrack to the basic steps. Effectively, you can gradually build up from a working foundation, and when a part of it, doesn't work, you can isolate it, and troubleshoot what's different about the particular context (such as security context, or configuration, etc.)
Back to the book … in Advice is for Winners, Raul provides a great distillation and synthesis on the art of getting advice with skill. What I especially like about the book is that it very much matches what I’ve learned the hard way about giving and getting advice. Raul does a fantastic job of helping you get over any limiting beliefs or mindset that might hold you back from seeking advice. He also does a great job of articulating what holds us back from getting the advice we need.
The backbone of the book is an actionable framework for getting advice that’s principle-based and easy to personalize. If you aren’t sure how to approach people to ask for help, this framework will help you get over that. If you aren’t sure how to deal with conflicting advice, the guidance will help you get over that, too. If you aren’t sure what scenarios to even seek out advice, Raul provides very specific examples and stories. To bottom line it, what you don’t know, can hurt you, and building your advice seeking skills can be a powerful investment that pays you back for the rest of your life in exponential ways that you can’t yet predict.
For a "movie-trailer” style book review of Advice is for Winners, see Book Review: Advice is for Winners.
Becoming a skilled advice seeker might be one of the best capabilities you can build to improve your personal effectiveness.
How do you create career opportunities? You reinvent yourself.
While you can always hope for things to land in your lap, there are specific patterns I see successful people do. Among those that continuously create the best career opportunities, here are the key success patterns:
If you’re wondering where the best career opportunities are, sometimes it’s the job you’ve already got, sometimes you have to go find them, and sometimes, you have to make them.
You probably hear a lot about the Mega-Trends (Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data), or the Nexus of Forces (the convergence of social, mobility, cloud and data insights patterns that drive new business scenarios), or the Mega-Trend of Mega-Trends (Internet of Things).
And you are probably hearing a lot about digital transformation and maybe even about the rise of the CDO (Chief Digital Officer.)
All of this digital transformation is about creating business change, driving business outcomes, and driving better business results.
But how do you create your digital vision and strategy? And, where do you start?
In the book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee, share some of their lessons learned from companies that are digital masters that created their digital visions and are driving business change.
When it comes to creating your digital vision, you can focus on reenvisioning the customer experience, the operational processes, or your business model.
Via Leading Digital:
“Where should you focus your digital vision? Digital visions usually take one of three perspectives: reenvisioning the customer experience, reenvisioning operational processes, or combining the previous two approaches to reenvision business models. The approach you take should reflect your organization’s capabilities, your customer’s needs, and the nature of competition in your industry.”
One of the best places to start is with your customer experience. After all, a business exists to create a customer. And the success of the business is how well it creates value and serves the needs of the customer.
“Many organizations start by reenvisioning the way they interact with customers. They want to make themselves easier to work with, and they want to be smarter in how they sell to (and serve) customers. Companies start from different places when reenvisioning the customer experience.”
You can use the waves of technologies (Cloud, Mobile, Social, Data Insights, and Internet of Things), to transform how you interact with your customers and how they experience your people, your products, and your services.
“Some companies aim to transform their relationships with their customers. Adam Bortman, chief digital officer of Starbucks, shared this vision: 'Digital has to help more partners and help the company be the way we can ... tell our story, build our brand, and have a relationship with our customers.' Burberry's CEO Angela Ahredts focused on multichannel coherence. 'We had a vision, and the vision was to be the first company who was fully digital end-to-end ... A customer will have total access to Burberry across any device, anywhere.' Mare Menesquen, managing director of strategic marketing at cosmetics gitan L'Oreal, said, 'The digital world multiples the way our brands can create an emotion-filled relationship with their customers.’”
You can use technology to personalize the experience for your customers, and create better interactions along the customer experience journey.
“Other companies envision how they can be smarter in serving (and selling to) their customers through analytics. Caesars started with a vision of using real-time customer information to deliver a personalized experience to each customer. The company was able to increase customer satisfaction and profits per customer using traditional technologies. Then, as new technologies arose, it extended the vision to include a mobile, location-based concierge in the palm of every customer's hand.”
One of the most powerful things you can now do with the combination of Cloud, Mobile, Social, Big Data and Internet of Things is gain better customer insights. For example, you can learn from the wealth of social media insights, or you can learn through better integration and analytics of your existing customer data.
“Another approach is to envision how digital tools might help the company to learn from customer behavior. Commonwealth Bank of Australia sees new technologies as a key way of integrating customer inputs in its co-creation efforts. According to CIO Ian Narev, 'We are progressively applying new technology to enable customers to play a greater part in product design. That helps us create more intuitive products and services, readily understandable to our customers and more tailored to their individual needs.”
If you focus on high-value activities, you can create breakthroughs in the daily lives of your customers.
“Finally, some companies are extending their visions beyond influencing customer experience to actually changing customers' lives. For instance, Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez wrote of this potential: ‘The technologies we use in our daily lives, such as smart phones and tablet devices, could make a real difference in helping patients to manage their own health. We are exploring ways to use these tools to improve compliance rates and enable health-care professionals to monitor patient progress remotely.’”
If you want to change the world, one of the best places to start is right from wherever you are.
With a Cloud and a dream, what can you do to change the world?
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I think of inspiration simply as “breathe life into.”
Whether you're shipping code, designing the next big thing, or simply making things happen, inspirational quotes can help keep you going.
In the spirit of helping people find their Eye of the Tiger or get their mojo on, I’ve put together a hand-crafted collection of the ultimate inspirational quotes:
The Inspirational Quotes Collection
If you’ve seen my collection of inspirational quotes before, it’s completely revamped. It should be much easier to browse all of the inspirational quotes now so you can see some old familiar quotes that you may have heard of long ago, as well as many inspirational quotes, you have never heard of before.
Dive in, explore the collection of inspirational quotes, and see if you can find at least three inspirational quotes that breathe new life into your moment, your day, your work, or anything you do.
Inspirational quotes can help us move mountains. The right inspirational words and ideas can help us boldly go where we have not gone before, as well as conquer our fears and soar to new heights.
Or, the right inspirational quote can simply help us roar a little louder inside, when we need it most.
Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. And work can be an incredible challenge. And sometimes, even our best laid plans, go up in flames.
So having a repertoire of inspirational quotes and inspiring mantras at your mental fingertips can help you roll with the punches and keep going.
One of the most important inspirational ideas I learned early on goes like this:
Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
It helped me turn trials into triumphs, and eventually learn to take on big challenges as a way to grow.
Another inspirational idea that really helped me find my way forward is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and, it goes like this:
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Whenever I went on a new journey, down an unfamiliar path, it helped remind me that I don’t always need a trail, and that many times, it’s about blazing my own trail.
The power of inspirational quotes is their power to light a fire inside and fan the flames until we go and blaze our trail that leaves our self, and others, in awe.
Perhaps, the greatest inspirational quote of all time is another amazing quote by Emerson:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
It’s an awe-inspiring reminder to not only do what makes us come alive, but to realize our potential and unleash what we are capable of.
So many inspirational quotes remind us that life is short and that we have to go for it. But maybe George Bernard Shaw said it best:
“I want to be all used up when I die.”
One quote that I think about often is by Seth Godin:
“Life is like skiing. Just like skiing, the goal is not to get to the bottom of the hill. It’s to have a bunch of good runs before the sun sets.”
It’s all about making the journey worth it.
What do you do when it’s over. It all depends. Dr. Seuss has an interesting twist:
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
But the one that I find has true wisdom is from Dave Weinbaum:
“The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.”
Here’s to new many more beginnings in your life.
Enjoy and be sure to explore The Inspirational Quotes Collection to soar or roar in your own personal way.
The Great Happiness Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Leadership Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Love Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Personal Development Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Productivity Quotes Collection Revamped
I wrote a how to on How To Design Your Week. It’s all about mastering time management.
Let me first say that mastering your time is one of the most challenging things you can do in life. It’s a topic that folks like Peter Drucker have filled books with. Let me also say that, while it is tough, it’s also one of the best things you can do to lead a better life. And the beauty is, the moment you start spending your time in more meaningful ways, you get immediate payback.
What if right now, you were working on your next best thing to do? (It’s a simple question, but it cuts to the chase.)
This How To is based on helping many folks inside and outside of Microsoft design a schedule that helps them simplify their work, free up more time, get more done in the same amount of time, spend more time where it counts, and use their best energy for their best results. The trick in today’s world is that you don’t get more hours in a day – but you can amplify your results by improving your energy.
I prioritized creating this how to because I need to scale. Lately I’ve been helping a lot more fellow Microsoft colleagues design a schedule that brings out their best results and helping them get a handle on their work-life balance. The bottom line is, they wanted to spend less time, but get better, faster, simpler results. Most importantly, they wanted to stop thrashing and start thriving.
Just about everybody I know is feeling the pain of an increasingly competitive, increasingly connected, “always on” world. There’s always more to do, than you can possibly get done, but throwing more time at the problem isn’t the answer.
… So what is?
Design your time with skill.
If you let your week just happen, it’s very easy for your weekly schedule to erode to a point where it works against you in every possible way: your best energy gets wasted on the least impactful things, it takes ten times longer to get things done, the faster you go, the more behind you get, you wear yourself down emotionally, mentally, physically. Perhaps the worst thing though is, without carving out time for what’s important, you never have the time for the things that mean the most to you.
If you can design a week, you can create repeatable patterns that serve you throughout the year. The key is spending the right time, on the right things, with the right energy, the right way. This is the magic formula for getting exponential results from time you already spend. This is how you unleash your best, time and again, get more done in the same amount of time, feel strong all week long, and free up more time for the things you really want to spend your time on.
If you’re ready to exponentially make the most of what you’ve got and unleash yourself, take How To – Design Your Week for a test drive.
One common pitfall is throwing a lot of time and effort at things, only to find that when you’re done, nobody cares. If you keep feeling a lack of appreciation, then ask yourself, “Who was I doing it for?” If it was for yourself, was it what you most cared about, or could you have invested the same time in something else and felt like you made a more important impact. If you were doing it for somebody else, ask them whether what you’re working on is really the most important thing to them. If you’re working on a lot of low-priority items, don’t expect to get the rewards. In fact, a pattern is that the more you work on low-priority items, the more you become a dumping ground. The more you become a dumping ground, the busier you get; the busier you get, the more overloaded you will feel. Now the worst happens—you’re overworked, underappreciated, and no fun to be around. By failing to work on what’s valuable and by failing to understand and reset expectations, you’ve worked yourself into an unrewarding, high-stress scenario.
Browse more tips on getting results at http://GettingResults.com
“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” -- Voltaire
With New Years, coming, I think it's a good time to remind you of a technique you can use to increase your success exponentially.
It's 30 Day Improvement Sprints. If you have a goal in mind that you seriously want to nail, then 30 Day Improvement Sprints might be exactly what you need to help you knock it out of the park. I've talked about 30 Day Improvements Sprints here on this blog, but I've also shared them in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
What You Need to Know About 30 Day Improvement Sprints Here's what you need to know about 30 Day Improvement Sprints
Born Out of Necessity I originally created 30 Day Improvement Sprints as a way to deal with the fact that I had competing priorities. I had a lot of things I wanted to focus on, but then I was constantly hopping back and forth, and not making enough progress on any one thing. Then I stepped back and look at my year as a portfolio of possibility. I have 12 months to invest and play around with. I then asked the question, what if I used each month as a way to focus on something I really wanted to learn or improve? Then each month, I could either pick the same thing again, or choose something new. Finally, rather than do everything at once, I could focus on one key theme for the month, knowing that next month, I could then focus on my next big thing. The side benefit of this is peace of mind. When you have a time or a place for things, you can put them to rest. Otherwise, they keep competing for your attention, until you finally say, next month is when I’ll focus on XYZ.
Benefits of 30 Day Improvement Sprints 30 Day Improvement Sprints turned out to be one of my biggest game changers. Here are some of the benefits I experienced:
Examples of 30 Day Improvement Sprints I used 30 Day Improvement Sprints for everything from learning Windows Azure to improving roller blading to experimenting with eating living foods and getting 10 years younger. One of my most memorable 30 Day Improvement Sprints was a focus on 30 Days of Getting Results. Each day, for 30 days, I took 20 minutes to write about one thing that really helped me achieve better, faster, and simpler results. The results was a large body of insight and action with mini-lessons for getting your groove on and changing your game. (I ended up creating a free 30 Days of Getting Results eBook to put it all at your finger tips. If there’s enough interest, I’ll figure out how to put it on the Kindle too. It’s the perfect thing to help you start the New Year with some of the best patterns and practices for getting results on your side.)
Results at Work I’ve also used 30 Day Improvement Sprints to focus and energize teams at Microsoft. For example, when I first joined the Enterprise Strategy team at Microsoft, I made one of the themes a focus on “simplicity.” This theme caught on, and soon our General Manager was driving action and focus on simplicity. This helped us take a fresh look at one of our products and find ways to dramatically simplify the experience. As the simplicity focus gained momentum, more and more breakthroughs started to show up, all in the name of a simplified experience.
Use 30 Day Improvement Sprints as Your Unfair Advantage in the New Year I’m a fan of Voltaire’s original quote, but I would twist it a little … “Few challenges withstand the assault of sustained action.” Using 30 Day Improvement Sprints really does put the advantage of time on your side, as well as the power of focus and motivation. It also creates an incredible learning loop. Your little actions and feedback loops each day teach you distinctions you can use each new day to keep improving and getting over the humps.
Here are a couple ways you can use 30 Day Improvement Sprints to get exponential results in the New Year:
Think about it … A New Year. A fresh start. Twelve months in which you can choose a new theme or focus each month. Maybe you learn a new language? Maybe you learn the Tango? Who knows. There are a lot of opportunities and potential when you have a system on your side.
If you’ve used 30 Day Improvement Sprints, I’d love to hear how you’ve used them. I’ve had various folks send me their stories on their breakthroughs and changes. I always enjoy reading the stories, so keep sending my way.
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I’m still learning about Satya Nadella, our new CEO at Microsoft (but a very seasoned Softie.)
He’s been around here a while, but I never really got to meet him.
So far, I really like his style. He’s a quiet leader. He focuses on three things that matter a lot to me:
So then, let’s invent the future together.
And, in an Enterprise Social world, that includes Softies working with fellow Softies, in a “One Microsoft” way, and it also, includes working with our customers to co-create our future.
Here’s a little fun …
… Are you the next Microsoft employee?
Here is the final episode of Be the Next Microsoft Employee, where the winner gets the grand prize -- a job at Microsoft. It really happens too – the winner started July 30th, 2012. Check out the finale episode of Be the Next Microsoft Employee:
(Note – If the video doesn’t play for you, try watching directly on YouTube at Be the Next Microsoft Employee.)
It’s a great little video. One of the contestants even poses the question – “To Azure? … or Not to Azure?”
If you think just being technically strong is the name of the game, that’s not so.
I liked this comment by judge, Tim DiMarco:
“In addition to technical skills, your ability to communicate your ideas effectively, collaborate across teams, and be able to sell your ideas is critical to long term success at Microsoft.”
I also liked these other comments and pointers by the judges:
Here are some of the folks involved in making this happen:
You can explore the Microsoft Learning team’s Be the Next Microsoft Employee Home Page where all of the episodes are available, as well as more information about the show.
I read a lot. I read fast. I go through a lot of books each month. Books help give me new ideas and ways to do things better, faster, and cheaper. Books are one of the best ways I get the edge in work and life.
Here are the 5 of the best books I’ve read recently, along with links to my reviews:
When Can You Start?, as the name implies, is all about turning interviews into job offers. It’s a quick read and it tackles many of the common pitfalls you can run into during the interview process. Best of all, it provides a methodical approach for preparing for your interviews, by using your resume as a platform for telling your story in a relevant way. If you’re trying to find a job, this is a great book for helping you get your head in the game, and stand out from the crowd, during the interview process.
Advices is for Winners is a cornucopia of insights and actions for creating an effective board of advisors to help you in work and life. I thought it would be a fluff book, but it was actually a very technical guide. It's written by an engineer, so the advice is very specific, and very data-driven. It includes a lot of lists, such as 6 benefits of getting advice, 22 questions for scoring a scenario, and 28 reasons why people resist advice. Mentors are the short-cuts and getting better advice is how you get ahead.
The Power of Starting Something Stupid is all about how to crush fear, make dreams happen, and live without regret. In the forward, Stephen Covey wrote: "It reminds each of us that all things are possible, that life is short, and to take action now."
Stories that Move Mountains introduces the CAST system for creating visual stories. It’s a powerful book about how to improve your presentation skills using storytelling and visuals. I ended up using some of the ideas in one of my presentations recently to senior leadership, and it helped me prioritize and sequence my slides in a far more effective way.
It's Already Inside directly addresses the question, "Are leaders born or made?" The book is a really great synthesis of the leadership habits and practices that will make you a more productive and more effective leader.
Each of these books has something for you in it. Of course, the challenge for you is to dive inside, find the gems that ring true for you, and apply them.
Nothing helps you stay the course, or pick up the pace, or deal with setbacks like purpose. One of the best ways to focus, get your groove on, and make things happen is the power of purpose.
Time management tips #8 is power up with purpose. Purpose is they "why" behind what you do. It gives you a meaningful mission to apply your strengths, experience, and talent. In the absence of purpose, you lose your drive. After all, it's hard to bring out your best when there's no motivating mission.
Purpose comes in all shapes and sizes. Some say, "Go big or go home." For many, that's a way to step up to the plate. A way to swing with all their might. A way to dream big dreams. Here's what this might look like:
- I’m the researcher who finds the truth. - I’m the developer who writes the code to change the world. - I’m the coach who helps make others great. - I’m the musician who makes people feel alive. - I’m the poet who makes people think.
Purpose doesn't have to be grandiose to be effective. For others, a simple meaningful purpose is all they need. Heres' what this might look like:
- I’m the technical specialist who helps customers succeed on the platform. - I’m the Program Manager who helps customers share cool experiences. - I’m the glue who connects the UI to the developers.
Roles and goals are a simple way to find purpose. Take your role, line it up with the goal, and make that your mission or your purpose. Here are some that I have used:
- I am the PM who shapes the cloud story for end-to-end engagements in the Enterprise. - I am the PM who shapes the Microsoft application story for customer success. - I am the Pm who shapes the security and performance story for LOB apps.
You can make the purpose for the day, the week, the month, the year, etc. You know you nailed it when it inspires you to action, and it helps you get out of bed in the morning.
Create a one-liner reminder of your purpose that you can use today, to make your mission more meaningful.
In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the time management exercises to find your purpose and get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis. You can also find more time management tips in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, and on Getting Results.com
If you don’t know the scenarios for the Cloud, it’s hard to make the case for the Cloud. Whether you’re a Solution Architect, Enterprise Architect, Business Leaders, IT Leaders, CIO, analyst, etc., you need to know the pains, needs, and desired outcomes so that you can rationalize the technology more effectively.
What you’ll find below are collections of scenarios large and small that will help you see the full landscape of the Cloud within the Enterprise landscape. When you have the scenarios at your fingertips, you can better evaluate business strategies or technical strategies, as well as create more effective business cases, because you understand the pains, needs, desired outcomes, as well as the benefits that go along with each scenario.
Achieve cost-effective business continuity Create new revenue streams from existing capabilities Decrease power consumption Decrease the time to market for new capabilities Easily integrate new businesses into your organization Improve operational efficiency to enable more innovation Improve the connection with your customers Provide elastic capacity to meet business demand Provide Enterprise messaging from anywhere Reduce upfront investment in new initiatives
Business Intelligence Cloud Computing Consumerization of IT Corporate Environmental Sustainability Innovation for Growth Low-Cost Computing in the Enterprise
For details on each of the scenarios, including a description and key benefits, see:
Here is a robust collection of User Stories for Cloud Enterprise Strategy.
To do a deep dive on the pains, needs, and desired outcomes from around the world, I created a round up of user stories for the Cloud, from the perspective of business leaders, IT leaders, and Enterprise Architects. I included many CIOs from several large companies in different industries to get a broad perspective. I ended up with more than 50 user stories of the pains, needs, and desired outcomes for the Cloud in the Enterprise. Note that while the list is a bit dated, many of the core user stories are still highly relevant and actually evergreen.
With a prioritized list of the user stories for the Cloud, I then grouped them into a simple set of categories:
If you haven’t seen it, TechNet has a Cloud Scenarios Hub.
I like the focus on scenarios – it’s a great way to bring together a problem and a solution in context, while pulling together all the relevant guidance. It’s a focusing anchor-point in action.
I created a simple index to the Public and Private Cloud Scenarios.
Cloud Security Threats and Countermeasures at a Glance
Windows Azure Security Notes
Microsoft Cloud Case Studies at a Glance
How Microsoft IT Does Cloud Computing
Move to the Cloud, Use the Cloud, or Be the Cloud
Satya Nadella, the new CEO for Microsoft, is all about employee engagement and employee empowerment.
Here is how Satya reminded us that we all need to be a leader:
“We express that core identity, being the company that allows every individual to be more empowered and get more out of every moment of their lives as things get more digital. I want each of us to give ourselves permission to be able to move things forward. Each of us sometimes overestimate the power others have to do things vs. our own ability to make things happen. Everyone in the company has to be a leader.”
Here is a great video that a colleague sent me on how to embed the capacity for greatness in the people and practices of an organization.
Video: Greatness, by David Marquet
If you see a problem, fix it.
If you see an opportunity take it.
Don’t wait for somebody else to do it.
Satya Nadella is the New Microsoft CEO
Satya Nadella is All About Customer Focus, Employee Engagement, and Changing the World
Satya Nadella on the Future is Software
Talk about taking some things for granted. Especially when it’s a love-hate relationship. I’m talking about Annual Reviews.
I didn’t realize how valuable they can be when you own the process and you line them up with your bigger goal setting for life. I’ve done them for so long, in this way, that I forgot how much they are a part of my process for carving out a high-impact year.
I know I might do things a big differently in terms of how I do my review, so I highlighted key things in my post:
The Power of Annual Reviews for Achieving Your Goals and Realizing Your Potential
Note that if you hate the term Annual Review because it conjures up a bunch of bad memories, then consider calling it your Annual Retrospective. If you’re a Scrum fan, you’ll appreciate the twist.
Here’s the big idea:
If you “own” your Annual Review, you can use taking a look back to take a leap forward.
What I mean is that if you are pro-active in your approach, and if you really use feedback as a gift, you can gain tremendous insights into your personal growth and capabilities.
Here’s a summary of what I do in terms of my overall review process:
It’s not an easy process. But that’s just it. That’s what makes it worth it. It’s a tough look at the hard stuff that matters. The parts of the process that make it a challenge are the opportunities for growth. Looking back, I can see how much easier it is for me to really plan out a year of high-impact where I live my values and play to my strengths. I can also see early warning signs and anticipate downstream challenges. I know when I first started, it was daunting to figure out what a year might look like. Now, it’s almost too easy.
This gives me a great chance up front to play out a lot of “What If?” scenarios. This also gives me a great chance right up front to ask the question, if this is how the year will play out, is that the ride I want to be on? The ability to plan out our future capability vision, design a better future, and change our course is part of owning our destiny.
In my experience, a solid plan at the right level, gives you more flexibility and helps you make smarter choices, before you become a frog in the boiling pot.
If you haven’t taken the chance to really own and drive your Annual Review, then consider doing an Annual Retrospective, and use the process to help you leap frog ahead.
Make this YOUR year.
2012 Year in Review
Anatomy of a High-Potential
Mid-Year Review, Career, and Getting Ahead
Performance Review Template
The Guerilla Guide to Getting a Better Performance Review at Microsoft
Getting Results the Agile Way is a time management system for achievers. It combines some of the best practices for thinking, feeling, and taking action into one simple system to help you make the most of what you’ve got, and master your time management skills. It draws from software development, project management, positive psychology, and sports psychology.
Free Time Management Training As an introduction to the system, I created a free 30 Day Boot Camp for Getting Results. It's called a boot camp because it's hard-core. It's a 30 day, self-paced time management training course. If you want to take your time management skills to the next level, then take the 30 Day Boot Camp for Getting Results. Keep in mind that because it’s self-paced, you could do all 30 lessons in a day, if you choose to. This may be one of the best time management training courses you ever take, and the price is tough to beat.
Time Management Skills Here are some of the time management skills you will learn, tune, and improve as part of the time management training:
You will learn time management tips and strategies as part of a system, each lesson can be used by itself or “better together” with other lessons.
Time Management Training Lessons at a Glance Here are the 30 Lessons at a Glance that make up the time management training:
Early in my patterns & practices days, each time I built a new team, we had a hard time figuring out what level to cater our writing for because we had such a variety of audience, even among architects.
After a lot of pain, we finally adopted a three-level system that serves us very well. It helped us focus our writing and nail problems in an incremental way. You’ll never see this in our docs, but it shaped how we prioritize our docs. We used three levels …
Three Levels of Guidance Here is the behind-the-scenes look at how we talked about these three levels of guidance on the team:
Prioritizing Guidance As a rule of thumb, we decided that we would focus on first addressing Level 1 – “My Arm’s Broke, Fix Me.” This way, we could at least leave a trail of proven practices and pave a path of success. As a result, many of the guides I shipped from patterns & practices are heavy on “How Tos.” In fact, the guides are really “action guides.” The first half of the guide, sets the stage by sharing mental models, key concepts, and principles. This is optimized for reading in a sequential flow, but still modular so you can hop around. The second half of the guides is a focus on “action” and is a set of action modules (Cheat Sheets, Checklists, Guidelines, How Tos). It’s optimized for random access, and the individual modules link back to the related items.
This simple way to think about the majority of our guidance helped us significantly priorities the work we did for the following projects:
One of the best ways to win back time is to use outcomes. An outcome is simply an end-result, or an end-in-mind. You identify outcomes by asking, "What do I want to accomplish?" or "What do I want to achieve?"
Time management tips #17 is identify outcomes. When you know your outcomes, you know your target. Now you can focus on that. You can shave everything else off. By knowing the outcomes, you can focus on the most essential activities or steps to achieve the outcome. Or, as Bruce Lee would say, "Hack away at the unessential."
For example, consider these scenarios:
As a quick test, take any activity that you are about to do, and identity the outcome for it. This becomes your little test case. Now, when you execute, you can check yourself with your test case -- have you satisifed your test case yet?
If you get lost in asking about outcomes, simply start asking, "What's the goal?" By asking, "What's the goal?", you can quickly get back on track. Similarly you can ask, "What are you trying to accomplish?"
In either case, the point is to identify your target so that you can narrow your focus, and optimize
Outcomes help you hack away at the unessential, and they are your piercing lens of value.
For free time management training , check out 30 Days of Getting Results, and for a time management system check out Getting Results.com.
Value Realization is hot. You can think of Value Realization as simply the value extracted from a process or project.
Business leaders want to understand the benefits they’ll get from their technology solutions. They also want to see the value of their investment deliver benefits and deliver real results along the way. And, of course, they also want to accelerate adoption so that they can speed up their value realization, as well as help avoid “value leakage".”
But how do you actually do Value Realization in the real world? …
This is a guest post by Blessing Sibanyoni. Blessing delivers advisory, IT architecture, and planning services to Microsoft’s top enterprise customers within the financial services sector. He has more than 17 years of experience in the IT field. He is currently an Enterprise Architect and Strategy Advisor on behalf of Microsoft Corporation.
As an Enterprise Strategy Advisor, Blessing helps organizations achieve challenging business and organizational goals. He does so by helping them leverage value from their current and future investments, enabled by technology. Blessing has a solid record of delivering large and complex initiatives within organizations while always doing this in a mutually beneficial way. You can connect with Blessing Sibanyoni on LinkedIn.
Without further ado, here’s Blessing on Value Realization …
Often we grapple with the notion of value. At first it seems like a very simple thing but when you really take time to consider it, you realize how complicated and multi-dimensional it becomes. Take a simple example of a person who follows a methodology, based on best practices, who crosses all the t’s and dots the i’s but at the end of the day experiences a failed project or is unable to reach goals that his customers appreciate. Or perhaps, what about the notion of another who is highly intelligent but working for someone far less “intelligent” from a credentials or even IQ perspective.
What has happened here?
Why do these paradoxes occur and how do you ensure you are not ending up experiencing the same?
I would argue that at the heart of these conundrums is the notion of value. Value is the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged. Often it’s not about inputs but rather outcomes and many state that you cannot achieve it without effecting a transformation. The transformation itself can be virtual or manifested in the real world, but for true value to be derived, transformation in whatever form, must transpire.
For transformation to transpire a real pain must be felt.
After spending almost two decades in public and private enterprises, I’m still intrigued by why organizations decide to spend resources on some things and not others. Often it’s the thing that seem to make the least sense which these organizations decide to put all their resources into.
This curiosity is one that lingers on especially realizing that resources are often limited and logically, one would naturally be better positioned by focusing on projects or initiatives that offer more returns and deserve more attention. One could take the cynical view that common sense is not so common, or the perspective that organizations are made of people, and people are irrational and fallible beings that bring their own biases into every situation.
So the notion of value then or the expectation of what will bring value is often subjective and largely determined in the eye of the beholder.
I have met many stakeholders who are more interested in the qualitative rather than the quantitative. Surprisingly, this is true, even in financial services!
Giving such people a quantitative, seemingly logical justification is often destined to result in failure, and the converse is also true. So, knowing your stakeholders, what drives and resonates with them is more important that coming up with a definitive, objective, rational and quantitative hypothesis in order to convince them to take some action.
Recently I was fortunate to have worked with a senior executive who was very financially inclined with a major focus on bottom line impact. This stakeholder did so well in the organization that he was soon promoted. To my surprise the person who replaced him was much more people oriented and his biggest concerns were around how the changes proposed would impact people within the organization. The new stakeholder’s view was that people came first and happy employees result in a positive bottom line effect.
I believe both execs had a great view, even though it seemed that their perspectives were fundamentally different.
The key for me was to ensure that both qualitative and quantitative arguments were well prepared in advance so that we could tell compelling stories that drove the agenda regardless of the different concerns and viewpoints.
Knowing your industry and thinking ahead about what your stakeholders may not yet know that they need or desire, is also a very valuable thing to do.
Think about the world of tablet computers that nobody knew they needed just a few years ago, yet these things are now taking the world by storm...
At the beginning I spoke about blind implementation of a methodology being a less than great thing, I would argue that the following steps make great sense around realizing that value, in the eye of the beholder:
Paul Lidbetter on Value Realization
Martin Sykes on Value Realization
Mark Bestauros on Value Realization
Graham Doig on Value Realization