J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Habits, Dreams, and Goals

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    I’ve been talking to people in the halls about what they learned about goals from last year, and what they are going to do differently this year.   We’ve had chats about New Years Resolutions, habits, goals, and big dreams. (My theme is Dream Big for 2015.)

    Here are a few of the insights that I’ve been sharing with people that really seems to create a lot clarity:

    1. Dream big first, then create your goals.  Too many people start with goals, but miss the dream that holds everything together.   The dream is the backdrop and it needs to inspire you and pull your forward.  Your dream needs to be actionable and believable, and it needs to reflect your passion and your purpose.
    2. There are three types of actions:  habits, goals, and inspired actions.   Habits can help support our goals and reach our dreams.   Goals are really the above and beyond that we set our sights on and help us funnel and focus our energy to reach meaningful milestones.   They take deliberate focus and intent.  You don’t randomly learn to play the violin with skill.  It takes goals.  Inspired actions are the flashes of insight and moments of brilliance.
    3. People mess up by focusing on goals, but not having any habits that support them.  For example, if I have an extreme fitness goal, but I have the ice-cream habit, I might not reach my goals.  Or, if I want to be an early bird, but I have the party-all-night long, or a I’m a late-night reader, that might not work out so well.  
    4. People mess up on their habits when they have no goals.  They might inch their way forward, but they can easily spend an entire year, and not actually have anything significant or meaningful for themselves, because they never took the chance to dream big, or set a goal they cared about.   So while they’ve made progress, they didn’t make any real pop.   Their life was slow and steady.  In some cases, this is great, if all they wanted.  But I also know people that feel like they wasted the year, because they didn’t do what they knew they were capable of, or wanted to achieve.
    5. People can build habits that help them reach new goals.   Some people I knew have built fantastic habits.  They put a strong foundation in place that helps them reach for more.  They grow better, faster, stronger, and more powerful.   In my own experience, I had some extreme fitness goals, but I started with a few healthy habits.  My best one is wake up, work out.  I just do it.  I do a 30 minute workout.   I don’t have to think about it, it’s just part of my day like brushing my teeth.  Since it’s a habit, I keep doing it, so I get better over time.  When I first started the workout, I sucked.  I repeated the same workout three times, but by the third time, I was on fire.   And, since it’s a habit, it’s there for me, as a staple in my day, and, in reality, the most empowering part of my day.  It boosts me and gives me energy that makes everything else in my day, way easier, much easier to deal with, and I can do things in half the time, or in some cases 10X.

    Maybe the most important insight is that while you don’t need goals to make your habits effective, it’s really easy to spend a year, and then wonder where the year went, without the meaningful milestones to look back on.   That said, I’ve had a few years, where I simply focused on habits without specific goals, but I always had a vision for a better me, or a better future in mind (more like a direction than a destination.)

    As I’ve taken friends and colleagues through some of my learnings over the holidays, regarding habits, dreams, and goals, I’ve had a few people say that I should put it all together and share it, since it might help more people add some clarity to setting and achieving their goals.

    Here it is:

    How Dreams, Goals, and Habits Fit Together

    Enjoy, and Dream Big for 2015.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Building Better Business Cases for Digital Initiatives

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    It’s hard to drive digital initiatives and business transformation if you can’t create the business case.  Stakeholder want to know what their investment is supposed to get them

    One of the simplest ways to think about business cases is to think in terms of stakeholders, benefits, KPIs, costs, and risks over time frames.

    While that’s the basic frame, there’s a bit of art and science when it comes to building effective business cases, especially when it involves transformational change.

    Lucky for us, in the book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee, share some of their lessons learned in building better business cases for digital initiatives.

    What I like about their guidance is that it matches my experience

    Link Operational Changes to Tangible Business Benefits

    The more you can link your roadmap to benefits that people care about and can measure, the better off you are.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “You need initiative-based business cases that establish a clear link from the operational changes in your roadmap to tangible business benefits.  You will need to involve employees on the front lines to help validate how operational changes will contribute to strategic goals.”

    Work Out the Costs, the Benefits, and the Timing of Return

    On a good note, the same building blocks that apply to any business case, apply to digital initiatives.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “The basic building blocks of a business case for digital initiatives are the same as for any business case.  Your team needs to work out the costs, the benefits, and the timing of the return.  But digital transformation is still uncharted territory.  The cost side of the equation is easier, but benefits can be difficult to quantify, even when, intuitively, they seem crystal clear.”

    Start with What You Know

    Building a business case is an art and a science.   To avoid getting lost in analysis paralysis, start with what you know.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Building a business case for digital initiatives is both an art an a science.  With so many unknowns, you'll need to take a pragmatic approach to investments in light of what you know and what you don't know.

    Start with what you know, where you have most of the information you need to support a robust cost-benefit analysis.  A few lessons learned from our Digital Masters can be useful.”

    Don’t Build Your Business Case as a Series of Technology Investments

    If you only consider the technology part of the story, you’ll miss the bigger picture.  Digital initiatives involves organizational change management as well as process change.  A digital initiative is really a change in terms of people, process, and technology, and adoption is a big deal.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Don't build your business case as a series of technology investments.  You will miss a big part of the costs.  Cost the adoption efforts--digital skill building, organizational change, communication, and training--as well as the deployment of the technology.  You won't realize the full benefits--or possibly any benefits--without them.”

    Frame the Benefits in Terms of Business Outcomes

    If you don’t work backwards from the end-in-mind, you might not get there.  You need clarity on the business outcomes so that you can chunk up the right path to get there, while flowing continuous value along the way.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Frame the benefits in terms of the business outcomes you want to reach.  These outcomes can be the achievement of goals or the fixing of problems--that is, outcomes that drive more customer value, higher revenue, or a better cost position.  Then define the tangible business impact and work backward into the levers and metrics that will indicate what 'good' looks like.  For instance, if one of your investments is supposed to increase digital customer engagement, your outcome might be increasing engagement-to-sales conversation.  Then work back into the main metrics that drive this outcome, for example, visits, like inquiries, ratings, reorders, and the like.

    When the business impact5 of an initiative is not totally clear, look at companies that have already made similar investments.  Your technology vendors can also be a rich, if somewhat biased, source of business cases for some digital investments.”

    Run Small Pilots, Evaluate Results, and Refine Your Approach

    To reduce risk, start with pilots to live and learn.   This will help you make informed decisions as part of your business case development.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “But, whatever you do, some digital investment cases will be trickier to justify, be they investments in emerging technologies or cutting-edge practices.  For example, what is the value of gamifying your brand's social communities?  For these types of investment opportunities, experiment with a test-and-learn approach.  State your measures of success, run small pilots, evaluate results, and refine your approach.  Several useful tools and methods exist, such as hypothesis-driven experiments with control groups, or A/B testing.  The successes (and failures) of small experiments can then become the benefits rationale to invest at greater scale.  Whatever the method, use an analytical approach; the quality of your estimated return depends on it.

    Translating your vision into strategic goals and building an actionable roadmap is the firs step in focusing your investment.  It will galvanize the organization into action.  But if you needed to be an architect to develop your vision, you need to be a plumber to develop your roadmap.  Be prepared to get your hands dirty.”

    While practice makes perfect, business cases aren’t about perfect.  Their job is to help you get the right investment from stakeholders so you can work on the right things, at the right time, to make the right impact.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Think a Series of Sprints, Not Marathons

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    When you drive business change and digital initiatives with Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data (and Internet of Things), successful businesses think a series of sprints, not marathons.

    Successful businesses go digital by transforming their customer experiences, their employee experiences, and their back-office experiences through rapid prototyping, building proofs-of-concept, testing pilots, and going to production.  It’s a fast cycle of prototype –> pilot –> POC –> production.

    These short cycles create rapid learning loops, build momentum, and help adapt for change.

    In the book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee, share some of their lessons learned in driving digital initiatives and agile transformation.

    The Digital World Moves Quickly

    Avoid Big Up Front Design.  Whenever there is a big lag time between designing it, developing it, and using it, you’re introducing more risk.  You’re breaking feedback loops.  You’re falling into the pit of analysis paralysis.   Focus on “just enough design” so that you can test what works and what doesn’t, and respond accordingly.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “The digital world moves quickly.  The rapid pace of technology innovation today does not lend itself to multiyear planning and waterfall development methods common in the ERP era.  Markets change, new technologies become mainstream, an disruptive entrants begin courting your customers.  Your roadmap will need to be nimble enough to recognize these changes, adapt for them, and course-correct.”

    Keep a Vision in Mind and Build on Success Along the Way

    Hold on to the vision and use that to guide you as you test your ideas and implement them, without getting bogged down.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “To design an agile transformation, borrow an approach that has become common among today's leading software companies.  Keep people committed to the end goal, but pace your initiatives as short sprints of effort.  Create prototype solutions, and experiment with new technologies or approaches.  Evaluate the results, and incorporate the results into your evolving roadmap.  Adam Brotman, Starbucks CDO, explained the iterative process: 'We didn't have all the answers, but we started thinking about other things we could do ... I think it worked not to go too far, too fast, but to keep a vision in mind and keep building on success along the way.”

    Test Ideas, Save Time, Adapt to Changes

    Short cycle times help you respond to market change and adapt as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “The test-and-learn approach will require some new ways of working in its own right, but it enjoys some distinct advantages.  By marketing ideas quickly before they go to scale, this approach saves time and money.  It's short cycle times also make it more adaptive to external changes.  Finally, it enables your transformation to sustain momentum through small, incremental successes, rather than the big-bang approach of long-term programs.”

    When it comes to your digital strategy and driving business transformation, drive your business change the agile way.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The Future of IT Leaders

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    I’ll need to elaborate on this at some point, to share what I’ve experienced across lots of businesses large and small, as well as some of the biggest businesses on the planet, as they transform themselves for the digital economy.

    Meanwhile, here is an interesting read on CIO Straight Talk magazine.

    In their words, "CIO Straight Talk is a series of "straight talking" articles from senior IT executives and leading companies and government and nonprofit organizations."

    This first edition is focused on learning, failing and learning in the Second Machine Age, and features two non-practitioner experts on current topics:

    “Andrew McAfee, co-author of the New York Times bestseller The Second Machine Age, cofounder of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy and Principal Research Scientist at MIT Sloan School of Management, talks about ‘The CIO’s role in the enterprise of the future.’ Says McAfee: ‘The overall trend is that companies of all stripes will need, proportionately, many fewer people in IT. Those who remain will be very highly valued, very highly skilled, very important… Enterprises are going to need someone to help them navigate the second machine age… I think that if the CIO plays her cards right, this can absolutely be her role in the enterprise.’”

    Michelle Gallen, the CEO of Shhmooze, a social networking start-up, talks about failure, not to be confused Failure Lite – ‘I failed. How nice. I learned so much’ – often hailed breezily by management experts as something everyone should experience and every company should encourage. Real failure, according to this serial entrepreneur, isn’t pretty. Says Gallen: ‘I don’t think you learn without failing… In the start-up world, innovation is the ability to take an idea and turn it into an invoice. Lots of larger business organizations also rely on cash flow to keep them alive, and therefore innovation has to be monetized. If you’re Apple or Microsoft, you’ve got a war chest, and you can actually allow failure. A lot of companies can’t actually afford it. It’s quite an expensive hobby, failing.’”

    So there you have it -- failure is an expensive hobby and the few IT leaders left in organizations will be very highly valued, very highly skilled, and very important.

    There’s more to the story and I’ll share what I’ve learned over the past few years helping companies cross the Cloud chasm and accelerating their digital transformation.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    100 Top Agile Blogs

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    Luis Goncalves has put together a list called the 100 Top Agile Blogs:

    If you don't know Luis, he lives and breathes driving adoption of Agile practices.

    Luis is also an Agile Coach, Co-Author, Speaker, and Blogger.  He is also the co-founder of a MeetUp group called High Performing Teams, and he is a certified Scrum Master and Product Owner.

    Here is a preview of the list of top 100 Agile Blogs:

    image

     

    For the rest of the list, check out 100 Top Agile Blogs.

    Lists like these are a great way to discover blogs you may not be aware of.  

    While there will be a bunch of blogs you already know, chances are, with that many at a glance, there will be at least a few new ones you can add to your reading list.

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    Driving Business Transformation by Reenvisioning Your Customer Experience

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    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.

    3 Perspectives of Digital Vision

    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.”

    Start with Your Customer Experience

    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.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “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.”

    Transform the Relationship

    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.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “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.’”

    Serve Your Customers in Smarter Ways

    You can use technology to personalize the experience for your customers, and create better interactions along the customer experience journey.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “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.”

    Learn from Customer Behavior

    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.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “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.”

    Change Customers’ Lives

    If you focus on high-value activities, you can create breakthroughs in the daily lives of your customers.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “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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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Drive Business Transformation by Reenvisioning Your Operations

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    When you create your digital vision, you have a few places to start.

    One place to start is by reenvisioning your customer experience.   Another place to start is by reenvisioning your operations.   And, a third place to start is by renvisioning your business model.

    In this post, let’s take a look at reenvisioning your operations.

    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.

    Start with Reenvisioning Operations When Financial Performance is Tied to Your Supply Chain

    If your financial performance is closely connected to the performance of your core operations and supply chain, then reenvisioning your operations can be a great place to start.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Organizations whose fortunes are closely tied to the performance of their core operations and supply chains often start with reenvisioning their operations.”

    Increase Process Visibility, Decision Making Speed, and Collaboration

    There are many great business reasons to focus on improving your operations.   A few of the best include increasing process visibility, increasing speed of decision making, and improving collaboration across the board.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “The business drivers of operational visions include efficiency and the need to integrate disparate operations.  Executives may want to increase process visibility and decision making speed or to collaborate across silos.”

    Proctor & Gamble Reenvisions Operational Excellence

    Proctor and Gamble changed their game by focusing on operational excellence.  The key was to be able to manage the business in real time so they could keep up with their ever-changing world.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “For instance, in 2011, Proctor & Gamble put operational excellence at the center of its digital vision: 'Digitizing P&G will enable us to manage the business in real time and on a very demand-driven basis.  We'll be able to collaborate more effectively and efficiently, inside and outside the company.'  Other companies in industries from banking to manufacturing, have transformed themselves through similar operationally focused visions.”

    Operational Visions are Key to Businesses that Sell to Other Businesses

    If your business is a provider of products or services to other businesses, then your operational vision is especially important as it can have a ripple effect on what your customers do.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Operational visions are especially useful for businesses that sell largely to other businesses.  When Codelco first launched its Codelco Digital initiative, the aim was to improve mining operations radically through automation and data integration.  As we described in chapter 3, Codelco continued to extend this vision to include new mining automation and integration operations-control capability.  Now, executives are envisioning radical new ways to redefine the mining process and possibly the industry itself.”

    Operational Visions Can Change the Industry

    When you change your operations, you can change the industry.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “The operational visions of some companies go beyond an internal perspective to consider how the company might change operations in its industry or even with its customers.“

    Changes to Operations Can Enable Customers to Change Their Own Operations

    When you improve your operations,  you can help others move up the solution stack.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “For example, aircraft manufacturer Boeing envisions how changes to its products may enable customers to change their own operations.  'Boeing believes the future of the aviation industry lie in 'the digital airline,' the company explained on its website. 'To succeed in the marketplace, airlines and their engineering and IT teams must take advantage of the increasing amount of data coming off of airplanes, using advanced analytics and airplane technology to take operational efficiency to the next level.' “

    Get Information to the People Who Need it Most, When They Need It Most

    One of the best things you can do when you improve operations is to put the information in the hands of the people that need it most, when they need it most, where they need it most.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “The manufacturer goes on to paint a clear picture of what a digital airline means in practice: 'The key to to the digital airline is delivering secure, detailed operational and maintenance information to the people who need it most, when they need it most.  That means that engineering will share data with IT, but also with the finance, accounting, operational and executive functions.' “

    Better Operations Enables New Product Designs and Services

    When you improve operations, you enable and empower business breakthroughs in all parts of the business.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “The vision will improve operations at Boeing's customers, but will also help Boeing's operations as the information from airplanes should help the company identify new ways to improve its product designs and services.  The day may also lead to new business models as Boeing uses the information to provide new services to customers.”

    When you create your digital vision, while there are lots of places you could start, the key is to take an end-to-end view.

    If your financial performance is tied to your core operations and your supply chain, and/or you are a provider of products and services to others, then consider starting your business transformation by reenvisioning your operations.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    How To Improve the IT-Business Relationship

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    It’s possible to change IT from a poorly respected cost center to a high-functioning business partner.

    Driving business transformation is a people, process, and technology thing.

    Some people think they can change their business without IT.   The challenge is that technology is the enabler of significant business change in today’s digital landscape.  Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data all bring significant capabilities to the table, and IT can hold the keys.

    But the business doesn’t want to hear that.

    Business Leaders Want to Hear About the WHY and WHAT of the Business

    Business leaders don’t want to hear about the HOW of technology.

    Business leaders want to hear about the impact on their business.   They want to hear about how predictive analytics can help them build a better pipeline, or target more relevant offers.   Business leaders want to hear about how they can create cross-sell/upsell opportunities in real-time.   And, business leaders want to hear about the business benefits and the KPI that will be impacted by choosing a particular strategy.

    The reality is that the new Digital Masters of the emerging Digital Economy bring their IT with them, and in many cases, their IT even helps lead the business into the new Digital Frontier.

    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.

    How IT Can Change Its Game

    While it takes work on both sides, IT can change it’s game by creating transparency around performance, roles, and value.  This includes helping employees think and talk differently about what they do.   IT can show very clearly how it delivers value for the money.  And IT can change the way IT and business leaders make investment decisions and assess the returns.

    IT Needs to Speak Business

    The CIO and everybody in IT, needs to speak the language of business.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Poor relations between IT and business leaders can have many causes.  Sometimes it's the personality of the IT leader.  A common complaint among senior executives is that their CIO seems to speak a different language from the business.  Another is that the CIO doesn't seem to understand what's really important.  For example, a chemical company CIO we interviewed described how he communicates regularly with business executives about the innovative possibilities of digital technologies.  Yet none of his business executive peers (whom we interviewed separately) seemed to find the discussions credible.”

    IT Needs to Deliver Better, Faster, and More Reliably than Outsourcing

    It’s a competitive world and IT needs to continuously find ways to deliver solutions in a way that makes business sense.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Sometimes the issue arises from IT's delivery capability.  According to Bud Mathaisel, who has served as CIO in several large companies, 'It starts with competence in delivering services reliably, economically, and at very high quality.  It is the absolute essential to be even invited into meaningful dialog about how you then build on that competence to do something very interesting with it.'  Unfortunately, some IT units today do not have this competence.  One business executive we interviewed said, 'IT is a mess.  It's costs are not acceptable.  It proposes things in nine or ten months, where external firms could do them in three to nine weeks.  We started offshoring our IT, and now our IT guys are trying to change.' A legacy of poor communication, byzantine decision processes, and broken commitments is no foundation on which to build a strong IT-business relationship.”

    IT Needs a Good Digital Platform to Be High-Performing IT

    In order to bet on IT, it needs to be high-performing.  And in order for IT to be high-performing, it needs to have a good digital platform.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “However, the fault doesn't always rest only with IT leaders.  In many cases, business executive share some of the blame ... high-performing IT requires a good digital platform, and good platforms require discipline.  If your approach to working with IT can be characterized by impatience, unreasonable expectations, or insisting on doing things your way, then you'll need to think about how to change your side of the relationship.”

    CIOs Can Lead Digital Business Transformation

    Key business transformation takes technology.  CIOs can help lead the business transformation, whether it's through shared goals with the business, creating a new governance mechanism, or creating a new shared digital unit.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Regardless of the case, if your IT-business relationships are poor, it's essential to fix the problem.  A bank executive stated, 'IT has been brought closer to business during the last five years.  It is very important to success because man of the important transformations in our business are enabled by technology.'  With strong relationships, IT executives can help business executives meet their goals, and business executives listen when IT people suggest innovations.  Executives on both sides are willing to be flexible in creating new governance mechanisms or shared digital units.  At Codelco, Asian Paints, and P&G, the CIO even leads digital transformation for the company.”

    CIOs Can Help Drive the Bus with the Executive Team

    CIOs can help drive the bus, but it takes more than senior sponsorship.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “So, how can you start to improve your IT-business relationship?  Angela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, told her CIO he needed to help drive the bus with the executive team.  However, leadership changes or top-down mandates are only the start of the change.  Few CIOs can change the business by themselves, and not all business executives will climb on the bus with the CIO, even if the CEO demands it.”

    Fix How You Communicate to Fix the IT-Business Relationship

    Start by fixing how you communicate between the business and IT.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Fixing the IT-business relationship can take time, as people learn how to trust each other and redefine the way they work together.  As with any struggling relationship, the best starting point is to fix the way you communicate.  Does IT really cost too much, or are costs reasonable, given what IT has to do? Is the IT unit really too bureaucratic, or do all of those procedures actually serve a useful purpose?  Are you a good partner to IT or a difficult one?  How can IT make it easier for you to get what you need, while still making sure things are done correctly?  What investments can help IT improve its technology, internal processes, cost-effectiveness, quality, or speed?”

    Change IT from a Poorly Respected Cost Center to a High-Functioning Business Partner

    It’s possible to change IT from a low performing cost center to a high-performing business partner.  Companies do it all the time, and MIT has the research.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “MIT research into IT turnarounds has identified a series of steps that can change IT from a poorly respected cost center to a high-functioning business partner.  The key change mechanism is transparency--around performance, roles, and value.  The first step is to help IT employees think, and talk, differently about what they do.  The second step proceeds to showing very clearly how well (or how poorly) IT delivers value for money--the right services at the right quality and right price, and where problems still exist.  And then the third step moves to changing the way IT and business leaders make investment decisions and assess the returns that projects deliver.  Through transparency around roles, performance, and investments, both sides can make smoother decisions and work together to identify and deliver innovation.”

    If you’re part of a business that wants to change the world, start by reimagining how IT can help you achieve the art of the possible.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Dual-Speed IT Drives Digital Business Transformation and Improves IT-Business Relationships

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    Don’t try to turn all of your traditional IT into a digital unit.  

    You’ll break both, or do neither well.

    Instead,  add a Digital Unit.   Meanwhile, continue to simplify and optimize your traditional IT, but, at the same time, add a Digital Unit that’s optimized to operate in a Cloud-First, Mobile-First world.

    This is the Dual-Speed IT approach, and, with this way, you can choose the right approach for the job and get the best of both worlds.

    Some projects involve more extensive planning because they are higher-risk and have more dependencies.

    Other projects benefit from a loose learning-by-doing method, with rapid feedback loops, customer impact, and testing new business waters.

    And, over time, you can shift the mix.

    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.

    Build Digital Skills Into One of Your Existing Business Units

    You can grow one of your existing business units into a Digital Unit.  For example, marketing is a pretty good bet, given the customer focus and the business impact.

    Via Leading Digital:

     

    “Changing the IT-business relationship is well worth the effort, but doing so takes time.  Your company may not have the time to wait before starting your digital transformation.  Rather than improving the IT unit, some companies try to build digital skills into another unit, such as marketing.  They try to work around IT rather than with it.”

    Don’t Mix Your Digital Unit with Your Traditional IT

    Don’t throw away your existing IT or break it by turning it into something it’s not, too quickly.   Instead, leverage it for the projects where it makes sense, while also leveraging your new Digital IT unit.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Although building digital skills is useful, trying to work around IT can be fraught with challenges, especially if people do not understand the reasons for IT's systematic, if sometimes ponderous, processes.  This kind of flanking action can waste money, make the digital platform more complex, and even worse, open the company to security and regulatory risks.”

    Create a Dual-Speed IT to Support Both Traditional IT and Faster-Speed Digital Transformation

    You can have the best of both worlds, while both evolving your traditional IT and growing your Digital Unit to thrive at Cloud speed.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “A better approach is to create a dual-speed IT structure, where one part of the IT unit continues to support traditional IT needs, while another takes on the challenge of operating at digital speed with the business.  Digital activities--especially in customer engagement--move faster than many traditional IT ones.  They look at design processes differently.  Where IT projects have traditionally depended on clear designs and well-structured project plans, digital activities often engage in test-and-learn strategies, trying features in real-life experiments and quickly adding or dropping them based on what they find.”

    Optimize the Digital Unit for Digital World

    Your Digital Unit needs to be very different from traditional IT in terms of the mindset and the approaches around the people, processes, and technology.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “In a dual-speed approach, the digital unit can develop processes and methods at clock-speeds more closely aligned with the digital world, without losing sight of the reasons that the old IT processes existed.  IT leaders can draw on informal relationships within the IT department to get access to legacy systems or make other changes happen.  Business leaders can use their networks to get input and resources.  Business and IT leaders can even start to work together in the kind of two-in-a-box leadership method that LBG and other companies have adopted.”

    Choose the Right Leadership Both in the Business and in IT

    To make it work and to make it work well, it takes partnerships on both sides.   The business and IT both need skin in the game.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Building dual-speed IT units requires choosing the right leadership on both sides of the relationship.  Business executives need to be comfortable with technology and with being challenged by their IT counterparts.  IT leaders need to have a mind-set that extends beyond technology to encompass the processes and drivers of business performance.  Leaders from both sides need to be strong communicators who can slide easily between conversations with their business- or IT-focused people.”

    Great IT Leaders Know When to Choose Traditional IT vs. the Digital Unit

    With both options at your disposal, Great IT Leaders know how to choose the right approach for the job.   Some programs and projects will take a more traditional life-cycle or require heavier planning or more extensive governance and risk management, while other projects can be driven in a more lightweight and agile way.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Dual-speed IT also requires perspective about the value of speed.  Not all digital efforts need the kind of fast-moving, constantly changing processes that digital customer-engagement processes can need.  In fact, the underlying technology elements that powered LBG's new platform, Asian Paints' operational excellence, and Nike's digital supply chain enhancements required the careful, systematic thinking that underpins traditional IT practices.  Doing these big implementations in a loose learning-by-doing method could be dangerous.  It could increase rework, waste money, and introduce security risks.  But once the strong digital platform is there, building new digital capabilities can be fast, agile, and innovative.  The key is to understand what you need in each type of project and how much room any project has to be flexible and agile.  Great IT leaders know how to do this.  If teamed with the right business leaders, they can make progress quickly and safely.”

    Dual-Speed IT Requires New Processes within IT

    It takes a shift in processes to do Dual-Speed IT.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Dual-speed IT also takes new processes inside IT.  Few digital businesses have the luxury to wait for monthly software release cycles for all of their applications.  Digital-image hosting business Flickr, for example, aims for up to ten deployments per day, while some businesses require even more.  This continuous-deployment approach requires very tight discipline and collaboration between development, test, and operations people.  A bug in software, missed step in testing, or configuration problem in deployment can bring down a web site or affect thousands of customers.”

    DevOps Makes Dual Speed IT Possible

    DevOps blends development and operations into a more integrated approach that simplifies and streamlines processes to shorten cycle times and speed up fixes and feedback loops.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “A relatively new software-development method called DevOps aims to make this kind of disciplined speed possible.  It breaks down silos between development, operations, and quality assurance groups, allowing them to collaborate more closely and be more agile.  When done properly, DevOps improves the speed and reliability of application development and deployment by standardizing development environments.  It uses strong methods and standards, including synchronizing the tools used by each group.”

    DevOps Can Help IT Release Software Better, Faster, Cheaper, and More Reliably

    DevOps is the name of the game when it comes to shipping better, faster, cheaper and more reliably in a Cloud-First, Mobile-First world.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “DevOps relies heavily on automated tools to do tasks in testing, configuration control, and deployment—tasks that are both slow and error-prone when done manually.  Companies that use DevOps need to foster a culture where different IT groups can work together and where workers accept the rules and methods that make the process effective.  The discipline, tools, and strong processes of DevOps can help IT release software more rapidly and with fewer errors, as well as monitor performance and resolve process issues more effectively, than before.”

    Driving Digital Transformation Takes a Strong Link Between Business and IT Executives

    In order for your Digital Transformation to thrive, it takes building better bridges between the business leaders and the IT leaders.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Whether your CIO takes it upon himself or herself to improve the IT-business relationship, or you decide to help make it happen, forging a strong link between business and IT executives is an essential part of driving digital transformation.  Strong IT-business relationships can transform the way IT works and the way the business works with it.  Through trust and shared understanding, your technology and business experts can collaborate closely, like at LBG, to innovate your business at digital speeds.  Without this kind of relationship, your company may become mired in endless requirements discussion, filing projects, and lackluster systems, while your competitors accelerate past you in the digital fast lane.”

    If you want to thrive in the new digital economy while driving digital business transformation without breaking your existing business, consider adding Dual-Speed IT to your strategies and shift the mix from traditional IT to your Digital Unit over time.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    How Leaders are Building Digital Skills

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    Cloud, mobile, social, and big data are changing the game of business.

    But to play the game well, leaders need to grow new skills.

    In order to create new customer experiences and market-leading operational capabilities, leaders need to invest in digital skills.

    Our Cloud-First, Mobile-First world provides unprecedented possibilities in terms of connectivity and compute resources for changing customer experiences, transforming the workforce, and transforming operations, and creating new business models.   Companies every day are building amazing solutions that integrate Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data capabilities as well as what the Internet of Things brings to the table.   But to take advantage of these capabilities, you need leaders that grow and invest in a digital platform and in digital skills.

    In the book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee, share how top leaders grow their digital skills.

    Creating Great Customer Experiences Requires New Skills and New Ways of Working

    Whether you want to reimagine your customer experience, or reimagine your operations, it takes new skills, and new ways of working.   Companies that don’t have the right digital skills struggle.   Worse, everybody is competing for the same skills, including social media analysts, mobile marketers, cloud architects, and data scientists.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Creating great customer experiences or market-leading operational capabilities is more than technology challenge.  It's also an organizational challenge requiring new skills and new ways of working.  Yet, 77 percent of companies in our first year of research cited missing digital skills as a major hurdle to their digital transformation success. To compound the problem, most companies are chasing after similar skills--social media analysts, mobile marketers, cloud architects, or data scientists, to name a few.”

    How Digital Masters are Building Skills

    If you want to help your company become a Digital Master, or, if you want to be a high-performing leader, you need to invest in digital skills.  

    Via Leading Digital:

    “So what are Digital Masters doing differently when it comes to skills? First, they are investing.  Of the Digital Masters we surveyed, 82 percent are building the digital skills they need to support transformation efforts.  Only 40 perce3nt of nonmasters are doing so.

    Second, Digital Masters are accelerating and creating  a gap.  Our survey research shows that the masters had greater digital skills than nonmasters, reporting 31 percent higher social media skills, 38 percent higher mobile skills, and 19 percent higher analytics skills.

    But Digital Masters did not start with higher skills.  Burberry did not become excellent at digital marketing. and channels overnight.  CEO Ahrendts hired a new, dynamic marketing team whose members mirrored the behaviors of the millennial customer.  Nor did Caesars excel at delivering personalized customer experience solely because its CEO, Gary Loveman, has a PhD in economics from MIT. Caesars' executives actively incorporated quantitative skills into the marketing area.  In these companies, like other Digital Masters, top executives worked hard to build the digital skills they needed.”

    The Line Between Technical Skills and Leadership Skills is Blurring Fast

    The gap is huge but the lines blur fast.  There is a huge demand for people that are both business savvy and technology savvy.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “The skills difference extends beyond technology.  Digital Masters report 36 percent higher skills in digital leadership than nonmasters. Digital transformation requires changes to processes and thinking--changes that span your internal organizational silos.  'The clear delineation between technical skills and leadership skills in blurring fast.

    The impact of digital technologies is now felt not only in the IT and technical departments, but also across the entire organization.  Digital transformation's need for cross-functional collaboration creates a huge demand for hybrid digital skills-- technical people who need to be more business savvy and businesspeople who need to be more technology savvy.  A retail executive explained: 'We are trying for the first time to work across the company.  That implies going through a new level of complexity in the organization, and requires people to manage and network differently.  That, I think, is the most important skills that needs to be developed.'”

    Successful Leaders Will Have Business and Technical Skills

    True hybrid professionals will be the leaders of tomorrow.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “The need for new skills can also result from the need to bridge the communication gap between digital and business competences.  One executive said, 'I need a charismatic quant--somebody who's an influencer and can carry his weight in a senior meeting, but at the same time, someone who can roll up his sleeves and look at data tables and build models and enjoy it.'

    These bridging roles may soon become the responsibility of every manager. 'I believe,' said Markus Nordlin, CIO of Zurich Insurance, 'that the successful leaders of tomorrow, in any business or industry, are going to be true hybrid professionals who have spent some time in IT but have shifted to operations and vice-versa.'”

    Digital Skills Create Competitive Advantage and Enable Digital Transformation

    To keep up and get ahead, you need to master Digital Skills and be able to use them in a business savvy way.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Aspiring Digital Masters are all chasing the same technical skills.  The shortage of digital skills is unprecedented.  In Europe alone, forecasts point to nearly a million vacancies for IT-related roles by 2015.  And globally, out of the 4.4 million big-data jobs to be created by 2015, only a third will be filled.

    But by the same token, business professionals will increasingly need to be comfortable with digital tools and technologies to perform their core roles.  By 2015, research firm IDC expects that 90 percent of all jobs will require IT skills.  Some business functions are already adding technology skills to their mix.  Gartner reports that 70 percent of the companies they surveyed have a chief marketing technologist to support the digitization of the function.

    This skills race won't slow down anytime soon.  Having the right digital skills is an important source of competitive advantage and a key enabler of digital transformation.  Companies that build skills faster will get ahead.

    To win at the digital skills race, you will need to tap into multiple approaches--hiring, partnering, incubating, and the like.  It's not easy, as one executive explained: 'Our recruiters don't know where to go to find these people, and people with the right skills don't look to our kind of company for opportunities.'  HR organization will need to get up to speed quickly.  A recent Capgemini Consulting survey found that only 30 percent of HR functions were actively involved in digital skills development.  This needs to change.  Many Digital Masters have a carefully crafted plan to fight and win the talent race.”

    All of the capabilities of Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data are right at your fingertips.

    Using these capabilities in meaningful ways takes a combination of business and technical skills, as well as great organizational change leadership skills.

    If you can master business skills and combine them with great technical skills, you can lead you, your team, your organization, and others to change the world.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    How To Build a Roadmap for Your Digital Business Transformation

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    Let’s say you want to take your business to the Cloud --  How do you do it?

    If you’re a small shop or a startup, it might be easy to just swipe your credit card and get going.

    If, on the other hand, you’re a larger business that wants to start your journey to the Cloud, with a lot of investments and people that you need to bring along, you need a roadmap.

    The roadmap will help you deal with setbacks, create confidence in the path, and help ensure that you can get from point A to point B (and that you know what point B actually is.)  By building an implementable roadmap for your business transformation, you can also build a coalition of the willing to help you get their faster.  And you can design your roadmap so that your journey flows continuous business value along the way.

    In the book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee, share how top leaders build better roadmaps for their digital business transformation.

    Why You Need to Build a Roadmap for Your Digital Transformation

    If you had infinite time and resources, maybe you could just wing it, and hope for the best.   A better approach is to have a roadmap as a baseline.  Even if your roadmap changes, at least you can share the path with others in your organization and get them on board to help make it happen.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “In a perfect world, your digital transformation would deliver an unmatched customer experience, enjoy the industry's most effective operations, and spawn innovative, new business models.  There are a myriad of opportunities for digital technology to improve your business and no company can entertain them all at once.  The reality of limited resources, limited attention spans, and limited capacity for change with force focused choices.  This is the aim of your roadmap.”

    Find Your Entry Point

    Your best starting point is a business capability that you want to exploit.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Many companies have come to realize that before they can create a wholesale change within their organization, they have to find an entry point that will begin shifting the needle.  How? They start by building a roadmap that leverages existing assets and capabilities.  Burberry, for example, enjoyed a globally recognized brand and a fleet of flagship retail locations around the world.  The company started by revitalizing its brand and customer experience in stores and online.  Others, like Codelco, began with the core operational processes of their business.  Caesars Entertainment combined strong capabilities in analytics with a culture of customer service to deliver a highly personalized guest experience.  There is no single right way to start your digital transformation.  What matters is that you find the existing capability--your sweet spot--that will get your company off the starting blocks.

    Once your initial focus is clear, you can start designing your transformation roadmap.  Which investments and activities are necessary to close the gap to your vision?  What is predictable, and what isn't? What is the timing and scheduling of each initiative? What are the dependencies between them?  What organizational resources, such as analytics skills, are required?”

    Engage Practitioners Early in the Design

    If you involve others in your roadmap, you get their buy-in, and they will help you with your business transformation.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Designing your roadmap will require input from a broad set of stakeholders.  Rather than limit the discussion to the top team, engage the operational specialists who bring an on-the-ground perspective.  This will minimize the traditional vision-to-execution gap.  You can crowd-source the design.  Or, you can use facilitated workshops, as as 'digital days,' as an effective way to capture and distill the priorities and information you will need to consider.  We've seen several Digital Masters do both.

    Make no mistake; designing your roadmap will take time, effort, and multiple iterations.  But you will find it a valuable exercise.  it forces agreement on priorities and helps align senior management and the people tasked to execute the program.  Your roadmap will become more than just a document.  If executed well, it can be the canvas of the transformation itself.  Because your roadmap is a living document, it will evolve as your implementation progresses.”

    Design for Business Outcome, Not Technology

    When you create your roadmap, focus on the business outcomes.   Think in terms of adding incremental business capabilities.   Don’t make it a big bang thing.   Instead, start small, but iterate on building business capabilities that take advantage of Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data technologies.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Technology for its own sake is a common trap.  Don't build your roadmap as a series of technology projects.  Technology is only part of the story in digital transformation and often the least challenging one.  For example, the major hurdles for Enterprise 2.0 platforms are not technical.  Deploying the platform is relatively straightforward, and today's solutions are mature.  The challenge lies in changing user behavior--encouraging adoption and sustaining engagement in the activities the platform is meant to enable.

    Express your transformation roadmap in terms of business outcomes.  For example, 'Establish a 360-degree understanding of our customers.'  Build into your roadmap the many facets of organizational change that your transformation will require customer experiences, operational processes, employee ways of working, organization, culture, communication--the list goes on.  This is why contributions from a wide variety is so critical.”

    There are lots of way to build a roadmap, but the best thing you can do is put something down on paper so that you can share the path with other people and start getting feedback and buy-in.

    You’ll be surprised but when you show business and IT leaders a roadmap, it helps turn strategy into execution and make things real in people’s minds.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    10 Big Ideas from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

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    It’s long over-do, but I finally wrote up my 10 Big Ideas from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

    What can I say … the book is a classic.

    I remember when my Dad first recommended that I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People long ago.   In his experience, while Tony Robbins was more focused on Personality Ethic, Stephen Covey at the time was more focused on Character Ethic.  At the end of the day, they are both complimentary, and one without the other is a failed strategy.

    While writing 10 Big Ideas from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, I was a little torn on what to keep in and what to leave out.   The book is jam packed with insights, powerful patterns, and proven practices for personal change.   I remembered reading about the Law of the Harvest, where you reap what you sow.  I remembered reading about how to think Win/Win, and how that helps you change the game from a scarcity mentality to a mindset of abundance.   I remembered reading about how we can move up the stack in terms of time management if we focus less on To Dos and more on relationships and results.   I remembered reading about how if we want to be heard, we need to first seek to understand.

    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is probably one of the most profound books on the planet when it comes to personal change and empowerment.

    It’s full of mental models and big ideas.  

    What I really like about Covey’s approach is that he bridged work and life.  Rather than splinter our lives, Covey found a way to integrate our lives more holistically, to combine our personal and professional lives through principles that empower us, and help us lead a more balanced life.

    Here is a summary list of 10 Big Ideas from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

    1. The Seven Habits Habits of Effectiveness.
    2. The Four Quadrants of Time Management.
    3. Character Ethic vs. Personality Ethic
    4. Increase the Gap Between Stimulus and Response.
    5. All Things are Created Twice.
    6. The Five Dimensions of Win/Win.
    7. Expand Your Circle of Influence.
    8. Principle-Centered Living.
    9. Four Generations of Time Management.
    10. Make Meaningful Deposits in the Emotional Bank Account.

    In my post, I’ve summarized each one and provided one of my favorite highlights from the book that brings each idea to life.

    Enjoy.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    10 High-Value Activities in the Enterprise

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    I was flipping back over the past year and reflecting on the high-value activities that I’ve seen across various Enterprise customers.  I think the high-value activities tend to be some variation of the following:

    1. Customer interaction (virtual, remote, connect with experts)
    2. Product innovation and ideation.
    3. Work from anywhere on any device.
    4. Comprehensive and cross-boundary collaboration (employees, customers, and partners.)
    5. Connecting with experts.
    6. Operational intelligence (predictive analytics, predictive maintenance)
    7. Cross-sell / up-sell and real-time marketing.
    8. Development and ALM in the Cloud.
    9. Protecting information and assets.
    10. Onboarding and enablement.

    At first I was thinking of Porter’s Value Chain (Inbound Logistics, Operations, Outbound Logistics, Marketing & Sales, Services), which do help identify where the action is.   Next, I was reviewing how when we drive big changes with a customer, it tends to be around changing the customer experience, or changing the employee experiences, or changing the back-office and systems experiences.

    You can probably recognize how the mega-trends (Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data) influence the activities above, as well as some popular trends like Consumerization of IT.

    High-Value Activities in the Enterprise from the Microsoft “Transforming Our Company” Memo

    I also found it helpful to review the original memo from July 11, 2013 titled Transforming Our Company.  Below are some of my favorite sections from the memo:

    Via Transforming Our Company:

    We will engage enterprise on all sides — investing in more high-value activities for enterprise users to do their jobs; empowering people to be productive independent of their enterprise; and building new and innovative solutions for IT professionals and developers. We will also invest in ways to provide value to businesses for their interactions with their customers, building on our strong Dynamics foundation.

    Specifically, we will aim to do the following:

    • Facilitate adoption of our devices and end-user services in enterprise settings. This means embracing consumerization of IT with the vigor we pursued in the initial adoption of PCs by end users and business in the ’90s. Our family of devices must allow people to be more productive, and for them to easily use our devices for work.

    • Extend our family of devices and services for enterprise high-value activities. We have unique expertise and capacity in this space.

    • Information assurance. Going forward this will be an area of critical importance to enterprises. We are their trusted partners in this space, and we must continue to innovate for them against a changing security and compliance landscape.

    • IT management. With more IT delivered as services from the cloud, the function of IT itself will be reimagined. We are best positioned to build the tools and training for that new breed of IT professional.

    • Big data insight. Businesses have new and expanded needs and opportunities to generate, store and use their own data and the data of the Web to better serve customers, make better decisions and design better products. As our customers’ online interactions with their customers accelerate, they generate massive amounts of data, with the cloud now offering the processing power to make sense of it. We are well-positioned to reimagine data platforms for the cloud, and help unlock insight from the data.

    • Customer interaction. Organizations today value most those activities that help them fully understand their customers’ needs and help them interact and communicate with them in more responsive and personalized ways. We are well-positioned to deliver services that will enable our customers to interact as never before — to help them match their prospects to the right products and services, derive the insights so they can successfully engage with them, and even help them find and create brand evangelists.

    • Software development. Finally, developers will continue to write the apps and sites that power the world, and integrate to solve individual problems and challenges. We will support them with the simplest turnkey way to build apps, sites and cloud services, easy integration with our products, and innovation for projects of every size.”

    A Story of High-Value Activities in Action

    If you can’t imagine what high-value activities look like, or what business transformation would look like, then have a look at this video:

    Nedbank:  Video Banking with Lync

    Nedbank was a brick-and-mortar bank that wanted to go digital and, not just catch up to the Cloud world, but leap frog into the future.  According to the video description, “Nedbank initiated a program called the Integrated Channel Strategy, focusing on client centered banking experiences using Microsoft Lync. The client experience is integrated and aligned across all channels and seeks to bring about efficiencies for the bank. Video banking with Microsoft Lync gives Nedbank a competitive advantage.”

    The most interesting thing about the video is not just what’s possible, but that’s it’s real and happening.

    They set a new bar for the future of digital banking.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    How To Use Personas and Scenarios to Drive Adoption and Realize Value

    • 0 Comments

    Personas and scenario can be a powerful tool for driving adoption and business value realization.  

    All too often, people deploy technology without fully understanding the users that it’s intended for. 

    Worse, if the technology does not get used, the value does not get realized.

    Keep in mind that the value is in the change.  

    The change takes the form of doing something better, faster, cheaper, and behavior change is really the key to value realization.

    If you deploy a technology, but nobody adopts it, then you won’t realize the value.  It’s a waste.  Or, more precisely, it’s only potential value.  It’s only potential value because nobody has used it to change their behavior to be better, faster, or cheaper with the new technology.  

    In fact, you can view change in terms of behavior changes:

    What should users START doing or STOP doing, in order to realize the value?

    Behavior change becomes a useful yardstick for evaluating adoption and consumption of technology, and significant proxy for value realization.

    What is a Persona?

    I’ve written about personas before  in Actors, Personas, and Roles, MSF Agile Persona Template, and Personas at patterns & practices, and Microsoft Research has a whitepaper called Personas: Practice and Theory.

    A persona, simply defined is a fictitious character that represents user types.  Personas are the “who” in the organization.    You use them to create familiar faces and to inspire project teams to know their clients as well as to build empathy and clarity around the user base. 

    Using personas helps characterize sets of users.  It’s a way to capture and share details about what a typical day looks like and what sorts of pains, needs, and desired outcomes the personas have as they do their work. 

    You need to know how work currently gets done so that you can provide relevant changes with technology, plan for readiness, and drive adoption through specific behavior changes.

    Using personas can help you realize more value, while avoiding “value leakage.”

    What is a Scenario?

    When it comes to users, and what they do, we're talking about usage scenarios.  A usage scenario is a story or narrative in the form of a flow.  It shows how one or more users interact with a system to achieve a goal.

    You can picture usage scenarios as high-level storyboards.  Here is an example:

    clip_image001

    In fact, since scenario is often an overloaded term, if people get confused, I just call them Solution Storyboards.

    To figure out relevant usage scenarios, we need to figure out the personas that we are creating solutions for.

    Workforce Analysis with Personas

    In practice, you would segment the user population, and then assign personas to the different user segments.  For example, let’s say there are 20,000 employees.  Let’s say that 3,000 of them are business managers, let’s say that 6,000 of them are sales people.  Let’s say that 1,000 of them are product development engineers.   You could create a persona named Mary to represent the business managers, a persona named Sally to represent the sales people, and a persona named Bob to represent the product development engineers.

    This sounds simple, but it’s actually powerful.  If you do a good job of workforce analysis, you can better determine how many users a particular scenario is relevant for.  Now you have some numbers to work with.  This can help you quantify business impact.   This can also help you prioritize.  If a particular scenario is relevant for 10 people, but another is relevant for 1,000, you can evaluate actual numbers.

      Persona 1
    ”Mary
    Persona 2
    ”Sally”
    Persona 3
    ”Bob”
    Persona 4
    ”Jill”
    Persona 5
    ”Jack”
    User Population 3,000 6,000 1,000 5,000 5,000
    Scenario 1 X        
    Scenario 2 X X      
    Scenario 3     X    
    Scenario 4       X X
    Scenario 5 X        
    Scenario 6 X X X X X
    Scenario 7 X X      
    Scenario 8     X X  
    Scenario 9 X X X X X
    Scenario 10   X   X  

    Analyzing a Persona

    Let’s take Bob for example.  As a product development engineer, Bob designs and develops new product concepts.  He would love to collaborate better with his distributed development team, and he would love better feedback loops and interaction with real customers.

    We can drill in a little bit to get a get a better picture of his work as a product development engineer. 

    Here are a few ways you can drill in:

    • A Day in the Life – We can shadow Bob for a day and get a feel for the nature of his work.  We can create  a timeline for the day and characterize the types of activities that Bob performs.
    • Knowledge and Skills - We can identify the knowledge Bob needs and the types of skills he needs to perform his job well.  We can use this as input to design more effective readiness plans.
    • Enabling Technologies –  Based on the scenario you are focused on, you can evaluate the types of technologies that Bob needs.  For example, you can identify what technologies Bob would need to connect and interact better with customers.

    Another approach is to focus on the roles, responsibilities, challenges, work-style, needs and wants.  This helps you understand which solutions are appropriate, what sort of behavior changes would be involved, and how much readiness would be required for any significant change.

    At the end of the day, it always comes down to building empathy, understanding, and clarity around pains, needs, and desired outcomes.

    Persona Creation Process

    Here’s an example of a high-level process for persona creation:

    1. Kickoff workshop
    2. Interview users
    3. Create skeletons
    4. Validate skeletons
    5. Create final personas
    6. Present final personas

    Doing persona analysis is actually pretty simple.  The challenge is that people don’t do it, or they make a lot of assumptions about what people actually do and what their pains and needs really are.  When’s the last time somebody asked you what your pains and needs are, or what you need to perform your job better?

    A Story of Using Personas to Create the Future of Digital Banking

    In one example I know of a large bank that transformed itself by focusing on it’s personas and scenarios.  

    It started with one usage scenario:

    Connect with customers wherever they are.

    This scenario was driven from pain in the business.  The business was out of touch with customers, and it was operating under a legacy banking model.   This simple scenario reflected an opportunity to change how employees connect with customers (though Cloud, Mobile, and Social).

    On the customer side of the equation, customers could now have virtual face-to-face communication from wherever they are.  On the employee side, it enabled a flexible work-style, helped employees pair up with each other for great customer service, and provided better touch and connection with the customers they serve.

    And in the grand scheme of things, this helped transform a brick-and-mortar bank to a digital bank of the future, setting a new bar for convenience, connection, and collaboration.

    Here is a video that talks through the story of one bank’s transformation to the digital banking arena:

    Video: NedBank on The Future of Digital Banking

    In the video, you’ll see Blessing Sibanyoni, one of Microsoft’s Enterprise Architects in action.

    If you’re wondering how to change the world, you can start with personas and scenarios.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Inspirational Work Quotes at a Glance

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    What if your work could be your ultimate platform? … your ultimate channel for your growth and greatness?

    We spend a lot of time at work. 

    For some people, work is their ultimate form of self-expression

    For others, work is a curse.

    Nobody stops you from using work as a chance to challenge yourself, to grow your skills, and become all that you’re capable of.

    But that’s a very different mindset than work is a place you have to go to, or stuff you have to do.

    When you change your mind, you change your approach.  And when you change your approach, you change your results.   But rather than just try to change your mind, the ideal scenario is to expand your mind, and become more resourceful.

    You can do so with quotes.

    Grow Your “Work Intelligence” with Inspirational Work Quotes

    In fact, you can actually build your “work intelligence.”

    Here are a few ways to think about “intelligence”:

    1. the ability to learn or understand things or to deal with new or difficult situations (Merriam Webster)
    2. the more distinctions you have for a given concept, the more intelligence you have

    In Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki, says, “intelligence is the ability to make finer distinctions.”   And, Tony Robbins, says “intelligence is the measure of the number and the quality of the distinctions you have in a given situation.”

    If you want to grow your “work intelligence”, one of the best ways is to familiarize yourself with the best inspirational quotes about work.

    By drawing from wisdom of the ages and modern sages, you can operate at a higher level and turn work from a chore, into a platform of lifelong learning, and a dojo for personal growth, and a chance to master your craft.

    You can use inspirational quotes about work to fill your head with ideas, distinctions, and key concepts that help you unleash what you’re capable of.

    To give you a giant head start and to help you build a personal library of profound knowledge, here are two work quotes collections you can draw from:

    37 Inspirational Quotes for Work as Self-Expression

    Inspirational Work Quotes

    10 Distinct Ideas for Thinking About Your Work

    Let’s practice.   This will only take a minute, and if you happen to hear the right words, which are the keys for you, your insight or “ah-ha” can be just the breakthrough that you needed to get more of your work, and, as a result, more out of life (or at least your moments.)

    Here is a sample of distinct ideas and depth that you use to change how you perceive your work, and/or how you do your work:

    1. “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” — Benjamin Franklin
    2. “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour.” — Jim Rohn
    3. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.” — Steve Jobs
    4. “Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight.” -- Bill Gates
    5. “We must each have the courage to transform as individuals. We must ask ourselves, what idea can I bring to life? What insight can I illuminate? What individual life could I change? What customer can I delight? What new skill could I learn? What team could I help build? What orthodoxy should I question?” – Satya Nadella
    6. “My work is a game, a very serious game.” — M. C. Escher
    7. “Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning. Once it does, it becomes the kind of thing that makes you grab your wife around the waist and dance a jig.” — Malcolm Gladwell
    8. “The test of the artist does not lie in the will with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces.” -- Thomas Aquinas
    9. “Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all you heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.” — Dale Carnegie
    10. “I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.” -– Jerome K. Jerome

    For more ideas, take a stroll through my inspirational work quotes.

    As you can see, there are lots of ways to think about work and what it means.  At the end of the day, what matters is how you think about it, and what you make of it.  It’s either an investment, or it’s an incredible waste of time.  You can make it mundane, or you can make it matter.

    The Pleasant Life, The Good Life, and The Meaningful Life

    Here’s another surprise about work.   You can use work to live the good life.   According to Martin Seligman, a master in the art and science of positive psychology, there are three paths to happiness:

    1. The Pleasant Life
    2. The Good Life
    3. The Meaningful Life

    In The Pleasant Life, you simply try to have as much pleasure as possible.  In The Good Life, you spend more time in your values.  In The Meaningful Life, you use your strengths in the service of something that is bigger than you are.

    There are so many ways you can live your values at work and connect your work with what makes you come alive.

    There are so many ways to turn what you do into service for others and become a part of something that’s bigger than you.

    If you haven’t figured out how yet, then dig deeper, find a mentor, and figure it out.

    You spend way too much time at work to let your influence and impact fade to black.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    100 Articles to Sharpen Your Mind

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    Actually, it's more than 100 articles for your mind.  I've tagged my articles with "mind" on Sources of Insight that focus on increasing your "intellectual horsepower":

    Articles on Mind Power and the Power of Thoughts

    Here are a few of the top mind articles that you can quickly get results with:

    Note that if reading faster is important to you, then I recommend also reading How To Read 10,000 Words a Minute (it’s my ultimate edge) and The Truth About Speed Reading.

    If there’s one little trick I use with reading (whether it’s a book, an email, or whatever), I ask myself “what’s the insight?” or “what’s the action?” or “how can I use this?"  You’d be surprised but just asking yourself those little focusing questions can help you parse down cluttered content fast and find the needles in the haystack.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Who's Managing Your Company?

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    One of the best books I’m reading lately is The Future of Management, by Gary Hamel.

    It’s all about how management innovation is the best competitive advantage, whether you look through the history of great businesses or the history of great militaries.  Hamel makes a great case that strategic innovation, product or service innovation, and operational innovation are fleeting advantages, but management innovation leads to competitive advantage for the long haul.

    In The Future of Management, Hamel poses a powerful question …

    “Who is managing your company?”

    Via The Future of Management:

    “Who's managing your company?  You might be tempted to answer, 'the CEO,' or 'the executive team,' or 'all of us in middle management.'  And you'd be right, but that wouldn't be the whole truth.  To a large extent, your company is being managed right now by a small coterie of long-departed theorists and practitioners who invented the rules and conventions of 'modern' management back in the early years of the 20th century.  They are the poltergeists who inhabit the musty machinery of management.  It is their edicts, echoing across the decades, that invisibly shape the way your company allocates resources, sets budgets, distributes power, rewards people, and makes decisions.”

    That’s why it’s easy for CEOs to hop around companies …

    Via The Future of Management:

    “So pervasive is the influence of these patriarchs that the technology of management varies only slightly from firm to firm.  Most companies have a roughly similar management hierarchy (a cascade of EVPs, SVPs, and VPs).  They have analogous control systems, HR practices, and planning rituals, and rely on comparable reporting structures and review systems.  That's why it's so easy for a CEO to jump from one company to another -- the levers and dials of management are more or less the same in every corporate cockpit.”

    What really struck me here is how much management approach has been handed down through the ages, and accepted as status quo.

    It’s some great good for thought, especially given that management innovation is THE most powerful form of competitive advantage from an innovation standpoint (which Hamel really builds a strong case here throughout the entirety of the book.)

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The New Realities that Call for New Organizational and Management Capabilities

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    “The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does.” -- Hugh MacLeod

    Is it just me or is the world changing faster than ever?

    I hear from everybody around me (inside and outside of Microsoft) how radically their worlds are changing under their feet, business models are flipped on their heads, and the game of generating new business value for customers is at an all-time competitive high.

    Great.

    Challenge is where growth and greatness come from.  It’s always a chance to test what we’re capable of and respond to whatever gets thrown our way.  But first, it helps to put a finger on what exactly these changes are that are disrupting our world, and what to focus on to survive and thrive.

    In the book The Future of Management, Gary Hamel shares some great insight into the key challenges that companies are facing that create even more demand for management innovation.

    The New Realities We’re Facing that Call for Management Innovation

    I think Hamel describes our new world pretty well …

    Via The Future of Management:

    • “As the pace of change accelerates more, more and more companies are finding themselves on the wrong side of the change curve.  Recent research by L.G. Thomas and Richard D'Aveni suggests that industry leadership is changing hands more frequently, and competitive advantage is eroding more rapidly, than ever before.  Today, it's not just the occasional company that gets caught out by the future, but entire industries -- be it traditional airlines, old-line department stores, network television broadcasters, the big drug companies, America's carmakers, or the newspaper and music industries.”
    • “Deregulation, along with the de-scaling effects of new technology, are dramatically reducing the barriers to entry across a wide range of industries, from publishing to telecommunications to banking to airlines.  As a result, long-standing oligopolies are fracturing and competitive 'anarchy' is on the rise.”
    • “Increasingly, companies are finding themselves enmeshed in 'value webs' and 'ecosystems' over which they have only partial control.  As a result, competitive outcomes are becoming less the product of market power, and more the product of artful negotiation.  De-verticalization, disintermediation, and outsource-industry consortia, are leaving firms with less and less control over their own destinies.”
    • “The digitization of anything not nailed down threatens companies that make their living out of creating and selling intellectual property.  Drug companies, film studios, publishers, and fashion designers are all struggling to adapt to a world where information and ideas 'want to be free.'”
    • The internet is rapidly shifting bargaining power from producers to consumers.  In the past, customer 'loyalty' was often an artifact of high search costs and limited information, and companies frequently profited from customer ignorance.  Today, customers are in control as never before -- and in a world of near-perfect information, there is less and less room for mediocre products and services.”
    • Strategy cycles are shrinking.  Thanks to plentiful capital, the power of outsourcing, and the global reach of the Web, it's possible to ramp up a new business faster than ever before.  But the more rapidly a business grows, the sooner it fulfills the promise of its original business model, peaks, and enters its dotage.  Today, the parabola of success is often a short, sharp spike.”
    • “Plummeting communication costs and globalization are opening up industries to a horde of new ultra-low-cost competitors.  These new entrants are eager to exploit the legacy costs of the old guard.  While some veterans will join the 'race to the bottom' and move their core activities to the world's lowest-cost locations, many others will find it difficult to reconfigure their global operations.  As Indian companies suck in service jobs and China steadily expands its share of global manufacturing, companies everywhere will struggle to maintain their margins.”

    Strategically Adaptive and Operationally Efficient

    So how do you respond to the challenges.   Hamel says it takes becoming strategically adaptable and operationally efficient.   What a powerful combo.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “These new realities call for new organizational and managerial capabilities.  To thrive in an increasingly disruptive world, companies must become as strategically adaptable as they are operationally efficient.  To safeguard their margins, they must become gushers of rule-breaking innovation.  And if they're going to out-invent and outthink a growing mob of upstarts, they must learn how to inspire their employees to give the very best of themselves every day.  These are the challenges that must be addressed by 21st-century management innovations.”

    There are plenty of challenges.  It’s time to get your greatness on. 

    If there ever was a chance to put to the test what you’re capable of, now is the time.

    No matter what, as long as you live and learn, you’ll grow from the process.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The Drag of Old Mental Models on Innovation and Change

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    “Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” — Howard Aiken

    It's not a lack of risk taking that holds innovation and change back. 

    Even big companies take big risks all the time.

    The real barrier to innovation and change is the drag of old mental models.

    People end up emotionally invested in their ideas, or they are limited by their beliefs or their world views.  They can't see what's possible with the lens they look through, or fear and doubt hold them back.  In some cases, it's even learned helplessness.

    In the book The Future of Management, Gary Hamel shares some great insight into what holds people and companies back from innovation and change.

    Yesterday’s Heresies are Tomorrow’s Dogmas

    Yesterday's ideas that were profoundly at odds with what is generally accepted, eventually become the norm, and then eventually become a belief system that is tough to change.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “Innovators are, by nature, contrarians.  Trouble is, yesterday's heresies often become tomorrow's dogmas, and when they do, innovation stalls and the growth curve flattens out.”

    Deeply Held Beliefs are the Real Barrier to Strategic Innovation

    Success turns beliefs into barriers by cementing ideas that become inflexible to change.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “... the real barrier to strategic innovation is more than denial -- it's a matrix of deeply held beliefs about the inherent superiority of a business model, beliefs that have been validated by millions of customers; beliefs that have been enshrined in physical infrastructure and operating handbooks; beliefs that have hardened into religious convictions; beliefs that are held so strongly, that nonconforming ideas seldom get considered, and when they do, rarely get more than grudging support.”

    It's Not a Lack of Risk Taking that Holds Innovation Back

    Big companies take big risks every day.  But the risks are scoped and constrained by old beliefs and the way things have always been done.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “Contrary to popular mythology, the thing that most impedes innovation in large companies is not a lack of risk taking.  Big companies take big, and often imprudent, risks every day.  The real brake on innovation is the drag of old mental models.  Long-serving executives often have a big chunk of their emotional capital invested in the existing strategy.  This is particularly true for company founders.  While many start out as contrarians, success often turns them into cardinals who feel compelled to defend the one true faith.  It's hard for founders to credit ideas that threaten the foundations of the business models they invented.  Understanding this, employees lower down self-edit their ideas, knowing that anything too far adrift from conventional thinking won't win support from the top.  As a result, the scope of innovation narrows, the risk of getting blindsided goes up, and the company's young contrarians start looking for opportunities elsewhere.”

    Legacy Beliefs are a Much Bigger Liability When It Comes to Innovation

    When you want to change the world, sometimes it takes a new view, and existing world views get in the way.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “When it comes to innovation, a company's legacy beliefs are a much bigger liability than its legacy costs.  Yet in my experience, few companies have a systematic process for challenging deeply held strategic assumptions.  Few have taken bold steps to open up their strategy process to contrarian points of view.  Few explicitly encourage disruptive innovation.  Worse, it's usually senior executives, with their doctrinaire views, who get to decide which ideas go forward and which get spiked.  This must change.”

    What you see, or can’t see, changes everything.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Fearless Speaking

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    “Do one thing every day that scares you.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

    I did a deep dive book review.

    This time, I reviewed Fearless Speaking.

    The book is more than meets the eye.

    It’s actually a wealth of personal development skills at your fingertips and it’s a powerful way to grow your personal leadership skills.

    In fact, there are almost fifty exercises throughout the book.

    Here’s an example of one of the techniques …

    Spotlight Technique #1

    When you’re overly nervous and anxious as a public speaker, you place yourself in a ‘third degree’ spotlight.  That’s the name for the harsh bright light police detectives use in days gone by to ‘sweat’ a suspect and elicit a confession.  An interrogation room was always otherwise dimly lit, so the source of light trained on the person (who was usually forced to sit in a hard straight backed chair) was unrelenting.

    This spotlight is always harsh, hot, and uncomfortable – and the truth is, you voluntarily train it on yourself by believing your audience is unforgiving.  The larger the audience, the more likely you believe that to be true.

    So here’s a technique to get out from under this hot spotlight that you’re imagining so vividly turn it around! Visualize swiveling the spotlight so it’s aimed at your audience instead of you.  After all, aren’t you supposed to illuminate your listeners? You don’t want to leave them in the dark, do you?

    There’s no doubt that it’s cooler and much more comfortable when you’re out under that harsh light.  The added benefit is that now the light is shining on your listeners – without question the most important people in the room or auditorium!

    I like that there are so many exercises and techniques to choose from.   Many of them don’t fit my style, but there were several that exposed me to new ways of thinking and new ideas to try.

    And what’s especially great is knowing that these exercise come from professional actors and speakers – it’s like an insider’s guide at your fingertips.

    My book review on Fearless Speaking includes a list of all the exercises, the chapters at a glance, key features from the book, and a few of my favorite highlights from the book (sort of like a movie trailer for the book.)

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    3 Challenges to Help You Set New Benchmarks in Innovation

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    If you want to change your game, you need to know what the key challenges are.

    Innovation is a game that you can play much better, if you know where and how to debottleneck it.

    In the book The Future of Management, Gary Hamel shares 3 challenges that he believes can help you unleash your organization’s capacity for innovation.

    1. How can you enroll every individual within your company in the work of innovation, and equip each one with creativity-boosting tools?
    2. How can you ensure that top management's hallowed beliefs don't straightjacket innovation, and that heretical ideas are given the chance to prove their worth?
    3. How can you create the time and space for grassroots innovation in an organization that is running flat to deliver today's results?

    According to Hamel, "Make progress on these challenges and your company will set new benchmarks in innovation."

    If I think back through the various teams I’ve been on at Microsoft, one team that I was on was especially good at helping innovation flourish, and we were constantly pushing the envelope to “be what’s next.”   Our innovation flourished the most when we directly addressed the challenges above.  People were challenged to share and test their ideas more freely and innovation was baked into how we planned our portfolio, programs, and projects.

    Innovation was a first-class citizen – by design.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    How I Explained My Job to My Grandmother

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    Well, she wasn’t my grandmother, but you get the idea.

    I was trying to explain to somebody that’s in a very different job, what my job is all about.

    Here’s what I said …

    As far as my day job, I do complex, complicated things. 

    I'm in the business of business transformation

    I help large Enterprises get ahead in the world through technology and innovation.

    I help Enterprises change their capabilities -- their business capabilities, technology capabilities, and people capabilities. 

    It’s all about capabilities.

    This involves figuring out their current state, their desired future state, the gaps between, the ROI of addressing the gaps, and then a Roadmap for making it happen.  

    The interesting thing I've learned though is how much business transformation applies to personal transformation

    It's all about figuring out your unique service and contribution to the world -- your unique value -- and then optimizing your strengths to realize your potential and do what you do best in a way that's valued -- where you can both generate value, as well as capture the value -- and lift the world to a better place.

    Interestingly, she said she got it, it made sense, and it sounds inspiring.

    What a relief.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Time is The Great Equalizer

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    Time really is the great equalizer.

    I was reading an article by Dr. Donald E. Wemore, a time management specialist, and here’s what he had to say:

    "Time is the great equalizer for all of us. We all have 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, yielding 168 hours per week. Take out 56 hours for sleep (we do spend about a third of our week dead) and we are down to 112 hours to achieve all the results we desire. We cannot save time (ever have any time left over on a Sunday night that you could lop over to the next week?); it can only be spent. And there are only two ways to spend our time: we can spend it wisely, or, not so wisely."

    Well put.

    And what’s his recommendation to manage time better?

    Work smarter, not harder.

    In my experience, that’s the only approach that works.

    If you find yourself struggling too much, there’s a good chance your time management strategies are off.

    Don’t keep throwing time and energy at things if it’s not working.

    Change your approach.

    The fastest thing you can change in any situation is you.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The New Competitive Landscape

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    "All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved." -- Sun Tzu

    If it feels like strategy cycles are shrinking, they are.

    If it feels like competition is even more intense, it is.

    If it feels like you are balancing between competing in the world and collaborating with the world, you are.

    In the book, The Future of Management, Gary Hamel and Bill Breen share a great depiction of this new world of competition and the emerging business landscape.

    Strategy Cycles are Shrinking

    Strategy cycles are shrinking and innovation is the only effective response.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “In a world where strategy life cycles are shrinking, innovation is the only way a company can renew its lease on success.  It's also the only way it can survive in a world of bare-knuckle competition.”

    Fortifications are Collapsing

    What previously kept people out of the game, no longer works.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “In decades past, many companies were insulated from the fierce winds of Schumpeterian competition.  Regulatory barriers, patent protection, distribution monopolies, disempowered customers, proprietary standards, scale advantages, import protection, and capital hurdles were bulwarks that protected industry incumbents from the margin-crushing impact of Darwinian competition.  Today, many of the fortifications are collapsing.”

    Upstarts No Longer Have to Build a Global Infrastructure to Reach a Worldwide Market

    Any startup can reach the world, without having to build their own massive data center to do so.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “Deregulation and trade liberalization are reducing the barriers to entry in industries as diverse as banking, air transport, and telecommunications.  The power of the Web means upstarts no longer have to build a global infrastructure to reach a worldwide market.  This has allowed companies like Google, eBay, and My Space to scale their businesses freakishly fast.” 

    The Disintegration of Large Companies and New Entrants Start Strong

    There are global resource pools of top talent available to startups.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “The disintegration of large companies, via deverticalization and outsourcing has also helped new entrants.  In turning out more and more of their activities to third-party contractors, incumbents have created thousands of 'arms suppliers' that are willing to sell their services to anyone.  By tapping into this global supplier base of designers, brand consultants, and contract manufacturers, new entrants can emerge from the womb nearly full-grown.” 

    Ultra-Low-Cost Competition and Less Ignorant Consumers

    With smarter consumers and ultra-low-cost competition, it’s tough to compete.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “Incumbents must also contend with a growing horde of ultra-low-cost competitors - companies like Huawei, the Chinese telecom equipment maker that pays its engineers a starting salary of just $8,500 per year.  Not all cut-price competition comes from China and India.  Ikea, Zara, Ryanair, and AirAsia are just a few of the companies that have radically reinvented industry cost structures.  Web-empowered customers are also hammering down margins.  Before the Internet, most consumers couldn't be sure whether they were getting the best deal on their home mortgage, credit card debt, or auto laon.  This lack of enlightenment buttressed margins.  But consumers are becoming less ignorant by the day.  One U.K. Web site encourages customers to enter the details of their most-used credit cards, including current balances, and then shows them exactly how much they will save by switching to a card with better payment terms.  In addition, the Internet is zeroing-out transaction costs.  The commissions earned by market makers of all kinds -- dealers, brokers, and agents -- are falling off a cliff, or soon will be.”

    Distribution Monopolies are Under Attack

    You can build your own fan base and reach the world.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “Distribution monopolies -- another source of friction -- are under attack.  Unlike the publishers of newspapers and magazines, bloggers don't need a physical distribution network to reach their readers.  Similarly, new bands don't have to kiss up to record company reps when they can build a fan base via social networking sites like MySpace.”

    Collapsing Entry Barriers and Customer Power Squeeze Margins

    Customers have a lot more choice and power now.

    Via The Future of Management:

    “Collapsing entry barriers, hyper efficient competitors, customer power -- these forces will be squeezing margins for years to come.  In this harsh new world, every company will be faced with a stark choice: either set the fires of innovation ablaze, or be ready to scrape out a mean existence in a world where seabed labor costs are the only difference between making money and going bust.”

    What’s the solution?

    Innovation.

    Innovation is the way to play, and it’s the way to stay in the game.

    Innovation is how you reinvent your success, reimagine a new future, and change what your capable of, to compete more effectively in today’s ever-changing world.

    You Might Also Like

    4 Stages of Market Maturity

    Brand is the Ultimate Differentiator

    High-Leverage Strategies for Innovation

    If You Can Differentiate, You Have a Competitive Monopoly

    Short-Burst Work

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Are You Doing Agile Results?

    • 0 Comments

    If you already use Agile Results as your personal results system, you have a big advantage.

    Why?

    Because most people are running around, scrambling through a laundry list of too many things to do, a lack of clarity around what the end result or outcomes should be, and a lack of clarity around what the high-value things to focus on are.  They are using their worst energy for their most important things.  They are spending too much time on the things that don’t matter and not enough time on the things that do.   They are feeling at their worst, when they need to feel at their best, and they are struggling to keep up with the pace of change.

    I created Agile Results to deal with the chaos in work and life, as a way to rise above the noise, and to easily leverage the most powerful habits and practices for getting better results in work and life.

    Agile Results, in a nutshell, is a simple system for mastering productivity and time management, while at the same time, achieving more impact, realizing your potential, and feeling more fulfillment.

    I wrote about the system in the book Getting Results the Agile Way.  It’s been a best seller in time management.

    How Does Agile Results Work?

    Agile Results works by combining proven practices for productivity, time management, psychology, project management, and some of the best lessons learned on high-performance.   And it’s been tested for more than a decade under extreme scenarios and a variety of conditions from individuals to large teams.

    Work-Life balance is baked into the system, but more importantly Agile Results helps you live your values wherever you are, play to your strengths, and rapidly learn how to improve your results in an situation.  When you spend more time in your values, you naturally tap into your skills and abilities that help bring out your best.

    The simplest way to think of Agile Results is that it helps you direct your attention and apply your effort on the things that count.  By spending more time on high-value activities and by getting intentional about your outcomes, you dramatically improve your ability to get better results.

    But none of that matters if you aren’t using Agile Results.

    How Can You Start Using Agile Results?

    Start simple.

    Simply ask yourself, “What are the 3 wins, results, or outcomes that I want for today?.”   Consider the demands you have on your plate, the time and energy you’ve got, and the opportunities you have for today, and write those 3 things down.

    That’s it.   You’re doing Agile Results.

    Of course, there’s more, but that’s the single most important thing you can do to immediately gain clarity, regain your focus, and spend your time and energy on the most valuable things.

    Now, let’s assume this is the only post you ever read on Agile Results.   Let’s take a fast walkthrough of how you could use the system on a regular basis to radically and rapidly improve your results on an ongoing basis.

    How I Do Agile Results? …

    Here’s a summary of how I do Agile Results.

    I create a new monthly list at the start of each month that lists out all the things that I think I need to do, and I bubble up 3 of my best things I could achieve or must get done to the top.   I look at it at the start of the week, and any time I’m worried if I’m missing something.  This entire process takes me anywhere from 10-20 minutes a month.

    I create a weekly list at the start of the week, and I look at it at the start of each day, as input to my 3 target wins or outcomes for the day, and any time I’m worried if I’m missing anything.   This tends to take me 5-10 minutes at the start of the week.

    I barely have to ever look at my lists – it’s the act of writing things down that gives me quick focus on what’s important.   I’m careful not to put a bunch of minutia in my lists, because then I’d train my brain to stop focusing on what’s important, and I would become forgetful and distracted.  Instead, it’s simple scaffolding.

    Each day, I write a simple list of what’s on my mind and things I think I need to achieve.   Next, I step back and ask myself, “What are the 3 things I want to accomplish today?”, and I write those down.   (This tends to take me 5 minutes or less.  When I first started it took me about 10.)

    Each Friday, I take the time to think through three things going well and three things to improve.   I take what I learn as input into how I can simplify work and life, and how I can improve my results with less effort and more effectiveness.   This takes me 10-20 minutes each Friday.

    How Can You Adopt Agile Results?

    Use it to plan your day, your week, and your month.

    Here is a simple recipe for adopting Agile Results and using it to get better results in work and life:

    1. Add a recurring appointment on your calendar for Monday mornings.  Call it Monday Vision.   Add this text to the body of the reminder: “What are your 3 wins for this week?”
    2. Add a recurring appointment on your calendar to pop up every day in the morning.  Call it Daily Wins.  Add this text to the body of the reminder: “What are your 3 wins for today?”
    3. Add a recurring appointment on your calendar to pop up every Friday mid-morning.  Call it Friday Reflection.  Add this text to the body of your reminder:  What are 3 things going well?  What are 3 things to improve?”
    4. On the last day of the month, make a full list of everything you care about for the next month.   Alphabetize the list.  Identify the 3 most important things that you want to accomplish for the month, and put those at the top of the list.   Call this list  Monthly Results for Month XYZ.  (Note – Alphabetizing your list helps you name your list better and sort your list better.  It’s hard to refer to something important you have to do if you don’t even have a name for it.  If naming the things on your list and sorting them is too much to do, you don’t need to.  It’s just an additional tip that helps you get even more effective and more efficient.)
    5. On Monday of each week, when you wake up, make a full list of everything you care about accomplishing for the week.  Alphabetize the list.  Identify the 3 most important things you want to accomplish and add that to the top of the list.  (Again, if you don’t want to alphabetize then don’t.)
    6. On Wednesdays, in the morning, review the three things you want to accomplish for the week to see if anything matters that you should have spent time on or completed by now.  Readjust your priorities and focus as appropriate.  Remember that the purpose of having the list of your most important outcomes for the week isn’t to get good at predicting what’s important.  It’s to help you focus and to help you make better decisions about what to spend time on throughout the week.  If something better comes along, then at least you can make a conscious decision to trade up and focus on that.  Keep trading up.   And when you look back on Friday, you’ll know whether you are getting better at trading up or if you are just getting randomize or focusing on the short-term but hurting the long term.
    7. On Fridays,  in the morning, do your Friday Reflection.  As part of the exercise, check against your weekly outcomes and your monthly outcomes that you want to accomplish.  If you aren’t effective for the week, don’t ask “why not,” ask “how to.”   Ask how can you bite off better things and how can you make better choices throughout the week.  Just focus on little behavior changes, and this will add up over time.  You’ll get better and better as you go, as long as you keep learning and changing your approach.   That’s the Agile Way.

    There are lots of success stories by other people who have used Agile Results.   Everybody from presidents of companies to people in the trenches, to doctors and teachers, to teams and leaders, as well as single parents and social workers.

    But none of that matters if it’s not your story.

    Work on your success story and just start getting better results, right here, right now.

    What are the three most important things you really want to accomplish or achieve today?

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