Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
“Xbox One is designed to deliver a whole new generation of blockbuster games, television and entertainment in a powerful, all-in-one device” -- Don Mattrick, president, Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft
Microsoft Secret Stuff
The Microsoft Story
Microsoft Explained: Making Sense of the Microsoft Platform Story
Microsoft Developer Platform at a Glance
Office 365 at a Glance
Windows Azure at a Glance
You need to take stock.
Stopping to smell the roses, includes reviewing your achievements. You can review your achievements very simply:
Simply write down a list of your achievements for the day. Write down your achievements for the week. Write down your achievements for the month. If they aren’t worth writing down, then they probably weren’t worth doing. If you are doing things that aren’t worth doing, that might be a problem – unless you have infinite time, and your boss or your customers reward you for doing things that don’t matter. Usually, the real problem is you did a bunch of valuable stuff, but you haven’t stepped back to identify it, label it, and put it down on paper in a useful way.
It’s a simple thing to do, but the key is to write them down, and say them out loud. Say them out loud? Yes. When you speak them, you learn to simplify them. When you simplify them, they start to stick. When they stick, now you are learning how to tell and sell your value both to you and others.
On paper, I might write the following:
Yuck. It’s descriptive, but it’s not sticky, and my manager won’t remember that, and I won’t remember that in the hall, if I wanted to give a quick summary of my impact.
Let’s try again, and let’s say it out loud:
It’s simpler. It’s easy to say. It’s sticky. It’s more benefit focused, than on the “how.” I’ve just given my manager an easy way to talk about the work without getting tongue-tied. I’ll drill into the details where he wants to, but now he has a mental “hook” and a label for the work, and can easily express it as a win. When you find a sticky way to say your achievement, write it down the simpler way. You can always elaborate, but don’t let elaboration get in the way of your short and sweet wins.
If you don’t review your achievements, then a few things happen:
Simply having your lists of your achievements and wins is good for you and good for others. It helps you tell and sell your work, and it helps others tell and sell your work.
Most importantly, having your simple list of achievements helps you acknowledge and appreciate your effort, and that’s your edge.
For work-life balance skills , check out 30 Days of Getting Results, and for a work-life balance system check out Agile Results at Getting Results.com.
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Colleagues, friends, and family have been asking me how my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, is doing. It’s doing well. Today it was #10 on Amazon’s Best Seller’s list in Time Management.
Time Management is a great niche because time is such a unique and precious resource. How you invest your time helps shape your happiness, your fulfillment, your work life balance, and your achievements in work and life. I hope the insights and actions I’ve shared in Getting Results the Agile Way, serve you well on your journey and in your pursuit of mastering your time.
I think what makes this book unique for people is that I’ve tried to integrate as much as I could from many amazing mentors at Microsoft, my personal trials and tribulations, and even lessons from software development that we can apply to life (Think “Agile” for life or “Scrum for life” and the value of personal kanbans, timeboxing, etc.)
In related news, Getting Results the Agile Way will be featured in an upcoming article in a magazine with a reader base of three million.
Probably the biggest request I get now is training. I’m exploring different ways to share and scale training in a more effective way. I’ll be experimenting and testing approaches in the near future. While I’ve done one-off sessions and Webinars, I’d like to better package it up and productize it. I’m a fan of building information products to share and scale information and empower people.
What do you get when you combine the power of project management with proven practices for productivity and leadership?
You get an extremely productive leadership … the kind that takes your execution capability to new heights and makes your competition jealous (or at least take notice.)
I’ve put together a set of 10 Proven Practices for More Productive Leadership in a guest post on Michael Hyatt’s blog. It’s my take on how skills from project management, combine with productivity and leadership to create a deep ability to make things happen. Project management skills are a force multiplier because they teach you to really understand the work, really understand the risks associated with performing the work, really understand the constraints and impacts of budget, resources, and time, really understand how to manage multiple stakeholders and competing concerns, really understand what progress truly looks like, and really understand how to get the right people working on the right things to drive change and flow value.
These are some of the hallmarks that underpin execution excellence and set the stage for high-performing teams.
Productive leadership is more than just making things happen. It’s creating compelling vision with clarity and conviction that inspire everyone around you to bring out their best. It taps your talent in a way that amplifies and produces exponential results. It provides meaning and motivation for everyone involved to give their best where they have their best to give.
When you think of productive leaders, who makes your soul sing or makes the blood rush through your veins, excited by their visionary capabilities and their ability to mobilize the team to fire on all cylinders? Who inspires you to believe that you can and will change the world in meaningful ways? Who do you look up to, when the chips are down, so you can fight the good fight and keep on keeping on?
Hopefully, you have several of these productive leaders right around you. If not, why not step up to the plate and set the example? People all around you are always looking to be inspired and leadership is a game where everyone can play, and everyone wins. The price of admission is courage, conviction, and compassion. If you have those, that’s a great start. But there’s a little more …
The boldest, the brightest, and the best leaders have several patterns in common and success leaves clues. The most productive leaders share a set of practices that sets them apart from every Joe. Productive leaders have a set of proven practices that gives them the edge to make things happen in any scenario.
… But what are these proven practices for productive leadership?
You can find out what these proven practices for productive leadership are in my guest post for Michael Hyatt:
For those of you on high performing teams, you’ll nod your head in acknowledgement and the practices will resonate with you loud and clear. For others, you may have to break past some of your mental models and paradigms, and explore the ideas with a curious mind.
I want everyone to get the edge and to use these practices to build more high-performing teams that flourish. I believe that everybody deserves a chance to work in an arena that allows them to bring out their best, and give their best where they have their best to give. Work can be your ultimate form of self-expression and your ultimate dojo for personal growth.
Enjoy and be sure to stop by and say “Hi” at 10 Proven Practices for More Productive Leadership. Also, be sure to share your insights and actions that you’ve learned about productive leadership.
I’ll be following closely and I’ll be looking forward to learning any new patterns and practices for productive leadership that you share.
"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." -- Winston Churchill
I now have more than 300 articles on the topic of Success to help you get your game on in work and life:
That’s a whole lot of success strategies and insights right at your fingertips. (And it includes the genius from a wide variety of sources including Scott Adams, Tony Robbins, Bruce Lee, Zig Ziglar, and more.)
Success is a hot topic.
Success has always been a hot topic, but it seems to be growing in popularity. I suspect it’s because so many people are being tested in so many new ways and competition is fierce.
But What is Success? (I tried to answer that using Zig Ziglar’s frame for success.)
For another perspective, see Success Defined (It includes definitions of success from Stephen Covey and John Maxwell.)
At the end of the day, the most important definition of success, is the one that you apply to you and your life.
People can make or break themselves based on how they define success for their life.
Some people define success as another day above ground, but for others they have a very high, and very strict bar that only a few mere mortals can ever achieve.
That said, everybody is looking for an edge. And, I think our best edge is always our inner edge.
As my one mentor put it, “the fastest thing you can change in any situation is yourself.” And as we all know, nature favors the flexible. Our ability to adapt and respond to our changing environment is the backbone of success. Otherwise, success is fleeting, and it has a funny way of eluding or evading us.
I picked a few of my favorite articles on success. These ones are a little different by design. Here they are:
Scott Adam’s (Dilbert) Success Formula
It’s the Pebble in Your Shoe
The Wolves Within
Personal Leadership Helps Renew You
The Power of Personal Leadership
Tony Robbins on the 7 Traits of Success
The Way of Success
The future is definitely uncertain. I’m certain of that. But I’m also certain that life’s better with skill and that the right success strategies under your belt can make or break you in work and life.
And the good news for us is that success leaves clues.
So make like a student and study.
So, if you have a bunch of smart people, a bunch of bright ideas, and everybody wants to talk at the same time ... what do you do?
Or, you have a bunch of smart people, but they are quiet and nobody is sharing their bright ideas, and the squeaky wheel gets the oil ... what do you do?
Whenever you get a bunch of smart people together to change the world it helps to have some proven practices for better results.
One of the techniques a colleague shared with me recently is Method 635. It stands for six participants, three ideas, and five rounds of supplements.
He's used Method 635 successfully to get a large room of smart people to brainstorm ideas and put their top three ideas forward.
Here's how he uses Method 635 in practice.
The outcome is that each person will see the original three solutions and contribute to the overall set of ideas.
By using this method, if each of the 5 rounds is 5 minutes, and if you take 10 minutes to start by explaining the issue, and you give teams 5 minutes to write down their initial set of 3 ideas, and then another 5 minutes at the end to vote, and another 5 minutes to present, you’ve accomplished a lot within an hour. Voices were heard. Smart people contributed their ideas and got their fingerprints on the solutions. And you’ve driven to consensus by first elaborating on ideas, while at the same time, driving to convergence and allowing refinement along the way.
All in a good day’s work, and another great example of how structuring an activity, even loosely structuring an activity, can help people bring out their best.
How To Use Six Thinking Hats
Idea to Done: How to Use a Personal Kanban for Getting Results
Workshop Planning Framework
We live in amazing times.
The world is full of opportunity at your fingertips.
You can inspire your mind and the art of the possible with TED talks.
You can learn anything with all of the Open Courseware from MIT or Wharton, or Coursera, or you can build your skills with The Great Courses or Udemy.
You can read about anything and fill your kindle with more books than you can read in this lifetime.
You can invest in yourself. You can develop your intellectual horsepower, your emotional intelligence, your personal effectiveness, your communication skills, your relationship skills, and your financial intelligence.
You can develop your career, expand your experience, build your network, and grow your skills and abilities. You can take on big hairy audacious goals. You can learn your limits, build your strengths, and reduce your liabilities.
You can develop your body and your physical intelligence, with 4-minute work outs, P90x3 routines, Fit Bits, Microsoft Band, etc.
You can expand your network and connect with people around the world, all four corners of the globe, from all walks of life, for all sorts of reasons.
You can explore the world, either virtually through Google Earth, or take real-world epic adventures.
You can fund your next big idea and bring it to the world with Kickstarter.
You can explore new hobbies and develop your talents, your art, your music, you name it.
But where in the world will you get time?
And how will you manage your competing priorities?
And how will you find and keep your motivation?
How will you wake up strong, with a spring in your step, where all the things you want to achieve in this lifetime, pull you forward, and help you rise above the noise of every day living?
That's not how I planned on starting this post, but it's a reminder of how the world is full of possibility, and how amazing your life can be when you come alive and you begin the journey to become all that you're capable of.
How I planned to start the post was this. It's Spring. It's time for a refresher in the art of Agile Results to help you bring out your best.
Agile Results is a simple system for meaningful results. It combines proven practices for productivity, time management, and personal effectiveness to help you achieve more in less time, and enjoy the process.
It's a way to spend your best time and your best energy to get your best results.
Agile Results is a way to slow down to speed up, find more fulfillment, and put your ambition into practice.
Agile Results is a way to realize your potential, and to unleash your greatest potential. Potential is a muscle that gets better through habits.
The way to get started with Agile Results is simple.
For bonus, and to really find a path of fulfillment, there are three more habits you can add ...
A simple way that I remember this is I remember to think in Three Wins:
Think in terms of Three Wins for the Day, Three Wins for the Week, Three Wins for the Month, Three Wins for the Year
Those are the core habits of Agile Results in a nutshell.
You can start with that and be well on your way to getting better results in work and life.
If you want to really master Agile Results, you can read the book, Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life.
It's been a best seller in time management, and it’s helped many people around the world create a better version of themselves.
If you want to take Agile Results to the next level, start a study group and share ways that you use Agile Results with each other around how you create work-life balance, create better energy, learn more faster, and unleash your potential, while enjoying the journey, and getting more from work and life.
Share your stories and results with me, with your friends, with your family, anyone, and everyone – help everybody live a little better.
I think of inspiration simply as “breathe life into.”
Whether you're shipping code, designing the next big thing, or simply making things happen, inspirational quotes can help keep you going.
In the spirit of helping people find their Eye of the Tiger or get their mojo on, I’ve put together a hand-crafted collection of the ultimate inspirational quotes:
The Inspirational Quotes Collection
If you’ve seen my collection of inspirational quotes before, it’s completely revamped. It should be much easier to browse all of the inspirational quotes now so you can see some old familiar quotes that you may have heard of long ago, as well as many inspirational quotes, you have never heard of before.
Dive in, explore the collection of inspirational quotes, and see if you can find at least three inspirational quotes that breathe new life into your moment, your day, your work, or anything you do.
Inspirational quotes can help us move mountains. The right inspirational words and ideas can help us boldly go where we have not gone before, as well as conquer our fears and soar to new heights.
Or, the right inspirational quote can simply help us roar a little louder inside, when we need it most.
Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries. And work can be an incredible challenge. And sometimes, even our best laid plans, go up in flames.
So having a repertoire of inspirational quotes and inspiring mantras at your mental fingertips can help you roll with the punches and keep going.
One of the most important inspirational ideas I learned early on goes like this:
Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
It helped me turn trials into triumphs, and eventually learn to take on big challenges as a way to grow.
Another inspirational idea that really helped me find my way forward is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and, it goes like this:
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Whenever I went on a new journey, down an unfamiliar path, it helped remind me that I don’t always need a trail, and that many times, it’s about blazing my own trail.
The power of inspirational quotes is their power to light a fire inside and fan the flames until we go and blaze our trail that leaves our self, and others, in awe.
Perhaps, the greatest inspirational quote of all time is another amazing quote by Emerson:
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
It’s an awe-inspiring reminder to not only do what makes us come alive, but to realize our potential and unleash what we are capable of.
So many inspirational quotes remind us that life is short and that we have to go for it. But maybe George Bernard Shaw said it best:
“I want to be all used up when I die.”
One quote that I think about often is by Seth Godin:
“Life is like skiing. Just like skiing, the goal is not to get to the bottom of the hill. It’s to have a bunch of good runs before the sun sets.”
It’s all about making the journey worth it.
What do you do when it’s over. It all depends. Dr. Seuss has an interesting twist:
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”
But the one that I find has true wisdom is from Dave Weinbaum:
“The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.”
Here’s to new many more beginnings in your life.
Enjoy and be sure to explore The Inspirational Quotes Collection to soar or roar in your own personal way.
The Great Happiness Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Leadership Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Love Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Personal Development Quotes Collection Revamped
The Great Productivity Quotes Collection Revamped
"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." -- Mahatma Gandhi
When people ask me what my biggest game changer was in terms of producing more in less time, I have to say that it’s a combination. It’s a combination of 1) spending more time in my strengths, and 2) finding my power hours.
This was the biggest key to getting more done in less time, and keeping my energy strong. Imagine doing the work you do in 40 hours in four hours. That’s what it’s like.
Hands down, this accelerated my learning and growth the fastest way possible. Imagine taking something that you could already do all day, and honing that. Imagine sharpening this blade to cut through any problem that comes your way, in the most effective and efficient way. That’s what it’s like.
It’s now my edge. I’ve found ways to use this edge in any job I do. You can do so too.
Here is a blurb from my 30 Days of Getting Results on Day 10 – Feel Strong All Week Long:
Get on Your Strengths Path What if there was one thing you could focus on that would help you get exponential results in all areas of your life? Well there is. It’s getting on your strengths path. When you are spending more time in the activities that make you strong, you automatically do great work, you renew and rebuild your mind, body, emotions, and spirit, and you dramatically accelerate your learning and growth. Fighting to get on your strengths path is one of the highest ROI (Return on Investment) battles you will ever win. It pays you back daily.
If there are so many benefits to being on your strengths path, and spending more time in your strengths, then why doesn’t everybody just do it? Because it requires self-awareness and you have to own it. Nobody comes along and puts you on your strengths path. YOU have to own it. YOU have to continuously find ways to spend more time in your strengths. Only you know truly what makes you strong and what makes you weak. You have to decide you want to spend more time in your strengths and you have to be deliberate about spending less time in your strengths.
That really is the key message here. You have to own it. When you choose to give your best, where you have your best to give, you empower yourself up to operate at a higher level. Your edge is at your finger tips.
I find that action builds momentum. The best kind of action is decisive action because then you are "all in." Dipping a toe in the water doesn’t make the same splash as diving into the pool.
When I'm under the gun, "satisficing" to make decisions serves me well. Gary Klein wrote a great book on how experts make rapid decisions under fire. (The book is Sources of Power.)
Some of the techniques I use include: criteria and weights, CARVER (Criticality, Accessibility, Return, Vulnerability, Effect, and Recognizability), and Six Thinking Hats. At Microsoft, I tend to use criteria and weight when I need to get agreement with others on what the priorities are. I also tend to use Six Thinking Hats when I need to rapidly have folks change perspective, and take a more holistic view. To make the most of Six Thinking Hats, I use questions at the whiteboard to focus the thinking and work our way through the hats.
At the end of the day, I've found that a lot of the decisions come down to who do you want to be and what experiences do you want to create. Basically, the more you can connect your decisions to your "Why" or to your values, the stickier they are.
In fact, the secret of changing habits is to first decide who you want to be and our identify helps us pattern match the best fits.
If you are a Stephen Covey fan, I think you will like my latest edition to my Great Quotes Collection. In tribute of Stephen Covey, I have put together a comprehensive set of Stephen Covey quotes, organized into key themes:
The themes include:
Here are the Top 10 Stephen Covey quotes to start you off …
Read more at Stephen Covey Quotes, and share with friends, family, and colleagues that might enjoy Covey’s timeless wisdom for work and life.
Your Outcome: Learn how to use Daily Outcomes to identify 3 outcomes or 3 Wins for today. By identifying your best 3 Wins for the day, you’ll be able to focus and prioritize throughout the day to achieve better results.
Welcome to Day 3 of 7 Days of Agile Results. Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
Just to do a quick recap, here’s what we’ve done so far:
Now, for today, let’s get started.
It’s a fresh start. This is your chance to choose the best things to focus on that will help you make the most impact today.
Here’s a simple process you can use to get started:
For example, here are my 3 outcomes that I want for today:
Those then act as my “tests for success” for the day. Do I have a lot of tasks on my plate for the day? You bet.
Do I have a lot of meetings to attend? Yep.
Will I be trying to use some of the little time slices in my day to try and complete many of my tasks? Of course.
Will I be dealing with interruptions throughout the day, as well? Yes, to that, too.
I will be dealing with chaos while riding the dragon. And throughout the day, I’ll be driving to my 3 outcomes.
They are my North Star, while I deal with whatever comes my way throughout the day.
May your 3 Wins guide you and provide you with clarity, conviction, and calmness among the chaos – TODAY.
Day 1 of 7 Days of Agile Results - Sunday (Getting Started)
Day 2 of 7 Days of Agile Results – Monday (Monday Vision)
10 Big Ideas from Getting Results the Agile Way
Agile Results on a Page
The Values of Agile Results
This is a guest post by Mark Bestauros on what he’s learned about Value Realization at Microsoft. You can think of Value Realization as simply the value extracted from a process or project. Mark is the Microsoft IT Principal Business Value Realization manager, and a member of the Microsoft IT Portfolio Management Team, where he is responsible for the optimization of a significant IT spend across the Microsoft businesses. Mark is also responsible for the Value Tracking for projects in scope, and that has led to some big breakthroughs in terms of reporting the value of IT investments back to the business, and demonstrating the power of Value Realization.
I’ve asked Mark to share some of his key insights and lessons learned from his adventures at Microsoft in the art and science of Value Realization.
Without further ado, here is Mark Bestauros on Value Realization …
The Value conversation serves two main purposes in IT:
To accomplish the first goal, the organization need to have the Value conversation tied to the Personal Commitments for all those involved in IT work, and equally importantly, making sure that the a mutual understanding of priority positioning of the “Value” focus in the Conditions of Satisfaction conversations that usually take place between IT organizations and the benefiting business partners from the IT effort.
Without having the Value activities reflected in the commitments and missing in IT native processes, almost all involved in project work automatically de-prioritize the Value work, starting with turning a blind eye on a missing business case analysis at the inception point and ending with walking away immediately after a project Pre-deployment sign off meeting, washing their hands from any commitment to measure and evaluate the actual benefits hoped for at the Envision or “Plan” phase.
The key to success is to embed Value experts at the business and IT border checkpoints. You need Value experts who are well versed in understanding how to sell the Value argument. You also need professionals who can guide the average IT professional through estimating effectively (versus guestimating). You also need to embed the most cost effective, and time effective, means to measure baselines and project logical improvement deltas at the business and IT border checkpoints. This will help you facilitate effective Portfolio Planning and prioritize demand more effectively, prior to having the all up IT/Business Leadership Team Planning marathons.
Evidencing the argument about the viability of the IT organization in any company with actual Realized Value is very compelling only if the Value reported passes these tests:
There are few characteristics or knowledge areas that makes a value practitioner successful in changing the culture and move the Value Organizational Maturity in the right direction:
A value practitioner can’t achieve that alone, while overcoming organizational undisciplined Value approaches if any exist at all, lacking individuals Value commitments and the unwillingness of the business customers to engage in meaningful Value (BCA, VRF or BVR efforts), he/she needs air cover and a value sponsors (usually are found in the Finance Community or if lucky, a CIO or a member of two of the senior leadership) to facilitate the conversation and help open the doors.
On the tactical and execution level the Value practitioner needs to:
The three technical challenges are primarily:
There are known techniques that address each, and there are some that I had to improvise to make them fit the maturity stage of the target organization. In all cases, getting stakeholder agreement to the assumptions, transferring functions, and using the Dollar as an IT solution provide horse power to go a long way.
While putting together lessons learned from our Cloud-related Enterprise Strategy engagements, we consolidated a set of recurring IT drivers.
The improvement of IT services and operations can deliver benefits such as improved service levels and cost savings. The Cloud offers numerous routes to IT optimization.
10 IT Drivers for the Cloud Some of the key IT drivers for the Cloud include:
My Related Posts
One of the big ideas in my book Getting Results the Agile Way (a best-seller in time management, thank you everybody for your support) is the idea of The Productive Artist.
I’ve seen too many people with bunches of brilliant ideas that never see the light of day.
I also see too many people that are incredibly productive, but don’t use enough of their creative side.
I wanted to create a simple system that could help create more Productive Artists.
I wanted to debottleneck and unleash artists to flow more value to the world, and I wanted to unleash the creative side that many people have as a kid, but lose somewhere along the way.
They forget how to dream big.
They forget how to play with possibility.
They don’t operate anywhere near the level that they are capable of.
I want to reduce the Greatness Gap between what people are capable of, and what they share with the world.
There are a lot of powerful tools within Agile Results, but I want to hone in on two right here:
Your Creative Hours are really a state of mind—a state of daydreaming. It’s the mindset that’s important. Whereas your Power Hours may be focused on results, your Creative Hours are focused on free-form thinking and exploration. You might find thatCreative Hours are your perfect balance to Power Hours. You might also find that you thrive best when you add more Creative Hours to your week. Ultimately, you might find that your Power Hoursfree up time for your Creative Hours, or that your Creative Hours change the game and improve your Power Hours. Your power hours might also be how you leverage your ideas from your Creative Hours.
When you combine Power Hours + Creative Hours, not only will you be unleashing The Productive Artist in you, but you will also be creating a new model for working that will take your experiences, talents, and abilities to a new level of self-expression.
You will set your productivity on fire, catch more bursts of brilliance, create more breakthroughs, and generate new value at a whole new level.
Here’s to your greatness, and your fire within.
Dr. Jay Conger has a must see presentation on The Anatomy of a High-Potential:
The Anatomy of a High-Potential
I’m always on the hunt for insights and actions that help people get the edge in work and life. This is one of those gems. What I like about Dr. Jay Conger’s work is that he has a mental model that’s easy to follow, as well as very specific practices that separate high-potentials from the rest of the pack.
In a fast-paced world of extreme innovation, change, and transformation, it pays to be high-potential.
Anything you can do to learn how to perform like a high-potential, can help you leap frog or fast track your career path.
Here are some of my favorite highlights from Dr. Conger’s presentation …
High-potentials consistently out-perform their peer groups. Dr. Jay Conger writes:
“High potentials consistently outperform their peer groups in a variety of settings and circumstances. While achieving superior levels of performance, they exhibit behaviors reflecting their company's culture and values in an exemplary manner. They show strong capacity to grow and success throughout their careers -- more quickly and effectively than their peer groups do.”
According to Dr. Jay Conger, high-potentials distinguish themselves in the following ways:
High-potentials are game changers. Here is a snapshot of Dr. Jay Conger’s pyramid that illustrates how high-potentials move up the stack:
What I like the most about the model is that it resonates with what I’ve experienced, and that it frames out a pragmatic development path for amplifying your impact as a proven game changer.
Kanban: The Secret of High-Performance Teams at Microsoft
How To Lead High-Performance Distributed Teams
The Innovative Team
The Book that Changes Lives
The Guerilla Guide to Getting a Better Performance Review at Microsoft
What's the best way to do it?
Time management tips #9 is pair up. Paring up simply means find somebody that will work with you on something, rather than go it alone. When you pair up, you create a team of capabilities and you learn how to love the things you might otherwise hate. Worst case, you at least make doing what you don’t enjoy, more fun. Best case, you find a new passion for something you didn’t know you had.
We all have things to do that we're not great at, or slow us down. Maybe it's because we don't have talent for it. Maybe it's because we hate doing it. Maybe it's because we just don't know a few tricks of the trade. (Sadly, I find the that it’s missing the tricks of the trade, that holds us back the most … and learning the tricks, actually unleashes a passion in us, because we no longer suck at it … it’s such a chicken and an egg scenario time and time again.)
Chances are you know somebody who is great at whatever it is that you need to do, or at least better than you. Just because you might hate to do something, doesn't mean that somebody else does not live for it. One person's trash is another's treasure. And that's a good thing.
Pairing up is the fastest way to transfer tribal knowledge. It’s visceral. You *feel* it. You immerse yourself in it. You get to see how somebody that likes doing this activity, actually goes about it. It's your chance to learn everything from the mindset they have, to the questions they ask, to the short-cuts they use, or how they make it fun.
One of my favorite phrases at work is, "Show me how."
So many experts love to show and share how they do their magic. It puts them in their element. Sometimes they will genuinely want to help you succeed. Other times, it's just so they can show off. Either way, it doesn't matter. What matters is that you make the most of it.
One of the best pairing situations is where you find a "workout buddy" for work. Maybe you are good at doing slides, and maybe they are good at technical details. When you pair up, you can both look good, and you both have something to gain.
Pairing works best when it's a mutual gain, so it's always helpful to bring something to the table. Sometimes, all you bring to the table is appreciation for their amazing skill, and sometimes that is enough.
Another great pattern for pairing is if you are a "starter" -- you like to start things, but you aren't a strong "finisher." A strong "starter" and "finisher" pair is like a dynamic duo in action that amplify each other's success. One's strength is another's weakness, and your goal is to build a mini-team of capabilities over a one-man band.
It's not just effective, it's strategic. By doing what you do best, and supplementing where you are not, you maximize your ability to make things happen in the most effective way, while staying true to you.
In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the time management exercises to be a more effective starter or finisher and get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis. You can also find more time management tips in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, and on Getting Results.com
Microsoft and Virgin help land Santa on top of a plane at 30,000 feet. If you’ve been wondering where Santa’s been, he landed on top of a Virgin Atlantic plane and did a photo shoot with the passengers.
Microsoft teamed up with Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic to bring the magic of Christmas to life. In the world’s first 4D experience in flight, Santa Claus appears to land on top of a Virgin Atlantic plane at 30,000 feet.
How’s that for some fancy flying with modern technology?!
Each passenger was also given a Windows tablet so they could track Father Christmas and chat with him during the flight.
Here’s the video of Santa landing on top of the plane and visiting with the passengers:
Video: Santa Lands on Top of a Virgin Atlantic Plane at 30,000 Feet
Here are a few scenes that show Santa in action …
Here’s one of Santa’s reindeer peering down into the cabin from on top of the plane:
Here’s Santa peering down into the cabin from above the plane before he goes inside:
Santa sees somebody he recognizes:
Santa boards the plane and walks the cabin:
The kids are excited to see Santa:
Adults are happy, too:
Santa has time for some photo shoots:
Santa leaves to get back to his sleigh on top of the plane:
Virgin Atlantic and Microsoft wish everybody a very, merry Christmas:
Here’s Richard Branson’s post on the story:
Santa Lands on Virgin Atlantic Plane at 30,000 Feet
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
10 Big Ideas from a Christmas Carol
25 Holiday Classic Movies and Lessons Learned
Microsoft Cloud Case Studies at a Glance
This is a guest post by Stephen Kell on Value Realization and how it can help IT organizations stay relevant through changing times, as well as become a strategic partner within the organization. For background, Stephen is a Microsoft Enterprise Architect with extensive experience in Telecoms, Manufacturing, Financial Services and government sectors. Over the course of his career, he has played various roles including CTO, IT Director, Enterprise Architect, and Principal Consultant.
Without further ado, here’s Stephen on lessons learned in Value Realization …
During my time working within IT, I have found that business value is something that project teams worry about at the beginning of the project in order to justify initial investment but then is often forgotten as the project goes into the build and implementation phases. During these phases the emphasis is placed on the budget and timescales of the project. Scope changes are made to fit in with the budget and timescales without any thought as to the effect on the business value delivered. ‘On-time and on-budget’ is the project managers’ mantra whereas it should be ‘on-time, on-budget and business value delivered’.
This lack of emphasis on business value delivered gives the business the view that IT is a cost center which provides an essential service rather than seeing IT as a valued business partner. This view is reflected in the position of IT departments under the CFO rather than as a valued member of the board reporting into the CEO or even as part of a business strategy group. The way technical people tend to communicate does not help. Often there is a long explanation of the technical merits of a solution followed by ‘it will save the user 2 hours per day’. This is where value models come in which allow the conversation to have some structure in order to attract and hold the attention of the business community.
IT is so important to the business but they often get frustrated with the IT department’s perceived inability to deliver and thus set up their own Business Unit IT departments, side-lining the IT department to acting as the provider of infrastructure only. This trend was highlighted in the recent MIT CISR 2013 Annual Research Forum in Boston.
In order to be able to communicate the value of IT to the business, the CIO and his team need to know what the business values and how these are measured and reported:
How many people in the IT department know and understand the above value dimensions? Most of this information is readily available internally (and often externally). Taking time to understand what the organization values will mean that the IT department becomes much more relevant to the business and the business will start to listen and value the insights that the CIO and his team can bring, enabling them to be at the core of the decision making process and not side-lined.
By using value models the CIO can bring a level of maturity to the value discussion which might well be missing from the business. The CFO will have some financial models but these will not necessarily cover all of the dimensions of value. This can also be a challenge for the CIO; if there are not mature value models within the business then it is difficult to articulate the value of IT.
Having said that, it is difficult to model and measure value. Other blog entries on this subject have covered the Observable, Measurable, Quantifiable and Financial categorization of value so I won’t go into detail here but would point out that financial models do not cover all the goals and drivers of certain organizations. Public sector organizations and charities are about delivering social value to the countries/communities that they serve and therefore the Social Impact has to be taken into account as well as the financial aspects and indeed the Social Impact can be much more important than the financial measures. Even commercial companies are now putting emphasis on value other than pure financial such as environmental impact, or helping the unemployed back into work.
Whereas there are some fairly mature models for modeling the financial side of a business, there are very few models for modeling the Social Impact of an organization. I have discussed this in more detail in the following blog post:
Understanding How To Measure the Value of Public Sector Projects
So in conclusion, business value to the organization is a very important concept for IT leadership teams to get their head around if they want to play a strategic role within the organization. Without a good understanding of business value there is the risk that they will be relegated to the side-lines as the provider of the infrastructure whilst the business units set up their own IT departments. Researching the different value models and frameworks should be a priority for IT leaders who have not already done so. Understanding what the business values and delivering to increase that business value keeps the IT department at the heart of the organization as a valued partner.
Blessing Sibanyoni on Value Realization
Paul Lidbetter on Value Realization
Martin Sykes on Value Realization
Mark Bestauros on Value Realization
Graham Doig on Value Realization
How do you manage your portfolio of IT investments? Do you have a mental model for portfolio management? Here is an example:
While there are a lot of ways to manage a portfolio, I find the frame above to be highly effective. It’s from the Cranfield School of Management in the UK. It’s a very simple frame:
The key is to know where your investments are in terms of this map. A common path for investments is to move through the quadrants in this order: High-Potential, Strategic, Key Operational, and Support.
Example Investment Ratios Here is an example of a common investment spread:
Above the Line A cutting question to ask about your portfolio management is, “Are you operating above the line?” This cuts to the chase to answer two key questions:
You can use this frame to look at cloud investments … your current business investments … how you spend your time … etc. It can be a lens for a life, and a lens for learning … and a way to shape your path forward by flowing more value and staying in the game for the road ahead.
Here is a nice distillation of IT Portfolio Management and how to think about it as it relates to the cloud.
I created a simple view of the Getting Results Knowledge Base for my latest book, Getting Results the Agile Way, which is a personal results system for work and life. The Knowledge Base provides simple job aids including Cheat Sheets, Checklists, How Tos, Guidelines, and Templates.
If you want a quick visual overview of Getting Results, then explore the Visuals for Getting Results collection, which is a simple set of figures and diagrams.
I would also recommend you browse the Guidelines for Getting Results. The guidelines are a very tight set of "what to do," "why," and "how" summaries for getting results. What's special about this set is that I reviewed them with several folks inside and outside of Microsoft that have focused on personal productivity and team productivity for many years. You might just find the gem that's a game changer for you.
If you want a jump start for learning the system, see Getting Started with Agile Results.
The book is going to edit soon, so your feedback would be appreciated. (Making changes gets tougher when the book is in edit.)
One of the most common things I get asked, wherever I go is, “What were the team roles and responsibilities on your Microsoft patterns & practices project teams?”
Effectively, there were a set of repeatable roles that people signed up for, or covered in some way. In this case, a role is simply a logical collection of tasks. The role is the label for that collection of tasks.
As an Agile bunch, we were self-organizing. In practice, what that means is the team defined the roles and responsibilities at project kickoff. As the project progressed, people would shuffle around responsibilities among the team, to produce the best output, and to find ways to get people spending more time in their strengths, or learning new skills. It's all about owning your executing, playing well with others, and making the most of the talent you have at hand.
Here is a simple list of the team roles and responsibilities each team generally had to cover:
Roles Architect Lead Writer Developer Development Lead Product Manager Program Manager Test Test Lead Subject Matter Expert
Responsibilities Architecture and Design Budget Business Investment Collateral (screen casts, blogs, decks, demo scripts) Content structure Customer connection Design Quality Development Evangelism (screen casts, web presence, road shows, conferences, customer briefings, press & analysts) Feedback Product Group Alignment Product Planning Project Planning Quality (technical accuracy, consumability, readability) Release Requirements Scope Schedule Simplicity Support / Sustained-Engineering Team and People Test execution Test planning Usability
Personal growth is one of the best ways to get more from life. How do you achieve personal growth? Well, one way is to take on big, hairy challenges. Personal growth is what happens to you in the process of testing your skills and experience against the real world.
I like to think of personal growth as expanding your capabilities.
You can grow deeper in a particular domain, or you can grow your cross-cutting abilities. Sometimes, the best way to grow deeper in a domain, is to focus on cross-cutting concerns like focus, setting goals, motivation, productivity, time management, etc. For example, when I was working in security, I had to do a lot of stakeholder management across teams. It required a great deal of influence without authority. I had to deal with extreme conflict, and negotiate for win-wins in a number of highly-competitive scenarios. I had to practice emotional intelligence under high-stress scenarios. I had to stay focused, and use goals to help drive the team forward. I had to achieve our security goals, while making sure the team was highly productive. I had to improve my own personal productivity. All of these skills, helped me learn about security in a much broader way, from a much wider set of people, and in a way that was much more profound that if I simply focused on the principles, patterns, and practices of security. It was through personal growth, that I expanded my abilities to be effective at driving security changes in a much wider range of scenarios and situations.
Personal growth is powerful. It’s the backbone of personal empowerment. For example, sometimes when you wonder what’s holding you back … it’s you. Whether it’s limiting beliefs, or having a limited toolset, or simply having a limited perspective or experience. The key is to expand your capabilities, along the journey of work and life.
My 30 Days of Free Training for Getting Results, is a collection of self-paced modules to help you achieve personal growth. When I originally ran the self-paced training, I did it as a daily release for 30 days. It was highly effective for many people because they liked the little daily actions, and the focus for the month. Since that original series, I’ve made the 30 Days of Free Training for Getting Results available here:
It’s a highly-focused set of personal growth exercises at your finger tips. It’s also a very simple system for time management. I’ve tried to keep the layout as simple and as clean as possible. If you’ve seen the earlier version, then this should be a marked improvement. I put each day on the sidebar, so that you can easily hop around. For convenience, I’ve listed the days below, and provided a link to each lesson. This way you can get the bird’s-eye view and quickly explore any lessons that might interest you. (Personally, if this is your first time, I would check out Day #27 – Do Something Great.)
30 Days of Getting Results
Note that just because it says 30 days, that doesn’t mean you can’t flip through at your own pace. Find what works for you. Explore the ideas that you find the most interesting.
If you experience a breakthrough, be sure to share it with others. Even though this is free, it’s pretty intense. Folks have told me about their amazing breakthroughs … somehow dots have connected, and they’ve gotten over hurdles they’ve faced for years.
BTW – If you do start with Day 27 and decide to do something great, I’d love to hear about what it is.
Jariek Robbins, son of Tony Robbins, shares his personal development lessons learned. I asked Jariek to write a guest post for me on his best lessons learned in personal development, and he slammed it home. In his article, “How to Take the Ordinary and Turn it into EXTRAORDINARY!”, he shares how to deal with mundane, boring, and routine tasks, as well as draining activities, and turn them into sources of power and strength.
I’ve long been a fan of Tony Robbins and his ability to “design” life and shape destiny with hard-core thinking skills. I actually first learned about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) from Tony Robbins which is basically a methodology for modeling excellence. If you’re a developer, you’ll appreciate the idea of programming your mind by design, and changing your thoughts, feelings, and actions for your best results. A lot of the Microsoft execs use NLP skills to improve their interpersonal effectiveness, from building rapport, to changing their inner-game, and reframing problems into compelling challenges.
The other thing that Tony Robbins excels at his ability to ask the right questions. Many people can just ask questions. But there’s an art to asking the right questions, and getting deep insights with precision and accuracy.
Jariek Robbins learned many of these skills from his father and uses them to shape his path forward, as well as to coach people and businesses to bring out their best. By asking better questions and modeling success he can speed up results.
Check out Jariek’s article and learn how to turn the ordinary into extraordinary.
This is a story of a person, who started a new chapter in their life. They decided to follow their dream and write their story forward.
Meet Alik Levin. Talk about changing your life. Earlier this year, Alik came to the U.S. with his family in search of his dream job. Not only did he land his job, but he's been making amazing impact on his new team and driving change in powerful ways. He's in his element and truly unleashed. Alik is now a successful Microsoft programming writer. He's living his passion while he’s helping customers succeed on our platform, by sharing success patterns with customers around the world.
Every now and then, somebody does something that just blows your mind. I've known Alik for a long time, but When Alik first told me that he was coming to the U.S. to find a job and make his dreams happen, I was in disbelief. It was the type of thing you read about or watch in the movies, but to see it unfold right before my eyes was nothing short of spectacular. You see, this was not a story of somebody simply hopping from one mountain peak to another. It was a story of personal triumph. I got to watch Alik climb a mountain from scratch, based on his conviction and courage for a better life. Watching him uproot his family and start a new life, in this new world, has been one of the most amazing transformations I’ve seen in a long time.
While I'm happy that the story had a happy ending, and a wonderful new beginning, I'm truly proud of this guy. In a world of turbulence, he decided to take the bull by the horns and live life on his terms. He's no shadow of his former self. Instead, he is a model for leading a life of action and making the most of what he’s got. He truly is the author of his life. Wow.
You can imagine how ecstatic I was when Alik offered to share his story of how he uses Getting Results the Agile Way, as his secret weapon for getting results ...
You can find the original video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2creyf13eVI. If you know somebody who needs a lift in their day, feel free to share Alik’s story with them. It just might make their day. I know a lot of people who could use a shoulder to lean on or a helping hand, or even just a story of hope.