J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    A Language for Your Strengths

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    I wrote a post on A Language for Strengths on Sources of Insight.  It's my attempt to consolidate and share the best information I've found for learning and talking about strengths and talents.  I'm a big believer in focusing on your strengths.  I know that when I spend more time in my strengths, I have more energy, I get more done, and I improve my impact.  It's about giving my best where I have my best to give.  It sounds simple and obvious, yet, before I had a lens for strengths and talents it was more hit or miss.  Now, I can more effectively zoom in on my strengths because I have a vocabulary for them.

    As I've been helping people find jobs, write their resumes, find their passions, and unleash their best, I've been relying heavily on first helping them find their natural strengths and talents.  This gives them the drive and the staying power to deal with whatever life throws at them, as well as gives them a competitive edge.  The key in today's landscape, is to bring your unique combination of strengths to the table.  I think that while it's a skills-for-hire economy for the short-term, it's a play-to-your-strengths life for the long term.

    To learn the map of the 34 strengths and get started on your strengths quest, read my post, A Language for Strengths.

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    Power Hours + Creative Hours = The Productive Artist

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    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:

    1. Power Hours - A Power Hour is a way to turn ordinary hours into extraordinary ones.  You can use Power Hours to set your productivity on fire.  A Power Hours is when you’re “in the zone.”  It’s when you’ve got your “groove on.”  You can use Power Hours to bring more zest into what you do, as well as find more “flow.”
    2. Creative Hours - A Creative Hour is simply an hour where you explore ideas from your most creative mindset.  Creative Hours are a powerful tool for performing creative exploration and creative synthesis.

    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.

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    Portfolio Management

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    How do you manage your portfolio of IT investments?  Do you have a mental model for portfolio management?   Here is an example:

    image

    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:

    • Two dimensions:   Value Today vs. Value Tomorrow
    • Four Quadrants:  High-Potential, Strategic, Key Operational, and Support

    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:

    image

    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:

    1. Are you operating on the top half of the chart?
    2. Are you working on things that create business value for your future?

    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.

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    Personal Development Lessons Learned from Jariek Robbins

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    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.

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    Visual - Backlogs with User Input

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    One of the first things to help a business to gain agility is to connect the product development to the actual user community.  A simple way to do this is to connect the backlog to user input.  If you can show the users your backlog of scenarios, and they can help you prioritize and validate demand, you just gained a great competitive advantage.

    A picture is worth 1,000 words, so here it goes ...

    image

    The development team manages the backlog.  Using input from users to help prioritize and identify gaps, the backlog is then used to drive the monthly development sprints.

    It looks simple and it is, but it's not the knowing, it's the doing that makes the difference.

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    Tim Ferriss Interview on The 4-Hour Chef

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    My interview with Tim Ferriss on The 4-Hour Chef is now live.  Tim Ferriss it the best-selling author of The 4-Hour Work Week and The 4-Hour Body.  The 4-Hour Chef is Tim’s newest book on how to make the most of life.

    Before my interview, I asked some colleagues and friends what questions they would like me to ask.  I included their questions as well as my own.   Here are the key questions I asked during my interview with Tim Ferriss:

    1. What is the story you use the most? (we all have them, the favorite story that we use to illustrate our core messages.)
    2. What’s one great technique that people can use to instantly change the quality of their life?
    3. What did you learn that surprised you in making the 4-hour chef?
    4. How do you make time, when you absolutely don’t have time?
    5. What is a simple way that anyone can start to experiment more with their life style?

    In the interview, you will learn a few things that you can instantly used, as well as get an inside look at why Tim Ferriss does what he does.

    I focused on questions that I thought would help you in terms of personal effectiveness, productivity, and time management.  I especially liked asking Tim Ferriss question #4, “How do you make time, when you absolutely don’t have time?”   Lack of time is an issue that comes up a lot in all sorts of contexts to the point where it becomes an excuse for why so many things don’t happen.  I thought it would be great to get Tim’s definitive answer on how to think about a lack of time and what to do about it.

    If you shy away from the 4-Hour Chef, because you think cooking should be left up to Chef Boyardee, you’re in for a surprise.  The 4-Hour Chef is all about changing your quality of life, and improving your ability to rapidly learn.  The full title of The 4-Hour Chef is: The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life.   If you are a lifelong learner or simply want to bring out the continuous learner in you, you will enjoy the deep focus on extreme learning throughout the book.  It’s all about getting over fears, building momentum, breaking a new learning topic down to size, and learning from the best of the best, in record time.

    Enjoy the interview

    Tim Ferris on The 4-Hour Chef

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Team of Leaders

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    I have a very special guest post about leadership and how to build a team of leaders.   It’s by Bob and Gregg Vanourek, the authors of Triple Crown Leadership.

    It’s special because it reminds me of the leadership culture we created in the early days of the Microsoft patterns & practices team – where everybody was expected to demonstrate leadership.   Everybody up and down the chain was expected to influence without authority, drive for results, be accountable, take ownership of issues, strive for excellence, etc.  It was a culture of empowerment, excellence, and growth.

    This management philosophy, where everybody is a leader, created a culture of learning and execution that I just hadn’t seen, heard of, or experienced anywhere else before that.    To put wood behind the arrow, management significantly invested in each of the members of the team, up and down the chain, so that they could operate and be effective as individual leaders, regardless of their position.  As individual leaders, they could lead themselves with skill, as well as influence across organizational boundaries more effectively.  The impact was a high-performing team of federated leaders that shared common values, while driving the mission and vision, and embracing the operating principles of the culture at large.

    Our training included learning how to influence without authority, how to ask precise question and give precise answers (especially when dealing with executives), how to have crucial conversations, and how to manage crucial confrontations.   Our training also included balancing connection and conviction, and knowing how to better relate with conflicting interpersonal communication styles.  People learned rapidly from each other and accelerated each other’s growth.  People also had deep respect for each other because the leadership skills shined through.  People were skilled at looking at the bigger picture and focusing on the tactics within the strategies to realize the future and take bold action.

    The “team of leaders” is a powerful concept.  I would say it’s actually transformational.   One way to grow a group is to decide that there is a leader, and of course, behind the leader are followers.   If you’re a follower, even a good one, you aren’t necessarily expected to demonstrate strong leadership skills.   After all, you have a leader for that.  If on the other hand, everyone is a leader, then everyone is expected to bring out their best.   You now have a team of forward looking, fully engaged, people asking better questions, and using influence, not coercion, to get things done.  The motivational philosophy that drives the team is to win the heart, and the mind follows … so you now have an inspired band of leaders, ready to take on big challenges, and make things happen.

    You get what you expect.  You can choose to set the stage of whether to lead a team of leaders, or lead a band of followers.  In today’s hyper-competitive world, I think you set yourself up for success when you leverage the full capacity of what your teams and people are capable of.

    I forgot just how important this little idea was until I was reading the guest post.   It’s a great example of how little things like attitudes and beliefs, truly shape the reality in ways that become self-fulfilling.

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    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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    Underutilized

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    When it comes to people, underutilized does not mean squeeze out more hours, it means unleash more strengths.

    When people have the chance to give their best where they have their best to give, this has an automatic way of taking care of utilization, motivation, impact, etc.  When somebody is in their element, effective managers co-create the goals and get out of the way.  It’s among the best ways to get the best results from teams or individuals.  If you want to optimize a team, then unleash the strengths of each individual.

    The power of people in a knowledge worker world is that you get exponential results when people are playing to their strengths.   The simplest way to do this is have people in roles where they spend more time in their strengths and less time in their weaknesses.  Another way to unleash their strength is pair them up with people that compliment their strengths or balance out their weaknesses.

    On the flip side, the simplest way to create low-performing teams is to have people spend more time in their weaknesses and very little time in their strengths.   While this is simple and obvious, the real trick is looking for it and finding ways to bring out people’s best.

    While it’s not always easy, and you often have to get creative, one of the best things you can do for you, your company, the world, is to spend more time in your strengths and help others do the same.  It’s the fittest and the flexible that survive, and it’s your unique strengths that crank up your fit factor.

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    Blessing Sibanyoni on Value Realization

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    Value Realization is hot.  You can think of Value Realization as simply the value extracted from a process or project. 

    Business leaders want to understand the benefits they’ll get from their technology solutions.   They also want to see the value of their investment deliver benefits and deliver real results along the way.   And, of course, they also want to accelerate adoption so that they can speed up their value realization, as well as help avoid “value leakage".”

    But how do you actually do Value Realization in the real world? …

    This is a guest post by Blessing Sibanyoni.   Blessing delivers advisory, IT architecture, and planning services to Microsoft’s top enterprise customers within the financial services sector.  He has more than 17 years of experience in the IT field.  He is currently an Enterprise Architect and Strategy Advisor on behalf of Microsoft Corporation. 

    As an Enterprise Strategy Advisor, Blessing helps organizations achieve challenging business and organizational goals.  He does so by helping them leverage value from their current and future investments, enabled by technology.  Blessing has a solid record of delivering large and complex initiatives within organizations while always doing this in a mutually beneficial way.  You can connect with Blessing Sibanyoni on LinkedIn.

    Without further ado, here’s Blessing on Value Realization …

    Value in the Eye of the Beholder

    Often we grapple with the notion of value.  At first it seems like a very simple thing but when you really take time to consider it, you realize how complicated and multi-dimensional it becomes.  Take a simple example of a person who follows a methodology, based on best practices, who crosses all the t’s and dots the i’s but at the end of the day experiences a failed project or is unable to reach goals that his customers appreciate.  Or perhaps, what about the notion of another who is highly intelligent but working for someone far less “intelligent” from a credentials or even IQ perspective. 

    What has happened here?

    Why do these paradoxes occur and how do you ensure you are not ending up experiencing the same?

    The Notion of Value

    I would argue that at the heart of these conundrums is the notion of value.  Value is the worth of something in terms of the amount of other things for which it can be exchanged.  Often it’s not about inputs but rather outcomes and many state that you cannot achieve it without effecting a transformation.  The transformation itself can be virtual or manifested in the real world, but for true value to be derived, transformation in whatever form, must transpire. 

    For transformation to transpire a real pain must be felt.

    Fiercely Competing Alternatives

    After spending almost two decades in public and private enterprises, I’m still intrigued by why organizations decide to spend resources on some things and not others.  Often it’s the thing that seem to make the least sense which these organizations decide to put all their resources into. 

    Why?

    This curiosity is one that lingers on especially realizing that resources are often limited and logically, one would naturally be better positioned by focusing on projects or initiatives that offer more returns and deserve more attention.  One could take the cynical view that common sense is not so common, or the perspective that organizations are made of people, and people are irrational and fallible beings that bring their own biases into every situation. 

    So the notion of value then or the expectation of what will bring value is often subjective and largely determined in the eye of the beholder. 

    Quantitative or Qualitative?

    I have met many stakeholders who are more interested in the qualitative rather than the quantitative.  Surprisingly, this is true, even in financial services! 

    Giving such people a quantitative, seemingly logical justification is often destined to result in failure, and the converse is also true.  So, knowing your stakeholders, what drives and resonates with them is more important that coming up with a definitive, objective, rational and quantitative hypothesis in order to convince them to take some action.

    Recently I was fortunate to have worked with a senior executive who was very financially inclined with a major focus on bottom line impact.  This stakeholder did so well in the organization that he was soon promoted.  To my surprise the person who replaced him was much more people oriented and his biggest concerns were around how the changes proposed would impact people within the organization.  The new stakeholder’s view was that people came first and happy employees result in a positive bottom line effect. 

    I believe both execs had a great view, even though it seemed that their perspectives were fundamentally different. 

    The key for me was to ensure that both qualitative and quantitative arguments were well prepared in advance so that we could tell compelling stories that drove the agenda regardless of the different concerns and viewpoints.

    Know Thy Foe

    Knowing your industry and thinking ahead about what your stakeholders may not yet know that they need or desire, is also a very valuable thing to do. 

    Think about the world of tablet computers that nobody knew they needed just a few years ago, yet these things are now taking the world by storm...

    A Few Lessons Learned in the Trenches

    At the beginning I spoke about blind implementation of a methodology being a less than great thing, I would argue that the following steps make great sense around realizing that value, in the eye of the beholder:

    1. First, seek to understand (Analyze the situation, the pains, problems being experienced and clearly identify who is being impacted – empathy is an important quality!)
    2. Take time to synthesize, communicate back the pain at its essence and color your findings with different perspectives
    3. Ensure you leave behind each interaction, always having taught something new to your customer - even if it’s a small thing. 
    4. Make your plan of action ensuring you focus on what will be high impact and high value to your stakeholder without losing sight of the bigger picture and remaining realistic  
    5. Take action, early and often whilst being nimble and adaptable as necessary
    6. Always endeavor to be mutualistic.  The power of reciprocity really goes a long way!

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    Day 3 of 7 Days of Agile Results – Tuesday (Daily Outcomes)

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    imageYour 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:

    1. Scan your calendar so you can get a good picture of the key events in your day.  You want to get a good sense of the priorities.
    2. Write down a simple list of the key tasks you have on your plate for today.
    3. Now, at the top of your list, identify 3 outcomes that would make this a great day.   Think of these as your 3 Wins for today, to help you focus and prioritize throughout your day.

    For example, here are my 3 outcomes that I want for today:

    1. People in the meeting buy into the Scenarios + Architecture + Value approach
    2. Review meeting of the Devices + Services story leads to closure of open issues
    3. Sync up leads to a breakthrough I can apply to our production process

    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.

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    Satya Nadella is All About Customer Focus, Employee Engagement, and Changing the World

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    I’m still learning about Satya Nadella, our new CEO at Microsoft (but a very seasoned Softie.)

    He’s been around here a while, but I never really got to meet him.

    So far, I really like his style.  He’s a quiet leader.  He focuses on three things that matter a lot to me:

    1. Customer Focus – Satya focuses on the end-to-end customer experience and wants to light up experiences that matter to make life better.
    2. Employee engagement – Satya wants people to have passion and purpose and to do work that matters.
    3. Changing the world -- As I was listening to Satya talk to us, it was all about “the future we're going to invent together” and how we’ll “express ourselves in the most creative ways.”   It’s about building a better world and software is our way.

    So then, let’s invent the future together

    And, in an Enterprise Social world, that includes Softies working with fellow Softies, in a “One Microsoft” way, and it also, includes working with our customers to co-create our future.

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    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

    Jason Taylor on Getting Results the Agile Way

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    Getting Results the Agile Way is a personal results system for making the most of what you’ve got.  As the book cover says, it helps you focus and prioritize, manage time and information, and balance work and life, to achieve meaningful results.  People have been using the approach for anything from shipping software to home improvement to renovating their restaurants.   Leaders have been using it to improve the productivity, passion, and performance of their teams.  By having people work on the right things, at the right time, the right way, with the right energy, it brings out the best in people.  It’s a way to amplify impact and get exponential results.

    … But what makes it real is when you hear from the people that are using the system.

    Meet Jason Taylor.  Jason is CTO (Chief Technology Officer) at Security Innovation, and here is his story of using Getting Results the Agile Way …


    I came to Getting Results with a history of effectiveness and success. I had a solid sense of what I felt were the best ways to get things done, a set of process and principles that had worked well for me over many years. I am a process guy, a details guy and a lover of great strategy. I sweat the small stuff and I look at the big picture in order to guide myself and my organization to maximum results. Then I met JD...

    I started with JD on a project to build security guidance for the ASP.NET development platform. A huge undertaking that involved discovering, consuming, and analyzing a huge amount of information from a huge amount of sources both written and verbal and then turning that into specific, contextual, prescriptive guidance for Microsoft developers. The goal was nothing less than to change the way in which web applications were written on the Microsoft platform. In order to make consumers more secure, the applications needed to be more secure. In order to make the applications more secure, developers needed to know what to do. That's where JD and team came in. What I saw in the course of this project, changed my view on how to get things done. JD accomplished the seemingly impossible. In too little time, with too little resources, with a staggering amount of chaos to deal with, JD coaxed the team into writing a masterpiece. I couldn't see how it was done, but I was curious. Luckily for me I had to opportunity to work with JD on a number of other projects over the course of several years. I learned the process as it was developed and maybe even had a chance to contribute to it a little here and there. Whether I had any impact on it or not, it had a huge impact on me. Before I explain what I learned, I want to set some context to explain how I used to get results. I was a huge believer in up-front planning. For a new project I would spend a lot of time designing and planning what needed to get done, how it would get done, when it would get done, who would do it and in what order. I was a master of this style. I could plan a complex project with a dozen team members and have an 18 month plan with all of the tasks laid out to the day and then we could execute to that plan so that 18 months from the start we had accomplished exactly what I had laid out at the start. Impressive right? Well, not really. I learned, the hard way, that I was focusing on the wrong things. I was focusing on tasks and activities. I was focusing on what got done, which I thought were the results, but I was neglecting the real results. Most importantly, I had the wrong assumptions. I assumed that a rigorous planning process could remove risk. I assumed that I knew up-front what I wanted to accomplish. I assumed that my plan was helping me when it was actually a prison.

    So what did I learn from JD and how did it change how I do things? What kind of a difference did it make? Here are the key lessons I learned, my most important take-aways:

    1. Focus on scenarios and stories. I'd always used scenarios and stories as a tool, but I hadn't used them correctly. They were something I considered, they were an input to my plan, just one more thing that mattered. What JD taught me is that they are the only thing that matters. If you get this one thing right you win. If you get it wrong you lose. Planning should be about determining the right scenarios and stories you want to enable. Execution is about making these scenarios and stories real. You know you are done, you judge your success, by measuring against these scenarios and stories. Everything else is a means to this end.
    2. Expose risk early, fail quickly. Planning is an exercise in risk discovery and mitigation. You plan so that you can create a path to success while imagining the pitfalls and avoiding them. Planning is a mental exercise, it is not doing, it is imagining. JD helped me realize that the world is too complex to plan for every possible problem and it is too complex for you to be able to plan the best possible path. I learned that I should be exploring and optimizing as I go instead of trying to do it all up front. If the price of failure is not extreme (lost lives, destroyed business) and I can afford the exploration, I discovered I am better off reducing my up-front planning and jumping into the 'doing' sooner. By 'doing' I can expose risks early and I can determine if my chosen path will fail so I can pick another. I think JD calls it "Prove the Path". I like to think that mistakes and failure are bound to happen and I'd rather discover it fast while I have the chance to correct than discover it too late when I'm over-committed.
    3. Ruthless effectiveness. I thought I was ruthless already. I thought I went after results like a Pit Bull and didn't let go till I'd chewed it to a pulp. I was right, but that's not the most effective path. Ruthless effectiveness isn't being a Pit Bull and never letting go. Ruthless effectiveness is knowing when something is good enough and knowing when it will never be good enough. Ruthless effectiveness is learning to let go. I am a perfectionist, I like things to be more than good. I want them to be great, exceptional even. I can forget the rule of diminishing returns once I have my teeth into something. JD taught me to let a project go, to ship the book, to release the software when you've maximized its value and when it will make the most impact. Let go when there are external reasons to let go, don't let your own internal attachment cause you to hang on to something too long. It felt crazy to me when I first saw it, almost irresponsible. But it works. Its a ruthless focus on results. Nothing personal.

    I'm sure your take-aways from Getting Results will be different from mine. We are all different, have different goals and are all in different places in regards to our abilities and motivations to be effective. There is so much in this guide, it has so much to offer, that I think anyone who reads it will get something out of it. If you are lucky, it may even change your life like it did mine.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Shareholder Value is a Result, Not a Strategy

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    In Motley Fool Stock Advisor, David Gardner writes about a idea from 1970 that changed the business culture at large:

    “In 1970, Noble Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman wrote a famous article for The New York Times Magazine, decrying the idea that businesses should have any sense of social responsibility.  Their responsibility, he said, is to increase shareholder wealth to the greatest extent possible – pure and simple.  It was an incredibly influential idea that became common wisdom and is in large part responsible for much of the business culture we see today.  The problem is it was completely and transparently wrong.”

    David then follows up with words of wisdom from Jack Welch, Former General Electric CEO. 

    Here’s what Jack said in an interview back in 2009:

    “On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world.  Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy … Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers, and your products.  Managers and investors should not set share price increase as their overarching goal.”

    It’s a great reminder to set overarching goals that matter.

    Then great results are a by-product.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Choosing Where to Invest–Technical Uncertainty vs. Market Uncertainty

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    This is a simple visual of a frame we used for helping choose which projects to invest in in patterns & practices.

    image

    The main frame is “Technical Uncertainty” vs. “Market Uncertainty.”  We used this frame to help balance our portfolio of projects against risk, value, and growth, against the cost.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Crush Your Overwhelming List of Things to Do

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    Everybody has too much to do, too little time.  Yet, some people have a way of spending their time on things in a way that yields better results.

    What’s the key to crushing an overwhelming list of things to do and getter better results?

    3 simple steps:

    1. Write down all the things you need to do
    2. Bubble up Three Wins to the top
    3. Prioritize the list

    I elaborate on this approach in 3 Steps to Crushing Your Overwhelming List of Things To Do.

    Why does this work?

    It dumps what’s on your mind.  We tend to think better on paper.  At least, it’s easier to be more objective when you are looking at your list of things to do on paper, right in front of you.  Instead of swirling it around in your mind, you can look at each item and ask better questions, whether it’s worth it, and whether it’s the right thing to be working on now.

    When you bubble up Three Wins, you’ve identified the three most valuable outcomes that you want to achieve.   These instantly help you focus and prioritize all of your other efforts.  If it feels off, then you carved out the wrong things.   You have to get real and be honest with yourself about what you want to achieve (or can achieve) with the time and energy you’ve got for the rest of the day.   Given the time you’ve got left for today, and the energy you’ve got left, what are the three most valuable things you could possibly achieve?

    The beauty is you can do this at any time in the day, whenever you are overwhelmed.   Simply stop, and remind yourself what your Three Wins will be for today, and refocus on those.   It takes practice to get the level-right, and to not confuse outcomes, wins, or results with tasks, but you’ll get the hang of it, the more you do it.

    With your wins at the top of the list, you can then prioritize the rest of your list, to support your wins.  It’s perfectly acceptable to have a bunch of tasks and reminders, whatever you need to help you take better action, but do yourself the favor, and guide all your actions with Three Wins.

    You’ll be amazed by how much better you can trim an overwhelming mound of things to do, down to size, and how easily you can focus and stay motivated, even when you are doing the heavy lifting.    If you know you are going for a win, and not just doing a bunch of stuff, you will inspire yourself with skill, and bring out your best, time and again.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Inspiring a Vision

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    One of my mentees was looking for ways to grow her prowess in “Inspiring a Vision.”  

    Here are some of the ways I shared with her so far:

    • Future Picture - One of the best ways that the military uses to create a shared vision rapidly and communicate it down the line is “Future Picture”  (See How To Paint a Future Picture.)

    The key with vision is, when possible –

    1. Draw your vision – make it a simple picture
    2. Use metaphors – metaphors are the fastest way to share an idea
    3. Paint the story - what’s the current state, what’s the future state
    4. Paint the ecosystem – who are the players in the system, what are the levers, what are the inputs/outputs
    5. Paint the story over time … how does time change the vision … and chunk up the vision into 6 month, 1 year, 3 year, five year

    And, a powerful tool we use at Microsoft is a Vision / Scope document.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Time Management Tips #9 - Pair Up

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    Untitled

    What's the best way to do it?

    Together.

    Pair up.

    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

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Mark Bestauros on Value Realization

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    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 …

    Two Main Purposes of the Value Conversation

    The Value conversation serves two main purposes in IT:

    1. Objective and Value Driven Portfolio Planning
    2. Provide Evidence to the argument that IT is not a cost center, but a corporate Propulsion Engine enabling it to reach its objectives through: Informate, Transformate and Automate processes and businesses within the company.

    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.

    Planning and Prioritizing with Value Experts at the Business and IT Borders

    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.

    “Tests for Success” for Value Realization

    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:

    1. Executive Support.  Wins the support of the executives who will benefit from the IT effort in the organization through proven and measureable results.
    2. Simple and Executable.  Uses “Simple to Understand and Execute” measures and algorithms.
    3. Logical Correlations to the Intangibles.  Exhibited logical correlations between intangible results (e.g. Customer Satisfaction) and monetary KPIs (or P&L report line items).
    4. Conservative.  It needs to be conservative in nature (not bullish and not overly bearish either, but provides a credible range of the benefit that aligns with a proven proxy measure).
    5. Sustainable.  It needs to be a sustainable approach.  It can’t be a one-off, or a heroic work effort. 

    Characteristics of a Successful Value Realization Practitioner

    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:

    1. Financial Intelligence.  Financial, able to understand the common financial metrics a CFO can relate to, able to shine the light on merits and risks using the common financial terms acceptable by the Finance community.
    2. Measuring and Estimating.  Understand the measuring and estimating techniques and able to reach deals with ultra-busy business teams (who typically consider IT organizations as suppliers or order takers), to provide reliable data, and know who to substitute the lack of reliable, large sample size data for example, with conservative measures factoring in an agreed on discounted deltas for lack of higher confidence levels.
    3. Interpersonal Skills.  A seller and artist in the art of crucial conversations, since Planning is a very competitive arena, and convincing those involved in Envision phase to dedicate time to obtain reliable data, not planned for in the original budgeting.
    4. Expertise in the Art and Science of Value Realization.  A person who can hit the ground running in quickly earning the “Trusted Adviser” title by all stakeholders due to his/her knowledge of the tools, methodologies, and acting as the defense attorney with the business case versus the classic perception of the “Auditor” or “Critic” of the spend!
    5. The Value Lens.  Understanding the role of Business Architect and being ready to provide the Value Lens cut to architectural analysis through “Value Stream Mapping”, and capturing measureable problem statements round the process bottle necks in addition to translating a Premise of benefit to a measureable ROI.

    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.

    Executing Value Realization

    On the tactical and execution level the Value practitioner needs to:

    1. Make it simple. Use technology to share the “Know How” in a very hands on, simple to understand and direct way.
    2. Train the Trainer. Spread the gospel of Value through providing visual illustrations, visually appealing training modules making it easier to grasp the concepts by non-financial individuals. Etc.
    3. Lead by example.  Show willingness to roll the sleeves and help.. show them by doing.
    4. Lean the process. BCA, BVR (VRF) and ROI are the “Trinity of Value”, explain the meaning of each, and how they relate to one another. Lean the process part and standardize the ROI estimation approaches to make it easier for them to improve their Gage “R&R”: Repeatability and Reproducibility in doing the process for every engagement they have and produce the same sustainable results.
    5. Stay Connected to Decision Makers.  Stay connected to the decision makers, they are ultimately the benefactors of the Value work… they are the ones who will have the crucial conversations with their CEO, CFO and senior leaderships.. explain the approach, by simple and clear about it and be upfront in earnestly stating the time commitment. Be sensitive to the politics in each organization, for the last thing you want is to lose support and endorsement you desperately need for something that is totally unrelated to the Value work.

    Three Technical Challenges to Be Aware Of

    The three technical challenges are primarily:

    1. Isolating the effect of the IT project.  When there are multiple efforts going side by side, one of which happens to be the project in question for Value, to achieve a preset goal.
    2. Monetizing the intangibles.   For example, how to quantify and put a dollar amount to customer satisfaction.
    3. How to sell Soft Dollar.  For example, how do you sell the soft dollar (soft savings, potential cost and risk avoidances) side by side with the hard dollars, without over-selling, inflating the estimates, or creating audience rejection?

    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.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Anatomy of a High-Potential

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    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-Potential Defined

    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.”

    Baseline Requirements

    According to Dr. Jay Conger, high-potentials distinguish themselves in the following ways:

    1. Deliver strong results credibly and not at other's expense
    2. Master new types of expertise
    3. Behave in ways consistent with the company's values and culture

    Moving Up the Stack – From Value Creator to Game Changer

    High-potentials are game changers.   Here is a snapshot of Dr. Jay Conger’s pyramid that illustrates how high-potentials move up the stack:

     

    image

    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.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Success Articles for Work and Life

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    "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:

    Success Articles

    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.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Satya Nadella on How Success is a Mental Game

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    As technology and software change our world at a faster rate than ever before, we need to play a better game.

    How do we play a better game?

    By recognizing our conceptual blocks and removing them.

    Here is how Satya Nadella told us to think about our mental game and conceptual blocks:

    “It's really a mental game.

    At this point, it's got nothing to do with your capability, at all.  You're going to be facing stuff that you never faced before and it's all in the head.  The question is how are you going to cope with it.  It's all a conceptual block. 

    And if we can get rid of that, things get a lot easier.

    You've got to really think about the conceptual block you have, be mindful of it, and remove it.

    And then you can have a different perspective.”

    When we change our perspective, we change our game.

    That’s how we win, in work and in life.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Stephen Kell on Value Realization

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    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 …

    IT: Valued Partner or Costly Infrastructure Provider?

    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’.

    A Lack of Business Value Results in Side-Lined IT

    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.

    Know What the Business Values, Measures, and Reports to Stay Relevant

    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:

    • Financial – what are the financial measures that need to be met?
    • Business strategy – what aligns to the current business strategy? Is there an IT based disruptor that needs to be factored into the business strategy such as enterprise social?
    • Market and industry trends – what are the trends and how can the organization exploit them using technology?
    • Regulatory changes – what regulatory changes are coming to which the organization needs to adhere?
    • People – what are the values of the organization and what will attract, retain and engage staff? Will using 10 year old technology on a system that takes 10 minutes to boot up attract and retain the right staff, or do they want the latest technology similar to the technology they use at home?
    • Social responsibility – does IT align to the social responsibility and ethical business agenda of the company?
    • Business Decision Maker’s personal drivers – what is important to the internal customer? What is he/she measured on: Revenue, margin, market penetration, expanding to new markets, acquiring new companies, changing the demographics of the customer base, other?
    • Ability to execute – can the organization put the necessary changes in place to realize the value? Has the required change management been taken into account in the project costs and plan?
    • Time to value and windows of opportunity – how long does it take before the value starts being realized and is there a window of opportunity which needs to be hit?

    Use Value Models to Bring a Level of Maturity to the Value Discussion

    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.

    It’s Difficult to Model and Measure Value

    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

    Learn Value Models and Frameworks to Play a Strategic Role Within the Organization

    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.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Press Release for Getting Results the Agile Way

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    Here’s the opening blurb …

    'Getting Results the Agile Way' -- A Timeless System for Changing Times -- Now Available in Print 

    Seattle, WA (PRWEB) October 26, 2010

    Author J.D. Meier is announcing that his new book ‘Getting Results the Agile Way’ is now available in print. The book shows readers the way to make the most out of work and life. Meier has come up with a simple system to achieve meaningful results that combines some of the best methods for improving one’s thinking, feeling, and doing.

    “The best way I can put it is, it helps you be the author of your life and write your story forward,” says Meier. “Basically, it’s a system that can support you in everything you do. It’s based on principles and patterns so you can tailor it for yourself or for any situation.”

    Read the rest on PRWeb at - http://www.prweb.com/releases/Getting-Results/Now-in-Print/prweb4636494.htm

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