Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
One of the best ways to win back time is to use outcomes. An outcome is simply an end-result, or an end-in-mind. You identify outcomes by asking, "What do I want to accomplish?" or "What do I want to achieve?"
Time management tips #17 is identify outcomes. When you know your outcomes, you know your target. Now you can focus on that. You can shave everything else off. By knowing the outcomes, you can focus on the most essential activities or steps to achieve the outcome. Or, as Bruce Lee would say, "Hack away at the unessential."
For example, consider these scenarios:
As a quick test, take any activity that you are about to do, and identity the outcome for it. This becomes your little test case. Now, when you execute, you can check yourself with your test case -- have you satisifed your test case yet?
If you get lost in asking about outcomes, simply start asking, "What's the goal?" By asking, "What's the goal?", you can quickly get back on track. Similarly you can ask, "What are you trying to accomplish?"
In either case, the point is to identify your target so that you can narrow your focus, and optimize
Outcomes help you hack away at the unessential, and they are your piercing lens of value.
For free time management training , check out 30 Days of Getting Results, and for a time management system check out Getting Results.com.
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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 …
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
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.
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.
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.
“Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” — Publilius Syrus
Change is tough. Especially leading it.
Whether you are leading yourself, others, or organizations through a change, it helps to have tools on your side.
Recently, I read Leadership Transformed, by Dr. Peter Fuda.
It uses 7 metaphors to guide you through leadership transformation:
It might seem simple, but that's the point. Metaphors are easy to remember and easy to use.
For example, you can use the Movie metaphor to increase your self-awareness and reflection that allow you to first "edit" your performance, and then direct a "movie" that exemplifies your leadership vision.
The other benefit of simple metaphors is they allow both for creative interpretation and creative expression.
I appreciated the book the further I went along. In fact, what really clicked for me was the fact that I could easily remember the different metaphors and the big idea behind them. It was a nice brain-break from memorizing and internalizing a bunch of leadership frameworks, principles, and patterns.
Instead, it’s just a simple set of metaphors that remind us how to bring out our best during our leadership transformations.
The metaphors are actually well-chosen, and they really are helpful when you find yourself in scenarios where a different perspective or approach may help.
Even better, the author grounds his results in some very interesting data, and aligns it to proven practices for effective leadership.
Here is my book review: Book Review: Leadership Transformed: How Ordinary Managers Become Extraordinary Leaders
I included several highlights and “scenes” from the book, so you can get a good taste of the book, movie trailer style.
If you end up reading the book, I encourage you to really dive into the background and the anatomy of the Leadership Impact tool that Dr. Fuda refers to. It’s incredibly insightful in terms of leadership principles, patterns, and practices that are fairly universal and broadly applicable.
Everything should be a startup.
Unless you’re a learning organization that actually uses what you learn to leapfrog ahead.
But the paradox is you can’t hold on too tightly to what you’ve learned in the past. You have to be able to let things go. Quickly. And, you have to learn new things fast. And, if you can create a learning organization with tight feedback loops, that’s the key to longevity.
Adapt or die.
But the typical challenge in a big organization, is rejecting the new, and embracing the old. And that’s how the giants, the mighty fall.
Here is how Satya Nadella told us how to think about what longevity means in our business …
“What does longevity mean in this business? Longevity in this business means, that you somehow take the core competency you have but start learning how to express it in different forms.
And that to me is the core strength.
It's not the manifestation in one product generation, or in one specific feature, or what have you, but if you culturally, right, if you sort of look at what excites me from an organizational capacity building, ... it's that learning ... the ability to be able to learn new things ... and have those new things actually accrue to what we have done in the past ... or what we have done in the past accrues to new learnings ... and that feedback cycle is the only way I can see scale mattering in this business ... otherwise, quite frankly you would say, everything should be a startup ... everything should be a startup ... you would have a success, you would unwind, and everything should be a startup ... and if you're going to have a large organization, it better be a learning organization that knows how to take all the learning that it's had today and make it relevant in the future knowing that you'll have to unlearn everything, and that's the paradox of this business and I think that's what I want us to be going for.”
In my experience, if you don’t know where to start, a great place to start is get feedback. If you don’t know who to get feedback from, then ask yourself, your organization, who do you serve? Ask the customers or clients that you serve.
But balance what you learn with vision. And balance it with analytics and insight on behaviors and actions. Customers, and people in general, can say one thing, but do another, or ask for one thing, but mean something entirely different.
Remember the words of Henry Ford:
“If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would have said ‘a faster horse’.”
Expressing pains, needs, opportunities, and desired outcomes leaves a lot of room for interpretation.
Drive with vision, build better feedback loops, interpret well, and learn well, to survive and thrive in an ever-changing world.
Microsoft Explained: Making Sense of the Microsoft Platform Story
Satya Nadella is the New Microsoft CEO
Satya Nadella is All About Customer Focus, Employee Engagement, and Changing the World
Satya Nadella on How Success is a Mental Game
Satya Nadella on Live and Work a Meaningful Life
Satya Nadella on the Future is Software
Satya Nadella on Everyone Has to Be a Leader
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
Confidence is one of those things that makes all the difference when it comes to realizing your potential.
So many people have great ideas and great ambitions, but lack the confidence to follow through when it counts.
They hold themselves back.
Their amazing and bold ideas turn into lackluster ideas, as fear starts talking (if they talk at all.)
A while back, a team in HR interviewed me on confidence, because enough people pointed back to me as somebody they saw as confident.
What HR wanted to know is, where does my confidence come from?
For me, it mostly came from a relentless focus on making impact.
I put my focus on doing great things, creating raving fan customers, and taking on big challenges.
Where you put your focus, instantly changes your confidence.
If you’re too worried about how you look or how you sound, then you aren’t putting enough focus on the amazing thing you are trying to do.
So it wasn’t confidence per se. It was more like putting my focus on the right things.
But there was more to it. I was confident because of a few basic beliefs:
Another thing that helped is that one of our leaders was relentless about “exposing our thinking.” He wanted us to always detach ourselves from our ideas. He wanted us to present ideas without being attached to them so they could be criticized and evaluated in more objective ways.
This sounds simple, but you’d be surprised how difficult it can be to detach yourself from ideas. But the beauty is that when you are able to do this, your focus changes from defending your ideas, to really helping to create better ideas. And this little shift takes you from fear or lack of confidence, to purposeful exploration, with full confidence.
Anyway, I think we become the thoughts that we think, so I think it’s really important to fill our head with the right words on confidence.
To that end, here is roundup of some of the greatest confidence quotes of all time:
See if you can find at least three that you can use to help add more juice to your day.
If there is one that I find myself referring to all the time, to remind myself to get up to bat, it’s this one:
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – William Shedd
I learned it long ago, and it’s served me well, ever since.
While that one reminds me to do what I do best, it’s really this one that inspires me to expand what I’m capable of:
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” — Anaïs Nin
I hope you find the right words that give your confidence just the boost it needs, when you need it most.
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.
When you write your Three Wins for today, you set the stage for better results. This simple habit gives you a rapid way to focus, prioritize, and master your time management.
You can do this anytime, anyplace, anywhere.
Here are some examples: I'm on top of my day. I have a draft plan in place for completing the project. I have a great demo to showcase my results.
If you’re having a bad day, maybe your win will simply be “have a great lunch” (we all have those days.)
Those are just a some examples. You have to write the wins that make sense for you. They should be simple, sticky, and easy to say. Your test is whether you can say them without looking them up, and that you believe in them, and they inspire you for the day.
You can identify your Three Wins for the day, by simply asking yourself a question:
What are three wins you want for today?
In other words, if today were over, what are Three Wins that you would want under your belt?
Writing down your Three Wins is the easiest way to get started using Agile Results. Simply write down your three wins for the day, and you're using Agile Results. (I explain this in much more detail and with examples in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.)
It’s simple. It’s effective. It works. It works because you engage your brain, and breathe life into your day, by holding a few vital wins in your mind, to guide you throughout your day.
We have a ton of things coming our way every day. We can be overwhelmed, or run over by requests for our time, meetings galore, waves of email, or simply too much to do, and too little time.
That's one lens.
And that lens shapes our mindset. It's easy to get overloaded, and overwhelmed. It's easy to give up on doing the things that make the difference. In Stephen Covey terms, it's easy to spend too much time on "urgent" things like distractions and interruptions, and not enough time on important things, like our critical activities and important longer term goals, or "sharpening our saw."
But, you can flip this around.
You can use your tools to change your day. When you ask yourself, what are the Three Wins that you want for today, you create a brand new lens. You drive your day. Rather than react to the things coming your way, you can respond. You know if you're trading up or just getting randomized. It's a conscious choice now.
If you want better results each day and for the long haul, you need a simple habit you can use on a daily basis that gives you the edge.
Use your Three Wins to win more in work and life.
“Remember this: Anticipation is the ultimate power. Losers react; leaders anticipate.” – Tony Robbins
Have you ever noticed how some leaders have a knack for "the art of the possible" and for making it relevant to the current landscape?
They are Visionary Leaders and they practice Visionary Leadership.
Visionary Leaders inspire us and show us how we can change the world, at least our slice of it, and create the change we want to be.
Visionary Leaders see things early and they connect the dots.
Visionary Leaders luck their way into the future. They practice looking ahead for what's pertinent and what's probable.
Visionary Leaders also practice telling stories. They tell stories of the future and how all the dots connect in a meaningful way.
And they put those stories of the future into context. They don't tell disjointed stories, or focus on flavor-of-the-month fads. That's what Trend Hoppers do.
Instead, Visionary Leaders focus on meaningful trends and insights that will play a role in shaping the future in a relevant way.
Visionary leaders tell us compelling stories of the future in a way that motivates us to take action and to make the most of what's coming our way.
Historians, on the other hand, tell us compelling stories of the past.
They excite us with stories about how we've "been there, and done that."
By contrast, Visionary Leaders win our hearts and minds with "the art of the possible" and inspire us to co-create the future, and to use future insights to own our destiny.
And Followers, well, they follow.
Not because they don't see some things coming. But because they don't see things early enough, and they don't turn what they see into well-developed stories with coherence.
If you want to build your capacity for vision and develop your skills as a Visionary Leader, start to pay attention to signs of the future and connect the dots in a meaningful way.
With great practice, comes great progress, and progressing even a little in Visionary Leadership can make a world of difference for you and those around you.
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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:
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.
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
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.
I did a major cleanup of my post on lessons learned from John Maxwell:
Lessons Learned from John Maxwell
It should be much easier to read now.
It was worth cleaning up because John Maxwell is one of the deepest thinkers in the leadership space. He’s published more than 50 books on leadership and he lives and breathes leadership in business and in life.
When I first started studying leadership long ago, John Maxwell’s definition of leadership was the most precise I found:
“Leadership is influence.”
As I began to dig through his work, I was amazed at the nuggets and gems and words of wisdom that he shared in so many books. I started with Your Road Map for Success. I think my next book was The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. Ironically, I didn’t realize it was the same author until I started to notice on my shelf that I had a growing collection of leadership books, all by John Maxwell.
It was like finding the leadership Sherpa.
Sure enough, over the years, he continued to fill the shelves at Barnes & Nobles, with book after book on all the various nooks and crannies of leadership.
This was about the same time that I noticed how Edward de Bono had filled the shelves with books on thinking. I realized that some people really share there life’s work as a rich library that is a timeless gift for the world. I also realized that it really helps people stand out in their field or discipline when they contribute so many guides and guidance to the art and science of whatever their specific focus is.
What I like about John Maxwell’s work is that it’s plain English and down to Earth. He writes in a very conversational way, and you can actually see his own progress throughout his books. In Your Road Map for Success, it’s a great example of how he doesn’t treat leadership as something that comes naturally. He works hard at it, to build his own knowledge base of patterns, practices, ideas, concepts, and inspirational stories.
While he’s created a wealth of wisdom to help advance the practice of leadership, I think perhaps his greatest contribution is The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. It’s truly a work of art, and he does an amazing job of distilling down the principles that serve as the backbone of effective leadership.
“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” – Peter Drucker
I’m diving deeper into patterns and practices for innovation.
Along the way, I’m reading and re-reading some great books on the art and science of innovation.
One innovation book I’m seriously enjoying is Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of building Breakthroughs by Larry Keeley, Helen Walters, Ryan Pikkel, and Brian Quinn.
Right up front, Larry Keeley shares some insight into the journey to this book. He says that this book really codifies, structures, and simplifies three decades of experience from Doblin, a consulting firm focused on innovation.
For more than three decades, Doblin tried to answer the following question:
“How do we get innovation to succeed instead of fail?”
Along the journey, there were a few ideas that they used to bridge the gap in innovation between the state of the art and the state of the practice.
Here they are …
Larry Keeley and his business partner Jay Doblin, a design methodologist, always balanced three dimensions of innovation: a theoretical side, an academic side, and an applied side.
Via Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of building Breakthroughs:
“Over the years we have kept three important dimensions in dynamic tension. We have a theoretical side, where we ask and seek real answers to tough questions about innovation. Simple but critical ones like, 'Does brainstorming work?' (it doesn't), along with deep and systemic ones like, 'How do you really know what a user wants when the user doesn't know either?' We have an academic side, since many of us are adjunct professors at Chicago's Institute of Design and this demands that we explain our ideas to smart young professionals in disciplined, distinctive ways. And third, we have an applied side, in that have been privileged to adapt our innovation methods to many of the world's leading global enterprises and start-ups that hanker to be future leading firms.”
Innovation is a balance and blend of analysis and synthesis. Analysis involves tearing things down, while synthesis is building new things up.
“From the beginning, Doblin has itself been interdisciplinary, mixing social sciences, technology, strategy, library sciences, and design into a frothy admixture that has always tried to blend both analysis, breaking tough things down, with synthesis, building new things up. Broadly, we think any effective innovation effort needs plenty of both, stitched together as a seamless whole.”
Game-changing innovation is an orchestration of the ten types of innovation.
“The heart of this book is built around a seminal Doblin discovery: that there are (and have always been) ten distinct types of innovation that need to be orchestrated with some care to make a game-changing innovation.“
The main idea is that innovation fails if you try to solve it with just one dimension.
You can’t just take a theoretical approach, and hope that it works in the real-world.
At the same time, innovation fails if you don’t leverage what we learn from the academic world and actually apply it.
And, if you know the ten types of innovation, you can focus your efforts more precisely.
Innovation Life Cycle
Management Innovation is at the Top of the Innovation Stack
No Slack = No Innovation
The Drag of Old Mental Models on Innovation and Change
The Myths of Business Model Innovation
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
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.
What do Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Walt Disney teach us about building a culture of innovation?
I put together a comprehensive collection of innovation quotes. And by comprehensive, I mean more than 100 of the greatest thoughts on innovation, all at your finger tips. You’ll hear from Edison, Mozart, Michael Porter, Peter Drucker, Seth Godin, and more.
And, to make the innovation quotes more meaningful, I’ve grouped them into useful categories, so you can flip through the sections you care about the most. There’s a section on Action, Birthing Ideas, and Continuous Learning and Growth. You’ll also find a section on Fear and Failure. After all, success in innovation is often a numbers game. Remember what Edison taught us.
Just because it’s a comprehensive collection of innovation quotes, doesn’t mean it’s complete, or that it’s a done deal. There’s always room for improvement (and innovation.) So if you have some favorite innovation quotes that I’ve left out, please let me know. I want this collection to be truly insightful, and most importantly, actionable.
After all, what good are good ideas, if you can’t turn them into results.
And that’s the truth about innovation.
This is a guest blog post from Martin Sykes. Martin has been involved with Enterprise Architecture and IT Strategy for 15 years and is today a coach in Microsoft Service’s Enterprise Strategy Centre of Excellence. He’s also known for his use of visual storytelling techniques and is one of the authors of Stories That Move Mountains: Storytelling and Visual Design for Persuasive Presentations. (watch his top rated session on storytelling from TechEd New Zealand if you want to improve your own presentations)
Without further ado, here’s Martin on Value Realization …
This week I was teaching a class for our Enterprise Architects where we covered some of the most important topics for success as an EA, with one of the sections focused on the identification and delivery of value. If “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” then I think it’s fair to say “Value is in the eye of the customer”, although depending on your perspective you might replace customer with stakeholder or shareholder. In this posting I will cover some of the things we talked about that can make a big difference when creating business cases, and ensuring you realize the value promised in the business case.
What’s the first thing you do when creating a business case? Some may start by clarifying the scope, some by identifying the real drivers for change, some the budget.
I recommend you should first think about who will care about the opportunity proposed in the business case. Who will be reviewing it? Who will be approving it? What do they care about? Every business case must have good numbers, let’s take that as a given. Those numbers must be correct for the business case (and your reputation) to be credible. But while a business case must have the numbers it is more than the numbers. Even for purely internal teams the business case is a proposal for someone to make an investment decision, or more bluntly, to buy something.
Let’s turn that last statement around, when you create a business case you are selling something. So before you start work on that business case spend some time really understanding the consumer of the business case to work out why they will ‘buy’ your ideas now. This is important even if your customer is your own management, who have asked you to write the business case.
Use the insight into your customer to work out what narrative (or story) needs to go into the business case to support the numbers, to ensure you focus on the aspects that are important to the goals of the stakeholder. This is where so many standard templates fail to inspire. They take a business case to the point where it has all the logical argument and can totally miss, or at least hide, why the proposal is important and relevant to the customer today.
If value is the difference between cost and benefit then let’s look at all the different types of benefit that can come from making a change. I like to use a benefits structure developed from ideas first published by the Information Systems Research Centre of Cranfield University School of Management back in the late 1990s. The desire to make a change, or create a business case often comes initially from a belief that there will some form of improvement or financial return. In most organizations belief is not good enough - that’s why we ask people to work on a business case – so the team at Cranfield defined four levels of benefit that be used to build a business case:
Observable – these are the benefits we can see, but have not worked out how to measure. These could be improvements in morale or changes in the culture of an organization.
Measurable – one step up from observable and we now have identified some way to measure the benefit. For a cultural change program you could start to survey staff members to understand their attitudes to work and track this over time. Unfortunately you may not know what the current value for your measure is, and the first task may be to go out and do an initial survey to set a baseline.
Quantifiable – if you already have some data for the measures you might use then we call the benefit quantifiable. The best case here would be that you have a trail of historic data to show not only the current position but the existing trend. If you have a trend showing a slow but steady increase in staff turnover then you may be doing well simply to make a change that levels things off. If the trend was already improving then you have to do better than the trend.
Financial – finally, can you turn your measurement into financial value? If you know the costs of recruitment and training to bring in a new staff member you can define a financial benefit to balance against the costs of your proposed changes. There are two kinds of financial benefit though, the first is where you can recognize the value, but in reality you can do nothing with the money. This is typically the case where a proposal has identified savings in time because of a new process, but in reality the saving does not allow you to reduce staff numbers. All you can really do is re-purpose that time for more work. The second is where you can realize the value and actually have real money in the bank (or avoid spending some). If a new process allows you to achieve the current workload with 3 people instead of 4 then you have a choice to reduce staff costs and realize the benefit.
All of these benefits can be included in a business case and contribute to the value of a project, but in reality only realized financial benefits can be used to provide a return on investment calculation. If you want to learn more about this approach then watch my TechEd New Zealand recording from earlier this year.
Most of the business cases I see developed are used to secure funding, then used simply as a baseline for the project costs. As benefits usually cannot be realized until something is delivered this part of the business case is often quietly forgotten about. When an IT project team complete a delivery there is usually some form of celebration, the solution is handed to operations and a small group might be left providing some user training. The benefits drift away, someone else’s problem.
Here’s an idea I have only ever seen implemented a few times around the world, and that’s because it challenges a few basic assumptions about the role of a project manager and a PMO.
Change the definition of success for a project manager to be about the realization of value. Delivery is just another milestone. The PM should be required to stay on the project until the ROI stated in the business case is achieved. This makes the PM responsible for user adoption and achieving the benefits defined in the business case. Achieving the value becomes the goal of the project, resources are planned to ensure adoption happens, and measures are implemented to show progress. It also changes the types of business cases produced. Inflated expectations are pushed down by the PM to more realistic levels so the project can be reach the ROI as quickly as possible and the PM can move on to their next project. For such a little idea it can take a big change in mindset and culture to make it happen – but the result can be projects that have a much more demonstrable impact on the business.
Strategy Must Be Dynamic
"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.
“You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away and know when to run.” – Kenny Rogers
Dealing with setbacks is tough. Sometimes we get knocked down so hard, we wonder if we’ll get up again. Such is life.
But why do some people rise and triumph from their trials and tribulations, while others stay down for the count? I believe a lot of it has to do with the way we program our minds. It’s the sayings we say, it’s the thoughts we think and it’s words we use to express our condition. In other words, it’s not what happens to us … It’s how we respond. It’s how we frame it. It’s how we think about it. It’s what we do about it.
Just like a picture is worth a 1,000 words, the right quote is worth a 1,000 books.
The best way I’ve found to bounce back, or to find a way forward, or to make the most of the unthinkable, is to fill our mental toolbox with a cornucopia of the world’s best wisdom at our finger tips. Quotes are a powerful way to lift us, inspire us, and keep on keeping on.
Here is a hand-crafted collection of some of the best quotes on moving on:
You can use them for work, when you need a reminder of how to stand strong when tested. You can use them for life, when you need a firm foundation for rolling with the punches, and dealing with the setbacks that hold you back, or try to knock you down. It is a serious and significant collection. You will recognize many of the moving on quotes and hopefully find some new ones.
It’s a living collection so please feel free to share any of the best quotes on moving on that have served you well in work and life. When the going gets tough, the tough get going, and tough minds get built from the sayings we say, and the beliefs we adopt.
Enjoy and please share with whoever needs a little lift in life.
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.