Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
I’ve updated 30 Days of Getting Results based on feedback. (Special thanks to Alik Levin for his feedback and insight above and beyond the call of duty.) The site URL is simpler now and easier to share:
I wanted to clean it up and improve the experience, especially for those that are using this as their 30 Day Improvement Sprint to bootstrap the new year.
Time Management Skills Here are some of the time management skills you will learn, tune, and improve as part of the time management training:
You will learn time management tips and strategies as part of a system, each lesson can be used by itself or “better together” with other lessons.
Time Management Training Lessons at a Glance Here are the 30 Lessons at a Glance that make up the time management training:
My categories page on Sources of Insight is really a Personal Development Hub (if you think in terms of a Hub and Spoke model.) It’s a one-stop shop for all the categories I use on Sources of Insight. Many of you I know, focus on continuous improvement and are life-long learners, so you’ll appreciate this.
(BTW, be sure to subscribe to Sources of Insight. I’m going to be tackling some key challenges in today’s world including, making a living in the new economy. I’m going to share patterns and practices, as well as stories and case studies of people that make $1,000 a day online, doing what they love as info-preneurs. Way too many people are struggling in the “jobless” economic recovery, and I want to give you the edge and real skills you can use to change your game, or help somebody you know. I can’t promise an easy path, but I can save you some dead-ends, and wasted time and effort, and share some of the short-cuts and methods that actually work)
Maps Help You Find Your Way Around I always think it’s easier to find your way around when you have a map. A friend suggested I create descriptions for my categories to help both humans and search engines figure out what my categories are all about. If nothing else, it would be a great map making exercise.
Today, I added descriptions to the categories, so that you can see the intent behind the various buckets, and I included some samples where it made sense. When I was done writing the descriptions, which turned out to be a two-hour exercise, that I originally thought would be a twenty minute exercise -- it revealed a lot. It revealed a better map of Sources of Insight, going well-beyond just a list of categories and links. It forced me to re-think and rationalize why I chose the various categories that I did, and revaluate whether they are still the right ones.
While there’s more time ahead of Sources of Insight, than behind it … it was good to take a look at the map, which was like taking a look from the balcony, or taking a look from the mountain top. It was easier for me to see where I have a lot more work to do, and where I haven’t done enough to equip you with the right tools and skills for the tough stuff at work, or the challenges in life. I also noticed where some information is a bit too buried and needs to be surfaced and cross-linked in a better way.
The Sources of Insight “Treasure Map” at Your Disposal I’ve created brief descriptions to help you understand the thinking behind each category I use on Sources of Insight. Here is a map to help you find your way around Sources of Insight and to know where to look for key personal development resources at your finger tips:
Call to Action Share Sources of Insight with anybody you know that needs patterns and practices for improving effectiveness. Send them to this page to subscribe to Sources of Insight. There are already several hundred articles on Sources of Insight to help anybody you know get skills to pay the bills and lead a better life … and the best is yet to come.
I’m a fan of lessons learned. I especially like Stevey’s Google Platform Rant because it’s raw and it’s real, and it’s an insider’s lessons on what they think Amazon does right, and what Google does wrong, and how to fix it. It’s a call to action.
It did not strike me as a bash post (although it might feel like that if you’re on the receiving end of the rubber mallet )… but instead, I see it as a great wake up call by somebody with passion, conviction, and who actually cares about the great opportunity at hand … The opportunity to build an amazing platform, and take a page out of the playbook from companies that do platforms well. I’m a big believer that great change requires a sense of urgency, and that people are often so desensitized because of overload to what’s truly urgent (and important) … that the wake up call needs a bit of sting (and nothing stings like dabs of truth.)
What makes this particular post truly insightful (and keep in mind it can be yanked from the Web), is that it’s from somebody who has spent six years at Amazon and six years at Google. (It really is an insider’s view. In fact, the original post was not meant to be shared publicly.) Steve has the benefit of contrast, and the benefit of seeing how strategies and tactics play out over time. More importantly, Steve has the ability to tune in and surface the vital few surprising insights that count.
Here is my short-list of key take aways from the post:
The meta-lesson reinforces what I’ve come to believe to be true, which is that platforms and services win in the end, and that applications are the pull-through. It’s the applications that make the platform’s capabilities meaningful, contextual, and relevant, and it’s the platform that makes the applications sustainable for the long-haul and consistent where it counts. And the elegance of the platform is what empowers the ecosystem to takes things well beyond what anybody originally dreamed up … as a catalyst for innovation and possibility.
I’ve updated my Personal Development Books collection. If you’ve seen it before, you’ll notice it’s a lot cleaner and easier to scan. If you haven’t seen it before, hopefully it is one of the most complete lists of personal development books that you’ve come across.
Personal development books hit a sweet spot for me because I’m a fan of continuous improvement and excellence. I’ve found that books are the short-cut in today’s world. While they don’t make up for having great mentors, they do provide a fast path to some of the best principles, patterns, and practices around.
To make this list useful, while keeping it simple, I organized the personal development books into different buckets:
It’s also worth noting that I spend a few hundred dollars on books each month, so I tend to cover a lot of books. Also note that I don’t really just books by their writing, but instead on their effectiveness for delivering prescriptive guidance. I try to find books that solve problems and share useful insights and actions. My main judge for a book is whether it teaches me something relevant that I can use and put into practice.
I’m always growing my collection of personal development books, so feel free to share with me your personal favorites.
It’s time to rattle the cage People have been asking me for this, and now it’s finally here. The Kindle version of Getting Results the Agile Way is now available. It’s a personal results system for work and life. Whether you want to find your mojo, or take your personal effectiveness to the next level, or simply have a better day, this book is for you, or somebody you know.
People around the world have shared with me their personal stories and wins. I know a restaurant owner that renovated his business using Getting Results the Agile Way. I know a teacher inspiring her peers to get their game on using Getting Results. I know teams of consultants using Getting Results the Agile Way to achieve better, faster, simpler results and it’s contagious. Even my Mom used it to tackle a few big projects on her house. You can read the testimonials and success stories on Getting Results.com.
This books puts in your hand the same system I’ve used to create high-performing teams, help individuals flourish, and coach teams to unleash their best.
Getting Results in today’s landscape is tough. Our world changes faster than we can keep up. Worse, we don’t always have the best practices for managing focus, managing our time, managing our energy, or even basic productivity. Agile Results is a simple system for meaningful results that combines some of the best methods for thinking, feeling, and taking action. To put it another way, Agile Results is a way to help you make the most of work and life.
You are the author of your life. I created this system as a way to put it all together and help you write your story forward. By using three wins to drive your day, your week, your month, and your year, you take charge of your life and live life on your terms. By spending your time on the right things, with the right energy, with the right approach, you unleash your best. As you learn and respond, you build momentum. This momentum carries you forward, supporting everything you do.
This is the playbook I wish somebody gave me. Now, I’m sharing it with you.
Key Features of the Book The book has several compelling features for slicing and dicing the personal effectiveness body of knowledge:
Contents at a Glance The full Getting Results Guide is available for free on Getting Results.com in HTML. This is the contents of the guide at a glance:
Getting Started I’m a fan of making it easy to get started. Like I said, if you simply write down three wins for your day, you’re doing Getting Results. But to help you get started fast, here is the one-page guide on Getting Started with Getting Results.
The Knowledge Base The Getting Results Knowledge Base picks up where the book leaves off. It’s a serious collection of patterns and practices for improving your focus, motivation, time management, and more. The knowledge base includes:
By the way, these are no ordinary guidelines in there. For example, somebody I know is using the focus guidelines to build coping mechanisms for ADD, as an alternative to drugs. If you get a chance to explore the focus guidelines, you’ll see why.
Watch a Short Video Story of Getting Results the Agile Way Ed Jeziersky hops around the world helping doctors and patients deal with large-scale disasters. What does he use to lead his teams? … You guessed it. Here is Ed on Getting Results the Agile Way.
Acknowledgements I have a lot of people to thank for helping me make this book happen. In addition to my loyal readers of Sources of Insight, I’d like to thank the following people for helping me with this book:
Adam Grocholski, Alik Levin, Andrew Kazyrevich, Andy Eunson, Andrea Fox, Anutthara Bharadwaj, Brian Maslowski, Chaitanya Bijwe, Chenelle Bremont, Daniel Rubiolo Mendoza, David K. Stewart, David Wright, David Zinger, Dennis Groves, Don Willits, Donald Latumahina, Dr. Rick Kirschner, Eduardo Jezierski, Eileen Meier, Erin M. Karp, Ethan Zaghmut, Gloria Campbell, Gordon Meier, Janine de Nysschen, Jason Taylor, Jeremy Bostron, Jill Heron, Jimmy May, John Allen, John deVadoss, Julian Gonzalez, Juliet du Preez, Kevin Lam, Larry Brader, Loren Kohnfelder, Mark Curphey, Michael Kropp, Michael Stiefel, Mike de Libero, Mike Torres, Mohammad Al-Sabt, Molly Clark, Olivier Fontana, Patrick Lanfear, Paul Enfield, Per Vonge Nielsen, Peter Larsson, Phil Huang, Prashant Bansode, Praveen Rangarajan, Richard Diver, Rob Boucher Jr., Rohit Sharma, Rudolph Araujo, Samantha Sieverling, Sameer Tarey, Scott Hanselman, Scott Stabbert, Scott Young, Sean Platt, Srinath Vasireddy, Steve Kayser, Tom Draper, Vidya Vrat Agarwal, Wade Mascia.
Key Links at a Glance Here are the key links at a glance:
One of the most valuable lessons I learned early on in Program Management at Microsoft, is that value is in the eye of the beholder.
One common pitfall is throwing a lot of time and effort at things, only to find that when you’re done, nobody cares. If you keep feeling a lack of appreciation, then ask yourself, “Who was I doing it for?” If it was for yourself, was it what you most cared about, or could you have invested the same time in something else and felt like you made a more important impact. If you were doing it for somebody else, ask them whether what you’re working on is really the most important thing to them. If you’re working on a lot of low-priority items, don’t expect to get the rewards. In fact, a pattern is that the more you work on low-priority items, the more you become a dumping ground. The more you become a dumping ground, the busier you get; the busier you get, the more overloaded you will feel. Now the worst happens—you’re overworked, underappreciated, and no fun to be around. By failing to work on what’s valuable and by failing to understand and reset expectations, you’ve worked yourself into an unrewarding, high-stress scenario.
On the flip side, working on the things that you value, inspires your passion, keeps you engaged, and builds momentum. Balance that with things that are valued by others, and be deliberate. Sometimes you have to choose you. Sometimes you have to flex and bend. Sometimes it’s “meet me in the middle.” Sometimes it’s simply reframing what you’re doing in a way that speaks to others, or vice-versa. Simply making mindful choices can help you dial up your passion where it counts. It’s a force multiplier.
To be a more effective Program Manager, start asking the question, “Who’s it for?” or “Who’s asking for that?” or “How important is that?” (and everything is always a trade-off.)
Note -- This tip is from my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, a simple time management system, and you can find more free time management tips in the Getting Results Knowledge Base.
From the Archives Business Scenarios for the Cloud - While putting together lessons learned from our Enterprise Strategy cloud engagements, we consolidated a set of recurring business scenarios and themes. You may find these useful if you are thinking about cloud opportunities from a business perspective, and are looking for some common patterns and perspectives.
IT Scenarios for the Cloud - While putting together lessons learned from our Cloud-related Enterprise Strategy engagements, we consolidated a set of recurring IT scenarios and themes. You may find these useful if you are thinking about cloud opportunities from an IT perspective, and are looking for some common patterns and perspectives.
From the Web Time Management Checklist - Here is a checklist for improving your time management skills. It includes proven practices and time-tested strategies and tactics. You can use the checklist to inspect and evaluate your time management skills. You can also use the checklist as a simple set of one-liner reminders to draw from when you need them.
Leadership Checklist - I’ve created a leadership checklist that should act like a hub and spoke of effective leadership practices. The challenge is distilling effective leadership practices into one-liner reminders that are easy to evaluate the behavior, where possible.
The press release for Getting Results the Agile Way is now live at Time Management Tips and Time Management Strategies for Achievers. I think the message hits a sweet spot – it’s a time management system for achievers. (One interesting tidbit along those lines is that Getting Results the Agile Way was #2 on the Amazon best sellers list in Germany for “time management”.)
Here are the opening paragraphs:
Some say, “Time is all we have.” To master time is to master life. The secret of time management is to have a trusted system and a collection of time management tips and time management strategies to draw from.
Getting Results the Agile Way, by J.D. Meier, now available on Kindle, is a time management system for achievers focused on meaningful results. The power of Getting Results the Agile Way is that it combines some of the best practices for thinking, feeling, and taking action into one simple system to help achievers make the most of what they’ve got.
You can read the rest of the press release at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/10/prweb8914806.htm
Getting Results the Agile Way is a simple time management system for achievers. Whether you are an underdog trying to make the most of what you’ve got, or you are simply somebody with a passion for more from life, you are an achiever in my book. (After all, we are all an underdog at some point in our lives.) This is a system to help you be YOUR best.
As a time management system, Getting Results the Agile Ways is focused on answering two very fundamental questions about time management:
By figuring out what to do, you set the stage for meaningful results. This is all about slowing down to speed up. This also reiterates the idea that less is more. Rather than spread yourself thin, the idea is to focus on what really matters to you, and create meaningful experiences.
This is a very short guide to get you up and running fast with Getting Results the Agile Way …
Getting Results the Agile Way is a time management system for achievers. It combines some of the best practices for thinking, feeling, and taking action into one simple system to help you make the most of what you’ve got, and master your time management skills. It draws from software development, project management, positive psychology, and sports psychology.
Free Time Management Training As an introduction to the system, I created a free 30 Day Boot Camp for Getting Results. It's called a boot camp because it's hard-core. It's a 30 day, self-paced time management training course. If you want to take your time management skills to the next level, then take the 30 Day Boot Camp for Getting Results. Keep in mind that because it’s self-paced, you could do all 30 lessons in a day, if you choose to. This may be one of the best time management training courses you ever take, and the price is tough to beat.
Time Management Skills Here are some of the time management skills you will learn, tune, and improve as part of the time management training:
Time Management Training Lessons at a Glance Here are the 30 Lessons at a Glance that make up the time management training:
It’s always interesting to see where people put their focus, as well as how their patterns show up. Here are some patterns of focus, which reveal how people show their values on the job:
… some focus on giving their best where they’ve got their best to give, finding their flow, lifting others up, and changing the game.
Of course, we’re all hybrids, but it’s interesting to see where some people dominate and drive from.
Knowing the patterns makes it easier to bridge and switch perspectives, spot problems, and uncork potential.
All paths lead to the same town.
I love it when dots finally connect, or when we have a name, or label, or vocabulary to express a concept that’s been around for a while, that people intuitively know from experience. It makes it easier to share with others that don’t. Here’s a bit of interesting research that might explain why agile practices can have a profound impact on creating powerful, highly effective learning organizations, and high-caliber execution machines.
In the article, Chris Argyris: Theories of Action, Double-Loop Learning and Organizational Learning, by infed, we learn about theories-in-action vs. espoused theory, and double-loop learning vs. single-loop learning.
Single-Loop Learning vs. Double-Loop Learning If learning involves the detection and correction of error, then Single-Loop learning is about finding and fixing problems within a set of governing variables. It simply looks to operationalize the values, goals, and plans. That’s not a game changer. Double-Loop Learning, on the other hands, looks to question the governing variables themselves. Here is an elaboration from the article:
Theories in Use vs. Espoused Theory Theories-in-use are what you actually use and do in practice. On the other hand, espoused theory is what you say you do, which may be completely different. Here is an elaboration:
Model I and Model II – Theories-in-Use Theories-in-Use can either enhance or inhibit double-loop learning. Model I inhibits. Model II enhances. Here’s a summary:
Model I – Theories-in-Use
The governing Values of Model I are:
Primary Strategies are:
Usually operationalized by:
The governing values of Model II include:
Consequences should include:
What’s interesting in the article is that most people "say” they use Model II, but that’s simply “espoused theory”.
People like to hear stories about how other people are adopting Getting Results the Agile Way. Meet Praveen Rangarajan. He’s a developer with a passion for more from life.
Praveen is not a "process" guy, but Agile Results gave him just enough structure to support his everyday things. Using Agile Results he learned to improve his results at both work and life in a more systematic way.
Here is Praveen telling his story of how he adopted Getting Results the Way …
For a majority of my life, I had never been a "Process" guy except when it came to work. I always believed order was meant for the military. I wanted to be a free bird - doing things my way at the time of my choosing.
When JD briefed me on his new book and the process he was working on, I volunteered and said I wanted to be a part of it. I am quite successful at work and wanted to improve it further. However, I wasn't too keen on adopting it for life. I thought it would restrict me a lot and clip my feathers. So, I adopted it at work and did a trial run for a month. It was much more successful than I thought. The Agile Results process has in more ways than one made me a responsible individual. The most important realizations for me at the end of it was
Starting with The Rule of Three I started by applying the Rule of 3. On the way to work, I decide on the three things I want to get done for the day. I restricted myself to one day only. I get distracted if I start thinking too far ahead. For the first week or so, I had trouble identifying the three best things for a day. I would either achieve it in the first hour of work or wouldn't be able to complete even 1 out of the 3. For example, I wanted to complete a module that would have been possible had it not been for a CR [change request] flowing in. Now, it would take me more than 2 days to finish it. My plan for the day went down the tube. Slowly, I began to realize that I had to be more granular. The granularity had to be such that it was independent enough to be completed in isolation and at the same time wasn't too small a puzzle to solve. For example, "complete and check-in functionality ABC in module XYZ". This way I'm assured of completing the three activities I want to perform. Also, I can add more if time permits.
Timeboxing to Get a Handle on Time Management The next most important pattern was the Timeboxing a week. In other words, scheduling results for a week. Its a pretty simple yet strong pattern. Again, I misunderstood its importance when I started off. I used it more like a calendar. A reminder of bucket lists of sorts. Although it helps, there is something more that this pattern offers. JD was kind enough to point it out to me. He said to think of it like a strengths and weaknesses chart. It triggered a new way of thinking in me. I was now also looking at a week gone by and identifying times of the day, or days of the week where I was strong or weak, and displayed efficiency vs. laziness. And if this behavior was repetitive, odds are you have just plotted a pattern map. Ultimately this chart helps you make better use of your "Best" time, and look to improve upon your "Idle" time. Complementing the pattern above is the Mindsets pattern. JD uses the term switching hats or changing personas. This basically allows you to maximize the returns on "Idle" time by using them effectively in other ways. For example, I would be annoyed when someone disturbed me with something really stupid when I was doing great work. I would lose 10 minutes in the conversation and another 20 cursing the moron who started it off. After using the Mindsets pattern, I now use the 20 minutes of previously wasted time to walk out of my cubicle and stretch and relax. What it has allowed me to do is to concentrate on my exercise rather than the worthless discussion. Also, both my mind and body get a mini-refreshment.
It’s How You Apply It I began to admire this [Agile Results] process because it was so flexible that I could take, leave or modify certain steps so that they fit my profile better. The goal is to understand the essence of the process and modify it to one's needs. I was pretty satisfied with the results and decided to do a trial run for life as well. A week later, the results came. It was a disaster. The worst part was when I couldn't figure out why it failed. I thought I must be doing something wrong and worked out the whole thing again. Another week went by and it was still not working. After giving it some thought and asking the right set of questions, I realized one fundamental part that I completely ignored in the application of this process to life - and that is setting minimum and maximum time to activities right from the most granular to the complete. Now, I re-did my strategy of application. In two weeks time I could see improvement. It was far from the final outcome. But bottom line, it had started to work. Now, it is unto me to make it successful. Like they say, success or failure lies in not what you have but how you apply what you have.
Changing the Game a Practice or Principle at a Time Like I had stated earlier, the process works well even if I pick 1 out 10 steps as long as I believe it is going to be my game changer. You can add/remove steps any time. At the end of the day, you want your life to be better. And only you know what's best for you. In my case, the most important game changers were:
Work Backwards from the End in Mind A very important by-product of this process is quick feedback. You get to know if you are on-track or tangential almost immediately. You can alter the course of your activities midway so long as you understand what you are doing and targeting. This is one of the very few processes that works its way backward, i.e. you look at the end and work your way back. This means you have a vision for what you want to achieve even before you start. This is a very positive way to look at things. The problem with thinking the other way is that my mind will give up very soon. It [Agile Results] is designed to choose the most optimal Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) algorithm. And if the time to achieve is long, it will deem it unimportant and a waste of my time.
It Starts the Journey In summary, this process has not turned my life upside down in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. But it has paved a path. Adopting it has not been easy at all, at least for me. But the ROI has been well worth it so far. There's no denying that it will only improve as time goes by and I continue to keep doing things the right way. If there is one thing I have to tell others about this process, it is that do not follow it like a horse. It is a guide, a mentor. Like my mother always tells me, God will help you get you good grades in your exam only if you prepare well for it and put all your energy into it. You cannot expect him to perform miracles out of nothing. Same goes to this process as well. Put your best foot forward and the rest will follow.
My Related Posts
I don’t know that I answered it for you, but you can check out my take on what is the meaning of life in my interview on Evolving Beings.
The simple answer is – you make the meaning.
The longer answer is that’s what the journey of life is all about.
What is the meaning of life is a question that has plagued sages and fools and every one in between for a long time. Some people find their answer too little, too late. Some people never find their answer at all. Don’t let that be you, and you can start right here, and start right now, if you haven’t figured it out already.
At the end of the day, you are the author of your life and you write your story forward. The truth is, you even re-write the stories of your past, as you learn more about yourself and as you gain perspective and insight on things. Your lens on life, and your lens on YOU are two ways you actively unfold your story. As you grow, your stories change, and that’s why fate can’t hold a candle to you.
For me, I found that to answer the question to “What is the meaning of life?”, you actually have to ask a different set of questions. In fact, that’s one of the secrets of life, the first or obvious question isn’t always the right question, and the trick is finding the right question to ask. Our brains are powerful and resourceful things … we just have to put the right challenge or question in front of it.
I’ll warn you up front that the interview is long, but I will tell you this that if you want to jump to the punch line, you can hop to the end of the article, and the answers are my gift to you. They may not help you figure out what is the meaning of life, but they can help you figure out what is the meaning of YOUR life, and that my friends, is what life is really all about.
Enjoy my long and winding tail of trials, tribulations, and triumphs as I write my story forward, and continue to explore, What is the Meaning of Life.
If you are an avid quote collector, as many continuous learners are, check out my collection of Life Quotes.
I grouped the life quotes into key categories for easy browsing. I used the following categories for my life quotes:
I selected quotes from a variety of sources including Charles Shulz, Confucius, Emerson, Oprah, Tony Robbins, and more. I’ll need to make another pass and find some life quotes from folks like Bruce Lee.
While there is always the idea of work and life, and the idea of work-life balance, I think that life is pervasive, and it permeates who we are and how we show up at work. The line is a blur and I find the happiest people are those that can express their values on the job, and drive from their life style. The opposite is also true.
I rounded up the life quotes in a way that I think you will find to be very easy to scan and choose your favorites. I do recommend first reading the the top 10, but then hopping around to find three that light your fire or wrinkle your brain in some way. The best quotes hit a problem like a nail on the head. The real beauty of life quotes though is that they take on meaning based on the meaning you give them. It’s like when three people hear the same song, all have a different take away. Quotes are like that.
So please stop by, check out my Life Quotes collection, and share with me your favorite life quotes. I’m always looking to fill my toolkit for life, and life really is better with the right words.
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.
"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." -- Albert Einstein
What you don’t know can hurt you and knowing the right strategies is like knowing the playbook for getting results.
Strategies are a big picture perspective while tactics are a small picture perspective. You can think of the strategies as guiding approaches: they guide your tactics while you pursue your goals. You can use strategies to help design effective approaches and to evaluate potential practices, methods or techniques. Mix and match strategies, but keep in mind that sometimes strategies support each other, while other times they are competing. Ultimately, you must map relevant strategies to your situation. Rather than try to decide or buy into a strategy, find a way to test and judge it based on your results.
Here is a collection of 25 Key Strategies for Results from the book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
You can read an explanation for each of these strategies at 25 Key Strategies for Results.
Mental models can really help you simplify how you think about a problem. One of the more useful mental models I’ve come across while working across cloud solutions is:
… Move to the Cloud, Use the Cloud, and Be the Cloud.
It’s a simple way to think about the role you play in the cloud arena, or the role the cloud plays in your arena. Here’s a quick rundown of each one …
Use the Cloud Using the cloud is taking advantage of the cloud through consumption of some cloud services. This could be using another company’s SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS offerings to take advantage of the cloud benefits. You can benefit from the elastic capacity and increased flexibility.
Be a Cloud Be a cloud refers to building cloud offerings for consumption by other partners (internal or external), or consumers. This is can be a SOA implementation, or building out a Private Cloud and offering services internally to other organizations within the same company.
It’s a simple model, but I think it helps bring clarity to the table when people are talking about their cloud strategy.
“Success is how high you bounce when you hit the bottom.” -- General George S. Patton
Life can have a lot of ups and downs and your ability to bounce back is one of the keys to your success.
Here is a simple model I put together as part of my 30 Day Bootcamp on Getting Results to help you multiply your ability to bounce back in any situation:
I wasn’t sure whether to call my model a 4×4 Force Multiplier Frame or 4×4 Sources of Strength. For now, I’m going with 4x4 Sources of Strength.
If you know somebody who’s been knocked down and needs help getting back up, share this frame with them as a way to help them get back on their feet and find their sources of strength from the inside out.
I tried to keep the model as simple as possible and easy to remember, while giving you a variety of sources of strength and energy to draw from. I wanted this frame to serve as an “at a glance” reminder of how you are a force of one, from the inside out, as well as from the outside in. Change your frame to change your game.
Mind Here are some ways to bounce back with your mind:
Body Here are some ways to bounce back with your body:
Emotions Here are some ways to better balance and bounce back with your emotions:
Spirit Here are some ways to bounce back with your spirit:
Execution is king. That’s what one of my most seasoned mentors taught me, early on at Microsoft.
I’m always on the hunt for principles, patterns, and practices that improve execution, whether at the individual, team, or organization level. Since I’ve joined the Microsoft Enterprise Strategy team, I get to take more of a balcony view across companies, and see different success patterns for execution. It’s been very revealing how technology can help a business thrive. It’s also been revealing how technology decisions can be a distraction or get in the way, if a company doesn’t have clarity on its strategy.
In the book, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, by Jeane W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson, the authors share their perspective on why some companies execute better.
You Do All the Right Moves, But You Still Can’t Get Ahead Competition is only getting tougher. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“In short, you do everything the management literature says you should, but you still can’t get ahead. And the signs aren’t encouraging for the future. You see Chinese companies taking over manufacturing in industry after industry. Indian companies providing more and more services. Small, agile competitors from around the world picking off niche after niche in your markets. Competition is only getting tougher.”
Yet Some Companies Thrive Some companies thrive while others are lucky just to survive. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“Yet some companies – some of your competitors – seem to be able not just to survive but to thrive. In the face of tough global competition, companies like Dell, ING DIRECT, CEMEX, Wal-Mart, and others are growing and making money. These companies have more-productive employees, get more from their investments, and have more success with their strategic initiatives. What are they doing differently?
They Have a Better Foundation for Execution They digitized operations and created a foundation for business agility. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“We believe these companies execute better because they have a better foundation for execution. They have embedded technology in their processes so that they can efficiently and reliably execute their core operations of the company. These companies have made tough decisions about what operations they must execute well, and they’ve implemented the IT systems they need to digitize those operations. These actions have made IT an asset rather than a liability and have created a foundation for business agility.”
The question I think this brings to mind is, “Have you identified your core and critical operations, and clarified what to digitize?”
This plays right into thinking about your cloud strategy.
I’m an avid collector of proven practices for execution and getting results. Execution is your best friend, among changing times and evolving landscapes, especially when you combine your execution with effective strategy.
One of the key practices for successful companies is digitizing their core processes. Digitizing your core processes can create higher profitability, reduce time to market, and get more value from your IT investments, while lowering your IT costs. That may sound too good to be true, but that’s a taste of what some of the data is showing. Regardless of the data, you may have experienced this yourself first-hand, if you’ve seen a company that really has it’s IT act together.
In the book, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, by Jeane W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson, the authors write about the difference that makes some companies survive and thrive, while others fold.
Higher Profitability, Faster Time to Market, and More Value from their IT Digitizing your core processes can help you in multiple ways. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“We surveyed 103 U.S. and European companies about there IT and IT-enabled business processes. Thirty-four percent of those had digitized their core processes. Relative to their competitors, these companies have higher profitability, experience a faster time to market, and get more value from their IT investments. They have better access to shared customer data, lower risk of mission-critical systems failures, and 80 percent higher senior management satisfaction with technology. Yet, companies who have digitized their core processes have 25 percent lower IT costs. These are the benefits of an effective foundation for execution.”
Leading Edge Companies Pull Further and Further Ahead A good foundation for execution can help you focus, invest wisely, and get ahead. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“In contrast, 12 percent of the companies we studied are frittering away management attention and technology investments on a myriad of (perhaps) locally sensible projects that don’t support enterprise wide objectives. Another 48 percent of the companies are cutting waste from their IT budgets but haven’t figured out how to increase value from IT. Meanwhile, a few leading-edge companies are leveraging a foundation for execution to pull further and further ahead.”
Companies with a Good Foundation for Execution Have an Increasing Advantage A good foundation for execution is an exponential advantage. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“As such statistics show, companies with a good foundation for execution have an increasing advantage over those that don’t. In this book, we describe how to design, build, and leverage a foundation for execution. Based on survey and case study research at more than 400 companies in the United States and Europe, we provide insights, tools, and language to help managers recognize their core operations, digitize their core to more efficiently support their strategy, and exploit their foundation for execution to achieve business agility and profitable growth.”
I’ve seen the force multiplier of strategy+execution, and it’s no surprise why that is the difference that makes the difference between companies that thrive, and ones that die.
While putting together business scenarios for the cloud, one of the scenarios that came up is “achieve cost-effective business continuity.” The business opportunity, solution, and benefits are summarized as follows:
Business continuity risk can be transferred to vendors by leveraging cloud solutions. Cloud providers can provide robust and less expensive business continuity solutions than businesses can achieve alone.
While putting together business scenarios for the cloud, one of the scenarios that came up is “create new revenue streams from existing capabilities.” The business opportunity, solution, and benefits are summarized as follows:
Monetize business capabilities as a revenue generator. Leveraging a cloud platform to achieve a business capability can prove profitable through extending the implementation for others to consume on a subscription basis.
While putting together lessons learned from our Enterprise Strategy cloud engagements, we consolidated a set of recurring business scenarios and themes. You may find these useful if you are thinking about cloud opportunities from a business perspective, and are looking for some common patterns and perspectives.
The following business opportunities reflect common motivation for Cloud migration:
Achieve cost-effective business continuity Business continuity risk can be transferred to vendors by leveraging cloud solutions. Cloud providers can provide robust and less expensive business continuity solutions than businesses can achieve alone.
Create new revenue streams from existing capabilities Monetize business capabilities as a revenue generator. Leveraging a cloud platform to achieve a business capability can prove profitable through extending the implementation for others to consume on a subscription basis.
Decrease power consumption Reduce power costs and environmental impact through more efficient data center design and optimization. Leverage Cloud resources to outsource workloads gaining greater efficiencies and lower operating costs.
Decrease the time to market for new capabilities With the Cloud, the time to implement applications for pilot projects or production deployments is drastically reduced because of the reduction of environment and infrastructure concerns. This accelerates the time from concept to execution for projects and allows organizations to explore more opportunities overall with much lower cost and risk.
Easily integrate new businesses into your organization Move people onto core systems with self-provisioning. Reduce business disruptions with flexible online business services. Accelerate speed to value by connecting across network and organizational boundaries to integrate acquired systems.
Improve operational efficiency to enable more innovation Enable investment to be prioritized on strategic initiatives through efficient use of available budget. Enable the business to make informed decisions through cost transparency for each IT solution and increase the accuracy in business cases for new initiatives.
Improve the connection with your customers Integrating systems through the use of Cloud services is often easier and lowers the barrier to entry compared with on-premises solutions. When integration is easier, organizations can provide more information to customers. This in turn increases satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.
Provide elastic capacity to meet business demand Leverage the on-demand consumption model of the Cloud to quickly provision and de-provision resources as needed. Increase agility by enabling your organization to react to an urgent business need quickly by applying Cloud-based resources.
Provide Enterprise Messaging from Anywhere Secure, reliable, timely access to the latest enterprise class messaging from anywhere helps maintain and improve corporate based productivity and manage overall, per user messaging costs.
Reduce Upfront Investment in New Initiatives Reduce the size of investment required to launch new initiatives and align the cash-flow requirements with actual solution adoption over time. Reduce the risk associated with upfront investments.
“I think it is one of the foundations of the next generation of computing." -- Tim O'Reilly
While putting together lessons learned from our Cloud-related Enterprise Strategy engagements, we consolidated a set of recurring IT scenarios and themes. You may find these useful if you are thinking about cloud opportunities from an IT perspective, and are looking for some common patterns and perspectives.
IT scenarios for the Cloud are technical scenarios that can ultimately be linked back to business scenarios. For any given business scenario, one or more IT scenarios can be defined that expose a clearer picture of how the enabling technologies can be used to reach a solution.
The following are key scenarios to be aware of from an IT perspective. These highlight the alignment of Cloud opportunities with common growth, deployment and management trends.
Cloud IT scenarios are organized into the following categories:
The primary tenants of this scenario are:
An investment in tools, processes, and culture can drive innovation and grow a business through new products, services, and/or processes. For nearly every enterprise, innovation is critical to long-term success. Investing to drive innovation can improve a business’s competitiveness and help it thrive in a challenging economy and shifting business landscape.
In general you can think about the Cloud as an application that fits one of these patterns. Use these patterns to analyze and test potential Cloud scenarios for success. For example, the “On and Off Bursting” scenario is optimal for testing because you can run the application on premises and in the Cloud concurrently.
The Growing Fast pattern is typically represented by a startup company that begins with a minimal IT footprint, but quickly scales up their offerings as demand increases. Similarly, companies that might underestimate usage of their product might need to rapidly scale IT capabilities. Customers get to bypass the overhead costs of hardware and management, and focus on delivering business value.
The On and Off Bursting pattern is commonly represented by a company needing batch processing or computation. For example, a big challenge for hedge funds is acting quickly on data or emerging events. Cloud computing offers the opportunity to come to book large numbers of machines for a short period of time to conduct analysis. The Cloud allows on-demand resource usage that removes the need for heavy capital expenditures on hardware that will sit idle for large portions of its lifespan.
The Unpredictable Bursting pattern occurs when scaling is not predictable. For example, an eCommerce site specialized in selling sporting goods for Spain’s soccer team after they won the World Cup. The Web site traffic surge due to this win was not predictable, and an inability to service the demand spike would cause a substantial loss in revenue opportunity. A site deployed in the Cloud could have additional servers provisioned in short order, or even be designed to dynamically scale server instances to follow the demand curve.
The Predictable Bursting pattern occurs when workload scales up and down based on a predictable pattern. An example of this might be a salary or payroll firm. On set intervals such as the 1st and 15th of each month, there is a spike in demand for computing power to process the payroll. By using the Cloud, the necessary computing power can be scaled to meet the demand, and then subsequently scaled back again to save expenses during the lower demand period.