Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
Here’s a little fun …
… Are you the next Microsoft employee?
Here is the final episode of Be the Next Microsoft Employee, where the winner gets the grand prize -- a job at Microsoft. It really happens too – the winner started July 30th, 2012. Check out the finale episode of Be the Next Microsoft Employee:
(Note – If the video doesn’t play for you, try watching directly on YouTube at Be the Next Microsoft Employee.)
It’s a great little video. One of the contestants even poses the question – “To Azure? … or Not to Azure?”
If you think just being technically strong is the name of the game, that’s not so.
I liked this comment by judge, Tim DiMarco:
“In addition to technical skills, your ability to communicate your ideas effectively, collaborate across teams, and be able to sell your ideas is critical to long term success at Microsoft.”
I also liked these other comments and pointers by the judges:
Here are some of the folks involved in making this happen:
You can explore the Microsoft Learning team’s Be the Next Microsoft Employee Home Page where all of the episodes are available, as well as more information about the show.
If you are really behind, and want to dig yourself out, and get back on top things, then close the flood gate.
Don't take on new things.
Time management tips #22 is close the flood gates. It's all too easy to reopen the door, let things slip in, and keep taking on new things, without first finishing what's already on your overloaded plate. Closing the flood gate simply means stop randomizing and churning on new work that you don't have the time, capacity, bandwidth, attention, or energy to focus on. If you keep taking on more, it's not a service to anybody, especially yourself.
Whenever I find myself buried among a sea of open work, unfinished tasks, and things to do, I close the flood gate. I stand guard at the door of incoming requests, and I put all of my focus on the open work.
It's easy to stretch past capacity. You say yes to things you think will finish a little faster than they actually do. Things come up. You didn't have a buffer for when things go wrong. The key is to recognize when you're past your capacity, and to take decisive action.
No new work. Full focus on the work that is wearing you down, or blocking your ability to flow value.
The problem is work will still come your way. Have a place to put it. A simple list is fine. You can review it and prioritize it when you're read to take on more things. The trap to avoid is dabbling in new work, dabbling in unfinished work, and throwing more balls in the air, than you can possibly juggle.
Don't create your own problem by taking on work past your capacity. If somebody assigns work to you, do them a favor, and let them know you're at capacity, and when you expect to free up. If you see new work as higher value than what's already on your plate, consider trading up for it, and letting your open work go. If you have so much open work that you're spending more time managing it, than finishing it, then consider shelving the lower priority work. Put it on the shelf for another day. Temporary let it go, while you concentrate your focus on a vital few things to complete them.
You'll be surprised what you're capable of with focus and priorities and concentrated effort in small batches of time.
Close the flood gate, narrow your focus, flow your value.
For work-life balance skills , check out 30 Days of Getting Results, and for a work-life balance system check out Agile Results at Getting Results.com.
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If there’s one book that I suggest as The Microsoft Career Survival Guide -- it’s The First 90 Days, by Michael Watkins. It’s a great book with extreme knowledge on how to survive and thrive in your job, especially during transitions. Transitions are always the toughest time because you have to adapt and acclimate fast to your new surroundings, and it can very quickly turn your world upside down.
The First 90 Days just might be THE leadership book and corporate career guide.
I’ve had eight manager changes in the last three years, which means I’ve had to learn success strategies and tactics to make the most of the changes. It’s been a great opportunity for me to put everything I learn into practice, and continue to learn from The First 90 Days.
One of the most important lessons I learned from The First 90 Days, is to focus on securing early wins. It sounds like common sense, but there is a big difference between knowing and doing. The credibility and air-cover that comes with delivering fast wins, early on, sets the stage for momentum and an upward spiral of success. The ability to execute and drive relevant wins early on also reflects your ability to understand what is valued, and how things get done. It forces you to learn the system quickly, from a people, process, and tools perspective. It helps you reveal the chessboard.
The people part is the most challenging, but the most important. You get things done with people, and The First 90 Days shows you how to understand the influence map, build coalitions, and build an effective advice-and-counsel network of technical advisers, cultural interpreters, and political counselors. The faster you can put this into place, the more effective you will be.
Since this is one of the most important books to have on your career shelf, I wrote a special book review to help share why this book is such an important asset:
It’s also one of the first books I always recommend to anybody that I mentor to help them get a firm foundation in how organizations really work, what really drives people, and how not to get blindsided or surprised … because what you don’t know can hurt you.
Enjoy, and best wishes on your career success.
Want to read faster? What if you could read and think at extreme speeds? I wrote a post that reveals the program that I’ve used to exponentially improve my reading and thinking speeds. I’m back in the 1,000+ words per minute camp, and working towards 10,000 words per minute:
Even if you could read just a little faster, imagine how much time you get back each day, considering all the email and information you have to process each day. Imagine how much more time you get back if you can read 1,000 words a minute, or more. Imagine all the books you could read, how quickly you can clear you email, and how much easier you can stay on top of things.
There are a lot of reasons that hold people back from reading much faster than they ever thought possible. One of the main reasons is people just don’t’ know what they are capable of. Another reason is that people say their words in their throat, even when they are reading to themselves, and this is incredibly slow, compared to what our minds are capable of. Another reason is that we aren’t use to moving or using our eyes even close to what they are capable of.
In the post, I share the program I use and how it trains you to stop subvocalizing, how to scan and process information at extreme speeds, and how to retrain and build your eyes to go much faster than they are used to.
This is one of the ultimate secret weapons in your toolbox for gaining more time, keeping your email inbox clear, and learning at a much faster rate, than people are used to.
Check out How To Read 10,000 Words Per Minute. Even if you don’t get the program, you can at least see how the mechanics work, and you can better appreciate how you can exponentially improve your own reading speeds and ability to think and process much faster.
This is truly one of the ultimate personal development tools that pays back every single day (assuming that you have to read and process information each day.)
I heard a beautiful nugget on the art of simplicity the other day. It was about reducing complexity, cost, and time. Or, to put it another way, it makes a great case for simplicity.
Why focus on simplicity?
To reduce complexity.
Why reduce complexity?
It’s the key to reducing cost and time.
What a great way to connect the dots.
Aside from improving adoption, if you focus on simplicity, it’s a very real way to improve time to market and cost of goods, and in the end, elegance.
The big win for me with simplicity is the ability to improve things, whether it’s a process or a product. If you’ve ever had to deal with a beast of either one, you can appreciate what I mean. My first goal in taking on something is to drive for simplicity so that it has a fighting chance to improve over time.
Complexity dies, where simplicity thrives.
I put together a comprehensive Time Management Books list. It’s a serious roundup of the best time management books you can find. It’s a long list, and it’s meant to save you time in multiple ways, and on multiple levels.
I organized the time management books into multiple categories for fast scanning, slicing, and dicing:
The most important list is at the end of the page. It’s a list of the best time management books in A-Z order. The idea is that you can easily compare to your own list of books and quickly find books you haven’t seen before. So the categories of time management books are nice to help you look for specific books on procrastination or taking action, but the A-Z list is a way to quickly scan a comprehensive collection of time management books.
Here is a sampling of the page:
Time management will be an incredibly important topic for the new year. As we’re asked to do more with less, find ways to do things better, faster, cheaper, make the most of what we’ve got, and make our moments matter -- any time management hacks or strategies that you can add to your bag of tricks will help you survive and thrive in our ever-changing world.
If my list of Time Management Books helps you find a book or two that helps you master time management, then I’ve done my job.
Happy holidays and best wishes for the road ahead.
I’ve done a massive update to my list of Career Books. It’s a powerful list of the best career books on a variety of topics. Whether you’re an Entrepreneur, freelancer, Linchpin, creative artist, self-employed, or CxO, there are books on the list for everyone.
I put a special emphasis on books that help you with the following challenges:
I divided the list of career books into several categories to slice and dice it down to size. It includes the following categories:
It’s a serious list of career skills books. I’ve wasted my money on tons of books that were not very helpful, so hopefully you don’t have to. Hopefully this list will save you time, too. It may also help you explore and find out about career books that you didn’t know existed.
You’ll find a lot of name-brand folks among the list, including, but not limited to, John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, Tony Robbins, Daniel Pink, Seth Godin, Marshall Goldsmith, and Tony Hsieh.
I hope to also introduce you to some new gems that you may not have heard of before. For example, John Eliot wrote one of the best books on how to achieve incredible performance at work. It’s called Overachievement. Dr. Rick Kirschner wrote the definitive book on interpersonal skills. It’s called, Dealing with People You Can’t Stand. Nancy O’Hara wrote one of the most insightful books on how to figure out what you really want and how to stop thinking that the grass is always greener somewhere else. It’s Work from the Inside Out. One of the best breakthrough books for today’s digital economy is Six-Figure Second Income. It’s a great overview of how to sell your experience, profit from your passion, and create passive income streams through information products.
Whether you are stuck in your career, or trying to find a job, or trying to grow your career skills, there are plenty of books to choose from. Hopefully my list of the best career books will save you a lot of time, effort, and money to find the most relevant, insightful, and actionable books that help you improve your workplace effectiveness for the years to come.
I’ve been doing a lot more talks on Getting Results the Agile Way than I planned. Good thing I’m agile and can respond It makes sense. It’s January. It’s the right time of year, where people are bootstrapping their year, testing themselves with New Years Resolutions, turning the page, and, best of all, doing rethinks about how to be effective at work.
And, a lot of people are overloaded and overwhelmed.
They’re looking for ways to get some relief, and they're looking for ways to make more impact. Agile Results comes up because it’s fast to adopt and makes instant impact in little ways that add up to bigger wins over time. Not to mention, more businesses are trying to figure out how to be more agile and respond with the pace of change in the market. (And, it also helps that Getting Results the Agile Way has been a best-seller on Amazon for the Time Management category … thank you everyone, for your support.)
One of the things that comes up in the talks is, how can we find out how others are using Agile Results? I’m not sure, because it’s sort of a tribe thing, as in, if you happen to know somebody using it, you can ask them if they’ll share how they use it. That said, there are some testimonials at GettingResults.com, and here is a quick roundup of some folks have shared their take on Getting Results the Agile Way and how they use Agile Results:
If you’re short on time, you might start with these three:
BTW – I’ll find a way to share the talk more broadly. It’s a completely different experience seeing the system presented than reading it in the book. It’s a great chance to highlight some of the big ideas, and to elaborate on some of the finer points.
Is your city smarter than a 5th grader? This is a serious and significant post everything from Smart Cities to the top 4 mega-trends shaping technology for the next 10 years. It’s the key trends for 2013 at your fingertips:
If you’ve ever seen my trends posts before, you know they are serious business. I actually went even further with my trends for 2013 post. I wanted to really dive deep into what’s going on. I used a master/detail or hub/spoke model for organizing the trends. This way, you can very quickly scan through to see the breadth and depth of trends for 2013, and then dive deeper and explore more after you take the balcony view.
I draw from multiple sources and multiple people, as well as my own experience to really paint a picture that’s forward-looking and helps showcase key challenges and opportunities.
The best thing I see for this year to come is that it’s the year of the Entrepreneur, whether that means becoming a Linchpin in your organization, starting your own passion business, or innovating as an intrapreneur in your company. You have a lot of tools, techniques, insights, and technologies to change your products and processes to deliver better, faster, and cheaper in our fast-paced, rapidly changing world.
Explore Trends for 2013, and be sure to share with anybody you know who wants to take a look ahead.
Purpose is power. One of my favorite definitions of “power” is “the ability to act.” When you know your purpose, you can channel your time and energy to make things happen in a more significant way. Purpose brings clarity. Clarity inspires action.
To put it another way, a lack of purpose creates confusion and immobility.
The challenge is that finding your purpose can be a complicated thing. It doesn’t have to be, but it often is, especially if you haven’t learned an effective way to find your purpose. It’s easy to get your purpose mixed up or lost among your vision, mission, and values. The thing to remember about purpose is that it’s your “Why.”
In other words, “WHY” do you do what you do.
It’s one thing to climb a mountain, “because it’s there”, but do you want to do your mound of work, simply because it’s there. What if you could connect your work to something more? Something greater. You can. It’s your purpose. You create your purpose, and your purpose gives meaning to what you do.
It’s you on fire … or, as we at the foosball table like to say, it’s you “en fuego.”
Even if you climbed the mountain, just because it’s there, it’s more likely that it’s a personal challenge that will lead to a private victory. And, how much more meaningful would it be if you were climbing the mountain on behalf of your favorite cause or charity?
You’d move mountains.
The same is true in work and life.
It’s one thing to say what you do, or to know your mission. It’s another things to say where you’re going, or what is your vision. But when you know your purpose and why you do what you do, you take your game to a whole new level.
It’s the fuel that drives you.
Now, then … how do you actually find your purpose? I’ve written a feature-length post on how to find your purpose. It’s jam-packed with tips and tricks I’ve learned about finding and using purpose to amplify your impact. As a special bonus, it includes an exercise I use in my workshops on Getting Results the Agile Way. It’s the real deal. It’s the same thing exercise I take people through from around the world to help them find their drive and get their game on.
If you nail this … if you truly find your purpose that inspires you … you can easily triple or quadruple, or in some cases, even 10X your productivity. Why? Because energy is a force multiplier. If you are just going through the motions, it’s hard to speed up, especially, if it just doesn’t matter. But, if you find your fire inside, you can breathe new life, even into the same old dull routines. Now, you have meaning. Now, you have drive.
Your drive can be one of the biggest factors in what you achieve whether you are a program manager, a developer, a manager, a thought leader, or whatever your role may be.
Make 2013 your year.
Find your purpose and show the world, and yourself, what you’re capable of.
You can think of a role as a group of related tasks, activities, and responsibilities. By knowing the responsibilities and core types of activities up front, you can help make sure you have the right people on the team so that you can achieve project success in a healthy and sustainable way.
On smaller teams, the key roles include: team lead, team members, product owner, and stakeholders. The team lead is often a “project lead,” or a “team coach” or, in Scrum, the “Scrum Master.” The main activities being performed by team members include design, development, and validation against requirements and constraints.
On larger teams, additional roles include architecture owner and integrator. Some of the key issues to orchestrate and coordinate include: architecture and technical issues, project management activities, requirements management, and system integration. As teams get bigger, the strategy becomes a "team of teams" approach. At Microsoft, this is a common practice.
A few key concepts for Agile teams include: "whole team", "product owner," "self-organizing team", and "sustainable pace." Whole team is an Extreme Programming (XP) practice where the team has all the skills it needs to complete the project, without relying on external experts. Product owner, in Scrum, is a project's key stakeholder, and usually a lead user or customer advocate. In XP, this was the on-site customer, but is now part of "whole team." The main idea is that the customer is available throughout the project to shape, guide, and validate the priorities and acceptance criteria for the team. Self-organizing is the idea that teams are empowered to organize themselves, rather than fit canned roles. "Sustainable pace" (originally, "40 hour week" in Extreme Programming) is the idea that you set a sustainable, measurable, and predictable pace for the team.
In practice, there are a couple more concepts that help team success: team stability and generalists. To achieve team stability, avoid swapping out team members. Teams go through forming, storming, norming, and performing so swapping out team members is more than just losing the knowledge and experience, it disrupts the team chemistry. As Fred Brooks reminds us, adding members to an already late project just makes it later. Using generalists (that are specialists in one or more domains) helps create a more flexible team that can respond to challenges and better support a "whole team."
On the Microsoft patterns & practices team, these are the roles and responsibilities that we typically defined at project kickoff:
Architect Developer Development Lead Lead Writer Product Manager Program Manager Test Test Lead Subject Matter Expert
Architecture and Design Budget Business Investment Collateral Content Structure Customer Connection Design Quality Development Evangelism Feedback Product Group Alignment Product Planning Project Planning Quality Release Requirements Scope Schedule Simplicity Support / Sustained-Engineering Team and People Test Execution Test Planning Usability
I did some cleanup on Sources of Insight to re-focus on personal effectiveness. You can use that link to easily browse 347 personal effectiveness articles (and growing.) Personal effectiveness is your key to making the most of what you’ve got.
I think of personal effectiveness as the ability to produce a decided, decisive, or desired effect through your abilities, energy, skills, talent, and time. Personal effectiveness in action is really the ability to be effective in any situation by knowing how to play your cards well. This includes knowing yourself, and reading the situation, so you can play your cards more effectively.
While you might pursuit to be the best in the world, the reality is, in many cases, your best move is simply to be effective. If you do happen to be the best in the world at something, the other key is to avoid being ineffective in all the other areas of your life. This is especially true if you want to be better balanced across all aspects of skilled living. And, by balancing across the key areas of your life, you can set yourself up to more effectively pursuit being the best at something. That is, *if* you make the space for it, and hone your personal effectiveness.
Your personal effectiveness is really the synthesis of your abilities, energy, skills, talent, and time.
The synthesis is key, and that’s why frameworks or systems or routines or habits help. In fact, a big reason behind why I wrote Getting Results the Agile Way was to create a simple system for personal effectiveness. I wanted to combine the best of what we’ve learned from productivity, leadership, personal development, motivation, time management, and more, into a system that’s personal, and that helps you bring out your best. It’s also a continuous learning system, so you get better over time, by learning and adapting, with the system on your side.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that skill makes a big difference. So does mindset. When you combine a learning mindset, with a focus on gaining skills and experience, and using an effective feedback loop, you create rapid results. When you really pay attention to feedback, you can stay the course, or change your approach. It’s your willingness to change that often makes the difference.
Here is a sample of some of the articles from the personal effectiveness set, that you might enjoy:
As I’ve delivered Agile Results training to more organizations, I’ve had to really get crisp on how to get started. Like anything, there are so many possible ways, and what people really are looking for is a simple way to test the waters to see if it’s for them.
I’ve updated my Getting Started with Agile Results page.
I think it really captures the spirit now. The most important insight I’ve learned is that the easiest way to adopt Agile Results is to focus on Three Wins: Three Wins for the Day, Three Wins for the Week, Three Wins for the Month, and Three Wins for the Year. And, the easiest way to get started with Agile Results is to write down Three Wins for today.
I remember the time when a friend of mine was telling me what he liked about Agile Results. He said he liked the fact he could write down Three Wins on a piece of paper and he’s doing Agile Results.
It took a while to sink in, because I knew how much more Agile Results is capable of. But, eventually, time and again, it’s adopting this one habit that helps adopt the others. It’s a great place to start.
Why is writing down your Three Wins a great place to start? It almost sounds too easy. In fact, it sounds so easy that it’s easy to dismiss. And, that’s exactly the problem. We don’t usually walk around knowing what we want out of our day. We usually just know all the things we have to do. We get mired in muck and don’t take a few minutes to figure out what’s the value before diving in. Imagine how many times you’ve thrown hours at something, only to find out that it didn’t matter or it was nice to do, but when you look back, it was a complete waste of time?
By writing down the Three Wins that you want to achieve for the day, you take a moment to engage your brain, and actually check whether it’s worth it. Are those really “wins” or just things you’re doing? What’s the challenge or opportunity? What’s the challenge and what’s the change? (Tip – the value is always in the change.)
Here’s a quick example. Clearing my workspace might seem like a win. But, the real win is if I re-organize my workspace so that I’m more effective on a daily basis. I move up the stack. I change my routine into something better.
My wins come from changing something into more value, or responding to key challenges and opportunities. Wins come from turning things into something that is better, faster, cheaper. Wins come from moving yourself up the stack, by turning routines and things “below the line” into value that’s “above the line.”
The value is in the change.
One of the messages I don’t think I stressed enough is how Agile Results helps you become a more effective change agent. It’s a powerful tool for personal transformation. It’s a powerful system for winning in work and life. The change agent aspect is the fact that the wins you identify as part of Monday Vision or as part of your Three Wins for the day, Three Wins for the month, or Three Wins for the year, are really powerful changes. They are powerful because you’ve articulated a change. They are powerful because they help you take action against a meaningful outcome.
Change is a challenge, and the advantage of Agile Results is that it puts the power of routines, repetition, and results on your side. By putting just enough structure in place, you move up the stack. Routines and repetition help you concentrate your effort and find ways to do things better, fast, and cheaper. This keeps you moving up the stack versus reinventing how to do the basics all the time. It also scales with you and stretches to fit. If you’re ready to take on bigger challenges, then focus on bigger wins.
Agile Results is really like a Russian nesting doll. It’s simple, but there is more than meets the eye. You can open it up and find more inside. And you can open that up, and find yet more. What keeps it “Evergreen” and timeless is that it’s a system that’s principle-based, value-driven, and built on the basics.
If you haven’t done so already, a great way to master getting results is 30 Days of Getting Results. It includes little lessons and exercises you can do to profoundly improve your ability to get results in work and life. The funny thing is I used Agile Results to create 30 Days of Getting Results. I made it my 30 Day Sprint, and each day, I used a 20 minute timebox to write as much value as I could about how to get results. What you’ll notice is that as the lessons progress, my writing flowed more, and I gradually got better at creating better daily lessons and insights. Looking back, I’m actually amazed at how I was able to create each lesson in 20 minutes or less, but I’m glad I did, and it’s a great reminder of what’s possible with focus, inspiration, and a compelling vision.
If you’re already a master of Agile Results, challenge yourself to lift others up and help them use Agile Results to win at work and win at life.
Your operating model is determined by your choices around how you handle integration and standardization for your business processes. Your choices around your operating model can dramatically influence and impact your ability to compete in the market.
A clear operating model decision has a profound effect on how you implement your business processes and IT infrastructure. For example, if you don’t have a clear operating model, then it can be like starting from scratch, each time you have a new imitative. You won’t be able to bring forward any automated, pre-existing, low-cost capabilities to your new strategic pursuits.
The challenge is that selecting an operating model is a commitment to a way of doing business. The upside is that if you make deliberate choices around the integration of shared data, you can gain increased efficiency, coordination, transparency, and agility. And, through deliberate choices around standardization of business processes, you can drive efficiency and predictability across the company, which can lead to dramatic increases in throughput and efficiency.
In the book, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson write about how to analyze and categorize your company or business unit’s operating model based on four models: Diversification, Coordination, Replication, and Unification.
You can increase your operational excellence, customer impact, product development and strategic agility through better choices around business process integration and business process standardization. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“Our research suggests the payoff for making that choice can be huge. Companies without a foundation for execution supporting an operating model reported 17 percent greater strategic effectiveness than other companies – a metric positively correlated with profitability. These companies also reported higher operational proficiency (31%), customer intimacy (33%), product leadership (34%), and strategic agility (29%) than companies that had not developed a foundation for execution.”
When you analyze how a company approaches business process integration and business process standardization, four different quadrants emerge. This helps you see the distinctions between each strategy in a s simple way. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“We have developed a straightforward two-dimensional model with four quadrants, representing different combinations of the levels of business process integration and standardization. Every company should position itself in one of these quadrants to clarify how it intends to deliver goods and services to customers.”
According to Ross, Weill, and Robertson there are four operating models for how a company addresses business process integration and business process standardization.
According to Ross, Weill, and Robertson, companies adopt different models at different levels. For example, they might adopt one operating model at the enterprise level, but then a different model at the division, business unit, region, or other level. To figure out which of the four quadrants your company or business unit mostly belongs, Ross, Weill, and Robertson suggest asking two questions:
This helps you figure out your business process integration requirements and your business process standardization requirements.
Diversification is effectively "independence with shared services." Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
"Diversification applies to companies whose business unit have few common customers, suppliers, or ways of doing business. Business units in diversified companies offer different products and services to different customers, so central management exercises limited control over those business units.”
Coordination is "seamless access to shared data." Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“Coordination calls for high levels of integration but little standardization of processes. Business units in a Coordination company share one or more of the following: customers, products, suppliers, and partners. The benefits of integration can include integrated customer service, cross-selling, and transparency across supply chain processes. While key business processes are integrated, however, business units have unique operations, often demanding unique capabilities.”
Replication is "standardized independence." Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“Replication models grant autonomy to business units but run operations in a highly standdardized fashion. In a Replication model the company's success is dependent on efficient, repeatable business processes rather than on shared customer relationships. The business units are not dependent on one another's transactions or data; the success of the company as a whole is dependent on global innovationand the efficiency of all business units implementing a set of standardized business processes. Accordingly business unit managers have limited discretion over business process design, even though they operate independently of other business units.”
Unification is "standardized, integrated processes." Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
"When organizational units are tightly integrated around a standardized set of processes, companies benefit from a Unification model. Companies applying this model find little benefit in business unit autonomy. They maximize efficiencies and customer services by presenting integrated data and driving variability out of business processes.”
For a deep dive into each of the operating models as well as case studies and examples, check out Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson. It’s one of those kinds of books that you can tell is born from experience, rather than just theory. It’s rich with data and authoritative, prescriptive guidance to help you mature and transform your company to compete in today’s arena (it’s a powerful collection of proven practices and timeless advice, and extremely relevant to our emerging digital economy.)
Make your operating model a clear choice. Choose the appropriate levels of integration and standardization that help you build a strong foundation for execution and improve your strategic agility.
I’ve been asked to do a lot of Agile retrospectives around Microsoft over the years. I don’t know how it started, but it started several years ago when somebody recommended that I lead a retrospective for their team, and then it caught fire from there.
In this post, I’ll share a simple recipe you can use as a baseline to help shape your Agile retrospectives for building high-performance teams.
Agile retrospectives are a powerful way to help teams go from good to great, and to help less than good teams, get better fast. The value of a retrospective is the learning and insight that you can carry forward. A retrospective is a look back with an open mind on the collective learning around what to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing.
With that in mind, the true value is in the actual change in the people, process, or technology that supports your ability to flow value.
To drive a great Agile retrospective, it helps to know what gets in the way or what goes wrong:
Below is a recipe that you can use that should help you get started or improve your retrospectives. Nothing is set in stone, but it helps to see some things that have worked time and again (the timeless truths.) Be sure to adapt as you see fit, but at the end of the day, remember that establishing is important, and that your best outcome is a short list of what to start doing, stop doing, and continue doing – that you actually implement.
I’ve found two Edward de Bono techniques help deal with conflict during hot topics are:
I find these techniques help keep an open and curious mind. Especially if you use them in a question-driven way and keep it simple. Rather than have people arguing different sides at the same time, have them argue the same side at the same time, and then switch perspectives (or “hats.”)
· White Hat – the facts and figures
· Red Hat – the emotional view
· Black Hat – the “devil’s advocate”
· Yellow Hat – the positive side
· Green Hat – the creative side
· Blue Hat – the organizing view
· What are the facts and figures?
· What’s your gut reaction? How do you feel about this?
· Why can’t we do this? What prevents us? What’s the downside?
· How can we do this?
· What are additional opportunities?
· How should we think about this? (what are the metaphors or mental models)
Sometimes, the best way to help people stay open and
How to Shift to Dialogue:
You can skip doing an affinity diagram exercise, if folks are comfortable with each other and there's no recent new members. Otherwise, it's overhead, but it helps for the following:
There are other tricks of the trade, but if you focus on a clear agenda, compelling outcomes, and manage the conflict while driving an open dialogue, you’ll be in good shape.
May the power of Agile retrospectives serve you well.
One of my colleagues, Marc Ashbrook, has written a fantastic guest post on how gaming and gamification are reshaping education:
The Gamification of Education
Marc specializes in social collaboration, gamification, and productivity so his insights are always great to see. I’m currently working with Marc on the impact of social in the Enterprise, and it’s a fascinating journey, and very eye-opening. We’ve spent several brainstorming sessions on looking at the ways in which social tools can accelerate employee learning and productivity as well as how companies can use social to connect with customers on a much deeper level, and gain new insights.
Education is a great place for innovation and change. It’s one of the hot spots I called out in my Trends for 2013 post. Challenge and change are breeding grounds for innovation. In our age of insight, one of the biggest bottlenecks is how quickly you can learn and adapt to our ever-changing world. Related to that, how quickly can you learn new skills or build new capabilities.
Continuous learning is your friend.
The trick is how to learn more rapidly and effectively, while enjoying your learning path. That’s where gamification steps in. You can choose your own learning adventure, and the world’s information is at your fingertips in more ways than ever before. This sets the stage for amazing immersive experiences, and finding ways to learn that suit your style.
The operating model is the level of business process integration and business process standardization for delivering goods and services. The operating model is one of the three keys to building a strong foundation for execution (The three keys are: operating model, enterprise architecture, and IT engagement model.)
The key benefits for building a strong foundation for execution include better profits, faster time to market, and cheaper IT costs, as well as more business agility.
By choosing an operating model, you enable IT to play a proactive role in identifying future strategic initiatives, and you define the role of business process standardization and integration that guide daily decisions and tasks.
In the book, Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson explain why it’s worth choosing an operating model, how it enables IT to become proactive, and how your operating model becomes a driver of business strategy.
Debating your operating model creates clarity and helps drive a foundation for execution. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
"We encourage senior managers to debate their company's operating model. This debate can force managers to articulate a vision for how the company will operate and how those operations will distinguish the company in the marketplace. In clarifying this vision, management provides critical direction for building a foundation for execution."
See Diversification, Coordination, Replication, and Unification.
Choosing an operating model puts a stake in the ground, and your operating model becomes a driver for business strategy. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“Because the choice of an operating model guides development of business and IT capabilities, it determines which strategic opportunities the company should -- and should not -- seize. In other words, the operating model, once in place, becomes a driver of business strategy. In addition, the required architecture -- as well as the management thinking, practices, policies, and processes characteristics of each operating model -- is different from one operating model to another. As a result, the operating model could be a key driver of the design of separate organizational units.”
By choosing an operating model, you enable IT to become proactive, and you define the role of business process standardization and integration that impact daily decisions and tasks. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“Focusing on the operating model rather than on individual business strategies gives a company better guidance for developing IT and business process capabilities. This stable foundation enables IT to become a proactive -- rather than reactive -- force in identifying future strategic initiatives. In selecting an operating model, management defines the role of business process standardization and integration in the company's daily decisions and tasks.”
Without a clear operating model, you can’t leverage reusable capabilities, and you’ll lack a strong foundation for execution. Ross, Weill, and Robertson write:
“The operating model concept requires that management put a stake in the ground and declare which business processes will distinguish a company from its competitors. A poor choice of operating model -- one that is not viable in a given market -- will have dire consequences. But not choosing an operating model is just as risky. Without a clear operating model, management careens from one market opportunity to the next, unable to leverage reusable capabilities. With a declared operating model, management builds capabilities that can drive profitable growth.”
You can clarify, debate, and define your operating model (the level of process integration and process standardization) across your business units using the four operating models: diversification, coordination, replication, and unification. By doing so, you set the stage to build a strong foundation for execution, empower IT in a more proactive way, and use your operating model as a driver for business strategy.
For a deeper dive into each of the operating models as well as case studies and examples, check out Enterprise Architecture as Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson.
One of the best books I've read recently is Advice is for Winners, by Raul Valdes-Perez. It's all about how to get advice for better decisions in work and life. I’ve written a deep review on it:
Book Review: Advice is for Winners
It's a great book whether you are an advice seeker, or serve in a trusted advisor role. It helps you with either role, because the author shares an in-depth look at what holds back people from taking advice, as well as the qualities that make an advisor more effective.
On a personal note, I've had to learn how to seek advice with skill, back when I first joined Microsoft. I started out in Developer Support and it really was a team sport. It was rare for any individual to have all the knowledge to address the complex issues that came our way. Instead, the key was to be very good at finding the answers and expertise around the world. It’s true that two-heads are better than one, and there is a lot of power in the collective perspective – if you know how to use it.
When I joined the Microsoft patterns & practices team, I had to learn how to be good at both seeking out experts as well as giving deep advice about how to put our platform together and make the most of it. One of the biggest challenges I faced on a daily basis was conflicting advice from qualified experts.
At the end of the day, I learned how to use test cases to find and validate the answers and solutions. To do this well, I need to use scenarios and context both to weed out generic or irrelevant advice, and to be able to test advice. Interestingly, the key to finding a solution often involved being able to "repro" (reproduce) the problem or challenge.
Once you could "repro" the problem, you could share it with others and get their heads in the game. Also, often while trying to create a repro, you would find out what the real problem was, or at least, get clarity in the decisions and assumptions.
Sometimes, trying to reproduce the problem wasn't practical, so instead, the goal would be to understand the context or scenario as best you could, and construct a skeletal solution in incremental steps. This way, when somebody tries to duplicate the solution, if something doesn't work along the way, you can usually backtrack to the basic steps. Effectively, you can gradually build up from a working foundation, and when a part of it, doesn't work, you can isolate it, and troubleshoot what's different about the particular context (such as security context, or configuration, etc.)
Back to the book … in Advice is for Winners, Raul provides a great distillation and synthesis on the art of getting advice with skill. What I especially like about the book is that it very much matches what I’ve learned the hard way about giving and getting advice. Raul does a fantastic job of helping you get over any limiting beliefs or mindset that might hold you back from seeking advice. He also does a great job of articulating what holds us back from getting the advice we need.
The backbone of the book is an actionable framework for getting advice that’s principle-based and easy to personalize. If you aren’t sure how to approach people to ask for help, this framework will help you get over that. If you aren’t sure how to deal with conflicting advice, the guidance will help you get over that, too. If you aren’t sure what scenarios to even seek out advice, Raul provides very specific examples and stories. To bottom line it, what you don’t know, can hurt you, and building your advice seeking skills can be a powerful investment that pays you back for the rest of your life in exponential ways that you can’t yet predict.
For a "movie-trailer” style book review of Advice is for Winners, see Book Review: Advice is for Winners.
Becoming a skilled advice seeker might be one of the best capabilities you can build to improve your personal effectiveness.
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.
My Best Leadership Books list is now ready for action. I’ve revised the Top 10 Best Leadership Books section, added a Getting Started section and an A-Z List of the Best Leadership Books to help you quickly scan the full collection. I hope you find it to be one of the most useful lists of leadership books available on the Web.
This leadership books list features the greatest hits from many favorites including Stephen Covey, Peter Drucker, John Wooden, John Maxwell, and more.
Here are some of the skills that this list of leadership books helps you with:
How to create and share your vision, mission, and values How to adopt a leadership mindset How to build better daily leadership habits How to build your emotional intelligence How to deal with setbacks and failures as a leader How to develop the leader within you How to develop the leaders around you How to do succession planning How to execute How to look and act like a leader How to find your motivation and drive and help others find theirs How to influence without authority How to create a culture of excellence How to create a learning organization and culture of growth How to use situational leadership to improve your leadership ability How to play to your strengths How to prioritize and take decisive action How to practice principle-centered leadership How to practice servant leadership How to establish healthy teamwork
I’ve organized the best leadership books into the following meaningful categories:
Attitude Authenticity, Authentic Leadership Change Character Communication Daily Development, Leadership Development Effectiveness Emotional Intelligence, Compassion, Heart, Empathy Ethics Excellence Execution Failure, Setbacks Influence, Rapport Interpersonal Skills Leadership, Lessons in Leadership Learning, Growth Principles, Practices, Strategies, Tactics Purpose, Passion, Motivation Reflection, Inner-Engineering Servant Leadership Situational Leadership Strengths Strategy Teamwork Trust Vision, Mission, Values
As you can imagine, it’s an extensive collection of leadership books.
There is an even a book on executive presence. This is a popular topic for people looking to go up in levels and establish their credibility among their peers.
One thing you’ll notice is that John Maxwell dominates the leadership books scene. John Maxwell has clearly advanced the practice of leadership through many of his specific and actionable leadership books. He’s written on various aspects of leadership from attitude to interpersonal skills The beauty of his leadership books is that they are like little playbooks that are compact, insightful, and actionable. It also helps that his writing style is down to Earth and conversational while staying positive and inspirational.
But don’t let Maxwell’s amazing collection of leadership books overshadow the contributions of other great leadership books. For example, if you really want to build a culture of excellence and have people spend more time in their strengths, then read Good to Great by Jim Collins, and Go Put Your Strengths to work by Marcus Buckingham. If you want to master building high-performance teams, then be sure to read Flawless Execution where James Murphy shares lessons from the Air Force. If you lead people, be sure to read about Situational Leadership so you can balance your directing and motivating styles with the needs of the people you manage. To really take your leadership game to the next level, read Leadership on the Line, by Ronald A. Heifetz, to avoid hitting glass ceilings, know what hard-core leadership really entails, and to distinguish between technical and adaptive challenges … your leadership career may very well depend on it.
Take my Leadership Books List for a test drive and I think you will find at least three new leadership books to add to your leadership development collection.
I’ve done an extensive overhaul of my Personal Development Books List. Aside from new books on the list, you’ll also notice a new Getting Started section, as well as an A-Z Best Personal Development Books list at the end.
This is a powerful collection of personal development books.
You can use these personal development books to address the following:
How to adopt a positive mindset How to be happier How to be more productive How to change or build a habit How to create more work-life balance How to create more wealth How to develop your emotional intelligence How to develop your self-discipline How to find and live your values in work and life How to find and develop your strengths How to find your purpose and your passion How to improve your courage How to improve your focus How to improve your self-awareness How to learn faster How to model success How to think with skill How to set goals and achieve them
This collection of personal development books includes books by Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Tim Ferris, Seth Godin, John Maxwell, Edward de Bono, Marcus Buckingham, Epictetus, Napoleon Hill, Steve Pavlina, Martin Seligman, Jack Canfield, David Allen, Malcolm Gladwell, and more. It’s the ultimate collection of wisdom at your fingertips.
It's a large collection so I split it into the following categories for your browsing convenience:
Body Career Development Character, Attitude Choice, Decision Making Communication Skills Courage, Confidence Emotional Intelligence Focus Habits, Principles, Practices Happiness, Feeling Good Interpersonal Skills, Relationships Intuition Leadership Learning Motivation, Self-Discipline Positive Thinking, Optimisim Productivity Purpose, Passion Self-Awareness Spiritual Intelligence Strengths Stress Success Thinking SKills, Intelligence Wealth Work-Life Balance
And there is an A-Z list at the end so you can very quickly scan the entire collection and cross-check against any other personal development books list.
While you may already know many of the books on the list, I suggest trying to find three books you haven’t heard of before. For example, if you haven’t heard of Edward de Bono’s How to Have a Beautiful Mind, it’s a brilliant book. If you haven’t read John Medina’s Brain Rules, you’re in for a treat. He’ll teach you 12 rules that you can use for work, school, or life to maximize your results. If you’ve never read Tony Robbins’ Unlimited Power, it’s probably THE single best book on personal empowerment and mastery of your mind, body, and emotions. In The 8th Habit, Stephen Covey helps you go from effectiveness to greatness.
Check out the list of Personal Development Books, and if there are important books that I need to add to the list, be sure to let me know.
At the end of each year, I like to take a step back and take the balcony view – to learn from the hind sights and gain some foresight.
It’s been a crazy year.
My book, Getting Results the Agile Way, has been a #1 best-seller for time management on Amazon. In fact, this morning it was also #2 for time management in the books category.
Companies are using Agile Results and Getting Results the Agile Way to do more with less, innovate faster, and create high-performance teams. And, more importantly, achieve work-life balance. In fact, this past year I’ve lead several sessions with key teams at Microsoft to help them improve their focus, execution, and motivation. Again, all while driving a theme of personal empowerment and work-life balance.
Getting Results the Agile Way is ultimately about helping you make more impact and write your story forward with skill.
I might not have mentioned it before, but I’m in the business of business transformation and I help customers make the most of the Microsoft platform in the context of their business. As far as my day job on Cloud Vantage and, now, back on the Enterprise Strategy team, I’ve spent the bulk of the year helping shape the Microsoft O365 story in the Enterprise. I’ve also helped many customers go through business transformation as they figure out how to go cloud.
As you can imagine, I learned a lot about what it means for a business to really get back to business, as they figure out their vision, mission, and values, their business model, and their capabilities. It’s a chance for businesses to figure out what they do best, what they want to do more of, and what they want to do less of. With cloud computing, you get an amazing opportunity to improve your business agility and streamline your IT, as well as enable more innovation in your process and products. I’ll share more on this in the future.
I’ve also learned a lot about change leadership and driving adoption and change throughout a business. This is actually one of the most important concepts for the years to come. The pace of change is insane. The actual bottleneck now isn’t the delivery of more features. It’s absorption. It’s figuring out what’s valued, and driving adoption. For many customers, they don’t need more features, they need to learn how to use what they’ve already got. For other customers, the bottleneck is learning how to go beyond the piece-meal technology, and move up the stack to higher-end scenarios. For example, with Office 365, it’s not about mail and instant messaging. It’s about effective meetings and ad-hoc collaboration. It’s about collaborative Business Intelligence. It’s about creating effective teams.
I could say a lot about what I’ve learned around scenarios for end-users, IT staff, and the IT platform itself. For example, there are some amazing scenarios for the IT platform including mergers and acquisitions, and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD.) It’s been exciting watching these scenarios materialize with customers and help them transform their business and operate at a higher-level.
But the gap between what’s possible and where so many actually are is enormous. And that’s the opportunity.
This is where my years of scenario-driven and experience-driven development will rise and shine by helping businesses unleash their potential.
Speaking of opportunity, as I flip back over my blog posts for the past year, I realize how much more I could have written on topics such as Program Management, strategy skills, Office 365, productivity in the Cloud, etc. In fact, I think that’s actually good scope. One of my friends challenged me to help grow 1,000 Principal Program Managers.
I like the challenge. After all, I like to take on big challenges, and I mentor a lot of Program Managers around Microsoft.
I ended up writing about a few key themes this year including time management tips, execution excellence, and leadership skills. Kanbans are hot. I think more people are realizing the power of “pull” over “push” and how much easier it is to try and satisfy existing demand, than try to master demand generation.
I’ve done a roundup of my top posts. I limited it to posts that had at least 3,000 views. For example, my post on 10 Things Great Managers Do has more than 16,000 views, 10 Ways to Use Evernote More Effectively has more than 15,000 views, 25 Books the Most Successful Microsoft Leaders Read and Do has more than 10,000 views, and The Guerilla Guide to Getting a Better Performance Review at Microsoft has more than 8,000 views.
I was surprised by a few posts. For example, I thought The Microsoft Story would shoot way past 6,000 views. And one post I forgot I wrote, Kanban: The Secret of High-Performing Teams at Microsoft, has more than 18,000 views.
Like I said, Kanbans are hot
This is a short-list of the posts I think were my most important posts for 2012:
Weekly outcomes are the key to execution excellence. They support incremental progress, flowing value, and continuous learning. I’ve written about weekly outcomes before in Weekly Outcomes: The Simple Weekly Planner and How To Lead High-Performance Teams. Great, but now I want to really shine the spot light on what an example looks like and why.
First, here is a simple example:
-- Weekly Outcomes Example --
Weekly Outcome: 11/12/2012
A – Z List
-- End Weekly Outcomes Example --
Notice three things in the example above:
This approach helps keep relentless focus on the three wins for the week. It helps bubble of the critical outcomes that will make or break success for the week (at least as we currently understand what success looks like.) This short list of wins at the top also helps us align our work with each other to support the goals, as well as to track a short set of key wins. Most importantly, if we need to adjust throughout the week, we are simply dealing with a working set of three high-value wins.
The longer A-Z list is our “pick-list” to pull from and to help remind us that just because our short list of three wins is front and center, does not mean we are not aware of the bigger picture and competing priorities. The three wins help us keep everything in perspective and help us avoid analysis paralysis and information overwhelm. Meanwhile, we are able to easily grab things from the A-Z list. This helps us stay agile and fluid and most importantly, always flowing value.
The two lists – the simple + complete – really compliment each other. The three wins force us to really focus on what value is and what the priorities are, and the longer list always keeps us on top of our game. We get the full balcony view. It also helps create a sense of urgency because we are aware of all the work that needs to be done. At the same time, it creates a very simple way to keep focused on flowing value and enjoying our victories.
If you want to seriously and significantly drive amazing value from your team, use the Three Win approach with weekly outcomes.
You can find out this technique and more for execution excellence in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
30 Day Improvement Sprints may just be your best friend as you start your new year. You can use 30 Day Improvement Sprints to learn new skills, build or change habits, and amplify your impact. They provide a simple way to apply concentrated effort in batch to accelerate your success.
I’ve written about 30 Day Improvement Sprints before in Why 30 Day Improvement Sprints, 30 Day Improvement Sprints, 30 Day Improvement Sprints Revisited, Monthly Improvement Sprints, and Making 30 Day Improvement Sprints More Effective. But with the new year fast approaching, it’s time to rehydrate the power of 30 Day Improvement Sprints for making waves of significant change.
If you know the story, I started using 30 Day Improvement Sprints years ago to deal with the following challenges:
What better way than to make it a monthly pattern?
In fact, the first thing I learned was that the key was less about 30 days and more about making it a theme for the month. With each new month, I could repeat the theme or add a new one. This idea of Monthly themes lets me pick a focus each month and cycle through multiple things throughout the year.
It’s a simple but effective way to add focus, while allowing for exploration.
Before that, I had the problem of not sticking with something long enough, or having too many open things in flight. By carving out a theme each month, it lets me put ideas in the parking lot to pick up during another 30 Day Improvement Sprint.
There is also magic that happens if you stick with something for more than two weeks and get over your initial humps and feelings of awkwardness as you learn something new or change your habits. The first two weeks are a step back before you leap frog ahead.
A 30 Day Improvement Sprint is simply a focus for the month. For example, in January, your focus might be on your fitness or your career or a habit you want to add or a skill you want to learn. Pick something. Maybe it’s a book you’ve wanted to write.
The key is to pick a meaningful theme to give focus and meaning for the month.
Make it a story you want to look back on. Make it a story you want to tell. It’s not whether you actually achieve your results. It will be the progress you make along the way. 30 days is a great way to chip at the stone, and the days add up fast.
To give you an example, I actually created a 30 day program using a 30 Day Improvement Sprint:
30 Days of Getting Results
To create the program, I decided that each day I would spend no more than 20 minutes and write with might. The goal was to share the best of what I’ve learned around getting results and making impact. I wanted to unleash what everybody is capable of. It also gave me a chance to show the power of a 30 Day Improvement Sprint in action. By the end of the 30 days, I had a powerful program that helped many people hit their high notes and operate at a higher level. Many people told me this was the most powerful program they ever experienced in terms of improving their results at work and in life.
People still tell me they are surprised it’s free. They also can’t believe that I wrote it in 20 minute batches each day for a month. In fact, you’ll notice that as the days went on, the insights got deeper, the words flowed better, the stories got richer, and the power of each day’s lesson got exponential.
This is another benefit of a 30 day focus … you get more than synergy -- you get the compound effect.
It is extremely simple. That’s the point. The recipe is this:
Each day is a new chance to try something small to produce results against your goal. Each day, just try something new, and keep a sharp focus on learning. Between doing + learning, you will have breakthroughs. Because you are not caught up in immediate results, you allow yourself the freedom to explore and get creative. You also are focused because you are doing something small each day. That’s how breakthroughs and innovation happen.
Pick something that will really help you in your work or in life, or both. For example, when I joined my current team, I set a focus for the month: “House in Order.” I made the goal for the month to really simplify and clarify the product portfolio for the group, and to simplify and clarify some of the key processes and priorities. Then, each day, I dedicated a small amount of time to that effort, while I worked my weekly outcomes. And, where I could, I connected my weekly activities and outcomes back to this higher-order goal.
By the end of the month, I had a simple catalog of all the assets for the group, as well as a simple information architecture (IA), and a simple set of processes, and a simple deck to help tell and sell the story of value for the team.
Along the way, I learned a bunch. Most importantly, I continued to flow short-burst wins, while working towards the bigger picture and my 30 Day Improvement Sprint.
You can learn more about 30 Day Improvement Sprints (or “Monthly Themes”) from the following sources:
Many people have been using 30 Day Improvement Sprints (or “Monthly Themes”), so you can learn from them, as well.
I’ve used 30 Day Improvement Sprints for everything from changing diets to starting workouts to learning new technologies and writing books. It’s powerful stuff, and it helps you rise above the noise of day to day, while making the most of each day.
30 Day Improvement Sprints help you carve out space for the big wins in your life each day, while dealing with the day to day of everyday life.
Best wishes on the road ahead.
This is my quick lookup table of Windows Azure at a glance. I use it to very quickly hop and out of Windows Azure and to help me stay oriented among the capabilities and features.
It’s not fancy. It’s just a simple list of Windows Azure functionality grouped by meaningful buckets.
Cloud Services (Hosted Services) Virtual Machines Web Sites
Windows Azure Tools for Microsoft Visual Studio
Management Portal Windows Azure cmdlets
HDInsight (Hadoop) SQL Reporting StreamInsight
Caching Content Delivery Network (CDN)
Windows Azure Marketplace
Blobs Queues SQL Data Sync SQL Database SQL Reporting SQL Server in Windows Azure Virtual Machines Tables
Windows Azure Active Directory
Service Bus Workflow Manager