Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
This is a simple hack, but a powerful one. I call it “Sticky Stuff.” It puts information at your finger tips, such as To Do Lists, in a sticky way.
Here’s what I do. In Outlook 2010, I create a folder called “Sticky Stuff” and I add it to my “Favorites” short list:
In that folder, I create a new “Posts.” In Outlook 2010, the way to add posts to a folder is to “New Items”, then “More Items”, then “Post in this folder.” You can then add your To do Lists or any key reference information that you need at your finger tips. If you constantly get a barrage of information, and you need to have quick access to your action items, or if you need to have quick access to information that you constantly look up, this little hack should help a lot.
The beauty of this is it’s another pillar of helping me keep an empty inbox or a zero inbox. At Microsoft, where many of us get a few hundred emails per day of stuff we have to stay on top of, that’s a very big deal.
Note, when you need to edit a Post, you have to open the post, and click “Actions”, then “Edit Message.”
One of the most important things I learned long ago is the power of trends, and how they can help you anticipate.
Now, each year, as a habit, I put together a serious and significant roundup of trends.
Here are my trends collections at your fingertips:
(If you read nothing else, read the Trends for 2013 post. It’s hard-core.)
If you can see things coming, you can prepare for them. Sometimes you can really embrace them and ride a wave. I use them to help me play out possibilities and to inspire new ideas and create new value. I also use them to avoid being surprised, or at least surprised less. In the arena that I’m in, it’s easy to be left behind if you don’t skate to where the puck will be.
That’s true for many businesses, and it’s true for many careers.
While I had always paid attention to trends, in 2009 was really a turning point for me. I was working on the Microsoft Application Architecture Guide (you can think of it as playbook for building applications on the Microsoft platform.) As part of the effort, I needed to know where the IT industry was going. I also needed to know how the Enterprise landscape would change.
I remember the exercise of mapping out the trends. What’s obvious now was not as obvious then, since some things were just starting to take off in the Enterprise, or early in the market. One of the big shifts was to REST. Another big shift was to more virtualization. In fact, a few big Enterprise shops that I know, were using virtualization and calling it their private “Cloud.”
Here is the Mind Map of trends I created back in 2009:
Behind the scenes, what I was doing was effectively polling many development shops around the world to see what was hot and what was emerging. Meanwhile, I was cross-checking on where CIOs were putting their money. I was cross-checking that with analysts and trend spotters. I paid a lot of attention to where big companies were placing their bets. I expected rippled effects in the industry.
I needed to have a good handle on the trends and emerging patterns because I needed the book to be ahead of it’s time, or at least not dated out of the gate. (A key pattern I learned here is to create “evergreen” and durable frames so that as technologies churn, the main frames stay the same.)
The big things that popped for me on the map, at the time, were: Agile, Business Intelligence, Big Data, Cloud, Rich-Internet Apps, and User Experience. And, the shift to REST was disruptive. I was starting to notice how some customers that were embracing the Cloud were leap frogging ahead. I also noticed how customers who invested in user experience as a first-class citizen were building higher-quality applications that people wanted to use. With too many choices, user experience wins. The apps that make you feel good, make you personally effective and connect with others win.
I learned a few valuable lessons from the exercise:
On a personal level, you can also use trends to help you decide your bigger decisions in life, including your career path. For example, I know some colleagues that saw Big Data as the place to be, and they started working on their data scientist skills, and are now seeing it pay off.
I’m starting my trends research a little earlier this year. I’m paying attention to examples of things like m2m (machine to machine) scenarios and possibilities in the real world. I’m especially interested in Television 2.0 — The $2.2 Trillion War for your Living Room. I’m also paying attention to more wearable computing scenarios, as well as innovations in education, health, and manufacturing. I’ve heard some amazing stories of 3-D printing as a disruptor. And, I’m hoping for some really surprising possibilities with phones.
As Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it”, and Alan Kay said, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it!”
If you’re not shaping your future, someone else is.
WHAM! ...POW! ...WONK! ... SLAM! ...
No, it's not Batman. Those are the sounds of a friendly neighborhood Microsoft foosball player ... "En Fuego."
"En Fuego" is the expression we would say at our humble foosball table, when somebody was "on fire." On fire is like when you are in your element and all of a sudden you are firing on all cylinders and playing at another level.
That is "En Fuego."
I remember the first time I was "En Fuego” on the foosball table. It was unreal. It was as if my shots were not done *by* me ... they were done *through* me. The ball sizzled. My wrists snapped at just the right time. The ball whizzed by the defense and slammed against the metal back ... TWHACK!
Ah, if you've never experienced "En Fuego" ... you haven't lived. Anyway, I think you get the idea of what it's like to "be on fire."
Now let's switch gears and talk about another scenario.
It's "Hair on fire."
That's not a good thing.
There are all sorts of expressions for this, some better than others, but the main idea is that somebody is running around, as if their hair is on fire. It's no better than running around like a chicken with your head cut off.
It has many causes. Some of the top ones include:
Maybe you know a certain someone? …
Anyway, there is a solution. It's "Peaceful Calm." Peaceful Calm is the term we used on our team, when we were relaxed, resourceful, and ready for anything. It’s like James Bond, poised for success. Anticipate more, get surprised less, be ready for anything.
Help a friend go from "hair on fire" to "En Fuego."
The first step is Peaceful Calm.
I’m testing the user experience again at 30 Days of Getting Results. It’s worth it and I want to get it right, since I have a lot more people asking me about training now for Agile Results.
If you can take the new experience for a test drive, and give me feedback on whether you like the new experience over the original, that helps a ton. (Unfortunately, I don’t have live A/B testing. If you don’t know the original experience, imagine a simple white page with a list of lessons on the side, and I have a screenshot below.)
If you don’t know Agile Results or what 30 Days of Getting Results is all about, here’s the scoop … 30 Days of Getting Results is a serious (and free) self-paced time management training course. It full of time management skills and productivity skills.. You’ll learn how to triple your productivity (actually, you can 10X it, but I’m trying to under-promise and over-deliver.) Teams across Microsoft are using Agile Results to master time management, improve their productivity, and drive more value … better, faster, cheaper … and most importantly, more meaningful.
What’s the secret? … Oh nothing … just more than ten years of testing, experimenting, and refining across many, many people and teams to create a simple and flexible system that could stand up to some of the most rigorous scenarios and requirements. Agile Results is holistic and it rides above the top of things. It’s a synergy of proven practices that help you work on the right things, at the right time, the right way, with the right energy. It’s about flowing value and focusing on the essential things that matter, using the 80/20 rule. It’s about playing to your strengths, teaming up to achieve more, and hitting more windows of opportunity. It’s about lighting a fire so you can blaze a trail through your workload, breakthrough barriers, and jump the hurdles that stand in your way.
It’s about thinking in threes: three wins for the day, three wins for the week, three wins for the month, three wins for the year. It’s about adding Power Hours to your week so you can whip out more achievements in less time, with greater ease. It’s about adding more Creative Hours to your week so you can find and flow more creative solutions, invent your next best thing, and unleash the productive artist in you. It’s about recharging and renewing with skill. It also puts science on your side, including the best learnings from positive psychology and sports psychology to unleash your best performance. It’s also a synthesis of proven practices for motivation, directing your focus with skill, prioritizing with decisive action, and making your moments count. For the softer side, it’s an East meets West productivity system, where you will do less, achieve more, and enjoy more effortless ways of producing outstanding results.
With that in mind, here are the two experiences I am testing …
Experience A: Flashcards Experience A is currently live at 30DaysOfGettingResults.com
With this experience, you see a set of visuals that represent each lesson. When you click a lesson, that lesson expands and shows you the outcome, the insight, and the action for the day. The upside with Experience A is that it’s interactive and it reinforces the idea that you don’t have to go through the lessons sequentially. Each lesson is self-contained. While the overall training is designed with a flow in mind, you can dive into whatever lesson you want.
Experience B: Simple List of Lessons
With this experience, it’s pretty straight-forward – it’s a list of lessons down a side-bar, and each page is a lesson. In fact, that’s why I liked this experience. It’s very simple, very minimal, and no confusion. Just pick a day, click and go. While the upside is simplicity, the potential downside is boring. That said, boring and functional is fine by me, but I need to hear from more users, on what they prefer.
A few people told me last week that they wanted a more visually appealing site and more interactivity. Ironically, I had spent a lot of money on the pictures for each page, but it just wasn’t obvious with the original landing page (Experience B above.)
I do think that Experience A does really showcase the images and it does encourage click-through. I find myself clicking the lessons and exploring a lot more. I know the novelty wears off, but maybe novelty is all I need if it helps you learn the 30 lessons.
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I have a guest post from a colleague, Rob Boucher on lessons in love. It’s no ordinary post. Rob dives deep. If you’ve been looking for love in all the wrong places or just want to grow what you know about love, it’s a lengthy post on the ins and outs of love, and finding your way forward. To put it in context, it’s what Rob knows now that he wish he knew then.
Rob has a developer background, he’s a musician, and he has a passion for customers. Microsoft has been his stomping ground for making impact in big ways, including The Microsoft Application Architecture Guide. He’s on the Windows Azure product team now, working on some amazing things.
Check out Rob’s post on what he’s learned about love, and use the lessons he’s learned the hard way to serve you for life.
Your Outcome: Know your 3 Wins to target today so that you have a simple way to focus and prioritize your effort throughout your day.
Welcome to Day 5 of 7 Days of Agile Results. Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
Let’s recap what we’ve done so far:
Hopefully, at this point, it’s getting easier for you to identify your 3 outcomes for the day.
If not, fear not.
You will get better, as long as you make it a conscious effort to really figure out what 3 outcomes you want for today.
Hopefully, you’re also benefiting from scanning your calendar to get a good mental picture of your day. And by doing a quick list of your main tasks for the day, this should also help you practice prioritizing before just diving in.
You’re teaching yourself to focus on higher value activities.
You can actually use this simple picture of your day to help envision your results and inspire you.
All you have to do is imagine a simple future scene or two for your morning, a simple future scene or two for your afternoon, and a simple future scene or two for your night.
And, if you don’t like what you imagine, then re-imagine it, and play out new possibilities.
For today, I have an exceptionally busy calendar, but I notice that I have a few time slices where I can really focus and nail a few things.
My 3 planned outcomes for today are:
If I accomplish those three things, I’ll really be in great shape. I have a lot of “below the line” things to do today, and a schedule that will randomize me quite a bit, but if I play my cards right, I should be able to pull off my 3 Wins above.
One thing I’ll point out, and which I hope you noticed, is that each day, I’m playing around with how I represent the 3 Wins (or 3 Outcomes, or 3 Results.) I want you to play around to so that you find what works for you. I’m simply showing you a few different variations so that you can see that it’s not about doing it this way or that way that’s important.
What’s important is that you have clarity on the 3 things you want out of today and for the week. I can’t emphasize how important that is as a tool to help you focus and prioritize.
But what it also helps you do is to appreciate what you accomplish. It gives you a simple way to play back your results, and acknowledge your achievements.
It sounds so simple, and it is, but when you appreciate your results, you breathe new life into all your efforts, and you build momentum like you wouldn’t believe.
Don’t throw that away.
Your results are actually your own reward.
Cherish your achievements, and enjoy the journey as you go.
Have a great day, the agile way.
"Information is not knowledge." -- Albert Einstein
We live in a super-competitive world. It’s also a super-collaborative world. How ironic. But, I guess, in that way, it’s kind of like Survivor.
We need to learn how to do things better, faster, and cheaper, and what you don’t know can hurt you.
How Tos are still my favorite way of learning how to get things done, and for sharing and scaling expertise in a simple way.
In the sprit of helping you get better, faster, and more capable, I’ve revamped my How Tos page on Sources of Insight (my blog on “proven practices for personal effectiveness.”) Here is my updated How Tos page (Index of How Tos organized by Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, etc.):
How Tos at a Glance
Here are a few of my favorites that I think you’ll enjoy:
I think you can use any of these to instantly get quick benefits and apply new skills or approaches. Or, if you have a better approach, then you can share it with me, and I can improve the How To
If you only have time to read one, read How To Think Like Bill Gates.
A common reaction people have when they read that one is at first they think it’s all common sense, but then when they read the part at the end that contrasts it with typical default thinking patterns, they realize the enormous gap between every day thinking and thinking like the big “G” man.
10 Emotional Intelligence Articles for Improving Your Effectiveness in Work and Life
How To Use Monday Vision, Daily Wins, and Friday Reflection to Triple Your Productivity
Sources of Insight Refresh: Insights and Actions for Work and Life at Your Fingertips
Satya Nadella, the new CEO for Microsoft, is all about employee engagement and employee empowerment.
Here is how Satya reminded us that we all need to be a leader:
“We express that core identity, being the company that allows every individual to be more empowered and get more out of every moment of their lives as things get more digital. I want each of us to give ourselves permission to be able to move things forward. Each of us sometimes overestimate the power others have to do things vs. our own ability to make things happen. Everyone in the company has to be a leader.”
Here is a great video that a colleague sent me on how to embed the capacity for greatness in the people and practices of an organization.
Video: Greatness, by David Marquet
If you see a problem, fix it.
If you see an opportunity take it.
Don’t wait for somebody else to do it.
Satya Nadella is the New Microsoft CEO
Satya Nadella is All About Customer Focus, Employee Engagement, and Changing the World
Satya Nadella on the Future is Software
I was reading a nice little eBook on Opportunities and Challenges with Agile Portfolio Management.
Here’s the part that caught my attention:
“Johanna Rothman, an Arlington, Mass., consultant and author of Manage Your Project Portfolio: Increase Your Capacity and Finish More Projects, said understanding the value stream of an existing product or ongoing project is key. ‘If we stop talking about people as resources and start talking teams, we have a better way of managing the portfolio,’ she said. ‘If we flow work through teams, we’re much more likely to be successful; teams get things done in software.’”
Well put, and that it matches my experience.
Here’s what I’ve seen in my travels to different organizations …
I see a common mistake the team level when it comes to effective execution and productivity:
Teams of capabilities vs. teams of one.
Individuals work problems instead of the team works shared problems.
It’s the resource vs. team mentality.
In other words, the team gets split into individuals working individual problems instead of the team working on shared problems together.
In that case, it’s not really a team effort. It’s individuals doing mini-projects as a one-man band. Instead of a team of capabilities, you get teams of one, and capability varies. Worse, because it’s individuals driving projects as an individual, they wear many more hats, and spend less time in their strengths. So you end up with individuals performing sub-optimal, and you never experience the benefits of an actual high performance team.
When you work problems as teams, and have people spend more time in their strengths, you can better optimize for the strengths on the team. You can also balance better for the weaknesses. You can also put simple systems and processes in place that lift everyone’s performance to new levels. Ultimately, individuals on the team can spend more time on their unique value, and less time reinventing wheels and re-solving basic execution challenges.
5 Questions for Capability and Capacity for High Performing Teams
How To Lead High Performance Distributed Teams
Kanban: The Secret of High Performing Teams at Microsoft
I’ve created a book reviews at a glance page at Sources of Insight.
I read a lot of books and do a lot of book reviews. Previously, you could get to the book reviews through the book reviews category, but you had to flip through pages in order to find them all. Now the book reviews are right at your fingertips.
I do my book reviews a bit differently. They are more like movie trailers. Rather than focus on whether I like a book or not, I focus on what you can use from the book, in work or life, to get better results.
Here are a handful of my favorite book reviews you can explore to get a sense of how I do book reviews:
These also happen to be some excellent books for improving your effectiveness at work.
In fact, if you read nothing else, at least read The First 90 Days. It’s the book that will help you become a highly effective corporate warrior, in a peaceful warrior way. You’ll learn to see the chessboard and operate at a higher level. It includes everything from the five conversations to have with your boss to ramping up more effectively in a new organization. It’s definitely one of those books that I can point to as making a leapfrog in my career trajectory.
Surprisingly, I don’t have as many book reviews as a I should. I resisted doing book reviews early on because, in general, I wasn’t a fan of book reviews. Too often, I read book reviews that were just about whether somebody liked or didn’t like a book. What I really wanted was a deeper peek into the bowels of the book, and some highlights on what I could use, so I could figure out whether to get the book.
Last year, I decided to give it a whirl and just do book reviews in my own style. I wanted the book reviews to quickly map out the book, show what problems the book solves, and give highlights on the big ideas. Next thing you know, I started getting emails from readers about how they liked my book review approach and how my book reviews were like nothing they had seen before. So I continued to do them ever since.
So here it is, at your fingertips, my book reviews page.
It’s an evergreen page, so I’ll update it as I release more book reviews.
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.
As of yesterday, Getting Results.com served up 200,000 views on the home page. If anything the traffic seems to continue to grow. A friend of mine said to approach awareness of Getting Results the Agile Way as a slow burn, rather than a big bang. I think he was right. With this approach, I continue to invest in terms of building out the Agile Results Knowledge Base, tuning the 30 Days of Getting Results, and working on the adoption and readiness story for individuals, teams, and organizations that want to adopt the approach.
When’s the last time you went for your personal Epic Win? If it’s been a while, no worries. Let’s go big this year.
I’ll give you the tools.
I realize time and again, that Bruce Lee was so right when he said, “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.” Similarly, William B. Sprague told us, “Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.”
And, Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” Similarly, Alan Kay said, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
Well then? Game on!
By the way, if you’re not feeling very inspired, check out either my 37 Inspirational Quotes That Will Change Your Life, Motivational Quotes, or my Inspirational Quotes. They are intense, and I bet you can find your favorite three.
As I’ve been diving deep into goal setting and goal planning, I’ve put together a set of deep dive posts that will give you a very in-depth look at how to set and achieve any goal you want. Here is my roundup so far:
Brian Tracy on 12 Steps to Set and Achieve Any Goal
Brian Tracy on the Best Times for Writing and Reviewing Your Goals
Commit to Your Best Year Ever
Goal Setting vs. Goal Planning
How To Find Your Major Definite Purpose
How To Use 3 Wins for the Year to Have Your Best Year Ever
The Power of Annual Reviews for Achieving Your Goals and Realizing Your Potential
What Do You Want to Spend More Time Doing?
Zig Ziglar on Setting Goals
Hopefully, my posts on goal setting and goal planning save you many hours (if not days, weeks, etc.) of time, effort, and frustration on trying to figure out how to really set and achieve your goals. If you only read one post, at least read Goal Setting vs. Goal Planning because this will put you well ahead of the majority of people who regularly don’t achieve their goals.
In terms of actions, if there is one thing to decide, make it Commit to Your Best Year Ever.
Enjoy and best wishes for your greatest year ever and a powerful 2014.
The most powerful pattern in Agile Results is: Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection
I introduce Agile Results in my best-selling book on time management Getting Results the Agile Way. (For a quick overview, benefits, testimonials, and videos, check out the landing page for Getting Results the Agile Way.)
The Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection pattern a big deal.
Because it creates a simple approach for personal results in work and life.
You learn how to quickly flow value each day and each week. Through Friday Reflection, you add a learning loop. By setting simple targets, chunking things down, and delivering little chunks of value, you get better and better at driving results.
You’ll astound yourself, and you’ll awaken new levels of resourcefulness and productivity you didn’t even know you had.
How do you get started?
It’s real simple.
One of the simplest ways to build your Agile Results habit is to add 3 reminders to your calendar:
You can literally prompt yourself to better performance.
It’s so simple in fact that you have to wonder how could something so simple create such profound results.
In fact, if you’re not sure how significant this can be to your life, watch Alik on Getting Results the Agile Way (Video), and how it changed his life.
Keep in mind, there is a lot to Agile Results.
But you don’t need it all at once.
Start small and go from there.
Is collaboration the new competitive advantage? Possibly. I do know that those at work that pair up on things, and combine their capabilities can outshine those that go it alone. And, I do see how people with better networks tend to have an easier time making their ideas happen.
I wrote a book review of The Collaboration Economy: How To Meet Business, Social, and Environmental Needs and Gain Competitive Advantage, by Eric Lowitt. Eric is an HBR.org columnist and the best-selling author of The Future of Value.
What happens when the world competes for water, food, and energy?
Take a guess.
What happens when the world finds new ways to collaborate and innovate around limited resources?
Sustainability is the new advantage, and collaboration is a key competitive advantage.
Visionary CEOs are embracing sustainability, not because it’s politically correct, but because their businesses depend on it for revenue, innovation, and competitive differentiation.
In a global market, hyper-competition, and increasingly connected world, your portfolio of partnerships can make or break you. If you have the right collaborative partnerships, you have a competitive advantage. Similarly, if you lack collaborative partnerships where it counts, you’ll be at a disadvantage.
Companies like Unilever, Coca-Cola, GE, and Nestle Waters North America are leading the way.
How’s that going?
That’s what The Collaboration Economy is all about.
Throughout the book, Lowitt shares stories and data, as well as actionable guidance on how you can help shape the future of the economy and of the sustainability of the world.
What I like is how Lowitt paints a big picture. He walks through the five primary natural resources used for power: coal, natural gas, nuclear, water, and renewable resources. He gives his take on the pros and cons of each, as well as some interesting stats.
It's not an easy read, but it is pragmatic at multiple levels, for leaders, and consumers, by showing how certain things can play out.
For example, as a leader of a business, you have to know when to compete and when to collaborate. As a consumer, you vote with your purchases. But there are also gate-keepers at various points in our system (such as those who gives you loans, etc.) that could very easily shift towards more eco-friendly ways and change consumer behavior.
Eco-friendly will vary.
I especially like that Lowitt addresses the topic from a business perspective, rather than just a “good intentions” or “greater good” perspective. He shows how “the great good” will make business sense for the long-haul. He is also clear that it’s not an easy road. There are very obvious choices and challenges along the way. But he also points out that this road can lead to very interesting innovations, new organizational designs, and will make or break some of the biggest companies that depends on global systems that sustain our daily life.
It’s both a thoughtful book and an actionable book. Lowitt provides a framework for action as well as guiding insights to help you challenge and change the status quo.
For a deep dive into the book and a sampling of the nuggets, check out my book review on The Collaboration Economy.
If changing the world is something you’ve always wanted to do, now might be a great time to do so.
I'm honored to have a guest post by Alan Shelton. It's Leadership is Who You Are. Alan is the author of Awakened Leadership, and his guest post is about how the key to effective leadership is to be more of who you already are.
It's a powerful idea. Instead of changing who you are to be a more effective leader, you leverage who you are, and you bring out more of it, in an authentic way.
One of the most useful leadership trainings I had years ago, focused on bringing more of who you are to the table. The idea was to use your unique experience and values as a strength.
In my example, one of my unique experiences was that I was a kickboxer. Sports and personal growth are important to me. What that means is that when I lead a project, I bring a personal growth perspective to it. I find ways for people to spend more time in their strengths and I find ways for them to grow, while we take on new challenges. I encourage people to push past their limits and expand their capabilities. I encourage them to think of stories in their day to day, that reflect their private victories. I use little wins as progress so that people flourish.
That's what it means to bring more of you to the table to play your best leadership game. It's connecting to your values, and using your unique experience to create an authentic arena for growth and greatness. It unleashes more of your power because you are going with your grain, instead of against it, and you are creating experiences that are congruent with your values. In other words, you get what you project, and you get more of what you focus on.
I was reading The Fruits of Innovation: Top 10 IT Trends in 2014, by Mark Harris.
Harris had this to say about the evolving role of the CIO:
“In the end, these leaders are now tasked to accurately manage, predict, execute and justify. Hence, the CIO’s role will evolve. Previously, CIOs were mostly technologists that were measured almost exclusively by availability and uptime. The CIO’s job was all about crafting a level of IT services that the company could count on, and the budgeting process needed to do so was a mostly a formality.”
Harris had this to say about the best qualities in a CIO:
“The most effective CIOs in 2014 will be business managers that understand the wealth of technology options now available, the costs associated with each as well as the business value of each of the various services they are chartered to deliver. He or she will map out a plan that delivers just the right amount service within their agreed business plan. Email, for instance, may have an entirely different value to a company than their online store, so the means to deliver these diverse services will need to be different. It is the 2014 CIO’s job to empower their organizations to deliver just the right services at just the right cost.”
That matches what I’ve been seeing.
CIOs need business acumen and the ability to connect IT to business impact.
Another way to think of it is, the CIO needs to help accelerate and realize business value from IT investments.
Value Realization is hot.
Stephen Kell on Value Realization
Blessing Sibanyoni on Value Realization
Paul Lidbetter on Value Realization
Martin Sykes on Value Realization
Mark Bestauros on Value Realization
Graham Doig on Value Realization
I’m a fan of strategy, and being strategic. To put it another way, I’m a fan of being intentional about spending my time and energy on things that produce more effective results. I’m not a fan of randomly throwing time and energy at things in a flurry of activity.
Life’s short, then you die, so it would be great to get more impact out of the time and energy you spend on things.
That’s where strategy fits in.
One of my favorite books on strategy is Being Strategic, by Erika Andersen. She defines strategy like this:
“Consistently making those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future.”
I like that.
I’m not a fan of strategy without execution. For me, strategy is what shapes the execution. Strategy is a way to guide your tactics, or to shape your actions for better results.
Strategy is a beautiful discipline with depth and breadth. In fact, so much so that it can be hard to shift to being more strategic, if you aren’t used to thinking that way.
I wrote a simple post to help you be more strategic based on the approach presented in Being Strategic:
What’s the Hope, What’s in the Way, What’s the Path
It’s very simple, but very powerful.
Interestingly, each of the parts is powerful on its own. For example, just clarifying “What’s in the Way”, can help you instantly reveal what’s been holding you back or help you see a limiting belief that’s keeping you stuck. It also helps you put into perspective some of the real challenges that stand in the way between where you are, and the “castle on the hill” (you're hoped-for future.)
If you haven’t been a fan of strategy, because it’s either been too complicated, or something that “other people do”, or you’ve been let down by people that do a bunch of strategic planning, but no execution, I invite you to give strategy another chance.
Start to practice this simple little mantra: “What’s the Hope”, “What’s in the Way,” and “What’s the Path”
Use it to get clear on what you want, reveal the obstacles in the way, and help you clarify a more strategic approach to guide your tactics to get there.
By using strategy, and being more strategic, you can do more with less, get more out of the things you spend your time and energy on, and build momentum around your activities to help you achieve your success, whatever that may be, more consistently.
I'm lucky to have an interview with Irv Rothman, CEO of HP Financial Services.
I’m always happy to learn from CEOs and I especially enjoy the way they look at the world. Edward de Bono has spent a lifetime teaching extraordinary executive thinking skills to ordinary people, and I’m a big believer in learning business skills for life.
Irv wrote a book called Out-Executing the Competition, where we he shares leadership lessons he's learned about surviving and thriving in any economy.
I asked Irv a handful of questions, some about work, some about life.
The most important question I asked him was what’s the most surprising insight you’ve learned about out-executing the competition. Here’s what Irv said:
“That it is not price. The creation of and execution on a genuine value proposition is the true source of sustainable competitive advantage and the best chance of retaining a customer for life…which should be an imperative.”
I think Irv’s right, and that makes perfect sense to me.
I’m a believer in customer-connected engineering. Your customer is a strategic decision. Once you know your customer, you need to know the pains, needs, and desired outcomes. If you have empathy for the pains and needs, and if you know what good looks like, then you have a great shot at taking the lead.
Then it comes down to your ability to execute.
The surprise here is that in order to execute well, you need to innovate in your processes, or you’ll be pushed out to market (too expensive, too slow, too irrelevant.)
The other surprise is how difficult it can be to truly generate new business value. As I’ve said before, business value generation is the new bottleneck. It takes a lot of customer insight, empathy, market awareness, innovation, and agility to know how to generate new business value on a consistent basis. In fact, this is where innovation and agility are crucial. You need an execution capability that supports exploration and new business development.
On a good note, the basics are timeless. As Peter Drucker taught us, "The purpose of business is to create a customer." So if you can get clarity on who you want to serve, figure out a profitable niche of the market where you can compete by playing to your strengths, capture the value in an elegant way, and master generating new value, then you are ahead of the game.
To truly master the game, though, you have to stay on top of trends, and master creating systems, ecosystems, and digitizing core processes.
If you can do these well, then you, too can be the Jedi Knight of strategy, out-execute the competition, and get the compound effect from spending the right time, on the right things, the right way, with the right energy.
That is the challenge.
Higher Profitability, Faster Time to Market, and More Value From Their IT
How To Turn IT into an Asset Rather than a Liability
Strategy Must Be Dynamic
From the Archives Reference Models, Reference Architectures, and Reference Implementations – A reference model is is a model of something that embodies the basic goals or ideas, and you can use it at as a reference for various purposes. It’s like having a topology map of the key concepts. A reference architecture provides a proven template solution for an architecture for a particular domain. A reference Implementation goes beyond a reference architecture and is an actual implementation. The way to distinguish between a reference architecture and reference implementation is simple: If it’s an exemplar of the architecture, it’s a reference architecture … If it’s an exemplar of the implementation, then it’s a reference implementation. Each serve different purposes, and require different levels of detail or abstraction.
40 Hour Work Week at Microsoft - One of the most important lessons at Microsoft was learning the value of a 40 hour work week. I’ve been on time, on budget for 10 years on projects ranging from grass-roots or “best efforts” to $ million+ investments. In my first few years, I was on time, on budget through heroic effort. That’s not sustainable and folks don’t want to sign up for that more than once. Luckily, I learned early on how to drive more effective results by fixing time and flexing scope, while flowing value, and optimizing team health.
From the Web Productivity Personas - Personas are a simple way to share examples of the different types of behaviors. Anybody can be a mix of some or all of the various personas. No persona is good or bad. Some are more effective than others, depending on the situation. The key is to use the personas as a lens on behavior. You can analyze yourself, other people, and common interactions. We all have the capacity for the various behaviors. The trick is to know your preferences and the preferences of others. This is a set of personas relevant to the productivity space.
Motivation - Motivation is the “Why” behind the goal. It’s your little engine that says you can, when the rest of you says you can’t. It’s also the same force that on a good day can help you move mountains. Motivation is a life-long skill that you can improve through self-awareness and proven strategies. The better you know your own drivers and levers, the more effective you’ll be at getting the results you want in your life.
How do you rehydrate, revitalize, or renew a brand?
I thought that a post on rebranding would help people get a new lease on life. I see people hold on to dead brands, launch fizzle brands, and kill brands by being all things to all people. I see this happen to individuals and their personal brand too.
I decided to ask the best in the business ... Al Ries. Aside from a best-selling author, Al is one of the best business consultants in the world on branding and positioning. After all, he's written THE book on "positioning."
Al wrote a fantastic guest post for me:
How To Rebrand a Brand
It's a masterpiece.
If you are looking at how to rehydrate your product or yourself, it's a MUST read.
I did an interview with Harvey Schachter on Agile Results and timeboxing (from my book on mastering productivity and time management, Getting Results the Agile Way.) Harvey is a freelance writer, who writes three columns a week for The Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper, on management and workplace issues. The Monday column is about management tips.
And that’s where I fit in.
Here’s the interview online:
How To Focus in 20 Minute Bursts
Here are some additional points about timeboxing to get the most from the interview …
The focus in the interview is to make more out of the thin time slices we have, and to cope with mental fatigue, even when chasing problems we love.
Basically, if we're doing significant thought work, we burn out our prefrontal cortex throughout the day. To put it another way, our brain works better in short-bursts, more like sprints, less like marathons. Books like Flow, The Power of Full Engagement, Flawless Execution elaborate on this quite well, and share stories and the science behind this.
Wandering around in work you enjoy, or even just staying engaged, is not the same as staying focused while producing tangible results. If you’ve ever gotten lost in your passion, but then had nothing to show for it, you know what I mean. We go through different stages of research, analysis, creative synthesis, and actual production of information assets or products. The shift from exploration to execution often takes deliberate focus, with a clear end-result in mind.
Directing our attention is a skill, and we can learn how to improve our precision. Edward de Bono has spent a lifetime teaching people how to direct their attention and how to leverage executive thinking skills by ordinary people. While focus may not a be a problem per se, there is always room for improvement, and we can improve both our ability to direct our attention, and our ability to focus for longer periods of time.
Additionally, while you can certainly use 20 minutes batches of extreme productivity or timeboxing to deal with drudgery and boring work, it’s better to eliminate the drudgery to begin with. Interestingly, drudgery happens more often when things are unbounded. Something can start off fun, but if there’s no end in sight and you don’t know how long you need to do it for, it can get old fast. And, the longer you continue unbounded, the more you’ll feel the tugs of competing priorities, especially if you don’t have a time and place for them.
Also, keep in mind that, single-tasking, or avoiding multiplexing is a way to boost productivity. Reduce open work to improve your productivity. Rather than have a bunch of open work, you close the loops, and finish what you start. A common pattern here is to stay focused on meaningful task, while having a background task to switch to, when you get stuck or blocked on the main task, or need a brain break.
Unfortunately, the value of single-tasking and avoiding multiplexing is often misunderstood, or undervalued.
While knowing is half the battle, doing is the harder half, but remember that if you want to flourish, it’s a journey, not a destination.
The key is to find your sustainable way, and that’s what Agile Results is all about.
Check out my interview with The Globe and Mail on How To Focus in 20 Minute Bursts, and be sure to stop by and say, “Hi.”
Agile Results on a Page
How I Use Agile Results
Personal Effectiveness at Microsoft
Your Outcome: Learn how to use Daily Outcomes to identify 3 outcomes or 3 Wins for today. By identifying your best 3 Wins for the day, you’ll be able to focus and prioritize throughout the day to achieve better results.
Welcome to Day 3 of 7 Days of Agile Results. Agile Results is the productivity system introduced in my best-selling time management book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
Just to do a quick recap, here’s what we’ve done so far:
Now, for today, let’s get started.
It’s a fresh start. This is your chance to choose the best things to focus on that will help you make the most impact today.
Here’s a simple process you can use to get started:
For example, here are my 3 outcomes that I want for today:
Those then act as my “tests for success” for the day. Do I have a lot of tasks on my plate for the day? You bet.
Do I have a lot of meetings to attend? Yep.
Will I be trying to use some of the little time slices in my day to try and complete many of my tasks? Of course.
Will I be dealing with interruptions throughout the day, as well? Yes, to that, too.
I will be dealing with chaos while riding the dragon. And throughout the day, I’ll be driving to my 3 outcomes.
They are my North Star, while I deal with whatever comes my way throughout the day.
May your 3 Wins guide you and provide you with clarity, conviction, and calmness among the chaos – TODAY.
Day 1 of 7 Days of Agile Results - Sunday (Getting Started)
Day 2 of 7 Days of Agile Results – Monday (Monday Vision)
10 Big Ideas from Getting Results the Agile Way
The Values of Agile Results
Sayta is a quiet leader, with thoughts of a better world for everyone.
He believes that one of the keys to the future is software.
I believe it, too. After all, one of the key trends for 2014 is infrastructure as code. Software is the only thing that can keep up with the changes in a digital world, automate the routine tasks, and scale in ways beyond human capacity. It’s how we move up the stack.
Here is what I heard Satya say about how the future is software:
“The future we're going to invent together, express ourselves in the most creative ways.
It's a software driven world.
The future is going to be software
It's going to come in different forms.
It's going to shape every human experience going forward.
What's the soul of this company that is truly reflected in every service every device … productivity in a mobile-first cloud-first world.
Bring our A-game every day.”
It’s a programmable world, and it’s a great time to be in software.
Get you’re A-game on and let’s shape the future together.
As a tribute to Nelson Mandela, I put together a comprehensive collection of the best Nelson Mandela quotes:
Nelson Mandela Quotes
It’s a pretty extreme collection, organized by key themes like compassion, courage and conviction, and humility.
One of the things that surprised me is how much Mandela was about fulfillment and self-actualization. I knew the freedom and equality focus, as well as the leadership focus, but I hadn’t realized how many great words of wisdom and pithy prose he had about making the most of what you’ve got, as well as rising above your circumstances.
He really exemplified the idea of “follow your growth.”
So whether you’re building your building your knowledge base for personal development or leadership insights, Nelson Mandela’s quotes should be a great fit for your collection.
Here are a few of my favorite Nelson Mandela quotes:
Here is the my full set of Nelson Mandela quotes.
Please share them with anybody you think will benefit or needs a pick me up or some little lift for their day.