J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Time Management Tips #16–Unscramble Your Day

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    Untitled

    Do you know what you want to accomplish today?  Did you actually make the time for the things that you want to do today?   Are you task switching like crazy?  The single most common pattern I see when somebody’s day is scrambled, it’s because they didn’t make time for the things that they wish they did.  Again.  And again.  And again.

    Let’s stop the insanity.

    Time management tips #16 is unscramble your day.    The idea here is to take a few moments in the morning, to make your day go better.    It’s a quick and simple exercise that immediately pays off.  It pays off by immediately by clarifying what you will do, what you won’t do, and what you need to make time for.  It helps you quickly structure your day, just enough so that you can focus where it counts.

    This is a big deal because your day can change right under our feet.  No matter how you planned it the day before, the week before, or the month before, it changes.  When we make up in the morning, and our day has arrived, it’s where the rubber meets the road – and it’s amazing just how different reality can be from our initial plan.   Things change, and time changes what’s important. 

    But the good news is -- today can be THE best day to re-plan your day to make the most of it.

    Here’s how to re-plan your day with skill:

    1. Do you know your priorities for the day?  Did you identify your three wins for today?   Just doing that quick exercise, can instantly help you refocus your day, and make time for what’s important, and let the rest go.
    2. Do you know your most important appointments for the day?  Review your calendar for the day.  What are your main appointments?  Now is a great chance to internalize them.  I do two things here, I write a quick list of my appointments on paper, and I get a quick idea in my mind of where I will be spending my hours.   Sometimes, this simply helps me feel on top of my day, instead of reacting.  Other times, it prompts me to do more prep or to shuffle things around to unscramble my day.  It’s a very fast look from the balcony, before falling into the trap or the routine of just going from appointment to appointment.
    3. Can you let things go?   Are there any things that you didn’t make time for, that now you can?  You might have last minute cancellations.  Or now that you really know what you want to accomplish today, you can reprioritize your schedule for the day.  Are there things you can bump off, push out, or let go, to make space for what’s most important for you?  (Don’t do this for unimportant urgent stuff, do this for important stuff.)
    4. Can you batch stuff?   Maybe there are some things that you can consolidate on your calendar.   Now is a great time to look at your game plan for the day, and find some ways to really consolidate.   One of the best ways to consolidate is to push all your random little things into a focused hour, where you can plow your way through them.   Rather than task-switch or thrash throughout the day, you can consolidate them and deal with them as a batch.
    5. Did you bake in the right breaks?   If you don’t have any deliberate breaks in your day, add some.  Even little ten-minute breaks can help you recharge and renew.   With knowledge work, your energy is your force multiplier for making things happen.  Bake in breaks throughout the day so that you can keep your energy strong.

    There is only so much time in the day.  You can feel good about your day if you know that you have identified your priorities, you are keeping the most important appointments, and you are making space for the things that count, and taking the time to recharge and renew.

    The more you can reduce your task-switching and the more you can give yourself larger chunks of time for focus, the better off you are.

    For free time management training , check out 30 Days of Getting Results, and for a time management system check out Getting Results.com.

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    Strategy Must Be Dynamic

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    "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results." -- Winston Churchill

    Competitive advantage is a moving target.  Static strategies fail in the long run.  Strategy needs to be dynamic. 

    The challenge never ends.

    Strategy is an ongoing game where the playing field changes over time.

    In the book, The Strategist: Be the Leaders Your Business Needs, Cynthia A. Montgomery writes about how strategy competitive advantage is a changing thing and how strategy needs to be dynamic.

    The Unfolding Story of Apple

    Montgomery uses the story of Apple to help illustrate how it could be easy to fall into the trap of complacency or get a false sense of security.

    Montgomery writes:

    “Given the grand transformation, it's appropriate to ask: 'Is Apple there yet?  Despite its late-century troubles, does it now have a sustainable advantage?' I often ask EOPers this question when teaching the Apple case.  It is tempting to shout, "Yes!," as classes often do, or maybe even retort, 'Do you have to ask?'  Apple has reinvented its innovative purpose and, taunting them for their lack of creativity.  Case closed?

    I think not.

    In 2010, Apple's computer market share soared to about 11 percent, but that's hardly the mark of a dominant industry player.  Otherwise normal people will camp outside an Apple store for the latest iPhone, but smartphones based on Google Inc.'s Android software substantially outsold the iPhone in 2010, according to NPD Group, a market research firm.  Windows-based competitors to the iPad are coming fast and furiously.  Such tablets might well become the fourth golden age, replacing the traditional personal computer as the center of the digital hub while becoming products sold largely on price.  And there's no guarantee that the iPad, the iCloud ecosystem, or their successors will be the ones that head the pack a couple of years from now.”

    Long-Term Sustainable Competitive Advantage is Rare for a Reason

    Competitive advantage isn’t a durable thing, even though some exceptions might make it appear that way.  The greatest advantages show up during the times of the greatest changes.

    Montgomery writes:

    “Conventional wisdom would say that the goal of strategy is a long-term sustainable competitive advantage.  I challenge that view.  Such advantages are rare and for good reason.  As Schumpeter showed, peaks in market growth and profitability often come from change, not stasis.  Henry Ford dominated care sales with a single, affordable model until Alfred Sloan's General Motors beat him with a line of differentiated products.  Polaroid owned instant photography until digital imaging shut it out; many broad-service hospitals were monopolies until low-cost focused providers started chipping away at their base; colleges with sprawling campuses owned higher education until community college, for-profit organizations, and distance learning challenged them with different economic models.”

    Sustainable Competitive Advantage Misrepresents the Strategists Challenge

    You can’t count on one competitive advantage to win the ongoing game.  Strategies aren’t “fire and forget” and they should not be set in concrete. 

    Montgomery writes:

    Zeroing in on one competitive advantage and expecting it to be sustainable misrepresents the strategists challenge.  It encourages managers to see their strategist's challenge.  It encourages managers to see their strategies as set in concrete and, when spotting trouble ahead, go into defensive mode, hunkering down to protect the status quo, instead of rising to meet the needs of a new reality.  To be sure, competitive advantage is essential to strategy, and the longer it lasts, the better.  But any one advantage, even a company's underlying system of value creation, is only part of a bigger story, one frame in a motion picture.  It is the need to manage across frames, day by day, year over year, that makes a leader's role in strategy so vital.”

    Whatever Constitutes Strategic Advantage Will Eventually Change

    Whatever is a competitive advantage will change over time.  The need to add value will continue to shape it.

    Montgomery writes:

    “This organic view of strategy recognizes that whatever constitutes strategic advantage will eventually change.  It underscores the different between defending a firm's added value as established at any given moment and something far more important: ensuring that a firm continues to add value over time.  This is what endures -- not a particular purpose, a particular advantage, or a particular strategy, but the ongoing need to add value, always.  The ongoing need to guide and develop a company so that it continues to matter.“

    Value Has to Be Measured by the Current Environment

    Your products and services need to change with the times, to keep adding value in the changing environment.

    Montgomery writes:

    “This is not to say that great resources and great advantages are not built by businesses that enhance their core differences over time.  But the products and services that embody those differences must evolve and change, as Apple learned, the hard way, their value has to be measured by the present environment, not the one that once was.”

    Straining to Navigate While Keeping the Ship Afloat

    The challenge is building the plane while you’re flying it, or sailing the boat while you’re fixing it.   It’s a balance of being in the thick of things, while at the same time, taking a look from the balcony.

    Montgomery writes:

    “Quite painfully, that may mean that, like the shot of Theseus, the keel may need to be rebuilt or the ship may need to sail in a very different direction.  As my executive students like to point out, this challenge rarely happens when you're sitting in a dock.  It's a hard realization that the planks have to be changed while you're sailing, while you're also straining to navigate and working hard to keep the ship afloat.”

    The Challenge Never Ends

    Staying in the game means the challenge continues.

    Montgomery writes:

    “On his return to Apple, Jobs had to remake the computer company plank by plank while also keeping it from bankruptcy -- rebuilding not in a rainstorm, but in a hurricane on the high seas.  He got it right for the most part, but as even its archrival -- the once undauntable Microsoft – has discovered, the challenge never ends.”

    Personally, I’ve been a fan of strategy.  After all, as Zig Ziglar said, "People do not wander around and then find themselves at the top of Mount Everest."  

    But it’s the Agile strategist that helps a venture survive and thrive for the long haul.

    And, a ruthless focus on the customer and flowing continuous value is the North star.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    3 Personal Development Programs that Give You an Edge in Work and Life

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    “We must become the change we want to see.” – Mahatma Gandhi

    I’m a fan of continuous learning and skills development.   The challenge, though, aside from figuring out which training is worth it, is to first and foremost build a foundation that makes all the rest of your training actually worth it.

    The key is to first build a rapid learning foundation that helps you absorb all the other training in a more effective way.

    I’ve wasted a lot of money over the years testing and trying out various programs that made great promises.   But, during my trials, I’ve also found programs that really do produce outstanding results.   Of course, like anything, you get what you put into it, but some personal development programs are clearly based on better principles, patterns, and practices.  

    That’s the gold, and we have to dig deep to find it among the sea of mediocre personal development programs.

    Just last night, I was sharing with a friend, how to read 10,000 words a minute (I’m not there, yet.)   I was explaining the process of training to read without subvocalizing (which slows us down, big time … after all, you don’t want the voice in your head to sound like a chip monk, but you don’t actually have to internally vocalize words for your mind to absorb the content.)   Another key is developing high speed imaging skills, where you glance at information and absorb it.  Again, this doesn’t come naturally to most people so you need to train for it.

    I realized this personal development program alone has paid me back so many times in so many ways and saved me so much time over the years, whether it’s processing email or devouring books.  I shared with my friend that I don’t have a lot of time to read books, but I’ll use a few hours to read 3-5 books a week, as well as often write up in-depth reviews.  He was amazed, and commented that he’s got a large book pile that he’d like to chomp through.

    That’s just one of my secrets that has helped me leap frog in terms of rapid learning and saving massive amounts of time on a daily basis, and being to use my brain for other things than getting mired in walls of text.

    But there are more.  

    In fact, today I decided to share 3 personal development programs that give you an edge in work and life.    I’ll bottom line it for you here, that the three personal development programs are 1)  Personal Power, by Tony Robbins, 2) The Personal Mastery Program, by Srikumar S. Rao, and 3) Lead the Field, by Earl Nightingale.

    In my write up, I shared quick stories on how each of them has helped me gain specific advantages in work and life.  In fact, some almost seem like unfair advantages because of the results they produced.

    If you are looking to find the difference that makes the difference, or get an extreme advantage in our ultra-competitive world, then these 3 personal development programs should really help you out.

    BTW – here is a tip that I often share when it comes to competition.   While you can draw inspiration from your “competition,” the best way to compete is to actually compete with yourself.   Whether that means pursuit a path of relentless excellence, or simply pushing yourself to higher ground, that’s where your breakthroughs happen.

    Here’s to you and your ability to be awesome at life.

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    Employee Engagement on Getting Results the Agile Way

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    David Zinger has shared his take on Getting Results the Agile Way in a review on his blog at http://www.davidzinger.com.  You can check out David’s review of Getting Results the Agile Way at:

    If you don’t know David, he’s a writer, educator, speaker, consultant, and all around good guy, that lives and breathes employee engagement, which is all about how individuals, teams, and leaders can be more engaged in the work that they do.   His passion and super skill is helping people get more out of their work, and unleash their passion on the job.

    You can see David in action at The Employee Engagement Network and you can check out his amazingly concise and insightful book, Zengage.  In a nutshell, Zengage is a short powerful book to help you get more out of your work by getting more into your work.

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    Emotional Intelligence is a Key Leadership Skill

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    You probably already know that emotional intelligence, or “EQ”, is a key to success in work and life.

    Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of yourself, others, and groups.

    It’s the key to helping you respond vs. react.  When we react, it’s our lizard brain in action.  When we respond, we are aware of our emotions, but they are input, and they don’t rule our actions.  Instead, emotions inform our actions.

    Emotional intelligence is how you avoid letting other people push your buttons.  And, at the same time, you can push your own buttons, because of your self-awareness.  

    Emotional intelligence takes empathy.  Empathy, simply put, is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. 

    When somebody is intelligent, and has a high IQ, you would think that they would be successful.

    But, if there is a lack of EQ (emotional intelligence), then their relationships suffer.

    As a result, their effectiveness, their influence, and their impact are marginalized.

    That’s what makes emotional intelligence such an important and powerful leadership skill.

    And, it’s emotional intelligence that often sets leaders apart.

    Truly exceptional leaders, not only demonstrate emotional intelligence, but within emotional intelligence, they stand out.

    Outstanding leaders shine in the following 7 emotional intelligence competencies: Self-reliance, Assertiveness, Optimism, Self-Actualization, Self-Confidence, Relationship Skills, and Empathy.

    I’ve summarized 10 Big Ideas from Emotional Capitalists: The Ultimate Guide to Developing Emotional Intelligence for Leaders.  It’s an insightful book by Martyn Newman, and it’s one of the best books I’ve read on the art and science of emotional intelligence.   What sets this book apart is that Newman focused on turning emotional intelligence into a skill you can practice, with measurable results (he has a scoring system.)

    If there’s one take away, it’s really this.  The leaders that get the best results know how to get employees and customers emotionally invested in the business.  

    Without emotional investment, people don’t bring out their best and you end up with a brand that’s blah.

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    Satya Nadella on Everyone Has to Be a Leader

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    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.

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    Michael Michalko on Sources of Insight

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    I'm honored to have a guest post from author Michael Michalko on Sources of Insight.   The theme behind Source of Insight is "stand on the shoulders of giants" and Michael is one of my heroes.  He's one of the world's top creativity experts and author of bestsellers  THINKERTOYS, Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck, and Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius.  Enjoy!

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    The Myths of Business Model Innovation

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    Business model innovation has a couple of myths.

    One myth is that business model innovation takes big thinking.  Another myth about business model innovation is that technology is the answer.

    In the book, The Business Model Navigator, Oliver Gassman, Karolin Frankenberger, and Michaela Csik share a couple of myths that need busting so that more people can actually achieve business model innovation.

    The "Think Big" Myth

    Business model innovation does not need to be “big bang.”  It can be incremental.  Incremental changes can create more options and more opportunities for serendipity.

    Via The Business Model Navigator:

    “'Business model innovations are always radical and new to the world.'   Most people associate new business models with the giants leaps taken by Internet companies.  The fact is that business model innovation, in the same way as product innovation, can be incremental.  For instance, Netflix's business model innovation of mailing DVDs to customers was undoubtedly incremental and yet brought great success to the company.  The Internet opened up new avenues for Netflix that allowed the company to steadily evolve into an online streaming service provider.”

    The Technology Myth

    It’s not technology for technology’s sake.  It’s applying technology to revolutionize a business that creates the business model innovation.

    Via The Business Model Navigator:

    “'Every business model innovation is based on a fascinating new technology that inspires new products.'  The fact is that while new technologies can indeed drive new business models, they are often generic in nature.  Where creativity comes in is in applying them to revolutionize a business.  It is the business application and the specific use of the technology which makes the difference.  Technology for technology's sake is the number one flop factor in innovation projects.  The truly revolutionary act is that of uncovering the economic potential of a new technology.”

    If you want to get started with business model innovation, don’t just go for the home run.

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    50 Life Hacks Your Future Self with Thank You For

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    I’ve put together 50 life hacks to help you get ahead in work and life:

    50 Life Hacks Your Future Self with Thank You For

    This is a serious set of game changing strategies you can use to level up in life.   These aren’t your ordinary life hacks.   These are 50 of the best life hacks that go beyond and help you adopt proven practices for life for key topics, including:

    • Finding your purpose
    • Living your values
    • Measuring your life
    • Dealing with perfectionism
    • Continuous improvement
    • Finding true short-cuts in life
    • Building better habits

    I’ve included one of my favorite life hacks here to give you a taste …

    Do the Opposite

    Sometimes the best thing you can do is to “do the opposite” of what you’d normally do, to periodically surprise people and have them see you in a new way.

    It’s easy in life to fall into routines that don’t serve us.

    The fastest way to change our game is to rattle our own cage and shake things up.

    If you’re always late, try being early.

    If you’re always slow, try changing your pace.

    If you’re always fast, then try slowing down.

    If you’re the person that always says, “No” to things, try saying more “Yes.”

    If you always find what’s wrong with things, try finding what’s right.

    If you lack your confidence, try strutting more of your stuff.

    Doing the opposite of what you normally do, might lead to your next best breakthrough.

    Worst case, you’ll learn more about you, you’ll learn more about balance, and you’ll put more options under your belt for how you show up or how you respond in life.

    For more life hacks, check out 50 Life Hacks Your Future Self with Thank You For.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Sources of Insight is New and Improved

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    imageSources of Insight is ready for action.  It's my blog focused on proven practices for personal effectiveness for work and life.  I started it a while back to help you sharpen your skills and to grow your personal capabilities.

    The big idea is to help people "stand on the shoulders of giants", drawing from great books, great people, and great quotes.

    The big change is the user experience.  I upgraded the theme to a modern and responsive design, so now you should be able to read it more easily, even from your phone.  The other big change is that it's easier to explore the knowledge base more easily.  With the new menu, I got the chance to better surface key topics for you, such as Emotional Intelligence, Personal Effectiveness, Leadership, Personal Development, and Productivity.  It's also easier to dive right into the articles or browse by key topics.  It's also easier to explore key resources like Checklists or How Tos.

    A Garden of Greatness for YOU …

    Great Books, Great People, and Great Quotes are also front and center.  With Great Books, you can easily browse the best business books, the best leadership books, or the best time management books.  With Great People, you can browse lessons learned from Tony Robbins, John Wooden, Stephen Covey, and more.  With Great Quotes, you can browse timeless wisdom from folks like Confucius, Buddha, Gandhi, and more. 

    It’s life wisdom at your fingertips.

    Sources of Insight is meant to be a "Garden of Greatness" where you can find specific tools and techniques to help you get the edge in work and life.   It also features guest posts from best-selling authors and experts from around the world, who share what they do best.

    It’s a work in progress.  Your feedback is always welcome to help shape it to something more useful, relevant, insightful, and actionable.  I’ll be focusing on sharing a lot more principles, patterns, and practices for key topics in the near future.

    Subscribe to Sources of Insight

    The simplest way to get the updates from Sources of Insight is to subscribe -- either subscribe by RSS or subscribe by email.  

    I’ll add more social features in the future, meanwhile, I’m still exploring the best ways to create an effective platform that’s simple and scales.  It’s up to 210,000 monthly readers now, so I’m trying to focus on slow growth, with a strong platform.

    While the overall site is focused on personal effectiveness, and especially topics like emotional intelligence, personal development, leadership, and productivity, be sure to let me know if there are scenarios or topics, you’d like me to address.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The Ultimate Personal Productivity Platform is You

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    “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” ― Stephen King

    The ultimate personal productivity platform is you.

    Let’s just put that on the table right up front so you know where personal productivity ultimately comes from.  It’s you.

    I can’t possibly give you anything that will help you perform better than an organized mind firing on all cylinders combined with self-awareness.

    You are the one that ultimately has to envision your future.  You are the one that ultimately has to focus your attention.  You are the one that ultimately needs to choose your goals.  You are the one that ultimately has to find your motivation.  You are the one that ultimately needs to manage your energy.  You are the one that ultimately needs to manage your time.  You are the one that ultimately needs to take action.  You are the one that needs to balance work and life.

    That’s a lot for you to do.

    So the question isn’t are you capable?  Of course you are.

    The real question is, how do you make the most of you?

    Agile Results is a personal productivity platform to help you make the most of what you’ve got.

    Agile Results is a simple system for getting better results.  It combines proven practices for productivity, time management, and motivation into a simple system you can use to achieve better, faster, easier results for work and life.

    Agile Results works by integrating and synthesizing positive psychology, sport psychology, project management skills, and peak performance insights into little behavior changes you can do each day.  It’s also based on more than 10 years of extensive trial and error to help people achieve high performance.

    If you don’t know how to get started, start simple:

    Ask yourself the following question:  “What are three things I want to achieve today?”

    And write those down.   That’s it.

    You’re doing Agile Results.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Santa Lands on a Virgin Atlantic Plane with 4D Technology

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    Microsoft and Virgin help land Santa on top of a plane at 30,000 feet.  If you’ve been wondering where Santa’s been, he landed on top of a Virgin Atlantic plane and did a photo shoot with the passengers.

    Microsoft teamed up with Richard Branson and Virgin Atlantic to bring the magic of Christmas to life.  In the world’s first 4D experience in flight, Santa Claus appears to land on top of a Virgin Atlantic plane at 30,000 feet. 

    How’s that for some fancy flying with modern technology?!

    Each passenger was also given a Windows tablet so they could track Father Christmas and chat with him during the flight.

    Here’s the video of Santa landing on top of the plane and visiting with the passengers:

    Video: Santa Lands on Top of a Virgin Atlantic Plane at 30,000 Feet

    Here are a few scenes that show Santa in action …

    Here’s one of Santa’s reindeer peering down into the cabin from on top of the plane:

    image

    Here’s Santa peering down into the cabin from above the plane before he goes inside:

    image

    Santa sees somebody he recognizes:

    image

    Santa boards the plane and walks the cabin:

    image

    The kids are excited to see Santa:

    image

    image

     

    Adults are happy, too:

    image

    image

    Santa has time for some photo shoots:

    image

    image

    Santa leaves to get back to his sleigh on top of the plane:

    image

    Virgin Atlantic and Microsoft wish everybody a very, merry Christmas:

    image

    Here’s Richard Branson’s post on the story:

    Santa Lands on Virgin Atlantic Plane at 30,000 Feet

    Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

    JD

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    Nailing Your Goals for 2012

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    If you want to nail your goals for 2012, here are some guidelines, checklists, and tools to help you do it.  It's a new year and  fresh start, so now is a great time to start off on the right foot, or tune and prune your skills for action, focus, goals, motivation, and time management.

    At the end of the day, it's these skills that will serve you for the rest of your life, in whatever you try to achieve.  They are your personal tools for empowerment and impact your ability to execute.  It's these skills that limit or enable you.

    A Time-Management System
    If you don’t have a time management system, get one.  Time management is the one resource that we just don’t get more of.   The best we can do is invest our time well and spend more time in our values and balance our priorities.  An effective time management system will help you do that, as well as balance what’s right in front of you along with your long term goals and ambitions.

    • Getting Results the Agile Way – Agile Results is a simple system for meaningful results.   You can use it as a personal results system for work and life.  This is the same system I’ve used to lead distributed teams around the world for major projects at Microsoft, and to coach teams on execution … and it’s the same system my Mom uses to get things done around the house.

    Agile Results is principle-based so you can use it with any time management system you already use to get more out of it.  The big idea in Agile Results is to define three wins each day, each week, each month, each year, and use these to guide your actions.  Another big idea in Agile Results is to focus on Hot Spots.   Think of your life as a heat map with hot spots of what matters and invest more time in what counts.  The most important idea in Agile Results is to have a pattern to drive your week.  In Agile Results, this is the Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection pattern.   This helps you get a fresh start each week and each day, and bring out your best, while focusing on meaningful results.  You can use stories to drive your day, connect to your values, and light up your life.

    Guidelines, Checklists, and How Tos
    Here are some guidelines, checklists, and tools you can plug in to Agile Results and make thins happen.   I created these the same way that I’ve written patterns & practices guides at Microsoft for more than 10 years.   It’s hard-core prescriptive guidance to help you be YOUR best.  As a quick example, some people I know are using the Focus Guidelines to help build coping skills for ADD and get off their medication.  If you read just one thing, read the Motivation Guidelines so that you fully understand how to push your own buttons, light your own fire, and stoke the fire in your belly.   Your motivation, combined with goals, focus, and taking action will give you an unfair advantage against your toughest challenges.   Life’s not fair, so stack the deck in your favor Winking smile

    Guidelines


    Checklists

    How Tos

    If you want to find out more about the book, Getting Results the Agile Way, and the Agile Results system, be sure to explore Getting Results.com.   You can read the full book online in HTML, and there is a rick knowledge base with templates and tools to help you bring out your best and deal with changing times.   Be sure to read the stories of people getting results and watch the video on how a non-profit uses Getting Results the Agile Way to help doctors and patients around the world.

    Here’s to your best year – Happy New Year 2012!

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    3 Calendar Reminders for Agile Results

    • 0 Comments

    Agile Results is an simple system of proven practices to focus, set goals, find your motivation, improve your productivity, master time management, and achieve work-life balance.   It’s a way to get your game on.

    This is a simple way to add Agile Results to your calendar.  It’s the best way to “easily do”, and “remember to do”, Agile Results:

    1. Add a Monday Vision Reminder (My Three Wins for the Week)
    2. Add a Daily Outcomes Reminder (My Three Wins for the Day)
    3. Add a Friday Reflection Reminder (3 Things Going Well, 3 Things to Improve)

    That’s it.  It takes under a minute.

    Simply create a recurring appointment for Monday Vision on Mondays, create a recurring Daily Outcomes reminder for each day of the week, and create a recurring Friday Reflection reminder on Friday.

    In the Monday Vision reminder, I would add the following question to the body:

    “What are your three wins for the week?”  (Write them down.)

    In the Daily Outcomes reminder, I would add the following question to the body:

    “What are your three wins for TODAY?”

    In the Friday Reflection reminder, I would add the following questions to the body:

    “What are three things going well?”

    “What are three things to improve?”

    The beauty of this approach is that it helps you build the muscle, until it’s a habit.  You can also add notes to each of your appointment that help you remember how to do it well, or you can add your learnings.  For example, let’s say on Friday Reflection you realize that you are biting off more than you can chew each week, then in your Monday Vision, add a simple self-check question – “Are you biting off more than you can chew?”

    The possibilities are endless, and the power is yours.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    How Leaders are Building Digital Skills

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    Cloud, mobile, social, and big data are changing the game of business.

    But to play the game well, leaders need to grow new skills.

    In order to create new customer experiences and market-leading operational capabilities, leaders need to invest in digital skills.

    Our Cloud-First, Mobile-First world provides unprecedented possibilities in terms of connectivity and compute resources for changing customer experiences, transforming the workforce, and transforming operations, and creating new business models.   Companies every day are building amazing solutions that integrate Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data capabilities as well as what the Internet of Things brings to the table.   But to take advantage of these capabilities, you need leaders that grow and invest in a digital platform and in digital skills.

    In the book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee, share how top leaders grow their digital skills.

    Creating Great Customer Experiences Requires New Skills and New Ways of Working

    Whether you want to reimagine your customer experience, or reimagine your operations, it takes new skills, and new ways of working.   Companies that don’t have the right digital skills struggle.   Worse, everybody is competing for the same skills, including social media analysts, mobile marketers, cloud architects, and data scientists.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Creating great customer experiences or market-leading operational capabilities is more than technology challenge.  It's also an organizational challenge requiring new skills and new ways of working.  Yet, 77 percent of companies in our first year of research cited missing digital skills as a major hurdle to their digital transformation success. To compound the problem, most companies are chasing after similar skills--social media analysts, mobile marketers, cloud architects, or data scientists, to name a few.”

    How Digital Masters are Building Skills

    If you want to help your company become a Digital Master, or, if you want to be a high-performing leader, you need to invest in digital skills.  

    Via Leading Digital:

    “So what are Digital Masters doing differently when it comes to skills? First, they are investing.  Of the Digital Masters we surveyed, 82 percent are building the digital skills they need to support transformation efforts.  Only 40 perce3nt of nonmasters are doing so.

    Second, Digital Masters are accelerating and creating  a gap.  Our survey research shows that the masters had greater digital skills than nonmasters, reporting 31 percent higher social media skills, 38 percent higher mobile skills, and 19 percent higher analytics skills.

    But Digital Masters did not start with higher skills.  Burberry did not become excellent at digital marketing. and channels overnight.  CEO Ahrendts hired a new, dynamic marketing team whose members mirrored the behaviors of the millennial customer.  Nor did Caesars excel at delivering personalized customer experience solely because its CEO, Gary Loveman, has a PhD in economics from MIT. Caesars' executives actively incorporated quantitative skills into the marketing area.  In these companies, like other Digital Masters, top executives worked hard to build the digital skills they needed.”

    The Line Between Technical Skills and Leadership Skills is Blurring Fast

    The gap is huge but the lines blur fast.  There is a huge demand for people that are both business savvy and technology savvy.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “The skills difference extends beyond technology.  Digital Masters report 36 percent higher skills in digital leadership than nonmasters. Digital transformation requires changes to processes and thinking--changes that span your internal organizational silos.  'The clear delineation between technical skills and leadership skills in blurring fast.

    The impact of digital technologies is now felt not only in the IT and technical departments, but also across the entire organization.  Digital transformation's need for cross-functional collaboration creates a huge demand for hybrid digital skills-- technical people who need to be more business savvy and businesspeople who need to be more technology savvy.  A retail executive explained: 'We are trying for the first time to work across the company.  That implies going through a new level of complexity in the organization, and requires people to manage and network differently.  That, I think, is the most important skills that needs to be developed.'”

    Successful Leaders Will Have Business and Technical Skills

    True hybrid professionals will be the leaders of tomorrow.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “The need for new skills can also result from the need to bridge the communication gap between digital and business competences.  One executive said, 'I need a charismatic quant--somebody who's an influencer and can carry his weight in a senior meeting, but at the same time, someone who can roll up his sleeves and look at data tables and build models and enjoy it.'

    These bridging roles may soon become the responsibility of every manager. 'I believe,' said Markus Nordlin, CIO of Zurich Insurance, 'that the successful leaders of tomorrow, in any business or industry, are going to be true hybrid professionals who have spent some time in IT but have shifted to operations and vice-versa.'”

    Digital Skills Create Competitive Advantage and Enable Digital Transformation

    To keep up and get ahead, you need to master Digital Skills and be able to use them in a business savvy way.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Aspiring Digital Masters are all chasing the same technical skills.  The shortage of digital skills is unprecedented.  In Europe alone, forecasts point to nearly a million vacancies for IT-related roles by 2015.  And globally, out of the 4.4 million big-data jobs to be created by 2015, only a third will be filled.

    But by the same token, business professionals will increasingly need to be comfortable with digital tools and technologies to perform their core roles.  By 2015, research firm IDC expects that 90 percent of all jobs will require IT skills.  Some business functions are already adding technology skills to their mix.  Gartner reports that 70 percent of the companies they surveyed have a chief marketing technologist to support the digitization of the function.

    This skills race won't slow down anytime soon.  Having the right digital skills is an important source of competitive advantage and a key enabler of digital transformation.  Companies that build skills faster will get ahead.

    To win at the digital skills race, you will need to tap into multiple approaches--hiring, partnering, incubating, and the like.  It's not easy, as one executive explained: 'Our recruiters don't know where to go to find these people, and people with the right skills don't look to our kind of company for opportunities.'  HR organization will need to get up to speed quickly.  A recent Capgemini Consulting survey found that only 30 percent of HR functions were actively involved in digital skills development.  This needs to change.  Many Digital Masters have a carefully crafted plan to fight and win the talent race.”

    All of the capabilities of Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data are right at your fingertips.

    Using these capabilities in meaningful ways takes a combination of business and technical skills, as well as great organizational change leadership skills.

    If you can master business skills and combine them with great technical skills, you can lead you, your team, your organization, and others to change the world.

    You Might Also Like

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Blessing Sibanyoni on Value Realization

    • 7 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Value in the Eye of the Beholder

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

    What has happened here?

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

    The Notion of Value

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

    For transformation to transpire a real pain must be felt.

    Fiercely Competing Alternatives

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

    Why?

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

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

    Quantitative or Qualitative?

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

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

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

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

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

    Know Thy Foe

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

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

    A Few Lessons Learned in the Trenches

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

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

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Capitalizing on the Internet of Things: How To Succeed in a Connected World

    • 0 Comments

    “Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” -- William Pollard

    The Internet of Things is hot.  But it’s more than a trend.  It’s a new way of life (and business.)

    It’s transformational in every sense of the word (and world.)

    A colleague shared some of their most interesting finds with me, and one of them is:

    Capitalizing on the Internet of Things: How To Succeed in a Connected World

    Here are my key take aways:

    1. The Fourth Industrial Revolution:  The Internet of Things
    2. “For many companies, the mere prospect of remaking traditional products into smart and connected ones is daunting.  But embedding them into the digital world using services-based business models is much more fundamentally challenging.  The new business models impact core processes such as product management, operations, and production, as well as sales and channel management.”
    3. “According to the research database of the analyst firm Machina Research, there will be approx. 14 billion connected devices by 2022 – ranging from IP-enabled cars to heating systems, security cameras, sensors, and production machines.”
    4. “Managers need to envision the valuable new opportunities that become possible when the physical world is merged with the virtual
      world.”
    5. “The five key markets are connected buildings, automotive, utilities, smart cities, and manufacturing.”
    6. “In order to provide for the IoT’s multifaceted challenges, the most important thing to do is develop business ecosystems comparable to a coral reef, where we can find diversity of species, symbiosis, and shared development.”
    7. “IoT technologies create new ways for companies to enrich their services, gain customer insights, increase efficiency, and create differentiation opportunities.”
    8. “From what we have seen, IoT entrepreneurs also need to follow exploratory approaches as they face limited predictability and want to minimize risks, preferably in units that are small, agile, and independent.”

    It’s a fast read, with nice and tight insight … my kind of style.

    Enjoy.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Success Articles for Work and Life

    • 2 Comments

    "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." -- Winston Churchill

    I now have more than 300 articles on the topic of Success to help you get your game on in work and life:

    Success Articles

    That’s a whole lot of success strategies and insights right at your fingertips. (And it includes the genius from a wide variety of sources including  Scott Adams, Tony Robbins, Bruce Lee, Zig Ziglar, and more.)

    Success is a hot topic. 

    Success has always been a hot topic, but it seems to be growing in popularity.  I suspect it’s because so many people are being tested in so many new ways and competition is fierce.

    But What is Success? (I tried to answer that using Zig Ziglar’s frame for success.)

    For another perspective, see Success Defined (It includes definitions of success from Stephen Covey and John Maxwell.)

    At the end of the day, the most important definition of success, is the one that you apply to you and your life.

    People can make or break themselves based on how they define success for their life.

    Some people define success as another day above ground, but for others they have a very high, and very strict bar that only a few mere mortals can ever achieve.

    That said, everybody is looking for an edge.   And, I think our best edge is always our inner edge.

    As my one mentor put it, “the fastest thing you can change in any situation is yourself.”  And as we all know, nature favors the flexible.  Our ability to adapt and respond to our changing environment is the backbone of success.   Otherwise, success is fleeting, and it has a funny way of eluding or evading us.

    I picked a few of my favorite articles on success.  These ones are a little different by design.  Here they are:

    Scott Adam’s (Dilbert) Success Formula

    It’s the Pebble in Your Shoe

    The Wolves Within

    Personal Leadership Helps Renew You

    The Power of Personal Leadership

    Tony Robbins on the 7 Traits of Success

    The Way of Success

    The future is definitely uncertain.  I’m certain of that.   But I’m also certain that life’s better with skill and that the right success strategies under your belt can make or break you in work and life.

    And the good news for us is that success leaves clues.

    So make like a student and study.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Quitting and Sticking More Effectively

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    Are you the best at what you do?   Could you be the best at something else?  How do you know when to hold'em?  How do you know when to fold'em?

    The Gambler teaches us:

    "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em.
    Know when to walk away, and know when to run."

    ... But where's the prescriptive guidance?  Luckily, there's Seth Godin and The Dip.  In the book, the Dip, Seth teaches us:

    "Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt -- until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons.  In fact, winners seek out the Dip.  They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it.  If you can become number one in your niche, you'll get more than your fair share of profits, glory, and long-term security.  Losers, on the other hand, fall into two basic traps.  Either they fail to stick out the Dip - they get to the moment of truth and then give up - or they never even find the right Dip to conquer."

    I wrote up my Lessons Learned from the Dip on Sources of Insight.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Anatomy of a High-Potential

    • 0 Comments

    Dr. Jay Conger has a must see presentation on The Anatomy of a High-Potential:

    The Anatomy of a High-Potential

    I’m always on the hunt for insights and actions that help people get the edge in work and life.   This is one of those gems.  What I like about Dr. Jay Conger’s work is that he has a mental model that’s easy to follow, as well as very specific practices that separate high-potentials from the rest of the pack.

    In a fast-paced world of extreme innovation, change, and transformation, it pays to be high-potential.

    Anything you can do to learn how to perform like a high-potential, can help you leap frog or fast track your career path.

    Here are some of my favorite highlights from Dr. Conger’s presentation …

    High-Potential Defined

    High-potentials consistently out-perform their peer groups.  Dr. Jay Conger writes:

    “High potentials consistently outperform their peer groups in a variety of settings and circumstances.  While achieving superior levels of performance, they exhibit behaviors reflecting their company's culture and values in an exemplary manner.  They show strong capacity to grow and success throughout their careers -- more quickly and effectively than their peer groups do.”

    Baseline Requirements

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

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

    Moving Up the Stack – From Value Creator to Game Changer

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

     

    image

    What I like the most about the model is that it resonates with what I’ve experienced, and that it frames out a pragmatic development path for amplifying your impact as a proven game changer.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Leadership Quotes

    • 2 Comments

    I’ve put together a comprehensive collection of leadership quotes.  It took me a bit longer than I expected, but I wanted a lot of things to be right.  I wanted to choose the best quotes.   I wanted to organize them in useful and meaningful categories.   I wanted this particular collection to really say something on the art of leadership from a variety of perspective and people, drawing from the wisdom of the ages and modern sages.

    There’s always room for improvement, but I think you enjoy the richness, breadth, and depth of the collection.   To bring you the best insights, I draw from a number of folks that have something to say about leadership, including Gandhi, John Maxwell, George Patton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Sun Tzu.   It puts a lot of wisdom right at your fingertips with a wealth of perspective and depth on the art of leadership.

    To make the collection fast and easy to skim or to read in depth, I've organized the leadership quotes collection across a variety of categories, including boldness, challenges, communication, connection, conviction, credibility, encouragement, fear, heart, influence, inspiration, learning, self-leadership, servant-leadership, teamwork, and vision.

    To give you a taste of the collection, here are the top ten leadership quotes from the leadership quotes collection …

    Top 10 Leadership Quotes

    1. “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” –  John C. Maxwell
    2. “A real leader faces the music, even when he doesn’t like the tune.” – Anonymous
    3. “All Leadership is influence.” — John C. Maxwell
    4. “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
    5. “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” — General George Patton
    6. “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” — Warren Bennis
    7. “Managers help people see themselves as they are; Leaders help people to see themselves better than they are.” — Jim Rohn
    8. “The art of leadership is saying no, not yes.  It is very easy to say yes.” — Tony Blair
    9. “The price of greatness is responsibility.” — Winston Churchill
    10. “When the effective leader is finished with his work, the people say it happened naturally.” — Lao Tzu

    For more words of wisdom on the art of leadership, check out the full collection of leadership quotes.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The Placebo Effect Revisited

    • 1 Comments

    Just how much does your mind determine your body?  In the NPR article, Hotel Maids Challenge the Placebo Effect, Maids start losing weight, once they change their mindset.  They don't change their daily routine.  They simply change perspective.

    I like this article because of the new distinction in the placebo effect.  In the past, the placebo effect is usually considered effective for subjective experience, such as feeling less pain, or feeling less depressed.  In this case, it's about changing physiology, by changing your mind.

    This article also reminds me of a friend who suddenly dropped a lot of weight.  He said he couldn't lose the weight, no matter how much he worked out, until he one day saw himself thinner.  Once he made up his mind, his body followed. 

    As Napoleon Hill would put it, "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve."

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Unbundle Your Business for Business Agility

    • 0 Comments

    Since joining the Enterprise Strategy Team at Microsoft, I’ve had to shift gears and focus more on business, business architecture, and strategy patterns.  Luckily, there’s no shortage of material on business design.  The trick is finding the useful nuggets of insight and action. 

    Here’s an example of a useful nugget regarding how to think about the three core types of businesses …

    In the book, Business Model Generation, Alex Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Alan Smith, Patrick Van Der Pijl, and Tim Clark suggest unbundling your business by splitting it into three core types:

    1. Product Innovation – Develop new and attractive services.
    2. Customer Relationship Management – Acquire and build relationships with customers.
    3. Infrastructure Management – Build and manage platforms for high volume, repetitive tasks.

    While the three types can co-exist within a single corporation, you can avoid conflicts or undesirable trade-offs by unbundling them, into separate entities.

    When your business is bundled, it’s tough to streamline things or make it more effective, because the focus is fractured.

    When you unbundle your business, you can gain clarity, focus, efficiencies, and effectiveness.  You can also make it easier to innovate in your processes, platforms, and products because of the clarity and focus.

    As you can imagine, this is crucial for any significant cloud plays and business transformations.  I’m in the business of business transformation now, as well as connecting business with IT (Information Technology), so it’s helpful to fill my toolbox with business strategies and business design methods, and I’ll share my toolbox with you as I go.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Carve Out Time for What’s Important

    • 0 Comments

    This is one of the rules that has served me well, as a Program Manager at Microsoft:  Carve out time for what’s important.

    You don’t have time, you make time. If you don’t make time for what’s important, it doesn’t happen. This is where The Rule of Three helps. Are you spending the right amount of time today on those three results you want to accomplish? The default pattern is to try and fit them in with all your existing routines. A more powerful approach is to make time for your three results today and optimize around that. This might mean disrupting other habits and routines you have, but this is a good thing. The more you get in the habit of making time for what’s important, the more you’ll get great results. If you’re not getting the results you want, you can start asking better questions. For example, are you investing enough time? Are you investing the right energy? Are you using the right approach? Or, maybe a different thing happens. Maybe you start accomplishing your results but don’t like what you get. You can step back and ask whether you’re choosing the right outcomes for The Rule of Three.

    Here are some things to think about when you’re carving out your time:

    • How much time minimum should you spend today for each of your three outcomes?
    • How much time maximum should you spend today for each of your three outcomes?
    • Are you spending too much energy in below the line activities? (This is where you’re just treading water and making it through each day, but not actually getting ahead.)
    • Are you spending enough time in above the line activities? (This is where you feel you’re on top of your day and investing your time where you get the most impact.)
    • Are you investing time in the most important Hot Spots in your life: mind, body, emotions, career, financial, relationships, fun?

    This is a tip from my book, Getting Results the Agile Way (now on a Kindle), a time management system for achievers.  You can test drive the system by taking the 30 Day Boot Camp for Getting Results, a free time management training course.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Presenting Numbers with Skill

    • 0 Comments

    At Microsoft, we get a lot of chances to present numbers.   Whether it’s making a project pitch, or writing our reviews and quantifying our impact, numbers are everywhere.   And when we aren’t the one presenting, we are often reviewing the numbers that other people are presenting.

    It’s one thing to know the numbers.  It’s another to share the numbers in a meaningful way.

    As a Program Manager for several years, I’ve had to manage, show, and report on budgets.  I’ve had to quantify impact.  I’ve had to report status on key metrics.    I’ve had to figure out velocity and burn down.   I’ve had to show schedules and variance.   I’ve had to present estimates and calculate risk.   It comes with the turf.   Part of making impact, is knowing how to show it.

    The problem is, we don’t always get the best mentors or the best examples.   We don’t really learn how to present numbers in school, at least not with the same focus we get on learning how to read, write, and speak.   The more I see complicated charts and confusing figures that obfuscate key points, the more I appreciate the value of simplicity and elegance in presenting numbers.

    I found the perfect compliment to Edward Tufte’s, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.  It’s Painting with Numbers, by Randall Bolten.    It’s the best book I’ve seen on how to present numbers with skill.   Randall was a CFO for twenty years in Silicon Valley, so he’s got the benefit of seeing all the various ways, shapes, and sizes that people throw numbers around.  He’s exactly the right person to learn from when it comes to seeing through the numbers, knowing what they mean, and knowing how to present them more effectively to speak the truth, and to make better decisions … in work and in life.

    I wrote a post to elaborate on the book and get specific on the problems it addresses.   You can read more at Quantation: How to Present Numbers with Skill.  

    It’s a book I’m going to recommend to the people I mentor to help them advance their careers and take their game to the next level.

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