Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
“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:
It’s a fast read, with nice and tight insight … my kind of style.
4 Stages of Market Maturity
E-Shaped People, Not T-Shaped
Trends for 2014
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:
I’ve included one of my favorite life hacks here to give you a taste …
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.
10 Big Ideas from Getting Results the Agile Way
30 Day Improvement Sprints: The Key to Making Impact, Changing Habits, and Rapid Learning
How To Use Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection to Triple Your Productivity
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
Sources 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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:
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.
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:
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.
"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way." -- John C. Maxwell
How many people do you know that talk a good talk, but don’t walk the walk?
Or, how many people do you know have a bunch of ideas that you know will never see the light of day? They can pontificate all day long, but the idea of turning those ideas into work that could be done, is foreign to them.
Or, how many people do you know can plan all day long, but their plan is nothing more than a list of things that will never happen? Worse, maybe they turn it into a team sport, and everybody participates in the planning process of all the outcomes, ideas and work that will never happen. (And, who exactly wants to be accountable for that?)
It doesn’t need to be this way.
A lot of people have Hidden Strengths they can develop into Learned Strengths. And one of the most important bucket of strengths is Leading Implementation.
Leading Implementation is a set of leadership skills for making things happen.
It includes the following leadership skills:
Let’s say you want to work on these leadership skills. The first thing you need to know is that these are not elusive skills reserved exclusively for the elite.
No, these are commonly Hidden Strengths that you and others around you already have, and they just need to be developed.
If you don’t think you are good at any of these, then before you rule yourself out, and scratch them off your list, you need to ask yourself some key reflective questions:
I’ve seen far too many starving artists and unproductive artists, as well as mad scientists, that had brilliant ideas that they couldn’t turn into reality. While some were lucky to pair with the right partners and bring their ideas to live, I’ve actually seen another pattern of productive artists.
They develop some of the basic leadership skills in themselves to improve their ability to execute.
Not only are they more effective on the job, but they are happier with their ability to express their ideas and turn their ideas into action.
Even better, when they partner with somebody who has strong execution, they amplify their impact even more because they have a better understanding and appreciation of what it takes to execute ideas.
Like talk, ideas are cheap.
The market rewards execution.
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.
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.”
It’s not technology for technology’s sake. It’s applying technology to revolutionize a business that creates the business model innovation.
“'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.
Cloud Changes the Game from Deployment to Adoption
Cognizant on the Next Generation Enterprise
Drive Digital Transformation by Re-Imagining Operations
Drive Digital Transformation by Re-envisioning Your Customer Experience
The Future of Jobs
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 …
For more words of wisdom on the art of leadership, check out the full collection of leadership quotes.
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.
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.
10 Emotional Intelligence Articles for Effectiveness in Work and Life
Emotional Intelligence Quotes
Positive Intelligence at Microsoft
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:
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.
“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” -- Japanese Proverb
What does it take to build an indestructible mind? In a world of setbacks, defeats, and failures, how do you stand up that eighth time? Sure, you could watch Rocky, and other inspirational moves from the 25 Inspiration Movies list … but what if you could get science on your side?
Well, you can. Dr. Alex Lickerman wrote the book on it. The book is, The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self.
I wrote a book review of The Undefeated Mind, but it gets better. I was lucky in that Dr. Lickerman was kind enough to write a great guest post for me. It’s titled Never Be Defeated. It’s actually the story of Dr. Lickerman’s journey in writing his book, his personal transformation, and how he learned the true meaning of what it means to never be defeated.
Whether you’re trying to get your code to compile, or pay your mortgage, or recover from a not so great performance review, or just get back up on your feet again, there is power in persistence, and power in resilience. We can all benefit from building an indestructible self.
I know a lot of people struggling with many challenges, from finding a job, to keeping their job, to fixing their health, to dealing with loss, and, recently, dealing with the after math of hurricane Sandy.
I hope that Dr. Lickerman’s story helps remind you of the power of resilience, and what it means to fall seven times, and stand up eight.
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.
“In life you need either inspiration or desperation.” – Tony Robbins
Is 2014 going to be YOUR year?
Let’s make it so.
My best-selling book on time management and productivity is on sale for a limited time offer, through a Countdown Deal:
Getting Results the Agile Way on Kindle
What is Getting Results the Agile Way all about? It’s a simple system for meaningful results in work and life. It’s the best synthesis of what I know for mastering time management, motivation, and personal productivity. (And, it’s designed to be “better together” – use it with your favorite existing tools of choice, whether that’s Franklin-Covey, the Pomodoro Technique, Getting Things Done, etc.)
The way this Countdown Deal works is that the price goes from lower to higher during the course of 7 days.
As I currently understand it, here’s the price breakdown:
In other words, the sooner you get it, the cheaper it is.
Here are the key benefits of the book:
Here’s what others are saying about the book:
"Agile Results delivers know-what, know-why and know-how for anyone who understands the value of momentum in making your moments count."– Dr. Rick Kirschner, bestselling author
"JD’s ability to understand and cut to the real issues and then apply techniques that have proven to be successful in other situations is legendary at Microsoft. Over the years I have learnt that he will not recommend something or someone unless he believe it the entire value chain, making the advice you get even more potent. It’s a little like a whirlwind and you have to be prepared for a ride but if you want results and you want them fast, you talk to JD."– Mark Curphey, CEO & Founder, SourceClear
“JD is the go-to-guy for getting results, and Agile Results demonstrates his distinct purpose – he shows how anyone can do anything, better. This book has simple, effective, powerful tools and ideas that are easy enough for everyone to apply in their work and lives, so that they get the results they’d like, even the impossible and the unexpected.”– Janine de Nysschen, Changemaker and Purpose Strategist, Whytelligence
Getting results and being YOUR best is a personal thing, which is why I designed it as a personal results system.
If you already are using Agile Results, tell me a story. Tell me the good, the bad, and the ugly. I always want to know what’s working or not working for you. Each week, I receive emails from people around the world with their stories of personal victories. For some, it’s fast, as if it was the missing link they needed to help them connect the dots. For others, it’s more like a slow crescendo. And, for others, it’s more like a game of slow and steady that wins the race.
But what everybody seems to have in common is that they feel like they got back on path and are instantly getting better at spending the right time, on the right things, the right way, with the right energy.
This is where breakthroughs happen.
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-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.”
According to Dr. Jay Conger, high-potentials distinguish themselves in the following ways:
High-potentials are game changers. Here is a snapshot of Dr. Jay Conger’s pyramid that illustrates how high-potentials move up the stack:
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.
Kanban: The Secret of High-Performance Teams at Microsoft
How To Lead High-Performance Distributed Teams
The Innovative Team
The Book that Changes Lives
The Guerilla Guide to Getting a Better Performance Review at Microsoft
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” -- Jim Ryun
One of the best moves I use to change habits and adopt new practices is very simple, but very effective:
I schedule a recurring Friday appointment on my calendar. On that appointment, I list reminders, habits, and practices that I want to work on. It’s the art of applied reflection.
I tend to use bulleted questions, because they make a great checklist and I find that questions work better than statements for reflection. Here are a couple of examples to show what I mean:
You get the idea.
This works extremely well for baking in new practices, especially after taking a new course or training. It helps turn the training into action, because it forces you to turn the insights you learned into simple test cases (For example, the questions above.) It also works well, simply because it’s making you mindful of your choices, and it’s reminding you to check your thinking, feeling, or doing against your goals.
I’ve been using this practice for several years, and it’s worked like a champ. It’s part of the Friday Reflection pattern in Getting Results the Agile Way.
If there is a new pattern or practice you want to adopt, simply add a Friday reminder and see how easily you can adopt a new habit.
"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:
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.
Let’s say you want to take your business to the Cloud -- How do you do it?
If you’re a small shop or a startup, it might be easy to just swipe your credit card and get going.
If, on the other hand, you’re a larger business that wants to start your journey to the Cloud, with a lot of investments and people that you need to bring along, you need a roadmap.
The roadmap will help you deal with setbacks, create confidence in the path, and help ensure that you can get from point A to point B (and that you know what point B actually is.) By building an implementable roadmap for your business transformation, you can also build a coalition of the willing to help you get their faster. And you can design your roadmap so that your journey flows continuous business value along the way.
In the book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee, share how top leaders build better roadmaps for their digital business transformation.
If you had infinite time and resources, maybe you could just wing it, and hope for the best. A better approach is to have a roadmap as a baseline. Even if your roadmap changes, at least you can share the path with others in your organization and get them on board to help make it happen.
Via Leading Digital:
“In a perfect world, your digital transformation would deliver an unmatched customer experience, enjoy the industry's most effective operations, and spawn innovative, new business models. There are a myriad of opportunities for digital technology to improve your business and no company can entertain them all at once. The reality of limited resources, limited attention spans, and limited capacity for change with force focused choices. This is the aim of your roadmap.”
Your best starting point is a business capability that you want to exploit.
“Many companies have come to realize that before they can create a wholesale change within their organization, they have to find an entry point that will begin shifting the needle. How? They start by building a roadmap that leverages existing assets and capabilities. Burberry, for example, enjoyed a globally recognized brand and a fleet of flagship retail locations around the world. The company started by revitalizing its brand and customer experience in stores and online. Others, like Codelco, began with the core operational processes of their business. Caesars Entertainment combined strong capabilities in analytics with a culture of customer service to deliver a highly personalized guest experience. There is no single right way to start your digital transformation. What matters is that you find the existing capability--your sweet spot--that will get your company off the starting blocks.
Once your initial focus is clear, you can start designing your transformation roadmap. Which investments and activities are necessary to close the gap to your vision? What is predictable, and what isn't? What is the timing and scheduling of each initiative? What are the dependencies between them? What organizational resources, such as analytics skills, are required?”
If you involve others in your roadmap, you get their buy-in, and they will help you with your business transformation.
“Designing your roadmap will require input from a broad set of stakeholders. Rather than limit the discussion to the top team, engage the operational specialists who bring an on-the-ground perspective. This will minimize the traditional vision-to-execution gap. You can crowd-source the design. Or, you can use facilitated workshops, as as 'digital days,' as an effective way to capture and distill the priorities and information you will need to consider. We've seen several Digital Masters do both.
Make no mistake; designing your roadmap will take time, effort, and multiple iterations. But you will find it a valuable exercise. it forces agreement on priorities and helps align senior management and the people tasked to execute the program. Your roadmap will become more than just a document. If executed well, it can be the canvas of the transformation itself. Because your roadmap is a living document, it will evolve as your implementation progresses.”
When you create your roadmap, focus on the business outcomes. Think in terms of adding incremental business capabilities. Don’t make it a big bang thing. Instead, start small, but iterate on building business capabilities that take advantage of Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data technologies.
“Technology for its own sake is a common trap. Don't build your roadmap as a series of technology projects. Technology is only part of the story in digital transformation and often the least challenging one. For example, the major hurdles for Enterprise 2.0 platforms are not technical. Deploying the platform is relatively straightforward, and today's solutions are mature. The challenge lies in changing user behavior--encouraging adoption and sustaining engagement in the activities the platform is meant to enable.
Express your transformation roadmap in terms of business outcomes. For example, 'Establish a 360-degree understanding of our customers.' Build into your roadmap the many facets of organizational change that your transformation will require customer experiences, operational processes, employee ways of working, organization, culture, communication--the list goes on. This is why contributions from a wide variety is so critical.”
There are lots of way to build a roadmap, but the best thing you can do is put something down on paper so that you can share the path with other people and start getting feedback and buy-in.
You’ll be surprised but when you show business and IT leaders a roadmap, it helps turn strategy into execution and make things real in people’s minds.
10 High-Value Activities in the Enterprise
Drive Business Transformation by Reenvisioning Operations
Drive Business Transformation by Reenvisioning Your Customer Experience
Dual-Speed IT Drives Business Transformation and Improves IT-Business Relationships
How To Build a Better Business Case for Digital Initiatives
How To Improve the IT-Business Relationship
How Leaders are Building Digital Skills
Management Innovation is at the Top of the Innovation Stack
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 …
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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:
Paul Lidbetter on Value Realization
Martin Sykes on Value Realization
Mark Bestauros on Value Realization
Graham Doig on Value Realization
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
“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 gap is huge but the lines blur fast. There is a huge demand for people that are both business savvy and technology savvy.
“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.'”
True hybrid professionals will be the leaders of tomorrow.
“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.'”
To keep up and get ahead, you need to master Digital Skills and be able to use them in a business savvy way.
“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.
As a PM (Program Manager) at Microsoft, one of the things I end up doing a lot is making lists. Lists of priorities, lists of features, lists of scenarios, lists of open issues, lists of ideas, etc.
I know a lot of people makes lists. But what's the difference that makes the difference?
I think it's three things:
As the joke goes, a plan is a lists of things you'll never do. That's what happens when you fall into analysis-paralysis or don't take action. (BTW - action and timeboxing are the cure for analysis-paralysis)
A "laundry list" is not an actionable list because it's just a random dump of things. The laundry list becomes actionable when you rank and prioritize the items, turning it into an "ordered list."
Precision is an important attribute. Precision simply means filtering out everything that's not directly relevant. I find the most valuable lists are precise. I’d rather have two precise lists, than one mixed up list. A precise list of actions, or a precise list of ideas, or a precise list of issues is a thing of beauty. It’s the elegance before the action.
There are list makers and there are list doers. Having a list is a start, but action is what really makes any list valuable. An effective list is a springboard for the right actions.
If you're an avid list maker, challenge yourself to be a skilled list doer. It's a key to making things happen, and action is the difference that makes the difference.
There’s a little trick I learned about how to have your best year ever:
Commit to Your Best Year Ever
And, it actually works.
When you decide to have your best year ever, and you make it a mission, you find a way to make it happen.
You embrace the challenges and the changes that come you way.
You make better choices throughout the year, in a way that moves you towards your best year ever.
A while back, our team, did exactly that. We decided we wanted to make the coming year our best year ever. We wanted a year we could look back on, and know that we gave it our best shot. We wanted a year that mattered. And we were willing to work for it.
And, it worked like a champ.
In fast, most of us go our best reviews at Microsoft. Ever.
It’s not like it’s magic. It works because it sets the stage. It sets the stage for great expectations. And, when you expect more, from yourself, or from the world, you start to look for and leverage more opportunities to make that come true.
It also helps you role with the punches. You find ways to turnaround negative situations into more positive ones. You find ways to take setbacks as learning opportunities to experience your greatest growth. You look for ways to turn ordinary events into extraordinary adventures.
And when you get knocked down. You try again. Because you’re on a mission.
When you make it a mission to have your best year ever, you stretch yourself a little more. You try new things. You take old things to new heights.
But there’s a very important distinction here. You have to own the decision.
It has to be your choice. YOU have to choose it so that you internalize it, and actually believe it, so that you actually act on it.
Otherwise, it’s just a neat idea, but you won’t live it.
And if you don’t live it, it won’t happen.
But, as soon as you decide that no matter what, this will be YOUR best year ever, you unleash your most resourceful self.
If you’ve forgotten what it’s like to go for the epic win, then watch this TED talk and my notes:
Go For the Epic Win
Best wishes for your best year.
I don’t do a lot of interviews, but I like what Carl and Richard do for the .NET developer community at large, so I agreed to shoot the breeze … Check out the .NET Rocks Interview on Getting Results the Agile Way.
Carl and Richard were curious to learn more about the system and what it’s all about. I warned them up front that it’s not about agile development, and that it’s actually a system that anybody can use to get better, faster, simpler results.
That said, if you are a developer, you can appreciate the full extent of the system and how it’s based on Evergreen principles, patterns, and practices for time management, productivity, energy management, and meaningful results. (Note – it’s the same approach I used to be on time, on budget for more than ten years, leading distributed teams around the world, so it’s industrial strengths, but I designed it to be simple enough that my Mom can use it.)
Some users of the system like to think of it as “Agile for Life” or “Scrum for Life.”
My ultimate goal was to give as many people possible, an extreme advantage in achieving results, but bringing together proven practices from positive psychology, sports psychology, project management, software development, and other disciplines into an integrated, simple system. To bottom line it, it’s a simple system for meaningful results.
It’s the playbook I wish somebody gave me when I started out in life, and I’m hoping that it saves many people a lot of painful lessons and helps them leapfrog and make the most of what they’ve got.