J.D. Meier's Blog

Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Now Available: Trends for 2014 at Your Fingertips

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    It’s here.  I’ve published my Trends for 2014:

    Trends for 2014: The Year of Value Realization

    It’s a deep dive.

    Some things will look familiar.  Some things will look new.   Some things might surprise you.

    There are a lot of interesting patterns at play.   For example, baby boomers are shaping innovation.  Developing countries are turning around the flow of innovation.  The world is going social, businesses are going cloud, everything is getting mobile, people and machines are getting better together, and analytics for everything is bringing new levels of insight, and opening new possibilities.

    I plucked out a couple of the trends to share here that you might find interesting:

    Dream Teams the Virtual Way.  Has there ever been a better time to assemble a team of super heroes to change the world?   Build your dream team, ship ideas, and change the world. 99 Designs.com puts 100,000+ designers are at your fingertips.  Behance.net is a leading online platform to showcase and discover creative work and hire top talent.  Elance.com gives you access over 2 million skilled freelancers from around the world.  Fiverr.com helps you hire people around the world to perform tasks and services, referred to as “gigs” beginning at a cost of $5 per job performedFreelancer.com provides instant access to the world’s largest outsourcing marketplace. oDesk.com connects you to millions of quality freelancers where you can outsourcing your needs.

    Infrastructure as code.  “Continuous delivery and DevOps have elevated our thinking about infrastructure. The implications of thinking about infrastructure as code and the need for new tools are still evolving.”    See Thoughtworks Technology Radar, May 2013

    We are the Borg, device implants, and electronically enhanced you. It’s not just wearable computing.  Devices are ingestible and implantable, too  Implants, smart pills and electronic tattoos will change the medical field, among other arenas.   Smart pills and smart “stick on” tattoos can send relay vital signs of a patient to doctors.  Doctors gather detailed data on “neural signatures” of illnesses through implants.

    There’s plenty more at Trends for 2014: The Year of Value Realization.

    What I also did was a pretty thorough roundup of key trends for 2014 from a variety of sources.

    And, I do mean a variety.

    If there is one post you read from me this year, this is the post.

    It can help you reimagine you and your world, and inspire you with new ways to exploit the future and the kaleidoscope of trends that are shaping the fabric of our emerging reality.

    It puts the future in your hands.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Time Management Tips #5 - Reduce the Friction in Your Day

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    Untitled

    Little things that get in our way, wear us down.  By creating a few glide paths in our day, we can jumpstart and maintain our momentum.  Daily momentum is a key ingredient to making things happen.

    Time management tips #5 is -- reduce the friction in your day.  Friction is the resistance we feel, when we go to do something.  It might be extra steps in our process.  It might be clutter that gets in our way.  It might be the inconvenience of where we put things.  All these little friction points add up.

    The goal is to reduce the bottlenecks in your day, and give yourself a handful of friction-free experiences.  For example, paths in your house should not be an obstacle course over laundry or toys.  Your computer desktop should have fast access to your most common apps.  You shouldn't have to do awkward moves whether it's reaching for shampoo, or getting a glass, or throwing out the garbage (and finding the garbage should not be a game of hide and go seek.)

    Your key measure is how you feel, and whether you have to work too hard, to do something simple.  The more you have to do something each day, the simpler you should make it.

    Here are a few examples that have worked for me.

    1. I stuck my sneakers next to my bed, so I could waked up, throw my sneakers on, and hit my elliptical machine.
    2. I keep the path to my desk clear, so I can throw my bag down, slap my laptop into position, and hop on, in seconds.
    3. I keep a zero inbox, so when I check my mail, it's only new stuff.
    4. I keep my desktop empty, so I always have a clutter-free experience.
    5. I made space on my shelves, so I can easily add books, without having to squish them in.
    6. I keep my vitamins lined up in a simple way, so I can grab and go.
    7. I keep notepad open, so I always have a fast dumping ground for ideas, tasks, or notes.
    8. I use sticky notes in my books, so that I can put them back on the shelf and quickly find my placeholders.
    9. I keep the space in front of my whiteboards clear, so it's easy to huddle the team around the board on the fly.
    10. I double up on things if it helps to have them handy, such as a water bottle at work and home, a sticky pad at my desk, and in the car, etc.

    If you get creative, you can find a lot of ways to simplify your daily moves and experiences. Some of the main ideas are:

    1. Allow for fast and simple moves.
    2. Have a place for things, so you can put things in their place.
    3. If something bugs you, see if you can deal with it.  Don't just let it bug you every day.
    4. Keep space available on your desk, on your shelves, on your bookcases, in your laptop bag, etc.
    5. Make your worst chores, the easiest things to do.

    The mantra is … the more friction free you can be, the more momentum you can build.   Don’t let things break your stride, and don’t let things slow you down.

    In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the exercise and Reduce Friction and Create Glide-Paths for Your Day to get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis.

    You can also find more time management tips in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, and on Getting Results.com

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Creating Career Opportunities

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    How do you create career opportunities?   You reinvent yourself.

    While you can always hope for things to land in your lap, there are specific patterns I see successful people do.  Among those that continuously create the best career opportunities, here are the key success patterns:

    1. They invest in themselves.  They’re always learning, and taking some sort of training, beyond their day job.
    2. They reinvent themselves.  As a result of investing in themselves, they grow new capabilities.   With their new capabilities, they expand the opportunities they can easily plug themselves into.  For example, a few of my friends started to focus on data science in anticipation of big data, as one of the key trends for 2013 and beyond.  As part of re-inventing themselves, they re-brand themselves to better showcase what they’re bringing to the table.
    3. They build connections before they need them.  It’s always been a game of who you know and what you know, but now more than ever, your network can be the difference that makes the difference when it comes to finding out about relevant opportunities.
    4. They know who’s job they want.   They have a role-model or two that already does the job they want.  The role-model exemplifies how they want to show up, how they want to spend their time, and through that role-model they learn the types of challenges they want to take on, and they get better perspective on what the life-style is actually like.  This not only helps them get clarity on the type of job they want, but it helps when they tell other people the kind of job they want, and can point to specific examples.
    5. They know the market.   They pay attention to where the action is.   They don’t just follow their passion.  They follow the money, too, to know where the growth is, and where there’s value to be captured.  As the saying goes, every market has niches, but not every niche has a market.
    6. They have a mentor, and a “board of directors.”   They use a circle of trusted advisors that can help clue them into where to grow their strengths, and how to find better opportunities, based on what they’re capable of.   It might be their “wolf pack”, but more often than not, it’s a seasoned mentor or two that has great introspection, and can see what they can’t, and they can help them to see things from a balcony view.  Most importantly, the sharp mentors, the wise and able ones, help them to know their Achilles heal, and get past glass ceilings, and avoid career limiting moves.
    7. They have a sponsor.  Like a game of Chutes and Ladders, skilled sponsors help them find the short-cuts, avoid the dead ends, and avoid sliding backwards.

    If you’re wondering where the best career opportunities are, sometimes it’s the job you’ve already got, sometimes you have to go find them, and sometimes, you have to make them.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    How To Have Your Best Year Ever

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    There’s a little trick I learned about how to have your best year ever:

    Commit to Your Best Year Ever

    That’s it.

    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.

    Ever.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Value is in the Eye of the Beholder

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    One common pitfall is throwing a lot of time and effort at things, only to find that when you’re done, nobody cares. If you keep feeling a lack of appreciation, then ask yourself, “Who was I doing it for?” If it was for yourself, was it what you most cared about, or could you have invested the same time in something else and felt like you made a more important impact. If you were doing it for somebody else, ask them whether what you’re working on is really the most important thing to them. If you’re working on a lot of low-priority items, don’t expect to get the rewards. In fact, a pattern is that the more you work on low-priority items, the more you become a dumping ground. The more you become a dumping ground, the busier you get; the busier you get, the more overloaded you will feel. Now the worst happens—you’re overworked, underappreciated, and no fun to be around. By failing to work on what’s valuable and by failing to understand and reset expectations, you’ve worked yourself into an unrewarding, high-stress scenario.

    Browse more tips on getting results at http://GettingResults.com

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    30 Day Improvement Sprints Revisited

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    “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.”  -- Voltaire

    With New Years, coming, I think it's a good time to remind you of a technique you can use to increase your success exponentially.

    It's 30 Day Improvement Sprints.  If you have a goal in mind that you seriously want to nail, then 30 Day Improvement Sprints might be exactly what you need to help you knock it out of the park.  I've talked about 30 Day Improvements Sprints here on this blog, but I've also shared them in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.

    What You Need to Know About 30 Day Improvement Sprints
    Here's what you need to know about 30 Day Improvement Sprints

    1. Chip away at any stone.  30 days is a great way to chip away at any stone.
    2. Use them as a force multiplier.  By doing a little something each day toward your goal, it adds up.  It's a force multiplier.
    3. It’s easier to sustain, because it’s not forever.  It's a sprint, meaning you can apply extra force and focus, since you don't have to sustain it forever.   This is especially helpful for experiments and changing behaviors or habits.
    4. Get a fresh start each month.  You get to choose a focus each month.  Each month is a new page.  A fresh start.  A do-over.
    5. Meaningful months.  Rise above the noise.  When you have a theme for the month, you have something bigger you are working towards.

    Born Out of Necessity
    I originally created 30 Day Improvement Sprints as a way to deal with the fact that I had competing priorities.  I had a lot of things I wanted to focus on, but then I was constantly hopping back and forth, and not making enough progress on any one thing.  Then I stepped back and look at my year as a portfolio of possibility.   I have 12 months to invest and play around with.  I then asked the question, what if I used each month as a way to focus on something I really wanted to learn or improve?  Then each month, I could either pick the same thing again, or choose something new.  Finally, rather than do everything at once, I could focus on one key theme for the month, knowing that next month, I could then focus on my next big thing.  The side benefit of this is peace of mind.   When you have a time or a place for things, you can put them to rest.  Otherwise, they keep competing for your attention, until you finally say, next month is when I’ll focus on XYZ.

    Benefits of 30 Day Improvement Sprints
    30 Day Improvement Sprints turned out to be one of my biggest game changers.  Here are some of the benefits I experienced:

    1. Monthly Themes.  I had a specific focus or theme for the month.  This alone was worth it's weight in gold.
    2. Breakthroughs.  I was suddenly having breakthroughs because I was spending enough time on a problem.
    3. Exponential learning.   Because it was a longer stretch of time, I started taking on new challenges, and learning new things.
    4. Changing habits.  Changing habits became easier because I could easily set a theme and focus for the month, and just do a little each day.
    5. Domain deep dives.  The distinctions and insights that I learned from focusing on a goal for the month, lead to some deep discoveries and self-awareness.

    Examples of 30 Day Improvement Sprints
    I used 30 Day Improvement Sprints for everything from learning Windows Azure to improving roller blading to experimenting with eating living foods and getting 10 years younger.   One of my most memorable 30 Day Improvement Sprints was a focus on 30 Days of Getting Results.   Each day, for 30 days, I took 20 minutes to write about one thing that really helped me achieve better, faster, and simpler results.   The results was a large body of insight and action with mini-lessons for getting your groove on and changing your game.   (I ended up creating a free 30 Days of Getting Results eBook to put it all at your finger tips.  If there’s enough interest, I’ll figure out how to put it on the Kindle too.   It’s the perfect thing to help you start the New Year with some of the best patterns and practices for getting results on your side.)

    Results at Work
    I’ve also used 30 Day Improvement Sprints to focus and energize teams at Microsoft.   For example, when I first joined the Enterprise Strategy team at Microsoft, I made one of the themes a focus on “simplicity.”   This theme caught on, and soon our General Manager was driving action and focus on simplicity.    This helped us take a fresh look at one of our products and find ways to dramatically simplify the experience.   As the simplicity focus gained momentum, more and more breakthroughs started to show up, all in the name of a simplified experience.

    Use 30 Day Improvement Sprints as Your Unfair Advantage in the New Year
    I’m a fan of Voltaire’s original quote, but I would twist it a little … “Few challenges withstand the assault of sustained action.”   Using 30 Day Improvement Sprints really does put the advantage of time on your side, as well as the power of focus and motivation.   It also creates an incredible learning loop.   Your little actions and feedback loops each day teach you distinctions you can use each new day to keep improving and getting over the humps.

    Here are a couple ways you can use 30 Day Improvement Sprints to get exponential results in the New Year:

    1. Use January to go through 30 Days of Getting Results.
    2. Turn your New Years Resolution into a 30 Day Improvement Sprint.
    3. Choose one of your most self-defeating habits and go up against it in a 30 Day Improvement Sprint.

    Think about it … A New Year.  A fresh start.  Twelve months in which you can choose a new theme or focus each month.   Maybe you learn a new language?   Maybe you learn the Tango?   Who knows.    There are a lot of opportunities and potential when you have a system on your side.

    If you’ve used 30 Day Improvement Sprints, I’d love to hear how you’ve used them.  I’ve had various folks send me their stories on their breakthroughs and changes.   I always enjoy reading the stories, so keep sending my way.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Cloud Changes the Game from Deployment to Adoption

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    Before the Cloud, there was a lot of focus on deployment, as if deployment was success. 

    Once you shipped the project, it was time to move on to the next project.  And project success was measured in terms of “on time” and “on budget.”   If you could deploy things quickly, you were a super shipper.

    Of course, what we learned was that if you simply throw things over the wall and hope they stick, it’s not very successful.

    "If you build it" ... users don't always come.

    It was easy to confuse shipping projects on time and on budget with business impact.  

    But let's compound the problem. 

    The Development Hump

    The big hump of software development was the hump in the middle—A big development hump.  And that hump was followed by a big deployment hump (installing software, fixing issues, dealing with deployment hassles, etc.)

    So not only were development cycles long, but deployment was tough, too.

    Because development cycles were long, and deployment was so tough, it was easy to confuse effort for value.

    Cloud Changes the Hump

    Now, let's turn it around.

    With the Cloud, deployment is simplified.  You can reach more users, and it's easier to scale.  And it's easier to be available 24x7.

    Add Agile to the mix, and people ship smaller, more frequent releases.

    So with smaller, more-frequent releases, and simpler deployment, some software teams have turned into shipping machines.

    The Cloud shrinks the development and deployment humps.

    So now the game is a lot more obvious.

    Deployment doesn't mark the finish.  It starts the game.

    The real game of software success is adoption.

    The Adoption Hump is Where the Benefits Are

    If you picture the old IT project hump, where there is a long development cycle in the middle, now it's shorter humps in the middle.

    The big hump is now user adoption.

    It’s not new.  It was always there.   But the adoption hump was hidden beyond the development and deployment humps, and simply written off as “Value Leakage.”

    And if you made it over the first two humps, since most projects did not plan or design for adoption, or allocate any resources or time, adoption was mostly an afterthought.  

    And so the value leaked.

    But the adoption hump is where the business benefits are.   The ROI is sitting there, gathering dust, in our "pay-for-play" world.   The value is simply waiting to be released and unleashed. 

    Software solutions are sitting idle waiting for somebody to realize the value.

    Accelerate Value by Accelerating Adoption

    All of the benefits to the business are locked up in that adoption hump.   All of the benefits around how users will work better, faster, or cheaper, or how you will change the customer interaction experience, or how back-office systems will be better, faster, cheaper ... they are all locked up in that adoption hump.

    As I said before, the key to Value Realization is adoption.  

    So if you want to realize more value, drive more user adoption. 

    And if you want to accelerate value, then accelerate user adoption.

    In Essence …

    In a Cloud world, the original humps of design, development, and deployment shrink.   But it’s not just time and effort that shrink.  Costs shrink, too.   With online platforms to build on (Infrastructure as a Service, Platforms as a Service, and Software as a Service), you don’t have to start from scratch or roll your own.   And if you adopt a configure before customize mindset, you can further reduce your costs of design and development.

    Architecture moves up the stack from basic building blocks to composition.

    And adoption is where the action is.  

    What was the afterthought in the last generation of solutions, is now front and center. 

    In the new world, adoption is a planned spend, and it’s core to the success of the planned value delivery.

    If you want to win the game, think “Adoption-First.”

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    How To–Design Your Week with Skill

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    I wrote a how to on How To Design Your Week.  It’s all about mastering time management.

    Let me first say that mastering your time is one of the most challenging things you can do in life.  It’s a topic that folks like Peter Drucker have filled books with.  Let me also say that, while it is tough, it’s also one of the best things you can do to lead a better life.  And the beauty is, the moment you start spending your time in more meaningful ways, you get immediate payback. 

    What if right now, you were working on your next best thing to do?  (It’s a simple question, but it cuts to the chase.)

    This How To is based on helping many folks inside and outside of Microsoft design a schedule that helps them simplify their work, free up more time, get more done in the same amount of time, spend more time where it counts, and use their best energy for their best results.  The trick in today’s world is that you don’t get more hours in a day – but you can amplify your results by improving your energy.

    I prioritized creating this how to because I need to scale.  Lately I’ve been helping a lot more fellow Microsoft colleagues design a schedule that brings out their best results and helping them get a handle on their work-life balance.  The bottom line is, they wanted to spend less time, but get better, faster, simpler results.  Most importantly, they wanted to stop thrashing and start thriving.

    Just about everybody I know is feeling the pain of an increasingly competitive, increasingly connected, “always on” world.  There’s always more to do, than you can possibly get done, but throwing more time at the problem isn’t the answer. 

    … So what is?

    Design your time with skill.

    If you let your week just happen, it’s very easy for your weekly schedule to erode to a point where it works against you in every possible way:  your best energy gets wasted on the least impactful things, it takes ten times longer to get things done, the faster you go, the more behind you get, you wear yourself down emotionally, mentally, physically.  Perhaps the worst thing though is, without carving out time for what’s important, you never have the time for the things that mean the most to you.

    If you can design a week, you can create repeatable patterns that serve you throughout the year.  The key is spending the right time, on the right things, with the right energy, the right way.  This is the magic formula for getting exponential results from time you already spend.  This is how you unleash your best, time and again, get more done in the same amount of time, feel strong all week long, and free up more time for the things you really want to spend your time on.

    If you’re ready to exponentially make the most of what you’ve got and unleash yourself, take How To – Design Your Week for a test drive.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Cognizant on the Next Generation Enterprise

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    As a strategist, I need to stay on top of how the world of business is changing, especially from an IT perspective. 

    The world of business is changing faster than ever.  

    Changes are happening in the ways we work, business models and processes are evolving, customers are changing what they value and how they buy, and technology is transforming and shaping the next generation Enterprise.

    Likewise, the smart CIOs and IT organizations are significant shapers of the next generation Enterprise.  They are doing so by rethinking business models, reinventing the organization, and rewiring operations.

    In their whitepaper, Making the Shift to the Next-Generation Enterprise, Cognizant shares 8 future-of-work enablers you can evaluate against to help you build a strategy to future-proof your business.

    Key Challenges Shaping the Next Generation Enterprise

    According to Cognizant, the following are unprecedented, relentless and perplexing challenges that organizations of today face:

    • Economic volatility
    • Globalization
    • Changing consumers
    • Changing workplace
    • Technology advancement

    The 3 R’s:  Reinvent, Rethink, and Rewire

    According to Cognizant, the following are the 3 R’s of corporate model transformation to future-proof your business:

    1. Reinvent: Updating the Business Model.   Cognizant says: “In some cases, companies are putting customer opinions and ideas at the center of their R&D model to ensure new products and services will succeed in the market. In others, business-to-business suppliers are using social networking to improve their delivery and replenishment models. In all these cases, moving to a collaborative business model opens new channels of talent, knowledge, expertise and capability.”
    2. Rethink: Creating New Process Models.  Cognizant says: “Next-generation enterprises will master these two elements — breaking up the value chain in core and non-core activities and orchestrating a virtual network of service providers for the latter. The idea is to leverage virtual teams of talent and knowledge wherever they exist geographically, rather than relying on what is embedded in the organization.”
    3. Rewire: Focusing on a New IT Architecture.  Cognizant says: “The challenge for IT is to undertake significant shifts in its traditional thinking to support the new areas of focus. This includes customer-facing core competencies; intuitive user interfaces inspired by consumer-facing mobile applications; collaborative business models involving customer and supplier co-creation; and virtual, globally dispersed teams focused on executing knowledge-intensive business processes.”

    8 Future-of-Work Enablers

    According to Cognizant, the 8 future-of-work enablers are as follows:

    1. Community Interaction.  Interacting/engaging with users through social media.
    2. Innovation.  Creation of an environment to breed and enable innovation of products and services, in the form of open, closed and virtual innovation.
    3. Worker empowerment.  Empowering the workforce to be location-agnostic through communication-rich mobile devices and enabling a culture of collaboration and creativity for millennial employees.
    4. Virtual collaboration.  Building platforms of collaboration to enable the virtual environment.
    5. Customer empowerment.  Empowering customers by providing cutting-edge tools and media to improve the customer experience.
    6. Commercial model flexibility.  Flexibility to choose between being asset heavy vs. asset light (Cap-Ex vs Op-Ex; buy vs. lease), as appropriate.
    7. Value chain flexibility.  Flexibility to choose and source value chain elements from anywhere; disaggregating people from functions.
    8. Flexible service delivery.  Flexibility to choose and source infrastructure from anywhere (e.g., cloud, mainframe, client/server, etc.).

    Mapping the 8 Future-of-Work Enablers to the 3 Areas of Transformation

    According to Cognizant, you can map the 8 future-of-work enablers to the 3 R’s of corporate model transformation as follows:

    Future-of-Work Enabler Business Model Business Processes Technology
    Community Interaction     X
    Innovation X X  
    Worker empowerment X X X
    Virtual collaboration   X X
    Customer empowerment X X X
    Commercial model flexibility X   X
    Value chain flexibility X X  
    Flexible service delivery   X X

    Hot Spots for Future of Work Maturity

    According to Cognizant, you can evaluate against a specific set of KPIs within each area of corporate model transformation:

    Business Model Business Processes Technology
    1. Global marketing effectiveness
    2. Supply chain optimization
    3. Value chain optimization
    4. Millennial channel focus
    5. Talent acquisition and retention
    6. Virtual teaming policy
    7. Facility footprint optimization
    8. Customer interaction through systems of engagement
    1. Business process agility
    2. Process regional adaptability
    3. Process componentization
    4. Process standards management
    5. Customer engagement and involvement
    6. Potential for personal development
    7. Process virtualization pervasiveness
    8. Collaboration effectiveness
    9. Remote operational effectiveness
    10. BPaaS adoption rate (or "as a service" adoption rate)
    11. Adoption potential of systems of engagement
    1. Application portfolio extendibility
    2. Workload asset optimization
    3. Infrastructure management globalization
    4. Customer empowering application portfolio
    5. Worker empowering application portfolio
    6. Degree of "any device, anytime, anywhere" realization
    7. Enabling virtual collaboration
    8. Mobile and remote device communications
    9. Data storage and processing agility
    10. Social architecture development

    Outperforming the Competition

    According to Cognizant, there is a prescription for outperforming the competition:

    Tomorrow’s corporate winners have already started to adapt their corporate operating models. Based on a survey of 25 Fortune 500 companies, we have found that, on average, organizations are aware of future-facing concepts and capabilities, and they have begun enabling these capabilities in pockets of the organization. However, the initiatives are inconsistent and not always focused on the strategic business agenda.”

    The Role of the CIO and the IT Organization is Evolving

    According to Cognizant, CIOs and IT organizations are shapers of the next generation Enterprise:

    “Woven into this trend, we are seeing that the most mature adoption is happening at the technology layer of the corporate operating model. This suggests that the IT organization, and perhaps the role of the CIO, are evolving as drivers and shapers of the next-generation enterprise. This is not all that surprising, given that a large aspect of this work is underpinned by technology that powers long overdue business process transformation. We believe the real opportunities will present themselves as the business models are rethought and the operations/ processes are reinvented, along with this trend to rewire the technology.”

    Additional Resources

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Be the Next Microsoft Employee Finale

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    Here’s a little fun …

    … Are you the next Microsoft employee?

    Here is the final episode of Be the Next Microsoft Employee, where the winner gets the grand prize -- a job at Microsoft.   It really happens too – the winner started July 30th, 2012.  Check out the finale episode of Be the Next Microsoft Employee:

    (Note – If the video doesn’t play for you, try watching directly on YouTube at Be the Next Microsoft Employee.)

    It’s a great little video.   One of the contestants even poses the question – “To Azure? … or Not to Azure?”

    If you think just being technically strong is the name of the game, that’s not so.

    I couldn’t help but think of shtick by comedian Mitch Hedberg where he complains that to be a comedian, you have to be more than a comedian to be successful. “So you're a comedian, but can you act? … It's like asking a cook, OK, so you're a chef, but can you farm?”

    I liked this comment by judge, Tim DiMarco:

    “In addition to technical skills, your ability to communicate your ideas effectively, collaborate across teams, and be able to sell your ideas is critical to long term success at Microsoft.”

    I also liked these other comments and pointers by the judges:

    • Have an explicit tie-in between WHY you do something, so people can follow WHAT you want to do.
    • Don't make big bold claims or guarantees in a technical conversation.   And watch for technical accuracies.
    • Start with the positive.  If you lead with the negative of the technology, you lose people.
    • Review and summarize what you're doing and why up front to set the stage, and keep it simple.
    • Actually show the priority in how you want to address the requirements.
    • Connect what you are doing back to what the customer wants or needs.   Make it relevant, and don’t’ make them have to make the connection.   Make the connection between your solution, and their problem, for them.

    Here are some of the folks involved in making this happen:

    • Creator/Executive Producer - Mark Protus
    • Host/Director - Fred Northup, Jr.
    • Judges:  Buck Woody, Tim DiMarco
    • Guest Judges: Karen Lopez, Pete Harris

    You can explore the Microsoft Learning team’s Be the Next Microsoft Employee Home Page where all of the episodes are available, as well as more information about the show.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Why Agile?

    • 3 Comments

    I thought I had written about “Why Agile” before, but I don’t see anything crisp enough.

    Anyway, here’s my latest rundown on Why Agile?

    1. Increase customer involvement which can build empathy and avoid rework
    2. Learn faster which means you can adapt to change
    3. Improve quality through focus
    4. Reduce risk through shorter feedback loops and customer interaction
    5. Simplify by getting rid of overhead and waste
    6. Reduce cycle time through timeboxing and parallel development
    7. Improve operational awareness through transparency
    8. Drive process improvement through continuous improvement
    9. Empower people through less mechanics and more interaction, continuous learning, and adaptation
    10. Flow more value through more frequent releases and less “big bang”

    Remember that nature favors the flexible and agility is the key to success.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    5 of the Best Books I’ve Read Recently on Getting Jobs, Doing Leadership, and Presenting with Skill

    • 0 Comments

    I read a lot.  I read fast.  I go through a lot of books each month.  Books help give me new ideas and ways to do things better, faster, and cheaper.   Books are one of the best ways I get the edge in work and life.

    Here are the 5 of the best books I’ve read recently, along with links to my reviews:

    1. When Can You Start? How to ACE the Interview and Win the Job, by Paul Freiberger
    2. Advice is for Winners: How to Get Advice for Better Decisions in Life and Work, by Raul Valdes-Perez
    3. The Power of Starting Something Stupid: Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret, by Richie Norton
    4. Stories that Move Mountains: Storytelling and Visual Design for Persuasive Presentations, by Martin Sykes, A. Nicklas Malik, and Mark D. West
    5. It’s Already Inside: Nurturing Your Innate Leadership for Business and Life Success, by Robert Murray

     

    When Can You Start?, as the name implies, is all about turning interviews into job offers.   It’s a quick read and it tackles many of the common pitfalls you can run into during the interview process.  Best of all, it provides a methodical approach for preparing for your interviews, by using your resume as a platform for telling your story in a relevant way.   If you’re trying to find a job, this is a great book for helping you get your head in the game, and stand out from the crowd, during the interview process.

    Advices is for Winners is a cornucopia of insights and actions for creating an effective board of advisors to help you in work and life.   I thought it would be a fluff book, but it was actually a very technical guide.  It's written by an engineer, so the advice is very specific, and very data-driven.  It includes a lot of lists, such as 6 benefits of getting advice, 22 questions for scoring a scenario, and 28 reasons why people resist advice.  Mentors are the short-cuts and getting better advice is how you get ahead.

    The Power of Starting Something Stupid is all about how to crush fear, make dreams happen, and live without regret.   In the forward, Stephen Covey wrote: "It reminds each of us that all things are possible, that life is short, and to take action now."

    Stories that Move Mountains introduces the CAST system for creating visual stories.  It’s a powerful book about how to improve your presentation skills using storytelling and visuals.  I ended up using some of the ideas in one of my presentations recently to senior leadership, and it helped me prioritize and sequence my slides in a far more effective way.

    It's Already Inside directly addresses the question, "Are leaders born or made?"  The book is a really great synthesis of the leadership habits and practices that will make you a more productive and more effective leader.

    Each of these books has something for you in it.  Of course, the challenge for you is to dive inside, find the gems that ring true for you, and apply them.

    Happy reading.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    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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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Time Management Tips #8 - Power Up with Purpose

    • 0 Comments

    Untitled

    Nothing helps you stay the course, or pick up the pace, or deal with setbacks like purpose.  One of the best ways to focus, get your groove on, and make things happen is the power of purpose.

    Time management tips #8 is power up with purpose.  Purpose is they "why" behind what you do.  It gives you a meaningful mission to apply your strengths, experience, and talent.  In the absence of purpose, you lose your drive.  After all, it's hard to bring out your best when there's no motivating mission.

    Purpose comes in all shapes and sizes.  Some say, "Go big or go home."  For many, that's a way to step up to the plate.  A way to swing with all their might.  A way to dream big dreams.  Here's what this might look like:

    - I’m the researcher who finds the truth.
    - I’m the developer who writes the code to change the world.
    - I’m the coach who helps make others great.
    - I’m the musician who makes people feel alive.
    - I’m the poet who makes people think.

    Purpose doesn't have to be grandiose to be effective. For others, a simple meaningful purpose is all they need. Heres' what this might look like:

    - I’m the technical specialist who helps customers succeed on the platform.
    - I’m the Program Manager who helps customers share cool experiences.
    - I’m the glue who connects the UI to the developers.

    Roles and goals are a simple way to find purpose.  Take your role, line it up with the goal, and make that your mission or your purpose.  Here are some that I have used:

    - I am the PM who shapes the cloud story for end-to-end engagements in the Enterprise.
    - I am the PM who shapes the Microsoft application story for customer success.
    - I am the Pm who shapes the security and performance story for LOB apps.

    You can make the purpose for the day, the week, the month, the year, etc.  You know you nailed it when it inspires you to action, and it helps you get out of bed in the morning.

    Create a one-liner reminder of your purpose that you can use today, to make your mission more meaningful.

    In 30 Days of Getting Results, you can use the time management exercises to find your purpose and get exponential results on a daily and weekly basis.  You can also find more time management tips in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way, and on Getting Results.com

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Cloud Scenarios at Your Fingertips

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    If you don’t know the scenarios for the Cloud, it’s hard to make the case for the Cloud.  Whether you’re a Solution Architect, Enterprise Architect, Business Leaders, IT Leaders, CIO, analyst, etc., you need to know the pains, needs, and desired outcomes so that you can rationalize the technology more effectively.

    What you’ll find below are collections of scenarios large and small that will help you see the full landscape of the Cloud within the Enterprise landscape.  When you have the scenarios at your fingertips, you can better evaluate business strategies or technical strategies, as well as create more effective business cases, because you understand the pains, needs, desired outcomes, as well as the benefits that go along with each scenario.

     

    Business and IT Scenarios for the Cloud

     

    Category Scenarios
    Business Scenarios

    Achieve cost-effective business continuity
    Create new revenue streams from existing capabilities
    Decrease power consumption
    Decrease the time to market for new capabilities
    Easily integrate new businesses into your organization
    Improve operational efficiency to enable more innovation
    Improve the connection with your customers
    Provide elastic capacity to meet business demand
    Provide Enterprise messaging from anywhere
    Reduce upfront investment in new initiatives

    IT Scenarios

    Business Intelligence
    Cloud Computing
    Consumerization of IT
    Corporate Environmental Sustainability
    Innovation for Growth
    Low-Cost Computing in the Enterprise

    For details on each of the scenarios, including a description and key benefits, see:

     

    Cloud User Stories for Business Leaders, IT Leaders, and Enterprise Architects

    Here is a robust collection of User Stories for Cloud Enterprise Strategy.

    To do a deep dive on the pains, needs, and desired outcomes from around the world, I created a round up of user stories for the Cloud, from the perspective of business leaders, IT leaders, and Enterprise Architects.  I included many CIOs from several large companies in different industries to get a broad perspective.    I ended up with more than 50 user stories of the pains, needs, and desired outcomes for the Cloud in the Enterprise.  Note that while the list is a bit dated, many of the core user stories are still highly relevant and actually evergreen.

    With a prioritized list of the user stories for the Cloud, I then grouped them into a simple set of categories:

    • Awareness / Education
    • Architecture
    • Availability
    • Competition
    • Cost
    • Governance and Regulation
    • Industry
    • Integration
    • Operations
    • People
    • Performance
    • Planning
    • Risk
    • Security
    • Service Levels / Quality of Service
    • Solutions
    • Sourcing
    • Strategy
    • Support

    Cloud Scenarios Hub on TechNet (Public and Private Cloud Scenarios)

    If you haven’t seen it, TechNet has a Cloud Scenarios Hub.

    I like the focus on scenarios – it’s a great way to bring together a problem and a solution in context, while pulling together all the relevant guidance.  It’s a focusing anchor-point in action.

    I created a simple index to the Public and Private Cloud Scenarios.

    Key Links

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    How To Use Personas and Scenarios to Drive Adoption and Realize Value

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    Personas and scenario can be a powerful tool for driving adoption and business value realization.  

    All too often, people deploy technology without fully understanding the users that it’s intended for. 

    Worse, if the technology does not get used, the value does not get realized.

    Keep in mind that the value is in the change.  

    The change takes the form of doing something better, faster, cheaper, and behavior change is really the key to value realization.

    If you deploy a technology, but nobody adopts it, then you won’t realize the value.  It’s a waste.  Or, more precisely, it’s only potential value.  It’s only potential value because nobody has used it to change their behavior to be better, faster, or cheaper with the new technology.  

    In fact, you can view change in terms of behavior changes:

    What should users START doing or STOP doing, in order to realize the value?

    Behavior change becomes a useful yardstick for evaluating adoption and consumption of technology, and significant proxy for value realization.

    What is a Persona?

    I’ve written about personas before  in Actors, Personas, and Roles, MSF Agile Persona Template, and Personas at patterns & practices, and Microsoft Research has a whitepaper called Personas: Practice and Theory.

    A persona, simply defined is a fictitious character that represents user types.  Personas are the “who” in the organization.    You use them to create familiar faces and to inspire project teams to know their clients as well as to build empathy and clarity around the user base. 

    Using personas helps characterize sets of users.  It’s a way to capture and share details about what a typical day looks like and what sorts of pains, needs, and desired outcomes the personas have as they do their work. 

    You need to know how work currently gets done so that you can provide relevant changes with technology, plan for readiness, and drive adoption through specific behavior changes.

    Using personas can help you realize more value, while avoiding “value leakage.”

    What is a Scenario?

    When it comes to users, and what they do, we're talking about usage scenarios.  A usage scenario is a story or narrative in the form of a flow.  It shows how one or more users interact with a system to achieve a goal.

    You can picture usage scenarios as high-level storyboards.  Here is an example:

    clip_image001

    In fact, since scenario is often an overloaded term, if people get confused, I just call them Solution Storyboards.

    To figure out relevant usage scenarios, we need to figure out the personas that we are creating solutions for.

    Workforce Analysis with Personas

    In practice, you would segment the user population, and then assign personas to the different user segments.  For example, let’s say there are 20,000 employees.  Let’s say that 3,000 of them are business managers, let’s say that 6,000 of them are sales people.  Let’s say that 1,000 of them are product development engineers.   You could create a persona named Mary to represent the business managers, a persona named Sally to represent the sales people, and a persona named Bob to represent the product development engineers.

    This sounds simple, but it’s actually powerful.  If you do a good job of workforce analysis, you can better determine how many users a particular scenario is relevant for.  Now you have some numbers to work with.  This can help you quantify business impact.   This can also help you prioritize.  If a particular scenario is relevant for 10 people, but another is relevant for 1,000, you can evaluate actual numbers.

      Persona 1
    ”Mary
    Persona 2
    ”Sally”
    Persona 3
    ”Bob”
    Persona 4
    ”Jill”
    Persona 5
    ”Jack”
    User Population 3,000 6,000 1,000 5,000 5,000
    Scenario 1 X        
    Scenario 2 X X      
    Scenario 3     X    
    Scenario 4       X X
    Scenario 5 X        
    Scenario 6 X X X X X
    Scenario 7 X X      
    Scenario 8     X X  
    Scenario 9 X X X X X
    Scenario 10   X   X  

    Analyzing a Persona

    Let’s take Bob for example.  As a product development engineer, Bob designs and develops new product concepts.  He would love to collaborate better with his distributed development team, and he would love better feedback loops and interaction with real customers.

    We can drill in a little bit to get a get a better picture of his work as a product development engineer. 

    Here are a few ways you can drill in:

    • A Day in the Life – We can shadow Bob for a day and get a feel for the nature of his work.  We can create  a timeline for the day and characterize the types of activities that Bob performs.
    • Knowledge and Skills - We can identify the knowledge Bob needs and the types of skills he needs to perform his job well.  We can use this as input to design more effective readiness plans.
    • Enabling Technologies –  Based on the scenario you are focused on, you can evaluate the types of technologies that Bob needs.  For example, you can identify what technologies Bob would need to connect and interact better with customers.

    Another approach is to focus on the roles, responsibilities, challenges, work-style, needs and wants.  This helps you understand which solutions are appropriate, what sort of behavior changes would be involved, and how much readiness would be required for any significant change.

    At the end of the day, it always comes down to building empathy, understanding, and clarity around pains, needs, and desired outcomes.

    Persona Creation Process

    Here’s an example of a high-level process for persona creation:

    1. Kickoff workshop
    2. Interview users
    3. Create skeletons
    4. Validate skeletons
    5. Create final personas
    6. Present final personas

    Doing persona analysis is actually pretty simple.  The challenge is that people don’t do it, or they make a lot of assumptions about what people actually do and what their pains and needs really are.  When’s the last time somebody asked you what your pains and needs are, or what you need to perform your job better?

    A Story of Using Personas to Create the Future of Digital Banking

    In one example I know of a large bank that transformed itself by focusing on it’s personas and scenarios.  

    It started with one usage scenario:

    Connect with customers wherever they are.

    This scenario was driven from pain in the business.  The business was out of touch with customers, and it was operating under a legacy banking model.   This simple scenario reflected an opportunity to change how employees connect with customers (though Cloud, Mobile, and Social).

    On the customer side of the equation, customers could now have virtual face-to-face communication from wherever they are.  On the employee side, it enabled a flexible work-style, helped employees pair up with each other for great customer service, and provided better touch and connection with the customers they serve.

    And in the grand scheme of things, this helped transform a brick-and-mortar bank to a digital bank of the future, setting a new bar for convenience, connection, and collaboration.

    Here is a video that talks through the story of one bank’s transformation to the digital banking arena:

    Video: NedBank on The Future of Digital Banking

    In the video, you’ll see Blessing Sibanyoni, one of Microsoft’s Enterprise Architects in action.

    If you’re wondering how to change the world, you can start with personas and scenarios.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    30 Day Boot Camp for Getting Results: Free Time Management Training for Achievers

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    Getting Results the Agile Way is a time management system for achievers.  It combines some of the best practices for thinking, feeling, and taking action into one simple system to help you make the most of what you’ve got, and master your time management skills.  It draws from software development, project management, positive psychology, and sports psychology.

    Free Time Management Training
    As an introduction to the system, I created a free 30 Day Boot Camp for Getting Results.   It's called a boot camp because it's hard-core.  It's a 30 day, self-paced time management training course.  If you want to take your time management skills to the next level, then take the 30 Day Boot Camp for Getting Results.   Keep in mind that because it’s self-paced, you could do all 30 lessons in a day, if you choose to.  This may be one of the best time management training courses you ever take, and the price is tough to beat.

    Time Management Skills
    Here are some of the time management skills you will learn, tune, and improve as part of the time management training:

    • How to manage your time
    • How to focus and direct your attention with skill
    • How to spend more time on the things that really matter to you
    • How to be the author of your life and write your story forward
    • How to make the most of your your moments, days, weeks, months, and years
    • How to use a simple system to achieve meaningful results
    • How to achieve work-life balance
    • How to play to your strengths and spend less time in weaknesses
    • How to motivate yourself with skill and find your drive
    • How to change a habit and make it stick
    • How to improve your personal productivity and personal effectiveness

    You will learn time management tips and strategies as part of a system, each lesson can be used by itself or “better together” with other lessons.

    Time Management Training Lessons at a Glance
    Here are the 30 Lessons at a Glance that make up the time management training:

    • Day 1 – Take a Tour of Getting Results the Agile Way
    • Day 2 – Monday Vision – Use Three Stories to Drive Your Week
    • Day 3 – Daily Outcomes – Use Three Stories to Drive Your Day
    • Day 4 – Let Things Slough Off
    • Day 5 – Hot Spots – Map Out What’s Important
    • Day 6 – Friday Reflection – Identify Three Things Going Well and Three Things to Improve
    • Day 7 – Setup Boundaries and Buffers
    • Day 8 – Dump Your Brain to Free Your Mind
    • Day 9 – Prioritize Your Day with MUST, SHOULD, and COULD
    • Day 10 – Feel Strong All Week Long
    • Day 11 – Reduce Friction and Create Glide Paths for Your Day
    • Day 12 – Productivity Personas – Are You are a Starter or a Finisher?
    • Day 13 – Triage Your Action Items with Skill
    • Day 14 – Carve Out Time for What’s Important
    • Day 15 – Achieve a Peaceful Calm State of Mind
    • Day 16 – Use Metaphors to Find Your Motivation
    • Day 17 – Add Power Hours to Your Week
    • Day 18 – Add Creative Hours to Your Week
    • Day 19 — Who are You Doing it For?
    • Day 20 — Ask Better Questions, Get Better Results
    • Day 21 – Carry the Good Forward, Let the Rest Go
    • Day 22 – Design Your Day with Skill
    • Day 23 — Design Your Week with Skill
    • Day 24 – Bounce Back with Skill
    • Day 25 – Fix Time. Flex Scope
    • Day 26 – Solve Problems with Skill
    • Day 27 – Do Something Great
    • Day 28 – Find Your One Thing
    • Day 29 – Find Your Arena for Your Best Results
    • Day 30 – Take Agile Results to the Next Level

    Key Links

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    My Arm’s Broke, Fix Me - Three Levels of Guidance in patterns & practices

    • 4 Comments

    Early in my patterns & practices days, each time I built a new team, we had a hard time figuring out what level to cater our writing for because we had such a variety of audience, even among architects.

    After a lot of pain, we finally adopted a three-level system that serves us very well.  It helped us focus our writing and nail problems in an incremental way.  You’ll never see this in our docs, but it shaped how we prioritize our docs.  We used three levels …

    Three Levels of Guidance
    Here is the behind-the-scenes look at how we talked about these three levels of guidance on the team:

    1. Level 1 - “My Arm’s Broke, Fix Me” – This is where a customer is in pain, and just wants the fix.  You’re in the emergency room, and you just want the doctor to do their job and just fix it.  Sure, there might be lots of ways to fix it, but for now, just give me one that works.  Make it step by step.  Don’t’ make me think.  Level 1 – “My Arm’s Broke, Fix Me” guidance is great for scenarios where you are either under the gun, don’t have the time, or just don’t care about the intimate details and just want to make it work.  (If you’ve ever been presented with a bunch of options and can’t figure out a single path, you can especially appreciate this.  This was our answer to, just give me a proven practice and be done with it.)  We turned this level of prescriptive guidance into How Tos.  Here are examples of Security How Tos.  We also turned these into whiteboard solutions, or "Application Scenarios.”  Here are some examples of Application Scenarios.
    2. Level 2 –“Show Me All the Options” – This is where you want the options on the table.  Don’t just give me a recommendation, give me the options, and I’ll pick my path.  Or if you are going to give me a recommendation, lead up to it.  Give me all the options, then suggest what might work for me.  Level 2 – “Show Me All the Options” is good for scenarios where, the reader is smarter than the canned solution, or is a skeptic, has the time to think through the options, or wants to be involved in the solution.  It’s about exposing the thinking.   Here is an example of Level 2 – “Show Me All the Options” where we exposed Authentication and Authorization patterns in ASP.NET.  Eventually we found a way to combine the benefits of Level 1 – “My Arm’s Broke, Fix Me” with Level 2 – “Show Me All the Options” by creating a matrix of options + adding scenario-based recommendations.  Here is an example of a matrix of options with scenario-based recommendations, with our Cheat Sheet – Data Access Technology Options.
    3. Level 3 - “I Live for this Stuff” – This is where I’ve got all the time in the world and I love reading about this stuff on the weekends.  Throw all the “blah, blah, blah” my way and the intimate details and I will happily engulf it to no end.  You can’t overload me with too much minutia and I want all the stories or elaboration you can muster.  Your knowledge of the nooks and crannies is my amusement.  Explained – Forms Authentication in ASP.NET and Explained – Windows Authentication in ASP.NET are good examples of this level of guidance.  Security Fundamentals for Web ServicesThreats and Countermeasures for Web Services, and Authentication, Authorization, and Identities in WCF is another good example of this level of guidance.

    Prioritizing Guidance
    As a rule of thumb, we decided that we would focus on first addressing Level 1 – “My Arm’s Broke, Fix Me.”  This way, we could at least leave a trail of proven practices and pave a path of success.  As a result, many of the guides I shipped from patterns & practices are heavy on “How Tos.”  In fact, the guides are really “action guides.”  The first half of the guide, sets the stage by sharing mental models, key concepts, and principles.  This is optimized for reading in a sequential flow, but still modular so you can hop around.  The second half of the guides is a focus on “action” and is a set of action modules (Cheat Sheets, Checklists, Guidelines, How Tos).  It’s optimized for random access, and the individual modules link back to the related items.

    This simple way to think about the majority of our guidance helped us significantly priorities the work we did for the following projects:

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    10 Big Ideas from XYZ

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    I’m trying out a new way to do book reviews, to share more value in a better, faster, and easier way, with a predictable experience.  

    My new approach is to focus on 10 big ideas.

    Here’s an example:

    10 Big Ideas from BRIEF

    Side note – BRIEF is a powerful book with hard-core techniques for getting to the point and cutting through fluff.  If you struggle with being verbose, or rambling, this book will help you master the art of “Lean Communication.”

    In my book reviews in the past, I shared the challenges the book solved, the structure of the book, and some “scenes” from the book, sort of like a “movie trailer.”   While that was effective in terms of really doing a book justice, I thought there was room for improvement.

    I figured, Sources of Insight is all about, well, “insight.”   So then my best approach would be to focus on the big ideas in the books I read, and share that unique value in a simple to consume fashion.   I considered “3 Big Ideas” and “5 Big Ideas”, but they both seemed too small.  And more than 10 seemed too big.

    10 Big Ideas seems like a healthy dose of insights to draw from a book.

    I had actually considered this approach a long time ago, but I was worried that it would water things down too much.  Instead, I’m finding that it’s doing the exact opposite.  Using 10 Big Ideas as a constraint is a great forcing function to help me really synthesize and distill the essence of a book, and to really hone in on the most valuable takeaways.  

    And it’s a great way to turn insight into action in a very repeatable way.

    I already read and review books at a fast pace, but I think this new approach is going to help me get even better and faster at rapidly sharing insight and action.

    I’m in the early stages, so if you have ideas or feedback on the 10 Big Ideas approach for my book reviews, please let me know.

    Take 10 Big Ideas from BRIEF for a spin.  Kick the tires.   It will be worth your time.  If you master Big Idea #7, alone, you'll be ahead of the game when it comes to making your pitch, or presenting your ideas.

    Lean Communication can be your differentiator in a noisy, crowded, information overloaded world.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Driving Business Transformation by Reenvisioning Your Customer Experience

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    You probably hear a lot about the Mega-Trends (Cloud, Mobile, Social, and Big Data), or the Nexus of Forces (the convergence of social, mobility, cloud and data insights patterns that drive new business scenarios), or the Mega-Trend of Mega-Trends (Internet of Things).

    And you are probably hearing a lot about digital transformation and maybe even about the rise of the CDO (Chief Digital Officer.)

    All of this digital transformation is about creating business change, driving business outcomes, and driving better business results.

    But how do you create your digital vision and strategy?   And, where do you start?

    In the book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee, share some of their lessons learned from companies that are digital masters that created their digital visions and are driving business change.

    3 Perspectives of Digital Vision

    When it comes to creating your digital vision, you can focus on reenvisioning the customer experience, the operational processes, or your business model.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Where should you focus your digital vision? Digital visions usually take one of three perspectives: reenvisioning the customer experience, reenvisioning operational processes, or combining the previous two approaches to reenvision business models.  The approach you take should reflect your organization’s capabilities, your customer’s needs, and the nature of competition in your industry.”

    Start with Your Customer Experience

    One of the best places to start is with your customer experience.  After all, a business exists to create a customer.  And the success of the business is how well it creates value and serves the needs of the customer.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Many organizations start by reenvisioning the way they interact with customers.  They want to make themselves easier to work with, and they want to be smarter in how they sell to (and serve) customers.  Companies start from different places when reenvisioning the customer experience.”

    Transform the Relationship

    You can use the waves of technologies (Cloud, Mobile, Social, Data Insights, and Internet of Things), to transform how you interact with your customers and how they experience your people, your products, and your services.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Some companies aim to transform their relationships with their customers.  Adam Bortman, chief digital officer of Starbucks, shared this vision: 'Digital has to help more partners and help the company be the way we can ... tell our story, build our brand, and have a relationship with our customers.' Burberry's CEO Angela Ahredts focused on multichannel coherence. 'We had a vision, and the vision was to be the first company who was fully digital end-to-end ... A customer will have total access to Burberry across any device, anywhere.'  Mare Menesquen, managing director of strategic marketing at cosmetics gitan L'Oreal, said, 'The digital world multiples the way our brands can create an emotion-filled relationship with their customers.’”

    Serve Your Customers in Smarter Ways

    You can use technology to personalize the experience for your customers, and create better interactions along the customer experience journey.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Other companies envision how they can be smarter in serving (and selling to) their customers through analytics.  Caesars started with a vision of using real-time customer information to deliver a personalized experience to each customer.  The company was able to increase customer satisfaction and profits per customer using traditional technologies.  Then, as new technologies arose, it extended the vision to include a mobile, location-based concierge in the palm of every customer's hand.”

    Learn from Customer Behavior

    One of the most powerful things you can now do with the combination of Cloud, Mobile, Social, Big Data and Internet of Things is gain better customer insights.  For example, you can learn from the wealth of social media insights, or you can learn through better integration and analytics of your existing customer data.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Another approach is to envision how digital tools might help the company to learn from customer behavior.  Commonwealth Bank of Australia sees new technologies as a key way of integrating customer inputs in its co-creation efforts.  According to CIO Ian Narev, 'We are progressively applying new technology to enable customers to play a greater part in product design.  That helps us create more intuitive products and services, readily understandable to our customers and more tailored to their individual needs.”

    Change Customers’ Lives

    If you focus on high-value activities, you can create breakthroughs in the daily lives of your customers.

    Via Leading Digital:

    “Finally, some companies are extending their visions beyond influencing customer experience to actually changing customers' lives.  For instance, Novartis CEO Joseph Jimenez wrote of this potential: ‘The technologies we use in our daily lives, such as smart phones and tablet devices, could make a real difference in helping patients to manage their own health.  We are exploring ways to use these tools to improve compliance rates and enable health-care professionals to monitor patient progress remotely.’”

    If you want to change the world, one of the best places to start is right from wherever you are.

    With a Cloud and a dream, what can you do to change the world?

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Write Down Your Three Wins

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    When you write your Three Wins for today, you set the stage for better results. This simple habit gives you a rapid way to focus, prioritize, and master your time management.

    You can do this anytime, anyplace, anywhere.

    Here are some examples:
    I'm on top of my day.
    I have a draft plan in place for completing the project.
    I have a great demo to showcase my results.

    If you’re having a bad day, maybe your win will simply be “have a great lunch” (we all have those days.)

    Those are just a some examples.  You have to write the wins that make sense for you.  They should be simple, sticky, and easy to say.  Your test is whether you can say them without looking them up, and that you believe in them, and they inspire you for the day.

    You can identify your Three Wins for the day, by simply asking yourself a question:

    What are three wins you want for today?

    In other words, if today were over, what are Three Wins that you would want under your belt?

    Writing down your Three Wins is the easiest way to get started using Agile Results.  Simply write down your three wins for the day, and you're using Agile Results.   (I explain this in much more detail and with examples in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.)

    It’s simple.  It’s effective.  It works.  It works because you engage your brain, and breathe life into your day, by holding a few vital wins in your mind, to guide you throughout your day.

    We have a ton of things coming our way every day.  We can be overwhelmed, or run over by requests for our time, meetings galore, waves of email, or simply too much to do, and too little time.

    That's one lens.

    And that lens shapes our mindset.  It's easy to get overloaded, and overwhelmed.  It's easy to give up on doing the things that make the difference.  In Stephen Covey terms, it's easy to spend too much time on "urgent" things like distractions and interruptions, and not enough time on important things, like our critical activities and important longer term goals, or "sharpening our saw."

    But, you can flip this around. 

    You can use your tools to change your day.  When you ask yourself, what are the Three Wins that you want for today, you create a brand new lens.  You drive your day.  Rather than react to the things coming your way, you can respond.  You know if you're trading up or just getting randomized.  It's a conscious choice now.

    If you want better results each day and for the long haul, you need a simple habit you can use on a daily basis that gives you the edge.

    Use your Three Wins to win more in work and life.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Time Management Tips #17-Identify Outcomes

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    Untitled

    One of the best ways to win back time is to use outcomes.  An outcome is simply an end-result, or an end-in-mind.  You identify outcomes by asking, "What do I want to accomplish?" or "What do I want to achieve?"

    Time management tips #17 is identify outcomes.  When you know your outcomes, you know your target.  Now you can focus on that.  You can shave everything else off.  By knowing the outcomes, you can focus on the most essential activities or steps to achieve the outcome.  Or, as Bruce Lee would say, "Hack away at the unessential."

    For example, consider these scenarios:

    • Before you start the meeting, what are the outcomes?
    • Before you dive into the code, what do you want to achieve?
    • Before you start that task, what's the outcome?
    • Before you start your slides, what are the three outcomes you want?

    As a quick test, take any activity that you are about to do, and identity the outcome for it.  This becomes your little test case.  Now, when you execute, you can check yourself with your test case -- have you satisifed your test case yet?

    If you get lost in asking about outcomes, simply start asking, "What's the goal?"   By asking, "What's the goal?", you can quickly get back on track.  Similarly you can ask, "What are you trying to accomplish?"

    In either case, the point is to identify your target so that you can narrow your focus, and optimize

    Outcomes help you hack away at the unessential, and they are your piercing lens of value.

    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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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    The Power of Annual Reviews for Personal Development

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    Talk about taking some things for granted.  Especially when it’s a love-hate relationship.  I’m talking about Annual Reviews. 

    I didn’t realize how valuable they can be when you own the process and you line them up with your bigger goal setting for life.  I’ve done them for so long, in this way, that I forgot how much they are a part of my process for carving out a high-impact year.

    I know I might do things a big differently in terms of how I do my review, so I highlighted key things in my post:

    The Power of Annual Reviews for Achieving Your Goals and Realizing Your Potential

    Note that if you hate the term Annual Review because it conjures up a bunch of bad memories, then consider calling it your Annual Retrospective.  If you’re a Scrum fan, you’ll appreciate the twist.

    Here’s the big idea:

    If you “own” your Annual Review, you can use taking a look back to take a leap forward.

    What I mean is that if you are pro-active in your approach, and if you really use feedback as a gift, you can gain tremendous insights into your personal growth and capabilities.

    Here’s a summary of what I do in terms of my overall review process:

    1. Take a Look Back.  In December, I take a look back.   For example, this would be my 2013 Year in Review.   What did I achieve?  What went well? What didn’t go well?  How did I do against my 3-5 key goals that really mattered.   I use The Rule of 3, so really, I care about 3 significant changes that I can tell a story around for the year (The value of a story is the value of the change, and the value of the change is the value of the challenge.)
    2. Take a Look Forward.  Also in December, I take a look ahead.  What are my 3-5 big goals that I want to achieve for this year?  I really focus on 3 wins for each year.  The key is to hone in on the changes that matter.  If it’s not a change, then it’s business as usual, and doesn’t really need my attention because it’s already a habit and I’m already doing it.
    3. Align Work + Life.  When the Microsoft mid-year process starts, I figure out what I want to achieve in terms of themes and goals for the year at work.  I’ve already got my bigger picture in mind.   Now it’s just a matter of ensuring alignment between work and life.  There’s always a way to create better alignment and better leverage, and that’s how we empower ourselves to flourish in work and life.

    It’s not an easy process.  But that’s just it.  That’s what makes it worth it.  It’s a tough look at the hard stuff that matters.  The parts of the process that make it  a challenge are the opportunities for growth.   Looking back, I can see how much easier it is for me to really plan out a year of high-impact where I live my values and play to my strengths.  I can also see early warning signs and anticipate downstream challenges.  I know when I first started, it was daunting to figure out what a year might look like.  Now, it’s almost too easy.

    This gives me a great chance up front to play out a lot of “What If?” scenarios.  This also gives me a great chance right up front to ask the question, if this is how the year will play out, is that the ride I want to be on?  The ability to plan out our future capability vision, design a better future, and change our course is part of owning our destiny.

    In my experience, a solid plan at the right level, gives you more flexibility and helps you make smarter choices, before you become a frog in the boiling pot.

    If you haven’t taken the chance to really own and drive your Annual Review, then consider doing an Annual Retrospective, and use the process to help you leap frog ahead.

    Make this YOUR year.

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  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Satya Nadella is All About Customer Focus, Employee Engagement, and Changing the World

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    I’m still learning about Satya Nadella, our new CEO at Microsoft (but a very seasoned Softie.)

    He’s been around here a while, but I never really got to meet him.

    So far, I really like his style.  He’s a quiet leader.  He focuses on three things that matter a lot to me:

    1. Customer Focus – Satya focuses on the end-to-end customer experience and wants to light up experiences that matter to make life better.
    2. Employee engagement – Satya wants people to have passion and purpose and to do work that matters.
    3. Changing the world -- As I was listening to Satya talk to us, it was all about “the future we're going to invent together” and how we’ll “express ourselves in the most creative ways.”   It’s about building a better world and software is our way.

    So then, let’s invent the future together

    And, in an Enterprise Social world, that includes Softies working with fellow Softies, in a “One Microsoft” way, and it also, includes working with our customers to co-create our future.

  • J.D. Meier's Blog

    Time Management Tips #21 - Create an Achievements List

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    You need to take stock.

    Stopping to smell the roses, includes reviewing your achievements.   You can review your achievements very simply:

    • Achievements for the day
    • Achievements for the week
    • Achievements for the month

    Simply write down a list of your achievements for the day.   Write down your achievements for the week.  Write down your achievements for the month.  If they aren’t worth writing down, then they probably weren’t worth doing.  If you are doing things that aren’t worth doing, that might be a problem – unless you have infinite time, and your boss or your customers reward you for doing things that don’t matter.   Usually, the real problem is you did a bunch of valuable stuff, but you haven’t stepped back to identify it, label it, and put it down on paper in a useful way.

    It’s a simple thing to do, but the key is to write them down, and say them out loud.  Say them out loud?  Yes.  When you speak them, you learn to simplify them.   When you simplify them, they start to stick.  When they stick, now you are learning how to tell and sell your value both to you and others.

    On paper, I might write the following:

    • Created a set of end-to-end scenarios that show how to use the Office 365 capabilities in ways to improve productivity, and how to make more business impact, in measurable ways.

    Yuck.  It’s descriptive, but it’s not sticky, and my manager won’t remember that, and I won’t remember that in the hall, if I wanted to give a quick summary of my impact.

    Let’s try again, and let’s say it out loud:

    • End-to-end scenarios for Office 365 that showcase business value in the Enterprise.

    It’s simpler.  It’s easy to say.  It’s sticky.  It’s more benefit focused, than on the “how.”  I’ve just given my manager an easy way to talk about the work without getting tongue-tied.  I’ll drill into the details where he wants to, but now he has a mental “hook” and a label for the work, and can easily express it as a win.   When you find a sticky way to say your achievement, write it down the simpler way.  You can always elaborate, but don’t let elaboration get in the way of your short and sweet wins.

    If you don’t review your achievements, then a few things happen:

    1. You lose touch of your impact.  The potential impact of your achievements gets lost, while you chase the next thing.   You do more, but feel appreciated less.  
    2. You start to lose the ability to articulate the value you delivered, both to yourself and others.
    3. You fail to appreciate your effort.  Effort is a big deal, and it doesn’t always appear to pay off.  The problem is it always pays off, but only when you reward yourself internally.   You have to reward yourself for making the effort.   You will win some and you will lose some, but for the long haul, your game winning strategy is to reward yourself for the effort.   That’s the part you control.  When you stop acknowledging and appreciating your effort, you start depending on the luck of the Gods and you start hoping the wind will blow your way.   Gradually, you erode your ability to produce outstanding results, because you erode your ability to put in the effort.

    Simply having your lists of your achievements and wins is good for you and good for others.  It helps you tell and sell your work, and it helps others tell and sell your work.

    Most importantly, having your simple list of achievements helps you acknowledge and appreciate your effort, and that’s your edge.

    For work-life balance skills , check out 30 Days of Getting Results, and for a work-life balance system check out Agile Results at Getting Results.com.

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