How much does “trust” contribute to the quality of a team’s performance and the overall success of your company?  Leaders in modern companies have recently summarized a few thoughts:

Factors that contribute to the development of a trusting culture:

  • Leaders who are self-aware and solicit feedback (with the honest intent to improve)
  • Leaders who share information, and teams that have full access to information they need to be successful as individuals AND team members
  • Metrics that ensure individual wins are linked to team wins
  • People who do what they say, with no hidden agenda

Factors that impede the development of a trusting culture:

  • Any form of “silo” behavior
  • Organizational layers which include people who don’t solicit (or want) feedback from those below
  • Unnecessary reviews that add no value, and exist just to “check a
  • Long email chains in which senders “reply all” simply to demonstrate some level of involvement (usually superficial), or create some form of “protection” if a question is asked later.  People who are trusted, and trusting, never have to “scroll down” (and are very selective with “reply all”)

There is nothing complete about these lists, but they include good input from people who see and feel trust – or lack of it – every day.  Your personal journey to figure this out, for yourself and your company should continue every day.

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Employee Goal Review: Checklist

Review goals to ensure they are still appropriate

  • Does the goal follow the SMART model?
  • Does the goal contain …
  • Objective (what)
  • Metric or outcome (how it will be measured)
  • Timing (when)
  • Does each objective begin with an action word?
  • Is the objective clear and concise (tells you “what” you are accountable for, while avoiding excessive “how” tactical details)?
  • Is the metric clear and measurable or mushy and vague?
  • Is the timing correct/appropriate/realistic?
  • Is the definition of ‘success’ clear – do you and your manager both understand what successful performance against that goal will look like?

Employee Tips for a good performance discussion

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare…
  • Review your Goals and Objectives
  • What accomplishments stand out?
  • How do I want to leverage the things that make me unique
  • Identify and understand your strengths and development needs
  • Complete the Career Navigation Workbook in advance of your meeting
  • Consider…
  • How do you want to develop your career?
  • What do you like most/least about your current job?
  • What skills/abilities would you like to develop?
  • Make sure your goals are in-line with the needs of the business
  • Request opportunities to develop your skills and growth values
  • Ask for career and performance feedback
  • Seek opportunities and exposure to different work areas/groups

Starter Questions for Employees

  • In what areas are you interested? To what positions do you aspire? What is it about the areas/position(s) that attracts you?
  • Are you interested in global opportunities?
  • Why do you think you would be good at this?
  • Do you aspire to a managerial role? Why?
  • What competencies are needed to reach your career goals? New skills? Exposure? Depth? Breadth? Where can you develop these things?
  • What are some things you can work on in your current role to start/keep building and demonstrating competencies?
  • What experiences do you think you need to secure to reach your career goals?
  • Who has those skill/attributes you admire and would like to emulate?
  • What feedback have you gotten regarding your career goals?

Suggestions for Growing in role – Performance

  • Lead a Work-Out or process improvement project
  • Present a proposal or report out to upper management
  • Plan an off-site meeting or conference
  • Accountability for a project or large portion of a project
  • Teach team members new expertise
  • Strive to add unexpected value
  • Work with a coach or mentor
  • Serve as a mentor to a new employee
  • Benchmark other businesses & implement best practices
  • Work on a global project
  • Identify opportunities that will address Developmental Needs

Suggestions for Growing in Role – Values

  • Performance is key – maintain a high “say-do” ratio. Deliver on your promises.
  • Maintain a professional image. Behaviors in meetings, outside of meetings, with peers, etc. impact how you are perceived in the organization
  • Understand the company culture and company Growth Values
  • Always with unyielding integrity – tell the truth; come forward in time with issues
  • Embrace candid feedback and take action
  • Be aware of your development needs – continue to reflect and learn from experience
  • Get engaged – be present in meetings, take on tough issues, own resolution
  • Be a team player – focus on what is best for the organization, listen to others, connect with stakeholders
  • Know when you need help and reach out to others for advice, counsel and support

Are you ready to start looking for a new role? Consider…

  • Execution – Have you delivered results in current role and lived with outcome of your actions/decisions?
  • Timing – Is this a good time based on individual and team’s current deliverables and commitments? What reasonably needs to come to completion first?
  • Business need – Does the business have a need that aligns with your growth plans?
  • Competency Building – Have you leveraged opportunities in current role to build relevant competencies? Have you demonstrated the critical competencies to be successful in your next role (answer vary depending on the opportunity)?
  • Have you considered all aspects of the new role before applying, such as:
  • Family considerations?
  • Relocation & travel requirements?
  • Learning & development – how does this role fit with career objectives – what competency gaps will it fill to help reach long term goals?


Letter Most common Alternative
S Specific Significant, stretching, simple, sustainable
M Measurable Motivational, manageable, meaningful
A Achievable Appropriate, agreed, assignable, attainable, actionable, action-oriented, adjustable, ambitious, aligned with corporate goals, aspirational, acceptable, aggressive
R Relevant Result-based, results-oriented, resourced, resonant, realistic, reasonable
T Time-bound Time-oriented, time-framed, timed, time-based, timeboxed, time-specific, timetabled, time limited, time/cost limited, trackable, tangible, timely, time-sensitive, timeframe


The Lean Startup Method

If you haven’t read The Lean Startup by author Eric Ries, I highly suggest you pickup a copy or download a copy for your eReader.

Fascinating passages as Eric describes the five principles of the Lean Startup Method:

1. Entrepreneurs are everywhere.  You don’t have to work in a garage to be in a startup.  The concept of entrepreneurship includes anyone who works within my definition of a startup: a human institution designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty.  That means entrepreneurs are everywhere and the Lean Startup approach can work in any size company, even a very large enterprise, in any sector or industry.

2. Entrepreneurship is management.  A startup is an institution, not just a product, and so it requires a new kind of management specifically geared to its context of extreme uncertainty.  In fact, as I will argue later, I believe “entrepreneur” should be considered a job title in all modern companies that depend on innovation for their future growth.

3. Validated learning.  Startups exist not just to make stuff, make money, or even serve customers.  They exist to learn how to build a sustainable business.  This learning can be validated scientifically by running frequent experiments that allow entrepreneurs to test each element of their vision.

4. Build-Measure-Learn.  The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere.  All successful startp processes should be geared to accelerate that feedback loop.

5. Innovation accounting.  To improve entrepreneurial outcomes and hold innovators accountable, we need to focus on the boring stuff: how to measure progress, how to set up milestones, and how to prioritize work.  This reqires a new kind of accounting  designed for startups – and the people who hold them accountable.

What grabs your attention the most from the excerpt above?

The Power of Why

Simplification is all about asking questions. It’s about rejecting the status quo and accepted wisdom. It’s about digging into the way things work and the reasons behind the processes we follow. It’s about asking why.

  • Why do we do it this way?
  • Why aren’t we looking at alternatives?
  • Why can’t we change this?
  • Why doesn’t this work better?
  • Why don’t we fix this?

Large enterprises can be process oriented, no doubt about it. But as technology shifts and evolves, are our processes keeping pace? Can we really say that processes developed 10 years ago are still optimized for our current environment? Even processes developed 2 years ago may be obsolete by now. Simplification is about pulling those processes apart and looking for ways to adapt them to the “here and now.”  And then to ensure that these processes are easier to manage later when technology shifts again!

Engineers at Toyota (the source of both Six Sigma & LEAN) have a process they call The 5 Whys. The 5 Whys is an iterative approach to problem solving designed to elicit a root cause for a particular problem or failure. But we can use it to help us drive simplification as well. If you apply this same practice to unpack a process, you can achieve a greater understanding of the purpose and intent of that process and what can be done to make it simpler and easier to follow. Perhaps you’ll find you can even eliminate that process.

Traditionally, The 5 Whys were used to drive to root-cause. For instance (from Wikipedia):

The vehicle will not start. (the problem)

  1. Why? – The battery is dead. (first why)
  2. Why? – The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
  3. Why? – The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
  4. Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (fourth why)
  5. Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, a root cause)
  6. Why? – Replacement parts are not available because of the extreme age of the vehicle. (sixth why, optional footnote)
  • Start maintaining the vehicle according to the recommended service schedule. (possible 5th Why solution)
  • Adapt a similar car part to the car. (possible 6th Why solution)

Let’s apply this same thinking to the an Enterprise Change Control Process.

It takes 6 weeks to load an application into the application portfolio. (the problem)

  1. Why? – Auditors want to know that applications are assessed. (first why)
  2. Why? – We are held accountable for assessments. (second why)
  3. Why? – We must manage risk. (third why)
  4. Why? – We have defined assessment as an entrance criteria. (fourth why)
  5. Why? – I have to do an assessment before loading data. (fifth why)
  • Requiring assessments prior to loading creates a bottleneck (Solving 4th & 5th Whys)
  • Change the process to facilitate loading data followed by assessment (Solving the 5th why)

While we may argue of the order of the Whys and even their content in this example, the methodology has merit. It forces us to think analytically about why we’ve designed our world to work and what we can do, as a team, to improve it.

This method is certainly not the only approach to evaluating the prospects for simplification but it does present a simple analytic starting point for teams interested in making their worlds easier to operate.

Developing a Culture of Innovation

High Performance IT Organizations:
– Understand Change at a granular level
– Drive change versus Resist Change

Next Age IT Heroes will be “Masters of Change”

De-Synchronization is the story every executive must understand – The pace of change for various piece-parts of the world we live in is not uniform.  The un-even acceleration of key piece-parts (i.e., institutions, skill sets, practices & mind sets)

General Shape of the Future – SMAC Stack: Social Media, Mobility, Analytics/Big Data, Cloud


Moving Fast in the Enterprise

Success in today’s marketplace requires us to move faster, to get closer to customers, and to increase the probability that what we build is fundamentally what they want.  Moving Fast in the Enterprise must be done with a concise set of tools and principles, but also a new way of thinking that can help us do that better.

These principles can be applied throughout the enterprise, regardless of organizations implementing a new version of a product, taking a product into a new market, or building something fundamentally new like the world has never seen.  End results include process change to simplify internal productivity, interacting with customers better enabling quicker sales cycles, reducing the cost of sales, resulting in more value added customer solutions.

These are all changes with a high degree of uncertainty, where calculating ROI can be difficult.  By treating process changes as controlled experiments to test validity can ultimately drive an organization wide roll-out.

Do traditional enterprise processes take the idea of growth based on customer need seriously?  Is the customer completely engaged throughout the build process?  How often do we get the voice of the customer right the first time?  What if market conditions change through the life of the project which may change the scope of the project?  Getting customers engaged early and continually through the project serves to constantly test to ensure the current version of the product fundamentally is going to drive growth and delight customers.  This develops a process of continued learning where a measurable business outcome is achieved.

Organizations must focus on ‘Build, Measure, Learn’ cycle times – How much time has elapsed before we’ve validated the idea as correct or incorrect?

Every team member can be entrepreneurial about their job.  Do you have ideas about how you can serve customers better?  How can you get the ideas tested?  We should be empowered to propose experiments.  Every project must have accountability and defined metrics.  While driving process change, are you learning something important?  How are you learning about what customers want?


The End of the Industrial Age

Work Design
From Hierarchies to Networks
Twentieth Century Icons: Mastery of Scale, Quality, and Cost

  • Organizations that mastered these capabilities dominated the twentieth-century economy
  • Bureaucratic systems optimized core processes
  • Division of responsibility – needing only top leaders to worry about the overall goals
  • each worker freed to develop a component skill

The Primary Function Today: Orchestrating Intelligence

  • Using one’s particular knowledge and capacities in ways that contribute to the success of the whole
  • Combining different types of knowledge and expertise to come up with something better
  • Harnessing the smallest units of knowledge
  • Continually improving processes and routines
  • Customizing relationships with customers, suppliers and others
  • Detecting and responding to market and environmental shifts
  • Learning

Drivers for Change

  • The Technology Revolution
  • The Economic Revolution
  • The Net Generation
  • The Social Revolution

Collaboration and the Changing Nature of Work
Ronald Coase
The Economics of Collaboration

  1. Peer Pioneers
  2. Ideagoras
  3. Prosumers
  4. New Alexandrians
  5. Platforms for Participation
  6. The Global Plant Floor
  7. The Wiki Workplace
    Personal Profiles (based on people)
    Industrial Strength Social Networks
    Blogging and Microblogging
    Wikis and Document Co-creation
    Team Project Tools
    Deliberation-Decision Making
    New Generation Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management 2.0
Old: Finite Resource, Internal, Containerization
New: Infinite Resource, Internal and External, Collaboration

Collaborative Decision Making
Collaborative Decision Management
From Command and Control to Ideation and Decision Making Ecosystems:
– Brainstorming / Storyboarding
– Criticism forbidden
Beyond quantity of ideas, nothing discourage
– Objective is alternative ideas for further analysis
– Voting on ideas
Ranking ideas
– Throwing some ideas off the island

From Command and Control to Interactive Group Decisioning
Nominal Group Technique
– Personality Tree
– Not Verbal
– Ideas documented, circulated, discussed non judgmentally
– Then eventual ranking
Delphi Method
– Asynchronous
– Iterative questions and answers
– Convergence towards actionable insights
Combinations of the Above

From Command and Control to Sense and Respond
From Meeting Domination to approaches like Delphi
From Decisions as Events to Decisions as Reusable Assets
From Knowledge Management to Social Knowledge



4 New Ways to Think About Our Jobs

Below is a summary of the way we should be thinking about our jobs today versus the way it might have been 20 or 30 years ago:
1) “Average” is officially over…everyone has to find their (personal) way to create value
2) We grew up in a high wage/medium skill world…now it is only a high wage/high skill world
3) We must keep reinventing our jobs to keep them:
• Think like an immigrant (be a paranoid optimist)
• Think like an artisan (your job is a personal work, “your initials in it”)
• If you think you are “finished”…you may be
• PQ+CQ>IQ (‘passion quotient’ plus ‘curiosity quotient’ is more important than ‘intellectual quotient’)
4) The world of “defined benefits” is over…only defined contributions count

The Unstoppables

There are books you find that you simply can’t put down, for your own personal reasons, the content is somehow so engaging and relative, your mind becomes a sponge pulling in the words off the page as if they are dancing directly into and through your cerebral cortex.  Ok, let’s not get carried away, but I recently read a book giving that kind of passion.  Below are my highlights and commentaries.  Enjoy!

The Unstoppables – Tapping your entrepreneurail power
Foreword by Graham Weston, Chairman and Co-founder, Rackspace
Author: Bill Schley, Co-founder, BrandTeamSix

The Unstoppables in seven sentences:
1. The war for the future is happening now.  It’s about jobs and economic power, and we need a wartime response.
2. The key to winning is in the hands of UnStoppable entrepreneurs.  We need millions more.
3. We went looking for the essence of entrepreneurship, but we couldn’t find the solution in the usual places…. so we went on a journey.
4. We talked to Israeli entrepreneurs and Navy SEALs – experts in fear, risk, and failure.
5. We found the system nations use in wartime:
– Distill the essence of what it takes to put people in motion, and
– Teach the emotional mechanics of getting started and keeping on through risk.
6. It’s called Accelerated Proficiency.  It makes people believers and makes them UnStoppable.
7. This book is about accelerated proficiency for entrepreneurs.  It will
– debunk the false myths about entrepreneurs and what the do;
– demonstrate the skills, rules, and power that make entrepreneurs UnStoppable; and
– show why it works in big companies, too – and why it’s the key to the future

The Big A-HA’s
Most of what we discovered about what makes ordinary people UnStoppable didn’t come from business or academic experts.  The best stuff was taught to us personally by members of the SEALs and the Israeli Special Forces.  These folks – the toughest and most elite practitioners of risk-management and problem-solving on earth – talk about a key to success that MBA professors don’t teach…. something even more important than the technical mechanics of their craft.  They teach what we call emotional mechanics – the internal capacity to get yourself started, to keep going, to overcome obstacles, and to innovate on the fly.  They are the real-world PhDs in the art and science of making  ordinary people UnStoppable – and the lessons they teach apply  to anyone who seeks success in any field.

We also discovered a system that can speed up the learning curve for entrepreneurs.  It’s a set of rules and principles that teaches you how to get into motion, safely and quickly, to accomplish any objective you have.  It’s called Accelerated Proficiency, and it’s a system that people have used for centuries to mobilize and train themselves in times of war or crisis.  It relies most of all on discovering the essence of whatever challenge you face.

A commander in the IDF explained it like this: “When you are in a tough spot and you have to improvise to save the mission, there is one question you must constantly ask yourself: Where is the center?

It’s the question that gets you to the heart of the matter.  How do we align to this?  What is the essence of this problem and its solution?  The more you look, the more you see that there is an essence to every important skills-based challenge human beings undertake.  The moment we get it, we switch from uncertainty to understanding, from doubt to belief, both mentally and physically.

Learners can become rapidly proficient at astonishing things when they are soaked in the essence from the start, then given a small skills set and rules set that support the essence.  When these elements are tied together, the result is Accelerated Proficiency.  Those who aren’t exposed to these things, even with years of instruction, may never become proficient at all.

This book is going to show you the essence of entrepreneurship.  Then we’ll review the short skills and rules sets that will enable Accelerated Proficiency in any enterprise.  Some of the insights we’ll share may come as a shock to you – a paradigm-shifting “a-ha! moment” that may change your life.


Speed and Inclusion

Let’s talk about speed…the need to have timeframes, deadlines and target dates that are determined by markets, competitors and customers.  Not by internal processes and “when we feel like it.”  Also, the importance of inclusiveness, team play, and our leaders’ responsibility to get people on the same “page.”  Is there a conflict between “speed” and “inclusion”?  Is taking time to collaborate at odds with moving quickly?  I don’t think so.

In our ultra-competitive world, being late greatly increases our chance of losing, and being early helps us win…at this level it is a pretty easy choice.  Inclusiveness is important too, because most of our work is complicated, and can only be executed well if many people understand exactly what they need to do, and then do it.  Taking an extra step to get everyone on the same page can make everything else go faster, improving both our ability to be on time, execute well, and win.

Striking a balance here requires a few things, but mainly judgment.  Leaders have to assess who and how many to “include” and how much time should be allotted for “inclusion.”  People have to participate (or be included) when and where they are asked, not when they feel like it.  If you can’t make the meeting or conference call, find another way to communicate your views without slowing the process down.

Everyone has to recognize that inputs have to be collected, expectations have to be communicated, and decisions have to be made based on external deadlines and commitments.  If you don’t know what the timeframe or deadline is for doing something, ask.  If you know what it is, adjust your schedule to accommodate it or make other arrangements so the process can move forward.

Customers set the pace, and there is only one time zone that counts – the one they (not the rest of us) are in.  If all else fails, just remember that fast companies that deliver on their commitments win more than slow companies that don’t…