Posts Tagged ‘business’

Business, as a context, can look and act as if it could be at the furthest possible reach from spirituality. When I began exploring a career in business coaching I was initially turned off by all of the thoughts, interpretations and judgments I’d been carrying regarding business. Eventually I realized that what’s true about business is based on one’s interpretation – Business is in the eye of the beholder. By shifting my interpretations I was able to allow a greater potentiality for change – well, I’ll go out on a limb and say transformation.

Initially, business meant ruthless, unethical, immoral practices. It meant power hungry individuals sucking the life-blood out of anyone and everything for profit and gain; it meant status, money, dominance; it meant people don’t matter except for what they can do, compensated with the lowest salary possible. Not a pretty picture.

Not every organization looked like this to me but my projections of the worst of the worst were thrusted upon all businesses, which quite often included governments and political organizations.

My original interpretation has shifted from: if it weren’t for Big Businesses our world would be a much better place to live in, to, Big Businesses contribute in incredible ways to social causes and humanitarian efforts. They’ve created miraculous technologies and innovation, which contribute to a much better world. Business is not bad; it’s the practice of bad business that’s challenging all of us today.

There’s Beauty in the Breakdown

Things are not looking up for the world economy and business in general. We, the people, are demanding more of our businesses, whether local, corporate or global, requiring them to be accountable for the practices that on the one hand are literally killing us, while on the other they provide monies that fund projects that generate so much good on the planet. We value the good they are doing but are no longer turning a blind eye to the bad. The old paradigm can no longer sustain the pressure, and to paraphrase Einstein, we won’t be able to fix it with the same thinking that created it.

Inevitably there will be a breakdown, and it won’t be pretty. Heck, we are in the breakdown now, with few brave souls competent enough to take us through this turbulent course, understanding the currents, the rifts and perils of what’s unfolding before us.

Breakdowns are required in the process of all growth and development. Ask anyone who has lost their job, their health, their families, their business or livelihood. They will tell you that tremendous good came out of it. They didn’t ask for it but inevitably were glad it came. These are brave individuals who willingly faced the dismantling of their reality, not knowing if a breakthrough would occur; they only hoped it would occur in their favor.

Breakdowns are messy, full of angst, agony, horror, loss, humiliation, anger and resentment – humanities toughest be-withs. A be-with is something – an event, a circumstance or situation that you can’t control or change; you can only be-with it. A Big Fat Be-With occurs when facing what we’ve been avoiding, denying or distracting ourselves from far too long; there’s nowhere to go and nowhere to hide.

Breakdowns allow for a release of what no longer serves, is completed and finished. What follows is a void of activity, something that drives most of us humans, bonkers. Much like Winter, when things are dark, bleak and cold, we’re powerless to make things be different. We feel helpless and powerless, and often begin to lose hope. All we can do is take leaps of faith, which may mean just staying in this moment until the next moment arrives.

Bleakness is inevitable in any paradigm shift. Even thinking outside the box doesn’t get us out far enough to gain the perspective we need. Sometimes, awareness alone of the Big Fat Be-with is enough, and again the F word – Faith that something will shift.

One very interesting facet of the breakdown process is that blame begins to take center stage. Individuals begin taking inventory for their part in the breakdown – whether personal or organizational. They begin to see how their personal choices impact on the company, the family or community. Blame is a fascinating strategy, which serves our desire to avoid condemnation, rejection, and humiliation. It’s not my fault allows us to ignore my own responsibility and allows me to supposedly get off scot free from any accountability. Over time though, all of us will have to meet ourselves, take inventory and willingly acknowledge our responsibility for things being the way they are. Not one of us is blameless.

Breakthrough

I planted some wisteria seeds a couple of months ago. They’ve undergone a hard transition. I did the best I could to give them an environment rich with nutrients, plenty of water and sunshine. I watch with anticipation for signs of a breakthrough. Little by little their essential nature to burst beyond the hard protection of the seed pod unfolds. Tiny little shoots show themselves. They have endured incredible hazards, not of their own choosing. We rejoice in the breakthrough!

For individuals curious about spirituality in business this inevitable paradigm shift will require of them and their organization to bravely go into these breakdowns in service to what they know to be in service to something greater – a greater good for all.

Each business or business practice has emerged because of a calling a knowing, a vision, a dream: innovation comes out of these dark nights of the soul. Few of us are brave enough to follow our dreams and visions; few are bold enough be a stand for what they believe in.

Being a stand is a phrase used in personal and leadership forums. It means that who you be and how you be is in alignment with what you say is important to you. Though the phrasing sounds incorrect it’s important to understand that who you be and how you be is at the core of every choice you make; it is at the core of every choice your organization makes.

The major dilemma facing every business is the recognition of the humanity running the business. It’s balancing the elements of the people and the bottom line. Are the individuals just a resource, treated as such in service to the product, service and investors, or are people valued for their humanity, for their gifts, for their unique talents and perspective. How does an organization shift the balance? How do they allow a breakdown in service to the breakthrough?

Those of us in support of healthier business models and business practices; what’s our role? How do we empower people to empower themselves and others to facilitate this paradigm shift? It isn’t a maybe; it isn’t a perhaps. As the paradigm shifts we are readying ourselves for a global meltdown. Don’t panic, for it will be an amazing opportunity of greatest magnitude in cultivating awareness and actualization of a more spiritual orientation to every aspect of life.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Rosie Kuhn will be speaking on the topic of “Spiritual Wounding in the Workplace” at the San Francisco New Living Expo, Concourse Exhibition Center, Room #7, San Francisco, April 29th, 2011 at 7:00PM

3 Keys to Successful Integration Projects

by Matthew Carmen on April 11, 2011

Integration Projects

When a company goes through a merger, acquisition, purchase of a business unit, a strategic partnership, etc, there are activities that need to take place to make multiple entities into one cohesive unit.  These activities include: reaching the stated financial goals of the combined new business through operational and departmental combination, the selection of ongoing IT systems, and cost cutting initiatives.  All of these tasks, that create the new company, are integration projects within the larger program.

According to research done by the consulting company NGTO, over 50% of mergers are considered failures and 60-70% of these failures are due to significant misses regarding financial goals tied to the merger.  For public companies – and these are the mergers that people hear and read about – the financial goals are the key.  The true goal of a company is to grow shareholder value, be those shareholders stockholders in a public company or partners in a private entity.  If shareholder value is not improved by acquisition or merger, then what truly was the point?

Further research done by my own firm Datacenter Trust shows that when failure occurs, it is most often due to the stoppage of the integration process after reaching a portion of the total goal; say the merger of business units or reaching the financial goal set by the companies upon announcement of a deal.  By stopping the integration process, the new entity never reaches the strategic state that it set out to accomplish through merger.  Without reaching this state, optimal shareholder value is either not attained (as happens in most cases) or takes much longer and is more costly than was originally estimated.

Mitigating Integration Failure

As a financial professional with nearly two decades of integration experience, I would love to tell you that all the keys to success are based on dollars saved vs. dollars spent, but this sadly would be a lie. If I said all integration projects are successful, this too would be untrue. What I can tell you is that communication is the largest factor in a successful integration project.  Communication is followed closely by understanding – meaning that the people who will be doing the work must understand what the future state of the new organization is meant to look like.  Finally, there is program management – empowering the community that will perform the integration projects while having clear leadership and participation from the executive suite to ensure the program is aligned with the overall strategic vision. Now, lets look at these 3 a bit more closely:

Communication

I cannot stress enough that communication is the largest factor in the mitigation of integration failure.  The executive leadership of the company must ensure that the execution team understands the goal and the look and feel of the future state organization.  Leadership also must make it clear that they are willing and active participants in the program being developed.  Leadership must serve as the sounding board and approvers of each project so as to ensure the entire integration program stays aligned with the evolving strategic vision.  Without communication, there is zero chance of successfully integrating the new organization as advertised to stockholders, employees and the public at large.

Understanding

Understanding is an offshoot of communication.  I would argue that if the execution team as a whole does not completely understand the job at hand, then the notion of communication was unsuccessful.  Also, there cannot be any weak links in the execution team; everyone from the project managers to the network and database administrators must fully understand how their role will ultimately lead to success.  Without understanding, members of the execution team will invoke their own decision rules (e.g. loudest demands, squeakiest wheel, bosses whim, least risk to job, easiest activity, etc.)  Allowing this type of behavior is asking for trouble.  Integration initiatives have a finite amount of time to be completed and must be with the utmost skill and timeliness.

Program Management

Finally we come to program management; the company needs to get the best program and project managers available for integration.  This might even mean going outside the company to contract with consultants specializing in these types of integration projects.  As stated above, the project needs to be completed on time, on budget, and most importantly it must succeed in meeting the goals.  Setting up a ‘program office’ to manage integration properly is an imperative.  The program office manages expectations both up the corporate ladder to the executive suite and down to all areas of the execution team.  Management of the individual project managers is an important area of the program office as well.  With a limited amount of resources, each member of the execution team needs to manage his/her time down to the minute (remember, these team members have regular jobs as well) as the ongoing operations of the company need to take place on a continuing basis.

Countless other activities will help an integration initiative to succeed, but those I’ve covered here are the main three.  In the end, there are many intangibles that come up on a minute-by-minute basis during the project engagement.  The real key is to keep in mind that great people always lead to better results:  Empower the execution team while managing the alignment of integration and the new corporate strategy, ask for external help if needed, ensure leadership is fully engaged, and you’ll be on the path to success.

In our last post we discussed the first two areas where savvy organizations are helping newly hired Gen Ys enter the workforce – – –

A) Getting them contributing (and feeling valued) very quickly and

B) Establishing clear standards for behavior so the new hire fits into the culture.

Now we’ll talk about the third area where Gen Ys sometimes need help – – – building good people skills.

C) People skills – These are hard to change because they are deeply intertwined with how we see ourselves, the world and other people.  People skills are formed, and then selectively reinforced, throughout life.  But people can change.  I have found that annual classes teaching proven inter-personal techniques for everyone is a great idea and are most effective if taught in a lighthearted, humorous style.  Humor relaxes us so we lower our defensive guards and become more receptive to new ideas.  There is evidence that such training can bring about lasting changes in how we relate to others if those changes are doable, result in better relationships and are continually reinforced.  So enlightened organizations are providing new Gen Ys with both training and with frequent nudges that reinforce the good behavior and correct the areas where they need to improve.

Frequent Feedback

Actually, that is a key point across all aspects of working with Gen-Ys:  frequent feedback. Tell them what they did right or wrong and how to improve. Our Gen Y students have told us:

  • “I cannot believe my boss waited for a year to tell me about 2-3 things I was doing wrong!  I could have been improving since I first got here but I had no idea I was doing those things wrong.  What a stupid process the ‘annual performance review’ is here.”
  • “Nobody says squat around here about what we do right or wrong until the ‘review’ and that only happens every calendar quarter if we are lucky.  I’d like to hear every month what I am doing right and wrong.  Then I can do something about it.

This need for frequent feedback goes back to the issues we discussed in Part 1 of this series of posts:  an ego that needs frequent reinforcement from others in order to feel secure.  So for the first six months, sit down every month with each new employee’s mentor and ask about the employee, how others feel about them, how well (or poorly) they are working with others, early strengths and weaknesses that may be emerging, etc.  Then meet one-on-one with each new employee, and discuss how they see themselves, their progress, fears, suggested improvements, etc.  And here’s a technique I’ve used:  schedule the 2-hour employee “performance discussion” at 4 pm on a Wednesday (“hump day”) and then continue the chat for an hour at a nearby bar or lounge where a medicinal glass of merlot or a beer will bring out the Gen Y’s real thoughts about the organization, him/herself, processes, procedures, and becoming a valued member of the team!

Choice of a Mentor/Boss

The choice of mentor is crucial but the first boss is even more so, impacting a new employee’s career perhaps more than anything else.   A poor communicator and/or insecure, overly judgmental boss can drive a new hire out the door for greener pastures.  Unfortunately, it has been our experience that the older the boss is, the more likely he/she is to make snap judgments about people and, hence the more dangerous is their assignment to supervise a new Gen Y employee fresh from college.  The difference in peoples’ perspectives usually increases with the age gap and if too wide, the two generations may not be able to relate well and no rapport is established.  Gen Y behaviors, while age-appropriate, may then trigger irreversible impressions and inaccurate conclusions in the boss’s head.  Gen Ys are still very much a “work in progress” when they leave college and often for 3-5 years after that.  Give them an initial boss who sees them that way and will help gently shape them properly.

Arranging for new Gen Ys to initially work with other Gen Ys initially also makes for an easier transition than immediately assigning them to multi-generational teams, but emphasize from the start that working well with others of all ages, not just with other Gen Ys, is essential to being promoted and given more responsibility (and more fun assignments) in the organization.

When a new person of any generation joins an organization, an unwritten agreement is formed.  Each party agrees to do their share in making the “marriage” work.  So far we have talked about what the organization can do for the new Gen Y worker.  In the next post we will talk about what the newly hired Gen Y person must do to ease the transition into that new job.

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Spirituality in Business: As the Paradigm Shifts

by Rosie Kuhn on April 6, 2011

If I were you, perched on the edge of your seat, curious enough to click on the topic of Spirituality and Business, I’d be readying myself for what – I’m not quite sure. I know I’d have a couple questions in mind.  I’d be curious about the philosophy or beliefs of this individual. I’d also be curious about what this topic has to do with me, personally. I’d wonder if this is going to be some righteous, woo-woo individual who’s going to preach some dogma about what’s right and what’s wrong in the corporate or business world. Is she going to tell me to meditate or pray before, during and after every meeting? That’s what I would be wondering if I were you.

Spirituality in Business

My beliefs and interpretations regarding spirituality and more specifically, spirituality in business emerged through my own personal experience of exploring the edges of my comfort zone, and also through the empowerment of many individuals who’ve felt the need for a thinking partner as they began to bushwhack a spiritual path of their own. My perspective is pretty simple; Regardless of the context, be in personal or corporate, I define spirituality in the most foundational and pragmatic terms possible. Spirituality is living in faith; faith not as religion but faith as in practicing trust. Shifting from what you know to what you don’t yet know, letting go of what you may be firmly attached to for something that may be tenuous at best, takes faith. I say a leap of faith is the essential and most fundamental practice of spirituality. That’s it!

For me, what’s required to even consider the possibility of engaging in life from a spiritual perspective is the willingness to be curious about who you are and how you be you. It’s being willing to consider cultivating awareness by exploring how you choose to choose what you choose. This practice of being curious leads to self-realization, which leads one along the continuum of enlightenment, one degree at a time. Another aspect of spirituality that’s just as important is the practice of actualizing your self – taking actions in the direction of how you want to be – maybe even who you want to be in the world.

Practice

You can hear that I am emphasizing the concept of practice – exercising and developing the muscles required to be curious and cultivate awareness, and to exercise the muscles necessary to put this newfound awareness into action. Both practices take faith and the implementation of our faith leaping muscles.

Here’s a good example:

Research shows that only one person in five find fulfillment in their work. What that means is that to some degree, most of us are unhappy and unfulfilled with our jobs! Is that a spiritual issue?

Let’s say that you are one of those who are unhappy in your job; how does your unhappiness impact on a) your relationship to the work you are doing; b) your relationships with your co-workers, managers, bosses and direct reports; and c) your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends?

When you are unhappy, what’s the quality of that experience? How do you be unhappy? Seriously! Everyone’s answers will be different, but more often than not I hear the following: I am withdrawn; withholding; shut down; unavailable; and numbed out. My creativity disappears; I eat more; exercise less; and I waste a lot of time at work. So what’s that got to do with spirituality?

Here’s another question: If you are one of the unsatisfied, what is the source of that unhappiness or that lack of satisfaction. What is it that creates that lack of fulfillment?

Again, each of us will have our own unique list of responses to this question, and what I hear quite often is: I really don’t care about the product or service of my company; the company treats its employees like we are robots; This place has no soul; I’m here for the money and the prestige of my position but I have no passion for what I’m doing; No one listens to my ideas; I’m not being challenged in the way that was promised; I’m afraid that if I leave my current position I’ll never have the stability or security I now have; I can’t make the kind of money I want doing what I’d really like to be doing, so I’m stuck.

Being stuck, unhappy and unfulfilled actually are choices we make based on our wants and desires. Too often we have more than one desire that wants fulfillment, and through the practice of choice-making we have to priorities our desires. Listing our hierarchy of desires will give us a good picture of what has us choose to choose what we choose.

It doesn’t matter if you are an individual, a small business or a large corporation; on an ongoing basis you will be choosing to choose what you choose in service to your hierarchy of desires. The questions is: Is your choice-making process currently working for you? If it’s not working for you, would you consider seeing things differently in service to having more fulfillment?

You can say no, I’m not willing to see it different. That’s good to know. However, I may ask another question: what has you say no – what has you not willing to see it differently?

Faith

Our commitment to limiting ourselves to only what we know keeps things just as they are. Just the willingness to consider possibility takes faith. It causes change and disruptions. Most of us would like a change but we don’t want the disruption that comes with change. For many of us, maintaining invulnerability is at the top of our list of priorities. Exploring, experimenting, expanding our comfort zones requires a willingness to take risks, to be vulnerable. All new beginnings require vulnerability and a leap of faith.

Research and statistics indicate that kindness and compassion within the work environment is profitable; people are happier, more creative and are more likely to stay longer with their current company. Great! With all of this being true, how does an individual, a business or organization begin bringing spirituality into the work place? From my perspective it’s best to start with the practice of being curious about how you be and what you do. Enjoy the adventure

Editor’s Note: This is the start of a new Series “As the Paradigm Shifts” by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, who will be taking you on a Spiritual journey in the land of Business, in her subsequent articles.

Photo Credit: Missy McDonald Sauer

Project Reality Check #16: The Folly of Audits

by Gary Monti on April 5, 2011

“No good deed shall go unpunished,” is crazy but commonly experienced. Why is that? Why would an audit trigger punitive measures? After all, when doing one’s best it would seem safe to assume the value of the work would be recognized and would show in the numbers. This could be considered especially true with this series of blogs since earned value has been trumpeted as the heart of project management. So what is the problem? The purpose and value of reports is a good place to start.

Reports And The Meaning of Numbers

Why have reports? Simple, they sustain communications in a relationship especially when everyone can’t be together at the same time. Consequently, numbers are abstracts – distillates – of a relationship. And now the plot thickens! Communications are complex, multi-channeled, multi-contextual activities. Look at the simple joke:

Take my wife…please!

How many layers (contexts) does that joke have? It has at least two. The joke is in the collision of those contexts. Unfortunately, when that collision of contexts occurs on the job it is more of a tragedy than a comedy. The folly occurs in this collision. It puts very sharp teeth in the bite of “no good deed shall go unpunished.” So, what does this have to do with audits and reports? Plenty. It has to do with context and expectations.

Context and Expectations

So when do audits and reports go haywire?

Audits and reports go haywire when they are laden with expectations that fail to map to the reality of what it takes to get the job done or the reports project an inaccurate balance between all the contexts present.

Looking at the cause of all this will help.

The Devil Is In The Dynamics

There’s an old saying, “The devil is in the details.” There is truth in it. However, it doesn’t cover all situations.

For complex projects the devil is in the dynamics. The failures and flaws are not with the individual person or component. Rather, they exist in the dynamics between the organization and operations.

Most reports are designed to address what senior management believes are the policies and procedures, which are based on management’s expectations. Typically, this is all laid out at the concept and design phase. When a system goes into operations, though, a new element comes into play – reality. Think of the Mars rovers and all that has been done to keep them operational. Unforeseen problems had to be solved. This has led to a much longer life expectancy for the rovers than was ever anticipated. No one is going around blaming scientists and engineers for the problems encountered per the original plan. Instead they are being recognized for throwing themselves into the problems and coming up with solutions. Some work, some don’t. Looks like one rover is down for the count. Overall, though, the program has been a great success.

Listen For The Solution

A chapter can be taken from the Mars situation in generating a solution to poor audits.

The solution to poor audits is in listening; listening for how people work to get things done in spite of the system.

Again, reports are distillates of relationships. This means communication, which is a two-way street. Yes, senior management needs to determine the direction the company needs to go but this should be tempered by and informed from the wisdom and experience of those in the trenches, unless, of course, the managers are clairvoyant. My recollection, though, is years ago Madam Cleo tried that on her cable channel and went bankrupt.

I’ve spent many years as a consultant helping companies analyze their business to improve performance and reduce costs, Clients large and small often ask questions regarding outsourcing/managed-sourcing. They’ve often read case study after case study showing how companies of their size/in their industry have shown real cost savings from their IT outsourcing programs, but their own initiative seems to be lacking in some fashion, often experiencing cost overruns and sub-par service levels.

I always come back with the same answer – A question:  Did you have the right information to make this business changing decision, and did you enter into your agreement from a position of strength?  The prospective client’s answer is usually slightly defensive, wondering why I’m questioning that company’s decision-making ability.  Which essentially I am – clearly something is amiss. At this point, the wheels are in motion and a serious conversation about how the agreement was entered into can take place.  This conversation is meant to figure out what has gone wrong and how it can be fixed.

Here are the main points where an outsourcing agreement can go wrong:

  1. Is the true cost of IT known and understood?
  2. Was proper due diligence performed and a business case developed?
  3. Did you open negotiations to multiple companies so as to get the best deal for your enterprise?
  4. Are you enforcing the contract?
  5. Has your company had any changes that would affect your agreement.

If these five questions can be answered, your company will be well ahead of the game and can facilitate changes that will help resolve the issues you may be experiencing. Lets look at these a bit more:

Understanding the true cost of IT

Many companies think they understand the true cost of IT, but most don’t.  It’s not just what is in the budget, it’s what isn’t as well.  Since every employee is part of the larger family, things are often done in a way that wouldn’t necessarily be the case with an outsource company.  For example, IT support staff would likely service a broken computer while they happen to be in that particular location to fix something else; an outsource company won’t (and unless on-site, can’t) do that.  There are hundreds of other “off book” examples (an ad-hoc server repair in the datacenter without a ticket being called into the help desk, perhaps) that, once outsourced, will no longer occur.  These are true costs of doing business that are challenging to foresee and don’t always get accounted for internally, however with an outsourced vendor these types of activities become chargeable events. In a large organization, this can lead to millions of dollars in additional outsourcing costs.

Performing Due Diligence to get the best deal possible

Knowing the true cost is the first step in the due diligence process.  Other things need to occur, including:

  • Prioritizing which functions should be run internally and which should be run by experts that can drive costs out of the equation
  • An understanding of which parts of the labor force will be affected either by being re-tasked to the outsourced vendor running the operations or being relieved of their positions entirely
  • Service levels need to be agreed to internally; and
  • Building a business case that supports the initiative, this includes noting all assumptions so as to be able to go back and audit.  By doing this, the company knows what is expected and then study the agreement forensically to uncover why the initiative is not proceeding as planned.

Handling Negotiations to Secure the “best” deal possible

Each company has their own process by which they procure goods and services.  The key questions to ask here are:

  • Were your company’s policies and procedures followed?
  • Were RFI’s and RFP’s constructed properly and submitted to all viable vendors?
  • Did your company negotiate purely on price, and were factors such as the Service Levels (mentioned above) taken into consideration?
  • Did you do research on the providers, talk to their current clients, etc to make sure they were the right fit for your needs?

All of these questions need to be given consideration up front, or you’ll risk the likelihood of compromised service down the road.

Enforcing the agreement with the selected vendor

This is key. Your company, when entering an outsource agreement, must establish a structure to allow for monitoring of the agreement and related SLAs. Is the vendor living up to their end of the agreement? If no, are steps being taken to alleviate the issues?  If you are not monitoring your agreement, you are as much at fault as the vendor for any perceived failures.  The agreement and the activity associated with it need to be continually monitored, and analyzed.

Knowing the changes in business conditions that might affect your outsourcing agreement

These business conditions can take many forms, and some affect all business – the current downturn in the economy, for example.  Perhaps your company may not have grown at the rate assumed in your business case and therefore in your negotiations with your chosen outsource vendor.  Other condition changes to consider include mergers and acquisitions, perhaps you are using more computing power then you estimated and did not take into consideration when purchasing another company.  Have you come out with an incredible new product that has driven growth within your organization? This is a good affect, but one that may not have been included in the portion of the new products business case that deals with internal costs such as IT, manufacturing and supply chain management.  All of these reasons and many others can affect the actual agreement, therefore it’s a must that your agreement be continually monitored as I noted earlier.

Conclusion

Several reasons can result in your company essentially leaving dollars and services on the table with respect to outsourcing.  There’s no such thing as too much thought when evaluating an outsourcing initiative.  If you need help, there are many experts available to you who can provide guidance and help develop a sound strategy tailored to your organization. Whatever your size or complexity of project, we’re here to help.

Week In Review : Feb 13 – Feb 19, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on February 20, 2011

Social Media and Tribes #29: The new BLINK!

by Deepika Bajaj, Feb 14, 2011

Contrary to popular belief, FaceBook is not a distraction. This is true at least for people who can use it in moderation like everything else in life. Glancing at the news feed once in a while helps you be connected. It happens in a split second and you see something that doesn’t register at the conscious-level but provides a gut-feel about the thing. Just like what Malcolm Gladwell states in his popular book BLINK: The power of thinking without thinking. more…

Project Reality Check #9: Tyranny of the “Truth”

by Gary Monti, Feb 15, 2011

Everyone sees their version of the “truth” and this can cause tyrannical behavior. This happens if the person’s “truth” limits the available options for action. Or it could be because of the rigidity in the system or bureaucracy. A great example is the comparison between the Brits and the Germans in WWII. Even though both of them has the technology for a similar artillery piece, the Germans were adept at improvising whereas the Brits were more concerned about maintaining status.  more…

7 Key Strategies for designing an Analysis based Company

by Linda Williams, Feb 16, 2011

In today’s fast changing environment being an analysis based company is critical to survival and profitability. Different industries will have different needs for analysis but there are some key components of an analytical strategy that are foundational to the majority of businesses. In this article, Linda lists the top 7 strategies for designing an Analytical Strategy. more…

Flexible Focus #41: Your 100 year life span

by William Reed, Feb 17, 2011

Irrespective of what ages determine the boundaries of each stage, the truth is that there are stages to life. And you cannot see some things clearly until you take the 100 year perspective. The 100 Year Life Span Mandala Chart can help you gain clarity. It takes a while to thoughtfully fill it out, but that is a small investment of time compared to the perspective it gives you. Think of it as climbing a mountain to the summit of your life, and getting the view of everything below. You owe it to yourself to go there at least once, and if possible at least once a year. more…

Leader driven Harmony #12: 4 P’s to get your !deas moving – Part 1

by Mack McKinney, Feb 18, 2011

The four Ps to move your ideas are be Pleasant, be Professional, be Patient and Promote like crazy. But very often you may not be able to find the traction in your organization. If that’s the case, Mack suggests some ways to rectify that. more…

Week In Review : Feb 6 – Feb 12, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on February 13, 2011

Developing Organizational Bench Strength

by Sean Conrad, Feb 7, 2011

Identifying your core, differentiating competencies, and then developing them in your entire workforce, but especially in your high potential employees helps to ensure your organization has the bench strength it needs to compete and succeed. Developing bench strength is about developing pools or groups of employees, not just individuals. It’s vital that you identify these high potential employees. If they’re valuable to you, they’re likely also valuable to your competitors and to companies in other industries. more…

Project Reality Check #8: Project Execution – Fantasy vs. Reality

by Gary Monti, Feb 8, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished” is a common project reality. It happens in spite of the best of intentions because of the disconnect between the various truth systems. One of the project manager’s jobs is working the interfaces between all those truth systems and doing so in a way their integrity remains intact. more…

Brilliant advertisements = Phenomenal Sales. True or False?

by Vijay Peduru, Feb 9, 2011

Don’t expect your product to sell more with brilliant ads and average product. 1984 Superbowl commercial for Macintosh computers is a great example. This strategy does not work in the Industrial age anymore. A product has to be first really useful to the customers before advertising helps. Now we need remarkable products or remarkable ideas, which can spread virally. more…

Flexible Focus #40: The 8 frames of life: Society

by William Reed, Feb 10, 2011

In today’s world, your place in society is not longer controlled by birth, circumstance or fortune. The amazing impact of technology to connect people and facilitate communication is firmly put you in control of your personal identity. There is plenty of good and generous advice searchable on the Internet about personal branding through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, and many other popular social networks. The challenge is not so much how to get online but rather why, knowing your role, mission, and purpose in engaging in Social Media. Download a Social Media Mandalato help you think about which aspect of social media you might want to include or improve. more…

Leader driven Harmony #11: Know your Boss’s job and Your Replacement’s Name

by Mack McKinney, Feb 11, 2011

Succession planning in some organizations happen more methodically and maybe only for key positions. But in most cases, it may not be thought out or planned for. And when circumstances arise, you may be in your boss’s shoes… soon. You never know. Learn about how to get ready to take your boss’s job. more…

Week In Review – Jan 30 – Feb 5, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on February 6, 2011

Pop-up retail, meet pop-up office

by Marc Watley, Jan 31, 2011

Pop-up retail stores is a recent concept that’s enjoyed immense success. This is applicable to B2B focused organizations too. For example, consider a SaaS company in Dallas needing exposure in Silicon Valley in order for the new product to succeed. They should consider setting up a pop-up office in University Avenue in Palo Alto or Castro Street in Mountain View, for example, which are both hotbeds of Valley activity – with everyone from Googlers to Facebookers to VCs constantly rushing along these thoroughfares to coffee/lunch/dinner meetings. Despite the recent corner-turning of the economy, most cities’ central business districts like these still have plenty of empty storefronts and ground-level offices. Right now is a particularly good time to consider a pop-up office. more…

Project Reality Check #7: Cage Wrestling – Project vs. Operations Management

by Gary Monti, Feb 1, 2011

Inherent conflict between projects and operations might be called white-collar cage wrestling. Participants are focused, strong, and may carry the belief – winning means dominance of their approach. Who’s right? They both are. What is at stake is delivery of a product that performs well and is sustainable. more…

Social Media and Tribes #28: Social Media on the GO!

by Deepika Bajaj, Feb 2, 2011

In today’s world, we are no more rooted to our computer for staying connected. This is largely because of the advent of smart phone and mobile apps. If you have an iPhone and a friend of yours complains about your delay in responding to his/her email…you better NOT say, “I was away from my computer”. Similarly, if you are a smart phone user and you say to someone “I don’t have time to Tweet or FB”; most likely they are wondering if you are using any smarts of the smart phone! more…

Flexible Focus #39: The Principle of Gratitude

by William Reed, Feb 3, 2011

One of the hardest lessons of flexibility is letting go of the ego’s attachments. Pride prevents you from achieving flexibility, because it insists on being right, being first, or being better than others. It’s companions are alike, inflexible, stubborn, righteous, and condescending. The ancient Greeks called it hubris (hybris), excessive ambition or pride leading to a fall, or to total ruin. There is away to flexibility, based on a Mandala Principle from Buddhism, the Principle of Gratitude (慈悲喜捨 Jihi Kisha). You can download the Mandala of Gratitude, and start using it in your daily life. more…

Leader driven Harmony #10: Don’t Be a Baby Bird (Part II)

by Mack McKinney, Feb 4, 2011

You can spend an (enjoyable) lifetime in anything, if you get all the way IN IT. Business, retail, real estate, banking, dentistry, chiropractic, farming, nursing, appliance repair, EVERY FIELD can provide you with a lifetime of thought and involvement if you will just dive in and commit to being the best at it. Do you have a “fire in the belly” to stop being a baby bird? more…

Week In Review : Jan 23 – Jan 29, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on January 30, 2011

The Origin of Leaders #5: Habits. Routine sets you Free!

by Conor Neill, Jan 24, 2011

Aristotle says “we are what we habitually do”.  Who I am and become is directly related to my daily habits! For instance, you are not a smoker if you smoke 1 cigarette.  You are not a smoker if you smoke 2 cigarettes.  You become a smoker at some point where it becomes a daily thing! As the routine is repeated more and more regularly it takes less and less effort or self-discipline to begin and complete the routine. more…

Project Reality Check #6: Shall we Dance? Managing Change Orders

by Gary Monti, Jan 25, 2011

Over the years, PMI® has shown in the Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge® more and more acceptance of the need to address change as the project progresses. Why? Stakeholders rarely understand everything needed to address their needs. Regardless of the level of detail and planning brought to a situation there always is some variance in performance present. This is where change orders come into play and why they are so important. But remember, it is dangerous to believe enough change orders will compensate for vague contracting, lack of planning, and little or no discipline. more…

Social Media and Tribes #27: Gen Y changes TV viewing experience

by Deepika Bajaj, Jan 26, 2011

Gen Y watches over 3 hours of TV a day, but it’s not a couch potato experience. They’ve turned TV viewing itself into social media. If you see them watching TV, do not assume that that is ALL they are doing. Check how they are texting, commenting and tweeting. They don’t just watch a movie, they are sharing, collaborating, distributing and connecting. more…

Flexible Focus #38: Flexibility without Forcing

by William Reed, Jan 27, 2011

When your body is stiff, then physical stretching can feel more like pain than gain. A similar thing happens mentally when your values or beliefs are forcibly stretched beyond their limits. The key to expanding your comfort zone is to have more degrees of freedom. When you have more degrees of freedom in your mind and movements, then you experience flexible focus in action! more…

Leader driven Harmony #9: Don’t Be a Baby Bird (PartI)

by Mack McKinney, Jan 28, 2011

As the parent bird swoops in, the baby birds open their beaks and the parent plops a juicy worm or insect right into junior’s gaping mouth.  The baby just sits and eats.  The parent does all the work. Are you one of those?. more…