Posts Tagged ‘http://activegarage.com’

Resilience Engineering #8: Rupert Murdoch’s Folly

by Gary Monti on August 2, 2011

Rupert Murdoch and the News Corporation’s latest problems provide ample opportunity to show both what happens when resilience engineering is ignored and how important it is for success in business and project management. It also provides an opportunity to point out the shortcomings of the domino and barrier models, both of which were described in previous blogs.

If you haven’t heard, the issue is illegal hacking of cell phones of crime victims to gain inside information and “scoop” the other tabloids thereby keeping their tabloid, “News of the World (NoW),” circulation at the top of the heap in the British market and continue to maintain substantial influence in British politics. During a Parliament committee hearing both Rupert and his son, James, said they were shocked, appalled and surprised to find out that phone hacking and other illegal activities were endemic in their tabloid.

Mr. Murdoch said it was the humblest day of his life. He apologized for everything but took responsibility for nothing. He stated, “I feel people I trusted – I don’t know who, on what level – have let me down, and I think they have behaved disgracefully, and it’s for them to pay.”

He went on to claim he did not know that 1.6 million pounds were paid out to two victims of phone hacking. Nor did he know the tabloid was paying the ongoing legal fees of a guilty private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire, and reporter Clive Goodman who were convicted in 2007 of hacking into the phones of the royal family’s staff. He also went on to say he would not step down as chairman of News Corporation and that he is the best person to handle an investigation as to what went wrong.

This is the domino accident model at its finest, or should I say worst. Find the “bad apple,” punish him/her, and throw the bum out.

But wait! There’s more! And it is worse! The flaws of the barrier model come into play when looking at the firing of the former editor of the now-defunct NoW, Rebekah Brooks, whose job it was to maintain the barrier model and validate the veracity of and methods used to obtain information the tabloid would publish. She was to make sure no ill-gotten information was used. But she consistently delivered what was desired and that was the end of it in terms of auditing.

These approaches are disingenuous by trying to say those in charge are almost as much a victim as the true victims of the hackings. But is that the case? NoW had a very robust model that consistently gained what it was after and Murdoch stuck to it.

Let’s explore and start by going back to the first blog in this series and get basic definitions for robust vs. resilient behavior.

Robust: A system is robust when it can continue functioning in the presence of internal and external challenges without fundamental changes to the original system.

Resilient: A system is resilient when it can adapt to internal and external challenges by changing its method of operations while continuing to function. While elements of the original system are present there is a fundamental shift in core activities that reflects adapting to the new environment.

So why is Murdoch’s behavior robust? At the end of the day what matters to Murdoch is getting the scoop and massing political power. For the number of years the illegal and unethical behavior had been going on employees at NoW knew this is the only standard by which they were judged. Why is this fair to say? Simple. Once the scoop and political power were achieved no attention appears to have been paid to the behaviors surrounding it. As both Murdochs said, “I didn’t know.”

The robustness (as defined here) of their news empire can be seen in former News Corporation executives being close to the Prime Minister as well as 10 of the 45 media specialists working for Scotland Yard being former NoW employees and, as mentioned before, the development of pipelines of information within the police via financial bribes. And this model definitely was robust. British politicians paid attention to News Corporation and how they are viewed and reviewed by it. This formula was working quite well and had so much influence that the purchase of the satellite broadcasting company, British Sky Broadcasting (BSB), was all but a slam-dunk. However, because of the drift that occurred that purchase is off the table for now.

Yes, NoW was sacrificed along with its editor but that actually isn’t a resilient behavior. Why? A robust approach was taken to essentially say, “We can continue with the purchase of the BSB satellite service. Look! It wasn’t us! It was irresponsible underlings who did this and we are punishing them.” This is a much bigger prize that has the potential of expanding the existing model even further.

The big plus with the resilient model is its comprehensive approach, socio-technical. It takes into consideration the attitudes and power structure that permeate a situation as well as the technology. In this case, Murdoch’s organization suffers from the same issues of robustness that contributed to the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters or the Abu Ghraib prison debacle in Iraq:

  • A belief that a robust model can continually be pushed. This ultimately leads to brittleness and fracturing of the system due to inability to look ahead and prepare to respond accordingly;
  • Drift whereby an organization moves closer and closer to a disaster feeling smug the entire way because of previous successes but oblivious to the environment and the pending disaster;
  • Initial avoidance of independent audits. Those responsible for creating the context are in a position to judge the players, singling out lower level individuals for punishment while those with the power to create the situation are left untouched.
  • An ever-widening gap between work as imagined vs. work as performed

With the domino and barrier models the situation is ideal for a fragmentation to set in (which is essential when denial is practiced for the sake of achieving a goal) and powerful people can divorce themselves from culpability in who was hired and what they did (domino model) and point to the PMO or other group that was in charge that should have been making sure problems were trapped and neutralized (barrier).

So what is the lesson learned? The resilient approach keeps everyone connected. As many factors as possible that lead to sustained success or failure are considered. Adaptability is key. While several sets of standards may be involved there is an above-board balance created between those standards for all to see. Everyone takes responsibility for his or her share of the success or failure. This leads to sustainable performance and development of the most precious asset an organization can have – trust.

Rupert Sosnoff in his blog for Forbes Magazine sums things well, Rupert Murdoch is looking a lot like King Lear these days.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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The Holy Grail for complex organizations experiencing high risk is finding a balance between stability and flexibility. This presents a very real challenge since the environment is almost always shifting and the team has to think on its feet because time, money, people, and other resources are limited. There isn’t enough time to cycle up to senior management and back down to the team.

The previous two blogs presented linear models of success and failure that are inadequate in complex situations but which are still alive and well in many organizations. They are also limited in term of being either fixed solely on the individual (Domino model) or top-down in terms of policies and procedures (Barrier model).

This blog starts the process of looking at a more realistic model for addressing success and failure in dynamic situations, the Functional Resonance Accident Model (FRAM) developed by Hollnagel. Its roots are in complexity theory and it comprises four principles:

  • Equivalence of success and failure. Successful teams rely heavily on anticipatory awareness, i.e., paying close attention to the environment as it is, without expectations. They perform early-warning weak signal analysis, and decide how best to organize for the situation. An anesthesia team might best characterize this behavior. Guiding medical principles are present but the number of hard-and-fast rules is low compared to how much the anesthesia team must monitor the surgery and think on their feet constantly assessing the entire situation while simultaneously monitoring details. Failure can occur when the team temporarily losses this ability.
  • Approximate adjustment. The team is constantly adjusting its performance to suit the situation. This includes adapting to shifts in resources as well as unique requirements for the specific task at hand. Imagine your elderly, sick grandmother is staying with you and she is very sensitive to excess heat but also chills easily. You have an air conditioner that can maintain 75°F indoors in direct sunlight only if the outside temperature is below 95°F.  On days forecast to be hotter than 95°F what do you do? You must gauge what time in the morning to turn the thermostat below 75°F. How low do you turn down the temperature? At what time do you do it? Does it vary with the afternoon forecast? Could she chill with the setting you’ve chosen? Answering these questions from day to day is making an approximate adjustment in the presence of limited resources and high risk.
  • Emergence. The constant adjustments in performance means there is constant variability. This variability can have a compounding effect, which is non-linear and disproportionately large. New behaviors can emerge. A tipping point can be reached. Think of the impact one failed safety relay has had on the electrical grid in the United States. Whole areas have been plunged into darkness.
  • Functional resonance. A whole constellation of variables can show emergent behavior and impact each other, causing a particular function in a system to resonate without there being one direct, cause-and-effect relationship to which one can point. Think of the speed with which Google grew initially or sales of the iPad or the initial impact of Palm. Failure can emerge as well. Think of Palm’s sales for the last few years before being bought by HP. In a different area, look at how the functional resonance of political dissent has changed in the Middle East. Have changes in communications had an impact?

In principle you can see that FRAM is much more robust than the Domino or Barrier models covered in previous blogs. It goes well beyond the individual or attempts to create all-encompassing policies and procedures. It addresses the dynamics of the situation, which keeps it grounded. We will go deeper into the FRAM model in the next blog.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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The barrier model for explaining failure is a quantum jump in improvement over the domino model. It helps get beyond two huge weaknesses with the domino model:

  • Focus only on the individual and individual behaviors, and;
  • Ignoring environmental factors that could play into the failures

Most of us are familiar with the barrier model in one form or another. While it is more robust than the domino model it is still essentially linear in nature. (In later blogs we’ll look at more dynamic approaches that go beyond linear thinking.)

The barrier model is an analogue from epidemiology. Think of how an infection spreads from country to country. There are latent conditions, e.g., no quarantine policies and procedures at customs, fast and easy air travel, and excellent street transportation within a city or country. This sets the stage for an actual infection incident to be a trigger event, which allows the infection to spread like wildfire. Concerns regarding avian flu a few years ago comprise a good example.

The central idea for the barrier model is following and staying within defined policies and procedures will trap pending failures and allow successful execution of a process, project, or any other activity.

The picture above is from one of my workshops and shows typical barriers.  A mistake occurs by slipping through a hole in the barrier rather than being deflected away. Again, this model is linear in nature and flows from the more general or strategic (the BLUNT END) and moves towards a specific action (the SHARP END), where the failure is visible and the actual damage occurs.

Specifically in this case, the first barrier is having the correct, integrated policies and procedures appropriate for the situation and is followed by the two remaining barriers of “training” and “task time.”

A mistake occurs when an action slips through a hole in the barriers. In this case a new hire is pushed into getting to work too rapidly. The first hole slipped through is lack of familiarity with policies and procedures (p & p) or the p & p may just be inadequate. The second hole slipped through is inadequate training. Finally, the third hole slipped through is not having enough time to get the job done. Notice how there is the assumption that given enough time with a given barrier there will be a compensation for failure at previous barriers and the pending mistake will be “deflected” or avoided. You can see where, over time, there could be a progressive over-reliance on successive, lower-in-the-ranks, closer-to-the-task managers compensating for less-than-ideal support coming from higher managers.

The barrier (or Swiss cheese) model is an obvious improvement over the domino model since a host of variables are taken into consideration, going beyond blaming the individual. This is a very common model and the familiarity referred to earlier is in being told, “Understand there is a way the organization gets things done. Learn it and stick to it. In other words, ‘Color inside the lines!’” With this attitude, though, there usually is a tinge of the domino model present because an error can be viewed as not sticking to what has been dictated.

The barrier frame of mind is usually fleshed out by having best practice groups put together to improve processes or there might be the formation of PMOs (project management offices) to standardize project methodologies, etc. This can work well in predictable situations where the rules work consistently. In such situations, a command-and-control structure can be established and as long as people stay within the limits set all will go well.

A closer look at the assumptions, though, will show limits to this model.

In complex or chaotic situations solutions are generated from the bottom up NOT the top down. Consequently, the barrier model and its linear approach fail to work in forecasting and preventing failures when complexity is present.

Another shortcoming of only using the barrier model with complex projects is complex projects are next to impossible to document. Ream after ream of paper can be consumed without getting to a clear, linear picture of the situation. Also, there is the fact that both the domino and barrier model focus on failure. But isn’t our goal to maximize success? Yes.

So, if the domino and barrier model are severely limited what does work? Tune in next week and see!

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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We all have stress in our lives and a little stress can be a healthy thing.  Stress is caused by stressors, defined by BusinessDictionary  as either 1. A physical, psychological, or social force that puts real or perceived demands on the body, emotions, mind, or spirit of an individual –OR- 2. A biological, chemical, or physical factor that can cause temporary or permanent harm to an ecosystem, environment, or organism.

Stressors are like bullies: We can usually handle one or two but when confronted by too many of them at one time we may lose the ability to overcome them.  Heck, just recognizing stressors can be difficult and sometimes even counter-intuitive. Did you know that pleasant, desirable, rewarding things can also cause stress!?!? In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe suspected there was a link between events in your life and your level of stress.  They looked at 43 life events and after thousands of interviews and surveys they ranked each life event for its contribution to stress.  Some of the events that made the list are surprising: A change in health of family member (including an improvement), a change in financial state (including suddenly receiving a lot of money), and even an outstanding personal achievement!  This is because our bodies react automatically and biochemically, way down at the cellular level, not only to bad changes in our life situation but to any changes.

To measure the overall stress using the Holmes-Rahe scale, determine which events/situations in the past year apply to you and take note of the associated number of “Life Change Units”.  Add them up and the resulting total score will give you a rough idea of how much stress you are experiencing.   (The table and explanation shown here is from Wikipedia at  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holmes_and_Rahe_stress_scale but the same table is available from multiple locations on the Internet and elsewhere.  Newer lists may also be available as part of more modern studies.).  This first table is for adults:

Life event

Life change units

Death of a spouse 100
Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Imprisonment 63
Death of a close family member 63
Personal injury or illness 53
Marriage 50
Dismissal from work 47
Marital reconciliation 45
Retirement 45
Change in health of family member 44
Pregnancy 40
Sexual difficulties 39
Gain a new family member 39
Business readjustment 39
Change in financial state 38
Death of a close friend 37
Change to different line of work 36
Change in frequency of arguments 35
Major mortgage 32
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
Change in responsibilities at work 29
Child leaving home 29
Trouble with in-laws 29
Outstanding personal achievement 28
Spouse starts or stops work 26
Begin or end school 26
Change in living conditions 25
Revision of personal habits 24
Trouble with boss 23
Change in working hours or conditions 20
Change in residence 20
Change in schools 20
Change in recreation 19
Change in church activities 19
Change in social activities 18
Minor mortgage or loan 17
Change in sleeping habits 16
Change in number of family reunions 15
Change in eating habits 15
Vacation 13
Christmas 12
Minor violation of law 11

Score of 300+: Serious risk of illness.

Score of 150-299+: Moderate risk of illness (reduced by 30% from the above risk).

Score 150-: Only a slight risk of illness.

A different scale has been developed for non-adults.

Life Event

Life Change Units

Getting married 95
Unwed pregnancy 100
Death of parent 100
Acquiring a visible deformity 80
Divorce of parents 90
Fathering an unwed pregnancy 70
Jail sentence of parent for over one year 70
Marital separation of parents 69
Death of a brother or sister 68
Change in acceptance by peers 67
Pregnancy of unwed sister 64
Discovery of being an adopted child 63
Marriage of parent to stepparent 63
Death of a close friend 63
Having a visible congenital deformity 62
Serious illness requiring hospitalization 58
Failure of a grade in school 56
Not making an extracurricular activity 55
Hospitalization of a parent 55
Jail sentence of parent for over 30 days 53
Breaking up with boyfriend or girlfriend 53
Beginning to date 51
Suspension from school 50
Becoming involved with drugs or alcohol 50
Birth of a brother or sister 50
Increase in arguments between parents 47
Loss of job by parent 46
Outstanding personal achievement 46
Change in parent’s financial status 45
Accepted at college of choice 43
Being a senior in high school 42
Hospitalization of a sibling 41
Increased absence of parent from home 38
Brother or sister leaving home 37
Addition of third adult to family 34
Becoming a full-fledged member of a church 31
Decrease in arguments between parents 27
Decrease in arguments with parents 26
Mother or father beginning work 26

Score of 300+: Serious risk of illness.

Score of 150-299+: Moderate risk of illness (reduced by 30% from the above risk).

Score 150-: Only a slight risk of illness.

The Kent Center has adopted this scale in their stress assessment and treatment practice.  (We found them online and have no affiliation with them.)  Working with mental health professionals is almost always a good idea.  If you perform a self-assessment of stress and the result concerns you, seek professional counseling (in-person and face-to-face if at all possible) because untreated stress can easily lead to physical illness and depression.  And then things can get very serious because depression cannot always be self-diagnosed or self-treated.  Worse yet, severe depression is potentially lethal.

But if you decide that your stress level is sufficiently low, and composed of only a few distinct and easily identified causes/events, you may want to tackle them yourself.  To make this stress-busting effort effective, be methodical.  Spend some time thinking about each stressor in your life.  Here are some tips:

  1. Make a Master List of Stressors and list each stress-causing event/situation separately
  2. Have a plan to deal with each one, independent of the others
  3. The plan for each one should include the following:
    • Identification of what you see as the root cause of the stress (OK all you Mental Health Professionals, don’t email me: I know we mere mortals cannot always determine the root cause of stress but this is a start)
    • A descriptive vision of what your life would be like without this stress (you being worry-free, happy at work, etc.)
    • Who else is involved besides you, and what each person will do to help correct the situation
    • Actions you and the other people involved will take today, this week, this month and this year

The human brain does not come with a user’s manual.  Get professional counseling to help with high stress scores, depression or with any thoughts about harming yourself or others.  Don’t mess with stress!

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Mack McKinneyMack McKinney is on a personal crusade to eliminate conflict and stress in our lives. Mack’s mantra is “People treat you like you TRAIN them to treat you!” His company Solid Thinking Corporation teaches creativity, concept development, relationship management and high-performance project leadership to major US corporations and the US government
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Week In Review : Mar 27 – Apr 2, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on April 3, 2011

Business Intelligence in a Wiki World!

by Linda Williams, Mar 28, 2011

Often the development of Business Intelligence insights is closely guarded within the company to ensure at least a temporary advantage in the marketplace. Secrecy in all areas of analytical review is no longer possible or even preferable in a world that is increasingly transparent with the pervasive use of social media. But the decision to tap into the networked intelligence to speed up problem solving or make breakthroughs cannot be rote, but must rest with the complexity of the use and the expertise of internal resources to meet that need.  more…

Project Reality Check #15: The Requirements Game

by Gary Monti, Mar 29, 2011

Nailing down requirements is the number one complaint of project managers. Addressing this requires two skills: political adroitness and finding a balance point between exploring solutions and exploiting what is known and available. A mantra regarding project requirements goes something like this: “Requirements are stated needs, expectations are unstated needs. Clients tend to judge based on expectations.” So, in order to be a successful PM, it isn’t enough to simply say the client should be realistic. The PM and team need to push as far as they can working with the client in developing a realistic solution – one that will save reputations, relationships, and pocket books as well as produce the desired deliverable. more…

How to create your own good moods?

by Vijay Peduru, Mar 30, 2011

Whenever we meet certain people, they trigger a mood within us… Anxiety, flow, joy, fear, exhaustion, etc. Is there a way where we can choose our emotions? Yes, just like we choose to enter any room in our house, we  can choose our moods ourselves instead of getting triggered. This is a key skill for all, especially entrepreneurs when dealing with situations that might trigger default moods. more…

Flexible Focus #47: Clearing your Clutter

by William Reed, Mar 31, 2011

One of the things that prevents us from seeing life in this way, that shields our eyes from the wisdom in natural simplicity, is that we are surrounded by too much clutter. The recent events in Japan has triggered going back to basics and clearing the clutter. It has brought out the goodness in people. Mandala Chart can help us shift our focus. You can start by answering the following questions:

  1. What are 8 ways in which I can serve the most important people in my life?
  2. If I had to keep or choose 8 things, what would they be?
  3. What are 8 things I can do to clear the clutter in my life?
  4. What are 8 goals or values by which I choose to navigate my life?  more….

Leader driven Harmony #18: Gen-Ys need Special Handling when entering the Workforce – Part 2

by Mack McKinney, Apr 1, 2011

Upon arrival at a new job, every new employee is judged.  They will be scrutinized by established members of the organization in three areas: Talent, Reliability and People-skills. Give them the strongest possible start in each area. Basically, sharing of values and standards, repeated and demonstrated over time, is how individuals are brought into a team with shared goals, interdependencies and mutual rewards. more…

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Week In Review : Mar 20 – Mar 26, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on March 27, 2011

Social Media and Tribes #32: Online Gamers become Contributors

by Deepika Bajaj, Mar 21, 2011

One of the fastest growing segment is interactive gaming where the user gets to play the game and also create content like videos, virtual goods and even produce story lines. For this behavior to continue it is critical to nurture the communities of gamers. So, the marketing departments in different gaming companies have to become competent in listening to these communities and engage with them by tweeting, blog posts and updates so that they retain the users who are HARD CORE gamers. more…

Project Reality Check #14: Death of a Project

by Gary Monti, Mar 22, 2011

When a project dies, the typical next step is a post-mortem or root cause analysis. This is the traditional approach to find where a fix is needed. No matter how hard everyone tries, workarounds have no impact or the workarounds make matters worse. A better approach is to perform learned BEFORE the next high profile project begins in an attempt to avoid the catastrophe. This the method of resilience and asks the questions “What is the nature of success? How can we sustain it? How close to the edge are we? Can we adapt? If we do, how must we change our structure and the way we do work?” more…

Custom Fit: 4 Proven Leadership styles that hold the Key to Success

by Art Gould, Mar 23, 2011

There is no foolproof formula for leadership success. The “right” way to lead depends on the product or service provided by the organization, skill levels and experience of the work teams, organizational environment, and the personal attributes of the firm’s leaders. As these things change over time, good leaders are usually able to adapt by instinctively modifying their styles as required. If there is such a thing as a common denominator for success, it is trust between the workforce and its leadership. But there are many leadership styles that can achieve this result.. more…

Flexible Focus #46: Lens on Consciousness

by William Reed, Mar 24, 2011

In the last eight articles William Reed delved deeper into the realm of the mind, looking through the lens of consciousness to see our life from higher, bigger, and deeper perspectives. And yet even from vastly different perspectives, it is all in the context of our daily familiar existence. Revisiting these articles will help you re-explore the territories where we have been, and see also how they fit together. These selections also correspond to the primary eight categories covered in the series, so this review provides an overview of one trip around the wheel, and also reflects the amazing range of topics possible to address with the Mandala Chart. more…

Leader driven Harmony #17: Gen-Ys need Special Handling when entering the Workforce – Part I

by Mack McKinney, Mar 25, 2011

If your company is hiring Gen-Ys (aka Millennials) fresh out of college, you will be eager to get them folded into your operation and feeling part of the team.  But you will need to handle this cohort of youngsters differently than any other generations entering the Western workforce. There are some simple things we can do to fix this disconnect between realities of the workplace and the expectations of our Gen Y colleagues. more…

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Week In Review: Mar 13 – Mar 19, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on March 20, 2011

Why the iPad2 and a good datacenter might be all you’ll need!

by Marc Watley, Mar 14, 2011

The time of the tablet has clearly arrived as evidenced by Marc’s informal survey of his flight form New York to San Francisco. You can be as productive with an iPad (and soon iPad2), if not more. Lugging a heavy laptop from meeting to meeting is not necessary anymore. But before you run off to buy a tablet, you need to understand some caveats. more…

Project Reality Check #13: Embracing the Project Fog

by Gary Monti, Mar 15, 2011

No project plan is perfect. It’s usually what the team thinks will work based on certain assumptions and drawn from a large universe of possible solutions. As the project starts, “things happen” and the fog begins to roll in. You can dispel the fog by embracing it. The solution is the fog’s equal in terms of appearance and a countermanding positive performance. It is the team’s wisdom focused into a new or modified deliverable and/or process commonly called the workaroundmore…

Social Media and Tribes #31: Social Media comes through during Japan crisis

by Deepika Bajaj, Mar 16, 2011

In the recent Japan quake, most infrastructure was knocked out, but interestingly Internet availability remains relatively unaffected. And what is most compelling is that Japan turned to social media for connecting with their loved ones. Less than an hour after the quake, the number of tweets from Tokyo topped 1,200 per minute. Facebook again helped in not only connecting friends and family but also became a broadcast channel for people to share their updates and checkin with their friends. Youtube and blogs became instrumental in giving people eyes into the disaster ridden areas with the help of citizen journalism. more…

Flexible Focus #45: My Cup Runneth Over

by William Reed, Mar 17, 2011

In our pursuit of prosperity, we tend to take for granted the blessings that we already have in abundance. The Mandala Chart looks at wealth as part of a larger mosaic, and abundance as the experience of blessings in 8 areas of life: health, business, finances, home, society, character, learning, and leisure. The real appreciation of what we already have begins with gratitude. And gratitude grows into giving, and is a principle seen everywhere in nature. The quality of abundance is not something to experience in solitude. It starts with the appreciation that your cup runneth over even now, and that it gets even better when you share your blessings with others. more…

Leader driven Harmony #16: Rely on the most reliable person – YOU!

by Mack McKinney, Mar 18, 2011

With the horror of the Japanese tsunami catastrophe still unfolding, ask yourself this.  If there was a 9.0 scale earthquake in the city whereyou live and you managed to survive it, what would you do then? Well, it is time for you to go back to the basics and learn some fundamental survival skills. You don’t need to move into a cabin in the wild and become a fully self-contained homesteader.  But adding a few basic skills will improve your self-confidence and your sense of self-reliance.. more…

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Week In Review : Feb 27 – Mar 5, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on March 6, 2011

5 Reasons why IT Outsourcing may not be living up to the hype!

by Matthew Carmen, Feb 28, 2011

Large and small companies alike find out very often that their own cost savings due to outsourcing do not match the case studies they were sold on. 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. more…

Project Reality Check #11: Frame of Mind

by Gary Monti, Mar 1, 2011

“Everything is simple” if you have the right frame of mind. “What happens when you follow the rules?” is the question that will determine the frame-of-mind appropriate for a project. Gary describes 6 of them in this post. The reality and challenge are the fact that all 6 frames-of-mind or some subset can be present on a given project. The goal, then, is to make sure the project terrain is gauged accordingly and the style(s) adapted are appropriate. more…

Ready to be Enchanted?

by Himanshu Jhamb, Mar 2, 2011

Enchantment is Guy Kawasaki‘s 10th book and according to him, “Enchantment is about transforming situations and relationships to invent new possibilities; ones that you probably did not think were possible.” There is something in this book for everyone and is full of practical advice. An actual review of the book will be coming out on Active Garage, on March 08, 2011 – the official release date of Enchantment. Go ahead and pre-order your copy right away! more…

Flexible Focus #43: 8 Levels of Consciousness

by William Reed, Mar 3, 2011

There are 8 levels of consciousness. The first five are the five senses: VisualAuditoryOlfactoryTaste, and Touch. The sixth is Ideation, our conscious thought. These six levels of consciousness then make up the conscious mind, the part that we are mostly aware of. The next two layers are part of the sub-conscious mind, which are the Ego, and the Seed (Storehouse) consciousness at the core. Our subconscious mind is a garden, which bears fruit according to the seeds which are planted and cultivated. The practical application with the Mandala Chart, is to cultivate a flexible focus and select positive and harmonious seeds to plant in our unconscious. more…

Leader driven Harmony #14: If you are Civil, you will get (more) beer – Part I

by Mack McKinney, Mar 4, 2011

People listen more attentively to civil persons than to rude or boisterous people. Humans seem to be drawn to calm, collected people.  They have a calming effect on persons around them. Cultivate the ability to always be civil even (maybe especially) to people with whom you totally disagree.  This is a powerful skill. In our next post Mack will talk about the remarkable benefits of following the Desiderata. It is a powerful document that will show you how adding just four simple rules at the dinner table will get you labeled diplomatic and get you invited to dinner parties a lot more often! more…

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Week In Review: Feb 20 – Feb 26, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on February 27, 2011

Author’s Journey Update: Easy ways to organize blog posts, books and ebooks

by Roger Parker, Feb 21, 2011

You need organize what you are going to write before you start writing. It helps you provide structure, sequence and relevance for your ideas. Roger provides 10 options you could use to get organized. Make it a habit to use them and it will help you keep up your writing commitments. more…

Project Reality Check #10: Personal Resilience

by Gary Monti, Feb 22, 2011

Being centered though all situations and avoiding distractions is key for a project manager’s success. You can achieve this by being resilient. Resilience is the ability to continue functioning while adapting to a changing situation. In this article Gary lists the questions that you can ask yourself and take appropriate action. Sometimes you get the elevator, other times you get the shaft. The idea is to build resilience, think, and keep moving to get more of the former and less of the latter. more…

Social Media and Tribes #30: Virtual Valentine

by Deepika Bajaj, Feb 23, 2011

Thanks to Social Media, there’ve been very interesting shifts in Velentine’s day behaviors. This year people not only sent personal messages but wished their friends, shared their gifts, surprises, roses and even their  dinners on FB. People are broadcasting their love for friends and special ones. Moreover, there are Valentine Apps on the iPhone store, Groupon Deals, Valentine Events marketed on FB. Better watch out Hallmark! more…

Flexible Focus #42: Time Lapse as a Mandala Movie

by William Reed, Feb 24, 2011

Manda Charts show relationship between the frames in a 3D perspective. What about the 4th dimension, time? This is not so difficult to imagine if you look at the effect you get in time-lapse photography. So as you create and use Mandala Charts, try to see them from the perspective of the 4th dimension, time and transformation. It will add a new dimension to your enjoyment of flexible focus. more…

Leader driven Harmony #13: 4 P’s to get your !deas MOVING – Part II

by Mack McKinney, Feb 25, 2011

Last week Mack showed you how to be a pro and likeable when pushing for change and I showed you key actions that would get you taken seriously. In addition to that, you need to be somewhat patient and promote your !deas. When you promote your ideas to others, let them become their ideas, because people will advocate their “own” ideas more passionately than other’s ideas. more…

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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…

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