Posts Tagged ‘information’

Ever feel lied to? Is it hard to put your finger on what, exactly, is wrong with what is being said or done? It can feel like you are trapped inside an Escher drawing. What to do?

My suggestion is, “Go with it!” If that is what is happening, then call it what it is. Let the team members and stakeholders know (in a calm voice, of course) that their closed arguments just don’t add up. And just how is this done without sounding like a loon yourself? Once again, it is one of those “reads easy, does hard” situations.

Let go of focusing on the outside world. Go within…and drag all that insanity with you. Let people talk. Listen. Absorb without judgment. The tools needed to spot inconsistency are already in your toolbox. Stop thinking and, as Obi Wan told Luke, “use the force.” This force is there all the time. It is called integrity.

I’ve had more than one CEO (but not many), as well as other stakeholders and team members, lie to me on a consistent basis. If challenged, they would say they were simply testing me, wanting to see if I knew my stuff. Which is fine if it stopped there. The problem is when they saw my ignorance or naiveté as a license to stay with the distortion and go on with whatever their (hidden) agenda was.

This may sound a bit paranoid. It isn’t. We all actually do it to some extent. That “extent” is determined by how much we lust after or want to avoid something. Ever fudge 15 minutes on billable hours? For guys, what do you say in response to, “Honey, do I look fat in this dress?”

Those situations to which I am referring to here, though, are the systematic ones. The situations where there is a conscious effort to paint a complete picture that is closed in scope but relies on fabrications. When this occurs the details fail to match up. And this is where the solution lies!

Pay attention to those details without getting swamped by them. The way to do that is by watching behaviors and seeing in what direction outcomes go based on believing what is told. See where that trail of bread crumbs leads. When you get that picture, go back and look at the details again.

Again, trust your judgment. Once you can draw a bead on some of the inconsistencies, i.e., articulate them, keep up the process. The details, upon which you need to focus, validate, look to see if they exist, are mutually inconsistent, etc., will become apparent. It’s as if they begin to phosphoresce.

As you confront (in a respectful, business-like manner) the situation there will be a natural repeating of the illusion. You’ll be asked to stare more closely at it, as with Enron when reporters where getting close to the truth. You might even be told you just don’t get it, that you need to mature and get up to speed in order to see the truth. It can be especially tempting when the person creating the illusion has power.

The fact is, if you work to stay with the inner truth there will be a calm out of which grows the ability to sum (no matter how many thousands or millions of dollars have been spent) the situation in 3 words, “It’s an illusion.” At that point, you can do the best project management possible.

Information: The Most Precious Thing Your Company Has

by Robert Driscoll on February 4, 2010

Every day our lives get more and more connected online which has made our lives easier, but at the same time, has put us more at risk as more of our sensitive information is stored online.  With IPv6 right around the corner, which will be able to support an almost infinite number of IP addresses, we will only be more connected, and therefore, more at risk.

On a personal basis, I’m the first to admit that online services such as banking, travel and email, to name a few, have made our lives easier.  On a professional basis, as businesses push more services online to expand their marketplace, conversely, they are also making themselves more susceptible to data breaches from hackers.  Hosting providers are pushing the envelope by trying to get their customers to accept cloud services: email, applications and storage to name a few.  Some of these providers such as Google and Amazon have been successful in selling their cloud based services to small business and have now started making headway in to the enterprise segment of the marketplace.  Their services also allow you to access your information anywhere you have web access.  Their services are great for non-core, non-critical applications that won’t impact your business in the event their service goes down and you are unable to access your applications or data. 

While every company is talking about cloud services, not many are acting on it.  According to a white paper published by Gartner called Hype Cycles of Emerging Technologies, 2009, the most hyped technology was cloud computing. 

Why is this technology “hyped” and not being accepted with open arms?  The hack against Googles intellectual property last month should give you a pretty good idea as to why cloud services are still vulnerable. 

If you decide to move in to cloud services, don’t push all of your applications online.  Start slow.  Test a non-critical application first, or store non-critical data in the cloud that will help off-load space on your storage platform.  If you lose the application or the data, you’ll probably be upset over this mishap, but your life and the business will move on.  From there, look at moving parts of your development environment online and start testing other applications to see how they perform online and how well you can secure the data.  When testing these applications in the cloud, always be skeptical of who will access your data and how.  Don’t move at the pace your providers want you to move at.  Move at the pace that you’re comfortable with and that will protect your intellectual property and your company’s (and customers) sensitive information.

In a Newsweek article recently published by Daniel Lyons called “Where Secrets Aren’t Safe”, he mentions, “Information is not at all like electricity.  Electricity is a cheap, dumb commodity.  Nobody wants to steal your electricity, and even if someone did, who cares?  Information, on the other hand, may be the most precious thing your company has.”

Your customers want more… so give them less!

by Wayne Turmel on November 2, 2009

time is moneyThe way we buy and sell our products has changed forever because of the Web. This is especially true for the B2B (business-to-business) landscape. The problem is many of us haven’t really adjusted to this change and it costs us money, which is a shame because they are really acting just like we do when we buy something… so, why the cost?

Think about the way we make a major purchase…. We investigate online, read reviews, visit websites and eliminate obvious bad choices. Then-armed with information- we march down to the car lot or the appliance store and get what we want in record time.

Now think about the way we sell to customers online. We have some information posted, the customer clicks a link or emails us and says “yes we want a demo” and we schedule a demo. But is that what the customer really wants? Probably not. They don’t want to start from scratch-  and you have to meet them where they are or risk alienating them forever.

The good news is if they’ve requested to speak to someone from your company they are a great, live prospect. The better news is that they have all the basic information they need or they wouldn’t be there… what they want is the final information necessary to make a decision (or at least pass you on to someone who can). They have very specific information they need to move the sale forward, or decide you can’t help them.

The bad news is that we often don’t know at which point in the conversation they are. Thus, we end up giving them too much (read irrelevant) detail and that does not serve them very well. This is evident by their number one complaint  about online demos … yep! you guessed it right – they have too much information and don’t get to the point.

Here’s the thing to keep in mind:  If the customer has come this far, find out where they are, currently and what they need to complete their journey. Now, you are at a point where you can then give them exactly what they need. Before even starting the presentation, ask a lot of questions and find out what information is critical to them to make a buying decision. The form they fill out won’t give you the same good quality information as a conversation. Your contact with the customer needs to give them more relevant, focused information they need to make a smart choice. It needs a lot less time and extraneous detail. You may never even demo the product- which is actually a good thing in a strange way.  Why go through all the effort if it’s not a fit, and why make them sit through it if they know enough to move you through the sales cycle?

This also means that the information on your site needs to give them as much up-front information as possible. Do you have recorded information, demos and video that helps them choose you?  Are you giving them the chance to gather information before they even talk to you? If not, why not? If you are, is it easy to use and understand?

Customers want more from us than ever before, they just want less of us in order to accomplish it.

Data Isn’t Information

by Wayne Turmel on August 10, 2009

Readers of this site are very tech savvy – in fact (without sounding too flattering) I’d suggest that we are among the most technically proficient workers in the world. I would also submit that many of us don’t use technology properly. I don’t mean our fingers don’t fly and we can’t multi-task-web-cam-Google-group like a rock star. What I mean is we send more data than information.

Here are a few examples to clarify further: You check your email inbox or your project collaboration site. There’s the spreadsheet you wanted with the numbers you need to complete your task. That’s data. The problem is that the person who sent you those numbers didn’t tell you that they were put together at the last minute because they’d be in trouble if they were late, that they are only based on someone’s best guess or that the minute they hit “send” someone called with a last-minute correction. That’s context and it’s what turns data into information you can actually use.

There is an old model that talks about the learning and communication hierarchy:

dikw

Data (the raw numbers or facts) turns into… Information (what it means) which, when we apply to our real life problems effectively, we turn into… Knowledge (how do we apply this contextual information to move the project/company/species forward and finally… Wisdom (how do we use this knowledge in the most far-reaching, strategic and positive way)

In the lightning fast-paced work world, data is constantly flowing. We have all kinds of tools that allow us to get the numbers/project status/debugs anywhere in the world in seconds. The problem is not with the delivery of data, it’s how it’s processed and turned into action once it arrives.

We need context in order to understand all the subtleties of what the data means and what to do with it. Context is established when we seek answers to questions like:

  • Why is this data important?
  • Where did it come from?
  • What are you supposed to do with it?
  • Who sent it and how much do you trust them?
  • Who will use it and why should they trust you?
  • In other words, the data and the tools that send it are useless without the human dynamic, which brings us back to technology. We have all the technology we need to send the data and create context, we just don’t use it as well as we might.
    Take for example. You are an Agile team that wants to hold your scrum and get back to “the important stuff”. You don’t waste time on social niceties and “fluff”. Effective web meetings are held to under 10 minutes, the way they should be. IMs are held to ten words or less and anything more social than a “Hi are you busy” is considered unimportant. But if you don’t have social conversation, or allow for time to get to know each other, do you really know what’s going on with your teammates? Do you know who’s having trouble, who’s really doing more than their share and who can really give you insight into the data you’ve just received?

    I hear so many times that web cams are a waste of good bandwidth; time zones mean it’s easier to just hit “send” and go to bed, knowing that the folks in Bucharest or Bangalore or Boston are professionals and will know what to do with it when it arrives; Group collaboration sites don’t need pictures of the teammates on whom your job depends and “Why does it matter what Mary or Karim look like as long as the work gets done?”

    It matters. The human component matters, and we ignore the tools – and more importantly the techniques – that let us build those human connections at our peril.

    I’d like to end with a thought provoking question: What are you doing for your team (and what help is your company giving you) to learn to send data as well as turn it into information?

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