Archive for category Lead People, Manage Things

Leadership – Piloting the Motorcycle in a Specific Direction: Part 3

Leadership – Piloting the Motorcycle in a Specific Direction:  Part 3

First, leadership is about “leading people, not managing things”.

In previous posts/discussions, I introduced this thought – ALL successful leaders, or leadership teams, provide the same four “leadership whats” for their organization(s) – just like riding a motorcycle.  The “whats” are as or ,more important than a leaders traits, “leadership hows”.  The four “leadership whats” include:  (1) pilot the organization in specific direction(s); (2) provide thrust/power to move the organization in the desired direction; (3) manage/mitigate risks of piloting the organization; and (4) make changes in the organization’s direction, thrust and risk based on current and anticipated situations/changes. 

Each of these four “whats” can be broken down into finer and finer specifics. The last post, Part 2, discussed the initial three “whats” in ‘piloting the motorcycle in a specific direction’.  Arguably, piloting the organization(s) in the proper direction(s) is the most important “whats” a leader, or leadership team, provides.  If an organization does not have direction, or is being piloted in the wrong direction, then success will be fleeting.  But what are some specifics that leaders provide to establish the proper direction(s) of an organization?

Leadership Cycle

Leadership Cycle

 

 

This post/discussion focuses on the last two “whats” – Strategy and Operational Plans

You might think that organization/business strategy is easily defined and well understood, but even a cursory look on the internet will prove you wrong.  Definitions are abundant, not always similar and sometimes vary vague.  So for purposes of this post/discussion, let’s define strategy as:

‘The art and science of determining or planning an organization’s overall (1) scope, road map, and goals, (2) branding, business and organization models,  (3) effective use of limited resources, and (4) performance measures to achieve its vision, mission and strategic goals.’

First and most important, an organization cannot be all things to all people.  So setting a strategy chooses the organization’s scope – focusing ‘where it will play and where it will not play’. This is a further refinement of the organization’s vision and mission to the point that the organization can produce strategic plans (road map) and goals.  Second, as a result of setting its scope, road map, and goals, strategy defines its business model (how it operates), organization model (how it is structured), branding (how it will be known).  Third, strategy provides direction, with some specificity, in how its limited resources will be acquired, retained and used.  And the last part of setting an organization’s strategy is determining the diverse measurements to use in evaluating its strategic performance.  This process of setting strategy is repeated by each business unit and major department to define and align their strategy with the organization.

The last set of “whats” that provide direction are operational plans (OP), also called annual plans, that are completed by every business unit and department.  Operational planning is the process of defining tactical plans and goals, objectives and performance measurements, and aligning them with strategic goals, objectives and performance measurements. OP describes operations, operation initiatives, capital projects, milestones, performance, and resource requirements during a given operational period, a calendar or fiscal year. An OP also includes a business unit’s and department’s annual operating budget and capital budget. The OP must be a collaborative effort between the business units and departments to insure the plans and budgets are in alignment with each other.

In the next post/discussion, we will introduce the second major “leadership whats” – the thrust/power to move the organization in the desired direction.

 



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Leadership – Piloting the Motorcycle in a Specific Direction: Part I

Leadership – Piloting the Motorcycle in a Specific Direction:  Part 1

First, leadership is about “leading people, not managing things”.

In the last post/discussion, I introduced this thought – ALL successful leaders, or leadership teams, provide the same four “leadership whats” for their organization(s) – just like riding a motorcycle.  The four “leadership whats” include:  (1) pilot the organization in specific direction(s); (2) provide thrust/power to move the organization in the desired direction; (3) manage/mitigate risks of piloting the organization; and (4) make changes in the organization’s direction, thrust and risk based on current and anticipated situations/changes. 

Each of these four “what’s” can be broken down into finer and finer specifics. This post/discussion focuses on some specifics of piloting the organization in specific direction(s) which is analogous to steering the front wheel of a motorcycle.  Arguably, piloting the organization(s) in the proper direction(s) is the most important “what” a leader, or leadership team, provides.  If an organization does not have direction(s), or is being piloted in the wrong direction(s), then success will be fleeting.  But what are some specifics that leaders provide to establish the proper direction of an organization?

 

Leadership Cycle

Leadership Cycle

 

This post/discussion focuses on the first, three “whats” – Vision/Mission, Values and Culture

Gertrude Stein states – “It is awfully important to know what is and is not your business.”  Vision and mission “whats” provide the cornerstones for any organization and are usually published as vision and/or mission statements.  For example, in Southwest Airlines early years their vision/mission was to “Give People the Freedom to Fly”. These “leadership whats” sets an organization’s purpose and direction that all other “leadership whats” will be based.    Each major business unit and department should have their vision and/or mission statements that support their organization’s top vision and mission.

The next “leadership whats” are an organization’s values that define and provide direction on how an organization’s people behave, think, act and make decisions, and are usually documented and published with the organization’s vision and mission statements.  Organization values can be grouped into sets of “core values” and “operational values”.  Core values, people focused, represent shared beliefs and expectations on how they behave and treat other people inside or outside of the organization, and build relationships.  Examples of core values focus on areas like integrity, treat others with respect, teamwork, have fun, celebrate success, be proactive, work hard, make excellence a habit, great attitude, etc.  Operational values, business focused, represent the shared convictions and expectations of what is important for the organization to be successful/profitable and must be aligned with the organization’s business model.  If the organization excels at these operational values, they can adapt to change, grow and be profitable.  Examples of operational values focus on customer service, innovation, reliability, safety, easy to do business with, low costs, low prices, profitability, etc.  Arguably more important than documented vision/mission and value statements is how an organization’s leadership communicates and lives these “whats” every day – do they “talk the talk, AND walk the walk”.

As the result of and closely related to an organization’s vision/mission, and core and operational values is the third “leadership what” – organization culture.  Culture has been defined by many as “a general term that outlines the collective attitudes, beliefs, common experiences, procedures, and values that are prevalent in an organization”.  Pretty nebulous.  I have found defining organization culture is like defining quality – “it’s hard to define, but I know it when I see it”.  Unlike an organization’s vision/mission, and values that are usually documented and published, an organization’s culture is not.  A positive culture, one in alignment with vision/mission and values, will have its people highly ‘aligned/invested’ in the organization, culture and success.  A positive culture results is an organization that exhibits traits like high trust, loyalty, productivity, performance, results, etc., and lower conflicts, turnover, setbacks, etc.  A dysfunctional culture and/or one not in alignment with vision/mission and values can be a toxic environment  exhibiting traits like trust issues, high level of conflicts and politics, CYA attitudes, ragged performance and results, high turnover, low or negative growth, etc.

These first, three “whats” must be in place before the fourth and fifth “whats” can be determined and effective.  We will cover these remaining “whats” in the next post/discussion.

 

 

 



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Leadership – It’s Like Riding a Motorcycle

First, leadership is about “leading people, not managing things”.  If you doubt this, answer this question – “have you ever tried to manage your spouse?” Right.

Recently, I read several articles, blog posts and replies regarding leaders and leadership.  They all try to express what attributes, or set of attributes, a leader must have to be successful – what I call the “leadership how(s)”.  All in all they attempt to identify and define the ‘X’ number of most important attributes of successful leaders.  Although leadership attributes are important,  I have found that there are many leadership attributes, and sets of attributes called styles, and no single set of attributes or styles guarantees success because the situation(s) leaders or leadership teams face in their organizations, and their organization’s maturity are different from others.

However, I have found that ALL successful leaders, or leadership teams, provide the same four “leadership whats” for their organization(s).  A leader is like a motorcycle rider and provides the same four “whats”. The motorcycle rider: – (1) pilots the cycle in a specific direction(s); (2) delivers thrust/power to move the cycle in that direction; (3) manages risks of piloting the cycle; and (4) makes changes in the cycle’s direction, thrust and risk based on current and anticipated situations/changes.  Now substitute organization for motorcycle/cycle, and leader, or leadership team, for rider.  If a leader(s) fails to provide any of these four “whats”, the chances of the leader or organization being successful are slim to none.  Successful leaders provide their organization(s) with the proper direction(s), and the right amount of thrust, while allowing appropriate calculated risk taking.  And then they have the courage to make changes when an organization’s situation(s) changes.

 

Leadership

Leadership

 

Leaders need to understand and focus on the “whats” which can be broken down into finer and finer specifics which I will address in the next set of discussions.



Building Trust and Credibility

TrustTrust is like oil.  Its the stuff that makes relationships in and with IT work.  Without trust and credibility, IT goverance, project management, conflict resolution, career progression, etc. can happen, but are slower and have many issues.  Consider this. “With high trust, success comes faster, better and at a lower cost” says David Neeleman, Founder of JetBlue.  In IT organizations that are struggling, trust and credibility are the  most important habits for IT leaders (and staff) to build, improve and maintain.

Trust is difficult to build, remains fragile and can be lost.  Every struggling IT professional and/or organization has major problems in this area.  Some believe once trust is lost it can not be regained, but from my experience this is not true.  The best sources I used regarding trust and credibility are from Stephen R. Covey and his son Stephen M.R. Covey, and much of this blog is based on their work and my experiences using and mastering their concepts.

Trust is not just a touchy, feely concept.  It (interpersonal trust) is an attitude or state of mind that has been cultivated between people.  Consider this definition of trust from the Covey’s:

TRUST = One’s Character + One’s Competency

Trust between people is a combination of a person’s:

  •  Character – What you say/do, How you say/do, and  Why you say/do
  •  Competency -  What you can do, What you do, and What results you deliver

So why is competency required to build trust?  I thought you just needed to be a ‘good person’ – high character.  Let’s look at a doctor/patient relationship.  As a patient needing open heart surgery, would you trust a doctor that had good bed side manners and high personal integrity, but was in their first year as a cardiologist, and had never performed open heart surgery?  Partially, but if I was the patient, I want someone more accomplished (competent) to do the surgery.

People build trust by building ‘trust wealth’ in what the Covey’s call an ‘Emotional Bank Account’ (EBA).  As with any bank account, people can add to the account with deposits and reduce the account with withdrawals.  Here are just a few examples of deposits and withdrawals IT professionals make.

Character

  • Deposits – Think Straight, Talk Straight; Listens to Understand; Manages Expectations; Work to Right Wrongs; Put Employees First, Then Customers, Then Stockholders; Promote Win/Win Decisions; Accountable for Mistakes
  • Withdrawals -  Show Disrespect; Listen to Respond; Not Trusting; Talk Behind People’s Backs; Avoid Conflict; Talks the Talk, Does Not Walk the Walk; Being Intolerant/Inflexible; Blame Others

Competency

  • Deposits – Keep Commitments by Under Promising and Over Delivering; Manage Risks; Solve Root Cause of  Problems; Promote Continuous Improvements; Admits When Wrong/Do Not Know; Manages Things and Leads People
  • Withdrawals -  Sell Poor Ideas; Does Not Understand the Business; Does Not Measure Success; Is Reactive versus Proactive; Does Not Align with Business; Poor Track Record

So how can you, somewhat objectively, measure your EBA with colleagues? I use the Trust Quotient:

TQ = EBA Deposits / (EBA Withdrawals * 2.5)

That’s right – withdrawals are more expensive than a single deposit.  You need 2 to 2.5 deposits to make up for a single withdrawal.

 

Do you have stories/experiences with trust in IT??

 

PS Check out HBR blog on Trust – http://blogs.hbr.org/hill-lineback/2012/03/do-your-people-trust-you.html

 



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IT Organization Success

Keys to IT Success

 

 

 Keys to IT Organization Success

No secret, for decades many IT organizations have struggled to be successful – probably more so than any other.  When is the last time you saw a dozen articles on the struggling accounting, marketing or human resources organizations?

Martha Heller in a 2010 CIO Magazine article discusses IT struggles and suggests a few ‘paradoxes’ in IT organizations that may be barriers to a successful IT organization.

  • The Business wants IT to be strategic, but force them to spend most of their time on operational issues.
  • IT needs to be stewards of risk mitigation and cost containment, yet expected to innovate.
  • IT is seen as that of an enabler, yet is also expected to be a business driver.
  • IT can make or break a company, but its leaders are infrequently members of C-level executive groups.
  • IT is one of the most pervasive, critical functions, yet must prove its value constantly.
  • Many IT successes are invisible, yet its few mistakes are highly visible.
  • IT project teams are accountable for project success, even if the Business has ownership.
  • IT staff loves new technology, but must embrace/understand the Business to be successful.
  • Many IT teams/people are uncomfortable dealing with people, but to succeed must build relationships, influence others, and resolve conflicts.
  • IT infrastructure is a consistent, long-term investment, but the Business thinks in quarters.

And here are a few more paradoxes I have experienced:

  • The Business wholly adopted  ‘BPI’, but IT has poor processes and rarely has budget for improvement.
  • C-level executives believe IT costs too much and fails to provide comparable value, but have limited knowledge of IT project or operational successes.
  • C-level executives expect IT to deliver new, strategic capabilities to their Business unit, yet most of the project identification, priorities and governance is driven by Business users and managers.
  • IT needs/must align its goals/objectives to the Business, yet the Business units goals/objectives are not always aligned with each other.

Any of these barriers hinder IT leaders and organizations from being valued and successful.  They can be mitigated and/or knocked down, but requires a relevant, achievable Strategy, competent People, and consistent, repeatable Processes.  In addition it also takes the IT leaders and staff to embrace/develop these 7 Habits of Excellence.

  • Build  Trust and Credibility
  • Develop  a Proactive Culture
  • Understand  the Company, Business Model, and Industry
  • Align  with Company’s Goals and Objectives
  • Lead  People  -  Manage Things
  • Adapt  to Change
  • Embrace  a Passion for Learning and Improvement

 

Developing these 7 Habits of Excellence will mitigate or eliminate barriers and result in these IT organization benefits:

  • Faster Throughput (projects and processes)
  • Less Costly (unit costs)
  • Better  Quality (products, software, systems and processes)
  • More Agility  (change)
  • More Capacity  (w/o more resources)
  • Better Risk Management
  • Better Place to Work

What IT paradoxes is your group facing??



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Was Your Project a Success Or . . .

Project Balance Scorecard

Project Success

Just started or completed a project? How will you know if it was a success – met or exceeded expectations? Or how will you know if it was not a success – didn’t meet expectations or failed? Which stakeholders’ expectations are important? What can be improved to insure more success next time?

Did you know that most software development (SD) organizations do not have a process or commitment in place to even try to measure a project’s success, failure or areas for improvement? These are usually CMM Level 1 organizations, Chaotic. CMM Level 2 SD organizations, Repeatable, typically has a process that measures a projects success, or lack of, whether it was “On Schedule” and/or “On Budget”, but this measurement falls short of answering the questions above.

So what process and commitment is needed to answer all of the questions above. Many CMM Level 3-5 SD organizations have implemented Project Balanced Scorecards (PBSC) as the process and tool to give a ‘balanced’ view of project success, or not, and areas for improvement.

A good PBSC follows the guidelines of the Balanced Scorecard Institute and based on The Balanced Scorecard from Kaplan and Norton. The PBSC starts with identifying all key stakeholders for a project including:

1) Business stakeholders
2) IT Service Delivery, operations, stakeholders
3) Customers
4) Employees, project team

These stakeholders determine a project’s level of success and areas for improvement. Next is to develop criteria for each stakeholder’s focus on the project’s success. Major criteria categories and criteria might be:

1) Financial Focus – Business financial stakeholders

2) Service Delivery Focus – Operations and support stakeholders

3) Customer Focus – Business and external customer stakeholders

4) Employee Focus – Project team stakeholders

The above criteria contain quantitative and qualitative areas of focus to determine a project’s success – a balanced view.

For an example of a Project Balanced Scorecard, check out our web site at Palomino Consulting Group – Products



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Danger – Thin Ice

Risk

Risk

The high ‘failure’ rates of IT projects have been documented for over four decades by numerous studies and publications.  The Standish Group International reported in 2001 that around 23% of projects are failures, and 49% are ‘challenged’.  Doing the math indicates that only around 28% of IT projects meet their expectations.  My experience suggests one of the primary reasons for these continued poor results is the lack of formal, aggressive IT project complexity and risk assessment and management – a responsibility of the IT project sponsor and project manager.

Software development is a process – a process with varying degrees of complexity.  A process’s complexity, therefore, defines, qualitatively and quantitatively, the relative difficulty, time consumption, resource requirements and skill requirements necessary to successfully complete.  The more complex the process – the more difficult, time consuming, resources intensive and more experienced skills are required.  Many project managers use complexity and risk synonymously – but they are not.  Project risks are qualitative and quantitative issues or events which could lead to negative consequences.  Risks can be prevented, repaired if they become an issue or mitigated.  Complexity is not an event and is harder or impossible to prevent, repair or mitigate once the IT project begins.

So why do most IT sponsors and project managers do a lousy job of complexity and risk assessment and management?  A few reasons are:

  1. Lack of skills – training and/or experience
  2. Internal politics
  3. Lack of formal assessment and management process that is consistent and repeatable
  4. Lack of assessment, management and reporting tools
  5. Lack of emphasis in CMM, ITIL and other methodologies

 

What is the complexity of your current project?  What are the five major risk areas?



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