Quick wins?

A few days ago we talked about “Low Hanging Fruits“. The concept can be used in Project & Change Management too. When handling projects/changes you might want to opt for first focusing on a “Quick Win”.

Imagine; you need to do a full ERP migration. Here you might think of doing a small (which might even be trivial) & easy component first. This way the business will be presented with a visual confirmation about the project, and your team gets the needed boost. This increase in morale will give you the extra edge for the more lengthy/tough situations.

Feedback Sandwich

Feedback
Feedback is a central component of the manager-employee relationship. Yet managers often only provide corrective (or negative) feedback. This will (sometimes) result in the employee being defensive, and generate a negative rapport with this person. The “feedback sandwich” model is a way to package negative feedback.

You really did an excellent job on ‘Project X’; everybody was very impressed! In the future, it would be better to avoid doing ‘action Y’. It’s great that you put so much thought into this and a lot of people are going to benefit from it!

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Low hanging fruit

Origin
We have Mother Nature to thank for the expression low hanging fruit. A fruit-bearing tree often contains some branches low enough for animals and humans to reach without much effort. The fruit contained on these lower branches may be not be as ripe or attractive as the fruit on higher limbs, but it is usually more abundant and easier to harvest.

simple problem or target : a target that is easy to achieve, or a problem that is easy to solve
Pick the low-hanging fruit first by identifying the most obvious opportunities.

Business
The term low hanging fruit is often associated with the sale of consumer products or services. Sales professionals, especially those who are just entering the field, are encouraged to seek out the easiest customers first, which sales managers may call “low hanging fruit.” Competitors may spend more of their time seeking out the higher commission sales of higher “customer branches”, leaving the low hanging fruit behind for others to claim.

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Company Tactics : Fox or Hedgehog?

The Hedgehog Concept is based on a Greek parable. The lesson goes that a quick and very cunning fox comes across this hedgehog every day that is lumbering down the middle of a forest path. The fox thinks that today he is finally going to make a meal of this dumpy little creature; the hedgehog thinks, “Here we go again.” So, as the fox approaches, the hedgehog rolls up into a ball of needle sharp quills that stymies the fox who soon gives up and moves along. The lesson being that although the fox is a formidable predator, the hedgehog is very good at doing one very simple thing – defending himself.

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing!

Jim Collins says you can develop a hedgehog concept for your business or yourself by considering the intersection of three principles:

Management Styles

Heroic versus Engaging
During my college of “Information Strategy” I was exposed to the difference in management styles. In short you have the “heroic” managers that are based on themselves, where you have “engaging” managers who are based upon collaboration. Let’s go through the both styles to see the differences.

Heroic Management
based on self
Engaging Management
based on collaboration
Managers are important people, seperate from those who develop products & deliver services. Managers are important to the extent that they enable other people do the important work of developing products & delivering services.
The higher “up” these managers go, the more important they become. At the “top”, the chief executive is the corportation. An organization is an interacting network, not a vertical hierarchy. Effective leaders work throughout; they do not sit on top.
Down the hierarchy comes the strategy (clear, deliberate & bold) emanating from the chief who makes the dramatic moves. Everyone else “implements”. Out of the network emerge strategies, as engaged people solve little problems that evolve into big initiatives.
Implementation is the problem because, while the chief embraces change, most others resist it. That is why outsiders must be favored over insiders. Implementation is the problem because it cannot be seperated from formulation. That is why committed insiders are necessary to come up with the key changes.
To manage is to make decisions and allocate resources (including HR). Managing thus means analyzing, often calculating, based on facts from reports. To manage is to bring out the positive energy that exists naturally within people. Managing thus means inspiring and engaging, based on judgment that is rooted in context.
Rewards for increasing performance go to the leaders. What matters is what’s measured (shareholder value?). Rewards for making the organization a better place go to everyone. Human values (many of which cannot be measured) matter.
Leadershhip is thrust upon those who thrust their will upon others. Leadership is a sacred trust earned through the respect of others.

(Note: Some see a relation to “Servant-Leadership“)

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Authors@Google : Garr Reynolds

For those who are interested in presenting differently, check out Garr’s presentation at Authors@google. It’s quite lengthy (72′), but it’s an interesting video to watch when you’ve got the time.

Presentation designer and internationally acclaimed communications expert Garr Reynolds, creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the net — presentationzen.com — shares his experience in a provocative mix of illumination, inspiration, education, and guidance that will change the way you think about making presentations with PowerPoint or Keynote.

Presentation Zen challenges the conventional wisdom of making “slide presentations” in today’s world and encourages you to think differently and more creatively about the preparation, design, and delivery of your presentations. Garr shares lessons and perspectives that draw upon practical advice from the fields of communication and business. Combining solid principles of design with the tenets of Zen simplicity, this book will help you along the path to simpler, more effective presentations.

This event took place on March 21, 2008, as a part of the Authors@Google series.

The man with the plan; the communication plan!

There is always communication!
When it comes down to change, it’s all about communication. Yet how often does one practice this in a decent manner? The first step is to realize that there is -always- communication! Let us say that we’re managing a restructure… Would you tend to hold communication off until you know everything? If so, did you think that people won’t talk amongst themselves? The ‘gossip’ is also communication, and it’s even communication that you cannot control! It happens because people do not like uncertainty and they will fill in the blanks with their own stories. Even though you want people to be creative, I don’t think this is the best situation to let them fantasize.
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Become the IT top striker

The IT hat-trick
IT is a service oriented group within the company, yet they often see themselves as a separate entity. Yet some IT staff manage to get noticed in all the right ways. What are the secrets of their success? Cio.com featured an article called “Four Secrets to Becoming a Rising IT Star”. The basics to start with are energy, enthusiasm & passion. But the difference can be made by scoring the following hat-trick:

  • Be good to your end users : You might be the next upcoming tech guru, but remember who your customer is… Do not make people feel stupid! People might not be that technical, so present the information in a manner that they understand the technology and it’s importance to the company. When you go to the doctor, would you appreciate it that he started laughing at you because you didn’t know what that medical term meant?
  • Business Intelligence : Is your IT department leading your company, or doesn’t it even seem to be able to follow? Get to know your organization & business. What do they do things, and how can you help them to improve?
  • Communication & Trust : Trust is the glue that binds relationships together inside and outside of work. Without it, moving up is virtually impossible. And honest communication is a huge part of building trust with your manager. Share the good news—and the bad. Information sharing, when it comes right down to it, translates to respect.

Did you say manga?!?

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Getting talent to nest

Turnover Crisis?
Just before the long weekend, a fellow IT enthusiast pointed my attention towards the following article: Solving the IT Turnover Crisis

Let’s bring forth an excerpt from the intro:

… You’ve probably noticed that the most talented software developers tend to not stick around at one place for too long. The least talented folks, on the other hand, entrench themselves deep within the organization, often building beachheads of bad code that no sane developer would dare go near, all the while ensuring their own job security and screwing up just enough times not to get fired.

This must be something a lot of people have experienced. The “top performers”, as the talented are often called, are generally the first to leave the leave the nest when trouble arises (f.e. yet another restructuring).

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