Don’t stay in Pity City

The next video is Jim Clemmer talking about a model he widely uses with many audiences around our choices to respond on, or below, “the line”. Are we a Navigator, Survivor or Victim? He illustrates his model with a story about “Pity City” (pessimism)…

A ‘Pity City’ resident was quoted saying:
Gravity is a myth, the world just sucks!

The difference between Consultancy and Bodyshopping

During my career I had multiple discussions about the line between bodyshopping & consultancy. Yet “Work The Line” has a really nice post on this.

Some excerpts…

Does the firm have genuine practice areas based on shared intellectual property? A consultancy should have mechanisms for capturing, sharing, and reusing intellectual property in areas of specialized expertise. These mechanisms can be embodied in people (practice leaders), processes (defined practices for knowledge-sharing), and tools (collaborative software, reusable collateral, etc.).

So is there an infrastructure to back up your knowledge workers? As a consultancy firm your key asset is the knowledge of your people, so are the able to share this asset?

Does the firm limit its consultants’ billable time for strategic purposes? A body shop bills as much of its consultants’ time as possible, all the time. In contrast, a consultancy continually invests time in improving its collective knowledge and performance.

Key indicators here are training & the % of people “on the bench”. If people are allocated fulltime towards a customer; how can they be acquire their knowledge? One might say that this is because they are trained on the job, but those are not always the grounds where one can gain much experience in new/expert fields. When spending all your time “on the road” is not allowing the time for reading, communicating and reflection which is essential to maintain quality.

Does the firm measure success in terms of profitability per engagement? This question is closely related to the last two. If a firm’s goal is simply to bill as much as possible, and its preference is to bill for time and materials, it will have no interest in the profitability of individual engagements, and will simply “run the clock” as long as it can. Conversely, if a firm uses its knowledge to deliver high-value fixed-price engagements, it will try to perform engagements as quickly and efficiently as possible, in order to maximize their profitability.

The profit made on project with a fixed price is based upon your knowledge. The more you know, the more efficient you can provide the solution. Where is your motivation when you charge by the hour? Then it’s just a hidden form of interim work (to me).

Does the firm leverage new skills to build higher-level relationships? Over time, a firm builds skills engagement by engagement. It comes in to offer skill A, and picks up skill B in the process. If the firm simply adds these new skills to its list of “things we do,” it is behaving like a body shop. If the firm analyzes, consolidates and leverages these skills into higher-level client relationships, it is behaving like a consultancy.

Do you have many different profile which are being “rented” towards clients, or do you have a specific area where your knowledge dominates? This come close to the question whether or not the firm can distinct one self (as a brand) by encapsulating a specific value proposition.


A body shop bills as much of its consultants’ time as possible, all the time. In contrast, a consultancy continually invests time in improving its collective knowledge and performance.

Visual & Creative Mindmapping

The written and/or oral part is only a slight part (7%) of the whole message. We’ve already learned that the brain rules show an increased recognition when using visuals. Combine this with the way the brain is wired, and you’ll get the concept of MindMapping.

Where “Visual & Creative thinking” meets mindmapping

The bottom line
Put down the (false) limitation where you might think you are not creative enough, and start trying! Start by using it for your own mindmaps; mindmapping is a great tool for remembering large pieces of information, but it’s the most effective when using visuals. And after a while you might even try implementing it on your presentations… 😉

Your now isn’t their now

A lot of the time, during management courses, the strategy is visualized as a route plan. One knows where one needs to be, and one know one is, so one creates a route towards that goal. But might we be wrong by thinking that all people leave at the same house?

The presentation was promoware for a free eBook that I discussed earlier this week… (referenc: “Prisoner’s Dilemma”)

Prisoner’s Dilemma

Prisoner’s Dilemma

If the Strategy of Giving fails, the explanation may lie in the game theory’s prisoner’s dilemma. Prisoner’s dilemma in a nutshell: Two people are suspects in a crime where they could face jail time if convicted. The suspects have agreed that neither one will talk in the interrogations. The interrogators offer a deal to both of the suspects. If only one of them comes clean, he will be released, but his partner will then get a ten-year prison sentence. If both of them talk, both will be sentenced to five years in prison. If neither confesses, they will be both sentenced to just one year in prison. The prisoners are not able to communicate to each other, so there is no way for them to know what the other one has chosen. In the name of common interest, both of them should keep quiet. But, from an individual’s perspective, the best alternative is to talk.

Continue reading “Prisoner’s Dilemma”

Looking back at a major/failed IT project

Check out “Anatomy of a runaway IT project” by Bruce F. Webster.

The following document is the actual text — carefully redacted — of a memo I wrote some time back [i.e., several years ago] after performing an IT project review; names and identifying concepts have been changed to preserve confidentiality (and protect the guilty). The project in question was a major IT re-engineering effort for a mission-critical system; at the time I did this review, the project had been going on for several years and had cost millions of dollars; it would eventually be canceled and the work products abandoned. The memo itself provides an interesting glimpse into just how a major IT project can go so far off the tracks that nothing useful is ever delivered.

It should be a schoolbook example of what can happen if you fail to do proper project management on projects. Some might find this has a “days of our lives” factor (tv soap), yet you might be astonished when you see the amount of projects that actually succeed in their objectives (16%).

Last Note
Credits to Geek&Poke for the cartoon; they mentioned a link to zdnet about the triangle for project management, yet I found that it took the wrong perspective… If you’re interested in this, check out an older post of mine about the devil’s triangle of project management.

Constrain Creativity

An old addiction
How strange it may be, recently I rediscovered an old addiction; it’s a game called “Football Manager“. I bet you didn’t see that one coming! 😉 Anyways it’s all about managing a soccer team without actually playing (“touching the ball”) yourself. Just like managing people “in real life”, you have to guide the players towards their objectives (victory). It contains a lot of HR management aspects (the full employee life cycle; hire, coach, manage, fire/retire) and it’s off course combined with the soccer specific tactical aspects.

What has this to do with creativity?
Okay okay… Where it boils down to is that when one builds a team, you have to be careful which players you mix into a team selection and which tactics you apply. One of the key aspects is “creativity”; where it is the main factor to creating opportunities. Yet if you would give everyone a full creative role, then they wouldn’t follow the tactics anymore. Which would lead to a weak backbone/structure of the team, where one would concise goals against.

Creativity Loves Constraint
The next clip is Google’s Vice President of Search Products & User Experience, Marissa Mayer, talking about constraining creativity.

Description: In product development, Google’s Marissa Mayer, Vice President of Search Products & User Experience, believes that a small amount of constraint – whether in file size, pixels, or speed – fosters a lot of innovation. The lesson she shares? Too much creative freedom can make creativity unfocused. A solution with a strict set of barriers yields more concrete solutions.

The Ideabox

OldSkool Ideabox
Ever worked for a company that had an “ideabox”? To be honest I love the idea as it gave room to creative thinking to area’s where you might not expect it. Yet I always wondered how these idea’s where filtered. Doesn’t the guy/girl filtering the box become a weak link in this chain?

Ideabox 2.0
Off course there are other ways of gathering employee ideas, but the Ideabox provides some vintage charm to me. Bare in mind that the following video is a promotion material form SalesForce, yet I found it to contain some truths about the situation.

The key is to make Meaning

In the following video, Guy Kawasaki states that a company should be make meaning. If one is set out to make meaning, one will (hopefully) make money. Yet if one is set out to make money, one will (surely) not make meaning.


Guy Kawasaki, believes that those companies who set out to make a positive change in the world are the companies that will ultimately be the most successful. He gives examples of the best way to make meaning: increase quality of life, right a wrong, and prevent the end of something good.