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Date: Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 05:11

I updated my Motivational Quotes page.

I’ve got more than 100 motivational quotes on the page to help you find your inner-fire.

It’s not your ordinary motivational quotes list.  

It’s deep and it draws from several masters of inspiration including Bruce Lee, Jim Rohn, and Zig Ziglar.

Here is a sampling of some of my personal favorite motivational quotes ..

“If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” – Bruce Lee

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Kites rise highest against the wind; not with it.” – Winston Churchill

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.” – Bruce Lee

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius

“There is no such thing as failure. There are only results.” – Tony Robbins

“When it’s time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived.” -Henry David Thoreau

“People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.” – Anonymous

“Motivation alone is not enough. If you have an idiot and you motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot.” – Jim Rohn

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee

For more quotes, check out my motivational quotes page.

It’s a living page and at some point I’ll do a complete revamp.

I think in the future I’ll organize it by sub-categories within motivation rather than by people.I think at the time it made sense to have words of wisdom by various folks, but now I think grouping motivational quotes by sub-categories would work much better, especially when there is such a large quantity of quotes.

Author: "JD Meier" Tags: "Effectiveness"
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Date: Monday, 28 Jul 2014 18:23

"To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act." -- Anatole France

Innovation is the way to leap frog and create new ways to do things better, faster, and cheaper.

But it takes slack.

The problem is when you squeeze the goose, to get the golden egg, you lose the slack that creates the eggs in the first place.

In the book The Future of Management, Gary Hamel shares how when there is a lack of slack, there is no innovation.

The Most Important Source of Productivity is Creativity

Creativity unleashes productivity.  And it takes time to unleash creativity.  But the big bold bet is that the time you give to creativity and innovation, pays you back with new opportunities and new ways to do things better, faster, or cheaper.

Via The Future of Management:

“In the pursuit of efficiency, companies have wrung a lot of slack out of their operations.  That's a good thing.  No one can argue with the goal of cutting inventory levels, reducing working capital, and slashing over-head.  The problem, though, is that if you wring all the slack out of a company, you'll wring out all of the innovation as well.  Innovation takes time -- time to dream, time to reflect, time to learn, time to invent, and time to experiment.  And it takes uninterrupted time -- time when you can put your feet up and stare off into space.  As Pekka Himanen put it in his affectionate tribute to hackers, '... the information economy's most important source of productivity is creativity, and it is not possible to create interesting things in a constant hurry or in a regulated way from nine to five.'”

There is No “Thinking Time”

Without think time, creativity lives in a cave.

Via The Future of Management:

“While the folks in R&D and new product development are given time to innovate, most employees don't enjoy this luxury.  Every day brings a barrage of e-mails, voice mails, and back-to-back meetings.  In this world, where the need to be 'responsive' fragments human attention into a thousand tiny shards, there is no 'thinking time.'  And therein lies the problem.  However creative your colleagues may be, if they don't have the right to occasionally abandon their posts and work on something that's not mission critical, most of their creativity will remain dormant.”

Are People Encouraged to Quietly Dream Up the Future?

If you want more innovation, make space for it.

Via The Future of Management:

“OK, you already know that -- but how is that knowledge reflected in your company's management processes?  How hard is it for a frontline employee to get permission to spend 20 percent of her time working on a project that has nothing to do with her day job, nor your company's 'core businesses'?  And how often does this happen?  Does your company track the number of hours employees spend working on ideas that are incidental to their core responsibilities? Is 'slack' institutionalized in the same way that cost efficiency is?  Probably not.  There are plenty of incentives in your company for people to stay busy.  ('Maybe if I look like I'm working flat out, they won't send my job offshore.')  But where are the incentives that encourage people to spend time quietly dreaming up the future?”

Are you slacking your way to a better future?

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Author: "JD Meier" Tags: "Innovation"
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Date: Monday, 28 Jul 2014 17:39

If you want to change your game, you need to know what the key challenges are.

Innovation is a game that you can play much better, if you know where and how to debottleneck it.

In the book The Future of Management, Gary Hamel shares 3 challenges that he believes can help you unleash your organization’s capacity for innovation.

  1. How can you enroll every individual within your company in the work of innovation, and equip each one with creativity-boosting tools?
  2. How can you ensure that top management's hallowed beliefs don't straightjacket innovation, and that heretical ideas are given the chance to prove their worth?
  3. How can you create the time and space for grassroots innovation in an organization that is running flat to deliver today's results?

According to Hamel, "Make progress on these challenges and your company will set new benchmarks in innovation."

If I think back through the various teams I’ve been on at Microsoft, one team that I was on was especially good at helping innovation flourish, and we were constantly pushing the envelope to “be what’s next.”   Our innovation flourished the most when we directly addressed the challenges above.  People were challenged to share and test their ideas more freely and innovation was baked into how we planned our portfolio, programs, and projects.

Innovation was a first-class citizen – by design.

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Author: "JD Meier" Tags: "Innovation"
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Date: Saturday, 26 Jul 2014 16:58

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt

I did a deep dive book review.

This time, I reviewed Fearless Speaking.

The book is more than meets the eye.

It’s actually a wealth of personal development skills at your fingertips and it’s a powerful way to grow your personal leadership skills.

In fact, there are almost fifty exercises throughout the book.

Here’s an example of one of the techniques …

Spotlight Technique #1

When you’re overly nervous and anxious as a public speaker, you place yourself in a ‘third degree’ spotlight.  That’s the name for the harsh bright light police detectives use in days gone by to ‘sweat’ a suspect and elicit a confession.  An interrogation room was always otherwise dimly lit, so the source of light trained on the person (who was usually forced to sit in a hard straight backed chair) was unrelenting.

This spotlight is always harsh, hot, and uncomfortable – and the truth is, you voluntarily train it on yourself by believing your audience is unforgiving.  The larger the audience, the more likely you believe that to be true.

So here’s a technique to get out from under this hot spotlight that you’re imagining so vividly turn it around! Visualize swiveling the spotlight so it’s aimed at your audience instead of you.  After all, aren’t you supposed to illuminate your listeners? You don’t want to leave them in the dark, do you?

There’s no doubt that it’s cooler and much more comfortable when you’re out under that harsh light.  The added benefit is that now the light is shining on your listeners – without question the most important people in the room or auditorium!

I like that there are so many exercises and techniques to choose from.   Many of them don’t fit my style, but there were several that exposed me to new ways of thinking and new ideas to try.

And what’s especially great is knowing that these exercise come from professional actors and speakers – it’s like an insider’s guide at your fingertips.

My book review on Fearless Speaking includes a list of all the exercises, the chapters at a glance, key features from the book, and a few of my favorite highlights from the book (sort of like a movie trailer for the book.)

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Author: "JD Meier" Tags: "Effectiveness, Leadership"
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Date: Friday, 25 Jul 2014 16:06

“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” — Howard Aiken

It's not a lack of risk taking that holds innovation and change back. 

Even big companies take big risks all the time.

The real barrier to innovation and change is the drag of old mental models.

People end up emotionally invested in their ideas, or they are limited by their beliefs or their world views.  They can't see what's possible with the lens they look through, or fear and doubt hold them back.  In some cases, it's even learned helplessness.

In the book The Future of Management, Gary Hamel shares some great insight into what holds people and companies back from innovation and change.

Yesterday’s Heresies are Tomorrow’s Dogmas

Yesterday's ideas that were profoundly at odds with what is generally accepted, eventually become the norm, and then eventually become a belief system that is tough to change.

Via The Future of Management:

“Innovators are, by nature, contrarians.  Trouble is, yesterday's heresies often become tomorrow's dogmas, and when they do, innovation stalls and the growth curve flattens out.”

Deeply Held Beliefs are the Real Barrier to Strategic Innovation

Success turns beliefs into barriers by cementing ideas that become inflexible to change.

Via The Future of Management:

“... the real barrier to strategic innovation is more than denial -- it's a matrix of deeply held beliefs about the inherent superiority of a business model, beliefs that have been validated by millions of customers; beliefs that have been enshrined in physical infrastructure and operating handbooks; beliefs that have hardened into religious convictions; beliefs that are held so strongly, that nonconforming ideas seldom get considered, and when they do, rarely get more than grudging support.”

It's Not a Lack of Risk Taking that Holds Innovation Back

Big companies take big risks every day.  But the risks are scoped and constrained by old beliefs and the way things have always been done.

Via The Future of Management:

“Contrary to popular mythology, the thing that most impedes innovation in large companies is not a lack of risk taking.  Big companies take big, and often imprudent, risks every day.  The real brake on innovation is the drag of old mental models.  Long-serving executives often have a big chunk of their emotional capital invested in the existing strategy.  This is particularly true for company founders.  While many start out as contrarians, success often turns them into cardinals who feel compelled to defend the one true faith.  It's hard for founders to credit ideas that threaten the foundations of the business models they invented.  Understanding this, employees lower down self-edit their ideas, knowing that anything too far adrift from conventional thinking won't win support from the top.  As a result, the scope of innovation narrows, the risk of getting blindsided goes up, and the company's young contrarians start looking for opportunities elsewhere.”

Legacy Beliefs are a Much Bigger Liability When It Comes to Innovation

When you want to change the world, sometimes it takes a new view, and existing world views get in the way.

Via The Future of Management:

“When it comes to innovation, a company's legacy beliefs are a much bigger liability than its legacy costs.  Yet in my experience, few companies have a systematic process for challenging deeply held strategic assumptions.  Few have taken bold steps to open up their strategy process to contrarian points of view.  Few explicitly encourage disruptive innovation.  Worse, it's usually senior executives, with their doctrinaire views, who get to decide which ideas go forward and which get spiked.  This must change.”

What you see, or can’t see, changes everything.

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Author: "JD Meier" Tags: "Innovation, Leadership"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 15:59

“The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does.” -- Hugh MacLeod

Is it just me or is the world changing faster than ever?

I hear from everybody around me (inside and outside of Microsoft) how radically their worlds are changing under their feet, business models are flipped on their heads, and the game of generating new business value for customers is at an all-time competitive high.

Great.

Challenge is where growth and greatness come from.  It’s always a chance to test what we’re capable of and respond to whatever gets thrown our way.  But first, it helps to put a finger on what exactly these changes are that are disrupting our world, and what to focus on to survive and thrive.

In the book The Future of Management, Gary Hamel shares some great insight into the key challenges that companies are facing that create even more demand for management innovation.

The New Realities We’re Facing that Call for Management Innovation

I think Hamel describes our new world pretty well …

Via The Future of Management:

  • “As the pace of change accelerates more, more and more companies are finding themselves on the wrong side of the change curve.  Recent research by L.G. Thomas and Richard D'Aveni suggests that industry leadership is changing hands more frequently, and competitive advantage is eroding more rapidly, than ever before.  Today, it's not just the occasional company that gets caught out by the future, but entire industries -- be it traditional airlines, old-line department stores, network television broadcasters, the big drug companies, America's carmakers, or the newspaper and music industries.”
  • “Deregulation, along with the de-scaling effects of new technology, are dramatically reducing the barriers to entry across a wide range of industries, from publishing to telecommunications to banking to airlines.  As a result, long-standing oligopolies are fracturing and competitive 'anarchy' is on the rise.”
  • “Increasingly, companies are finding themselves enmeshed in 'value webs' and 'ecosystems' over which they have only partial control.  As a result, competitive outcomes are becoming less the product of market power, and more the product of artful negotiation.  De-verticalization, disintermediation, and outsource-industry consortia, are leaving firms with less and less control over their own destinies.”
  • “The digitization of anything not nailed down threatens companies that make their living out of creating and selling intellectual property.  Drug companies, film studios, publishers, and fashion designers are all struggling to adapt to a world where information and ideas 'want to be free.'”
  • The internet is rapidly shifting bargaining power from producers to consumers.  In the past, customer 'loyalty' was often an artifact of high search costs and limited information, and companies frequently profited from customer ignorance.  Today, customers are in control as never before -- and in a world of near-perfect information, there is less and less room for mediocre products and services.”
  • Strategy cycles are shrinking.  Thanks to plentiful capital, the power of outsourcing, and the global reach of the Web, it's possible to ramp up a new business faster than ever before.  But the more rapidly a business grows, the sooner it fulfills the promise of its original business model, peaks, and enters its dotage.  Today, the parabola of success is often a short, sharp spike.”
  • “Plummeting communication costs and globalization are opening up industries to a horde of new ultra-low-cost competitors.  These new entrants are eager to exploit the legacy costs of the old guard.  While some veterans will join the 'race to the bottom' and move their core activities to the world's lowest-cost locations, many others will find it difficult to reconfigure their global operations.  As Indian companies suck in service jobs and China steadily expands its share of global manufacturing, companies everywhere will struggle to maintain their margins.”

Strategically Adaptive and Operationally Efficient

So how do you respond to the challenges.   Hamel says it takes becoming strategically adaptable and operationally efficient.   What a powerful combo.

Via The Future of Management:

“These new realities call for new organizational and managerial capabilities.  To thrive in an increasingly disruptive world, companies must become as strategically adaptable as they are operationally efficient.  To safeguard their margins, they must become gushers of rule-breaking innovation.  And if they're going to out-invent and outthink a growing mob of upstarts, they must learn how to inspire their employees to give the very best of themselves every day.  These are the challenges that must be addressed by 21st-century management innovations.”

There are plenty of challenges.  It’s time to get your greatness on. 

If there ever was a chance to put to the test what you’re capable of, now is the time.

No matter what, as long as you live and learn, you’ll grow from the process.

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Author: "JD Meier" Tags: "Leadership"
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Date: Monday, 21 Jul 2014 16:13

One of the best books I’m reading lately is The Future of Management, by Gary Hamel.

It’s all about how management innovation is the best competitive advantage, whether you look through the history of great businesses or the history of great militaries.  Hamel makes a great case that strategic innovation, product or service innovation, and operational innovation are fleeting advantages, but management innovation leads to competitive advantage for the long haul.

In The Future of Management, Hamel poses a powerful question …

“Who is managing your company?”

Via The Future of Management:

“Who's managing your company?  You might be tempted to answer, 'the CEO,' or 'the executive team,' or 'all of us in middle management.'  And you'd be right, but that wouldn't be the whole truth.  To a large extent, your company is being managed right now by a small coterie of long-departed theorists and practitioners who invented the rules and conventions of 'modern' management back in the early years of the 20th century.  They are the poltergeists who inhabit the musty machinery of management.  It is their edicts, echoing across the decades, that invisibly shape the way your company allocates resources, sets budgets, distributes power, rewards people, and makes decisions.”

That’s why it’s easy for CEOs to hop around companies …

Via The Future of Management:

“So pervasive is the influence of these patriarchs that the technology of management varies only slightly from firm to firm.  Most companies have a roughly similar management hierarchy (a cascade of EVPs, SVPs, and VPs).  They have analogous control systems, HR practices, and planning rituals, and rely on comparable reporting structures and review systems.  That's why it's so easy for a CEO to jump from one company to another -- the levers and dials of management are more or less the same in every corporate cockpit.”

What really struck me here is how much management approach has been handed down through the ages, and accepted as status quo.

It’s some great good for thought, especially given that management innovation is THE most powerful form of competitive advantage from an innovation standpoint (which Hamel really builds a strong case here throughout the entirety of the book.)

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Author: "JD Meier" Tags: "Innovation, Leadership"
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Date: Monday, 21 Jul 2014 05:45

Actually, it's more than 100 articles for your mind.  I've tagged my articles with "mind" on Sources of Insight that focus on increasing your "intellectual horsepower":

Articles on Mind Power and the Power of Thoughts

Here are a few of the top mind articles that you can quickly get results with:

Note that if reading faster is important to you, then I recommend also reading How To Read 10,000 Words a Minute (it’s my ultimate edge) and The Truth About Speed Reading.

If there’s one little trick I use with reading (whether it’s a book, an email, or whatever), I ask myself “what’s the insight?” or “what’s the action?” or “how can I use this?"  You’d be surprised but just asking yourself those little focusing questions can help you parse down cluttered content fast and find the needles in the haystack.

Author: "JD Meier" Tags: "Effectiveness"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 16:06

“Quality begins on the inside... then works its way out.” -- Bob Moawad

Quality is value to someone.

Quality is relative.

Quality does not exist in a non-human vacuum.

Who is the person behind a statement about quality?

Who’s requirements count the most?

What are people willing to pay or do to have their requirements met?

Quality can be elusive if you don’t know how to find it, or you don’t know where to look.  Worse, even when you know where to look, you need to know how to manage the diversity of conflicting views.

On a good note, Agile practices and an Agile approach can help you surface and tackle quality in a tractable and pragmatic way.

In the book Agile Impressions, by “the grandfather of Agile Programming”, Jerry Weinberg shares insights and lessons learned around the relativity of quality and how to make decisions about quality more explicit and transparent.

Example of Conflicting Ideas About Software Quality

Here are some conflicting ideas about what constitutes software quality, according to Weinberg:

“Zero defects is high quality.”
“Lots of features is high quality.”
Elegant coding is high quality.”
“High performance is high quality.”
”Low development cost is high quality.”
“Rapid development is high quality.”
“User-friendliness is high quality.”

More Quality for One Person, May Mean Less for Another

There are always trade-offs.  It can be a game of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Via Agile Impressions:

“Recognizing the relativity of quality often resolves the semantic dilemma. This is a monumental contribution, but it still does not resolve the political dilemma:  More quality for one person may mean less quality for another.”

The Relativity of Quality

Quality is relative.

Via Agile Impressions:

“The reason for my dilemma lies in the relativity of quality. As the MiniCozy story crisply illustrates, what is adequate quality to one person may be inadequate quality to another.”

Quality Does Not Exist in a Non-Human Vacuum

So many

Via Agile Impressions:

“If you examine various definitions of quality, you will always find this relativity. You may have to examine with care, though, for the relativity is often hidden, or at best, implicit.

In short, quality does not exist in a non-human vacuum, but every statement about quality is a statement about some person(s).  That statement may be explicit or implicit. Most often, the “who” is implicit, and statements about quality sound like something Moses brought down from Mount Sinai on a stone tablet.  That’s why so many discussions of software quality are unproductive: It’s my stone tablet versus your Golden Calf.”

Ask, Who is the Person Behind that Statement About Quality?

The way to have more productive conversations about quality is to find out who is the person behind a specific statement about quality.

Via Agile Impressions:

“When we encompass the relativity of quality, we have a tool to make those discussions more fruitful.  Each time somebody asserts a definition of software quality, we simply ask, “Who is the person behind that statement about quality.”

Quality Is Value To Some Person

Whose requirements count the most?

Via Agile Impressions:

“The political/emotional dimension of quality is made evident by a somewhat different definition of quality.  The idea of ‘requirements’ is a bit too innocent to be useful in this early stage, because it says nothing about whose requirements count the most. A more workable definition would be this:

‘Quality is value to some person.’

By ‘value,’ I mean, ‘What are people willing to pay (do) to have their requirements met.’ Suppose, for instance, that Terra were not my niece, but the niece of the president of the MiniCozy Software Company.  Knowing MiniCozy’s president’s reputation for impulsive emotional action, the project manager might have defined “quality” of the word processor differently.  In that case, Terra’s opinion would have been given high weight in the decision about which faults to repair.”

The Definition of “Quality” is Always Political and Emotional

Quality is a human thing.

Via Agile Impressions:

“In short, the definition of ‘quality’ is always political and emotional, because it always involves a series of decisions about whose opinions count, and how much they count relative to one another. Of course, much of the time these political/emotional decisions– like all important political/emotional decisions–are hidden from public view. Most of us software people like to appear rational. That’s why very few people appreciate the impact of this definition of quality on the Agile approaches.”

Agile Teams Can Help Make Decisions About Quality More Explicit Transparent

Open processes and transparency can help arrive at a better quality bar.

Via Agile Impressions:

“What makes our task even more difficult is that most of the time these decisions are hidden even from the conscious minds of the persons who make them.  That’s why one of the most important actions of an Agile team is bringing such decisions into consciousness, if not always into public awareness. And that’s why development teams working with an open process (like Agile) are more likely to arrive at a more sensible definition of quality than one developer working alone. To me, I don’t consider Agile any team with even one secret component.”

The "Customer" Must Represent All Significant Decisions of Quality

The quality of your product will be gated by the quality of your representation.

Via Agile Impressions:

“Customer support is another emphasis in Agile processes, and this definition of quality guides the selection of the ‘customers.’ To put it succinctly, the ‘ customer’ must actively represent all of the significant definitions of ‘quality.’ Any missing component of quality may very likely lead to a product that’s deficient in that aspect of quality.”

If You Don’t Have Suitable Representation of Views on Quality, You’re Not Agile

It’s faster and far more efficient to ignore people and get your software done.  But it’s far less effective.  Your amplify your effectiveness for addressing quality by involving the right people, in the right way, at the right time.  That’s how you change your quality game.

Via Agile Impressions:

“As a consultant to supposedly Agile teams, I always examine whether or not they have active participation of a suitable representation of diverse views of their product’s quality. If they tell me, “We can be more agile if we don’t have to bother satisfying so many people, then they may indeed by agile, but they’re definitely not Agile.”

I’ve learned a lot about quality over the years.  Many of Jerry Weinberg’s observations and insights match what I’ve experienced across various projects, products, and efforts.   The most important thing I’ve learned is how much value is in the eye of the beholder and the stakeholder and that quality is something that you directly impact by having the right views involved throughout the process.

Quality is not something you can bolt on or something that you can patch.

While you can certainly improve things, so much of quality starts up front with vision and views of the end in mind.

You might even say that quality is a learning process of realizing the end in mind.

For me, quality is a process of vision + rapid learning loops to iterate my way through the jungle of conflicting and competing views and viewpoints, while brining people along the journey.

Author: "JD Meier" Tags: "Agile"
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Date: Friday, 27 Jun 2014 19:18

I heard a colleague make a great comment today …

“Data science is the art of asking better questions.

It’s not the art of finding a solution … the data keeps evolving.”

Author: "JD Meier"
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Date: Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 06:22

"All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved." -- Sun Tzu

If it feels like strategy cycles are shrinking, they are.

If it feels like competition is even more intense, it is.

If it feels like you are balancing between competing in the world and collaborating with the world, you are.

In the book, The Future of Management, Gary Hamel and Bill Breen share a great depiction of this new world of competition and the emerging business landscape.

Strategy Cycles are Shrinking

Strategy cycles are shrinking and innovation is the only effective response.

Via The Future of Management:

“In a world where strategy life cycles are shrinking, innovation is the only way a company can renew its lease on success.  It's also the only way it can survive in a world of bare-knuckle competition.”

Fortifications are Collapsing

What previously kept people out of the game, no longer works.

Via The Future of Management:

“In decades past, many companies were insulated from the fierce winds of Schumpeterian competition.  Regulatory barriers, patent protection, distribution monopolies, disempowered customers, proprietary standards, scale advantages, import protection, and capital hurdles were bulwarks that protected industry incumbents from the margin-crushing impact of Darwinian competition.  Today, many of the fortifications are collapsing.”

Upstarts No Longer Have to Build a Global Infrastructure to Reach a Worldwide Market

Any startup can reach the world, without having to build their own massive data center to do so.

Via The Future of Management:

“Deregulation and trade liberalization are reducing the barriers to entry in industries as diverse as banking, air transport, and telecommunications.  The power of the Web means upstarts no longer have to build a global infrastructure to reach a worldwide market.  This has allowed companies like Google, eBay, and My Space to scale their businesses freakishly fast.” 

The Disintegration of Large Companies and New Entrants Start Strong

There are global resource pools of top talent available to startups.

Via The Future of Management:

“The disintegration of large companies, via deverticalization and outsourcing has also helped new entrants.  In turning out more and more of their activities to third-party contractors, incumbents have created thousands of 'arms suppliers' that are willing to sell their services to anyone.  By tapping into this global supplier base of designers, brand consultants, and contract manufacturers, new entrants can emerge from the womb nearly full-grown.” 

Ultra-Low-Cost Competition and Less Ignorant Consumers

With smarter consumers and ultra-low-cost competition, it’s tough to compete.

Via The Future of Management:

“Incumbents must also contend with a growing horde of ultra-low-cost competitors - companies like Huawei, the Chinese telecom equipment maker that pays its engineers a starting salary of just $8,500 per year.  Not all cut-price competition comes from China and India.  Ikea, Zara, Ryanair, and AirAsia are just a few of the companies that have radically reinvented industry cost structures.  Web-empowered customers are also hammering down margins.  Before the Internet, most consumers couldn't be sure whether they were getting the best deal on their home mortgage, credit card debt, or auto laon.  This lack of enlightenment buttressed margins.  But consumers are becoming less ignorant by the day.  One U.K. Web site encourages customers to enter the details of their most-used credit cards, including current balances, and then shows them exactly how much they will save by switching to a card with better payment terms.  In addition, the Internet is zeroing-out transaction costs.  The commissions earned by market makers of all kinds -- dealers, brokers, and agents -- are falling off a cliff, or soon will be.”

Distribution Monopolies are Under Attack

You can build your own fan base and reach the world.

Via The Future of Management:

“Distribution monopolies -- another source of friction -- are under attack.  Unlike the publishers of newspapers and magazines, bloggers don't need a physical distribution network to reach their readers.  Similarly, new bands don't have to kiss up to record company reps when they can build a fan base via social networking sites like MySpace.”

Collapsing Entry Barriers and Customer Power Squeeze Margins

Customers have a lot more choice and power now.

Via The Future of Management:

“Collapsing entry barriers, hyper efficient competitors, customer power -- these forces will be squeezing margins for years to come.  In this harsh new world, every company will be faced with a stark choice: either set the fires of innovation ablaze, or be ready to scrape out a mean existence in a world where seabed labor costs are the only difference between making money and going bust.”

What’s the solution?

Innovation.

Innovation is the way to play, and it’s the way to stay in the game.

Innovation is how you reinvent your success, reimagine a new future, and change what your capable of, to compete more effectively in today’s ever-changing world.

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Date: Thursday, 19 Jun 2014 16:35

Time really is the great equalizer.

I was reading an article by Dr. Donald E. Wemore, a time management specialist, and here’s what he had to say:

"Time is the great equalizer for all of us. We all have 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, yielding 168 hours per week. Take out 56 hours for sleep (we do spend about a third of our week dead) and we are down to 112 hours to achieve all the results we desire. We cannot save time (ever have any time left over on a Sunday night that you could lop over to the next week?); it can only be spent. And there are only two ways to spend our time: we can spend it wisely, or, not so wisely."

Well put.

And what’s his recommendation to manage time better?

Work smarter, not harder.

In my experience, that’s the only approach that works.

If you find yourself struggling too much, there’s a good chance your time management strategies are off.

Don’t keep throwing time and energy at things if it’s not working.

Change your approach.

The fastest thing you can change in any situation is you.

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Date: Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 22:23

Well, she wasn’t my grandmother, but you get the idea.

I was trying to explain to somebody that’s in a very different job, what my job is all about.

Here’s what I said …

As far as my day job, I do complex, complicated things. 

I'm in the business of business transformation

I help large Enterprises get ahead in the world through technology and innovation.

I help Enterprises change their capabilities -- their business capabilities, technology capabilities, and people capabilities. 

It’s all about capabilities.

This involves figuring out their current state, their desired future state, the gaps between, the ROI of addressing the gaps, and then a Roadmap for making it happen.  

The interesting thing I've learned though is how much business transformation applies to personal transformation

It's all about figuring out your unique service and contribution to the world -- your unique value -- and then optimizing your strengths to realize your potential and do what you do best in a way that's valued -- where you can both generate value, as well as capture the value -- and lift the world to a better place.

Interestingly, she said she got it, it made sense, and it sounds inspiring.

What a relief.

Author: "JD Meier"
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Date: Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014 18:15

I gave an Introduction to Agile talk recently:

Introduction to Agile Presentation (Slideshow)

I kept it focused on three simple things:

  1. What is Agile and the Agile Mindset (the Values and Principles)
  2. A rapid tour of the big 3 (Extreme Programming, Scrum, and Lean)
  3. Build a shared vocabulary and simple mental models so teams could hit the ground running and work more effectively with each other.

The big take away that I wanted the audience to have was that it’s a journey, but a very powerful one.

It’s a very healthy way to create an organization that embraces agility, empowers people, and ship stuff that customers care about.

In fact, the most powerful aspect of going Agile is that you create a learning organization.

The system and ecosystem you are in can quickly improve if you simply embrace change and focus on learning as a way of driving both continues improvement as well as growing capability.

So many things get a lot better over time, if they get a little better every day.

This was actually my first real talk on Agile and Agile development.  I’ve done lots of talks on Getting Results the Agile Way, and lots of other topics from security to performance to application architecture to team development and the Cloud.  But this was the first time a group asked me to share what I learned from Agile development in patterns & practices.

It was actually fun.

As part of the talk, I shared some of my favorite take aways and insights from the Agile World.

I’ll be sure to share some of these insights in future posts.

For now, if there is one thing to take away, it’s a reminder from David Anderson (Agile Management):

“Don’t do Agile.  Embrace agility.”

Way to be.

I shared my slides on SlideShare at Introduction to Agile Presentation (Slides) to help you learn the language, draw the visuals, and spread the word.

I’ll try to share more of my slides in the future, now that SlideShare seems to be a bit more robust.

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Date: Thursday, 12 Jun 2014 16:11

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein

Simplicity is among the ultimate of pursuits.  It’s one of your most efficient and effective tools in your toolbox.  I used simplicity as the basis for my personal results system, Agile Results, and it’s served me well for more than a decade.

And yet, simplicity still isn’t treated as a first-class citizen.

It’s almost always considered as an afterthought.  And, by then, it’s too little, too late.

In the book, Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (Developer Best Practices), Roger Sessions shares his insights on how simplicity is the ultimate enabler to solving the myriad of problems that complexity creates.

Complex Problems Do Not Require Complex Solutions

Simplicity is the only thing that actually works.

Via Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (Developer Best Practices):

“So yes, the problems are complex.  But complex problems do not ipso facto require complex solutions.  Au contraire!  The basic premise of this book is that simple solutions are the only solutions to complex problems that work.  The complex solutions are simply too complex.”

Simplicity is the Antidote to Complexity

It sounds obvious but it’s true.  You can’t solve a problem with the same complexity that got you there in the first place.

Via Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (Developer Best Practices):

“The antidote to complexity is simplicity.  Replace complexity with simplicity and the battle is three-quarters over.  Of course, replacing complexity with simplicity is not necessarily simple.” 

Focus on Simplicity as a Core Value

If you want to achieve simplicity, you first have to explicitly focus on it as a core value.

Via Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (Developer Best Practices):

“The first thing you need to do to achieve simplicity is focus on simplicity as a core value.  We all discuss the importance of agility, security, performance, and reliability of IT systems as if they are the most important of all requirements.  We need to hold simplicity to as high a standard as we hold these other features.  We need to understand what makes architectures simple with as much critical reasoning as we use to understand what makes architectures secure, fast, or reliable.  In fact, I argue that simplicity is not merely the equal of these other characteristics; it is superior to all of them.  It is, in many ways, the ultimate enabler.”

A Security Example

Complex systems work against security.

Via Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (Developer Best Practices):

“Take security for example.  Simple systems that lack security can be made secure.  Complex systems that appear to be secure usually aren't.  And complex systems that aren't secure are virtually impossible to make either simple or secure.”

An Agility Example

Complexity works against agility, and agility is the key to lasting solutions.

Via Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (Developer Best Practices):

“Consider agility.  Simple systems, with their well-defined and minimal interactions, can be put together in new ways that were never considered when these systems were first created.  Complex systems can never used in an agile wayThey are simply too complex.  And, of course, retrospectively making them simple is almost impossible.”

Nobody Ever Considers Simplicity as a Critical Feature

And that’s the problem.

Via Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (Developer Best Practices):

“Yet, despite the importance of simplicity as a core system requirement, simplicity is almost never considered in architectural planning, development, or reviews.  I recently finished a number of speaking engagements.  I spoke to more than 100 enterprise architects, CIOs, and CTOs spanning many organizations and countries.  In each presentation, I asked if anybody in the audience had ever considered simplicity as a critical architectural feature for any projects on which they had participated. Not one person had. Ever.”

The Quest for Simplicity is Never Over

Simplicity is a quest.  And the quest is never over.  Simplicity is a ongoing pursuit and it’s a dynamic one.  It’s not a one time event, and it’s not static.

Via Simple Architectures for Complex Enterprises (Developer Best Practices):

“The quest for simplicity is never over.  Even systems that are designed from the beginning with simplicity in mind (rare systems, indeed!) will find themselves under a never-ending attack. A quick tweak for performance here, a quick tweak for interoperability there, and before you know it, a system that was beautifully simple two years ago has deteriorated into a mass of incomprehensibility.”

Simplicity is your ultimate sword for hacking your way through complexity … in work … in life … in systems … and ecosystems.

Wield it wisely.

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Date: Sunday, 08 Jun 2014 22:18

“Chance favors the prepared mind.” - Louis Pasteur

Are you feeling lucky?

If you’re an engineer or a developer, you’ll appreciate the idea that you can design for luck, or stack the deck in your favor.

How do you do this?

As Harry Golden said, "The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work."

While I believe in hard work, I also believe in working smarter.

Luck is the same game.

It’s a game of skill.

And, success is a numbers game. 

You have to stay in long enough to get “lucky” over time.   That means finding a sustainable approach and using a sustainable system.  It means avoiding going all in without testing your assumptions and reducing the risk out of it.   It means taking emotion out of the equation, taking calculated risks, minimizing your exposure, and focusing on skills.

That’s why Agile methods and Lean approaches can help you outpace your failures.

Because they are test-driven and focus on continuous learning.

And because they focus on capacity and capability versus burnout or blowup.

So if you aren’t feeling the type of luck you’d like to see more of in your life, go back to the basics, and design for it.

They funny thing about luck is that the less you depend on it, the more of it you get.

BTW – Agile Results and Getting Results the Agile Way continue to help people “get lucky.”  Recently, I heard a story where a social worker shared Getting Results the Agile Way with two girls living off the streets.  They are off drugs now, have jobs, and are buying homes.   I’m not doing the story justice, but it’s great to hear about people turning their lives around and these kinds of life changing things that a simple system for meaningful results can help achieve.

It’s not luck. 

It’s desire, determination, and effective strategies applied in a sustainable way.

The Agile way.

Author: "JD Meier" Tags: "Effectiveness"
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Date: Friday, 06 Jun 2014 21:38

“Each of the practices still has the same weaknesses as before, but what if those weaknesses were now made up for by the strengths of other practices? We might be able to get away with doing things simply." – Kent Beck

Extreme Programming (XP) has been around a while, but not everybody knows “what it looks like.”

What does it look like when you step back and take the balcony view and observe the flow of things?

It might look a bit like this …

image

I put this view together to help some folks get an idea of what the “system” sort of looks like.  It didn’t need to be perfect, but they needed at least a baseline idea or skeleton so they could better understand how the various practices fit together.

The beauty is that once you put a simple picture up on the whiteboard, then you can have real discussions with the team about where things can be improved.  Once again, a picture is worth 1,000 words.

For reference, here are the 12 Practices of Extreme Programming

  1. Coding Standards
  2. Collective Ownership
  3. Continuous Integration
  4. On-Site Customer
  5. Pair Programming
  6. Planning Game
  7. Refactoring
  8. Short Releases
  9. Simple Design
  10. Sustainable Pace (40 Hour Week)
  11. System Metaphor
  12. Test-Driven Development

The main idea here is to get simple visuals in your mind that you can easily draw on a whiteboard, and know the names of the various activities and artifacts. 

If you nail this down, it helps you build a simple vocabulary. 

This vocabulary will help you get others on board faster, and it will help you expand your own toolbox at a rapid rate, and you’ll soon find yourself composing new methods and creating interesting innovations in your process that will help you do things better, faster, and cheaper … on Cloud time.

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Date: Friday, 06 Jun 2014 00:20

“Becoming limitless involves mental agility; the ability to quickly grasp and incorporate new ideas and concepts with confidence.” -- Lorii Myers

I was asked to give an Intro to Agile talk to a group in Microsoft, in addition to a talk on Getting Results the Agile Way.

It worked out well.

The idea was to do a level set and get everybody on the same page in terms of what Agile is.

I thought it was a great chance to build a shared vocabulary and establish some shared mental models.   I believe that when people have a shared vocabulary and common mental models, they can take a look from the balcony.  And, it makes it a lot easier to move up the chain and take things further, faster.

Anyway, here is how I summarized what Agile is:

  • Agile is a framework of values and principles to manage teams and projects.
  • Agile is an alternative approach to traditional project management. It embraces change while traditional project management fights change.
  • People across functional teams work together as one team, rather than different groups working in phases or stages.
  • More human communication, interaction, and face-to-face.
  • Continuous feedback from users and stakeholders.
  • Iterations, shorter development cycles, and more frequent releases.
  • Visibility of progress and transparency of process.

That said, I need to find something a bit more pithy and precise, yet insightful.

If I had to put it in a simple sentence, I’d say Agile is empowerment through flexibility.

One thing I’ve noticed over the years is that some people struggle when they try to go Agile.

They struggle because they can’t seem to “flip a switch.”  And if they don’t flip the switch, they don’t change their mindset.

And, if they don’t change their mindset, Agile remains just beyond their grasp.

Agile is like happiness, grow it right under your feet.

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Date: Tuesday, 03 Jun 2014 18:28

I thought I had written about “Why Agile” before, but I don’t see anything crisp enough.

Anyway, here’s my latest rundown on Why Agile?

  1. Increase customer involvement which can build empathy and avoid rework
  2. Learn faster which means you can adapt to change
  3. Improve quality through focus
  4. Reduce risk through shorter feedback loops and customer interaction
  5. Simplify by getting rid of overhead and waste
  6. Reduce cycle time through timeboxing and parallel development
  7. Improve operational awareness through transparency
  8. Drive process improvement through continuous improvement
  9. Empower people through less mechanics and more interaction, continuous learning, and adaptation
  10. Flow more value through more frequent releases and less “big bang”

Remember that nature favors the flexible and agility is the key to success.

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Date: Friday, 30 May 2014 18:09

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.” -- William Pollard

The Internet of Things is hot.  But it’s more than a trend.  It’s a new way of life (and business.)

It’s transformational in every sense of the word (and world.)

A colleague shared some of their most interesting finds with me, and one of them is:

Capitalizing on the Internet of Things: How To Succeed in a Connected World

Here are my key take aways:

  1. The Fourth Industrial Revolution:  The Internet of Things
  2. “For many companies, the mere prospect of remaking traditional products into smart and connected ones is daunting.  But embedding them into the digital world using services-based business models is much more fundamentally challenging.  The new business models impact core processes such as product management, operations, and production, as well as sales and channel management.”
  3. “According to the research database of the analyst firm Machina Research, there will be approx. 14 billion connected devices by 2022 – ranging from IP-enabled cars to heating systems, security cameras, sensors, and production machines.”
  4. “Managers need to envision the valuable new opportunities that become possible when the physical world is merged with the virtual
    world.”
  5. “The five key markets are connected buildings, automotive, utilities, smart cities, and manufacturing.”
  6. “In order to provide for the IoT’s multifaceted challenges, the most important thing to do is develop business ecosystems comparable to a coral reef, where we can find diversity of species, symbiosis, and shared development.”
  7. “IoT technologies create new ways for companies to enrich their services, gain customer insights, increase efficiency, and create differentiation opportunities.”
  8. “From what we have seen, IoT entrepreneurs also need to follow exploratory approaches as they face limited predictability and want to minimize risks, preferably in units that are small, agile, and independent.”

It’s a fast read, with nice and tight insight … my kind of style.

Enjoy.

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