Archive for the ‘ Leadership ’ Category

The Death of the IT PMO?

Earlier this month, I attended a session hosted by our PPPM Community of Practice. During the session, I was surprised to see the old gem: “The Standish Group Report” on the state of IT Project Management. (More commonly referred to as “The Chaos Report”). This report has been published since the mid 90’s and is routinely [ab]used to support every premise from “Fire all of your PMs” to “Turn over the reigns of the company to your PMO”.

Admittedly, the Chaos report is a very interesting piece of research and the details are extremely useful for identifying areas of concern. But the summary statistics that are generally quoted have a bad habit of leading people to make some seriously flawed assumptions about IT project management
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Intangible Innovation

The “obvious” value of innovation is easy to see and communicate. The unique products, business models, customer services and other “tangible” innovations are usually enough to justify the existance of an Innovation program. But what about justifying an Innovation program when you don’t have an existing track record? When times are hard, budgets tight and groups are fighting for survival, fledgling Innovation teams and programs may be an easy target for “right sizing”.

So if your Innovation team isn’t delivering the next iPod, “name your own price auto insurance” or Nintendo Wii, what value are you providing? To answer this question, we need to take a step back and  look at a typical corporate culture. Read the rest of this entry »

Getting rid of those Pesky Innovators

Our special guest columnist today is C. Mudgeon III, CEO of Dumbleton & Dorfly. C. Mudgeon is an Alumnus of the Machiavelli School of Business at Screw U.

I think that we can all agree that Innovation is a tremendous waste of time. The money that we all waste on these initiatives could be much better spent on cappuccino service for the executive boardroom or cashmere toilet paper for the restrooms on the top floor. These upstart “Innovators” challenge our assumptions, threaten the status quo and upset the delicate political stagnation that we’ve worked so hard to cultivate over the decades.

So how do we shut these programs down without being tagged as an “Enemy of Innovation” (like that’s a bad thing?)

It’s actually not that difficult. I have a few sure-fire suggestions for undermining your innovation programs, destroying that pesky enthusiasm and still making it look like you’re supporting the program. Read the rest of this entry »

Institutionalized Insanity

Consider the following scenarios:

1. A teenager comes to parents and asks for a new car. The justification is that the current car is old, doesn’t go fast enough and costs too much in maintenance. The proposed solution is to buy a brand new Ferrari. It’s expensive, but will go more than fast enough for any foreseeable situation and the dealer will include the first 3 years of maintenance with the purchase.

2. A woman goes to her pharmacist to pick up a prescription. The pharmacist provides the medication and informs her that the drug company skipped most of the testing in order to meet their market release date. However, if she encounters any severe side effects, the drug company will make sure that she’s first in line for any corrective medications or required surgeries. He also provides her with a 1 month supply of disposable undergarments as a “workaround” for the known gastrointestinal issues.

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A Failure to Communicate

What is the biggest problem with leadership? What is the solution?

I’ve been working through some new ideas on leadership. Everywhere you turn you hear the experts talking about how, “We lack the leadership needed to carry us into the future.”

That’s a problem.

After considering it for the last six months or so, I think I have some of the answers… things that I don’t see anyone else talking about.

Before sharing my ideas, I’ll put it out there and let our readers share their opinion. What do you think…

What is the biggest problem with leadership? What is the solution?

I’ll share my ideas next week!

Doyle Slayton

Sales & Leadership Strategist – Professional Speaker | Author | Social Media | Web 2.0 |

A failure to communicate.

In small organizations, you can’t help but develop shared context, goals and objectives. As an organization grows, it becomes a bigger and bigger game of “telephone” where the message gets distorted and people are forced to develop their own (often conflicting) agendas. Leaders need to dig down into all levels of the organization and learn to listen, understand how their message is being perceived and adjust accordingly. If the message is clear and you have good people, the next step is to get out of their way, clear any obstacles for them and trust them to execute.

Coaching for Sociability

Which exercise you suggest for improve sociability?

If you would improve sociability, especially for people that are tendencially introverted, what you suggest? which exercise can help? what else?

Daniele Carnicella [LION]

Instal Base Administration Manager at Philips

What a great question. I’m a social introvert (my wife would say “sociophobic”), but a business extrovert. I know others that are the life of the party, but can’t form a coherent sentence in a meeting. It’s a very personal thing and everyone needs to work through it in their own way. The only general advice I would offer is 1) Find out if they *want* to improve their sociability and 2) If so, help them with opportunities to *gently* expand their comfort zone.

If the problem is being in a large group of people, then let them know that you’ll stick with them and play “anchor”. If the issue is engaging in conversation, reel them in and engage them. If it’s public speaking, put them in charge of an agenda or assign them a 2-3 minute status update every week. Start with small doses and help them work through whatever they feel is a problem. If they don’t see it as a problem, then don’t mess with it. Not everybody wants to be an extrovert and you may do more harm than good.

Dale Carnegie also offers a number of courses and programs that may be valuable. But they’ll only have value if the person actually wants to change.



Hunches and Hiring

When considering a potential new hire candidate, is it a good idea or a bad idea to “go with your gut”?

Doyle Slayton

Sales & Leadership Strategist – Professional Speaker | Author | Social Media | Web 2.0 |

Collect as much objective information as possible and factor your impressions into the evaluation. If possible, have others that will work with the candidate provide their impressions. Hiring decisions need to be as objective as possible, but there is a subjective element to how someone will work with the team and impact any existing team dynamic. It’s a very difficult balancing act and requires a significant amount of maturity and self-awareness to ensure that a personal bias doesn’t stop you from hiring the best candidate for the job. In some cases, your personal biases may actually land you a place as defendant in a discrimination suit. It’s much easier for a candidate to prove that your gut feeling was discrimination than it is for you to prove that it wasn’t. So you’d better be prepared to back up “your gut” with objective justification, A better approach would be to listen to your gut and try to figure out where the apprehension is coming from. It may lead you to ask additional questions in the interview or identify issues in the resume or references that you may have picked up subconciously. Again, be careful not to treat candidates unfairly. If your gut reaction isn’t justified with objective data, let it go. If it’s extreme, find out if there’s any provision in your hiring policies for a “trial period”. Good luck.

Answering Difficult Questions

Difficult Questions…

……sometimes in my life I have come across very difficult questions. As a leader, people expect my answers to be clear, concise and to meet the standard expected of me.
I have hesitated in answering them before, or deferred them to another time.
We have the power to articulate and think deeply before answering or asking a question but when faced with very difficult questions.

How should we handle It.? What is your experience with difficult questions?

Thank you very much.

Mariéme Jamme- MBA

Social Entrepreneur- Speaker- Founder of Iconscience- Emerging Markets Strategist- CEO at Spotone Global Solutions.

People ask questions because they want answers. I find it very disrespectful when someone “doesn’t answer” a question. The more that they talk around it and pretend to answer, the more disrespectful I find it (since you’re essentially assuming that people are stupid and can be fooled onto thinking that you’ve provided an answer)

Answer the question with honesty and integrity. If you don’t know the answer, say that you don’t know, but that you’ll find out. If you need time to think about it, tell them that and indicate when they can expect an answer. If you can’t answer for some reason, explain and indicate when you might be able to answer. If the answer will cast you in a bad light, get it over with and try to indicate how you intend to turn the situation/answer around.

As an individual, your only true asset is your reputation. If you habitually avoid answering difficult questions, mislead people in your answers, or just brush them off, that will have a much greater impact than your answers likely will. If you address the difficult questions proactively and do so with honesty and integrity, that will help to develop trust and will improve your reputation as a leader and as a coworker.

Is “Meets Expectations” good enough?

I’ve known a lot of sales managers who frown upon “meets expectations” performers. What do you think? Is “meets expectations” good enough?

Doyle Slayton

Sales & Leadership Strategist – Professional Speaker | Author | Social Media | Web 2.0 |

It depends on whether or not it’s truly “meets expectations” or if it’s really a point on a curve. A good manager should have set the stretch goals up front and the expectations would be based on that. Therefore, “meets expectations” would be exactly that. You’re a model employee that fully earned your salary and your manager had a good idea of what you were capable of when setting your targets.

However, a lot of organizations use the Jack Welch “forced ranking” mechanisms and label the mid-point of the curve as “Meets expectations”. They also apply it to a microcosm rather than using it to prune the dead limbs out of the company as a whole. It confuses the “rankings relative to peers” with the “ability to meet goals and expectations”. If a sales organization has an exceptional team and the curve is applied to the team, you can have 120% performers suddenly showing up as “did not meet expectations” or just “meets expectations” (the bottom and middle of the curve). Similarily, if everyone was incompetent, you could have people with 50% of target showing up as “far exceeds”.

Along a similar vein, can a sales manager “meet expectations” if they have staff that doesn’t? Isn’t it the expectation that the sales manager corrects performance issues or gets rid of the associate?

It’s important to understand where the “meets expectations” is coming from. Is it “making your numbers” or is it “hitting the median” compared to your peers. Whenever I see these terms, I generally assume them to be BS and dig deeper to find out what the person truly accomplished or failed to accomplish.

Comparing Large and Small organizations

How have you managed the transition from a large international organisation and employer, to a smaller organisation?

What challenges have you had to overcome and how has your approach to doing business changed?

Jonathan Brooker

Experienced programmes and commercial director – telecoms / I.T. / media / manufacturing / business intelligence

I have a slightly different view.

I spent approximately 15+ years working in International and dealing with the cultures, politics, regulations and regional ethics of integrating systems and business process across 30+ countries. I was able to work with and touch almost every facet of the business and I had the luxury of a free hand to effect changes that had tangible impact.

My wife and I had our first child and I shifted gears to a domestic-only job with “no travel”, “low stress”, and “<80 hour work-weeks”. My personal life is much better, but it’s frustrating to lose the scope, influence and ability to see changes that you make impact hundreds or thousands of people across a global organization. It’s also difficult to see people repeat your mistakes and no longer be in a position to do anything about it.

I think that the transition pains have much more to do with your relative level and scope of influence within each organization rather than the actual large global/small domestic issue.

However, there are some generalizations:

Larger organizations usually have better process frameworks and more complex bureaucracy. Smaller organizations have better agility, but more chaos and things “slipping through the cracks”.

Larger organizations have much worse end-to-end integration (usually due to a lack of direct communication). Smaller organizations tend to have better internal alignment around goals.

Larger organizations have a “been there, done that” attitude to a lot of things. Smaller organizations are usually learning as they go.

Larger organizations present more opportunities with more competition. Smaller organizations have fewer opportunities, but the ones that are available tend to be much more significant.

Larger organizations have a much greater pool of talent that you can draw from. In a smaller organization, you have to play the hand that you’re dealt.

In some cases, moving to a smaller organization provides a greater ability to effect changes. However, if that organization already has strong leaders and you aren’t hired as one of them, it can be more difficult to have a voice.

My approach used to be “Bash your head against the wall until you see daylight”. Now it’s basically the beginning of the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.