The 7 Deadly Sins Of Product Development

Guest Blog: Travis Jacobs via LinkedIn

1.   The Pregnant Woman Theory

If one woman can make a baby in 9 months, then 9 women can make a baby in 30 days.  Now you may laugh, but this is the most common problem in developing a new product. Throwing more resources at the problem and praying it goes away does not solve anything.

2.   Stepping Over A Stack Of $100 Bills To Pick Up A Penny

We can’t spend $10 on an off the shelf tool but we can spend $1,000 to develop our own, which doesn’t work and causes more problems than it solves.

Spending countless hours in useless meetings and then having a meeting to discuss why everything is overbudget and behind schedule.

3.   Champagne On A Beer Budget

Expecting everything for free and having It done yesterday. This is a very common occurrence especially when subcontractors are hired.

I want to hire an Engineer with 3 PhD’s, and 30 years of experience for minimum wage

4.   The Scalpel Is Only As Good As The Surgeon Who Uses It, Not All Tools Are Created Equally.

A Scalpel is a commodity, the surgeon who uses it to save your life is not.

Not all tools are created equally, choose the right tool for the right job, not just because that tool Is the cheapest and the “sales guy” said it would “work”.

5.   You Never Run Out Of Things That Go Wrong

There will always be an endless supply of challenges and things that go wrong. Pretending there aren’t any problems doesn’t make them go away.

6.   A Plan Is Just A List Of Stuff That Didn’t Happen & Everything Takes Longer, And Costs More Than You Planned

The battle plan is the first casualty of war, as soon as the first shot is fired the plan goes out the window. Likewise, when the first problem is encountered when developing a new product, the plan and the Gantt Chart go out the window.

7.   Good, Fast, Cheap… Pick Any Two

We never have time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over….. and over….. and over…..

I hear time and time again. Just get it done right now, we’ll fix it later. The problem is that later never comes, and the product is only “fixed” after a very expensive product recall. By then it is too late and significant market share has been lost as well as the reputation of the brand. Trying to save a few bucks in product development can cost millions in product recalls.

Top 10 Technology Trends Impacting Infrastructure & Operations for 2018

Does your IT strategy include infrastructure, operations (I&O) practices and data center architectures that are sufficient to meet the demands of the digital business. Digital transformation requires IT agility and velocity that outstrips classical architectures and practices.

David Cappuccio, from Gartner outlines the top 10 trends that will impact IT operations (I&O) in 2018. Each will have an impact on how IT operates, plans, enhances internal skill sets, and supports the business.

 

Guest Blog: Original Article @ Gartner

Outside forces will shape IT’s journey towards a digital infrastructure.

Legacy infrastructure and operations (I&O) practices and traditional data center architectures are not sufficient to meet the demands of the digital business. Digital transformation requires IT agility and velocity that outstrips classical architectures and practices.

In 2018, IT will be increasingly tasked with supporting complex, distributed applications using new technologies that are spread across systems in multiple locations, including on-premises data centers, the public cloud and hosting providers.

David Cappuccio, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, says I&O leaders should focus on 10 key technologies and trends to support digital transformation.

“These are not necessarily the top 10 technologies, or the hottest trends in IT, but rather the 10 trends we feel will have an impact on I&O teams over the next few years,” says Cappuccio. “Some are happening already, some are just beginning, but each will have an impact on how IT operates, plans, enhances internal skill sets, and supports the business.”

Strategic

Trend 1: Geo Planning
Outside factors including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), geo specific workloads and global and regional network access are driving IT to spend more time on geo planning as part of their longer term strategies. The long term objective is not to own a global infrastructure, but to build the infrastructure needed to support the business via partners, as well as leveraging an organization’s partner’s infrastructure to help support initiatives such as multiple network connections and infrastructure design and support.

Trend 2: The Intelligent Edge
Many digital business projects create data that can be processed more efficiently when the computing power is close to the thing or person generating it. Edge computing solutions address this need for localized computing power. For example, in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT), the sources of data generation are usually things with sensors or embedded devices. The intelligent edge serves as the decentralized extension of the campus networks, cellular networks, data center networks or the cloud. Organizations that have embarked on a digital business journey have realized that a more decentralized approach is required to address digital business infrastructure requirements.

Trend 3: Intent-based Networking (IBNS)
Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 1,000 large enterprises will use intent-based networking systems in production, up from less than 50 today. Intent-based networking (IBNS) is not a product, or a market. Instead, it is a piece of networking software that helps to plan, design and implement/operate networks that can improve network availability and agility, which becomes increasingly important as organizations transition towards digital business.

With IBNS, rather than explicitly defining to the network what needs to be done, the software translates the business intent to determine the “correctness” of the network configuration before deployment. The system then continuously compares the actual and desired state of the running network.

Say no to business as usual
Gartner IT Operations Strategies & Solutions Summit 2018

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Tactical

Trend 4: APIs – Integration Economy
A digital business is supported by technology platforms in five areas: information systems; customer experience; data and analytics; IoT; and ecosystems. The ecosystems technology platform supports the creation of, and connection to, external ecosystems, marketplaces and communities. Application performance interface (API) management enables the digital platform to function.

Organizations should design APIs from the “outside in,” based on ecosystem requirements, not “inside out,” based on existing applications or technology infrastructure. “Ensure that your organization takes an ‘API first’ approach, designing APIs based on the requirements of your organization’s ecosystem,” says Cappuccio. “APIs designed in this way can be mapped to internal technology infrastructure. This approach is more effective than simply generating APIs based on existing infrastructure and data models.”

Trend 5: Reputation and Digital Experience
There are two interlinked trends impacting business today that have nothing to do with IT infrastructure, but everything to do with infrastructure design. Digital experience management (DEM) is the impact of presenting the right digital experience to customers. The experience could be mobile or web-based, and should be always available, continually improving and perform quickly and consistently. If any of these tenants are lacking, customer satisfaction is in peril. If customer satisfaction is in peril, especially in today’s social media savvy world, corporate reputation could quickly be damaged.

Trend 6: Beyond Traditional IT – New Realities
Business units are demanding agility, in opening new markets, taking on emerging competitors, bringing in new suppliers, and creating innovative ways of interacting with customers. Over 30% of current IT spend is not part of the IT budget, but overall responsibility for supporting these new initiatives, once they are tested and stabilized, will reside with traditional IT. Managing those new providers, managing workflows and managing new types of assets in this hybrid environment, regardless of where they are located, will become crucial to IT’s success.

Operational

Trend 7: DCaaS as a Strategy
In a perfect world, at least from the perspective of many business leaders, IT and the data center would be essentially a very agile provider of service outcomes, rather than the owner of the infrastructure. To do this organizations are creating a data center as a service (DCaaS) model, where the role of IT and the data center is to deliver the right service, at the right pace, from the right provider, at the right price.

“Making key short-term decisions can lead to a long-term strategy that incorporates the best of ‘as a service’ and the cloud without compromising IT’s overall goals to both protect and enable the business,” says Cappuccio. “In this manner, IT can enable the use of cloud services across the business, but with a focus on picking the right service, at the right time, from the right provider, and in such a way that underlying IT service and support does not get compromised.”

Trend 8: Cautious Cloud Adoption
For many enterprises the journey to the cloud is a slow, controlled process. Colocation and hosting providers have established private or shared clouds on their premises to provide customers some basic cloud services, enabling controlled migrations, staff skills training and a “safe” cloud environment as a stepping stone to increased cloud adoption in the future. As customers get comfortable with these services and costs, increased migrations to external providers are enabled via interconnect services. Using this partner ecosystem to enable an agile infrastructure is a rapidly emerging trend.

Trend 9: Capacity Optimization – Everywhere
Organizations need to focus on optimizing capacity and guard against stranded capacity – things that are paid for, but not really being used. This issue can be found both in existing on premise data centers and in the cloud. A change in culture is needed to fix this problem. Organizations must learn to focus not just on uptime and availability, but also on capacity, utilization and density. Doing so can extend the life of an existing data center and reduce operating expenditures from cloud providers.

Trend 10: Extended Infrastructure Management
The data center as the sole source of IT infrastructure has given way to a hybrid of on-premises, colocation, hosting, and public and private cloud solutions. These elements are being combined with a focus on providing business-enabling services and outcomes, rather than a focus on physical infrastructure. Enterprises must apply a future-looking, enterprise-wide “steady hand” to IT strategy and planning, and apply appropriate guardrails, or face the possibility of losing relevance, governance and enterprise agility.

 

How to Be a Great Leader: Stay Human

How exactly can the five elements of emotional intelligence EI be combined to result in great leadership?

The first step is to remember this: You’re a leader, not a super hero. It’s OK to be human. In fact, it’s critical to maintain all of the qualities of a human, particularly the ones that enable other people to relate to you and like you. Here are six ways to do just that.
#EI #Lead #People #Leadership

Guest Blog: Original article 

We all have the ability to influence other people, and are, thus, all leaders in some way. And while leading by example is a known recipe for success, how to combine the actual ingredients for that recipe is often elusive. A huge part of what makes an effective leader is emotional intelligence, the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, as well as handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ or EI, is a term popularized by Daniel Goleman, who defined these five interconnected components of emotional intelligence:
1. Self-awareness.
2. Self-regulation.
3. Motivation.
4. Empathy.
5. Social skills.

So there’s a list of ingredients, but how exactly can those five elements be combined to result in great leadership? The first step is to remember this: You’re a leader, not a super hero. It’s OK to be human. In fact, it’s critical to maintain all of the qualities of a human, particularly the ones that enable other people to relate to you and like you. Here are six ways to do just that.

Vulnerability (self-awareness)
As counterintuitive as it may seem, great leadership relies on vulnerability. Humans aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes. We all fear something. A leader who can acknowledge and address his or her vulnerabilities is respected and emulated because vulnerability builds connection and trust.

Storytelling (self-awareness, empathy and social skills)
Ken Kesey, professional storyteller and author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (among many other titles) once said, “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” This is what stories can do. Instead of telling someone what to do or how to do it, share anecdotes from your life with takeaways that exemplify your values, how you came to appreciate those values and what you like to see in other people. Sharing personal stories (and listening to other people’s stories) also exposes a vulnerability that, ultimately, builds trust. If you’re not a natural storyteller, find a storytelling workshop or encourage your organization to host a storytelling lab. You’ll discover that we, as humans, have been telling stories for thousands of years and are programmed to do it. (In fact, the Latin word “historia,” which is where the word “history” derives from, has the word “story” right in it—because narratives—illustrated, oral and written—are how humans have always shared information.)

De-Powering (self-regulation)
Neuroscientists have studied why power corrupts and found that it impairs “mirroring,” a neural process that is a cornerstone of empathy. While it’s difficult to prevent power from having this affect on your brain, it is possible to remove yourself from power occasionally. To maintain a capacity for empathy, it’s important to not always feel powerful by participating in mundane obligations (e.g. buy milk, pay bills), recalling humbling episodes from your past, and interacting and relating (genuinely) with ordinary, less influential people.

Psychological Safety (motivation and empathy)
Emotional intelligence requires inner motivation, and leadership requires the ability to inspire and energize other people. But if you want an innovative team that enjoys coming to work and comes up with fresh ideas, approach them with compassion in order to nurture an environment where people feel comfortable expressing opposing opinions and taking risks. A supportive environment allows people to experiment with ideas without fear of ridicule or recrimination. Also toward that end, don’t be stingy with praise—but do be sincere.

Knowing People (empathy)
Isolation has a huge price. If your team doesn’t know you, understand you and like you, then the reverse is also true: You don’t know, understand or like the individuals on your team. And that means that you can’t help each person play to his or her strengths. Only by getting to know individuals will you be able to recognize their limitations and special abilities and be able to adapt and find the best role for everyone on the team.

Diffusing Conflict (social skills and empathy)
People push buttons. People disagree. And a good leader needs to know how to flip the script before arguments escalate and damage work relationships. One technique when someone flies off the handle is to simply stop the conversation and ask with genuine concern, “Are you OK?” A conflict-diffusing response like this, which interrupts the tempo of a heated conversation and subdues an amygdala hijack, is often effective.

Costs reduction initiatives: Retain resources – incubate value innovation

Why is it that technology is always perceived as being too expensive? Do organisations really understand the underlining value technology brings to the business as a foundational enabler? If the answer is yes, then why the continued pressure on Technology Executives to reduce cost? It is interesting that when it comes to cutting cost, business and financial leaders always look at cutting technology resource head count instead of seriously evaluating opportunities to improve productivity and efficiency through value innovation.

In accounting terms there are only two main actions to improve the bottom line – increase Revenue and/or reduce Cost. In technology business operations these two factors can be influenced by several initiatives of which reduction of staff is one option. This should be the last resort, in my view. Despite the known facts that cutting heads in IT, in essence, is cutting intellectual property, knowledge and experience that resides within your team, is it still at top on the list for CFOs, other Executives and Board Members when the cost reduction discussion comes up!

Before we look at reducing the workforce delivering the technology services and products forming the enabling foundation for any organisation, surely we should look at viable alternatives, value innovative initiatives, forthcoming from our staff. Empower your staff to be an incubator for innovation.

Technology operations are all about providing services at a specific level as defined in SLAs (Service Level Agreements) for example:

  • IT infrastructure hosting email, website, file depositories and intranets,
  • Software Development of products the organisation sell to clients and/or use in-house,
  • Implementation, Integration and Customisation projects where software products are deployed,
  • Help/Service Desk supporting IT end-users, etc.

These services are all provided by technologist, by people, and People Come First (Read more…) Focussing on a professional, efficient and happy team by understanding the needs of every individual, goes a long way in ensuring the appropriate initiatives are forthcoming from your staff to make technology more proficient.

One of the key responsibilities of a technology executive is the efficient management of the resources. This is especially important when technology companies/departments are delivering services where the resources are the biggest expense on the technology P&L (Profit & Loss account or Income statement – Read more…).

Resources, as a high expense, reinforce the importance of proper Resource Management in business governance. Resource Management is not only about ensuring the right staff numbers with the right skills sets are available to deliver to business expectation and demand, but it is also about creating the right environment and support to ensure your staff flourish, grow and freely contribute. In my experience are ‘Resource Managers’ far too undervalued by business leaders not understanding the value of the role. Business leaders should work closely with the Resource Managers to ensure their staff is not seen as major expense but as a key asset contributing not only to current business operations but also future business growth and bottom line improvement initiatives.

Business are investing a lot in building teams of highly skilled and motivated people that feel valued and part of something special. These people are driving a clear and larger than themselves vision, that delivers results leading to recognition and self fulfilment. These people are full of innovative ideas on how to improve the business value proposition.

When it comes to resource management, incubating value driven innovation:

  • Ensure you have the right staff. Optimise your recruitment process to ensure that you have a robust framework for bringing the right people for your organisation onboard.
  • Keep your staff happy, mentally stimulated and intellectually engaged in all business processes and services. Make sure they are informed and are actively participating in the decisions driving the business forward.
  • Give them opportunities to learn in their delivery. Good people has a natural urge to continuous improvement – facilitate it.
  • Create communities where staff can learn and share knowledge on a formal and informal basis.
  • Plan your resourcing levels better. Ensure you have the right staff capacity with the right skills to deliver the services to the business demand and expectation.
  • Use flexible resourcing models combining permanent, temporary contracted and outsourced resources.
  • Continuously capture task and productivity data.
  • Utilise analytics, mine the productivity information to give your insight in areas/services costing the most and why. Act on these insights!
  • Build a framework you can use in planning resource capacity forecasting. Work closely with the business to understand the sales pipeline and product development strategy to ensure you optimise your resource capacity with the demand. There is nothing more disruptive to any organisation than constant resource level fluctuation (increase/hiring and decrease/firing) due to poor strategic and project planning.
  • Identify your key resources and nurture them, retain them at all cost – they are the knowledge keepers of your IP (intellectual property). It is cheaper to implement initiatives to retain staff than it is to replace them!
  • People want to feel part of something and if they are happy in their community contributing to a future and in the process they are improving themselves, they are much more likely to stay. Recruitment fees, where staff retention % are low, are a large contributor to cost.

Any cost saving initiative has a fundamentally key measure that needs to answer true: “What is the value to the business?” Revenue and cost do not always define the true value…

What is the true value your staff bring to the success of your business? Have you asked them and really involved them to work with you on ideas to improve business value through innovation rather than cost cutting?

One last point – when you have done your value analysis and it does come to letting staff go, remember this: treat them fare – you never know when you will need them again.

 

Are you under pressure to cut cost? renierbotha ltd specialises in the fine tuning IT operations for optimum business value – Make contact!

Quotes to shape Principles of Business Leadership

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.” – Dale Carnegie

“There are only two ways to live life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.” – Albert Einstein

“Do not look for approval except for the consciousness of doing your best.” – Andrew Carnegie

“The true measure of a person is how they treat someone who can do him absolutely no good.” – Samuel Johnson

“You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” – Yogi Berra

“Expect more than others think possible.” – Howard Schultz

“If people aren’t calling you crazy, you aren’t thinking big enough.” – Richard Branson

“Never, never, never give up.” – Winston Churchill

Leadership definition

What is Leadership? How do you define Leadership in a concise sentence?

According to Forbes a leader has got nothing to do with title, seniority or position within an organisation, personal attributes and management are definitely not leadership.

So what is leadership then?

Some thought leaders of our time define leadership as…

Peter Drucker: “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”

Warren Bennis: “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”

Bill Gates: “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”

John Maxwell: “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”

“Leadership is the art of leading others to deliberately create a result
that wouldn’t have happened otherwise.”

Forbes: “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.”

Wikipedia: Leadership is “a process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task“.

My definition: “Leadership is the art of leading a group of people or an organization to execute a common task by providing a vision that they follow willingly through the inspiration received from the leader’s passion , knowledge, methodologies, approach and ability to influence the interests of all members and stakeholders.”

What CEOs are looking for in their CIO

During the CIO-Dialogue 6 held in Brighton in November 2012, I had the privilege to listen to Simon La Fosse presenting. Simon, CEO of LaFosse Associates, is a specialist technology executive search and head-hunter with 25 years experience in the recruitment market.

What does a CEO really want from his CIO?… Simon presented the head-hunters perspective followed by a lively discussion. This presentation had a profoundly positive impact on my confidence especially after pondering on the key aspects that was highlighted (listed below) and measuring yourself to identify areas of strength and where I can improve.

What I took away from the interaction…

The CEO is looking for a CIO that he can build a professional relationship with. Someone they can trust to help them through the disruption technology is continuously causing in business.

The CIO must not be too involved in the daily operations as they have to see the bigger picture and spot opportunities through interaction with peers and bring those to the CEO in clear, concise, precise and commercial terms. To be able to do this the CIO needs a fantastic leadership team in place. Smart people that know how to do their job (see ‘Success?… People Come First’) and bring valuable feedback and management information to the CIO in support of the business. A leadership team that will give the CIO the time to focus on the bigger picture. Measuring your management team with the same criteria is important as your team in essence are the channel that will get the job done.

Key aspects that are personality trades and skills

that the CIO must possess to satisfy the CEO’s requirements…

  • Emotional Intelligence – Someone that understands and who can manage emotions. Emotions bridge thought, feeling and actions and affect many aspects of a person and hence teams. There are three aspects of the effect of emotions: Physical, Behavioural and Cognitive. How tuned in is your intuition to understand and manage emotions? Emotional intelligence is about two key principles: firstly it is about awareness, identifying and understanding emotions and secondly it is about using and managing emotions. Emotional intelligence is a key trade in the success of influence and motivation of people. How emotionally intelligent are you?
  • Ambition – CIOs have to have a desire for achievement, success, honor and the willingness to strive for it’s attainment. Ambitions drives change for the better which is should be a constant in any CIOs strategy and objectives.
  • Advocacy – Supporting the CIO in his business vision, mission and strategy and continuously recommending technology innovative ideas and plans in support of the his technology team to drive the success of the CIOs objectives.
  • Influence – Gravitas within his personality to be a compelling force in the organisation that effects peoples actions, behaviour, opinions, decisions for the better good of the business.
  • Assertiveness – Be confidently self assured and positive in his communication, strategy and decisions to build the confidence in others that the right things are going to happen. Someone that can stand his ground without being aggressive.
  • Authenticity – You get hired for the person you are. Be truthful to yourself and others and do not wear a mask at work.
  • Results – CEO are looking for results, getting the job done by not taking too high risk.
  • Simplicity – Do your thinking before hand and present to the CEO in a compelling way. Exercise the art of taking a complex subject and present it in a simple compelling way that enable the CEO to make knowledgeable and quick decisions.
  • Commerciality – Continuously keep an eye on the business commercials. Look for ways to improve the bottom line. How can you improve the revenue and reduce the cost? Question if the status quo are still relevant. Constantly drive improvements. Keep coming back with savings.
  • Dissatisfaction – Always look for ways to improve without demoralising your team. Evaluate and embrace innovative ideas.
  • Leadership – Leadership is the art of leading a group of people or an organization to execute a common task by providing a vision that they follow willingly through the inspiration received from the leader’s passion , knowledge, methodologies, and ability to influence the interests of all members and stakeholders. (see ‘Leadership by Definition‘) Do not just lead your technology team – lead from the top, also lead your piers – lead sideways. Be accountable and responsible.
  • Values – The basis for ethical action and believes. Values defines your sense for right and wrong. Values influence attitudes and behaviours. Ethical personal and cultural values are very important. Understand the business ethics and the values of your CEO.
  • Culture fit – Specifically referring to organisational culture which is the behaviour of the people working within the organisation. You must be getting on with people. Understand when the culture is changing and influence the change to the desired outcome.
  • Sector Knowledge – Know your subject (technology) in relation to the business but more importantly know your organisation’s product, their market and the opposition.
  • Supplier Relationships – Know the industry to bring options in supplier selection. Understand how the CEO wants this to be managed. Build meaningful and, more importantly, business valuable relationships. Aggressively manage the suppliers by always comparing and looking for the best value delivery – this is not always the cheapest option…
  • International Experience – We live a multi-cultural society where a dynamic mixture of races, languages and culture are working together in a global environment. The CIO must be confident and at ease in his environment through cultural understanding, exposure and experience gained through international exposure.
  • Agility – You must ensure that you and your organisation have the ability to rapidly respond to change without disrupting the stability to operations on a continuous basis.
  • Trust – The CEO is relying on the CIO and visa versa. Trust involves two parties with a ‘trustee’ and a ‘trustor’ – The trustor is reliant on the actions of the trustee. In the CEO and CIO relationship the trust is mutual to each other. Trust is the believe that the other will do as expected to ensure a positive outcome of a situation with an unknown outcome in the future. Trust is so key that if you loose the trust of the CEO, move on.
  • Accountability – According to Wiki is Accountability the acknowledgment and assumption of responsibility for actions, products, decisions, and policies including the administration, governance, and implementation within the scope of the role or employment position and encompassing the obligation to report, explain and be answerable for resulting consequences. The CEO has to know that the CIO will take accountability for the actions of his devision. CIOs have to take accountability with comments like: “leave this to us/ IT”, “it is our issue, we’ll sort it out”.
  • Complexity – Technology is complex but the CEO relies on the CIO to keep things simple. The CEO has lots on his mind and relies on the CIO to be short, precise and to the point explaining a complex situation or proposition in simple terms.
  • Surprise – Most CEO will agree with this, they just do not like surprises! Keep them informed so no situation or communication turns into a surprise.

A view additional trades and skills – from my perspective…

  • Visionary – Have the ability to read the current trends and envision the future. Have a clear and specific view of the future incorporating the advances in technology and social or political arrangements. Bring those views to the CIO to incorporate in his vision for the business.
  • Motivator – The ability to get the best out of people through your ability to understand, manage and work with people. This links in closely with Leadership and Emotional Intelligence. You must be able to motivate and keep your teams motivated to ensure optimum productivity and delivery to expectations.
  • Coach & Mentor – Build a relationship with your staff and piers to help encourages the lending of assistance, guidance and help. Nurture relationships of learning, open dialogue and challenge to drive towards greater knowledge, experience that ultimately leads to increased wisdom which in turn achieve the goals of the business.
  • Catalyst for Innovation – Encourage and reward the continuous renewing, changing and creating of move effective products, operational processes and business models to adapt to a changing environment. This links in with agility mentioned above.
  • Integrator – Be the person that ensures the forming components of an organisation, for example the different departments, sub systems, infrastructure, governance groups and teams, etc. sufficiently integrate with each other forming a single unit driving towards the same business objectives. Technology can and should provide the glue between the different components. To accomplish this, a very good understanding of the bigger picture of the organisation is needed. Innovation with different parts of the business will not deliver it full value without effective integration into the revenue streams of the business.

What other trades and skills do you feel is key for a CIO to fulfil the expectations of the CEO?

Let’s Talk – Are you looking to achieve your goals faster? Create better business value? Build strategies to improve growth? We can help – make contact!

Decision Making – Technique or Gut-feel

Lessons in live, just like opportunities, sometimes come from the strangest sources or situations.

As I was driving from London to Canterbury University to meet an old colleague and friend, I tuned in to the radio station ‘Magic’.  The presenter announced that it was time to give away some money to a lucky family for holiday spending money in a dial-in competition. The concept of the competition is that the presenter has a particular item in mind which the contestants must determine. The presenters provides a clue through asking a relevant question to which the answer is this particular item he has in mind. Contestants dial in and can ask two questions to determine what the item is the presenter has in mind, after which a final answer must be provided.

The relevant question was: “I am going to the beach to enjoy a lovely sunny day of sea and sand, what am I taking with me?” Now usually I would start solving a mystery question like this by means of elimination narrowing down the field of possibilities and thus zooming in onto the correct answer. For example asking an initial question like: “Do I use this item in the water or on the beach sand?” Dependent on the answer of either water or sand you’ll start narrowing things down by questioning if you use the item to play, can you eat or drink the item, etc. The catch is though that you can only ask two questions and then have to guess the correct answer. So you have to carefully think of which two questions to ask, while the clock is ticking…

An eleven-year-old boy won £1800 for his family in summer vacation spending money in playing the game? Instead of applying a problem solving technique like elimination, he went directly to obvious answers, which he phrased as questions. His first question was: “Is it a spade?” to which the presenter answered: “No, it is not a spade…”. His second question was: “Is it a bucket?” “Yes! It is a bucket, you just won your family £1800 in cash!” The presenter answered in delight.

This was making me think as I participated in my mind making up questions to determine the correct answer myself – by means of elimination… “Is it something that you use in the sea? No! Is it something you use on the sand? Yes, on the sand, right. Oh, my two questions are up, now I have to guess…”

What has just happened – the 11-year-old boy, who probably had no official training in problem solving techniques or skills, solved the mystery in two questions without having to guess an answer at the end.

As a director I am facing hundreds of questions and problems (sometimes mysteries) every day. Surely there is a lesson or two I could take away from this…?

Lesson 1 – go straight for the obvious, the chances are the answer is right in front of you and if you are right you save a lot of precious time.

Lesson 2 – sometimes you do not have to analyse the situation, applying sophisticated techniques and methodologies to make the right decision just go with your gut, take small steps, adapt as you go and recover quickly as needed. Almost like the Lean software development methodology that uses the concept “Fail Early, Fail Fast, Fail Often” to ensure measurable progress is rapidly delivered that aligns with end user expectation.

Now, you could argue that the boy was just lucky, which he was, but going for the obvious, keeping things simple, in most cases provides you with the right answer without spending wasted time and energy. If you tend to make things more complicated than they are, remember the old saying in engineering and development ring true, KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

Success?.. People come first!

Successful business, enabled through technology delivery, is a combination of a large amount of different factors of which smart people is a key ingredient. People make projects and business initiatives successful. People do the work. In technology, people define requirements, document the features, engineer the solution, write the code, develop the solution, build and configure the infrastructure, test the product, deploy the system into production and provide the technical after sales support services. It is people building the marketing collateral, following up on sales leads, completing proposal documents and presenting pitches. People work in teams doing the work as their job. At the head of every team is a leader who’s primary job should be the team.

Every single person, as an individual but also as a member of the team, has different needs. Fulfilling these needs is a large part of making people happy, effective and productive that results in successful work delivery.

The other part of success resides in the knowledge of and delivery capability in the different tasks that are executed within teams. These tasks can be grouped into distinct disciplines and every discipline has a key role to play in the team. Getting the team to work in synergy results in successes that defines the individual and the team. The ability to help people fulfill their needs, leads to successful work delivery and ultimately defines the successes of the leaders.

For a leader, knowing enough of each discipline within a successful team is essential – but what is enough knowledge when it comes to management?

In my view, enough is the knowledge and experience required to enable a manager to add value to each discipline, to facilitate decision-making and to align the ‘to do’ and ‘business as usual’ with the business vision, mission, objectives and strategy. This means being able to have a meaningful discussion with people, understanding, assisting and facilitating the resolution of their problems, ensuring people know what to do and why they are doing it without you having to tell them how to do it.

Smart people are hired because they are the experts in what they do. Your expertise as a manager should be management. If you have to tell people constantly how to do their jobs you have a serious problem – either you do not have the right people in the right roles that can be trusted to get the job done, and/or you do not have what it takes as a manager to get the best out of your staff…?

Smart people know how to do their jobs – why is a leader/manager needed then? People and teams require a leader to reinforce a purpose, to not just break down the tasks at hand into to-do’s but also to explain to them why it needs doing in the journey of accomplishing the purpose. Leaders are always there for their team during the execution of their role and support them in their actions, help them when the answer is not obvious. Understanding not just the disciplines but also each individual person within the team, will ensure the leader can facilitate individual needs fulfilment while keeping an eye on the teams deliverables to achieve the expected target.

Good leaders make decisions on the tough challenging questions and situations of which the answers and outcome are not obvious. They do this by using not only their own knowledge and experience but also the continuous input from the people in the team, applying the art of management. There is no right or wrong answer to these tough questions as every situation might be different – hence the art of management as it is not an exact science.

Want to be a success? For me it comes down to this fundamental point – People make or break a business. Smart people are a key ingredient to any successful business – no smart people, no business… People come first!

Let’s Talk – Are you looking to achieve your goals faster? Create better business value? Build strategies to improve growth? We can help – make contact!

Originally Published on 12 July 2013

Leadership Styles

1. Autocratic Leadership
Autocratic leadership is an extreme form of transactional leadership, where leaders have a lot of power over their people. Staff and team members have little opportunity to make suggestions, even if these would be in the team’s or the organization’s best interest.

The benefit of autocratic leadership is that it’s incredibly efficient. Decisions are made quickly, and work gets done efficiently. The downside is that most people resent being treated this way. Therefore, autocratic leadership can often lead to high levels of absenteeism and high staff turnover. However, the style can be effective for some routine and unskilled jobs: in these situations, the advantages of control may outweigh the disadvantages.

Autocratic leadership is often best used in crises, when decisions must be made quickly and without dissent. For instance, the military often uses an autocratic leadership style; top commanders are responsible for quickly making complex decisions, which allows troops to focus their attention and energy on performing their allotted tasks and missions.

2. Bureaucratic Leadership
Bureaucratic leaders work “by the book.” They follow rules rigorously, and ensure that their people follow procedures precisely. This is an appropriate leadership style for work involving serious safety risks (such as working with machinery, with toxic substances, or at dangerous heights) or where large sums of money are involved. Bureaucratic leadership is also useful in organizations where employees do routine tasks (as in manufacturing).

The downside of this leadership style is that it’s ineffective in teams and organizations that rely on flexibility, creativity, or innovation.
Much of the time, bureaucratic leaders achieve their position because of their ability to conform to and uphold rules, not because of their qualifications or expertise. This can cause resentment when team members don’t value their expertise or advice.

3. Charismatic Leadership
A charismatic leadership style can resemble transformational leadership because these leaders inspire enthusiasm in their teams and are energetic in motivating others to move forward. This ability to create excitement and commitment is an enormous benefit.

The difference between charismatic leaders and transformational leaders lies in their intention. Transformational leaders want to transform their teams and organizations. Charismatic leaders are often focused on themselves, and may not want to change anything.

The downside to charismatic leaders is that they can believe more in themselves than in their teams. This can create the risk that a project or even an entire organization might collapse if the leader leaves. A charismatic leader might believe that she can do no wrong, even when others are warning her about the path she’s on; and this feeling of invincibility can ruin a team or an organisation.

Also, in the followers’ eyes, success is directly connected to the presence of the charismatic leader. As such, charismatic leadership carries great responsibility, and it needs a long-term commitment from the leader.

4. Democratic/Participative Leadership
Democratic leaders make the final decisions, but they include team members in the decision-making process. They encourage creativity, and team members are often highly engaged in projects and decisions.
There are many benefits of democratic leadership. Team members tend to have high job satisfaction and are productive because they’re more involved in decisions. This style also helps develop people’s skills. Team members feel in control of their destiny, so they’re motivated to work hard by more than just a financial reward.

Because participation takes time, this approach can slow decision-making, but the result is often good. The approach can be most suitable when working as a team is essential, and when quality is more important than efficiency or productivity.

The downside of democratic leadership is that it can often hinder situations where speed or efficiency is essential. For instance, during a crisis, a team can waste valuable time gathering people’s input. Another downside is that some team members might not have the knowledge or expertise to provide high quality input.

5. Laissez-Faire Leadership
This French phrase means “leave it be,” and it describes leaders who allow their people to work on their own. This type of leadership can also occur naturally, when managers don’t have sufficient control over their work and their people.

Laissez-faire leaders may give their teams complete freedom to do their work and set their own deadlines. They provide team support with resources and advice, if needed, but otherwise don’t get involved.
This leadership style can be effective if the leader monitors performance and gives feedback to team members regularly. It is most likely to be effective when individual team members are experienced, skilled, self-starters.

The main benefit of laissez-faire leadership is that giving team members so much autonomy can lead to high job satisfaction and increased productivity.

The downside is that it can be damaging if team members don’t manage their time well or if they don’t have the knowledge, skills, or motivation to do their work effectively.

6. People-Oriented/Relations-Oriented Leadership
With people-oriented leadership, leaders are totally focused on organizing, supporting, and developing the people on their teams. This is a participatory style and tends to encourage good teamwork and creative collaboration. This is the opposite of task-oriented leadership.
People-oriented leaders treat everyone on the team equally. They’re friendly and approachable, they pay attention to the welfare of everyone in the group, and they make themselves available whenever team members need help or advice.

The benefit of this leadership style is that people-oriented leaders create teams that everyone wants to be part of. Team members are often more productive and willing to take risks, because they know that the leader will provide support if they need it.

The downside is that some leaders can take this approach too far; they may put the development of their team above tasks or project directives.

7. Servant Leadership
This term, created by Robert Greenleaf in the 1970s, describes a leader often not formally recognized as such. When someone at any level within an organization leads simply by meeting the needs of the team, he or she can be described as a “servant leader.”

Servant leaders often lead by example. They have high integrity and lead with generosity. In many ways, servant leadership is a form of democratic leadership because the whole team tends to be involved in decision making. However, servant leaders often “lead from behind,” preferring to stay out of the limelight and letting their team accept recognition for their hard work.

Supporters of the servant leadership model suggest that it’s a good way to move ahead in a world where values are increasingly important, and where servant leaders can achieve power because of their values, ideals, and ethics. This is an approach that can help to create a positive corporate culture and can lead to high morale among team members.

However, other people believe that in competitive leadership situations, people who practice servant leadership can find themselves left behind by leaders using other leadership styles. This leadership style also takes time to apply correctly: it’s ill-suited in situations where you have to make quick decisions or meet tight deadlines.

Although you can use servant leadership in many situations, it’s often most practical in politics, or in positions where leaders are elected to serve a team, committee, organisation, or community.

8. Task-Oriented Leadership
Task-oriented leaders focus only on getting the job done and can be autocratic. They actively define the work and the roles required, put structures in place, and plan, organize, and monitor work. These leaders also perform other key tasks, such as creating and maintaining standards for performance.

The benefit of task-oriented leadership is that it ensures that deadlines are met, and it’s especially useful for team members who don’t manage their time well.

However, because task-oriented leaders don’t tend to think much about their team’s well-being, this approach can suffer many of the flaws of autocratic leadership, including causing motivation and retention problems.

9. Transactional Leadership
This leadership style starts with the idea that team members agree to obey their leader when they accept a job. The “transaction” usually involves the organization paying team members in return for their effort and compliance. The leader has a right to “punish” team members if their work doesn’t meet an appropriate standard.

Although this might sound controlling and paternalistic, transactional leadership offers some benefits. For one, this leadership style clarifies everyone’s roles and responsibilities. Another benefit is that, because transactional leadership judges team members on performance, people who are ambitious or who are motivated by external rewards – including compensation – often thrive.

The downside of this leadership style is that team members can do little to improve their job satisfaction. It can feel stifling, and it can lead to high staff turnover.

Transactional leadership is really a type of management, not a true leadership style, because the focus is on short-term tasks. It has serious limitations for knowledge-based or creative work. However, it can be effective in other situations.

10. Transformational Leadership
Transformation leadership is often the best leadership style to use in business situations.
Transformational leaders are inspiring because they expect the best from everyone on their team as well as themselves. This leads to high productivity and engagement from everyone in their team.
The downside of transformational leadership is that while the leader’s enthusiasm is passed onto the team, he or she can need to be supported by “detail people.”

That’s why, in many organisations, both transactional and transformational leadership styles are useful. Transactional leaders (or managers) ensure that routine work is done reliably, while transformational leaders look after initiatives that add new value.
It’s also important to use other leadership styles when necessary – this will depend on the people you’re leading and the situation that you’re in.