Strategic Transformation

Facing the Future Many times when I read about strategy or organizational transformation, my mind begins to feel like it’s being crushed by a giant meat grinder: there seem to be so many dimensions to consider that it quickly becomes too complex to hold in my mind.   I prefer to think about this topic in simple terms that I can explain to anyone: Why is it important to make a change now? What would it look like when the change was complete? And then, if the change involves something important, like changing to healthier personal choices or encouraging employees to lead healthier lives, it’s good to have a strategy that will succeed.  I really appreciate what a former colleague of mine writes very clearly about strategy in this context: “In a nutshell, people who are leading strategically are always recognizing ways to improve, and leading the change to get there. They realize that not only do they have permission to do this, but that they need to do this.” – Patty Azzarello To answer the first question, (“Why is it important to make a change now?”), a leader will open up to self-reflection, learning from others and being objectively clear about the current situation.  Whenever our mind says one thing but the heart says another, a leader takes up the challenge to examine what is going on and do something about it.  If a leader sees or senses that something is not quite right about the present situation, it’s critical to gain a wider view, a better perspective on what is going on.  Information comes to us in many forms, and I have found...

Values-based Leadership

Standing in the Stream I had a great experience when my friend invited me to go fly-fishing for the first time.  I put on my hip-waders and after his help in getting the fly-rod ready, we headed into a beautiful stream in Rocky Mountain National Park.  Right away I noticed that there were places in the stream where it was difficult to stand – deeper waters, places where it moved a little too fast.  And I learned that it’s important to stay still, wherever you stand, because you need to become part of the stream so the fish will come to you and you are ready to act. In living my values, I’ve found some of the very same truth.  I must learn to stand firm on my values, living up to them in every circumstance, otherwise I do not feel I am authentic.  I’ve also learned that this is a process, and it’s progress, not perfection; and that I have to keep this in mind when I fail to do it.  Sometimes the water just gets a little too deep or fast and I lose my footing. When I recall the really great people with leadership skills who have been part of my life, I see people who live their values well by the example they set in their actions, words and thoughts.  They are internally driven to make choices that reflect their values, rather than protecting themselves.   They also have had a focus on what others need and bring that as a consideration in how they interact with others.  And then, they keep themselves open, vigilant and...

IT Project Management

Managing Successful IT Projects Managing IT projects, small or large, can become a source of frustration and disappointment for everyone involved when things go wrong.  Whether you are creating a new software product, modifying an existing one or simply installing and putting a commercial software package into operation, there are many different challenges for the project manager and the team along the way to the finish line.   Let’s face it, if you haven’t traveled the road before and are exploring new territory, you must prepare yourself and your team to face the unexpected and quickly adapt to changing circumstances.   Even if you are running a project that is similar to ones you’ve managed previously (a distinct advantage), it is very likely that the venue, extended team and goals are different. My experience leads me to believe that IT project success requires developing high performance teams — not only focusing on the technical dimensions of project management.  And every team is unique with its strengths and limitations, which makes it critically important to understand and build on the team strengths and to create a “fast learning environment”.  When team members are assigned to a project work, they will naturally have varying levels of skills within the responsibilities they are assigned — for example, star performers in one area, such as implementing a design for a software module, may have a very limited ability to conceptualize and create the design.  If you are fortunate enough to have a team member that is highly skilled in designing software, you can often pair that person up with other team members to mentor...

Concentration, Flexibility and Strength

Exercising Progressive Habits I use the term, progressive habits, to mean the activities you intentionally practice that bring you forward in life – helping you handle new or difficult situations with greater ease. In yoga practice, there are three skills that develop that are immensely helpful and that are acquired through daily use: concentration, flexibility and strength. Concentration is the state of a relaxed mind, and after meditation or breathing practices, my mental clarity and ability to focus on the positioning of the body increases substantially. Flexibility is the state of a relaxed body and mind, as anyone who has ever played with a baby can observe how flexible they are.  My flexibility increases when I let go (mentally) of the resistance that my body feels to move in a certain direction. Strength is the state of a body and mind that is working in harmony with concentration and flexibility, and my strength builds over time as I teach my body to move in desired patterns and positions. Taking these practices out of yoga class and into everyday life began to happen automatically for me.  In conversations or meetings I found myself focused, relaxed and alert; and then I could sense subtle shifts in the energy of the interactions, bringing creative ideas or new directions to the work.  I also found that when I engaged in work with the computer I could work much more efficiently to produce what I intended, without feeling distracted by ambient noise, conversations or worries. My flexibility increased in difficult situations, not only because my body was more relaxed but because my mental outlook, my perspective was positive and...