It's All About the Data

It's All About the Data
It's All About the Data

Monday, September 30, 2013

Intuition - The Inner Voice


That inner voice is intuition. 

I am not a superstitious person, and intuition is not voodoo magic or other mystical notions.

Intuition is the accumulation of past decisions and past learning, that is integrated into our 'brain' experience.  So the question is how to harness/access that experience?

LISTENING TO THAT INNER VOICE
  1. Start doing good post-mortem on your past decisions (good and bad decisions).   See my blog -  http://connectingthedata.blogspot.com/2013/09/making-new-mistakes-grow.html
  2. Listen to your inner voice.  What is it trying to say that is not emotionally based?
  3. If all you are hearing is emotion - give it some time.
  4. Focus on long-term answers, not short term "I will show them" vengeance.
  5. As with all good decision making, understand what the next step should be, as well as where you want the conclusion to end up.

All this may seem like common sense, then why do we struggle with execution of the best practices above?  Because we get caught up in the moment.  We forget the key statement…..

What do we do after we make that emotional decision. 

In a previous job, I was asked to dismiss, without notice, a General Contractor working on a project.  My question was "okay, what do we do with the project after I fire this guy?"  The VP of Real Estate didn't have an answer, just felt that "something has to be done".

The lack of critical thinking, and understanding the long-term consequences of the 'emotional' decision, is a cancer upon leadership ability. 

David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.





Monday, September 23, 2013

Making New Mistakes + Grow

Many people believe the word "mistake" is a taboo.  The perception is that if you make mistakes, then you are not "perfect" and therefore incompetent. 

When I first started in the construction industry, my business partner, Ron Warrington, made a great statement "Let's make new mistakes".  Of course, I argued.  His point, and it was/is a brilliant one, is that we learn from our mistakes. 

LEARNING FROM MISTAKES 
There have been many studies that say we learn far more from our failures than from our successes.  
  
“The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.” -Dale Carnegie.   

The general notion is that we are too busy patting ourselves on the back when we win than when we lose.  How true!  Ego is the biggest roadblock to getting better. 

What are the best practices?: 
  • Post-mortems are really a requirement - post-mortem is defined as an analysis (not blaming) on "what we wish we would have known" before we made the decision/proposal/presentation/decision.  
    • Critical Analysis is needed - this is different than self-criticism.  You must look at the situation with as much dispassion as possible.  Remove the emotion. 
    • Brainstorm this analysis - you are looking to uncover the rock, and discover the nugget of where you went wrong. 
  • Get other stakeholder's input.  You might be too close to the trees to see the forest.  Sometimes it is the simple themes we forget - such as "you never ask for the business". 
  • Put what you learn/discover into practice as soon as possible.  If your issue is 'getting mad' and making a poor decision, maybe delaying the decision for 1 hour might give you a new perspective. 

My experience is that we are never too old or experienced to learn from what went wrong.  

Making mistakes is human nature - learning from the past and reaching past existing boundaries is where leaders are made. 
  
David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Better Business Travel

I spend a lot of time on planes and in airports.  To most, travel time seems like wasted time.  How to spend my time - should I read a book, watch a movie on my tablet, or spend my time at the airport bar?  All of these things have some value, and if you are looking to unwind and escape, it is probably a good idea.

There are other options.  Most leaders agree that getting time away from emails and meetings is important.  The daily barrage of email, phone calls and meetings may keep us busy, but the daily information flow is 'tactical stuff'.  Tactical as in implementing an idea.  Leaders and managers need time to think strategically.  It is almost impossible to think strategically while answering emails and attending meetings.

I have taken the approach of using the time while on planes and airport lounges to do some strategy brainstorming.  The areas I usually focus on are:
  • Is there something I am missing - some concept, some competitor, or some product/service I should be investigating?
  • I know we should think about 5 year goals, but in this 'mini strategy' sessions, I focus on the next 3 to 6 to 9 months of business activity.
  • Also think about what things you professionally and personally want to focus on (how you want to get better, and stronger).
  • Always keep something handy to write on.  I write notes/thoughts on my cellphone notepad, paper notepads, and such tools as Evernote and Microsoft OneNote.
  • The goal is to get the brain thinking at a higher level, without getting bogged down in the weeds.

With this kind of thinking, you can become revitalized and refreshed about how to make my company a better, stronger, more competitive company.

There is also an added benefit - business travel teaches patience.  Yes, that wonderful quality of letting the other guy go first, not being snarly at everyone -  getting into the 'zen' of travel.  It makes you a better human being.


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Technology and Corporate Culture


Virtualization is a very hot topic right now - it is the current disruptive technology.  It changes business processes and existing workflows.  With all disruptive technology (laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.) there are two parts to any 'change' - the technology itself and the corporate culture that must adapt to the new technology. 

It is my premise that changing  corporate culture is far more difficult than the technology change itself. 

Let my relay a story from long ago (technology-wise):  Please note this technology is almost obsolete now, so if you want, replace fax with any other technology - it all plays the same: 

Prior to fax machines, construction bids were either phoned in or mailed.  You could imagine as bid time approached, the phone started to ring, and scribbling on 'bid sheets' was rampant, and communication mistakes were made.  Then the moment of panic happened - "we didn't get a phone call from ABC Company about XYZ material and/or labor".  Bids were 'guessed' at, with the hope that all would work out in the end. 

Then magically, fax technology became price competitive and construction companies started acquiring fax machines.  The speed of getting bids out and bids back increased dramatically.  Also contractors could send out a portion of the plan and get a very quick turn-around, in writing.  This led to less errors and more accurate bidding. 

I am sure you believe the technology improvement happened without a hiccup.  Nope.  The hand wringing by firms, the 'we will never use a fax', and the 'legal risk adverse' all came out in force hyping that the world will end, lawsuits will sky-rocket, etc. etc. In the end, none of the 'world will end' came true. 

My point is that all new technology is evolutionary and not really revolutionary. The new technology's value proposition is/was simply faster or better.   

This is the same about virtualization.  The nay-sayers all claim that they "will never use cloud computing", claim proprietary information, and the risk is too great (see the similarity to my story above). 

Here is my take on evaluating new technology: 
  • Will the new technology increase your company's value proposition (faster, better, stronger).  If yes - then you must move forward. 
  • Should you test out technology before jumping into the deep end of that technology.  Absolutely, there are always companies that will assist in paving the way for you. Get training in the new technology increase adoption and usage. 
  • Will all of your company/team/staff survive the technology.  Probably not, but that is not a bad thing.  Your goal should always be faster, better, stronger.  Remove roadblocks, and give the team a path to success.  If that does not work, it is probably time to have that team member move on to another job. 
  • Lastly, remember, the first usage of the technology usually does not return the best return on investment (ROI).  Look past the bumps in the road and look at the longer horizon.   

Business leaders must shut out the negative noise to embrace all technologies that increase their value proposition. 



David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Measure Twice - Cut Once - Think Always

It is better to think twice, before executing once.

There is an old adage in construction that says it is better to measure twice and cut once.  If you have ever done a home  improvement project, you have experienced this.  The haste to get the job done has led to waste in time (it took longer), materials, and sometimes sanity (increased stress).

In business consulting I hear all the time the following…
  • We have really smart people, they can just execute.
  • Planning takes too long - it will cost money.
  • We will use our past process, it will be okay.

All of these strategies are a cut once and hope it fits process, and destined to either fail or take longer and cost more.

My attorney, Sherman Knight, during my times of great legal strive, always used the military phrase "Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance".  What he was trying to get me to understand is that planning (thinking) makes for better doing (performance).

Planning, and the associated thinking required, is more critical than the immediacy of starting the execution of the task or project.  Risks need to be identified, as well as  opportunities.  Strategies can be reviewed and developed that will more than accelerate the project completion.

How do we start the planning process:
  • What is the realistic schedule, which is usually different than the 'desired' schedule.  How will resources be allocated.
  • Who are the other stakeholders, and what information and buy-in is required for a successful project.
  • What are all the risks of the project, how will the risks be mitigated - and most importantly - what new processes will be needed to complete the project.
    • New technologies may be needed, or required to complete the work.
    • Time spent training resources on the new process, pays dividends over "they will learn as they go along".  The key here is to have the training as close to the execution of the work.

How many times do we just 'wing it' and hope for the best outcome.  Far too often.  Planning, before doing, needs to become your personal, and company #1 best practice.


David Haynes, PMP, is Director of Consulting at Ideate, Inc. (www.ideateinc.com).  David's experience is in providing companies with business process analysis and change implementation.  @dhaynestech.