Blog – Do you know where your company IP is

Your sitting at your desk and you are looking through a great report or slide show provided by that smart as a whip employee in your department who always seems to be able to get things done and get you the information you need when you need it.

This is a highly confidential report/slide show that you would not want shared with the public, never mind your customers, suppliers or competition.

You are not aware that this report/slide show was created in Google Apps or stored in a Dropbox account sync which Ms. smart as a whip or that you are viewing it on Slideshare.

                       

 

 

 

 

Your employee did not use the company  –

  • MS-Office license or
  • servers for storing the file or
  • as such the file is not secured, password/firewall/ACL/ or
  • using an encryption process.

The file is just out there protected by the most highly security procedure in the world – ignorance.

 

 

 

This is not a bad thing.  Your employees are using the tools that the web and their mobile devices make available to them to do their job more productivily for them individually.

 

Here is the bad thing.

 

You need to be aware of this as an executive of your company so you know where your intellectial property (that precious company IP beyond trademarks) is being created, modified, shared and stored.

 

Here is the worst thing.

Your reaction being a quick policy statement banning this type of activity.  Stating that all work product by your knowledge workers MUST be done on company computers, using company software and stored on company servers.

 

Right – that will work.

 

How is that enforced exactly?  Just like a yield sign in New Jersey right?

 

The reaction should be –

  1. Find out how prevalent this is in your company
  2. Discuss at the executive level how this impacts your risk management of your IP
  3. How this impacts your current IT strategy (licensing, having your own data center, mobility)

 

You cannot stop this – so find a way to use it to your advantage.

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Book Review – Execution, The Discipline of Getting Things Done

Author Larry Bossidy & Ram Charan

A quick read with each chapter giving you something useful to put into practice.  All too often leaders get frustrated that completion of activities is not occurring and they lash out at their teams.

 

 

 

 

I have been guilty of this action and thankfully my teams have been forthright enough to point out that I was acting like a crazed Captain Kirk asking to get 110% and to just make it so (ok that is Picard).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

–       Seven essentials of execution on page 57

  • While these are built upon in the rest of the book, reminding myself quickly brings back the concepts to actually use.

 

–       As a leader you have to show up on page 63

  • Showing up defined as being present, not losing your attention by focusing on your smartphone, tablet or SQUIRREL!
  • Focus on the person or people in front of you.

 

–       New EDS Beliefs on page 91

  • Changing not the values in your business, department or team – but changing the beliefs about those values.
  • First as part of your SWOT identify the old beliefs both internal and external, and then define the new.

–       Leadership Assessment Summary on page 151

  • A simple chart to evaluate the potential and current value of your team

–       Principle of simultaneity on page 232

  • During planning session and budget development change from doing separately and start with a gathering all business leaders to set the foundation for simultaneously agreeing to direction, plans and budget allocations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I review this book once a month to refocus my efforts when working with teams.  It offers simple reminders on focusing on priorities and facilitating the same with your teams.

Rule #6 Spend more time in other people’s offices and cubicles than your own

Spend more time in other people’s offices and cubicles than your own, especially between 9 and 4pm.

This is a simple rule that we all get caught up in when we have in our mind a ‘major’

  • report
  • presentation
  • budget
  • performance reviews
  • contract to review
  • project plan
  • etc…

to do and we virtually lock ourselves in our office for the entire day.

 

 

The door may be open to comply with your open door policy, but your body language indicates to those people who come to you for     

  • advice
  • help
  • direction
  • approval
  • etc…

that the door may be open, but you are closed for business today.

We have that work to do that requires focus, but it should not be for the entire day.

Use good time management practices of working on that ‘major’ thing first thing in the morning for 15, 30, or 60 minutes and then stop.


Meet with the people you need to collaborate with, but out of your office. Your team needs to see you each and every day you are in the office.

  • Check on that project status.
  • Give a high five for that customer who was satisfied because that person went above and beyond
  • Give a head slap to that person who has falling behind or not giving the effort needed
  • Take the temperature of the group
  • Check in with a peer on how that trip they just returned from went

Then, get back to the office for another 15, 30, or 60 minutes on the ‘major’ effort.

Your are part of a team, you need to be with the team (your area, your peers area, the company as a whole).

Rule #1 ask forgiveness instead of permission

Attributed to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, amongst other grand achievements is a pioneer in the programming world starting with COBOL creation.    

In short, the key to high performing teams is following this rule.

There are two sides of this rule. The employee side side should understand that when when you are asking management to grant permission you are asking them to accept partial responsibility for your specific actions the permission is granting. Now, you might say, that a manager is always responsible for an employee’s actions. Very true, yet by asking for permission your are forcing a manager to be comforted with that reality. Somewhat similar to a person realizing they are a Dad or Mom the first time they here a baby crying and realize they are in responsible for soothing their baby.

Up to that point the manager/Dad or Mom always knew they were responsible, but suddenly it is real.

Whereas, asking a manager for forgiveness actually caters to their ego. For asking for permission is requiring them to accept responsibility, asking for forgiveness allows them to be benevolent and merciful. You, in effect are bowing to their hierarchical power over you. Feeding the ego strongly this does.

This is all well and good, but a manager can use this rule to a more important end then stroking their ego. It can support a culture change from risk avoidance to smart risk taking.

The rule of ask forgiveness, instead of permission is an incentive for staff to overcome a fear of failure. Part of staff’s fear is having to ask permission and defend verbally to a superior why they want to do something. No matter how warm and fuzzy a boss you may be, having to defend course of action in a culture of risk avoidance is scary and along with risk, avoided.

So that is the first part of fear, is having to go ask the boss about it. The second part is the fear of taking action. Covering yourself by having your manager approve your actions slows down execution and can be a killer when you are dealing with customer problems, product/service launches or testing new ideas.

For a manager who wishes to have a high performing team, you need team members who you can delegate responsibility too and a key to developing that capability is that the team feels safe and free to take action. You need a culture of risk takers to have that high performing team.

Yes, you will have those staff who abuse the rule. You should be corrective actioning those members off your team as they are counter productive in other areas as well.

The one codicil    to this rule is the magnitude level. If a team member performs an action and said action has a large NEGATIVE dollar impact to the bottom line, say 6 figures or more, than realistically they are gone. Make the team aware of this codicil.

Is planning poor or planning not desired any longer due to due to ready availability of everything

20 years ago most of us had to have a weekly shopping trip to get groceries as the stores where not open 24 hours, 7 days a week.

 

 

 

20 years ago we had to plan a trip to the bank, as ATM’s could perform minimum transactions and most did not trust them for deposits.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20 years ago if you needed new clothes, shoes, books and so on – you had to schedule a trip to those stores around those stores limited hours.

The impact on the lack of ready availability requiring planning on other activities – throwing a party, performing some home improvement, and doing a job search.

My thought that has entered my head and bounced around is — the fact that you needed to plan in your daily lives back 20 years ago had an impact on how your were able to plan and execute in your work life?  Leading to the thought that the fact you do not need to plan as much in your daily life due to readily available almost everything impacted our culture, our lives in a way that has reduced our planning ability and as such is affecting business planning.

Planning definition – http://www.opm.gov/perform/plan.asp

Is this somewhat generational with Y Gens taking their outspoken, bold thinking, sense of self-worth and combining that with the culture of not needing to plan?

Will the Z Gens who multi-task at a level that makes Y, never mind X Gens heads spin be productive, but only in environments that are reactive, not proactive planning focused organizations?

The impact on supplier companies is staggering when you consider that the generations coming into power in business organizations expect that all of their suppliers are readily able to deliver on the a varying level of demand within hours, perhaps days, but definitely unacceptable is weeks or months.

How will projects of various lengths be impacted?

Will all projects have to be short term as the ability to plan multiple stages over several months and years become almost impossible for the culture to conceive?

Will poor planning continue to be the bain of projects ?

We are talking about the next step for NASA is Mars.   It was in 1963 that the President issued that directive that the USA be the first to the moon.  6 years later, after what could have been the end of his second term it happened.  I wonder how the current evolving culture would accomplish a task that took 6 years to plan and execute.

 

 

 

I see it today in businesses that are no longer talking 5 or 7-year strategies, but 2 and 3-year strategic plans.  See this article in the Wall Street Journal stating that the downturn changed the view of how we run our business.  Is it just the down turn or the culture too?

 

Is this all just are business world changing so rapidly?

I wonder, how much an impact that the lack of the need to plan much of our daily lives has on the lack of the ability / desire to plan longer term for our business lives.

I wonder if this is a bad thing.  My education says it is, but my gut says it is part of our evolution.

 

 

Increase project success by aggressively killing projects

After x number of years with formal project methodologies, project software tools and training upon training upon training, companies continue to struggle to manage projects. Combined with this struggle is a culture that has a strong aversion to failure (aka risk). I put forth that these two are deeply tied. A business will not improve their project success through a new methodology, new tracking tool, additional training or even replacing the staff with new, more highly skilled staff.

What will improve project success is aggressively killing projects that are not succeeding. Call them challenged, failing, behind schedule, in the yellow or red. If they have missed more than one milestone, they are a candidate to be killed. These projects need to be put under a microscope and examined for the likelihood they will hit their next milestone. If the intense review finds that the project will not be able to meet the next milestone it should be killed. But, remember killing it does not mean you skip the closure phase. Close out the project capturing all the necessary learns and put the resources onto the projects that are succeeding to optimize their chance for success.

Making people work on projects that are failing, increases the pressure to succeed, but does not provide the environment for success to occur. Fail to kill projects and you are begging to be lied to by your project teams. Aggressively killing failed project, completing the closure phase and placing people on projects that are succeeding demonstrates you walk the talk of project methodology and that mistakes are acceptable.

The benefit of an aggressive killing of projects has the positive impact to the bottom line through increase success of other projects and cost avoidance from continuing projects that will fail. Add to this benefit the cultural impact. A fear of failure not only adds stress to a project that is already struggling, but it also creates an overall environment that stifles innovation. People will resist proposing new ideas unless they are guaranteed to have success. How many projects are guaranteed to be successful?

Therefore, aggressively killing projects impacts that bottom line through costs savings and the top line through supporting an environment of innovation by removing the fear of failure. If you find these thoughts on project management helpful and would like to not only learn about solid project management, but not have to read boring project management book to learn it, read The Deadline by Tom DeMarco. Gives you a understanding of good project management but in a fun to read novel format.