Life lessons learned

listenThe other day I was asked a question: If you were to tell a group of students what key takeaways you would have to share, what would they be?

I thought for a moment and replied:

1)      Listen – You’ll never learn unless you listen to what’s being said and going on around you. The answer is not always ‘yes’ and that’s one of the reasons iterative development is so prevalent. The more you listen, internalize and appreciate, the greater opportunity to understand even more.

2)      Continue to sharpen the sword – Today, the word is ever changing. Everyone needs to keep learning and improving. There are always new areas to explore and skills to develop. Besides, it keep life interesting too.

3)      Leaders must have followers – If you want o be a be a leader, you need to cultivate your network. One great way to have support, is to first support others. The concept of the servant leader can be critical. Closely related to being a leader, is the need to always have an opinion. It may not always be right, but you will never be able to validate your perspective unless you actually state it – and then listen to other’s perspective. It is better to hop on and help steer, rather than to stand-in-the-way of progress.

That was a quick, stream of consciousness perspective. I’d be interested in your view of lessons learned about self-development you’d share with others.

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When it is time to leave…

compass2

Sometimes you’ll initiate leaving a company, other times it may just happen out of the blue. In any case, there are a few things to think through before leaving a company… while you have access to corporate email and phone systems.

    1. Have a personal plan, if you don’t have one get one (make a budget…) but that will likely need to wait until you have time to think about it. What do you want to accomplish in the next 30, 60 or 90 days. Don’t get lost.
    2. Create a list of efforts you are working on and who your backup is – give this to your manager.
    3. Leave an out of office message for those who need to access your efforts/customers.
    4. Make sure your leader and those who will need to know (HR) have a valid address and phone number.
    5. Archive (non-company owned) materials for yourself, so you can reference them later.
    6. Make sure your manager knows about any materials that are in shared resources (e.g., OneDrive for business) that may be accessed by others but could go away when your accounts are removed.
    7. Does your company have any gamification efforts in health or other areas where there are monetary rewards? Make sure you cash them in.
    8. Save all the information on benefits for ex-employees that you can find (e.g., COBRA). They will give you a number of documents in a larger company, when you leave, but there can be alumni groups… on-line as well. They can be a tremendous resource.
    9. >Send a note to those you have been important to your work with the company to let them know you’ll be gone.
    10. Try to get a copy of anything you sign.

Help make the transition go well for everyone. Meet with your supervisor and offer to do anything possible to help fill the void created by your departure. It can be a rough time for them too.

Don’t burn any bridges, you never know which ones you may need to cross again in the future.

After you’ve left:

  1. Check on unemployment benefits. Depending on the state, even forced early retirement can have unemployment benefits associated with it. Health insurance will likely be important area of focus as well.
  2. Be positive — This is just another stop along a journey. Spend your extra time getting fit, educated or something that will improve your person outlook. Prepare yourself of the emotional roller coaster to follow.
  3. Update LinkedIn and your résumé. Some people scoff at LinkedIn, but this is what it is for.

I am sure I’ve missed something but those were what came to mind this morning. Drop a comment with ideas to help things go well.

#unemployment #work #COBRA

Nine questions to ask during a strategic shift

questionsI was talking with someone the other day about a strategic change they were contemplating and what it takes to adopt a new approach, strategy or tool. They were looking for guidance on the issues that might disrupt their efforts. Rather than just answer the question specifically, I thought about it from a process perspective and attempted to answer their need more generally:

Nine questions that will help improve your understanding of the impact and implications of events that may disrupt your plans. This approach attempts to look at the issues from the outside in.

  1. What is happening today? Look for the events or cultural trends that support or imped the change you’re trying to make. We have lots of examples today of cultural disruption and individuals being blindsided by cultural perspective, learn from their mistakes.
  2. What does it mean for others? Look at how the change will be viewed. In many cases perception is reality. Will others really need your solution?? What will it take to keep up with demand, when they do???
  3. What does it mean for you and your team? What are your motivations and will they sustain you through the entire process of change – making a change can be lonely.
  4. What needs to happen first? Every change requires a bit of triage. You can’t eat the elephant whole, so where would you start to increase your likelihood of success.
  5. What does it take to be a change agent? Unfortunately, just because you want to do something different, you will not necessarily be ordained by others as someone to follow. Do you have a vision?? Do you have the relationships needed to initiate the change??? No person is an island. To be a leader, you must have followers.
  6. Do you know what needs to be done next? Change of almost any size requires a plan. We already looked at what needs to be done first, can we make an unstoppable train of events that will carry the change through to completion – plan on it. Also look for measures of success so you can adjust along the way.
  7. When is the solution needed, is this the right time? Every change has an optimal time for it to take place. If now is (or is not) the time – why??
  8. Who will be affected? It is as important to understand who will be crushed under the wheels of progress, as who will be elevated by the change. Thinking about the implications of all the affected parties will greatly improve your plan and its effectiveness.
  9. How much investment will be needed? I’ve kept this until the end, not that funding isn’t important but based on the fact that if you haven’t thought about these others issues you probably only have a vague notion of what it will take to be successful. If you have the right camp of supporters, it can significantly reduce your funding needs. Similarly, if you’re going after the wrong market or don’t have the right kinds of support, no amount of funding will make your efforts successful.

There are likely some gaps in this thought process, but this approach been helpful over the years, maybe it will be useful to you too.

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” – Woody Allen

I survived my first day at SAP #SapphireNow

The one area that both surprised and interested me most on the first day had little to do with the analytics or IoT space (although I did have some interesting discussions in those areas too). It was the SAP approach to their on-line store.

They have had many on-line stores in the past but now they are taking a different more ‘digital’ approach that is focused on selling direct to the consumer. This will change the relationship with the user and the enterprise based on consumption. This could disrupt their traditional buyer, the SAP sales force as well as their partners that perform system integration and consulting. It will be interesting to see if this level of change can take place without too much disruption.

By selling tools like Lumira with a free version, then a low friction purchase option with a credit card a business could easily see this tool enter into its portfolio of resources without their knowledge. They have implemented the purchase process so that if a feature of a premium version is needed you are dropped into the store. Anyone who has done on-line gaming recently has likely run into this behavior. This kind of stealth selling is inevitable and will accelerate the kind of shadow IT has been discussed for years.

I asked the people at the booth about what happens when someone buys it on their own version and the company purchases a master agreement. The answers varied a bit but the individual has a choice to roll into the agreement or continue to pay on their own. Look to the terms and conditions (that no one reads typically) for the details.

There is also the concern about who will support anything that gets created once the business becomes addicted. Everyone likely remembers the years of Excel Hell. Hopefully that will not happen but I am still checking into how change management elements can be put in place for end user developed elements.

My greatest concerns is that the traditional command and control IT organization will be very frustrated by this, while the digital purists will be confused by the resistance – it may be just outside their contextual understanding. SAP stated they will be opening these capabilities up for 3rd parties to sell their capabilities and that will have its own problems. Service providers usually sell apps as a mechanism to facilitate up-sell into consulting and integration. SAP is trying to ensure what gets into the store is valuable on its own. Some of the service providers will likely have a hard time understanding these implications as well.

It was stated (many times) in the first day that business models are changing and SAP seems to be doing its part to be disruptive, even if most of its customers haven’t internalized the implications.