We motivate businesses to be human

Archive for Agile

Purpose & Vision: Overcoming Trump’s Fear-Driven Capitalism, Part 2



Photo credits:  „Eye“: http://tinyurl.com/y8gb8h4b. “Fear“: http://tinyurl.com/y8gtw3wj.

Photo credits: „Eye“: http://tinyurl.com/y8gb8h4b. “Fear“: http://tinyurl.com/y8gtw3wj.

Trump’s economic policies are starkly different from his predecessors and deviates from mainstream economics and political thinking.  Take, for example, his massive tax cuts for the corporate world or his initiated trade wars.  Just by looking at recent economic numbers and the booming stock market his policies seem to pay off and open a new era of economic prosperity.  But do they really?

Long-term market performance indices and forecasts tell a different story.  Shareholder buybacks and alike contribute nothing to building a solid foundation for future business success.  They yield short-term benefits and the party is on.  But, for how long?  Where does it lead to?  Has big money finally succeeded and overtaken economic and political thinking?  How sustainable is this short-term growth? Who benefits, who loses?  And, last but not least, what kind of answers does it provide to today’s global challenges that are becoming more and more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous?  What if Trump’s favored form of capitalism leads to a dead end?!

As explained in a previous post, I am more than skeptical about the outlook of traditional capitalism.

Fact is that traditional capitalism does not answer today’s challenges in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world, widens the gap between rich and poor, exploits and threatens to destroy our environment and thus our own planet.  What we need is a different, a new business paradigm that not only helps find solutions to today’s problems but can also serve as guidance to sustainable business in the 21stcentury.

In this article I explain why and how purpose-driven human business can make a huge difference.  It differs significantly from the classical business paradigm.  At the same time it has built-in bridges every business can cross to build a sustainable future.

Maximizing Shareholder Value: Engine for Growth?

There is one and only one responsibility of business: to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game.

– Milton Friedman

No doubt, Milton Friedman and shareholder value theory has shaped Western business since the 1970s.  It has led to tremendous wealth of companies as well as societies, even though the fruits of this growth have not been distributed equally.

And, Milton is still very much alive as Steve Denning points out in a Forbes article.  He explains that “in 1990, an article in HBRby Michael Jensen and Kevin Murphy, gave shareholder value thinking a new push. The article, “CEO Incentives—It’s Not How Much You Pay, But How” suggested that CEOs were being paid like bureaucrats. Instead, they should be paid with significant amounts of stock so that their interests would be aligned with stockholders. Thereafter, the use of the phrase ‘maximize shareholder value’ exploded and CEOs became very entrepreneurial — but in their own cause,not necessarily their firm’s cause.”

Denning continues stating that “by 2017, shareholder value thinking was everywhere. Joseph Bower andLynn S. Paine reported in Harvard Business Reviewthat shareholder value thinking “is now pervasive in the financial community and much of the business world.” It had led to a set of behaviors by many actors on a wide range of topics, “from performance measurement and executive compensation to shareholder rights, the role of directors, and corporate responsibility.”

Acknowledging shareholder value thinking is prevalent in today’s business world, and a booming stock exchange market, what’s so wrong about it?!  Why change a winning formula?!

On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world.
– Jack Welch

Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, had been heralded as one of THE proponent of maximizing shareholder value.  This is in contrast to what he has been preaching since he left GE, stating „On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world.“ Welch also pointed out several times that „shareholder value is a result, not a strategy . . . Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.“

So far so good.  But what about business performance in the market place?

According to the 2009 Shift Index of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge there is conclusive proof of failure of traditional management.  Accordingly

  • The rate of return on assets has fallen by 75% since 1965
  • The life expectancy of Fortune 500 firms is down to 15 years, and is heading towards 5 years.
  • Only 1 in 5 workers fully engaged

Preserving the performance of a status quo may be laudable.  Yet, it doesn’t secure lasting, sustainable business.  The opposite is true.  Mariana Mazzucato  explains that „shareholder value theory – the destructive idea that companies should be run solely for the benefit of shareholders – has led to financialized businesses that do not invest in the areas that will lead to future growth or the invention of useful new products.“

In short, traditional businesses infiltrated by shareholder value theory not only ignores long-term perspectives, they also risk their own future existence.  Myopia at its best.

Stuck in the past

In face of this evidence why do so many companies still stick to a business paradigm of the past?

There are lots of reasons for clinging to this pastime.  Let’s have a look at two of them:

  1. For one, it is convenient.  Governance in most businesses still built on the old business paradigm, along with complicated incentive system for individual and company performance at the stock market.  Changing these processes and culture takes ages.  Why change it given that those who would have to make the call for a change personally benefit from the old system?
    Linking maximizing shareholder ‘value’ to personal compensation blinds managers from the real world – and most of them don’t even realize it because they were born blind or lost eyesight early in their childhood (or education). From this perspective, they live out their DNA. I guess, you can’t even blame them for their upbringing shaped their belief system. They were indoctrinated.
  2. A second reason for favoring existing belief systems is that proponents of the status quo simply don’t see any real alternative at hand.  Thinking in complicated, elaborate governance structures and processes implies that there needs to be an even more complicated system? There is simply no time to address this, even less so, coming up with new ideas that improve existing processes.

As long as this reasoning prevails, it is difficult to change anything until it may be too late.  Alas, it is not that complicated at all.  Let’s have a look at the opposite of the traditional business paradigm of short-term profits and shareholder value theory.  It’s called purpose-driven business.

MVP’s for doing business in the 21stcentury

A purpose-driven business follows a compass that gives a clear direction for the future of the business.  The compass also indicates where the business is coming from, i.e., why it is business in the first place.   Both, the motivation and the vision of a business constitute the credo of its practice. I call this the MVP of a purpose-driven business whereas stands for motivation, for visionand for practice.

For example, Johnson & Johnson’s company credo is engraved in granite at the entry to company headquarters, which makes crystal clear that customers are first, then employees, and shareholders absolutely last.

Another example is Procter & Gamble which declares in its purpose statement: ‘We will provide branded products and services of superior quality and value that improve the lives of the world’s consumers, now and for generations to come. As a result, consumers will reward us with leadership sales, profit and value creation, allowing our people, our shareholders and the communities in which we live and work to prosper.’

On this token, a business that has forgotten or neglects its motivation or vision for short-term gains, such as maximizing daily stock prices, may just as well be digging its own grave in the long-run.  It is anything but a purpose-driven business.

Human business is purpose-driven business

Facing the increasing number of challenges in our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, Human Business addresses today’s challenges.  It focuses on serving and delighting its customers, workforce, business, and society.  And it does so holistically and puts us as humans in its center.  That is, it constantly seeks ways and means to generate and add sustainable value to its customers, workforce, business, and society.  From this perspective human business follows three elementary principles:

  1. Delight your customer(s)
  2. Take care of your employees
  3. Build sustainable business value

(1) Delight your customer(s)

Having a customer focus is not new.  Peter Drucker, father of management thinker, explains that

There is only one valid definition of a business purpose: to create a customer.”

Alas, delighting a customer goes beyond creating or satisfying a customer. Delighting a customer implies that a business has a deep understanding of the needs, expectations and wishes of its customers and strives to fulfill and exceed them.  It seeks to build customers for life.  It reaches out to its customers, communicates with them, walks in their shoes and shows a sincere interest in them.  There are no quick fixes for this approach.  It is an attitude and belief system.

(2) Take care of your employees

Employees are not resources like products.  They are human beings and want to be treated as such.  A human business understands and practices this.  It shows

a sincere interest in the needs of their employees. It starts with a safe, secure and environmentally friendly work environment.  For employees to follow a direction you have to set it, share it and let your employees contribute to it. Let them become a part of it.

Dov Seidman states that „working with passion is an engine that is unbelievable. A person with drive and passion does three times the job of another person. But it is not so much the quantity of the job; that is not the point. The point is that they draw crowds; they have followers; they push, and lead, and so achieve much more.“ (Dov Seidman (2011). “How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything”, p.295, John Wiley & Sons)

(3) Build sustainable business value

Shareholder value is not identical to business value.  Business value comprises short-, mid- and long-term business concerns, interests and investments.  Business value is made up of a number of factors: the overall business performance and outlook, customer satisfaction ratings, market position, innovation performance, the skillset and turnover rate of the workforce, the attractiveness of the company as an employer of choice and many other factors.

Whereas the daily stock price is heavily influenced by quarterly results and a relative short time horizon into the future, business value is more than quarterly results.  Jeff Bezos clarifies why holding a long-term perspective is so important:  “If everything you do needs to work on a three-year time horizon, then you’re competing against a lot of people. But if you’re willing to invest on a seven-year time horizon, you’re now competing against a fraction of those people, because very few companies are willing to do that. Just by lengthening the time horizon, you can engage in endeavours that you could never otherwise pursue. At Amazon we like things to work in five to seven years. We’re willing to plant seeds, let them grow—and we’re very stubborn. We say we’re stubborn on vision and flexible on details.” (Source: “Jeff Bezos Owns the Web in More Ways Than You Think”. Interview with Steven Levy, www.wired.com. November 13, 2011.)

Last but not least, business value doesn’t only look at business numbers but includes corporate social responsibility, too. Klaus Schwab, founder and head of the World Economic Forum, explains that “corporate social responsibility is measured in terms of businesses improving conditions for their employees, shareholders, communities, and environment. But moral responsibility goes further, reflecting the need for corporations to address fundamental ethical issues such as inclusion, dignity, and equality.”

Human business as a compass for organizational excellence

Klaus Schwab’s wide view on business value summarizes what it means when we say that human business is holistic and human-centered and focuses on generating and adding sustainable value to its customers, workforce, business, and society. It serves as a business compass that helps optimize daily operationsand build and sustain organizational excellence.

Walking the Talk. Building a Human Economy

Art of New BusinessAt Motivate2B and The Art of New Business we are witnessing businesses that have made the transition to a human business.  And, we too, follow the principles of human business by ourselves. What else can we do?!  We walk the talk and invite you to do the same.  Please join us and share your stories.

Posted in: Agile, Future of Work, Human Business, Leadership, Sustainability, Uncategorized, WEF

Leave a Comment (0) →

A Human Business Primer: Overcoming Trump’s Fear-Driven Capitalism, Part 1

Photo sources: “Joy“: https://flic.kr/p/7usYCr. “Fear“: http://tinyurl.com/y8gtw3wj.

Photo sources: “Joy“: https://flic.kr/p/7usYCr. “Fear“: http://tinyurl.com/y8gtw3wj.

This is not another attack on Trump.  Actually, I don’t really care too much about Trump.  What I do care about are the implications of his policies, ideology, worldview, decisions, moods, and, believe it or not, at times his tweets.  And yet, it is not about Trump as a person.  Last week, former President Obama rightly stated that Trump is not the cause but a symptom for a lot of things that have gone array these days in business, society and the world.  And, indeed, Trump is a strong symptom, an excellent and exemplary figure to represent capitalism of the old ages.  The problem is, we no longer we live in the 19thor 20thcentury that were heavily shaped by traditional capitalism Trump loves so much.

Traditional capitalism at its “best”

Traditional capitalism rewards those who seek short-term gains, maximize profits regardless of whether or not business generates value to customers, workforce, business or society.  This capitalism treats humans and the environment as resources, cost factors and numbers in balance sheets.  It thrives in an atmosphere of mistrust, tension, fierce cutthroat and winner-takes-all competition, selfishness and anxiety.  Exploiting or polluting the environment is considered collateral damage and, hence, not evil.  The dividing and widening gap between rich and poor is dismissed as a distraction that can be fixed – by the free market. While proponents of traditional capitalism don’t negate the fact the world is becoming ever more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous they are not really concerned about it because they believe that the established business principles, processes and rules can handle these challenges, too.  And, if there were a problem it is probably because some people, organizations or governments neglected these established principles.

Capitalism is not dead. It is outdated in its traditional form

I am not a critic of capitalism per se (how could I, having been trained as an economist?). Fact is that traditional capitalism leads to a dead-end, does not answer today’s challenges in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world, widens the gap between rich and poor, exploits and threatens to destroy our environment and thus our own planet. This is not a call to end capitalism – this would this too simplistic.  And it would be plain stupid for capitalism is a core element of business which we, people, need to survive and thrive.  What we need is a different, a new business paradigm that not only helps find solutions to today’s problems but can also serve as guidance to sustainable business in the 21stcentury.

The Human Business Paradigm

The good news is such business principles already exist. They constitute the Human Business Paradigm.  These principles can serve as a new compass for doing business in the 21stcentury.  Let me summarize its key principles:

The Human Business Paradigm
1. Human business is holistic and human-centered, i.e., it focuses on serving and delighting its customers, workforce, business, and society.

2. The purpose of human business is to generate and add sustainable value to its customers, workforce, business, and society.

3. Human business promotes diversity in the workforce, reflecting an open society.

4. Human business advocates cross-functional and self-organizing teams.

5. Human business nourishes joy and happiness in its daily operation.

6. Human business practices and nurtures conscious leadership of enablement and empowerment.

7. Human business cultivates open and learning organizations that embrace change and thrive for continuous self-improvement of products and services, processes and people.

8. Human business provides and shares guidance for responding to rapid change in business and society.

9. Human business understands profits as a means to fulfill its business purposes; i.e., human business is purpose-driven and not profit-driven.

10. Human business advocates a circular economy, in which we keep resources in use for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of each service life.

Walking the Talk. Building a Human Economy

During the next couple of weeks I plan to dwell into each of these principles and share concrete stories of companies, organizations and projects that practice these principles.  At Motivate2B and The Art of New Business we walk the talk; and there are many other businesses that do so already.   I invite you, too, to join us and share your stories.

hba-banner-15-12-2016

Posted in: Agile, Creative Economy, Future of Work, Human, Human Business

Leave a Comment (0) →

Planning is Fear. Instead, Work with Life and Joy.


I have worked in professional project management for quite a number of years. Over the last years, I have moved away from classical project management and one of its core activities: planning. There are a number of reasons for this. First of all, I believe that classical planning is rooted in fear for volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Or, planning is afraid of reality and life where volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are central elements.  Hence, classical planning is misguided and consequently often a waste of time and energy. Let me explain.

The myopia of classical planning

Foto © by A. Dreher | Pixelio.de

Photo © by A. Dreher | Pixelio.de

In classical project management we are expected to have a solid, validated project plan that lists major milestones, work packages and activities. Ideally, all work packages are linked with each other so that it becomes possible to predict the final delivery date of the project.
I have drafted numerous such project plans. And actually I enjoyed it for the most part. It gave me a sense of control and security. And the final plans looked great on paper. Alas, there were and are some major flaws with this: A plan is first of all a piece of paper. That’s it. No more, no less. Yes, of course, it can denote the important phases of a project and create the false impression that everything is under control. People tend to believe that a plan gives them security and certainty, reduces risks, prevents surprises and much more. Unfortunately, this is misguided and distracting from reality. Fact is that most project plans change the minute you “finish” them. President Eisenhower once said that a plan is worth nothing, planning is key. Well, I agree to some extent and add that planning is worth nothing if you don’t understand what’s behind it. I call it agile ‘planning’.

What’s behind agile ‘planning’?

If you start planning because you want to overcome volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, STOP right there. Planning will not help you achieve this. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) have nothing to do with planning. They are rooted in reality whereas planning is just a tool.

If you want to get a grasp on volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity understand their nature, what causes them. And find out why they bother you in the first place. Given that they are core elements and characteristics of reality you may as well ask yourself what bothers you about reality. In other words, find out what bothers you, period. What’s your problem? Or, if you like to phrase it more positively, what motivates you?

Contrast this to your vision of an ideal situation and see the gap between the problem (or motivation) and your vision. If this gap really bothers you, causes some form of pain, think about concrete steps how to get from point A to point B. This is what you could call agile ‘planning’. It is different from classical planning as it addresses the groundwork or foundation of our activities.
Planning without acknowledging and accepting your motivation and vision is just a shallow distraction from reality and a futile activity as it ignores reality, your reality.

Agile ‘planning’ can be joy

Photo © by Jörg Kleinschmidt | pixelio.de

An agile approach to ‘planning’ does not erase volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. This is not its purpose. It accepts them as a matter of fact. And it embraces them and explores ways and means to work with them to get closer to your vision or at least your interim goals. This is the opposite of fear. It is working and playing with joy. Doing so introduces lightness, creativity and inspiration to your “planning”. It sparks life into your planning process.  You don’t generate a product or service in one bug shot but you develop and deliver it in small, iterative increments. Just as you don’t reach your vision in one big step but in several smaller steps, one at a time.
Contrast this with classical planning that is guided by fear and the urge for control and certainty. Life and reality are not static, lifeless machines that can be easily replicated. Life is ever changing, complex, uncertain, and ambiguous. Corollary, agile ‘planning’ ought to reflect life. It can become a game, a dance, an art and thus an element of the art of new business.

Posted in: Agile, Centeredness, Creative Economy, Human, Sustainability, Tools

Leave a Comment (0) →

Enter the Age of Agile!


Dear friends,

41T6mA9ISmL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_This is to let you know that Steve Denning and his partners are offering an amazing array of Agile leadership and management gifts will be available this week for early purchasers of Steve Denning’s new book, ‘The Age of Agile: How Smart Companies Are Transforming the Way Work Gets Done’. The list of gifts of gifts is here: http://stevedenning.com/Workshops/launch2018.aspx and the gifts will become available tomorrow, Thursday February 8 at 4pm US EST. Some gifts are in limited quantities and are likely to go quickly. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed!

There are 41 gifts, some worth thousands of dollars, and you get access to all of them. For instance, Richard Sheridan of Menlo Innovations is offering places at his famous five-day deep dive at Menlo Innovations, worth $3,650, Professor Rita McGrath and many other well-known figures from the Agile community are offering consultations, workshops, books, videos, articles and other tools. Myself I offer a presentation and an initial one-hour consultation about and for Agile MVP’s. In this presentation and consultation I share my experiences about what it takes to set up Agile projects for success, namely motivation, vision and Agile practice for the project, the team and the business. In addition to the presentation I share a free template ready for immediate use. Places will be limited.

And even if you cannot (or don’t want to) secure any of these free give-aways, you will still get so much out of Steve’s new book. It’s not another about Agile. It explains why Agile is a new business paradigm and how you can embrace it and succeed.

Good luck, happy reading and lots of joy practicing and being Agile,

Thomas

Posted in: Agile, Future of Work

Leave a Comment (0) →

You have to behave like a kid to become a leader

Can trainee programs teach leadership? Yes, but most of them don’t

I conducted a project leadership for members of a trainee program.  Attendees were motivated and full of energy.  Participation was very good and some of the insights and outcomes of the interactive exercises were even astounding.  Then, toward the end, the bubble of excitement bursted when one of the attendees asked for more detailed instructions how to apply “my” 5 leadership principles for project success.  “Eh, what!?” I thought. “Have I missed anything? Didn’t we just go through a number of exercises that addressed the very same question?” – What went wrong?

108088_web_R_K_by_Jerzy Sawluk_pixelio.deYou have to act like a little kid again to become a leader

What went wrong was that I mistakenly assumed that the trainees to think on their own, to leave their old perceptions behind at least for a few moments and to walk on their own.  Sorry, this was a mistake. What I didn’t understand or at least forgot that students these days have been drilled to memorize whatever the teacher gives them.  The less they challenge the material, the better.  For it is more important to get a good grade and pass.
This is legitimate and it works for the grand majority of people.  However, if you want to train leaders it is a dead end.  You have to take (most) students back to when they were little kids asking the annoying “WHY?” question over and over again.  And – you have to encourage these leadership trainees to go ahead and ask the WHY? question on a daily basis.  Even if they face obstacles, opposition and rejection.  If they don’t have the guts and maybe even don’t see the necessity to take these steps, they should not claim to learn something about leadership.  They may become decent managers but probably never reach the level of leadership.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGood trainee programs build playgrounds

On this token, can trainee programs teach leadership? – Yes, if they start teaching their trainees the necessity and value of asking WHY? and to start walking on their own.  – Luckily, they do exist. – If instead trainee programs focus on technical and old-school management skills, forget it.

Posted in: Agile, Empowerment, innovation, Leadership, Training

Leave a Comment (0) →

What are self-organizing teams?


Following up some of the questions in my last webinar on March 6 I want to explain what distinguishes a self-organizing team from a manager-led and self-governing team.

self-organizing teamsManager-led teams are defined and led by someone from the outside.  A manager appoints a project manager and the project manager becomes the boss of a team. The team reports to the project manager; the project manager to the project sponsor or another manager.  The team does whatever the manager tells it to do.  It is an extension of a linear hierarchy we still can witness in many organizations these days.

In contrast to manager-led teams are self-governing teams.  These teams do not have exposed leaders at all.  Indeed there is not even an outside manager.  Teams are self-selected in the sense that team members have found each other and work on something their teams decide.  The directions of such teams come from the teams themselves.  A mob may serve as a good example.

Self-organizing teams are somewhere between manager-led and self-governing teams.  While the overall direction of the work of self-organizing teams may be defined from the outside, self-organizing teams decide by themselves how to execute these tasks, manage processes and monitor progress.  Self-organizing teams design their own activities that cumulate in final project deliveries.

Questions from the webinar:

Dinesh K: How do you rate productivity of different team (managed vs. self-organized vs. self-governed team)?

Productivity can be high in either team.  However, it is most likely that self-organizing teams have a greater productivity in the long haul.

Thomas D.: Do Managed Teams use teamwork?

Yes, they can.  However, don’t necessarily expect team magic, i.e., team synergy effects, to evolve.  Often a “team” which is manager led is more like a group of indviduals.  In case the manager empowers the team, true teamwork can evolve.

Posted in: Agile, Empowerment, Leadership

Leave a Comment (0) →

Questions about self-organizing teams


Following up my webinar about “The Illusion and Promise of Self-Organizing Teams” I gave on March 6, 2013 I have consolidated all questions asked during and immediately following the webinar.  As promised I will answer each of the questions in the coming weeks. In the meantime PLEASE share your thoughts about the following questions about self-organizing teams:

1)   Definition and understanding of self-organizing teams vs. managed or self-governed teams

Marc L.:  What’s the difference between a self organizing team and a mob?

Dinesh K: How do you rate productivity of different team (managed vs. self-organized vs. self-governed team?

Thomas D.: Do Managed Teams use teamwork?

2)   Development of self-organizing teams

Wilma L.: how does the self-organizing team begin to organize itself for a project? Who determines that this is going to be a SO team, especially in a corporate environment?

Rajakrishnan C.: A typical project team may comprise of people with different experience levels and pay scales. A junior member may not feel as equally responsible for the success of the project as a senior high paying resource. Will this hamper self organizing capability of the team? If so how do we handle such situations?

Alonso A.: Any additional suggestions for teams that are new and still going thru the storming phase?

3)   Roles in self-organizing teams

Elise O.: If this is a self-organizing team, why are we still framing it in terms of “YOU and YOUR team”?  It sounds as though you still need a leader/mentor/sponsor role to get this to work.  Does it really become a team where everyone is a peer?

Naga B.: What will be the role of project manager in self oraganizing teams?

Xavier Z.: what about the risks specific with scrum team with a scrummaster but without project manager?

4)   The MVP Model in action (Motivation, Vision, Project Objectives)

Douglas D.: Can you talk to the idea that, part of the value add for an engagement, is gaining, and documenting, the MVP?  In other words, they project team may not have been able to articulate this until you showed up.

Milagros L.: Thinking in the kick-off meeting, when would conduct the MVP workshop? After or before it?

Mounir G.: How you can apply MVP in a hierarchy, military environment where top down commands are applied?

Loui H.: What would you do if some stakeholder or team members don’t want to play along?

Nihad K.: Here is where the project sponsor gets into the mix.  Isnt it really about their vision?

William P.: What about assigning, defining roles?  Do the team members work out who does what?

5)   Empowerment

Oscar S.: which is the most important empowerment effect in the management?

6)   Acknowledgement

Krithika V.: is monetary acknowledgement (bonus) allowed ?

7)   Promoting performance

Shilpa E.:Q: In self organizing teams, micromanagment is out of question, then how can we promote self performance to ensure project milestones?

8)   Conflict management

Noemi J.: what about conflict management inside self organizing and cross-functional teams? how should a project manager manage it?

9)   Virtual teams

Justus B., Mitra B., Timothy B.: Do the same rules shown today also apply for vitural teams, for example in a culturally diverse environment?

10)         Cultural differences and respect, moral, ethics

Rebecca K: It seems that cultural differences can be the source of disrespect. How can this be overcome?

11)         Project management vs. project leadership

Samuel J.: Dr. Juli has separated Project Management and Project Leadership.  Would he suggest that the PM should aim to be the Project Leader in order to be able to assert authority as necessary?

12)         Project challenges and the right leadership style

Shilpa E. Micromanagement or Delegation has been a question? But to meet the business goal in very rough projects which would help?

13)         A good project manager

Aida C.: How do you know if you are a good project manager other than the hard results which come in the end?

14)         Self-organizing teams and the PMBOK

Cory P.: Good luck mapping these concepts to the PMBOK

 

Posted in: Agile, Empowerment, Leadership, Project Management

Leave a Comment (2) →

Free Webinar “The Illusion and Promise of Self-Organizing Teams” – March 6, 2013


On Wednesday March 6 I gave a free webinar on “The Illusion and Promise of Self-Organizing Teams” on on Wednesday March 6th, 2013 at 12:00pm (US Eastern Time, Coordinated Universal Time -5 hours).

NOTE:  If you happen to be one of the 989 individuals who attended the webinar and still have queastions, please leave comment below or send an email to tj@thomasjuli.com.  I will respond to all questions in due time.  Thank you!

For topic details, please visit PMI’s website. Click here for Details!

Content:

Teams and teamwork are the heart and soul of every project. This is especially true for agile teams. It is not the individual performance or accomplishment that counts but that of the team. Just like in team sports the team succeeds and fails together. Interestingly Agilists propose self-organizing teams. But what does “self-organizing” mean? If teams are self-organizing why do so many teams and projects fail?

This lecture sheds light on self-organizing teams. It explains what distinguishes them from manager-led and self-governing teams. It then outlines the ingredients that self-organizing teams need in order to develop and prosper.

Self-organizing teams have an immense potential for achieving powerful results on a project. However, there is no guarantee that self-organizing teams will form and be able to sustain themselves. This is particularly the case in non-agile organizations. Under those circumstances it is important to know common pitfalls of self-organizing teams and learn to overcome them. The lecture will discuss difficulties in developing and nurturing self-organizing teams. And it will show what it takes to master these challenges. This is not an easy task. The returns, however, are multifold and worth the investment. Self-organizing teams can thus become a cornerstone of project success.

A corresponding whitepaper of this presentation is available, too.  Please click here.

 

Posted in: Agile, Company News, Keynotes, Leadership, Project Management, Upcoming Events

Leave a Comment (1) →

Project for Passion


Today I have come across an excellent article about passion in design.  It is entitled “The Game Has Changed. Design for Passion.” and has been written by Adam Nash. While Adam talks about design thinking his observations can and should easily be applied to your projects.  Hence, the question is “are you passionate about your project? are you passionate about your team members?”  If not, you better find out what it takes.  Have a look at Adam’s view below:

The Game Has Changed. Design for Passion (by Adam Nash)

One of the most exciting developments in software has been a resurgence in the focus and priority on design.  With the growing dominance of social platforms and mobile applications, more and more people are growing comfortable productively discussing and utilizing insights about human emotion in their work.

Google: The Era of Utility

The progress of the last five to seven years is really a significant breakout from the previous generations of software design.

For decades, software engineers and designers focused on utility:  value, productivity, speed, features or cost.

If it could be quantified, we optimized it.  But at a higher level, with few exceptions, we framed every problem around utility.  Even the field of human-computer interaction was obsesses with “ease of use.”  Very linear, with clear ranking.  How many clicks? How long does a task take?  What is the error rate?

In some ways, Google (circa 2005) represented the peak of this definition of progress.  Massive data.  Massive scalability. Incredibly utility.  Every decision defined by quantifying and maximizing utility by various names.

But let’s face it, only computer scientists can get really passionate about the world’s biggest database.

Social: The Era of Emotion

Like any ecosystem, consumer technology is massively competitive.  Can you be faster, cheaper, bigger or more useful than Google?  It turns out, there is a more interesting question.

Social networks helped bring the language of emotion into software.  A focus on people starts with highly quantifiable attributes, but moves quickly into action and engagement.

What do people like? What do they hate? What do they love? What do they want?

In parallel, there have been several developments that reflect similar insights on the web, in behavioral finance, and the explosion in interest in game mechanics.

Human beings are not rational, but (to borrow from Dan Ariely) they are predictably irrational.  And now, thanks to scaling social platforms to over a billion people, we have literally petabytes of data to help us understand their behavior.

Passion Matters

Once you accept that you are designing and selling a product for humans, it seems obvious that passion matters.

We don’t evaluate the food we eat based on metrics (although we’d likely be healthier if we did).  Do I want it? Do I love it? How does it make me feel?

The PayPal mafia often joke that great social software triggers at least one of the seven deadly sins. (For the record, LinkedIn has two: vanity & greed).  Human beings haven’t changed that much in the past few thousand years, and the truth is the seven deadly sins are just a proxy for a deeper insight.  We are still driven by strong emotions & desires.

In my reflection on Steve Jobs, he talks about Apple making products that people “lust” for.  Not the “the best products”, “the cheapest products”, “the most useful products” or “the easiest to use products.”

Metrics oriented product managers, engineers & designers quickly discover that designs that trigger passion outperform those based on utility by wide margins.

The Game Has Changed

One of the reasons a number of earlier web giants are struggling to compete now is that the game has changed.  Utility, as measured by functionality, time spent, ease-of-use are important, but they are no longer sufficient to be competitive. Today, you also have to build products that trigger real emotion.  Products that people will like, will want, will love.

Mobile has greatly accelerated this change.  Smartphones are personal devices.  We touch them, they buzz for us. We keep them within three feet of us at all times.

Too often in product & design we focus on utility instead of passion.  To break out today, you need to move your efforts to the next level.  The questions you need to ask yourself are softer:

  • How do I feel when I use this?
  • Do I want that feeling again?
  • What powerful emotions surround this product?

Go beyond utility.  Design for passion.

Posted in: Agile, Guest Blogs, innovation

Leave a Comment (0) →

The Power and Illusion of Self-Organizing Teams [free download]


The final version of my presentation of “The Power and Illusion of Self-Organizing Teams” held at the PMI Global Congress North America 2012 on October 21, 2012 in Vancouver is now availalbe for free download.

Please let me know if you would like to receive the original file of the presentation which I would make available under the Creative Commons agreement.

Posted in: Agile, Keynotes

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 3 123