Mr. Ed would be proud

“Taking Customer Care to Heart” by Gerald Shields (CIO Magazine, Sept 2009). There is something to be said for the power of story and Mr. Shields strengthens that perception.

Behind everything we’re working on, there’s a person with a business problem, and we should be there to make life better for them. It must never become just a job — it must be something we have passion for.

Regardless of your role you should find that this one-pager succeeds on multiple levels. Now it’s up to you to make a moment to consume Gerald’s story. Enjoy.

A good team is hard to find

“Creating a Team Mentality” by Jay Bahel (CIO Insight, 28 August 2009). Influence, we all know, is also a function of culture. Is the culture open minded, dynamic and pro-innovation? Or small minded,  slow moving and in denial of change? Obviously, it makes a difference.

Unfortunately, creating an efficient and effective culture is easier said than done. It’s certainly not something that can just be imposed from above. None the less, the cost of the status quo can be significant, if not fatal. So try we must to develop teams that produce positive results. Hopefully Mr. Bahel’s ideas can help get you rolling in the right direction.

Also there were two related articles on CIOInsight.com: “Key Questions on Recruitment” by Larry Bonfante, as well as “An Absence of IT Talent” by John Parkinson.

Just one step at a time

“Simplementation: 10 Tips to Smooth Your CRM Initiative” by Lauren McKay (CRM Magazine, July 2009). Hold onto your mouse, we’re about to hit the highlights…

1. Do Your Homework — …the front end is about 30 to 45 days of fully understanding what the business needs are, what the strategy is, and what you want CRM to supplement. The technology piece is relatively simple from that point.

2. People Who Need People — Before even thinking about solutions, organizations must get down to basics, involve key stakeholders, and discuss pain points and objectives.

3. Let It Trickle — While it’s imperative that solutions and implementations deliver results in a very timely manner, a step-by-step implementation approach is prudent.

4. Think Outside the Box—Just Not Too Far Outside — So make sure that any customization is done within your organization’s known limits.

5. Don’t Be Seduced by Technology — Regardless of how new, hip, or innovative a technology may be, employees must be comfortable with it…

6. Find Sponsors That Stick — The sponsor doesn’t have to be the CEO, just someone who’s passionate about the undertaking.

7. Plan for Product Enrichment — Recognize that CRM really becomes nothing more than a Rolodex if you don’t put the add-ons to the product…

8. Audit, Audit, Audit — By paying close attention from the start, it will be possible to tweak the solution as any problems arise. Users, for example, may be approaching the tool differently than intended.

9. Pull the Plug When You Have To — It’s going to hurt a little—in some instances, maybe a lot—but if enough time has gone by and a solution has not worked, it might be time to call it quits.

10. Mind the Generation Gap — If the implemented CRM software doesn’t provide instant value, it’s likely those users will find solutions on their own that better suit their needs.

Ok, now dive in and consume the whole article.

Sometimes big risks are worth taking

“Leadership Skills Critical Now for Club Executives” by Ed Tock (FitnessBusiness.com, 1 July 2009). Please pardon the delay in getting around to this. As usual Mr. Tock’s thoughts are well worth the wait. These are challenging times for all of us. Some will rise and some will fall. How you lead, whether it’s others or yourself, is going to define where you eventually stand. Hopefully this will enable you to step towards your personal winner’s circle.

Mr. Tock’s topic brought to mind an oldie but goodie… “Achieving executive balance: Nine ways leaders and managers work together” by Shannon Kalvar (TechRepublic.com, 16 May 2006). Notice how leaders are the visionary means and managers define that vision with ends.

And finally, here’s one from the bottomless to-be-posted pile. “Chris Gardner: 5 Things I’ve Learned” by Kristin Burnham (CIO Magazine, 15 November 2008). Mr. Gardner is the author of the book, “The Pursuit of Happyness” (as played by Will Smith).

Three great one pagers to keep ya goin’. Now get goin’!

Gettin’ better all the time

“Project Management: 8 Steps to On-Time, On-Budget Delivery” by Ron Ponce (CIO Mag, 15 June 2009). CIO delivers the helpful good once again. We certainly believe in our 6 Universal Truths of Project Management, but Mr. Ponce’s recommendations are  not going to fall on deaf ears here. In fact, his #8 is Improvement and we couldn’t agree with him more.

Two glues are better than none

“Corner Office: On Will Wright’s Team, Would You Be a Solvent, or the Glue?” Video game designer Will Wright is interviewed by Adam Bryant (New York Times, Sunday 14 June 2009). Quite a few nice pearls in this exchange. Here are two that should get you to want to inhale the rest of the article to get the full effect.

When I’m managing creative people, the way they relate to failure is very important. Because there are certain types of failure that you really want to celebrate. I personally learned a lot more from my failures than from my successes. And if you look at it that way, then all my failures, you know, in some sense brought me to my larger successes, because I recognized why I failed, and I learned from it. And so, at that point, you can even argue that it’s not a failure. It’s part of your learning process.

I would first of all talk about the value of failure, because I think everybody’s leaving school kind of with a mind-set that, “Oh, I’m going out and I have to succeed. You have to succeed.” And if they hit a failure it has the potential to, you know, de-motivate them, and push them in a bad direction. But, if they can embrace and celebrate their failure, it kind of gives them a totally different outlook on what they are doing.

I think also the way the world is changing today, particularly when somebody leaves with a degree and they then go look for a work spot where they can really, you know, fit in: “This situation fits me very well.” And I think I would encourage them — rather than try to fit in somewhere — to find someplace where they can craft the environment, the job and the situation — basically, make it fit you.

Two of the sides to the CRM story

Whether your CRM aspirations are for 1 or 1,000, these two views will provide some valuable insights:

“CRM on the Cheap: Five Strategies That Really Work” By David Taber (CIO Magazine, May 2009)

“CRM On The Cheap: 5 Strategies That Backfire ” By David Taber (CIO Magazine, May 2009)

Google says, “Surf’s up”

“Google Showcases New Communication and Collaboration Tool” by By Miguel Helft (New York Times, 28 May 2009). Yes, let’s all pray that this – and the other similar apps that are sure to follow – puts an end to email as a collaboration tool. Nine times out of ten even a wiki is a more helpful project organization tool than email. With a wiki everyone is forced to stay on the same page, literally.

Failure is in the eye of the beholder

“Failure and What You Can Learn from It” by Kim S. Nash (CIO Magazine, 15 May 2009). To some extent a slightly lengthy feel-good (read: you’re not alone) article for anyone who is battling or has battled the potentially toxic effects of “failure”. While there are some who would argue that failure is not necessary for success, the AU state of mind doesn’t judge per se – the objective at any given moment is to experiment, learn, adapt and keep evolving. Standing still is not an option. Might this state of mind lead to “failure”? Hopefully so.  But just across the thin line from today’s failure can be tomorrow’s success.  The only way out is up!

If time is tight for you at the moment then schedule time to come back to the featured article. In the mean time be sure to consume the quick, easy and helpful: “To Avoid Failure, First Define Success” also by Ms. Nash.

However, the best project methodologies cannot overcome problems created by personal agendas, conflicts and lack of alignment between groups inside the organization, says Krigsman.

There’s a thin line between promotion and pink slip

“Getting It Done: Why Big IT Projects Fail” by Jay Bahel (CIO Insight Magazine, April 2009). Budgets are tighter than ever, to the point that the margin for error is razor thin. This list is hardly complete but it’s worth adding to your quiver. Naturally, we believe that Mr. Bahel’s ideas can be applied beyond IT and/or big projects.

The 6 Universal Truths of a Successful Project

“IT projects fail most often due to organizational issues” by Toni Bowers (22 April 2009, Career Management column, TechRepublic.com)

Maybe this is stating the obvious but…

1) Properly defined goal(s) and an agreement of what defines success
2) Commitment / buy-in from all to #1
3) Ongoing communication
4) Setting and managing expectations
5) Accountability and responsibility
6) Wisdom and agility to adjust course as necessary

Unfortunately, too many projects begin (and try to carry on) that lack an awareness of these elements, let alone an agreement.

“You can have it done cheap, fast, or right. Pick two”

“Project management for networking geeks” by Greg Schaffer (Computer World Mag, 23 Feb 2009, ComputerWorld.com). The irony for this post is that Schaffer was trying to teach geek dogs new PM tricks, but his lesson was simple enough for it to be shared with all. Consider this a refresher course more that a new ground breaker. And who can disagree with the classic: “You can have it done cheap, fast, or right. Pick two”.

And while we’re on the topic of PM, “Excerpt: Agile Project Management” as pulled from Karen R.J. White’s “Agile Project Management: A Mandate for the 21st Century” as offered by Consulting Magazine (Jan / Feb 2009. ConsultingMag.com. In a nutshell agile is a buzz word for being prepared for things not to go as planned and responding to get things back on track.

It’s not the 20th century anymore

New Business in the Network of Everything” an interview of Andy Mulholland (Consulting Mag, November / December 2008). The interview is essentially part of promoting Mr. Mulholland’s new book “Mesh Collaboration.”  Here’s a piece that should inspire you to pursue this one in full.

What you really need to do is find the four people who worked on the development of the product when you need them to answer a specific question. It all comes back to: can I find the right people at the right moment with the right expertise to answer a specific question quickly? The answer is not to set up a department for the next four years. The word “mesh” was used in the title to indicate the idea that the Internet was causing a mesh of connections between everyone and everything, and how [can] I use that mesh—the network of everything—to draw a line around the group of people and expertise that I need right now to solve a particular problem.

Btw, if you decide to read the book please come back and give us a review.

10 Ways to make your web site project go smoothly

Yet another great “Top 10″ article/guide from Tech Republic (www.TechRepublic.com). Sorry, no time to comment this morning but this one speaks for itself anyway. To read the full article (in pdf format) please click here.