According to Engadget, RIM received an 'open letter' from an disgruntled employee. I won't speculate on whether the letter really was from a disgruntled employee or whether it was appropriate to post if it was - there's plenty of speculation in the comments. What interests me are the talking points from the letter and what takeaways might be applied to any company, mine or yours, large or small.
Let's take a look:
Focus on the End User experience
Apple raised the bar here and they raised it high. End users want to feel good about the tools they use. And so they should, it makes for happier more productive users. End users don't care about technology platforms - they care about how a product makes them feel about themselves, the benefit they get from the product, and yes - whether it's shiny or not.
Recruit Senior Software Leaders and enable decision-making
While this advice is important to organizations of any size, it's critical for large organizations to have teams that work well together with clear leadership. This leadership needs to extend to customer communication as well. Decision-making needs to be placed with the people that can have the greatest impact or at least consider these people in the process. New styles of management, including one I recently learned about: Holacracy appear to be an interesting way to help enable better decision-making across the organization.
Cut projects to the bone
To me this means, "choose your battles carefully". It's hard to fight on many fronts and do it well. Don't try to be all things to all people. Find a core competency and do it really well.
Developers, not Carriers, can now make or break us
Lots of ways to read into this, but I'm not going to draw conclusions about any companies I know. Let's simply say that the app store model has a place in many product strategies. Users and developers want to be involved, they want to contribute, they want to share what they have done and they want to profit by it. Give them a venue to do that and a community can thrive. Lock them down and they will find another way (or another product). I think back to the days of VisiCalc, SuperCalc, Lotus-123, and Excel. These products thrived because they met a need and anyone with a small degree of effort could create a solution with it and share it with others. We would not have seen this level of innovation if these tools had been locked down, read only. Can you think of other platforms/environments where this holds true?
If you've followed my blog from the beginning, you know that I earned my bachelor's degree in Organizational Management from The Master's College, in Santa Clarita, California. I then went on to complete my Master's degree in Information and Knowledge Management from California State University at Northridge.
At The Master's College, Christian adults can earn a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management, Christian Ministries, or Liberal Studies in as little as two years. Along the way, they will grow academically, intellectually, professionally, and spiritually. I know, I did.
If you are considering a degree in one of the above areas and want to learn from a biblically based institution, I encourage you to check out The Center for Professional Studies.
Last year, I became an adjunct professor at The Master's College in Santa Clarita, California. I'm teaching a course called "Technology for business decision-making (MGT430)" which is a part of the Organizational Management program.
This survey course will impart a basic understanding of technology and productivity as they relate to organizational frameworks. The importance of information technology and the vast amounts of data available can provide a highly useful and productive tool for attaining strategic and competitive advantages, but it must be viewed based on the value of the information produced by various technological tools.
This is the third time I have taught this course and I'm really really enjoying the opportunity to share what I have learned with the next generation of management students. It's fun to give back.
I recently delivered a speech to the incoming students at The Center for Professional Studies (CPS) at The Master's College in Santa Clarita, California.
This was an exciting opportunity for me to encourage the incoming students by sharing my experiences in the Organizational Management program and to offer some secrets for success in getting through the program.
While the speech is directed to students, and adult learners in specific, the principles I share could be applied to anyone in any situation.
This week, business cohort had a reunion and my colleagues encouraged me to share the speech, so here it is. I hope you enjoy it.
Today, I'll wrap up my thoughts on effectiveness by looking at focus and concentration.
Focus and concentration are two tools that are used by the executive to bring about results that will be of greatest benefit to himself and to the organization he serves. Peter Drucker, in his book, The Effective Executive, tells us that “The way to apply productively mankind’s greatest range is to bring to bear a large number of individual capabilities on one task.” From Drucker’s statement, one can conclude that there are two key tools that the effective executive must use to achieve this productivity: focus and concentration.
The first tool, focus, is important because is directs the attention and activity of the executive or the organization towards a singular achievement – the successful outcome. Focus is the tool that helps the effective executive decide what should be shut in and kept within the sphere of attention and effort. The second tool, concentration, is the undivided attention of the executive or his organization towards the object of focus. The need for concentration is great, because the executive is constantly presented with new information and opportunities, which, if not filtered through the sieve of concentration, will quickly distract from the present task. Concentration is the tool that helps the effective executive decide what should be shut out.
While a clearly defined list of successful outcomes, be they personal or organizational, are essential, without the tools to accomplish these outcomes, few lasting results are likely to be achieved. When the tools of focus and concentration are applied to ensure that energies are directed toward the achievement of defined outcomes, the effective executive will be able to impact his organization in a positive and productive manner.
Peter Drucker, in The Effective Executive, writes: “The focus on contribution counteracts one of the basic problems of the executive: the confusion and the chaos of events and their failure to indicate by themselves which is meaningful and which is merely ‘noise.’” If an executive, a knowledge worker, simply deals with “stuff as it shows up,” he will quickly find that he has misspent his time on the operational aspects of his work at the expense of the strategic work which his title and responsibilities require of him. The secret to effectiveness, therefore, is to clearly define the successful outcome of his role in the organization.
One way to do this, proposes Drucker, is to ask the question, “What is the most important contribution I can make to the performance of this organization?”
The answer to this question, indeed the process of asking it, will provide many tangential benefits and impacts, including: an understanding of self-development, knowledge, and skills, which may be required, an understanding of the key information flows in an organization, and identification of the key people and processes which provide or rely upon those flows. A focus on what the executive can contribute, that no one else can, will lift the executive to a level beyond the immediate needs of the organization to a place where he can focus the best interests of the organization. It is there that the executive – and the organization – will realize the maximum potential: effectiveness.
DominoPower magazine has a great article on 10 ways to motivate geeks:
Top 10 ways to motivate geeks 1. Geeks are curious. Let them feed their desire to learn things 2. Geeks like to be self-sustaining. Let them figure things out on their own. 3. Geeks are creative even if they don't know it. Give them a chance. 4. Geeks need tools, good ones. Give them more than they need. 5. Private, yet collaborative. Geeks need to be left alone, but not too alone. 6. Free stuff. T-shirts, food, desktop widgets, whatever. 7. Control 8. Geeks need recognition 9. Freedom 10. Compensation.
Tom Hagan, President & CEO of Actioneer, recommended that I read Bo Peabody's book, Lucky or Smart. as part of my preparation to launch a new software start-up. I've just finished reading it - it's a quick read - and I found the book informative and challenging. Like Tom, I recommend the book for anyone thinking about entrepreneurial life.
This past week, I graduated with a business degree in Organizational Management. I worked hard, and I managed, with God's grace, to keep my grades up throughout the entire program, graduating Summa Cum Laude, with a GPA of 3.988.
I want to publicly thank the Lord for this opportunity and I want to extend my thanks to the many people who have helped, encouraged and supported my efforts. My next action is a significant one, I will be working toward my Master of Information and Knowledge Management degree.
I could not have managed the demands of family, clients, business, and my education, without a great deal of determination, love and support from my wife and children, and my extended family, friends, classmates and clients. My suite of eProductivity tools, along with the Getting Things Doneskill's that I've acquired while serving The David Allen Company, also came in handy for managing the multiple projects and actions I needed to complete along the way.
I'm particularly excited about my Organizational Management capstone project - a start-up business plan. I have 10 weeks in which to develop this plan, at which time I will present it to my management cohort and a group of potential investors and bankers that my management professor has invited to evaluate our research and presentations.
For my capstone project, I've decided to take my ICA eProductivity Template for Lotus Notes - a productivity tool that I wrote many years ago to help me personally implement the GTD methodology using Lotus Notes - and develop it into a commercial product. The ICA eProductivity template has been around for many years, and during that time it has undergone many changes based on feedback from my eProductivity clients who use it daily. Several of the staff at one of my eProductivity clients, The David Allen Company, have used this template as well and it's been fun to get feedback from a group of highly productive and organized people. Still, there's much that I want to do with it, including a new design for Notes 6.5x and 7.x and a general product release. I'm in the process of assembling the software development and management teams for this new adventure.
God is truly the source of all skill and the goal of all labor.
These opening words, spoken by music director, D.J. Jackson, at the 2006 Baccalaureate Chapel, gave me pause to think about what I've accomplished and how thankful I am for the opportunities I have experienced.
The Baccalaureate Chapel was a powerful opportunity to assemble with the other graduates to give thanks and celebrate what God has allowed us to achieve. We sang traditional hymns, reflected on our achievements, heard some words of encouragement, and prayed for our future.
Dr. John MacArthur admonished the graduates:
You will be a product of your influences. Choose very well, those whom you allow to shape your life. "... everyone when he is fully trained, will be like his master." Luke 6:40
He went on to discuss how we should carefully consider our goals, and how we approach life, allowing God to work through us.
As a computer geek, allow me to describe this in geek notation:
There are many ways to analyze a legal case (or any issue for that matter). One of the most popular methods for law students is the IRAC method:
The facts of the case suggest an Issue
The issue is covered by a Rule of law
Compare the facts to the rule to form the Analysis
From the analysis, develop the Conclusion as to whether the rule applies to the facts
To help me organize my thoughts when considering the issues involved in decision-making, I created the above mind map, based upon the very helpful information on the Law Nerds web site, The IRAC method and this map have become valuable critical thinking tools for me, not only for my current business law course but in how I approach a variety of business and personal decisions.
[I'm presently having trouble getting my embedded MindManager map to display properly. It appears to only work when you view the permanent link for this page, Click here.]
Note: You will have to allow the Active-X control to see the MindManager viewer in Internet Explorer. You can move around, resize, print, or even download the map to your own PC. I recommend that you click on the menu button and open the map in a new window.
Leaders, whether they realize it or not
(and I submit that they do) classify people into five groups, based on
their impact on the organization. At least that's what John Maxwell says
in his book, The 21 Immutable Laws of Leadership. Though I must
admit that I've never thought about these groups as clearly defined, I
agree with Maxwell's classification of the type of value that people bring
to their organization:
Potential Value - those who raise
up themselves Every leader must have ability to lead
and motivate himself. Many of the readers of my blog are familiar with
the GTD methodology, if so, they are likely to be in this group. (Not that
the GTD methodology is the only way to raise yourself up - it's not - but
that if you are working to improve your personal effectiveness you are
demonstrating your motivation and drive.)
Positive Value - those who raise
morale in the organization We all know of people who can brighten
up a room ... by leaving it. These are not the folks in this second group.
People who can encourage and inspire others are invaluable in any organization
Personal Value - those who raise
up the leader Leaders seek for their inner circle
people who help them improve. Are you one of those people? Do you look
for ways to build up your leader?
Production Value - those who raise
up others Leaders focus on building leaders and
they know that there's no other way to accomplish exponential leadership
growth in their organization than to select leaders who raise up other
Proven Value - Those who raise
up people who raise up other people
This is the most elusive group for most
of us, but membership in this group extreme signifies accomplishment in
each of the preceding four groups. You can't nominate yourself for membership,
nor can the leaders you've raised up. Only their progeny can do that, and
then, only by their actions.
Consider the people around you; which
group do they fall into? Which groups are you a member of?
Here's an exercise for you: take a sheet
of paper and draw a pie chart; let each slice represent one of the groups
above. Make the size of each slice represent your value in each of the
five areas above. What does it look like? Are the slices of even size,
indicating balance and value across all aspects? Or, are some slices extra-thin,
indicating areas in which you can improve? If your pie chart is balanced,
don't pat yourself on the back just yet - how big is it? You may be balanced
but not contributing as much value as you possibly could.
Think you're a good manager? A good leader?
Consider these leadership principles to live by:
Eagerly start the day's main work.
Do not murmur at your busyness or the
shortness of time, but buy up all the time around.
Never murmur when correspondence [or
e-mail] is brought in
Never exaggerate duties by seeming to
suffer under the load, but treat all responsibilities as liberty and gladness.
Never call attention to crowded work
or trivial experiences.
Before confrontation or censure, obtain
from God, a real love for the one at fault. Know the facts; be generous
in your judgement. Otherwise, how ineffective, how unintelligible, or perhaps
provocative your well-intentioned censure may be.
Do not believe everything you hear;
do not spread gossip.
Do not seek praise, gratitude, respect,
or regard for past service.
Avoid complaining when your advice or
opinion is not consulted, or having been consulted, set aside.
Never allow yourself to be placed in
favorable contrast with anyone.
Do not press conversation to your own
needs and concerns.
Seek no favors, nor sympathies; do not
ask for tenderness, but receive what comes.
Bear the blame, do not share or transfer
Give thanks when credit for your own
work or ideas is given to another.
did you do? What if everyone managed according to these principles all
As I typed these up for this blog, I was convicted as memories of my own
violations of each of these principles came to mind. A very sobering experience.
I'm going to print these out in a card on my wallet and try to read them
These ideas are not my own. They were penned by Edward White Benson, Archbishop
of Canterbury. J. Oswald Sanders writes of Benson, in his book Spiritual
Even though he lived
in another era, his noble rules for life carry relevance today.
Here's a challenge for you. Start your day by writing down these principles
in your own handwriting. Personalize them if you want. See what kind of
impact it has on your leadership.
Would you still read your favorite blog
if you knew it had been outsourced, and was now being written by someone
Two corporate bloggers that I read regularly are Ed
Brill, and Robert
Scoble. Why? Because they
are not afraid to passionately blog about the challenges and opportunities
missed in their own companies, (and of course, in their competitor's).
Even though their opinions are apparently their own, they put a human face
on what are otherwise often considered impersonal behemoth organizations.
What would happen if IBM and Microsoft, in an effort to reduce costs, decided
to outsource Ed and Robert's roles to an offshore company?
As I pondered my
recent experience with outsourced services,
I realized that the outsourced organization that I worked with, did not
demonstrate any passion for what they were doing, loyalty for the company
that they were supposed to be representing, or concern for their
client's customer. In short, the "human" touch of IBM, at least
in this experience, had been stripped away.
This got me wondering what else could be outsourced and what impact that
would have on me as a consumer. I thought, "why not blogs?"
Is it possible to reproduce the passion of these bloggers as an outsourced
service? Ed and Robert add a human touch to their companies. Could
an outsourced organization do as well, or better?
I raise these questions, not because I have any concerns about Ed or Robert
going away -- I'm sure they will always have something to say no matter
who they work for -- I just question the wisdom (and viability) of companies
that choose to outsource functions that require direct customer contact
and where the outcome of that customer experience will determine if the
customer does business with that company again.
It may be possible to outsource select background business functions
of a business (i.e. product fulfillment) without affecting the customer
relationship; but when it comes to face-to-face customer relationship building,
I question whether it will ever be possible to outsource passion
and loyalty -- two vital aspects of any successful organization.