Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Finished with Action Research (For now)

Finally finished the exhibitions!

The learning process was enormous. Even though I approached it as a regular presentation, It felt different presenting my findings in only 10 (or so) minutes and to answer questions from the panel. I wished I could have answered additional questions and wished it was longer than 10 minutes. I felt a little cheated from the time perspective. How can I do Action Research for the entire year and only present for 10 minutes. Anyhow, it is what it is and we finished it. I was also a little disappointed in the graduation brochure saying our program was (ONLINE). Felt a little cheated there too. I hope we'll have a session for the future cadre...in terms of process improvements etc.

Out for now,


Sunday, June 6, 2010

668 Blog for Week of 7/5/2010

Reflect on a successful experience you had managing someone else?

I do like the word Sponsor better than manager or boss. I enjoy the conversations that my peers have because they have always asked me for the final thought. I feel that I'm good at assisting others think in terms of the other person. Being empathetic to the other person's situation is a must. People must do this in order to make a sound decision. Unfortunately we can not have the other person do the same, but then once we think in their shoes, we can talk to them in a more understanding way. I've assisted my mentees this way and I've enjoyed it when they came back to me and said oh boy! that was great! the client understood exactly where we were coming from and understood why we came up with the recommendations that we did! This puts a smile in my face knowing that I made a minor difference.

What made this successful?

I think the ability to LISTEN to others is key not only at work, but in life. People in general are too eager to offer their own opinions and therefore really tune the other person out when they are talking. (I admit that I do as well) They tend to think that it's my way or the highway. We have to take a step back being in the IT world. We need to assess, reflect and recommend according to budget, interoperability and business need. Once we fully understand this, we can come up with a technically creative way to solve issues that the business may have. What makes our group successful is the fact that we indeed care about the business, but they have to understand that we too are doing our jobs and we need to follow the process, procedures and the policy set by the leaders. We are 'managing' the infrastructure and need to comply. But if we see an opportunity to go outside that policy, we have to do our homework to assess the risk, and the consequences.

What could you have done differently?

Unfortunately there are times where we take the Business's word for something that they said they had as a control. We don't have insight into their world so what they tell us we pretty much have to trust. In the real world, I was told that you can not audit trust. SO having said this, there were times where the business would take us for granted and didn't disclose fully what lack of controls they had and when IT Audit came in to audit them, it made us look like we messed up. I know we should 'do more' but then with the authority that has been passed down to us, that's all we could do, but we are however going to work on finding a better solution in the future so that we can improve upon the process so that we don't have to shrug and move along. Be agents of change...is what i'd like to do differently...

668 Blog for Week of 6/28/2010

Reflect on a great manager - what made he/she great?

My top manager was in fact my partner in the Big 4 times. Those were the times where we could afford to do things that were 'fun' and when companies (Clients) were spending money on consultants and contractors. My ex-partner was a great leader. He was the guy who stepped in when the profits were bad and said what's the issue here? I don't care if we aren't making any money, I want to know what we can do to solve this issue, and to get us OUT of the client site as soon as possible. The managers and senior managers that was in charge of my project was demanding that the staff put in extra non-chargeable hours so that their profit rates were higher, sending morale down the gutter. In the Hamel book, I read that "A leader garners influence by demonstrating a capacity to get things done and excelling as a team builder" I was reminded of my Partner. He basically came in, spoke with the client, got what needed to get done, and got us out of there. The last meeting we had was a team building exercise that was at The Chart House in Malibu. We ate and drank the whole night. The bill was over $10,000 dollars for a team of approximately 15. He knew that we were burnt out, and needed to keep our morale up and so he spent that money on us to show us that there's also a time to play and have fun at work. I loved that guy! Oh and did I say he was a good leader too? =)

What does this tell you about yourself?

What I've learned from this experience is that managers manage and keep things in order. Leaders are those who gives vision and takes the followers under their belts to the 'promise land'. I've learned that I can't be a manager. I need to create opportunites, vision and direction for those who are following me and I need to keep morale on a higher level. Like the Googles of the world, I need to innovate and think more for the people and not just for profit. "in a high trust, low-fear organization, employees don't need alot of oversight, they need to be mentored and supported, rather than bossed around." These quotes supports what my story is all about above, and moving forward. (Pgs 88-89)I enjoy helping people, but first, they need to do all they can to think critically on their own and then come to me with alternatives so that I can assist them in making a decision. Like in Gary's class (Stager) Ask 3 before me. I thought that was a good phrase to adopt.

668 Blog for Week of 6/21/2010

How can management be innovative?

Management are those who follow vision, mission statements and policy and procedures. They are those who follow what upper leadership has established for them. To answer the question, yes, management can be innovative, but only to their own processes. They can further advance their own internal flow and procedures, but management itself can no longer evolve from the past 20-30 years. It is meant to crack the whip on the lower tiered employees and serve as a middle tier that keeps the vision and mission of the upper 'management's' goals.

Does it then become leadership?

In (Northouse, 2003) we learned that a person, let's assume it's a manager can have a trait of a leader or possess the process of a leader. I believe that a person can show signs of being a leader, but when put to the test they may fail at becoming the leader. These managers may also have assigned leadership roles, or emergent leadership roles. Assigned in my opinion are those who are the 'managers' out there. They are assigned a team to lead or a task to complete. (Not real leaders) Emergent leaders are those positions that emerge over time, and is not assigned by position. Unfortunately there's an organizational hierarchy. A person must go through that and be put to the test prior to being a proclaimed 'leader'. Managers CAN become leaders, or are already leaders of their own group(s). Not all managers though will become leaders. Those people may not possess the traits of being a true leader. They are may only be good at what they do on a micro level and may not be too good with leading a diverse group of people.

Where do the lines intersect between management and leadership?

It says that Management produces order and consistency while Leadership produces change and movement. I believe that anything a manager can do a leader can do, but not all managers can perform leadership roles.

For example, Leaders can plan and budget, organize and staff, control and problem solve, all characteristics that Management possesses (Source: Adapted from A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs From Management Kotter 1990) Management meanwhile can not really establish direction (longer term than their immediate team), Align people (again long term strategy) and Motivate and Inspire employees. I've seen my immediate manager unable to motivate and inspire my own team. They do what their intrinsic motivators lead them and are mostly there for the extrinsic rewards of their paychecks. They do not do anything more than needed for the extrinsic rewards. While there are certain intersects i've mentioned above, I do feel that Leadership is different from management. Any leader can manage...but not all managers can lead. Some managers are there just to maintain order and consistency in the Organization. They are there to keep the 'process and procedure' in place, while leaders define the process and procedures, vision and mission of the organization.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

668 Blog Post for Week of June 7th 2010

How does motivation translate into technology design and success?

For my Action Research project, motivation played a role in the success/failure of the implementation of our internal SharePoint project. What were the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators that my co-workers had to contribute to our knowledge management system? I found out that most of the co-workers were too busy with their own initiatives and were not motivated to contribute to something that didn't 'pay off'. Although management supported the initiative, the employees were not forced to contribute and were not rewarded either. This project would have been more successful if we had employees contribute eagerly and willingly. I had zero 'power' to coherce my co-workers and in these stress filled lay off filled times, people were reluctant to share their knowledge and were unmotivated to do so as well.

Think of an example successful technology, and share how motivation was a factor in its success.

The one technology that I can think of that is super successful right now is Facebook. People are genuinely curious by nature and so they wonder what their friends are up to, or they want to do things that offers them extrinsic rewards. I would think it's 'entertaining' to find out what your ex-girlfriend is doing, how she looks now or how your old friend is dating your ex-girlfriend now...uuhh..well, anyhow you get the point. Everyone has different motivators, and they all contribute differently to Facebook. One can just update their statuses allll day long, and another person would upload a ton of pictures to share. Aggregately, we have a technology that is meant to work the way it's designed. Facebook also adjusts to the needs of the community. (I.e privacy, updates, etc.) Usability, curiosity, adopt-ability are key factors of a successful technology product. (Social technology that is) It has to hit 'home' and provide the user with some sort of satisfaction, or extrinsic reward for them to use the technology.

MT out.