February 28, 2010

First Blog-o-versary

Posted in Business, Life tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:56 pm by lindaslongview

I’ve accomplished one year of blogging. Not much on the scale of the long-view, but enough time to take stock…

When I first became interested in blogging it was because I was an avid reader of Seth’s blog, I knew one person who blogged (my friend Willis), and because it existed on my edge.  But that wasn’t really the why I wanted to blog…

I recently described the why to my father-in-law (Ed):

“I take in so much information on a daily basis, in the form of interactions, reading, and listening, that I want to process and resolve what I learn each day (or week) against my framework for life.  Although that might seem weird, for me it’s about adapting and evolving with each new piece of information.  As such, I must process and store what I learn (and how I learned it) so that I can reference it for future reflection, lest I become anxious from internalizing too much stuff!  It’s about leveraging my opportunities to live life as positively as I can.”

Blogging has allowed me to tame the fire hose of my thoughts and distill them constructively in the form of advice (to myself).  The process of sharing my blog allows me to receive feedback and create references to topics when they resurface!

Although I stumbled upon the importance of building a framework of ideas, real experts, like David Allen, have written extensively on the subject.   From his blog:

“…we’re overloaded – not with information, but with meaning to be mined. So the solution is not about slicing and dicing and reorganizing data – it’s about how quickly and discretely we can decide its specific meaning to us…and most of us weren’t taught how to get fast and comfortable with clarifying meaning…”

David provides practical tips on improving productivity in his book Getting Things Done through the processes of Collecting, Processing, Organizing, and Reviewing.  My long view advice is similar:

  • Observe and collect interactions – what could have been done different for an improved interaction?
  • Process and clarify – how does this fit into and/or change your framework?
  • Distill the key learnings so that they can be referenced – can you describe in a few sentences the crucial nuggets?
  • Find the discipline to do it regularly so growth does not stagnate.

Blogging might not be for everyone, but blogging provides me the discipline to do this knowledge work regularly. I care about my consistency to my few readers (aka stats!) and the importance of legacy (the long view!).

Are you engaging in disciplined knowledge work for personal growth?

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February 21, 2010

Zealot Advice

Posted in Life, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:56 pm by lindaslongview

I connected more than usual to Seth’s post from yesterday, Moving the line (the power of a zealot).  He taps into the conundrum of the community that I exist within, where there is angry division over standards of behavior.  Seth correctly observes, “It’s not the principle, in fact, it’s just the degree of compromise we’re comfortable with and content to argue over.” He’s absolutely right!

One of the real challenges is that communities have changed over time and do not respond to the same stimulus and admonitions they used to.  We now live in the world of the long tail (many niches), having shifted more and more toward autonomy.  As such, individuals expect more fidelity and tolerance for their personal needs/desires than ever before.  This requires that communities be more articulate and transparent about what they represent.

I addressed the shift from community to autonomy in my post One Book, Two Months, discussing Putnam’s seminal book, Bowling Alone, and noted that our ability to choose our affiliations is very positive and welcome — we are no longer forced/trapped by ‘tradition’ and/or whatever you were raised.  This has meant that community organizations must create compelling reasons for affiliation. And with greater choices, people change affiliations based on whether their needs (autonomy) are being met.

It is no longer sufficient to be an organization that met the needs of past customers to be successful in the future. Every organization must become customer-centric to the currently affiliated (and those they desire to attract). Customer-centric means that when people talk about their experiences they RAVE about how well they were treated, how much they liked the staff and community, and how easy it was to accomplish the ‘why’ of their affiliation.

Organizations must therefore solicit feedback, measure performance, and adapt accordingly (compromise, coexist, and tolerate diversity for mutual benefit). Per Putnam, this must be part of building mechanisms with the tools of our technological age. To survive, organizations need to rise above where they have been, creating accessible guidance and embracing scalable personalization.

Lastly, the shift toward autonomy has intensified long view imperatives for zealots (and the leadership managing the zealots) within diverse communities:

  • Zealots need to understand that they are successful when they “move the goalposts” (and not expect to hold out for their ideal if they are a minority).
  • Zealots must legitimate the needs of the non-zealots enabling a customer-centric environment (tolerate diversity) to create (more and more) reciprocity, trust, and mutual aid (if they desire to participate within a given community).

Without acknowledging and adjusting to the realities of the shift toward autonomy, some communities are likely to sustain more and more disaffiliation leading to extinction.

Is your community harnessing the tools of the technological age to create coexistence, accessible guidance, and scalable personalization?

February 19, 2010

Both Sides

Posted in Business tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 11:48 am by lindaslongview

Now that I am fully self-employed, I have achieved new levels of reality about interactions and negotiations.

When I used to contract for services or products on behalf of an organization, I always appreciated that over the long view both sides need to accrue value in order for a deal to be positive. Today, I am appreciating the details in new and acute ways.

I am learning quickly how to discern which clients want to take advantage of my integrity, work ethic, and desire to over-deliver and which ones are grateful and willing to fairly compensate me for my service, skill, and ability to add value to their organization.  It is truly a pleasure to work with the latter.  🙂

Even in these times of extreme austerity for business and individuals, the world is bigger than any of our personal or business interactions.  So, what is true immediately will not be true forever.  Thus, actions taken today (in immediacy) that could be considered opportunistic, manipulative, or exploitive, will live on indefinitely.

Real value is created when there is synergy from collaboration.  In an environment of opportunism, manipulativeness, and exploitation, synergy is extinguished and replaced by minimalism – what is required is delivered rather than what is needed.

My long view advice to clients:

  • Leave enough on the table to ensure that the interaction is valuable to both sides. (If you squeeze the turnip hard enough, you might get what you wanted in the short-term, but not over the long-term).
  • Recognize the bounds of your agreements and/or contracts. (Don’t scope weeks of work while contracting for a few hours of service.)
  • Be gracious to those that provide you service, say “thank you” and provide constructive feedback when accepting deliverables. (You would be surprised how far a little graciousness goes in creating extra value.)
  • Foster collaboration with external providers worthy of internal rapport. (Ultimately, if you can create real synergy, you can achieve much greater value.)

Before I finished my post, I read Seth’s post: more, More, MORE! – apparently we are channeling the same subject today!  🙂

In your interactions, are you considering both sides?

February 12, 2010

Adding Performance

Posted in Business, Technology tagged , , , , , , at 12:46 pm by lindaslongview

I got one of my clients to use BaseCamp (very cool workplace networking and project dashboard platform).  It was clear to me that they could benefit due to the geographic diversity of their team and their need to increase visibility of their project work.  For this client, BaseCamp was instantly successful and they now collaborate more effectivley (than before) commercializing some very promising technology.

BaseCamp itself solves project visibility issues for team members, but instantly creates the proverbially “cannot see the forest for the trees” problem for project managers (PMs).  It’s just not possible to get a top-level, Gantt view of projects, tasks (to-dos), and milestones inside BaseCamp.  But….

TeamDirection makes both a stand-alone Gantt chart product (IntelliGantt) and an MS Project Add-in (aka IntelliGantt) that interfaces directly with BaseCamp giving PMs an immediate Gantt view.

I became a raving fan even before I spent a penny with them.  Here’s why….

I noticed in the Trial IntelliGantt Add-In (FREE) that my BaseCamp imports of completed-tasks were not shown as complete yet associated Milestones indicated progress in MS Project.  I wrote to John at TeamDirection and explained the problem.  Over the course of a few days, we worked together by phone and by web – John even joined us at our BaseCamp until he understood and could resolve the problem.

The fix was dramatica wow moment, like putting glasses on for the first time! The quality of the data import was now high fidelity and aligned exactly as I would expect to see it in MS Project. I loved even more that he thanked Linda on the software update for helping them.  :*)

What made this interaction special is that TeamDirection clearly adheres to my three favorite (long view) customer service mantras (previously blogged at Rocking Customer Service):

  • Build relationships with your users. Creating connection encourages honest, timely communication.
  • If your customer calls you to complain or seek advice, THANK them, encourage narratives, and listen for information in the details.
  • Fix what isn’t right without excuse and be grateful for the opportunity.

Thanks John and TeamDirection!

If you are BaseCamping, are you IntelliGantting? (I’m buying the Add-In!)

February 10, 2010

EDGE

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:45 pm by lindaslongview

I learned a new Hebrew phrase this week, “Shev VeAl Taaseh,” which means “Sit and Do Not Act.”   It is a rabbinic (leadership) tactic that is the moral equivalent of “If I cannot have my way, I’m going to take my basketball and go home.”  Although it doesn’t surprise me that such a tactic exists (or has a name), it does surprise me that anyone would consider it an appropriate leadership tactic in a modern community.

Our world is fluid and complex; full of choices, opportunities, and negotiations.  As individuals, we find and align ourselves with communities that meet our needs recognizing that aggregations large enough to share costs of community transactions (services) may not be perfectly aligned with each of our personal worldviews.  We tolerate and accept those differences for mutual benefit.

Thus, in aggegrated diverse communities leaders must be positive, proactive, and effectively connecting to ALL members by:

  • Being sensitive to the needs/desires of every community member,
  • Striving to create tolerance, coexistence, and compromise for mutual benefit, and
  • Seeking novel solutions for challenges not yet resolved.

“Shev VeAl Tasseh,” a primal command and control tactic that might have been useful in ancient society, has been outgrown by modernity and should be relegated to the dustbin of history along with animal sacrifice.  Channeling the proverb:  If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, leaders must lead in times of difficulty — it is never acceptable for leaders to opt out.

My long view advice to community leaders is to EDGE:

  • Exert effort on OTHERS first,
  • Determine the needs of each constituency beyond your own (What’s in it for them?),
  • Gracefully concede that others have legitimate needs,
  • Engage, participate, and create innovative solutions to enable diversity,

We are fortunate to live in a society that tolerates a richness of many communities, each with different leaders, norms, and conduct.  Yet in order for any specific community to flourish, leaders must participate inclusively and exercise good judgement lest their community pick up and leave due to no confidence.

Are you EDGE-ing?