Showing posts with label Performance Management. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Performance Management. Show all posts

June 21, 2019

UNDERpromise + OVERdeliver

Every manager is rightly taught to underpromise and overdeliver. 

It's sound planning and good risk management to plan for contingencies--and certainly these do happen. 

Build in some buffer time and resources into your estimates, because reality bites and you need to have the ammunition to respond. 

My father used to tell me:
"A word is a word!"

When you say something, promise something, commit to something then that is it!"

To do otherwise is to have no honor, no character, and no fear of G-d. 

Similarly, when you overpromise and underdeliver, you fail yourself and your customers.

People commit time, resources, and faith in you, so you owe it to them to set realistic goals and plans to accomplish them.

To do otherwise, you risk damage to the longterm relationship, you hurt your credibility, and maybe most importantly, you hurt the chances of genuine progress. 

The philosophy that I believe works best is:  Be thoughtful. Be strategic. Be direct. Be honest.  

That's what I would want from others and that's also what I strive to be. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 4, 2019

Getting The Biggest Bang For The Buck

So I had the opportunity to sit in on a colleague teaching a class in Performance Improvement. 

One tool that I really liked from the class was the Impact-Effort Matrix. 

To determine project worth doing, the matrix has the:

Impacts (Vertical) - Improved customer satisfaction, quality, delivery time, etc.

Effort (Horizontal) - Money, Time, etc. 

The best bang for the buck are the projects in upper left ("Quick Wins") that have a high impact or return for not a lot of effort. 

In contract, the projects that are the least desirable are in the lower right ("Thankless Tasks") that have a low impact or return but come at a high cost or lot of effort. 

This is simple to do and understand and yet really helps to prioritize projects and find the best choices among them. ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 21, 2019

-25,000 Jobs NYC

While some politicians are hard at work to create jobs, revive our manufacturing, and expand our economy...

...Others like NY Representative, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are busy destroying jobs from her city. 

After a grueling competition for the Amazon HQ2 with 200 cities offering incentives to land one of two 2nd Headquarters for Amazon, the winners were Arlington, VA and Long Island City, NY.

These lucky cities were to divide 50,000 new jobs and $5 billion in investment by technology and e-Commerce behemoth, Amazon. 

Instead of thanking G-d for their good fortune and celebrating their win under the political savvy of New York's Governor, Andrew Cuomo and NYC's Mayor, Bill de Blasio, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez railed against the "corporate welfare" and basically killed the deal. 

What should be critically noted is that incentives for Amazon were based on meeting their performance benchmarks for NYC and Arlington and were not corporate charity or handouts. 

What Socialist, Ocasio-Cortez failed to understand is that Capitalism is successful precisely because of competition and incentives for performance, and that capital is ideally allocated to where it can get its highest return. 

In short, New York and Virginia weren't giving away the farm, they were competing for great jobs and investment in their cities--and that's what 200 cities recognized from Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. 

Aside from AOC's blatant bigotry and Anti-Semitism so far, she has goofed with a Green Deal that promised income security (socialist handouts) to those "unwilling to work" and sought to get rid of everything from "farting cows" to Airplanes, and now she's lost 25,000 jobs in NY. 

Voters in NY and Democrats in Congress should be paying attention to their new Socialist champion and one of its extremists in chief. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 10, 2019

The Not So Civil Service

At one time, it was considered a great honor to work for the Federal government, and people fought for the jobs and to take the civil service exam. 

The Civil Service was not only a term, but also a reality filled with honor, dedication, and devotion to one's country. 

Working for the Federal government meant interesting and exciting work opportunities not only defending our great nation, but in making it just and prosperous, and literally a beacon of freedom for the world. 

While no one became rich working for the government, you could make a stable living, build tenure over your service, and finally receive a pension upon retirement. 

Over the course of almost 20-years of my federal career, I have had the opportunity to serve in positions that I only could have dreamed about as a child, and to feel such pride in serving. 

But it seems like times have taken a turn for the worse either willfully or through neglect:

- From Capitol Hill to the Executive Department, we see the extremus of polarization and endless obstacles to getting anything done.  

- With each change in administration, aside from a change of leadership and direction at the top of each Department, the workforce is seemingly accused of subversion for the other side and turned on itself. 

- Just recently, we've seen the longest federal government shutdown lasting 35 days and with hundreds of thousands of Federal workers required to work without pay at the time. 

- We have also seen many years of pay freezes--with not even a meager cost of living adjustment (COLA), while the overall economy is booming!

- The pay for grades at the upper levels are hitting up against the Congressional limits with multiple pay steps being the same pay and no increase for career advancement or growth of responsibilities. 

- Employees have been forced to endure the A-76 outsourcings, threats of disbanding entire agencies, demands to reduce the size of government, and hiring freezes even while serving a larger population requiring ever more services. 

- There have been limitations on the power of employee unions, and an ongoing series of tightening of benefits from CERS to FERS and continuing thereafter requiring greater employee contributions and what feels like ever less benefit payouts. 

- Staff are threatened with firing in a short(er) period of time for making a small number of mistakes to a host of "conduct" issues that may or may not be true, and may at times be the outcome of poor leadership rather than problematic employees.

- The system for employment grievances and judging these has gone without a quorum for the longest period on the books and the backlog of cases continues to build. 

While no system is perfect, and there are bad apples on every side, there clearly seems to be a devolution of the federal service, and what this means for governing and for our defense and prosperity is yet to be fully felt. 

For me, serving the Federal government has been one of the greatest honors and has been many of the best years of my life. My wish is for others going forward to have a positive and productive experience as well. 

Perhaps with an appreciation and true respect for the millions of good men and women that serve our country--from the front lines to the back offices--we can once again create a system that is equitable, fair, and just and that inspires the world-class results we needs for our nation and our people. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 7, 2019

Birthing An IT System

Managing IT projects is no easy task.

You've got to get the requirements right. 

Technical issues need to be resolved. 

Dependencies have to be lined up. 

Integrations need to work. 

Design should be user-friendly and intuitive. 

Change management takes real leadership. 

And so much more. 

A lot needs to go right for the project to be a success. 

While of course, just one or two bad apples in the project equation can quickly make for a failure if not controlled for. 

But you can't let it...the show must go on, progress is waiting to be made, and the systems need to be delivered for the benefit of the organization. 

This is where real strength and determination by so many good people come in. 

Keep moving things forward--one step at a time--don't stop!!!---another step and another--heave ho, heave, ho--until one day soon a beautiful and efficient IT system is born. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 30, 2018

Alternatives Are More Valuable Than Criticism

So one lesson of life that I have learned is about criticism. 

It's easy to criticize, but tough to come up with real solutions. 

Criticizing someone else, does not usually provoke a good response. 

UNLESS, you can provide a bona fide better alternative in a loving way. 

It's important to solve problems and not just create new ones. 

Criticizing without an alternative just causes anxiety and frustration in the other person. 

But when you says something isn't right and why, and provide a better alternative, now the other person can see concretely what you are talking about, and they know they have options and that you are trying to help. 

No one wants to be told they are no good or their choices are no good. 

But people don't mind and perhaps may even embrace being told that there is even something better for them out there.

Don't criticize, instead give alternatives that are good for the other person. 

That's real love without being a jerk. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 19, 2018

Project Management - The Best Day

So a colleague said something interesting to me about project management:
The best day of project management is usually the first day, but I want to show you that the best day is really the last day of the project.
And as I thought about this, I sort of starting laughing to myself and thinking, you know what, I think this guy has something here. 

- Day 1 of a project, everyone is usually all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. 

We're embarking on an adventure together to build something new for the organization and our customers. 

We're going to team up and everyone will contribute.

And out of the project sausage maker--poof!--like magic comes a new system or product. 

- But as we all know, things don't always go so smoothly.

With some projects, the pretty smiley faces of day 1 may quickly turn to ugly frown faces.

There is analysis paralysis, scope creep, conflicting or changing priorities, resource issues, technical challenges, or the sausage just doesn't come our right--oh sh*t!

Thus, many  projects end up going bust in terms of cost, schedule, or performance. 

That is, they end up costing too much, being delivered behind schedule, or just not meeting the performance requirements. 

You have some projects that never even truly get off the ground, have multiple resets, or get dumbed-down or even cancelled altogether along the way. 

So by the time you reach the last day of the project, many people seem like they've been through the project ringer. 

I'm sure that I've heard more than one project manager say:
Just take me out back and shoot me!

So when this colleague said that he wants the best day of the project to be the last--in terms of satisfaction with the project (not that that pain was finally over!)--I really appreciated this as an awesome goal. 

We should all look to the last day of our projects as the best--one where we can look back and say: 
Wow, great job everyone!  We really got something great done here--and we did it right!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 17, 2018

Don't Give A Fire Truck

Sometimes, others can get negative at you in life.

People are unhappy. 

They are being unreasonable.

Complaints are rolling in. 

It seems like you can't do right.

But you have to have a thick skin or as one colleague told me:
You need to be like Teflon and have it all just roll off you.

And this book title reminded me of this:
"The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck"

Yes, we do have to care about doing good in what we do. 

It's just that we shouldn't "give a f*ck" when others are just wanting to tear us down and enjoying it. 

Constructive feedback is good. 

But destructive negativity at every turn is just hurtful.

It's also a way for others to not take ownership.

We all need to do our part to make things better in this world. 

Sure, no one does everything right and no one is perfect. 

But everyone needs to try their best, and when others just want to beat on you...

That's a completely appropriate time to not give a firetruck. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 30, 2018

Life Is Like A Sailboat

Planning is a critical aspect of making progress toward your goals.

As they say;
If you fail to plan, plan to fail. 

However, planning is subject to life--and life happens!

One colleague of mine compared it to a sailboat, and our dialogue went something like this:

You set out on a course. But the wind and ocean current takes you here and there. Even as you try to steer the boat with the sails and rudder, sometimes you land on Gilligan's Island!


Hence, life is like a sailboat.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 6, 2018

All Aboard!

So when the train is pulling out it's a loud call by the conductor of:
"All Aboard that's going abroard."

With project management, it can be the same too. 

Once an organization has decided to move out on a project and make the investment of time, resources, and reputation:

- Either you get on the train and help feed the engine of progress

OR

- You get left behind.

- You get thrown off the train.

- You get run over by the train.

There really are no other alternatives. 

My advice is get with the program. 

The train is moving out.

The organization is going to deliver on its promise. 

Get the h*ll on!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 28, 2018

Chief Critic

So we all know these type of people that love to criticize and bully.  

They are the critics in chief. 

You have to wonder what their own value-add is.

While other people are doing the work, the chief critic is saying everything is terrible, horrible, tragic, almost the end of the universe as we all know it. 

Yes, there is nothing wrong with well-intentioned and constructive criticism, especially by a supervisor or people sincerely trying to help.

But then there are just those who just look to find something--anything--to fault others, almost as if they are bigger if others are smaller!

This is no good. 

That is no good. 

I would do it this way. 

You need to do it that way. 

It's almost like a hobby, but it comes with plenty of nastygrams and miserable monologues. 

If only you would do X!

How come you didn't do Y?

Next time make sure you do Z!!!

OMG, yes we are not perfect angels, but most of us try to work smart, do good, contribute, and get positive results!

Even failure is acceptable if everyone gave it their best effort and it leads to learning and growth. 

Maybe the people on the sidelines who are yelling at the players need to get off the bench and actually worry about what they need to be doing, and doing it, instead of criticizing those in the trenches. 

Teamwork means we succeed or fail together!

Non-attribution is about not getting personal and blaming others, especially when they are working their butts off. 

Rather, roll up your sleeves everyone and get in the trenches and start pulling your own weight instead of putting down and making fun of the others. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 7, 2018

It Rises To The Top

So one of my friends who is dealing with some bad people in his work told me about his situation using a very interesting descriptive phrase:
"Cream may float to the top, but other things float too!"

Ah yes, in many cases the best ("the cream") climbs/rises to the top of the corporate ladder and extraordinary people are recognized with positions of leadership and influence to progress things. 

But in other cases, some really bad people (i.e. the sh*t) floats to the top based on lies and baloney promises and payback, malevolent power grabs, undermining of the competition, cronyism, or plain old corruption in the leadership suite. 

Yes, both the cream and the crap float to the top.

It is important to recognize who is who, and what is what. 

Not everyone who occupies the corner office belongs there. 

In some cases, they should never even be allowed in the building. 

In the end, you gotta believe that the stars shine, and the sh*t stinks and that's how you know who is at the top when. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 2, 2018

Project Manager - The DIRECT(or)

So I learned this cool acronym for the roles of a project manager:

DIRECT

The project manager directs the project (similar to a director who is the project manager of a movie).

Here is how the project manager DIRECTs the project:

Define - Identify the opportunity or issue that the project will address including, the vision, scope, resources, and measures of success. (i.e. the "Charter").

Investigate - Explore options and pros/cons for each (i.e. an "Analysis of Alternatives").

Resolve - Solve and resolve (i.e. commit to) the course of action that will be pursued (i.e. "Project Plan").

Execute -Do the project and track/manage cost, schedule, scope, quality, risks, and actions items (i.e. "Scorecard").

Change - Identify process and technology techniology changes, test these, fix outstanding items, and make the cutover (i.e. "User Acceptance Testing," "Punch List," and "Go Live Plan").

Transition - Migrate people to the new solution, communicate the changes, overcome resistance, and conclude the project (i.e. "Communications Plan" and "Lessons Learned").

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 12, 2018

The Culture Key To Organizational Success

As I continue to learn more about organizational success strategies, I am coming to understand that the underlying culture of the organization is so very fundamental to its success.

I believe this is especially the case in terms of three critical competency areas:

- Communication - needs to be timely, constructive, multi-directional, and with emotional intelligence.

- Trust - must be be based on honesty and integrity including consistently supporting the success of everyone professionally and as a organization. 

- Collaboration - must be be anchored in respecting, valuing, empowering, and rewarding each and every person for their views and the contributions, both individually and as team members, and in treating diversity and collaboration, as a true force-multiplier. 

If any of these elements are missing or broken then it does not seem to me that the organization will be able to be successful for the long term.

Organizational success is built on ingredients that strengthen the ties of leadership and individuals and that foster contribution as individuals and as team members. 

No amount of smart, innovative, and even hard work, in my mind, will make up for shortfalls in these critical organizational success factors. 

So when planning for organizational success, make sure to build these in from the get-go. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 25, 2018

Messed Up By Norton Clean

So I got this message on my computer that it's time to run Norton Clean.

Oy, what a mistake. 

This tool is not ready for prime time. 

It's supposed to optimize memory and clean up duplicate and residual files.

But in my experience, it swept up more good files than junk files. 

And I ended up having to pull my files back from the trash and manually restore them to their file structure. 

What a pain in the you know what!

Artificial intelligence--not way the I see this utility/tool. 

If you don't pay attention, you can lose a lot of important information. 

Yes, it gives you a chance to review the files, but then what do you really need this cleaning tool to begin with. 

Maybe you have a different experience, I can only speak for myself. 

But a little human intelligence goes a long way to sift through the wheat from the chaff--that's what your files really need anyway. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 22, 2018

Worth The Squeeze

I like this saying that I heard.
"The juice has to be worth the squeeze."

It's a little like the corollary to "If something is worth doing, then it's worth doing right."

Spending time and effort has to show commensurate meaningful results or why the heck are you doing it?

Probably always good to reevaluate where you're getting the "most bang for the buck," so you're not "just spinning your wheels."

With all the sayings about what we do and whether it's really worth it, there is probably some good reason to be concerned about whether or not you spending your time productively or just acting insane, because: 
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Results matter--so make sure your achieving them or go do something else you enjoy and that's ultimately worth the squeeze! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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January 19, 2018

The View From Upfront and Behind

Thought this was a smart saying from a colleague:
"If you ain't the lead dog, the view doesn't change."

What the dogs upfront and those behind them see are quite a different view. 

It's important for the lead dogs to guide the other dogs in a good direction and stay clear from obstacles. 

We may not all see the same thing, but whatever our viewpoints are, we all have to work together and pull our hardest towards progress. 

It's a race to the finish--and finish strong and together we all must. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Natalia Kollegova)

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December 13, 2017

Anything Is Possible

So you're all aware of the 3 legs of project management:

- Cost

- Schedule

- Scope

I remember learning the adage that if you change any one of these then there is an impact on the others. 

For example, if you "crash" the timeline on a project to finish more quickly, then you either need more money or you need to reduce the scope. 

Similarly, if you want to cut costs on the project then you may have to extend the timeline or scale back on the requirements. 

Recently, I heard someone says the following:
"We can do anything with enough time and resources."

And when I thought about this, it's true enough.

If you provide more money and time for a project then, of course, you can do more in terms of the scope of the project.

Pour enough bucks and time into something and conceptually, we really can do anything. 

Technically, we can do the proverbial "anything," but that's only if the politics and infighting don't get in the way of progress. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 26, 2017

Supervisors vs. Team Leaders

Here is a comparison of the roles and responsibilities of supervisors and team leaders. 

Often there can be confusion over who is supposed to do what. 

This table should help clarify what supervisors and team leaders do in terms of strategic planning, work assignments, resource management, employee training, and performance management. 

I hope you find this a helpful resource, and that you can organize your staff more efficiently and productively ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 6, 2017

People, Process, and Technology Lifecycles

The table describes the alignment of the various people, process, and technology lifecycles commonly used in Information Technology to the CIO Support Services Framework (CSSF).

The CIO Support Services Framework describes the six key functional roles of the Office of Chief Information Officer (OCIO)--it includes:

1) Enterprise Architecture (Architect)
2) Capital Planning and Investment Control (Invest)
3) Project Management Office (Execute)
4) CyberSecurity (Secure)
5) Business Performance Management (Measure)
6) IT Service (and Customer Relationship) Management (Service)

All these OCIO Functions align to the lifecycles for process improvement (Process), project management (People), and systems development (Technology).

- The Deming Life Cycle describes the steps of total quality management and continuous process improvement (Kaizen) in the organization.

- The Project Management Life Cycle describes the phases of managing (IT) projects.

- The Systems Development Life Cycle describes the stages for developing, operating and maintaining application systems.

Note: I aligned cybersecurity primarily with doing processes, executing projects, and designing/developing/implementing systems.  However, cybersecurity really runs through all phases of the lifecycles!

My hope is that this alignment of people, process, and technology life cycles with the roles/functions of the OCIO will help bridge the disciplines and make it easier for people to understand the underlying commonalities between them and how to leverage the phases of each with the others, so that we get more success for our organizations! ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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