Tomorrow’s Webinar: Think big, start small, scale fast

Back in December, I interviewed General Dale Meyerrose about organizational transformation and leadership. I posted the three-part interview here, here, and here. When asked about his approach for managing change, General Meyerrose answered with “Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast.”

Tomorrow, Dale is going to be giving a free webinar on the subject of Think Big, Start Small, Scale Fast in conjunction with MB&A Academy, the eduction arm of my company, Millsapps, Ballinger & Associates.

Date: Friday, February 1, 2013
Time: 12:00 – 1:00pm, EST

To register for the webinar, click here

 

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Trust us…Salesforce.com

 

cloud

Photo by Micky Aldridge

I had the good fortune to go to breakfast with a group including Saleforce.com Chief Trust Officer Patrick Heim. Besides a great free meal at Old Ebbits, there was a lot of great conversation around the way Salesforce.com and Force.com are being leveraged by the public and private organizations and some of the problems it is helping solve. For those that don’t know Salesforce does a lot more than Salesforce Automation with thousands of solutions implemented by various organizations including everything from survey management to security assessment tools like our PSAFE application. Of course given the presence of Saleforce.com’s Chief Trust Officer a lot of the conversation was security related. I’d like to share a few of my takeaways from what I thought was a very valuable meeting.

  • Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service and Software as a Service: Patrick Heim had an interesting take on these three models and noted that while platform as a service and software as a service can be transformational for organizations he did now feel as strongly about the infrastructure as a service model. His reasoning was that Infrastructure as a Service might lead to some efficiencies from a cost standpoint, but that it could also perpetuate and even accelerate some organizational problems by making it easier/cheaper to rapidly stand up new server instances, etc. This in turn simply adds to the complexity of what must be managed by the business, security staff, etc. With platform and software as a service there is a much more of a focused value proposition for the business and hopefully a better technology to business mapping.
  • Federal Implications for the Democracy in the Cloud: This is old hand for a lot of people that have been following Salesforce.com for a long time, but the implications of it are interesting particularly when looking at useful cases like public sector vs. private sector security requirements. Salesforce.com has consistently maintained a stance that as it evolves its business to meet evolving requirements in areas like security for example that the bar will be raised across all of its customers. US laws around federal usage mean that things like citizenship; monitoring and other issues may force Saleforce.com to evolve its democracy in the cloud stance to meet the demands of the world’s largest democracy. This may include having federal specific pods to handle federal transactions in order to maintain compliance while bringing their capabilities to the federal government.
  • Dealing with security questions: One of the big things customers get concerned about with the cloud is the multi-tenancy aspect of it. Essentially your stuff is right next to someone else’s stuff, so how secure can it be? Heim had an excellent way of presenting it, which is essentially that Saleforce.com manages a fairly homogenous technical environment. Basically,  Saleforce.com benefits financially by developing economies of scale around hardware, software and even things like skills/HR but that all of this lends itself to enhanced security because it reduces complexity and streamlines things like patching, etc. My first thought when he mentioned this was the 500+ systems that many cabinet level agencies in the federal government of the thousands of applications many Fortune 500 companies have within their organization. Most of these are built to purpose with limited standardization of hardware and software and diverse skill requirements. The level of complexity inherent in securing this is obvious when you look at it from this standpoint even before you think about the additional cost and inefficiency driven by this sort of environment.

At the end of the breakfast several of us stayed after to finish coffee and talk about how we are leveraging Salesforce.com within our organizations and the one thing that kept coming up is time to value. For us this is critical because there is so much focus by both our both public and private sector clients to get to value quicker. Saleforce.com and Force.com have enabled us to bring our customers secure solutions, quicker while reducing costs and alleviating them of the pain inherent in managing complex IT environments. I talked about this a bit in my post “SAAS and a tropical vacation- Their surprising similarities”, but this breakfast was real world validation of the change Cloud, Software as a Service and companies like Salesforce.com are bringing to the marketplace and how it is transforming the way organizations work. Has your organization looked at SAAS solutions? Are you using Salesfore.com or Force.com anywhere?

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Is the clock still king?

Is the clokck still king

Writing about remote work yesterday got me thinking about leave policies in general. I’ve read recently about boutique and tech start-ups that have no defined leave policy and it really resonates with me. My assumption is that in many knowledge work oriented professions that if you are smart enough to work there, you are smart enough to figure out when you should be there. I understand that this may not be a scalable model, although I believe that some pretty large companies including several big game makers have gone this route. The idea resonates with me because one of the things I’ve always hated and tried not to be is a time clock boss. I assume that people are responsible enough to get things done until proven otherwise.

Sometimes in our business things get hectic for a few weeks and the expectation is that people will rise to the occasion and help us meet the deadline, etc. On the other hand, there are times where things are a little looser and I don’t ever get mad if someone is a little late coming in or a little early leaving. I assume that they must not have something they need to get done. On some level I think the idea of paying for time is old fashioned and tends toward managing what we can measure rather than what matters. Even if you are working an assembly line, wouldn’t it be more effective to manage or measure around quality and completion rather than simply time spent on the line?

The bottom line is that time spent on something is probably the poorest means of measuring its value. I won’t lie; I’ve given plenty of thick binders to clients at the end of engagements. However, this only happens when I’ve felt I’m being measured by output and not by outcomes. I always feel a little bit bad about it because it reflects a failing on my part to convince them of what really matters. Essentially, this means I had to punt and convince the client that because we did a lot of work they got great value. This is a clear failure on our part to ensure the client understands the value of the outcome we are delivering. I’m curious of what others think on this topic. Do you feel your boss measures you more on perception of effort rather than results? Have you tailored your delivery to meet these expectations? I think that a lot of people put effort into developing fluff because it represents more, which is perceived to be reflective of their effort which is what is valued rather than putting in the time to build concise value.

© Photo Copyright Chris Downer

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Is remote work, too remote?

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So it’s a little soggy out in Washington, D.C. and Arlington, VA decided to cancel school. The Federal government is also opening late and its flu season, which means a lot of people are out of the office today. I’m one of the lucky ones. My wife drew the short straw this morning which means that while she will be trying to work from her home office with three kids doing some serious stress testing of their toys, our walls, and her sanity, all less than 10 feet away. This got me thinking about working from home, the pressures of family and work life, and how an organization should deal with these issues. On the one hand we have never been as prepared as a society to enable working from anywhere, anytime and anyplace. I am living proof of that having held conference calls, webinars, etc from hospitals, on vacations, and from my home office.

The question then becomes how connected is too connected and how close a tether to the “real” office do you need to retain to be effective. Openly, I do not fall in the camp of those who believe the end of the communal office is near. I truly believe that working together physically improves collaboration and teamwork. I love video conferencing because it is closer to real physical meetings, but it still isn’t the same as being right next to someone. There is a certain element of teamwork and collaboration that I just don’t feel is possible from a remote location. It’s one of the reasons why I can’t ever foresee my company going towards a remote workforce in a big way, despite the huge advantages from a cost standpoint. I just don’t believe you can hang on to the esprit de corps and sense of community that comes from sharing a physical space. I don’t mind having people work from home in order to get projects that require uninterrupted concentration complete, or when the cable guy is coming to the house, etc. I just don’t see it as a sustainable everyday model.

Of course most of my view into this is shaped either by view of the work my company does, which is consultative, or the work of our clients, which varies from large private sector to large public sector. I can certainly see advantages for some of our clients, particularly those with small-scale presences in many locations to remote work. It makes sense in these types of cases to set up your teams to work primarily from their home office or to leverage shared space, etc. Obviously, for retail, manufacturing, etc the need to be onsite is different than in the knowledge work community. How does your organization manage remote work? Is this the right approach? What are the pitfalls/benefits you have found?

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Processes, Technology and People: The three keys to successfully changing anything

If you are contemplating change, business process improvement or organizational transformation the keys to success are people, process and technology. These three factors, more than any others, will govern the degree to which you succeed or fail. Almost any change you attempt will have some effect across all three of these areas because they are so intertwined.
However, before you even contemplate change in any of these three areas it is critical that you get the information part of the equation down. Now, more than at any other point in history, information is king. Having a complete understanding of the information that flows through these people, processes and technology is the critical component in ensuring that any change leads to meaningful results. The fact is that the information that runs most organizations is probably the thing within the organization that is least subject to change. If you are in the retail business then you how much you sold something for, the terms of the sale and customer information have been important and relatively unchanged for hundreds of years and from organization to organization. The same is true of construction and most other industries. Sure there has been some change, maybe now we need an e-mail address, etc but the pace of change is much slower than the change in people, processes and technology. The mechanics of processing an order in retail has changed dramatically over the last 20 years with the introduction of online retailing, etc with huge repercussions for the people, processes and technology involved.

Once you clearly understand the information required to support the breadth of the area you are targeting for business process improvement or organizational transformation you can begin looking at the people, processes and technology:

  • Processes: This is a great place to start because it drives the requirements for the other two. For example if your new process for car sales no longer includes the salesman negotiating the price you may begin to look for different qualities in your salespeople or provide different training because negotiation skills may now be less valuable in comparison to other skill areas.
  • Technology: Once you understand how the process should work, you can develop a solution that meets those requirements. I have spent a lot of time working backwards from solution to people to process and it can be incredibly frustrating. Unfortunately, this happens quite a bit particularly when solution activities are vendor driven.
  • People: I put this last, which I think some people will disagree with but I believe that one of the great advantages of people is their flexibility and adaptability. These traits are becoming even more important as the pace of change in the world increases. Once the process and technology components are defined the approach to people can be evaluated and developed.

In no way am I suggesting that people aren’t important to the transformation process I just think that at least first attempting to optimize the first two conceptually enables you to truly understand the implications for the people involved. You can also evaluate the organizations (people) ability to change based on current skills, etc. I really do not like the idea of starting from the people side and trying to evaluate change initiatives on the basis of what can be accomplished based on an evaluation of the existing personnel because while that may be comforting to the people who are subject to that change I don’t think it holds up over time, nor will it result in a business process improvement or transformational activity that will withstand the forces of the marketplace. If you sub-optimize your organizational processes because you are afraid that your existing personnel may not be able to scale to meet the challenge you may be underestimating your people, but you are almost certainly setting yourself up to fair poorly in comparison to peers who do not place themselves under the same constraints. You may need to segment or develop a phased approach to the change initiative but I do not believe that you should settle for a final scenario that is deliberately sub-optimized on the basis of fit to existing personnel.

What do you believe? I know there are a lot of people who believe in working from the people you have towards optimal solutions for those people because the social factors involved in working from this direction drives buy-in which in turn drives success. I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts in this area because I do believe that, in the end, the success or failure of a solution is often tied more to human factors than to technical merit. I try to emphasize developing the people and processes and then focusing on the sales pitch to the people as my mechanism for buy-in, but let me know what your take is.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Webinar Recap: Here Comes the Next Big Thing: Adopting New Technologies is Inevitable, Doing So Successfully Isn’t

I’m so excited that my company’s Webinar Series is becoming more established. We received a lot of positive feedback on our last one.  Instructor Bob Daniel gave an extremely perceptive explanation of why “Adopting new technologies is inevitable. Doing so successfully isn’t”.  Every day new, “latest, greatest” technologies are announced and organizations, whether from within or without, are driven to adopt them. Unfortunately, the all-too-common experience is that the anticipated benefits never materialize. Typically, the focus is entirely on “successful” installation and vendor training. While important, these steps simply aren’t enough to assure you’ll get the return on investment you want (and need). Bob began his Webinar diving into these issues.

In this Webinar, Bob Daniel discusses the motivations driving the adoption of new technologies, the factors that disrupt adoption, and what you really need to do to be successful. Drawing from decades of experience in new technology adoption with both private and public sector clients, Bob will highlight real-world adoption pitfalls and provide practical means to avoid them, as well as to recover from them.  At the end of the hour, you’ll have a framework and set of tools you can use to build success into your technology adoption programs.  Check out the following clip to get an idea of the full range of advice covered in this Webinar.

If you missed Bob’s Webinar and would like access to the full video please e-mail me at josh.millsapps@mbaoutcome.com. Also, don’t miss out on our next Webinar where the Honorable Dale Meyerrose will give us insight into his problem solving techniques honed over years of experience in leadership, cyber security, information technology, intelligence and military matters. Click here to sign up!

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

To Sell is Human

To Sell is HumanReal Pic

Everybody’s selling something, be it a product, image, idea etc. [i]

I’m reading Daniel H. Pink’s new book To Sell is Human and loving it. I tell my folks all the time that they are always selling to the client, to their co-workers, or to me. Whether it’s our services, an idea, or their performance, they should be cognizant of how they present themselves, their thoughts, etc. because all of it plays a role in the outcome. Pink talks throughout the book about the importance of moving people and the powers of persuasion and he makes the case that broadly, we are all in sales. I’ve made this point to employees, co-workers, and clients a hundred times and I love the way he presents it. So many people have the image of the stereotypical used cars salesman in their head and think of sales in terms of getting over on someone. I know that in my business this simply wouldn’t work and the rise of the information era has greatly reduced the effectiveness of this type of sale. Today’s buyers are perhaps the most informed customers to walk the face of the earth and vendors should and do recognize this new empowerment. Pink also broadens the scope of what is generally considered sales to include what he calls non-sales selling, “persuading, influencing and convincing others in ways that don’t involve anyone making a purchase.”

This is the area I have been pushing with clients and employees for a long time. We all spend a good amount of time working on convincing others to choose a path we would prefer, even if it’s simply trying to convince your spouse to see a movie you’d like to see or your child to eat veggies. Given its relative importance and the huge portion of our lives dedicated to these types of activities, most of us spend relatively little time devoted to building skill in this area. Pink then walks through an approach to non-sales selling that is truly unique and that I believe every single person could benefit from. All of this is done with a unique storytelling style that makes for easy reading and remembering. Pink is quick to provide insightful statistics and historical references that really add to his points. I thought one of the most interesting sections is where he is describing the sales industry. Interesting tidbits include:

  • The U.S. Department of Labor counts 1 in 10 Americans as working sales
  • The number of people with sales jobs is 5 times as many as work for the US federal government.
  • If the nation’s salespeople lived in a single state it would be the fifth largest in the United States
  • Australia, the UK and the EU all have about 10% of the workforce officially categorized as sales
  • Polls show people outside of sales spend about 40% of their time in selling related activities (persuading, influencing, and convincing)

The book is full of other interesting numbers and he builds a compelling case that most of our lives center around things that could in some form or fashion be considered selling. He covers some of the changes that have led to this and why it might not be such a bad thing. In general, I’ve loved the book, which I intend to finish this evening. I’d be curious what others think of the book if they’ve read it and I’d be interested in particular in the thoughts of those whose jobs fall well outside of the traditional sales category. Do you think selling is important to what you do? What are you selling if it isn’t a product? How are you working to build non-selling sales skills?


[i] Photo By: Nacmias Auto Sales, Service, and Repairs   Rich Nacmias

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.