If you're a project manager, you probably deal with a lot of frustration—and you are not alone. Seven out of 10 organizations surveyed experience at least one project failure in a year. To make matters worse, nearly four out of five software development project professionals say that the business side is "usually" or "always" out of sync with project requirements. And only 40 percent of change-management executives say IT projects generally meet schedule, budget and quality-based goals. So what factors contribute to these issues? The top culprit appears to be giving project teams work that has nothing to do with the project itself, according to a recent survey from Janco Associates. In addition, there are an assortment of unrealistic expectations, time pressures, staffing shortfalls and inadequate tech resources, findings reveal. Clearly, IT projects need leadership that combines technology savvy with effective business-focused oversight to successfully navigate these hurdles. Following are the top challenges facing project managers, according to nearly 180 IT project managers who took part in the research. All of them have at least one year of experience in managing teams with at least five members.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Don Dea's insight:
Opportunities also serve as the driving force that pushes organizations into pursuing new territory, in the hopes of discovering potential new markets for their products/services to boost stagnant or declining revenue shares.
It’s no doubt the reason why we find it so hard to say “No” to new opportunities because of the inherent belief that any opportunity which crosses our path is an open door leading us one step closer to our objectives.
Although we spend so much time talking about seeking opportunities, we rarely consider the importance or value of the quality of the opportunities we’re offered. That’s why most of us approach opportunities from the vantage point of “if we don’t accept it or if we pass this up, what will we lose?”
t’s also important to recognize that we all suffer from those moments of uncertainty, sometimes brought on by a very public failure, other times as a result of our own natural insecurities regarding our abilities as our organization continues to evolve and grow. Allowing ourselves to be open about these doubts and taking positive action to not only address them, but manage them, will help you pass through them quicker so you can dust yourself off and get back on the horse.
Don Dea's insight:
Offer help to those around you No matter what your position is in your organization, all of us are driven by a need to know that we can be of help, that what we do matters to those around us. For leaders, these moments of self-doubt are a perfect opportunity to get out from behind the desk and wander around to see what your team is up to and how you can help them complete some of the tasks currently on their plate.
Your impromptu lending of a helping hand will not only remind your team of your role to help them succeed, but it will also give you that feeling of accomplishment you need to get past these feelings of uncertainty over your ability to contribute in a meaningful fashion.
Only a minority of workers surveyed think they have good work-life balance, and they cite the constant access to technology as a primary culprit, according to a recent survey conducted by the Harris Poll for Workfront. The "Work-Life Imbalance Report" points out that a combination of demanding bosses, the constant need to work outside of normal hours and inflexible schedules regularly intrude on personal time. As a result, many employees have missed major life occasions, such as birthdays and their children's events, and most feel that the concept of the family dinner has essentially been ruined. Citing other research, Workfront notes that studies show that employees are more focused when they receive appropriate amounts of downtime. The company suggests that employers should establish acceptable times to send and receive emails (and when not to send messages), and should encourage their staffers to use all their available paid time off (PTO). "Technology is infused throughout our modern lifestyle—be it in the home or at work—but we need to be conscientious about how and when to use it," advises Joe Staples, CMO of Workfront. "More times than not, there are no parameters set by employers on what they require from employees after hours. So the default can be an always-on lifestyle—with a potential for burnout." More than 600 workers took part in the survey.
Innovation is not simply a technical matter but rather one of understanding how people and societies work, what they need and want. America will not dominate the 21st century by making cheaper computer chips but instead by constantly reimagining how computers and other new technologies interact with human beings.
the key to our success lies in how well we’re able to understand the emotional environment we create in our organization and how much that serves to fuel the collective efforts of those we lead to bring their full selves to the work they do.
Don Dea's insight:
creating an environment where employees thrive is an emotional construct, not a technical one
In the digital age, we need to think about moving our core business processes to algorithms. To my mind, algorithms trump organizations. For years, we’ve been taught that when we have a business problem, we can solve it by bringing people and teams and organizations together. We’ve been taught that the more people you have, the more power you have. But that kind of thinking is a by-product of how organizations have evolved. That’s “back-office” or “business administration” thinking and it doesn’t help our customers. We need to push from a back-office culture to an algorithms culture and act faster. Speed and agility matter more than ever right now. People and processes create latency; algorithms, whose purest form is code, create speed.
Pope Francis’ provocative declaration concerning people who are gay, “Who am I to judge?”, is a plea to transcend bias by seeing people as complete humans rather than just in terms of sexual orientation. The pope is refocusing the Church’s humanity and emphasizing connections his predecessors downplayed.
To the naked eye, it may seem they are simply able to get things done. Look closer, and you’ll see that they are demonstrating strong leadership and influence by dint of relationships they’ve developed. Look closer still, and you’ll see that it isn’t simply niceness or collegiality that has earned them this influence. Too many people seek to establish trusting business relationships centering on likeability. I’m not suggesting that likeability isn’t good, only that it isn’t sufficient. When I observe Hidden Leaders in action, they lead through relationships in the following ways:
Twitter Cards let you promote brand awareness, drive traffic and ultimately increase sales. You may not be aware of them, but they vastly improve the user experience beyond 140 characters.
Don Dea's insight:
Twitter Cards are one of the core features of Twitter’s platform. However, if you aren’t aware of them or confused by what they do, you’re not alone. Twitter Cards enable developers for brands, publishers and other businesses to add photos, videos and a richer media experience to tweets. Marketers see them as a tool to boost their business in varying ways while users just see the better experience they provide in their timeline.
Cards contain more of the media and information that you would expect see elsewhere online. They’re a teaser engineered to pique interest, promote brand awareness, drive traffic and ultimately increase sales.
"An attachment isn't a fact. It is a belief..." ~ Anthony De Mello Let go. This line of thinking is counter-intuitive. Our instinct is to hold on, to protect, to become attached, to expect. The mor...
Don Dea's insight:
“A dawn carrying disappointment is a dawn deceived – in its very nature dawn is free of expectation as it has yet to see the day it brings. Daybreak has no control over what it will draw out of the world each morning and it has no recollection of yesterday. In this beauty made anew each time it crosses a horizon, is a peace unknown outside of fresh awe at the wonder of beginnings. Dawn does not lend itself to dependence or an illusion of control. As it should be, the dawn only attaches itself to its purposeful design. None in the day can bring the dawn. Nothing in the night can impede its coming. The most hopeful among creation, as we should be, it never fails to let all things be as they will be.”
One of the most common and damaging of a leader’s blind-spots is the compulsion to regularly provide evidence that he/she is the smartest person in the room.
Many well-intentioned leaders are adversely impacted by this bad habit without realizing it. The impact of what is often not much more than one or more behavioral tics includes stifling creativity and innovation and derailing any hopes of developing a high performance environment.
Don Dea's insight:
3 Common Smartest Person in the Room Behaviors:
Do any of these feel familiar?
The Final Word Habit. Leaders who struggle with smartest person in the roomsyndrome often operate with a false belief that being in charge means always having the answer. This drives the individual to assert his/her opinion as the final word or last word and it teaches people to suppress their own ideas and wait for solutions from the person in charge. If you’re frustrated with your team’s lack of creativity or active discussion about ideas, you might be someone who has taught them to wait for the last word.
The Eyes…and Face and Voice Say it All! Some leaders telegraph their smartest person in the room persona through their verbal and non-verbal responses to the commentary or ideas of others. I’ve observed senior managers who portray what is perceived as disinterest or disdain for the commentary of team members by interrupting them in mid-sentence or maintaining a facial expression that seems to ask: “Why are you using up my valuable oxygen with this stupid idea?” Of course, the leader may not be intending to communicate disregard or disdain however, we impute this less than noble intent based on our interpretation of the visible and audible cues. If your team members are less than enthusiastic about sharing new ideas and approaches, perhaps you’ve inadvertently shot them down too many times.
to be effective as a leader doesn’t mean you need to have all the answers. Rather, it means having the ability to ask the big questions – questions that encourage your employees to question their assumptions, that transform obstacles into challenges that can be overcome, and that enable your employees to believe in your shared purpose and their ability to achieve it.
So what does success really look like? As the questions above illustrate, that all depends on what you want to accomplish and in particular, why that goal matters to your shared purpose and to the internal drive for meaning found within your employees.
While the number of U.S. telecommuters represents only a small percentage of the overall workforce, the trend is clearly on the upswing. Still, given that half of American employees hold a job that's compatible with a telework schedule, there's plenty of room for improvement. Managers and senior executives (most famously Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer) often present obstacles to telework, citing the need to keep staffers in the office for accountability reasons. There's also the prevailing perception that in-person interaction improves team cohesion and collaboration. With that in mind, if you want to state your case for a work-from-home arrangement—even on a part-time basis—you may want to present the following 10 facts about telecommuting. For starters, they show that organizations can cut costs significantly when they provide this benefit to employees—if just from savings in office space allocations and operational expenses. Meanwhile, research shows that employees who telecommute work more hours than office-based professionals. And they're more productive too. The following 10 facts are compiled from a number of online resources, including those posted by Global Workplace Analytics and PGi.
Why do seemingly intelligent and well-meaning executives make bad business decisions?
Don Dea's insight:
Rigid silos Whether purposefully, a product of geography or a matter of culture, employees in many organizations are “siloed” in discrete units or departments. Rigid silos restrict the flow of ideas, hampering the collaborative process required for developing sound analysis and making informed decisions.
Executives who possess a siloed worldview — i.e. “empire builders” — can be particularly toxic. Unlike lower-level managers, these individuals have the power to inhibit the allocation of necessary resources and the development and implementation of strategy that serves the interests of the larger organization.
Excessive politics Politicking is inevitable when any group is gathered to make an important decision. The trouble occurs when politicking gets out of control and supersedes sound logic. This sort of dysfunction breeds and emboldens bias and ago, which can hijack the process and lead to lousy decision-making.
One part of the current education reform agenda argues that the internet has made the world bigger. Or, more accurately, the boundaries of our everyday experiences have expanded. Therefore, because we are more connected than ever before, the story goes, we need to think about education as the practice of [...]
Don Dea's insight:
What’s confusing is that Plato’s Republic was not prescriptive. He didn’t want the system he described. Instead, he was trying to show readers the essential political, educational, and ethical qualities of a society that valued unregulated growth and expansion.
Customer service is something that is a reflection of corporate values. Good service is a reflection of good values. When an employee says that management makes it easy to do what’s right, it means they are teaching employees to put customers first and, most importantly, backing it up by example. Organizations whose cultures place a premium on doing what’s right are organizations for which employees want to work and customers want to patronize.
Mindfulness practice brings all sorts of insights into the workings of the mind. Perhaps the hardest to grasp is the idea that thoughts are not reality. We’re so accustomed to providing a narrative track to our lives and believing in our story that to see things otherwise is a real challenge. You know as well as I do that all kinds of ridiculous thoughts go through our heads. And sometimes you know not to trust them. When you’re tired, drunk, angry or sick you don’t take your thoughts as seriously. Mindfulness says you should go a step further. Because you have lots of crazy or silly thoughts all the time. And they can make you anxious or bring you down.
The executives who navigated their risky development assignments successfully learned a lot; those who encountered challenges likely learned more. And in both cases, their managers or mentors took a risk. “Sure bets” and “stretch” simply don’t go hand-in-hand. So, if it’s a “stretch” that’s required to build genuine leadership capacity, how can an organization develop its bench without putting the entire enterprise at risk? Effective developers of leaders demonstrate some best practices that strike the balance. They: Calculate the risks. The most effective developers have the capacity to judge a prospective leader’s capacity. They weigh past results, efforts and challenges and can assess the readiness of the person for a new task. At the same time, they understand the organizational landscape sufficiently to evaluate the real costs associated with outcomes that might fall short of success. Give others enough rope. Effective developers don’t give others so much rope that they’ll hang themselves. Instead they give just enough so that developing leaders can go out, explore, experiment, struggle if appropriate, and still be reigned in safely if necessary. Consider their own political capital. Since even calculated risks are still risky, effective developers know how much cover they can provide — and how much flack they can absorb — if the learning experience turns out to yield less than desirable business results. Make peace with mistakes. The most profound developers of leaders have developed a visceral understanding that errors, miscalculations and failure fuel learning. They have cultivated a big picture perspective and appreciate that sometimes short-term sacrifices are necessary to build the long-term leadership capacity required for the enterprise’s sustenance and success.
A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.
The maxim ‘better apart’ is counterintuitive and today all of the world’s greatest innovations are the result of close collaborations between all of the stakeholders – executives, staff, customers, investors, suppliers and partners who have a vested interest in the output, implementation and promotion of the final innovation. The CIO office sits at the intersection of the business and technology and with the right strategy and support it can add significant value to the innovation process so the next time you think about carving out two separate budgets, curbing one and investing in the other stop and think how you could innovate smarter and embrace the latent innovation potential that you already have sitting in your CIO office.
Working in a spirit of community doesn’t mean being in agreement with or even “liking” one another. It does require that we approach one other with a commitment to being genuine and with a mutual belief that the bigger mission is more important than our personal agendas. As a leader you are either modeling these behaviors or encouraging competition and self-preservation; there is no middle ground.
Always remember that leadership is a privilege. When you’re in a leadership role, your influence may affect the trajectories of people’s entire careers (and, often, their lives!). When you do it right, you create a legacy of other leaders who can bring their goodness into the world. Here are some tips for helping build a leadership legacy: Know thy leadership self: Give some thought to the leader you aim to become, and the mark you hope to leave on others. List Your Leaders: List the leaders who have most affected you. What positive parts of their leadership do you carry with you in your thoughts and behaviors? Seek feedback: Invite people to share their perspective on your leadership. Send people a simple e-mail asking them what it’s like to work with you, how they would describe your leadership style, and what leadership behaviors are most noticeable. Show gratitude: Say “thank you” frequently and sincerely. Let people know that you don’t take the privilege of leading others for granted. Leadership is an honor, so be honorable.
The diagram below shows why the current model of marketing-sales alignment is inadequate. The bottom portion of the diagram shows the B2B buying process developed by SiriusDecisions. The top portion depicts the two fundamental types of interactions that potential buyers have with companies during the buying process.
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