Thursday, September 29, 2016

Morey's Law #22: Stakeholders Don't Know What They Want...

In 2009 I moved from a Project Management role related to engineering and manufacturing to a Business Analyst (BA) role for a company's ERP implementation. As my boss at the time told me:

Boss: "Matt I need you to move to the ERP team. They need a Project Expert as a Subject Matter Expert (SME), and we picked you."

Me: "Why me? I have 3 projects going on right now, and the clients are happy. Isn't there someone whose projects are wrapping up who can take the role?"

Boss: "Matt, look around the room. How many people in this group have a background in IT and understand how this company does Projects? You're the only one who speaks 'Geekinese,' so you're it."

Me, channeling my old military days (and living up to "Old Reliable" from this post): "Yes sir."

Bear in mind, my understanding was with Network Development and Management, not software transitions and integrations. To continue with the parlance of my former manager, to an outsider it's all "Geekinese" but the difference would be like comparing Mandarin to Korean.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Star Trek DS9

This week's Wacky post isn't too wacky, I'm afraid, but I didn't want to post it as my regular Thursday post and still thought it was worth sharing. If you've followed my blog since the beginning, you know that I am a little bit of a sci-fi nut (although I think I've kept the impact here to a minimum). With this year being the 50th anniversary of Star Trek, I found myself re-watching old episodes, and came across probably the strongest 3 minutes of Leadership Lessons in all of the Star Trek franchise.

In this episode (Rules of Engagement), Worf was in command of the Defiant, and fired on a de-cloaking vessel that he thought was a Klingon Bird of Prey. Instead it turned out to be a civilian transport. Worf is then put on trial for the destruction of a civilian vessel. He is eventually exonerated, and it was shown to be a Klingon plot.

Okay, now that the description is over (or you skipped it), here is the video:

In case you don't want to watch it, here are the lessons:

  1. Don't take command if you have an ulterior motive  - it can cloud your judgement and create risks.
  2. Verify before "pulling the trigger" - More pertinent in a war / battlefield, but also appropriate in the civilian world. Before you pull a trigger on something that has consequences, you should be absolutely sure on the target and on what the potential collateral is, whether it's bullets, bombs, or inappropriate banter. You will be the one held responsible.
  3. Sometimes you have to avoid the easy path to do the right thing - Along with the "pulling the trigger" lesson, a leader can't always pick the things that are right for himself / herself / team if it means sacrificing your morals and values. Some things are more important than safety.
  4. Sometimes, regardless of your feelings, you have to show a brave front - in this case it's a party to celebrate Worf's exoneration, but he would rather take time to process what's happened. The truth of the matter is that the party was for the crew, and Worf needed to put on a brave front for them. He can process on his own time, but not on team time! "Part of being a Captain is knowing when to smile, make the troops happy, even when it's the last thing in the world you want to do. Because they're your troops and you have to take care of them"
Worf sums it up nicely "Life is a good deal more complicated in this red uniform." That is Command

Monday, September 26, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Margaret Fuller

Special thanks to Erin Morey and my boys!
I once saw 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking Craig Valentine say: "Today the average American doesn't read a single book a year. That means if you read 3 books on a subject, you are an expert in comparison to everyone else in the country. Remember, (then he tweaked Jim Rohn's line) 'You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,' and the books you read."

I am constantly amazed at how much we (myself included) rely on the little screen in our pockets to entertain us, and fill the hours. Even more disappointing is that parents are handing their phones over to entertain their kids rather than have a conversation or give them a book. That's what makes this picture so dear to me. Our oldest son (Maben) is reading to his younger brother (Colton) a Backyardigans book, and they both loved it. That was at least 3 years ago. Now, I sometimes go by their room at night, hear their voices, see flashlights on and know that they are still sharing stories.

Reading is critical. I try to read at least a book every 2 weeks, for entertainment or education, it doesn't matter. Take the time to read, to learn, to grow, and you can be an expert in anything. But don't forget the next step. After you read it, apply it!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Morey's Law #4 - Failing To Plan Is Planning To Fail

In most cases, this would appear to be the most basic Morey's Law:

Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

After all, if you are going to lead, you need to know where you are going. In order to know where you are going, you need to plan. Difficult concept I know. 

Yet, I am constantly amazed at how many people do not plan. They run through their day to day lives, going to work, coming home, kissing the spouse and kids; rinse repeat tomorrow. On a larger scale, I see business leaders do this too. They are so wrapped up in operations, in the day to day, that they are unable to take the time to plan for the future. Then they wonder why they don't hit their numbers. 

In fact, I know many small business owners and entrepreneurs struggle with this. They work hard all day, into the nights and weekends, and yet they never seem to make headway. 

Why is this? Because "Planning is hard" or "I'll find time to do it later." The person ends up spending all their time in quadrants 1 and 3 of the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, rather than in Quadrant 2, where the real power is. People are intimidated by planning, and in some cases the intimidation is because they have to put something to paper, and then they have to live up to it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Fortune Cookie

Not my typical post, but I had to share. Last week, I had Chinese food for dinner and cracked open the every enjoyable fortune cookie. Most of the time the fortunes are amusing, and typically useless, but last week the fortune struck home:

if you can't read it, the fortune says:

Ideas not coupled with action never become bigger than the brain cells they occupied.

I have to say that is probably the deepest fortune cookie I've ever received. I may even frame it. 

What's the best fortune you've received from a cookie? What's your favorite? Do you have any recommendations for how to treat a great fortune? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Eleanor Roosevelt (Again)

Special Thanks to Erin Morey, and the Beer Can House of Houston
Eleanor Roosevelt must have been one heck of a woman. This is the third quote I've shared with a picture from her, and I think there are more in the wings.

Today, with social media, 24 hour news cycles, and instant response of other means, it is that much more important for leaders to do what they feel is right, because no matter what you do you will be critisized today. Colin Powell said in his leadership lessons that "Being Responsible Sometimes Means Pissing People Off." I wish it were different, but that isn't the world we live in. As such, your goal should be that you are willing to do what you think is right, even if it isn't the most popular decision.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Annoyance List

We all have things that annoy us about our job. Perhaps it's the smell of a co-workers lunch, or the sound of the copy machine, or perhaps a software program that takes too long to load or has too many clicks to get to the screen you really need. If someone could fix one of those annoyances what would that be worth to you?

I recently had a phone call with a friend of a friend (let's call him Steve), who was experiencing some difficulties with an ERP implementation. During the conversation we both admitted that a successful ERP implementation isn't when the technology meets all the requirements, it's when the END USERS adopt the software and are (mostly) happy with it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Crazy Old Inventions

There are some interesting pictures in this video. The very first may have been the concept for a mode of transportation in Men In Black III. The cattle catcher for pedestrians was an idea I actually smiled at. There's a vest heated with electricity that I know Dewalt and Milwakee are making for their portable tool batteries, and the TV glasses remind me of the Oculus Rift. So, what ideas here might have been nice to have?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Joshua J. Marine

Special Thanks to Erin Morey
Human beings love their comfort zone. We like things to be consistent, constant, and unchanging, even if we KNOW that what we really want is just outside that comfort zone. So this, particular quote is something most of us need to remember; not only because we love our comfort zones, but when we leave them, those that give up do so way too early.

If you've read Think and Grow Rick by Napoleon Hill, then you know the story of the miners who gave up 3 feet from gold. Don't miss your mark because of 3 feet. The Challenges are what makes life worth living!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Morey's Law #16: If You Complete More Than Your Fair Share Of Work...

From 1-22 INF page

In the summer of 2004, I was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas and transitioned from the Armor Branch (Tanks) to the Signal Corps (Computers / Communication). Shortly after I transitioned, I was pulled aside from a training exercise by my new commander, Lieutenant Colonel B (LTC B from here on out).

LTC B: "Matt, I know you just arrived here, but I need to have a conversation with you."

Me: "Sir?"

LTC B: "We have a lot on our plate right now... with another deployment coming up. I need your best, and in six months time, I'll make sure you get a Company XO (executive officer) or Battalion S6 (Battalion Communications Officer) position to help your career. Can you do that for me?"

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Wacky Wednesday - Turtle Wax?

From the London Zoo

Is this where turtle wax came from?

My wife told me last week that excessive puns can be a sign of brain damage. Do you think I'm in trouble? I'm not even sure that the question would count as a pun. Thoughts?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Leadership Quote of the Week - Howard Gardner

Special Thanks to Erin Morey for the Meme. 
Howard Gardner shares a statement that most people understand instinctively, but may not realize it intellectually. Throughout human history, stories are used to share morals and examples of lessons, in order to teach and grow people. In fact, many of the ways we teach children is through stories and fables.

Today, leaders should know that one of the strongest ways they can influence people is to provide stories that share the vision, morals, or decisions you want your team to buy into. Most people don't realize that they make decisions based on emotions, and then rationalize those decisions.  Stories provide an emotional context, and often we remember stories more effectively than straight facts.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Morey's Law #14 - Risk Management Is A Risk Itself

Over the last 3 weeks, we've discussed the process and tools of the Risk Management Process. The Steps, the Risk Matrix, and the Risk Register, all valuable tools for the Risk Management Process. While I haven't covered everything, there is enough for a good start; but now comes the note of caution. There is a reason why a Morey's Law exists for the Risk Management Process.

In the first post I indicated that you needed to avoid Double Jeopardy, where risks are identified as happening in sequence (i.e. "if a generator fails, the sensor fails, and the bypass circuit fails... then the whole facility can be lost."). In the event of this happening, each of the risks should be identified and dealt with individually, rather than treating it as a cascade failure. However, that is only one part of the risk inherit in Risk Management.

Unfortunately there are other risks beyond "cascade failure." While performing Risk Management, you could find yourself dealing with a variety of situations, which you should be aware of before starting the process: