A Paradigm Shift in Management

solar-system-11111_640In the 16th century, Copernicus shifted our world by postulating that Earth revolved around the Sun. Prior to the publication of this model in On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres in 1543, EVERYONE understood that the Sun revolved around the Earth. It was just the way it worked.  More than astronomy was impacted by his scientific work—we began to revisit many things in our culture when this shift occurred.

I believe something similar is happening in organizations today as we are moving to Management 2.0. For background, read Inventing Management 2.0 and watch Reinventing the Technology of Human Accomplishment.

Management 2.0 is customer-centric and employee-centric. According to noted business thinker Gary Hamel, Management 2.0 challenges, “…the fundamental conventions of Management 1.0—the notion that authority trickles down, that tasks are assigned, that strategy gets created at the top, that control must be imposed and so on.” It addresses the question: How do we satisfy customer needs with service-oriented employees within a sustainable business model that provides returns to shareholders?

It’s a shift—a really big shift.

Steve Denning does an excellent job of outlining this (and hitting home with IT professionals) in Why Do Managers Hate Agile? He offers this definition, “For those managers who don’t know what the Agile is (itself a part of the problem), the horizontal world of Agile involves self-organizing teams that work in an iterative fashion and deliver continuous additional value directly to customers.”

Part two, More On Why Managers Hate Agile, also hits home (hard), given some of the current projects I’m involved in. On one hand, traditional organizations are built for predictability. Initiating “agile projects” flies in the face of this predictability, requiring a focus on the customer and allowing the team to innovate with the product owner representing the customer.

Am I part of the problem? Part of the solution? Or a mix of both?  Life is all a transition…I’m feeling this one.


A New Category of Device

apple watchEarlier this month Apple unveiled the Apple Watch and made several other announcements.  Here are a few tidbits before getting to my thoughts on the watch:

  • Doing good. Apple is opening up a tool called ResearchKit for opensource development that works across platforms. They have realized that medical research could benefit from wider participation and easy (don’t need to enroll in a research project) feedback, unencumbered by the barriers of a research. A lot of feedback can be gathered from an iPhone, such as the performance of motor skills by Parkinson’s disease patients. I’m excited to see where this goes.
  • The all-new MacBook is pretty cool. New screen, new keyboard, new touchpad, new USB Type-C (one cable for everything), new unibody case, new batteries and main processor board. This is an indicator of ultraportable laptops yet to come. There’s still no touch screen, but the operating system requires a revamp first.

Now, the Apple Watch. Prices range from $349 to $17,000 (18K gold). While I’m not going to be standing in line to buy one, I do see the promise of this new category. It’s a new form factor, data tracker, small display and smart user interface all rolled into a fashion accessory. Christy Turlington was on stage to prove that point (and not much else).

Let’s recall the trajectory of the cellular phone. Motorola was on the top of their game with the StarTAC. Then, there were a series of attempts that seemed to smash together a cell phone with a PalmPilot (before the advent of the wireless internet), resulting in various clunky devices. Eventually, with the launch of the iPhone in 2007, the package of features that we now recognize as a smartphone began to come together.

There is likely to be a similar evolution with smartwatches. Who remembers the Casio models from the 1980s? Wearables have also been around a long time for athletes, and are just now coming into the mainstream. Products like Pebble Time integrate notifications with your phone and other smartphone based applications. The Apple Watch takes it to a whole new level. It’s a multifunction, multi-sensory, customizable, touch and voice enabled, interconnected, watch-to-watch and watch-to-phone device. Plus it has its own app store.

Like all new technology, it’s not going to be about the hardware (although it is pretty spiffy)—it’s going to be about how it impacts our behaviors. I believe the package of functionality and variety of different uses will be pretty compelling.

Is it like a new iPod (another escalation of an entire category brought on by Apple)? After all, who remembers the Zune or Rio portable media players? Or is it destined to go the way of Apple’s MessagePad that ran on a Newton OS platform? Only time will tell, but I wouldn’t bet against Apple on this one.


Weekly Download 15.5

download-150965_640Here’s a recap of news and notes from around the Web that caught my attention over the past week or so.

I like Indian food, and now I have scientific evidence to explain why. Scientists have figured out what makes Indian food so delicious. You have to look at consumer price sensitivity to understand Why delicious Indian food is surprisingly unpopular in the U.S.

I have been hearing that data scientists are in high demand.  This past week at the Fusion CEO-CIO Symposium, the cry reached a crescendo. Really smart people with amazing backgrounds bring tremendous value by mining mind-boggling volumes of data to provide predictive analytics.

Whether in architecture, product design, software design, or more generally, business. I firmly believe less but better is an effective strategy. Dieter Rams, the designer behind many of Braun’s most iconic product designs (among many things), outlines a handy 10 Principles of “Good Design”.

At a later date, I’ll  do a more complete review of Greg McKeowen’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, but for now, this article does a pretty good job of succinctly getting to the point.


The Journey

MetraThings won are done, joy’s soul lies in the doing.—William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, I.ii.287

“The journey” is a common theme in literature. I distinctly recall reading the essay The Station by Robert Hastings some 30+ years ago in high school. This was my first exposure to the idea that there is more to life than where you’re going—how you get there matters, too.

I recently stumbled upon a chapter in the book The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom that further examines this subject. It discussed that human emotion tied to making progress toward a goal (the journey) has a much stronger effect than any short-lived contentment from goal achievement (the destination). The author makes a clear distinction between “gratification” and “delight.” Gratification may be thought of as deeper and longer lasting, gained from learning, feeling progress, self-motivated improvement and building strengths. This is from the journey. Delight is more like listening to a new song or eating a bowl of ice cream—short-lived or ephemeral. It’s that rush of pleasure when you arrive at a destination.

Gratification versus delight is a new twist on the importance of focusing on the journey. While delight may seem like a stronger emotion, unfortunately, it doesn’t last. By comparison, gratification stays with you and can nourish your soul. Learn how to put this insight into practice with How to Become Happier.


I Don’t Disagree

conversation-545621_640I’ve been hearing this phrase a lot recently and I dislike it. But why? It’s a double negative and also strikes me as a bit of a cop out. It clearly doesn’t mean “I agree.” Rather, I think it only eliminates “I disagree” from a range of opinions. Alternatives left on the table include “I partially agree,” “I’m undecided,” “I partially disagree,” or any number of other variations.

What bothers me most is when an explanation doesn’t follow. This sentence cries out to be finished with another clause that begins “…but…” and ends with an explanation. Left as is, it effectively closes off the conversation. Instead, I would prefer to continue a dialogue that would reveal points of agreement and disagreement, eventually leading to consensus. It seems like the person saying “I don’t disagree” expects me to keep offering ideas until, by some stroke of luck, they finally agree or disagree. It feels like a tool of passive aggression.

Do you agree?


Weekly Download 15.4

download-150965_640Here’s a recap of news and notes from around the Web that caught my attention over the past week or so.

How the 80/20 Rule Helps Us be More Effective. I always thought full credit for the concept of the 80/20 Rule (a.k.a. the Pareto Principle) was due to economist Vilfredo Pareto. Clearly, attribution must also be given to Joseph Juran, one of the key thought leaders in the Quality movement.  “The vital few and trivial many” is a common way Juran referenced this principle.

How We Trick our Brains into Feeling Productive delves into the many ways we attempt to rationalize our decisions and actions. “Structured procrastination” is what my prioritized task list is all about. Forcing myself to do the most important item is the intent, but sometimes I substitute something that is further down the list. Now I know why.

The headline Signs That You Lack Emotional Intelligence is sure an attention-grabber. This topic has been around since the 1980s, but was popularized by Goleman’s book of this title in 1995.  One section in the article that resonated with describes gaps that occur in the communications process between “Intent” (what the speaker means) and “Impact” (what the receiver hears).  Here are a few examples:

What you say: “At the end of the day, it’s all about getting the work done.”

What others hear: “All I care about is the results and if some are offended along the way, so be it.”

What you say: “If I can understand it, anyone can.”

What others hear: “You’re not smart enough to get this.”

What you say: “I don’t see what the big deal is.”

What others hear: “I don’t really care how you feel.”

Recently I have been in conversations where I felt a very different impact than what I believe the speaker intended. Later, I mentally replayed the conversations to see if I could discover what was going on and why I felt that way. Now I have an explanation and can be mindful of this gap in the future. What are gaps are you creating?