Wednesday, October 28, 2009

3 Critical Questions to Simplifying Complexity

By Bill Frech

How many different outsourcing contracts does your company have?

Most large companies find themselves with multiple contracts in the IT and BPO space, often with different providers. In fact according to Julia Kotlarsky, an Associate Professor at the Warwick Business School, most businesses are throwing billions of dollars at IT outsourcing contracts despite having little understanding of what they spend or get for their money.

This multitude of contracts has resulted in more management complexity and in some cases more complexity for the end-user. Frequently, separate organizations or different groups within the same organization manage these contracts.

3 critical questions:

1) Are contracts still providing value to the company?
2) Are contracts still in support of the company goals?
3) Are the end-users of these contracts getting what they need to run their business on a daily basis or are shadow organizations and solutions arising?

This white-paper "Outsourcing has become an Evolution to Complexity, Increased Cost and Unknown Value" will discuss how companies have evolved to this situation and what they need to do to put mechanisms in place to ensure the outsourcing agreements support the long-term business goals.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Simplifying Complexity - Part 1: Integrating the Large Team

By Steve Jandrell

Integrating the Large Team:

The Challenge of Unplanned Complexity

Large scale projects, whether they are; the result of a business transformation program, technology based, the result of a merger or acquisition, part of a move to a shared services model or the result of an outsourcing arrangement may be characterized by one or more of the following:

• Multiple teams with individual goals
• A blend of employees and consultants
• Independent contractors
• Outsourcing vendor(s)
• Specialty advisors (e.g., legal, audit, tax)
• Trainers
• Different working styles

This is a complex operating environment. Even the best planning can lead to complexity, but when decisions are made at the tactical level, or are incrementally made, this complexity can grow exponentially. The complexity issue has many dimensions, including differing methodologies, performance expectations, operating cultures (even national culture), standards, definitions of team work and success criteria.

The challenge becomes one of integrating potentially disparate groups into one cohesive whole. To achieve this, these questions need to be answered in the affirmative:

- Is there clear, visible and active sponsorship?
- Is the end goal defined in tangible and specific terms for the entire effort?
- Is a leadership structure in place with roles and responsibilities unambiguously defined?
- Has a brand identity been created?
- Is there a detailed program plan with supporting project plans?
- Are milestones and measures built into that program and project plans?
- Is there one overarching set of methods and approaches?
- Have performance standards been set and communicated?
- Have cultural differences been discussed, defined and accounted for in plans?
- Have team based and cross team reward and recognition plans been developed and implemented?
- Is a retention and re-entry plan in place for employees/associates on the program?

Creating commonality of purpose is not a one-off effort. Collective success is the definition of program and project success. It needs to communicated regularly and reinforced by leadership action and example.

Read more | Attend a Session

Now THIS is Teamwork

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Achieving More with Less - Positively

From Steve Jandrell, Co-Founder CandidAdvisors

This post is a response to today's WSJ Article Employers Hold Off on Hiring - Doing More with Less -

In many ways, the negatives of an economic down turn and the slow recovery from an employment and jobs perspective, dominate the debate. Economists seem to agree that even with a fair wind, getting unemployment back to 5% will take 8 or so years. As operating costs are cut, hiring freezes put in place, budgets trimmed, productivity requirements inevitably focus on doing more with less. The threat of unemployment makes workers more amenable to working fewer hours while still delivering; process efficiencies and changes in work flow add to the productivity gains. But so much is borne of fear.

There is a point however, that seems to be consistently missed. Business process efficiencies, people working harder, intelligent application of technology are all important, but what about employees raising their game based on the positive perspective of developing an individual and collective sense of high performance and mutual support, regardless of the prevailing economic environment?

Most people want to be part of a winning team. Very few wake in the morning thinking, “I want to sub-optimize my contribution today.” Yet it happens all the time. The solution is not a theoretical, “let’s all bond” but a measured and planned effort to leverage the fundamental human need to achieve and be successful. In so many cases it is at the team level where this can occur.

Internal business and work relationships in corporate America are typically superficial and polite. Stereotypes are formed (often quite wrong), and there is a prevailing attitude of leave decisions on how to improve things to the boss, or he and she will not want to delegate (or in their mind, abdicate) responsibility.

It doesn’t have to be like that. If companies organized to ride the wave of human creativity and people’s need to succeed, and thus created focused support networks, the term empowerment is taken to a different level. This economic climate may be the vehicle for this. Not just doing more with less, or even achieving more with less, but creating a work place of support, positive reinforcement and folks really playing to their strengths. Becoming the true winning team.

In the end, winning a Super Bowl is not about, for example, whether the Quarterback and the Wide Receivers like each other; it is about each player knowing their strengths and limitations, finding ways to work together for maximum impact and celebrating the fact that their individual and collective goals are clear and are given the space and encouragement to achieve them. In this scenario, performance is everyone’s responsibility. If a co-worker is not playing to their strengths, shouldn’t this be of concern to the rest of the team? In so many occasions, it is never really addressed – it is apparently safer not to.

Listen to Steve live via the CandidAdvisors webinar series: REGISTER

Read the original article at The Wall Street Journal

Friday, October 9, 2009

Google Wave - First looks

As seen on Twitter: "RT @mozami OH: Sure, President Obamas got a Nobel. But did he get a Google Wave invite?"

(This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.
Created by User:Evil_saltine using Graph 2.6, Photoshop, and Microsoft GIF Animator)

I've been experimenting with Google Wave for about 3 hours now. I like it, but then I like waves. Sine, sound, standing, and now Google.

To start with the basics, the default view has two main panes, with a simple menu on the far left of the two panes. For my screen-shot below, I'm only showing the two main panes.

When creating a wave, you either invite only specific Google wave users to join, or you make it public.
  • To make a wave private for only a select group of users, create a wave and select only specific people from your contact list.
  • To make a wave public, you add to your contacts, and then add that contact to the wave.
The left pane is the Wave In-box. This includes private and public waves. To get started, the key search term is [with:public]. Remove my brackets. Using this command, I see every wave currently public.

By viewing with:public, all waves appear.

Once I open a specific wave, it will appear on the right-hand side of my view, next to my main in-box pane. I can re-size these panes to suit my view.

If I leave a wave and return later, I can then see the number of new responses indicated by a green icon, and when I open the wave, I hit the SHIFT key on my keyboard to forward to any new messages I haven't read.

I can join in, read, drag other waves into a wave, and a wealth of other actions I'll cover in another post.

To focus in on a specific interest, subject, or group, I narrow my search terms. In my last example, I used search term with:public Charleston, SC.

In this way I found local folks, and a wealth of helpful advice. Thank you Calvin Webster!

Tomorrow, I'm going to experiment with adding Blogger and Twitter Robots, and next week I'll be real-time collaborating on a paper via Google Wave with a very talented CTO (more on that later).

Thursday, October 8, 2009

On the Wave

Well, I received my Googlewave invite about an hour ago, stumbled around for 15 minutes, and then broke down and read some of the massive help material.

I gotta' tell ya', so far I like it. I conducted a quick search and found a group of 61 users in my local city, added them to my contacts, and had a great chat with Calvin D. Webster II of Calvin is also coordinating Charleston's first BarCamp. Cool guy.

I'll post screenshots tomorrow with some quick navigation tips. I will say for the record, it's easier to navigate and use than I first thought it would be.

Nice job Google. Now let's see what we can do with it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Are you ready to ride the Wave?

The invites are on the way, all 100k of them, and the Wave is about to roll, but what does it all mean?

I signed up about six-months ago, and am hoping to get my invite soon, so hope to update with live data asap.

What is Google Wave?

Google Wave is a real-time communication platform. Google Wave is an online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

What is a wave?

A wave is equal parts conversation and document. People can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.

A wave is shared. Any participant can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Then playback lets anyone rewind the wave to see who said what and when.

A wave is live. With live transmission as you type, participants on a wave can have faster conversations, see edits and interact with extensions in real-time.

From my perspective, I'm looking for something more robust than Twitter and FriendFeed, less distracting that Facebook, and something that allows me to expand my business network, manage project resources, build new business relationships, share important ideas, collaborate, and communicate with customers both internal and external in a meaningful way. Oh, and keep it all efficient and organized. Not too much to ask, eh?

From first peeks at the Wave however, my concern is that it may appear complex by many and have a high abandon rate. I believe those who abandon will come back after popularity and proof of usefulness becomes more widely known, but the learning curve for that group will be steeper as more development ensues. is getting in front of the Wave. Here's a great video describing it:

Gravity is a prototype developed by SAP Research in Brisbane, Australia and SAP NetWeaver Development. It provides real-time, cloud-based, collaborative business process modelling within Google Wave.

Mashable has some great articles related to the Wave here, and the intro video we posted a couple of months ago is below. Will you try it?