Oct 12

Sharing what “I Believe” Through my New Book on Amazon/Kindle

Onboarding - the Right Way

My first eBook, “Onboarding – The Right Way”  is now also available on Amazon/Kindle!

I’m very proud of the content and I’m excited for the value it will help you implement in your professional lives.

Here are some things I believe:

I believe that everyone wins in business when we foster partnerships and fairness .

I believe that treating people like humans instead of task-oriented robots can uncover incredible innovation.

I believe that if we resist the urge to rush to solutions, and consider people’s feelings as we go, we can savor an amazing journey of learning from others.

I believe employees should never feel lost and confused at a new job.

I believe everyone deserves professional fulfillment.

Here is how I want to turn my beliefs to action:

I want to help people make simple changes so they can be happy, comfortable, and productive in situations where I wasn’t.

I want to bring back respect for people’s capabilities to the workplace instead of making them prove how well they can work under duress.

So I’ve made it my mission to treat people like humans whose opinions matter, so they become more confident and fulfilled versions of themselves.

These are the things I believe and how I want to accomplish them. I just so happen to also write compelling books.

If you believe what I believe, I’d love to share this action plan with you. I’m confident you will be surprised by the amount of value you get for this small price.

Click here to Purchase Kindle Version on Amazon. 

Click here to purchase PDF version on this blog via Paypal.

I can’t thank you enough for all your support.

 

Oct 09

My First eBook is Now available! Onboarding – The Right Way

Onboarding - the Right Way

My First eBook is Now available!

For those of you who follow www.russobusinessconsulting.com, you are aware of the drive I have for fostering partnerships and fairness in business.

I write with a theme that treating people like humans instead of task-oriented robots can uncover incredible innovation.

If we resist the urge to rush to solutions ignoring people’s feelings as we go, we can savor an amazing journey of learning from others. In my years as a professional, I’ve been in situations where I was lost and confused at a new job, and I don’t wish these feelings on anyone. It took me years to get to a place of professional fulfillment. I feel like simple changes can help people be comfortable, productive, and fulfilled in the workplace. All I want to do is help people make these simple changes so they can be happy and productive in situations where I wasn’t.

So I’ve made it my mission to treat people like humans whose opinions matter, so they become more confident and fulfilled versions of themselves.

My first eBook, “Onboarding – The Right Way” is now available for purchase. I’m very proud of the content and I’m excited for the value it will help you implement in your professional lives.

I plan to keep making more great information available in the weeks and months to come!

Please click this link: *** New *** Products or the menu above with the same name to access my eBook.

I can’t thank you enough for all your support.

Sep 25

Lowerarchy

Obama-Care-real-scale1Introduction

I don’t know about you, but when I see an image like this, the LAST thing that runs through my mind is, “What a work of art!” or “What a clear cut chart!” I’m probably thinking about something more along the lines of, “I need a minute or two to even understand what I’m looking at.” This, my friends, is an image I found online with the title, “Obamacare” . Now, I swear I have no agenda one way or the other regarding this topic. I simply Google’d “crazy org chart”, and this was the most interesting looking result. Let’s be honest. For some people, this level of complexity is downright scary. At the risk of being too callous, I had an easier time figuring out what was happening in Picasso’s “Guernica” when my wife and I viewed it in a gallery in Spain.

Unnecessary Complexity

When I was a novice and even a mid-level professional, I thought creating complicated tools proved someone’s intelligence and skills. I took this approach with things I created and envied those who created even more complex tools than mine. As I’ve become more seasoned, I realize my time is too valuable to spend figuring out things that should have been stated more simply. When I see images like this one, I typically give up right away and push them aside until someone is available to summarize them for me in a few sentences. This way, I can quickly understand the value and go back to other important work. In the case of organization charts, it goes one step further, because this is not simply a case of over-complicating a diagram. It is a case of the diagram being too complicated because the underlying idea is too complicated.

Hierarchy

“Org Charts” as the cool kids call them, might tell us that John Smith reports to Jane Jones who reports to Mary Thomas who reports to Jeremy Novacek. There are many people at the bottom and a fortunate few people at the top. People spend their careers trying their best to progress from associate to manager to director to vice president. This is the org chart. It is the most well known example of a “hierarchy” and I don’t think I like it. Here’s why.

This kind of hierarchy suggests that roles at the top are more important or capable and those at the bottom are less so. There are so many levels between the supposedly least important roles and the supposedly most important roles that communication becomes very difficult. This of this like a tall mountain range. Tall mountain ranges are challenging to climb. In fact, superb athletes climb tall mountain ranges because they enjoy how arduous the challenge is. Organizational communication should not be an arduous challenge. It should be as simple. People who understand the goal are people who create value. If the mountain range is too tall, not only can those at the bottom not easily communicate with those at the top, they cannot even see them.

Lowerarchy

Instead, I present to you: “Lowerarchy”. I am not saying I coined this term but I think I define it differently from others online. My idea of Lowerarchy is to eliminate as many levels as possible so we are no longer defined by the magnitude of our titles, but by specific skills and experiences. I am not a manager, but I have expertise that I worked hard to build. I may know more about coaching process than a Director does because he may have come through the ranks focused on database administration. Why then, do we use titles in business to determine who gets the most control across daily challenges with which they are unfamiliar?

Of course there are exceptions to this rule. Some industries like the military, healthcare, the police force, and others need a steeper hierarchy. I think the unifying reason is that they could result in danger or death if the wrong people are performing the wrong tasks. It’s a case of defining what really constitutes an emergency. If 2 business professionals debate the merits of competing business processes, and the sub-optimal one is implemented, it can cause unhappy customers, loss of revenue, and multiple things that are all important, but they are not true emergencies. People would not die if the wrong choice is made. With these examples as the admitted exceptions, innovation works best with collaboration among experienced peers and experimentation with new ideas. How would your professional world be different if instead of creating never ending ranks of people like the image above, we instead leverage the following Lowerarchy?

LowerarchyA Model of a Lowerarchy

This Lowerarchy is dramatically different from the image we saw and described above. I think the initial reaction is, “Wow! This is clear enough for me to attempt to read now.” In fact, it reveals some marvelous ideas:

  • It is much easier to read because there are fewer items so they are bigger. No more squinting headaches!
  • It is in fact possible to redesign an overall approach to business so it can be communicated more simply.
  • This image is not scary. Even if it takes me a couple minutes to get the gist, I am at least making an attempt now instead of running away.
  • This approach treats all experienced resources as equals who happen to have expertise in different areas. It removes the stigma associated with having to get approval to share information and encourages experienced people to provide value using all of their skills in an unencumbered way.
  • It shows us that once we reach a certain level of expertise and experience, we can work collaboratively to learn fresh perspectives from each other. In fact, each of those boxes in my Lowerarchy chart may have several people with the same skill set, but they might have different equally valuable perspectives.
  • Novice resources have direct access to a variety of people with different areas of expertise without wondering if they are going through the proper channels.

Back to the Mountain

Revisiting our mountain analogy, I’ve turned the old catchphrase on its head and made a molehill out of a mountain. Try to really visualize this because i think it helps make it clear.

  • If you were literally walking at the base of a mountain range, and knew that all the resources you needed for survival were located at various heights, and you had to rely on line of sight to find them, what would be your chance of survival?
  • Now visualize a different experience. You are still asked to locate resources needed for survival, but now you are walking through the Great Plains where everything you need is laying on top of small hills no more than a few inches tall (the average height of a molehill).
  • At the mountain range, there are places where you can’t see more than a few inches past your face, but in the Great Plains, you can see for miles. Is it starting to make more sense now?

If we spend as much effort establishing Lowerarchies by changing our mountains into molehills, we can have a huge impact on making organizational communication more efficient and effective. Answers will come quickly and collaboration among experts in synergistic areas will create massive value for our clients.

In Closing

I realize this idea is revolutionary and not everyone will agree with it, especially those currently residing at the top of an org chart hierarchy. However, if we really think about it, should our personal and organizational success be defined by our titles or by our actual contributions? Think about it.

Long live the Lowerarchy!

 

References:

Thank you to http://thebonnieblueblog.blogspot.com/2010_12_26_archive.html for the great Obamacare image!

 

Sep 01

What is PM?

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERADuring our professional business interactions, we are under constant attack: from complex business problems, from changing requirements, from tight milestone timelines and budget, and…from…ACRONYMS! Some professionals use acronyms with the genuine motives of being concise and not repeating the same lengthy verbiage many times. However, we must remain vigilant for those who use acronyms in an attempt to prove their intellectual superiority. Placing priority on proving intellectual superiority above having clarity of communication is the wrong priority. Project engagements are partnerships toward a common goal, not competitions to determine who is more clever.

This is the second in my series of posts to explore the meaning of some commonly used acronyms in the enterprise. If we can enter the meeting room with the same knowledge of acronyms as our peers, we can start to take away the perceived power that comes with proving oneself more clever than his peers. Let’s end these shenanigans once and for all.

The acronym we will discuss today is PM. I think this one is especially important to review because I’ve seen it used to describe three different things in the enterprise. Let’s get to it and review the three definitions:

Project Management – This is probably the most commonly used definition for PM. Project Management includes creating and updating project plans, tracking project progress against established milestones and objectives, project status communication, identifying and mitigating risks, facilitating the escalation path of contentious requirements, and managing the contributions of project team members. Project Management includes gathering estimates of effort from project members in different roles and calculating how all those efforts fit together to accomplish the overall objectives in the agreed upon timeline.

Product Management – This is the series of activities that helps a product evolve in a positive direction over time. It is strategic rather than tactical. Whereas project managers customize an established product to suit specific client needs, product managers focus on the actual baseline product. They incorporate client feedback, suggestions form project teams within their own organization, emerging technologies in their market segment, and internal innovations they think will be valuable to their clients’ specific needs based on past experiences. For example, during my client projects, we might configure a dashboard to include client-specific metrics. That is a project management and business analysis exercise. The fact that dashboards are available as a configurable object in the first place is the work of product management. Product Management creates the “things” that everyone else customizes.

Performance Management – Performance Management in a business sense is typically divided into two main categories: Sales and Service. Sales performance management focuses on business rules used for compensating people based on their ability to meet predetermined sales targets. Since sales people could be selling a matrix of different products or working in diverse geographic territories, sales performance management usually includes very complex calculations to determine the commission to be paid. Service performance management focuses on driving improvement for tasks that happen after the sale. These include activities like fielding calls about products or services that are not working as expected. Effective service performance management is structured using the following root cause analysis workflow, starting with the broadest and moving toward the finest:

  1. Strategic Business Objectives
  2. KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
  3. Component Metrics
  4. Impacting (or “Related”) Metrics – This one is a parallel flow, not necessarily broader than behaviors and finer than component metrics.
  5. Front Line Behaviors
  6. Targeted coaching sessions that focus on the identified front line behaviors and explore behavior changing tools
  7. Analysis of performance improvement based on this targeted coaching

Performance Management can have a more technical definition as well. When describing technical systems, it refers to efforts to make database processes run faster, complex reports load faster on a web page, etc.

Let’s add “PM” to our arsenal so we are prepared to combat attempts to muddy the waters of engaging partnerships during our projects. So next time someone starts discussing “PM” during a meeting, rather than wondering what he means, you can now interject with, “to which PM are you referring?”since you now know three of them. Little by little, we will build an acronym dictionary that will help us avoid the game of figuring out who is more clever and move onto the real objective – creating massive value for our clients.

 

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