Sunday, 27 December 2015

The Amazon Way

I recently completed The Amazon Way by John Rossman, a book that extols the 14 leadership principles that drives Amazon as a company, as well as each and every employee lives and breathes each principle daily. In this book, John uses real life experiences and stories from his Amazon days, I always appreciate such war stories with concrete examples linking back to real-world experience.

These principles resonated a lot with me (I could identify and think of personal experiences/tendencies relating to all fourteen, I wouldn't have minded working in Amazon!), and so I decided to write each principle down so that I can remember them better, even though these principles exist as part of the Amazon Careers site here.

I find writing things down helps me remember things better than reading does, here's the 14 Leadership principles:

1. Obsess Over the Customer

Leaders at Amazon start with the customer and work backwards, seeking continually to earn and keep the customer's trust. Although leaders pay attention to their competitors, they obsess over their customers.

2. Take Ownership of Results

Leaders at Amazon are owners. They think long term, and they don't sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They never sat, "That's not my job." They act on behalf of the entire company, not just their own team.

3. Invent and Simplify

Leaders at Amazon expect and require innovation and invention from their teams and always find ways to simplify the processes they touch. They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by "not invented here" thinking. And they ate willing to innovate fearlessly despite the fact that they may be misunderstood for a long time.

4. Leaders are Right - A lot

Leaders at Amazon are right -- not always, but a lot.  They have strong business judgement, and they spread that strong judgement to others through the utter clarity with which they define their goals and the metrics they use to measure success.

5. Hire and Develop the Best

Leaders at  Amazon raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion.  They recognise exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organisation.  Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others.

6. Insist on the Highest Standards

Leaders at Amazon set high standards -- standards that many people consider unreasonably high. Leaders are continually raising the bar and driving their teams to deliver an ever-increasing level of quality. Leaders also ensure that the few defects that elude the quality process do no get sent down the line, and that problems are fixed so they stay fixed.

7. Think Big

Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders at Amazon create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for big new ways to serve customers.

8. Have a Bias for Action

Leaders at Amazon value calculated risk taking.  Speed matters in business. Many decisions and actions are reversible and do not need extensive study.  So when you are in doubt, try something -- and take advantage of the opportunities that being the first in the field can offer.

9. Practice Frugality

A leader at Amazon tries not to spend money on things that don't matter to customers.  Frugality breeds resourcefulness, self-sufficiency, and invention.  No extra points are awarded for headcount or budget size.

10. Be Vocally Self-Critical

Leaders at Amazon do not consider themselves, or their teams, above criticism.  They benchmark themselves against the best, and they are proactive about revealing problems or mistakes, even when doing so is awkward or embarrassing.

11. Earn the Trust of Others

Leaders at Amazon are sincerely open-minded, genuinely listen, and examine their own strongest convictions with humility.  Their openness enables them to trust those around them -- and to earn the trust of others in return.

12. Dive Deep

Leaders at Amazon operate at all levels, stay connected to the details, and audit them frequently.  No task is beneath them, because they know that only a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of a process can really uncover opportunities and solve problems before they become insurmountable.

13. Have a Backbone -- Disagree and Commit

Leaders at Amazon have conviction.  They are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting; they do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion.  But once a decision is made, they commit to it wholeheartedly.

14. Deliver Results

Leaders at Amazon focus on the key outputs for their business and deliver them with the right quality and in a timely fashion.  Despite setbacks, they rise to the occasion and never settle.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

What's your thinking style?

Pic Source: Daily Telegraph
I came across this exercise recently from one of my holiday reading, Socrates' Way by Ronald Gross, that I thought it useful to share with others.  

I have always had a personal bias to IQ testing, especially the ones when applying for a job, HR puts you through a battery of tests, aimed at gauging one's IQ / Intelligence. Google & Microsoft too, up until a few years back, used brainteasers & other puzzles to sift out candidates at interview stages... 

So I've always had a natural aversion and impatience to these tests because I didn't feel comfortable with one number to be associated as a measure of me, my whole self...and thus resisted & challenged the point of such tests for the workplace...

The IQ test was supposed to measure your capacity to think and learn and therefore predict your success in school (and the workplace). However, contemporary psychologists have debunked this whole idea of a single capacity called intelligence. You have no one but at least seven intelligences, according to Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner:
  • Linguistic intelligence
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence
  • Spatial intelligence
  • Musical intelligence
  • Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence
  • Intrapersonal intelligence (knowing yourself)
  • Interpersonal intelligence (knowing other people)

Simple Exercise to pinpoint some of your Strengths

Circle/Note the numbers of these descriptions that you fell apply to you:
  1. You easily remember nice turns of phrase or memorable quotes and use them deftly in conversation.
  2. You sense quickly when someone you are with is troubled about something.
  3. You are fascinated by scientific and philosophical questions like "When did time begin?"
  4. You can find your way around a new area or neighbourhood very quickly.
  5. You are regarded as quite graceful and rarely feel awkward in your movements when learning a new sport or dance.
  6. You can sing on key.
  7. You regularly read the science pages of your newspaper and look at magazines on science and technology.
  8. You note other people's errors in using words or grammar, even if you don't correct them.
  9. You often can figure out how something works or how to fix something that's broken without asking for help.
  10. You can readily imagine how other people play the roles they do in their work or families and imaginatively see yourself in their roles.
  11. You can remember in detail the layout and landmarks of places you've visited on vacations.
  12. You enjoy music and have favourite performers.
  13. You like to draw.
  14. You dance well.
  15. You organise things in your kitchen, bathroom, and at your desk according to categories and in patterns.
  16. You feel confident in interpreting what other people do in terms of what they are feeling.
  17. You like to tell stories and are considered a good storyteller.
  18. You sometimes enjoy different sounds in your environment.
  19. When you meet new people, you often make connections.
  20. You feel you have a keen sense of what you can and can't do.
If all three descriptions of these trios apply to you, you probably are strong in that intelligence, even if you haven't cultivated it:
  • 1, 8, 17: linguistic intelligence
  • 6, 12, 18: musical intelligence
  • 3, 7, 15: logical-mathematical intelligence
  • 4, 11, 13: spatial intelligence
  • 5, 9, 14: bodily-kinesthetic intelligence
  • 10, 16, 20: intrapersonal intelligence (knowing yourself)
  • 2, 10, 19:  interpersonal intelligence (knowing others)
When I did the exercise, I'd circled: 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20.

Bringing it to the workplace

I have come across the Socratic Method which was used by Eli Goldratt in his Theory of Constraints books (I've got one last book of his to read), and hence started to study the method in more detail, to learn and adapt my own way of thinking, apply the methods to my work and life situations, and use it as tool in my day-to-day consulting engagements and coaching sessions. The agile coaching community also refer deeply to the Socratic Method of asking questions, not providing solutions - and it all starts with knowing one's self. If you know yourself, then you'll be aware of your own strengths & weaknesses, as well as being able to at least relate to others.

In the workplace, we often work with teams - and in the agile methods - we aspire to work in self organising, cross-functional teams. As a leader (Scrum Master, Manager, etc.) it is essential to know the dynamics of the team, right down to individual character strengths and motivational values...why not try this exercise with your whole team?? It's bound to shed new light on things?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Review: Agile! The Good, the Hype and the Ugly

In October, I spent some time in the company of Bertrand Meyer, author of "Agile!: The Good, the Hype and the Ugly". This book was written to be an independent, impartial and objective study of the various agile methods (scrum, xp, lean, crystal) viewed against the knowledge-base of software engineering methods and principles. The author, being no stranger to software engineering, is well-known in the computer world, across both academia and industry. He took it upon himself to do the research, investigate the agile landscape breadth-and-depth, probing assertions, practices, principles and values using a scientific (and empirical) approach with searching questions, thus providing an overall assessment. This wasn't purely an academic exercise, Meyer walked the path of agile himself, is even a certified as a Scrum Master, his team are using selected methods of agile in their own product development, so it's not like Meyer is throwing the baby out with the bath water! On the contrary, Meyer tries to remain objective, unbiased and fair in his reporting and analysis.

This book may just as well be the first book to read if you're a software manager, entering the agile-space, who's potentially feeling uncomfortable with perhaps some misplaced(?) "baggage" of software engineering, old-school-style projects, as touted by some agilists. Meyer has done almost all the background work for you, covering and assessing the popular agile methods in play today.

I was quite intrigued by the book's title, who wouldn't be!!?? You must admit it is quite EDGY, axe-to-grind, in-your-face-daring-the-agile-pundits - agilistas. I just HAD to get my hands on a copy, I actually waited a long time to buy this book (due to the bad Rand/Dollar exchange rate). I have voraciously read most of the popular books on agile (Schwaber, Cohn, Poppendieck, Rubin, Appelo, Pichler, Derby et. al, you name it), that extol this new thing "agile", often claiming a silent revolution is coming to overtake the industry, that "Software Engineering" should belong to the annals of history, and instead welcome "Software Craftsmanship" as in.  And when I read these signature-series books, I do get caught up in the rush-of-it-all, excited, converted and have actually been a promoter for #agile for ten+ years...I was caught hook, line and sinker!

Then when I came across "Agile! The Good, the Hype and the Ugly" written by a person very well respected in the industry, I had to ask myself, if I may have actually fallen for some hype, maybe I didn't ask probing questions, without having empirical data to substantiate claims. I wanted to find out if I was potentially backing the wrong horse, wanted to check some of my own values, personal-biases or not, of software engineering experiences held weight or not, but most important, the title being so catchy, I was rather curious to find out what the "Hype & Ugly" bits of agile this book claimed were...

Since my background in software is in embedded systems (Set-Top-Box systems) and highly-available-systems (Real-Time-Streaming/Encryption-Services) I grew up with the scientific engineering mindset (BSc. Electronics Engineering & Masters Computer Science), so I often found myself being selective with vanilla Scrum and had in the past, cautioned people against following a particular agile method with extreme dogma, i.e. I maintained a certain amount of discipline and structure was always needed. This is primarily because of the particular domain-experience I was coming from, which wasn't high-level application non-critical development (Mobile apps, WebApps, Websites), or application development that relied on a stable SDK/engines (i.e. the expectation of a stable operating system, database, etc upon which to build applications on top of).

This book, in my view, should be essential reading for any software manager, looking to understand agile methods before diving head-first into a vanilla, textbook-implementations.

For people convinced about agile to-the-letter, this book will be a little edgy for you - one needs a cool head, and openness to accept some of the challenges that Meyer puts forward, especially when it comes to backing up assertions of values/practices/principles or citations of productivity-gains, without sound scientific and empirical data to back up those claims.  Meyer highlights such challenges from some of the books that I myself have held in high esteem for many years, so take it on the chin...

Meyer's style of writing is somewhat academic, factual, but also practical with some nerdy-humour thrown in-between. Meyer has written with sincerity, remained as open-and-unbiased-as-humanly-possible, and made a conscious effort not to promote his own personal projects, products and frameworks. Meyer cuts to the core of uncomfortable-but-some-relevant truths, especially challenging assertions and statements that lack scientific validation, or backed up by empirical studies. He writes with a depth of experience and passion for practical software methods that it forces you to think hard about the course you're on, the things you just accepted and may have taken for granted (e.g. forgoing necessary engineering practices such as a little bit of design up-front to support changing requirements).

You have to be patient with Meyer as he unpacks in some surgical, analytical detail the various topics, in fact, the selling point of the book's title, is actually left right till the last chapter, so you have to read from start-to-finish, because the essence of the Hype, Ugly, Good & Brilliant is saved for the end (building upon his arguments and case-points from the earlier chapters).

I was taken on a roller coaster ride, experiencing moments of pure resonance thinking I am on the same wavelength as this guy riding high, in-phase. Yet also, there were instances when I felt a little edgy, somewhat uncomfortable, noticeably shifting my position as I lay in bed reading at night. Stopping, putting the book aside, to sleep over it. [I am two+ years into consulting as a Systems & Software Engineering Management consultant, doing the odd agile coaching gig here and there, advising on agile systems processes - and here is Meyer taking issue with consultants!]

In keeping with my deep-review style for special books - topics struck certain nerves, either resonating (fully in agreement with Meyer) or feeling of discomfort (not sure, not convinced), so I graphed the below curve, which is how I resonated with Meyer's assertions in the last chapter, specifically the edgy bits: Meyer's UGLY & HYPED assertions:

The blue area shows the feel-good, things that resonated with me, the extent of which I agreed and was comfortable with the ideas. The amber spots show the areas that made me feel uncomfortable, my level of discomfort, that either I'm not convinced, or have some personal biases that's potentially blinding me from seeing the points. On the whole though, resonance wins over discomfort.

[Aside: Here is Meyer's blog post introducing why he wrote this book, you'll find detail about the book's table of contents too]

Here's the detail of these comments, for each topic - In what follows, read as:
Title, Level of Resonance, Level of Discomfort, Comments

The Bad and the Ugly parts of Agile

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

My Character Strengths Profile

I am currently researching topics around well-being and happiness. One of the books I'm reading is by Shawn AchorThe Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology that Fuel Success and Performance at Work". So far, so good. One of the references Achor makes is to this free survey from the VIA Institute on Character, who produce personalised reports called Character Strengths Profile, that shows you how to LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE. 

Achor highly recommended his readers do the survey, since having an idea of what your key strengths are, will help you along the way in making transitions to a more healthy and balanced living.

So I took the survey, it took me less than ten minutes to complete, and here are my results. As with all these surveys or psychometric tools, I take them with a pinch of salt - according to this tool, it summarises your overall character strengths in prioritized order of 24 attributes, my report follows:

VIA Character Strengths (Free Report)

1. Love Of Learning

Mastering new skills, topics, and bodies of knowledge, whether on one's own or formally; related to the strength of curiosity but goes beyond it to describe the tendency to add systematically to what one knows.

2. Judgment

Thinking things through and examining them from all sides; not jumping to conclusions; being able to change one's mind in light of evidence; weighing all evidence fairly.

3. Honesty

Speaking the truth but more broadly presenting oneself in a genuine way and acting in a sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for one's feelings and actions.

4. Creativity

Thinking of novel and productive ways to conceptualize and do things; includes artistic achievement but is not limited to it.

5. Bravery

Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain; speaking up for what’s right even if there’s opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular; includes physical bravery but is not limited to it.

6. Leadership

Encouraging a group of which one is a member to get things done and at the same time maintain good relations within the group; organizing group activities and seeing that they happen.

7. Spirituality

Having coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe; knowing where one fits within the larger scheme; having beliefs about the meaning of life that shape conduct and provide comfort.

8. Appreciation Of Beauty & Excellence

Noticing and appreciating beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in various domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

9. Prudence

Being careful about one's choices; not taking undue risks; not saying or doing things that might later be regretted.

10. Gratitude

Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thanks.

11. Perseverance

Finishing what one starts; persevering in a course of action in spite of obstacles; “getting it out the door”; taking pleasure in completing tasks.

12. Fairness

Treating all people the same according to notions of fairness and justice; not letting feelings bias decisions about others; giving everyone a fair chance.

13. Hope

Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about.

14. Teamwork

Working well as a member of a group or team; being loyal to the group; doing one's share.

15. Perspective

Being able to provide wise counsel to others; having ways of looking at the world that make sense to oneself/others.

16. Forgiveness

Forgiving those who have done wrong; accepting others’ shortcomings; giving people a second chance; not being vengeful.

17. Kindness

Doing favors and good deeds for others; helping them; taking care of them.

18. Humility

Letting one's accomplishments speak for themselves; not regarding oneself as more special than one is.

19. Self-Regulation

Regulating what one feels and does; being disciplined; controlling one's appetites and emotions.

20. Curiosity

Taking an interest in ongoing experience for its own sake; finding subjects and topics fascinating; exploring and discovering.

21. Love

Valuing close relations with others, in particular those in which sharing & caring are reciprocated; being close to people.

22. Social Intelligence

Being aware of the motives/feelings of others and oneself; knowing what to do to fit into different social situations; knowing what makes other people tick.

23. Zest

Approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated.

24. Humor

Liking to laugh and tease; bringing smiles to other people; seeing the light side; making (not necessarily telling) jokes.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Personal Metrics leading to Self-Aware Improvement - the Next Big Thing?

When I ventured into blogging back in Jan 2011, one of my motivations was to take a chance, a leap-of-faith and just get-myself-out there (thanks to Seth Godin & Jeff Jarvis for the inspiration). I wanted to test the waters with writing about my work & professional experiences, as well as experiment with the thought of sharing some ideas of mine, openly and publicly - to gather feedback (at the risk of someone stealing the idea), maybe build up a follower-base, or have people share and link to the post, thus getting some far though, the going has been really quite slow! But I'm not going to give up - so here's an idea I've been brewing for the last few months, and haven't had much of a chance to do anything about it, until today - first step: put thoughts on paper, and gather feedback, so here goes:

Idea In Brief

I believe that as human beings, we have an innate desire to grow and improve ourselves, to become a better society, aspiring to heights of the kind of social evolution as portrayed by Star Trek, utopia. In order to get there, we are constantly assessing our way of life, the impact we have on ourselves, our fellow family members, friends, colleagues, neighbours, community and society in general. We don't wake up each day wishing to cause trouble and make the next guy's life miserable.

So my underlying assumption is that: People want to improve themselves through becoming self-aware. In order to do this, we need some form of monitoring and measurement, data about ourselves, that we can use to piece together a story that shows where we're lacking, areas for improvement, etc.

It has been quite difficult to have scientific data, that can be quantified, abstracted and relationships drawn that map back to our psychological state-of-mind. Seeking professional help and counsel may help (but it is costly), reading self-improvement books and other emotional intelligence / psychometrics material is also useful - but this knowledge tends to get forgotten pretty quickly. 

The challenge is in remembering and detecting emotional scenarios, and having the sense of mind to pick up on your emotional triggers, consciously and in-the-moment. I found these kind of personal interventions difficult to achieve in practice, we are human after-all, and natural survival instincts are likely to kick-in the moment there is situation that involves confrontation, be it physical or mental scenario.

Imagine though, that it was possible to be collecting information about your own personal state-of-mind, by measuring physical stimuli, like your heart rate, blood pressure, pupil/retina dilation, shift-in-body language, tone of voice, sweaty palms, etc. Imagine these signals are being captured, processed in the background, and relationships being made by some intelligent algorithm, that summarises and draws relationships about your whole self (mind, body & soul). We have a plethora of devices collecting metrics about our physical activities (running, cycling, walking, heart rate monitors, etc.) but very little in the form of taking some these physical metrics and translating into your mental / psychological profile.

Imagine that each day, you are able to review your state-of-being. It tells you the events during the day that led to spikes in heart rate, nervous tensions or uncomfortable experiences. It could also tell you when you likely experienced situations of happiness, joy and tension, etc. You then use this information to consciously make changes in your life, adapt to scenarios, possibly seeking out the situations that promote a positive sentiment, and embark on plan of action to deal with negative situations...

This is what I call the dawn of Personal Metrics leading to Self-Awareness Improvements.

I believe with the variety of smart-monitoring devices out there, from your smartphones, smart cameras and smart-watches - there is an opportunity to make sense of this data focusing on personal data metrics. Big Data is going to enter the personal space, seriously, big time! 

Privacy issues aside, my assumption is that people want to improve, and wouldn't mind using real data-about-themselves to do so.

In the next section, I share some of the core scenarios where this technology can be used:

Core Scenarios & Stories

Scenario 1: Parenting - keeping an eye on your child's stress patterns

Alice and Bob are new to the parenting scene, their child, Sam is about to enter a new school. As parents, Alice & Bob are concerned about Sam's well-being throughout the day. They are are able to monitor Sam throughout (almost in real-time if they need to). At the end of every day, both parents review Sam's stress levels - from this they can tell whether Sam is having a good time, or is experiencing some challenges & stress points. They use this information as an opportunity to find out more from Sam, get to better at understanding the situations (maybe it's only during break time, or there is one particular class that stresses Sam out)....

Scenario 2: Education - Are the students OK?

People often say that society is a result of background, up-bringing and education. Imagine if, as educators, it was possible to monitor your students, to genuinely find out how your students are doing, possibly find out before it's too late, of students that need additional help, coaching and mentoring. 
Imagine that in a group situation, the educator can assess in real-time, whether students are comfortable with the topic or not, maybe there's tension in the room that needs the teacher to change tact (call a break, or address the elephant in the room?)

Scenario 3: Adult - Workplace - Seeking Happiness at work

Bob is employed as a professional in a multinational corporate. He feels like he is just a cog-in-this-big-machine, often facing issues of corporate politics and uncomfortable confrontational situations.  Alice is a self-made, serial entrepreneur, always looking out for the next big thing, networking and improving on her successes.  Joe, like Bob, is also a corporate-member, but he is an agitator, always questioning the status quo, passionate about innovating within the big corporate.
Bob, Alice & Joe have one thing in common - the quest for self-improvement, leading to better, fruitful outcomes in the workplace. 
At the end of every day, the trio reviews their personal metrics. Bob realises that there's certain points in the week that his stress/tension levels are exceeding his normal thresholds. He then correlates that to specific times in his calendar where he has meetings with his manager. Bob takes note and sets a personal reminder on his phone to monitor his situation at the next convention.
Alice finds her heart rate & voice-tone changing whenever she's involved in a pitch to a prospective client, she also finds that she gets really nervous (her personal monitor is able to measure sweaty palms) as she drives in for the meetings.
Joe finds he gets real excited in brainstorming and strategic sessions, and gets really annoyed in a certain meeting with a certain colleague, so much so, that if Joe continues on this trend he may end up destroying the relationship with this colleague, or possibly, harm his health. Joe finds that he generally smokes a cigarette or two after an encounter with this colleague. Joe desperately needs to monitor this over time, and seek out ways to change for the better.

Scenario 4: Coaching, Facilitating & Mentoring Workshops

Alice is a professional coach, facilitator and leadership guide to C-level and senior-management professionals in corporates. Often, Alice starts her workshops by doing Psychometrics 101, getting people to understand themselves, what triggers / motivates / drives individuals in both personal and group encounters. Alice often finds herself facilitating group workshops, in strategic brainstorming sessions, such C-level people are indeed opinionated and not the easiest bunch of people to work with.
Alice, being a qualified psychologist, keeping up-to-date with mental and emotional research, has often relied on her own wit, intuition, gut and finesse in facilitating these workshops - one thing is clear though, she's not a mind reader and has often in the past misread a few situations. Alice could really do with some scientific data to help her improve her workshops, leading to win-win outcomes.
Alice has just the solution. In the workshops she now runs, she has a central console that shows vital information about all the participants in the room. Using this console, Alice can pick up on subtle discomforts, get a sense for the feeling around the room, detecting stressful patterns or spikes - that alerts Alice to change the tact, tone, direction of the workshop.  It wasn't easy getting buy-in from participants, but in the end, in the interests of productivity and successful outcome of the event, people actually look forward to having positive confrontational issues surface quickly, and nip them in the bud.
Corporate C-level managers welcome decisive action, and this technique now has helped Alice lead and transform many a management team. 

Scenario 5: HR Practitioner & People Transformation

Alice is an HR professional tasked with helping her company deal with risks of employee psychological issues, state-of-mind, happiness and well-being in the workplace. Recently, in the last five years alone, a handful of employees had committed suicide much to the surprise of colleagues - if only they had picked up on some subtle cues or changes in behaviour, these deaths could have been avoided.
At first, Alice and the rest of HR team dismissed these events as facts-of-life, part of living in South Africa, one of the most depressing and stressful countries in the world. Life is tough in South Africa, people come to work with their personal issues and challenges, it's very difficult to keep work and personal life separate.  Clearly the line managers are not qualified to detect personal, deep rooted problems, and some people are really good at wearing masks masquerading, pretending on the surface that things are good, when in fact, dig deeper and the story gets concerning.
Alice has decided to experiment with a new technology that promises to make sense of people's emotional & mental state of mind, sense of nervousness and overall well-being, by using scientific principles based on measuring physical cues like heart rate (faster heart rates indicate increasing stress levels), body-language, facial cues and other physical measurements that can be used to show patterns in a person's overall mental wellness.
Alice is aware of the data sensitivity issues, protection of personal information & big-brother like challenges, to get employees to consent to a level of monitoring. Alice believes that it is not only in the best interest of the company to ensure a harmonious workplace environment, but also in the best interest of the individual, to raise above the personal challenges - and together, seek comfort there is counsel available to people to take them through a personal transformational journey.  Alice believes in the end, this will add value to society overall, in time.
Alice also sees opportunity for line managers to make positive use of the personal data analytics & metrics. Managers can gain insights into team & individual performance, assess the team's maturity level with real data, taking actions to help foster a more balanced and positive working environment. An added bonus is that with near real-time insights, managers can pick up on potential serious issues before there's an outbreak, diffusing potentially explosive scenarios before they even happen!

What's in a Name?

I strongly feel that personal development is important and having a way to measure one's progress on the path to self improvement will be very useful. Personally, I have been monitoring my own self, by seeking out a more healthier work-life balance. Recently I made an intention to work a four-day week. I've also started measuring my happiness-at-work throughout the day, I've got a personal Trello board setup where I track my day's experiences as Good, Bad or Indifferent. I use this data to plot on a chart my happiness levels, and if the chart radiates more to bad experiences, then I take action to change. I am also trying to development a personal happiness for me, having complementary technology that supports my personal development plans, will be quite beneficial indeed!

So I am thinking of a pushing this idea out as a product - I have an idea of what needs to happen, I just need to make a start. Hence this blog post, and taking a chance to first get feedback from the public, state my assumptions and aspirations, and get people to comment either validating I'm onto something that could be great, or affirming that I'm nuts and should just stop now!!

Anyway, here's some names I've been thinking about for this technology firm:
  • (is taken, I registered instead)
  • mybigdata or mbd (taken)
  • eqlytics (.com available)
  • psychelytics (.com available) 
  • psychometrica (taken, so I registered instead)
  • dataself (taken)
  • medata (taken)
  • mydatalytics (taken)
  • mindfulytics (.com available)
  • dataspirations (.com available)
  • mevolution (taken)

Feedback Please

I have taken a chance by exposing, what could be an incredibly great, or incredibly stupid idea - but that's the chance I'm willing to take. I am experimenting with the connection-economy, the wisdom-of-the-crowds...please share your thoughts. Do you think I could turn this idea into a start-up?? Would people be interested?? Any angel investors out there?? Please leave comments on the blog, or drop me an email....

Monday, 21 September 2015

Management Coaching: Group Strategies & Objectives

This post is about my recent experience on coaching a team of mid-level engineering managers, responsible for functional areas of quality engineering / assurance (software testing, automation tools, user acceptance testing & field trials, quality assurance process). The engagement lasted just over two months. I was called in to mentor, guide and coach a group of four managers, working with them to create their group strategies such that they aligned with the overall company goals, divisional objectives, ultimately working through each line manager and team member. The result was an aligned strategy for each group, measurable and specific, simple and uncomplicated, that each manager could prove traceability back to overall divisional objectives and company goals.

This particular group of managers had just been through a big divisional restructure, fairly new in the management position, working with new people, new reporting managers as well. The team sizes these managers were responsible for ranged from 20-to-80 people. The challenge was not only in setting up the technical strategy, but also figuring out how to effectively manage the people challenges. My clients (General Manager GM & Head of Department HOD) were keen on getting the strategies drafted so they could carry through with the rest of the implementation planning, motivate for future budgets, as well as feedback to the business on the overall progress (and success thereof) of the recent restructure.

So the engagement was kept brief, short and somewhat fast-paced. We didn't have the luxury of time to spend days experimenting with tools & techniques. At first I was quite interested in adopting the Business Model Canvas as the template for each group manager. I didn't have much experience with using the canvas specifically for department strategies, but was keen to try it out. Whilst I've read the book and experimented with some models in my head, I was sure I could adapt the canvas for business strategies. But time was limiting, I did not want to confuse people, and after bouncing the idea with some peers, I figured this was going to be too much trouble, would need a lot of training and facilitation, mindsets would change as well -- something I didn't have time for. 

Note to self: Still pursue the business model canvas as a template for management strategies!

I also considered maybe taking Google's Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) process and applying similar principles. Again, I decided rather not, because I didn't want to come across as shoving down some other company's ideology onto this new team. OKRs would require a few roadshows and experiments to get right, and time wasn't on my side.

So I decided to use KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid - common-sense approach. Also remembering Chip n Dan Heaths SUCCESs criteria from their work on Made to Stick - Simple Unexpected Concrete Credible Emotional Story, and of course throw in the classic management technique of SMART - Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-Bound -- we would be on our way to having a tangible strategy that management would approve.

With roughly just over 100 hours committed for this engagement, spread over a period of two months, the approach I took was the following:
  1. Get agreement that when it comes to management strategy, it's all about being aligned to business goals. So my aim was to provide traceability top-down-up from Company Goals <<<>>> Business Unit Objectives <<<>>> Divisional Objectives <<<>>> Department Objectives <<<>>> Group Objectives <<<>>> Individual Objectives. 
  2. Agree that any activity that does not have a direct link back to a goal, is considered waste and should be canned. 
  3. Seek out senior management's expectations - what were they after really, via simple survey feedback mechanism.
  4. Get the line managers to start thinking strategically by asking some thought-provoking questions - another survey.
  5. Meet with each manager one-on-one. Walk through survey results, compare manager's results with senior managers. Talk about alignment issues. Touch on topics for further thinking.
  6. Teach the concepts around measurement, visualisation, story-telling, envisioning the future, taking ownership, how to deal with bottlenecks, and HR/people challenges.
  7. For each manager, iterate a few rounds of draft strategies
  8. Get all managers to review jointly in a room, feedback and alignment from colleagues important.
  9. Present and walk through strategies with senior management - get approval on priorities and overall acceptance.
  10. Close the engagement & get feedback

Coaching Feedback

Both GM & HOD shared positive feedback - they were impressed by the level of detail, analysis & thought that their new managers applied.  The GM's asked me to extend my coaching to the rest of his groups on this journey, the next one he has in mind is his Project Management Office :-)

Here's some feedback directly from the manager's I coached:
Muhammad was really helpful and a pleasure to work with. His insight and knowledge was amazing.  Also, being on a Programme level gives him visibility from above end to end which mean that he can relate back the experiences and pain points of the different business units etc. What was great, was that he had the ability to ask all the right questions and in a simple form. The way in which he articulates the stuff that we are all thinking about but have no idea how to put together and say it or put it into simple words just leaves me in awe. I looked forward to every one my sessions with him. Without his input and guidance, I now feel, that my department's strategy would have been quite off the mark of where it actually should of and needed to be.
Muhammad's ability to convey his ideas and visualize something that's on his mind always amazes me. The coaching sessions were hugely beneficial and helped me think out the box. He has great insight and I believe a few sessions with him will greatly benefit your career. 
I have enjoyed working with Muhammad because he knows how to get the best out of you, he ask questions, he challenges your way of thinking, he makes you believe in yourself, above everything else, he knows what he's doing and he's definitely a complete Coach. 

Template for Strategies

Each manager crafted their strategy around the following:

  1. Who are we and what do we stand for? Your one-line mantra.
  2. What is the goal of [YOUR DEPARTMENT] & hence impact on [YOUR GROUP]'s goals?
  3. Envisioning the future - i.e. Tell a story of the end-result "Imagine if..."
  4. Table that shows your Aspirations, Expectations & Reality 
  5. Targets to achieve: Short Term (Dec '15), Medium Term (Mar '16), Long term (Mid-16)
  6. For each target, top 3 measurements - i.e. How are you going to measure progress?
  7. Summarise your main obstacles and challenges (where senior management could assist).

Sunday, 6 September 2015

On being Remarkable

From the back cover of The Big Moo...

Remarkable is ...

Remarkable is being unafraid to stand out.

Remarkable is having a fire in your belly and and idea that won't quit.

Remarkable is telling the truth, always.

Remarkable is knowing that a risky idea might fail, but a boring idea will definitely fail.

Remarkable is failing often and then trying again.

Remarkable is more doing and less planning. More testing and less waiting. More dreaming and less sleeping.

Remarkable is when you stand for something and make it happen and change the world - or your business or your life - along the way.

Remarkable isn't up to you. Remarkable is in the eye of the customer. If your customer decides something you do is worth remarking on, then, by definition, it's remarkable.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Three Rules of Life

Here's another bite from The Big Moo that helps me re-remind myself about the bigger picture, and is quite apt in terms of the journey I now find myself in, with both my personal and professional life:

Three Rules of Life (and everything else)

1. Your Attitude Is Your Life

You can choose your attitude. And your attitude changes your life and the lives of those around you. rarely does a bad attitude solve the problem. Typically, when something goes wrong or feels unpleasant, we get crabby and yell at the wrong people. We may solve the problem, but the crabbiness is an unnecessary extra. Solve the problem without the crummy attitude and everyone wins.

2. Maximize Your Options

When we lock ourselves into one possibility of how things must be done, our businesses, our lives, and the lives of those around us get stuck. Maximize your options. Before you settle on just the right thing, play out a few more possibilities. In all things, big and small, open yourself to the possible options. Then trust yourself to choose the right one for the moment.

3. Don't Let the Seeds Stop You From Enjoying the Watermelon

Tell this to yourself every day. It will help change your attitude. ;-)

Sunday, 16 August 2015

On Leadership

Here's another snippet from "The Big Moo" on the philosophies of leadership that promotes my own value system:

Philosophies on Leadership

  • Be impatient, don't tolerate mediocrity.
  • Be confident in your ability - you CAN make a difference in the world.
  • Have extreme passion for your work and those your are working with.
  • Never compromise your integrity.
  • Risk is the only reward - without risk, there is no benefit.
  • Expect isolation, separation, and intolerance.
  • Take the time to know and connect with worlds that are vastly different from yours - your greatest discoveries reside there.
  • Dare to be different.

Extracted from chapter "The student becomes the teacher".

Saturday, 8 August 2015

What, exactly are you afraid of?

Here's another snippet from the Big Moo that resonated strongly with me...

What, exactly are you afraid of?

Here's a list. You pick:
  • getting yelled at by the boss
  • getting fired
  • having your company close down for lack of business
  • your company gets acquired and you get fired
  • not getting promoted
  • making promises you can't keep
  • doing the wrong thing
  • getting caught using the copy machine after hours
  • not knowing the right answer
Here's the big news: If your strategy is to lie low, do your job, follow instructions, and hope that nobody notices you, (a) nobody WILL ever notice you, and (b) you're actually increasing the chances of something bad happening.

If, on the other hand, you develop a reputation as the person who is always pushing the envelope, challenging the organisation to go to the next level, and using your influence to get good stuff done, you've got the world's best job security. If you never pretend to know all the answers, nobody will hate you when you say, "I don't know." And if you surround yourself with a team that depends on you to lead them to the next big thing, you all benefit.

You can't shrink your way to greatness. 

-- Extracted from the Big Moo, Seth Godin

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

They say I'm Extreme

Here's another snippet from the Big Moo that was written just for me :-), and sums up pretty much of my own life & work experience thus far:

They say I'm Extreme

They say I'm extreme.
I say I'm a realist.

They say I demand too much.
I say they accept mediocrity and continuous improvement too readily.

They say, "We can't handle this much change."
I say, "Your job and career are in jeopardy; what other options do you have?"

They say, "What's wrong with a 'good product'?"
I say, "Wal-Mart or China or noth are about to eat your lunch. Why can't you provide instead a fabulous experience?"

They say, "Take a deep breath. Be calm."
I say, "Tell it to Wal-Mart. Tell it to China. Tell it to India. Tell it to Dell. Tell it to Microsoft."

They say the Web is a useful tool.
I say the Web changes everything. Now.

They say, "We need an initiative."
I say, "We need a dream. And dreamers."

They say great design is "nice".
I say great design is necessary.

They say, "Effective governance is important."
I say bold, brash boards that are representative of the market served - more than a token woman or two and an empty seat for the "forthcoming Hispanic" - are an imperative. Now.

The say, "Plan it."
I say, "Do it."

They say, "We need more steady, loyal employees."
I say, "We need more 'freaks' who routinely tell those in charge to take a flying leap...before it's too late."

They say, "We need Good People."
I say, "We need Quirky Talent."

They say, "We like people who, with steely determination, say, 'I can make it better.'"
I say, "I love people who, with a certain maniacal gleam in their eye, perhaps even a giggle, say, 'I can turn the world upside down. Watch me!'"

They say, "Sure, we need change."
I say we nee revolution now.

They say, "Fast follower."
I say, "Battered and bruised leader."

They say, "Conglomerate and imitate!"
I say, "Create and innovate!"

They say, "Market share."
I say, "Market creation."

They say, "Improve and maintain."
I say, "Destroy and reimagine."

They say, "Normal."
I say, "Weird."

They say, "Happy balance."
I say, "Creative tension."

The say a favor a "team that works and lives in harmony."
I say, "Give me a raucous brawl among the most creative people imaginable."

They say, "Peace, brother."
I say, "Bruise my feelings. Flatten my ego. Save my job."

They say, "Basic black."
I say, "Technicolor rules!"

They say, "We need happy customers."
I say, "Give me pushy, needy, nasty, provocative customers."

They say, "We seek Harvard M.B.A.s"
I say, "I seek certificate-free 'Ph.D.s' from the School of Hard Knocks."

They say the want recruits with "spotless records."
I say, "The spots are what matter most."

They say, "Integrity is important."
I say, "Tell the unvarnished truth, all the time... or take a hike."

They say diversity is a "good thing."
I say diversity is a breath of fresh, creative air - absolutely necessary for economic salvation in perilous times.

They say it's "daunting."
I say it's "a hoot."

They say, "Zero defects."
I say, "A day without a screwup or two is a day pissed away."

They say, "Think about it."
I say, "Try it."

They say, "Plan it."
I say, "Test it."

They say, "Radical change takes a decade."
I say, "Radical change takes a minute."

They say, "Times are changing."
I say, "Everything has already changed. Tomorrow is the first day of your revolution... or you're toast."

They say, "We can't all be revolutionaries."
I say, "Why not?"

They say this is just a rant.
I say this is just reality.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

How to be a failure

I'm a huge follower of Seth Godin, been dipping into and out of this book called "The Big Moo", bookmarking the blurbs that standout and resonate with me...and to true Godin-style, he encourages
his readers to share the experience. So I'll start sharing some of these blurbs, that I find personally relevant to me as I've come to experience both work-and-life, on this blog, starting with...

How to be a Failure

  1. Keep secrets.
  2. Be certain you're right and ignore those who disagree with you.
  3. Set aggressive deadlines for others to get buy in - then change them when they aren't met.
  4. Resist testing your theories.
  5. Focus more on what other people think and less on whether your idea is as good as it could be.
  6. Assume that a critical mass must embrace your idea for it to work.
  7. Choose an idea where number 6 is a requirement.
  8. Realise that people who don't instantly get your idea are bull-headed, shortsighted, or even stupid.
  9. Don't bother to dramatically increase the quality of your presentation style.
  10. Insist that you've got to go straight to the president of the organisation to get something done.
  11. Always go for the big win.
[...thought-provoking, isn't it? ...]
[...have you found yourself nodding in agreement through at least one? ....]

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

On Initiative

Initiative is doing the Right Thing without being told

Here's another one of Hubbard's short essay that struck a chord with me, on Initiative:
The world bestows its big prizes, both in money and honors, for but one thing. And that is Initiative.
What is Initiative? 
I'll tell you: It is doing the right thing without being told. But next to doing the right thing without being told is to do it when you are told once. That is to say, carry the Message to Garcia! 
There are those who never do a thing until they are told twice: such get no honors and small pay. Next, there are those who do the right thing only when necessity kicks them from behind, and these get indifference instead of honors, and a pittance for pay. This kind spends most of its time polishing a bench with a hard-luck story. Then, still lower down in the scale than this, we find the fellow who will not do the right thing even when some one goes along to show him how, and stays to see that he does it; he is always out of a job, and receives the contempt he deserves, unless he has a rich Pa, in which case Destiny awaits near by with a stuff club.
To which class do you belong?

Wow, how's that for telling it like it is?? Keep in mind Hubbard's time was at a great stage of industrialisation (and capitalism) - still, take a look at your workplace, your organisation or project team that you're in, and look around - can you spot people that falls into the rough categories that Hubbard proposes?

Of course, times have changed - and in the workplace, we have to be supportive and nurturing, we have to coach, mentor and lead people, if initiative is not present, then we lead by example, inspire and instill confidence, sometimes acting as a protective shepherd would to his flock. Still, this is no easy task, it takes special patience and a level of integrity & leadership to grow people, transforming them from being reactive or bystanders to taking charge, not being afraid of stepping forward to take the initiative.

This is an example of where Leadership defers from Management. One could argue that Hubbard was a classic, no-nonsense manager, who was quite frank, and direct about his expectations. If you can't deliver the message to Garcia, then there's probably no place for you on his team.

Personally, I find myself caught in between these two styles of "Leadership Management". Depending on the engagement, projects that I work on with really hard delivery deadlines and sometimes unreasonable sense of urgency, one wishes to have more people with Initiative as Hubbard expects. And there are some gigs where it's okay to lead and allow the team to develop along the way.

My natural tendency is to take initiative, as they say "Better to do a thing and ask forgiveness later" - but it doesn't always work out like that. Recently I got my knuckles rapped because I took initiative, acting on cue assuming my client expected me to take his suggestion & run with it...only to be told later that actually, I had to place in executing that activity...So lesson learnt, depending on the stakeholder, in this particular context, the unwritten rule is wait until you're told twice (just in case)...

On the projects I run though, I value people taking initiative, letting me know their intent, and even if they didn't give me the heads up, I look forward to being pleasantly surprised by the team's / person's commitment to solving the problem without being told to do so...

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

A Message to Garcia

I recently came across some powerful essays from a writer, Elbert Hubbard from the later 1800s (19th Century), who became known as one of the most interesting business thinkers of his time. One particular essay struck a chord to many business owners at the time, titled A Message to Garcia, which I'd like to share with you in this post.

What is amazing is that this essay was written in 1899, over a hundred years ago, and yet I feel it still so powerful and relevant today. This essay is easy to read, although somewhat in old-school English, yet the points are crystal clear, solid and sound.

It surely resonates with me, both in my personal and professional life experiences...Work-wise, the tenets contained in A Message to Garcia are very relevant to project management and delivery, as well as the subject of mature, self-organising agile software development teams. As I spend most of my time wearing the hat of a program delivery manager, which supposed to be relatively abstracted away from details and hand-holding, micro-managing, I look to having at least one person of type Rowan that I can count on to get the message delivered....or ideally, at least one Rowan in every team or work-stream on the program...In a lean/agile software team, it would be great to have the entire team made up of Rowans (7-9 person team)... It's about the essence that counts!

Before I give more away, here's the essay, written 19th Century, still going strong in 21st Century...

In all this Cuban business there is one man stands out on the horizon of my memory like Mars at perihelion. When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was very necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the Insurgents. Garcia was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba - no one knew where. No mail nor telegraph message could reach him. The President must secure his cooperation, and quickly.
What to do!
Some one said to the President, “There’s a fellow by the name of Rowan will find Garcia for you, if anybody can.”
Rowan was sent for and given a letter to be delivered to Garcia. How “the fellow by the name of Rowan” took the letter, sealed it up in an oil-skin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia, are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail.
The point I wish to make is this: 
McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, “Where is he at?” By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing- “Carry a message to Garcia!”
General Garcia is dead now, but there are other Garcias.
No man, who has endeavored to carry out an enterprise where many hands were needed, but has been well nigh appalled at times by the imbecility of the average man- the inability or unwillingness to concentrate on a thing and do it. Slip-shod assistance, foolish inattention, dowdy indifference, and half-hearted work seem the rule; and no man succeeds, unless by hook or crook, or threat, he forces or bribes other men to assist him; or mayhap, God in His goodness performs a miracle, and sends him an Angel of Light for an assistant. You, reader, put this matter to a test: You are sitting now in your office- six clerks are within call.
Summon any one and make this request: “Please look in the encyclopedia and make a brief memorandum for me concerning the life of Correggio”.
Will the clerk quietly say, “Yes, sir,” and go do the task?
On your life, he will not. He will look at you out of a fishy eye and ask one or more of the following questions:
Who was he?
Which encyclopedia?
Where is the encyclopedia?
Was I hired for that?
Don’t you mean Bismarck?
What’s the matter with Charlie doing it?
Is he dead?
Is there any hurry?
Shan’t I bring you the book and let you look it up yourself?
What do you want to know for?
And I will lay you ten to one that after you have answered the questions, and explained how to find the information, and why you want it, the clerk will go off and get one of the other clerks to help him try to find Garcia- and then come back and tell you there is no such man. Of course I may lose my bet, but according to the Law of Average, I will not.
Now if you are wise you will not bother to explain to your “assistant” that Correggio is indexed under the C’s, not in the K’s, but you will smile sweetly and say, “Never mind,” and go look it up yourself.
And this incapacity for independent action, this moral stupidity, this infirmity of the will, this unwillingness to cheerfully catch hold and lift, are the things that put pure Socialism so far into the future. If men will not act for themselves, what will they do when the benefit of their effort is for all? A first-mate with knotted club seems necessary; and the dread of getting “the bounce” Saturday night, holds many a worker to his place.
Advertise for a stenographer, and nine out of ten who apply, can neither spell nor punctuate- and do not think it necessary to.
Can such a one write a letter to Garcia?
“You see that bookkeeper,” said the foreman to me in a large factory.
“Yes, what about him?”
“Well he’s a fine accountant, but if I’d send him up town on an errand, he might accomplish the errand all right, and on the other hand, might stop at four saloons on the way, and when he got to Main Street, would forget what he had been sent for.”
Can such a man be entrusted to carry a message to Garcia?
We have recently been hearing much maudlin sympathy expressed for the “downtrodden denizen of the sweat-shop” and the “homeless wanderer searching for honest employment,” and with it all often go many hard words for the men in power.
Nothing is said about the employer who grows old before his time in a vain attempt to get frowsy ne’er-do-wells to do intelligent work; and his long patient striving with “help” that does nothing but loaf when his back is turned. In every store and factory there is a constant weeding-out process going on. The employer is constantly sending away “help” that have shown their incapacity to further the interests of the business, and others are being taken on. No matter how good times are, this sorting continues, only if times are hard and work is scarce, the sorting is done finer- but out and forever out, the incompetent and unworthy go.
It is the survival of the fittest. Self-interest prompts every employer to keep the best- those who can carry a message to Garcia.
I know one man of really brilliant parts who has not the ability to manage a business of his own, and yet who is absolutely worthless to any one else, because he carries with him constantly the insane suspicion that his employer is oppressing, or intending to oppress him. He cannot give orders; and he will not receive them. Should a message be given him to take to Garcia, his answer would probably be, “Take it yourself.”
Tonight this man walks the streets looking for work, the wind whistling through his threadbare coat. No one who knows him dare employ him, for he is a regular fire-brand of discontent. He is impervious to reason, and the only thing that can impress him is the toe of a thick-soled No. 9 boot.
Of course I know that one so morally deformed is no less to be pitied than a physical cripple; but in our pitying, let us drop a tear, too, for the men who are striving to carry on a great enterprise, whose working hours are not limited by the whistle, and whose hair is fast turning white through the struggle to hold in line dowdy indifference, slip-shod imbecility, and the heartless ingratitude, which, but for their enterprise, would be both hungry and homeless.
Have I put the matter too strongly? Possibly I have; but when all the world has gone a-slumming I wish to speak a word of sympathy for the man who succeeds- the man who, against great odds has directed the efforts of others, and having succeeded, finds there’s nothing in it: nothing but bare board and clothes.
I have carried a dinner pail and worked for day’s wages, and I have also been an employer of labor, and I know there is something to be said on both sides. There is no excellence, per se, in poverty; rags are no recommendation; and all employers are not rapacious and high-handed, any more than all poor men are virtuous.
My heart goes out to the man who does his work when the “boss” is away, as well as when he is at home. And the man who, when given a letter for Garcia, quietly take the missive, without asking any idiotic questions, and with no lurking intention of chucking it into the nearest sewer, or of doing aught else but deliver it, never gets “laid off,” nor has to go on a strike for higher wages. Civilization is one long anxious search for just such individuals. Anything such a man asks shall be granted; his kind is so rare that no employer can afford to let him go. He is wanted in every city, town and village- in every office, shop, store and factory.
The world cries out for such: he is needed, and needed badly - the man who can carry A MESSAGE TO GARCIA.
-Elbert Hubbard, 1899

Saturday, 23 May 2015

My 2015 Enneagram Report

Continuing with my sharing the results of the various psychometrics I've been through, in this post I share a very recent report called the "Integrative Enneagram". The report is created from the responses I made to a series of multiple choice / scenario / feeling type questions. You can find free samples of these tests online...

What is the Enneagram...?
The Enneagram is a geometric figure that delineates the nine basic personality types of human nature and their complex inter-relationships. Each of these nine types has its own way of relating to others, its own set of perceptions and preoccupations, its own values and approaches to life. Each relates to others in different but understandable ways. The Enneagram helps everyone understand that there are nine different points of view, nine distinct sets of values, nine different communication styles, nine ways of solving problems - and so forth - that are all equally useful and valid. All of the types have something necessary to contribute to a thriving, balanced world.

Enneagram Figure
Why Use the Enneagram?
To develop Self Mastery: Do you know what makes you tick? So that you can become more self-aware. Improve Self Development so you recognise and build on your strengths, and improve your weaknessses. Better Interpersonal skills - recognise 9 different personality types, nine ways of communicating & solving problems, respecting differences in order to coach your workers and enhance personal relationships.

My Enneagram Report: it turns out I am a 3 with a 2-wing
Type 3: The Achiever
The adaptable, ambitious type. Focused, excelling, driven, and image-conscious. Threes know how to work efficiently to get the job done according to customer expectations. Often attractive, charming and energetic, they are conscious of the image they project of themselves as well as of their team and company. They like getting recognition and are attracted to success and positions of prestige. They can be competitive and workaholics, driven by the need for status and personal advancement, deteriorating into cutting corners to stay ahead. At their best, they are accomplished and admirable, often seen as inspiring role models by others.
Type 2: The Mentor / Helper
The helpful, interpersonal type. Generous, appreciative, people-pleasing, and possessive. Twos are sensitive to the needs of others and seek to be of service. They appreciate the talents of others and act as confidants and guides, good at networking people and services. However, they typically have trouble saying no to requests and tend to become stressed by trying to help others too much. They dislike impersonal rules and work situations and can deteriorate into favouritism and time-wasting personal over-involvements. At their best, they are empathetic and generous and help build team interpersonal connections.

Snippets from my Report, you can download the full report here.