Okay For A Drive By

Shooter
So, having grown up in New York, I’ve definitely heard of a drive by shooting, but never a “drive by meeting”. 



Until a colleague asked me, “Okay for a drive by?”



A little taken aback, but I was available (and figured not in any imminent danger by his type of “drive by”), so I agreed to meet for a few minutes. 



The meeting was quick, like a car whizzing by, but we discussed what was needed and accomplished the immediate goal. 



Personally, I prefer when someone is driving the meeting, rather than having a drive by meeting, but we all need to be agile to whatever the day brings. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

>A Boss that Looks Like a Vacuum Cleaner

>

This is too much…an article and picture in MIT Technology Review (September/October 2010) of a robotic boss, called Anybot—but this boss looks like a vacuum cleaner, costs $15,000, and is controlled remotely from a keyboard by your manager.

So much for the personal touch—does this count toward getting some face time with your superiors in the office?

With a robotic boss rolling up to check on employees, I guess we can forget about the chit-chat, going out for a Starbucks together, or seriously working through the issues. Unless of course, you can see yourself looking into the “eyes” of the vacuum cleaner and getting some meaningful dialogue going.

This is an example of technology divorced from the human reality and going in absolutely the wrong direction!

>Fire In The Belly

>

Recently I read a classic article in Harvard Business Review (March-April 1992) called “Managers and Leaders,” by Abraham Zaleznik, in which he differentiates between these two frequently confused types of people.

Some highlights:

Leaders

Managers

Personality

Shape the goals

Solve the problems

Decision-making

Open up new options

“Limit choices” to execute

Relationships

Emotion-driven

Process-oriented

Risks

Prudent risk-takers

Conservative risk-avoidance

Sense of self

Strong and separate

Based on the organization

In my experience, Zaleznik was correct in observing that leaders and managers are very different. In particular, I have seen the following.

· Discipline: Leadership is more of an art, and management is more of a science.

· Orientation: Leaders focus on “the what,” (i.e. effectiveness) and managers on “the how” (i.e. efficiency).

· Aptitude: Leaders are visionaries and motivators, and managers are skilled at execution and organization.

· Ambitions: Leaders seek to be transformational catalysts for change, and managers (as Zaleznik points out) seek perpetuation of the institution.

Given that leaders and managers are inherently dissimilar, advancement from management to leadership is not an absolute, nor is it necessarily a good thing. However, many managers aspire to be leaders, and with training, coaching, and mentoring, some can make this leap. Those who can make their mark as leaders are incredibly valuable to organizations because they know how to transform, shape, and illuminate the way forward. Of course, the role that managers play is incredibly valuable as well (probably undervalued), but nevertheless, they support and execute on the vision of the leader and as such a leader commands a premium.

What I think we can take away from Zaleznik’s work, then, is that a leader should never be thought of as just a manager “on steroids.” Instead, leaders and managers are distinct, and the synergy between them is healthy, as they each fulfill a different set of needs. In this vein, when organizations seek to recruit from within the ranks for leadership positions, it would be wise for them to look at candidates more discriminatingly than just looking at their managerial experience. (In fact, counter to the conventional wisdom, the best leader may never have been a manager at all, or may have been a mediocre or even a horrible one!) We cannot just expect that good managers will necessarily make good leaders (although to some extent success may breed success), but must look for what fundamentally makes a leader and ensure that we are getting what is needed and unique.

So what can a person do if they want to be a leader? In my view, it starts with believing in yourself, then genuinely wanting to achieve a leadership position, and after that being willing to do what it takes to get there. Baseline efforts include advancing your education, hard work, building relationships and credibility, and so forth, but this is only part of the equation.

The truth of the matter is, you can go to an Ivy League school and leadership boot camp for twenty years, but if you don’t have passion, determination, and a sense of mission or cause that comes from deep inside, then you are not yet a leader. These things cannot be taught or handed over to a person like a baton in a relay race. Rather, they are fundamental to who you are as a person, what drives you, and what you have to give to others and to the organization.

Regardless of what role we play, each of us has a unique gift to share with the world. We need only to find the courage to look inside, discover what it is, value its inherent worth (no matter what the dollar value placed on it), and pursue it.

>Is there an IT leader in the House?

>

True IT leadership means that those who are in charge of information technology really care about and drive the success of the mission, the satisfaction of the customers, and the well-being of their employees.

To me, these three critical leadership focus areas are tied to the areas of people, process, and technology.

People: The people are your people—your employees. This is the area of human capital that unfortunately many leaders say is important, but all too often remains mere lip service. We need to focus on providing an environment where our employees can thrive professionally and personally. Where there is challenge and growth. Where we match the right people to the right jobs. Where we provide ongoing training and the right tools for people to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. Where we treat people as human beings and not as inanimate economic objects that produces goods and services.

Process: The process is the mission and the business of our organization. As IT leaders, we need to ensure that our technology is aligned to the organization. Business drives technology, rather than doing technology for technology’s sake. Everything IT that we plan for, invest in, execute, support, secure, and measure needs to be linked to enabling mission success. IT should be providing solutions to mission requirements. The solutions should provide better information quality and information sharing; consolidation, interoperability, and component re-use of our systems, and standardization, simplification, and cost-efficiency of our technology—ALL to enable mission process effectiveness and efficiency.

Technology: The technology is the satisfaction we create for our customers in both the technology products and services that we provide to them. Our job is ensuring technology WOW for our customers in terms of them having the systems and services to do their jobs. We need to provide the right information to the right people at the right time, anywhere they need it. We must to service and support our IT customer with a white glove approach rather than with obstructionist IT bureaucracy. We shall find a way—whenever possible—to say yes or to provide an alternate solution. We will live by the adage of “the customer is always right”.

Recently, in reading the book. “The Scalpel and the Soul” by Dr Allan J. Hamilton, I was reminded that true IT leaders are driven by sincere devotion to mission, customer, and employee.

In the book, Dr. Hamilton recalls the convocation speech to his graduating class at Harvard Medical School by Professor Judah Folkman whose speech to a class of 114 news doctors was “Is There a Doctor in the House?”

Of course there was a doctor in the house, there was 114 doctors, but Professor Folkman was pointing out that “these days, patients were plagued by far too many physicians and too few doctors.” In other words, there are plenty of physicians, but there are few doctors “in whom you put your trust and your life”—those driven by sincere devotion and care for their patients, the success of their medical treatment, and their fellow practitioners.

While an IT leader is not a doctor, the genuine IT leader—like the real doctor—is someone who sincerely cares and acts in the best interests of the organization’s mission, their customers, and their people.

Just like when there is a doctor in the house, the patient is well cared for, so too when there is a genuine IT leader in the C-suite, the organization is enabled for success.

>Management By Walking Around and Enterprise Architecture

>

Enterprise architecture is about planning and governance; it is a leadership function. But after this comes execution — implementation; a management function. And what better way to organize, coordinate, direct, and make things happen “on the ground” than by using management by walking around (MBWA)?

What is MBWA?

MBWA is about getting managers out of their lofty, ivory tower offices and spending time with “the troops.” In MBWA, managers literally make their way around to their staff and spend time talking with them, learning, guiding, building relationships, and motivating. MBWA is about being in regular touch with your people; having straight-talking and trusting dialogue. These are impromptu conversations and informal “coffee talks,” rather than planned, scheduled, agenda-driven meetings. It is a way to understand what employees are facing and experiencing and as the same time to build purpose, team, and keep things “on track”.

Where did MBWA come from?

“As HP grows [in the 1940s], Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard create a management style that forms the basis of HP‘s famously open corporate culture and influences how scores of later technology companies will do business. Dave practices a management technique — eventually dubbed “management by walking around” — which is marked by personal involvement, good listening skills and the recognition that ‘everyone in an organization wants to do a good job.’” (http://www.hp.com/hpinfo/abouthp/histnfacts/timeline/hist_40s.html)

Later in the 1980s, Tom Peters promoted MBWA as a way for organizations to “find greater success interacting with employees and customers than by remaining in isolation from them. Rather than micromanaging employees, MBWA allowed management to informally communicate with employees and to coordinate at a more personal level.”

(BI Review Magazine, 3 December 2007)

How is MBWA most effective?

According to futurecents.com, here are some guidelines for effective MBWA:

  • Do it to everyone
  • Do it as often as you can
  • Go by yourself (one on one)
  • Ask questions
  • Watch and listen
  • Share your vision
  • Try out their work
  • Bring good news (successes, positive initiatives, share optimism)
  • Thank people
  • Don’t be critical

With MBWA helping managers and staff to connect, communicate, and carry out, enterprise architecture plans and governance have a much better opportunity to succeed in the day-to-day lives of the users being asked to execute.