Get Out Front Leadership


Thought this was a good photo of leadership.

I’ve seen other depictions of this such as when the commanding officer leads the charge of his advancing troops versus the other guy yelling orders from way behind the front lines. 

Here the idea of the leader is of being one with his people and helping pull his own weight!

Much more inspiring and effective than “the boss” who is yelling/barking orders at the others from on top the mound of work that the others are trying to move forward, and he is just adding to the weight of the load being pulled.

To really understand the mission or business, the leader has got to get out of his/her ivory tower perch and see things up close and personal on the front lines. 

You can’t really know the enemy you’re fighting or the hill your trying to take if you never even seen it firsthand. 

Leaders aren’t above the job or over the staff, they are effective when they are part of the solution (and not part of the problem) with the people that they are attempting to successfully lead. 😉

(Source Photo of Comic: Andy Blumenthal)

10 Ways To Improve Federal Technology

10 Ways To Improve Federal Technology

While it’s good to improve government services through advances in information technology, we also need to do better with what we have, which is our own valuable IT human capital.

In the Wall Street Journal today, the “health-site woes” are spurring a push for changes to federal technology, including the possibility of a “federal unit dedicated to big tech projects.”

Whether or not we carve our a separate big tech project unit, we can do so much to improve success in all our agencies by valuing our people and motivating them to succeed.

As democracy and capitalism have taught us, we need people to be free to innovate and reward them appropriately.

While the grass may look greener in Silicon Valley, our challenge is to utilize all our resources in whatever part of the country they reside, whether they be government or private sector workers.

Ultimately, like most things, this is a human challenge, and not just a technology issue.

Hence, I developed the above comic strip to demonstrate 10 Ways to Improve Federal Technology, so we can all succeed together. 😉

(Source Cartoon [click here to enlarge]: Andy Blumenthal)

>A Young Adult Chooses To Give Rather Than Take

>Here is a poem written by a young adult who was recently confronted
with a difficult choice – whether to go on a fancy trip to Europe or
Peru, costing thousands of dollars but promising “the time of your
life,” or to spend a week participating in a Habitat for Humanity
project, and giving back to those in need.

I am humbled and inspired by her words and her choice.

In terms of tikkun olam (repair of the world – a Jewish term for an
individual’s purpose in life), this is a great lens with which to view
many of the choices we have day in and day out. Our investments in
people and those less fortunate are often the best ones that we can
make – and those with the highest return, personally and for the
organizations we represent.


“What is a Good Feeling?”

A dream maybe that looks me in the eye,

I try to catch it but it just flies by,

A short second ago there was my chance,

I was even just about ready to dance.

The question is always asked: why not me?!

Why can’t I be lucky!

The sun, the moon, the stars,

Waken me up oh mars.

Shine that light on me,

Guide me to what is happy,

Pearl, silver, and even gold,

It’s now time to think beyond what is displayed and told.

Look beyond the light,

Into the darkness of the night,

Like others, it is even hard for me,

When I even dare to see reality.

The million-dollar beach home,

The shape of a dome,

An in-door pool,

Oh how mighty and cool.

Pshh, ya right!

Just look at MOST people’s plight,

People losing jobs here and there,

This is in no way fair.

Millions of citizens living on the streets,

On disgusting benches supposed to be used just for seats,

It’s time to wake up and see,

People don’t live all rich and fancy.

It’s time to open our eyes,

We shouldn’t live lies,

I want to step closer to reality,

I’m at the right age to learn more about actuality.

I want to help others,

I want to give to families: fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers

I want to put smiles on children’s faces,

I want to leave some of my traces.

Traces of charity,

What a rarity,

I want to be one who gives and not takes,

For once in my life I am positive that this won’t be a mistake.

This choice is the right,

And I say this with all force and might,

It’s without doubt a chance to make a difference,

This surely makes the most sense.


>“Hodo-Hodo” and Enterprise Architecture

>Human capital is one of the most important and overlooked aspects of enterprise architecture.

With all the business process acumen and sleek IT, we can get nothing truly accomplished without the innovation, dedication, finesse, and talent of people!

Unfortunately, people are often poorly understood and mishandled in the workplace and the results can be disastrous for our enterprises and nations.

Japan is a good example of a country where these effects are pronounced.

The Wall Street Journal, 1-2 November 2008 reports on “Slacker Nation? Young Japanese Shun Promotions.”

Generally, one would think that people want to advance themselves professionally and be productive human beings in general. This is sort of a cornerstone of capitalism.

Yet, in Japan now-a-days, “in a country once proud of its success-driven ‘salarymen,’ managers are grappling with a new phenomenon: Many young workers are shunning choice promotions—even forgoing raises—in favor of humdrum jobs with minimal responsibilities.”

Here’s an example:

“the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, a destination for the city’s elite, says only 14% of eligible employees took higher level exams for management positions in 2007—down from 40% three decades ago.”

So enterprises are not understanding generation Y and what they are looking for in the workplace.

Things have gotten so bad that a labor relations lawyer advises companies not to “shock” workers with promotions, but rather to “first see if they’re ready.”

“Employment experts have begun to call these workers hodo-hodo zoku, or the ‘so-so folks.’ They say these workers, mostly in their 20s and early 30s are sapping Japan’s international competitiveness.”

One labor consultant says “They’ll ruin Japan with their lax work ethic.”

Yet although gen Yers are at the center of this trend, apparently this goes beyond being just a generational issue:

“A study this year…found just 3% of Japanese workers says they’re putting their full effort into their jobs.”

So what are organizations missing in understanding and in handling their human capital?

First, organizations need to listen to what people’s needs are and work to satisfy them.

Instead of seeking legal counsel to see “whether they can fire employees who refuse promotions,” they need to make the work and conditions of employment palatable to today’s workforce.

For example, one “24-year old agent at a staffing company recently got promoted to help manage a small group of employees. The new job means a higher salary and a better title. But he isn’t happy about it. Now he often works past 10 p.m. leaving him less time with his girlfriend.”


People are human and need work-life balance. A 24 year old with a relationship doesn’t want to work until 10:00 every night. That’s really hard to understand isn’t it? (sarcasm here)

Here’s another reason:

Japan has suffered “economic woes during the long slump in the 1990s and early 2000s…young workers saw older generations throw themselves into their work, only to face job and pay cuts as companies restructured. Now young people are cautious about giving too much of themselves—even if it mean less money or prestige.”

A 2nd Aha—not really:

If people are not rewarded for their hard work and dedication they are not motivated to perform. Companies that used to provide lifetime employment and/or substantial salary raises for managerial positions, no longer are providing these.

To me, the big Aha’s here are not the cause-effect reactions of workers to organizations that do not reward their efforts, promote work-life balance, or demonstrate commitment to match the dedication of their people, but rather the surprise is that enterprises are continue to overlook their most valuable asset in their enterprise architecture—which is of course, their people!

Enterprise architects need to work with their Chief Human Capital Officers (CHCOs)/HR divisions to better understand and address the needs of the workforce so that the organization can recruit, hire and retain a stable and talented workforce. This will support the business now and into the future.

The enterprise architects’ unique role in this area is to

–capture information (profiles/models/inventories regarding human capital) and trends—point out gaps or other issues between current and future capabilities

–align investment decisions to business requirements—in this case, investments in human capital

If we don’t address the human capital perspective of the architecture, no business or technology plans can succeed.

>Storytelling and Enterprise Architecture


Part of being a good leader is having a clear vision and the ability to articulate it.

Harvard Business Review, December 2007, reports that “the ability to articulate your story or that of your company is crucial in almost every phase of enterprise management.”

How do leaders use story-telling?

“A great salesperson knows how to tell a story in which the product is the hero. A successful line manager can rally the team to extraordinary efforts through a story that shows how short-term sacrifice leads to long-term success. An effective CEO uses an emotional narrative about the company’s mission to attract investors and partners, to set lofty goals, and to inspire employees.”

Here are some key lessons on how to tell the organization’s story:

  • Action-oriented—“for the leader, storytelling is action oriented—a force for turning dreams into goals and then into results.”
  • Instructional—“many think it is purely about entertainment, but the use of story is not only to delight, but to instruct and lead.”
  • Truth—storytelling is not about spinning yarns, but rather must be truthful and authentic.
  • Heartfelt—“our minds are relatively open, but we guard our hearts with zeal…so although the mind may be part of your target, the heart is the bulls-eye.”
  • A worthwhile journey—“a promise that the listeners’ expectation once aroused, will be fulfilled.”
  • A managed journey—“a great story is never fully predictable through foresight—but it’s projectable through hindsight.”
  • Personalize it for the listener—“everyone wants to be the star, or at least to feel that the story is talking to or about him personally.”
  • Tailor the story—“a great storyteller never tells a story the same way twice…tailor it to the situation [and the audience].”
  • Prepare and improvise—“sheer repetition and practice it brings is one key to great storytelling…at the same time the great storyteller is flexible enough to drop the script and improvise.”

“State-of-the-art technology is a great tool for capturing and transmitting words, images, and ideas, but the power of storytelling resides most fundamentally in ‘state-of-the-heart’ technology.

The enterprise architect must use story telling effectively—the chief architect captures information, analyzes it, and uses this information to tell the corporate story. The architect connects the business and technical dots of the enterprise, identifies the impetus for change, articulates the issues and proposed solutions, builds readiness and consensus, and drives business processes improvement, reengineering, and the introduction of new technologies to enable mission success. The architect must be able to engage listeners intellectually and emotionally to “motivate, sell, inspire, engage, and lead.” The chief enterprise architect must be able to win the hearts and minds of the people across the organization. Architecture is not an ivory-tower exercise and should not develop useless shelfware, but rather the enterprise architecture needs to tell a coherent, useful, and useable story that decision-makers can understand and act upon.