Supervisors vs. Team Leaders

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Here is a comparison of the roles and responsibilities of supervisors and team leaders. 


Often there can be confusion over who is supposed to do what. 


This table should help clarify what supervisors and team leaders do in terms of strategic planning, work assignments, resource management, employee training, and performance management. 


I hope you find this a helpful resource, and that you can organize your staff more efficiently and productively 😉


(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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Managing for Humpty Dumpty Risk

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So this was interesting…


I was in a meeting and someone was discussing the risks involved in a project.


And they mentioned the Humpty Dumpty Effect.


A bunch of people looked at them like what’s that. 


Then they explained that it’s the risk of breaking something during the project. 


Sort of like the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take to, “first, do no harm.”


When we are planning, designing, building or implementing a project–be it information technology or something else–we don’t want to break something in the process. 


That’s the Humpty Dumpty Risk to beware of and it’s an egg-celent point! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What’s With All The Finger-pointing

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Have you ever seen someone point fingers at the next guy/gal (a classmate, neighbor, co-worker, or even family and friends)?


It’s the blame game, the one-upmanship, the I’m golden and your mud way of doing business–can you really push that knife in any further?


And whatever finger your pointing, frankly it might as well be your middle finger in terms of the message you are sending. 


The old saying is that when you point fingers at others, there are three fingers pointing back at you–try it with your hand now and see what I mean.


Getting the job done–means working collaboratively and cohesively–we all contribute from our unique perspectives and skills sets. 


It’s synergy where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, rather than I think I’ll take all the darn credit–hey, I really do deserve it (in my own mind anyway)! 


Really, it’s not who did what to whom, but who helped whom and giving credit amply all around.


Ultimately, when we work together, we are strong, and when we point fingers at each other, it’s because we are weak, and we are weakening our relationships and the organization. 


The only time to point a finger, for real, is when you are gesturing to the Heaven, where all blessings come and from whom we are all created in His image. 


Otherwise, keep your fingers to yourself unless your fixing something that’s broke. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Good IT Gone Bad

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So over and over again, good IT goes bad in a flawed decision-making process. 


Even with the best laid plans and governance processes in place, somehow decisions get politicized, go bad, and projects fail. 


Here are some of the popular reasons why this happens:


1) Someone has something to prove – Often their is a person incoming to power who wants to show off what they can do. Instead of focusing on what is best for the organization’s mission and people, they put themselves first. IT becomes not a tool for efficiency and effectiveness, but rather as some project rushed through for someone’s resume and narcissist career progression. Time to add another notch on your IT belt!


2) Someone used it, saw it, or heard of it someplace else – So why follow a structured decision-making and vetting process for new technology, when Joe Schmoe already has the answer of what we can use and what we should do. Perhaps, Joe Schmoe used the technology in another place and for another reason, but that’s what he knows and instantaneously, he’s the maven, subject matter expert. Or maybe, Joe Schmoe attended a vendor conference or read a trade mag on the airplane and now he is guess what, the all-knowing on the topic. Get ready to pull out your wallets to pay for the wrong thing for your needs and organization, but it’s okay becuase Joe Schmoe assured you it’s great!


3) Someone wants to use technology like a Swiss army utility knife – Let’s just buy this amazing tool; it can slice, dice, chop, mince, or Julienne; actually there is nothing this IT tool can’t do. Buy it and use it for all your technology projects and needs. Why buy specialized tools, when you can have one that does everything–it will be your data warehouse, cloud provider, handle all your transactions, and be your artificial intelligence all in one.  Don’t worry about the complexity, integration, training, support or how good it does any specific thing–just trust us!


In general, it shouldn’t be so easy for leadership to get sold and fooled by the wrong people with the wrong agendas. Yet, these things seem to take off like a speeding locomotive, and if anyone tries to step in front of it, career splat for some unfortunate well-meaning character!


Some leaders and organizations only seem to learn by making the same IT mistakes again and again–it’s costly to their mission and to their stakeholders, but someone is making out like a bandit and it’s on their dime. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

On The Lookout To Managing Risk

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So risk management is one of the most important skills for leadership. 


Risk is a function of threats, vulnerabilities, probabilities, and countermeasures. 


If we don’t manage risk by mitigating it, avoiding it, accepting it, or transferring it, we “risk” being overcome by the potentially catastrophic losses from it.


My father used to teach me when it comes to managing the risks in this world that “You can’t have enough eyes!”


And that, “If you don’t open your eyes, you open your wallet.”


This is a truly good sound advice when it comes to risk management and I still follow it today. 


Essentially, it is always critical to have a backup or backout plan for contingencies.


Plan A, B, and C keeps us from being left in the proverbial dark when faced with challenge and crisis. 


In enterprise architecture, I often teach of how if you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail. 


This is truth–so keep your eyes wide open and manage risks and not just hide your head in the sand of endless and foolhardy optimism for dummies. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What Is The Creative Process and Success?

Creative Process

One of my colleagues at work had this hanging on his wall. 


It caught my eye and I thought it was worth sharing.


The creative process (ah, not my style of working, however–I am too much of a planner and worrier): 


1) Work Begins – It starts with, “I have a bright idea” or a “go do” from some other genius. 


2) F*ck Off – Then comes some procrastination and maybe thought process about what you are going to do, but in the meantime, everyone leave me alone to percolate and brew. 


3) Panic – Of sh*t, time is running out, and where the h*ck am I on this project, better get my a*s in gear. 


4) All the work while crying – Hurry, hurry, hurry and get it done. Wa, I feel like such a crybaby and wreck, but I’m going to finish it, I am. 


5) Deadline – Made it by a hair…uh, the whole thing was easy, for me, as pie!


Another thing that I heard this week is that “success is failing to fail.”  


Think about that a minute.  😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Toothpaste for Dinner)

Standing Down

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So there is a funny term used in government, which is to “Stand down.”


Basically, it comes from the military where it has traditionally been used to denote relaxing (or “at ease”) after a prior state of alert or readiness.


Since then it has become more broadly adopted to mean abruptly ceasing activity–and usually even all further discussion–on something. 


For example, if someone is working on a project, task, or issue, but you want them to completely halt all activities on this, you may tell them to stand down.


This happens when something, usually significant, has changed or the activity has become OBE (another military term for Overcome By Events).


Basically, something has unexpectedly transpired and the strategy and orders have now changed (maybe a complete 180). 


Often, someone up the chain has put the kabbash on whatever it was.


Either way, you go from a full-on sprint to a complete halt and you might as well stand on your head for all anyone cares, because the run to the finish line, on this matter at least, is over now. 


Standing down is very different from standing up–but you aren’t sitting down either. 


Sitting would imply doing nothing at all, while standing down implies you do something else instead–like move on in the meantime to your next order of priority business. 


Still standing down, because of it’s abruptness and completeness is a big deal–and when everything and everyone was prior in motion like a moving freight train–and someone now stands in front of it and yells “All stop!”–the rest of the train cars, all the way to caboose, can essentially ram right up into the butt of the engine causing a real mess of things (productivity-wise and from a morale perspective). 


So now everyone untangle yourself and “calm the h*ll down”–there’s a new sheriff in town or new way ahead and you better get your standing down under control and stop doing whatever it is you were doing, okay there sonny boy? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)