Driving Your Organization Off A Cliff


So life is generally supposed to be a series a peaks and valleys. 

There are highs, but also lows.  

No one and nothing can perform at peak all the time. 

Like the commandment to keep the Shabbat, everyone needs a rest. 

And studies have shown that getting a healthy dose of sleep, pause, and rest in life is healthy.

When we force ourselves or others to perform past their “designed” limits, then we risk a breakdown. 

Machines break and people can break. 

The risks are either explosion or implosion: some people can frighteningly “go postal” and others end up on psychiatric medication or even sick and in the hospital. 

What is key to remember is that you can push the limits of performance so far, but then no further without a healthy, recuperative rest period and down time. 

If you want to raise the bar on yourself, others, or your organization, you need to do it strategically so there is a surge forward and then a normative recovery and energy buildup again. 

As we all know, life is a marathon and not a sprint, and the journey is as important as the destination. 😉

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Alan Levine)

>Managing Human Capital and Enterprise Architecture


Human capital is one of the perspectives of enterprise architecture that I have been advocating for the Federal Enterprise Architecture to adopt.

ComputerWorld, 19 May 2008, has a good article on “How to Manage Brilliant People,” which can be applied to all everyone—brilliant or not.

Here are some of the best dos and don’ts (in my own words for the most part) and my two cents on them:

  1. Manage results, not process—Identify the results you’re looking for, but don’t prescribe to others how they need do it. This is micromanagement plain and simple. I don’t like to be micro-managed and I don’t think others do either. Treat people like adults and give them the freedom to do their jobs (assuming they haven’t abused that freedom and trust in the past).
  2. Vet ideas, then make a decision—Communicate with your staff openly and creatively. Everyone on the team has good ideas and can contribute to analyzing problems and working out viable solutions. Not everyone will agree on the solution, so after a reasonable discussion and analysis, it time for the manager to make a decision. Analysis paralysis is detrimental to you, your team, and your program. Better to make a timely decision and then course correct as new facts become available, then to wait and wait and wait. Time is a critical success factor for most important decisions. The marketplace waits for no one.
  3. Be a good mentor, and learn from everyone—We all have something to teach others and to learn from others, because we all have strengths and weaknesses. It doesn’t matter if you’re the boss or the subordinate. For the boss, it takes a degree of humility and open mindedness to “be bested” and more than that to actually learn from it.
  4. Admit what you don’t know, not just what you do know—Generally, we all are more than in a hurry to mouth off what we know and show off what we can do. But how many of us are quick to admit what we don’t know? It takes a degree of maturity to say that I don’t know, but I’ll find out and get back to you, and not “feel insecure and threatened.”
  5. Raise the bar, and stretch your staff—Just like when setting organizational goals, you want them to be achievable, yet ambitious, so too with setting personal and team goals, they should be challenging, but doable. That way you keep productivity high and morale high and people know they are growing (not stagnant).

At a manager in the IT world, I have learned that technically, pretty much we can do anything (given the time and resources); however, the trick to good management is not the technical stuff, but rather the people stuff. People can be more complicated than landing a man on the moon that’s why we need solid leaders, plenty of management training, compassion and empathy for people, and the institutionalization of human capital as part of our everyday EA planning.

Some early things that I would suggest in developing a human capital perspective in architecture would be:

  1. Identifying best practices and benchmarking leadership and management performance against them;
  2. Establishing a framework for professional development and training in these areas;
  3. Identifying key knowledge, skill, and ability areas for the organization;
  4. Inventorying employees against #3;
  5. Identifying gaps;
  6. Creating alignment between function and talent; and
  7. Developing performance plan templates so that everyone understands their roles, goals, and the rewards available to them for high performance.

Of course, there is much more that can be done, and this is only a beginning. This is something that I am very interested in and about which I would welcome any comments and feedback.