Data Consistency Is the Key to a Standardized Reporting Process

Standardized reporting is an intricate type of reporting process that aims to produce consistent, reliable, actionable information from disparate systems or sources. A reporting process is standardized if it can be applied across different business units or sub-units in an organization. The processes that generate and collect the data to be reported on must remain the same across all the business units.

For an organization to understand the status of conditions in real time, and make decisions quickly, standardized reporting is required. A universal understanding of information enables clarity and transparency. Clarity supports effective communication based on trust. And studies show that effective communication leads to enhanced productivity and deeper customer relationships (Source).

It’s not a stretch to say that data consistency creates a competitive advantage over other organizations that do not have standardized reporting processes.

(more…) Read More

Stuck with a Bad PM Tool? Here’s What to Do

Let’s say you’re planning to repaint your living room this weekend. You shop for supplies online: drop cloths, painter’s tape, and brushes. Alexa, innocently, puts scrub brushes in your cart instead of paint brushes. The delivery arrives the next day. Do you have the tools you need to get the job done? The scrub brush has a handle and bristles! The bristles can be dipped into the paint! Will it require more work to create the desired outcome with a scrub brush rather than a paint brush? My guess is, no matter what, it’s not going to be pretty.

It’s not that the scrub brush is a bad product. On the contrary, it’s probably the highest rated scrub brush on the web. The issue is that you need a paint brush specifically designed to apply paint evenly and precisely. You need the right tool for the job.

Flash forward to the work week: How often are we using the wrong tool for a job?

(more…) Read More

Superstition Ain’t the Way: Prevent Bad Habits from Running Rampant Among Users

Even if you’re not a superstitious person, it’s likely at one point in your lifetime you knocked on wood in an attempt to appease the gods of fate. Or maybe you made sure to close up that umbrella before stepping into your house. A couple seconds to rap on wood here, a few seconds of standing in the rain there—minor inconveniences to soothe away the universe’s impending spells of bad juju.

The reality is that no, wood is not magical. And opening an umbrella indoors doesn’t shepherd evil ghouls into your home. These quirky habits don’t add tangible value to our lives.

However, superstitions like these aren’t made up out of nowhere. They often arise from practical behaviors which may have made sense at one point, but lost their fundamental meaning after passing through generations. (Are umbrellas indoors really bad luck? Or did someone long ago get a bad poke in the eye?)

These learned behaviors take root over time, through generations of practice and habitual routine. They reassure people that no unintended consequences will come their way if they unquestioningly perform things a certain way—the way they’ve always been done.

Similarly, superstitious behaviors are alive and well in your organization. IT superstitions aren’t supernatural but rather the culmination of each user’s quirks, a natural evolution of processes, systems left unchecked, and a game-of-telephone effect.

(more…) Read More

Being a Leader in a Non-Leadership Role

The presence of “manager” or “director” in your title does not make you a leader. Being a leader is not about officially holding the power to make a decision, supervising others while they do the grunt work, or making the most money. Leadership is a skill, not a role. Leadership is the ability to connect with those around you and shepherd a team toward a successful outcome, to see the bigger picture, and to do what’s right—not what’s easy. You don’t need a specific title to do that.

(more…) Read More

Traditional vs Transformational: Breaking down the differences between IT leadership archetypes

As a company embarks on a journey of digital transformation and immense change, the expectations of IT leaders change as well. Two general archetypes have emerged, but in reality, individuals fall somewhere on the spectrum between the two extremes. Both archetypes can be extraordinarily valuable in the right situation. Each can also be incredibly ineffective when placed in the wrong context.

(more…) Read More

Toss the Binky! Project timelines may pacify some, but they set a bad precedent.

Detailed schedules and beautiful Gantt charts might stop the screaming for visibility into your project, but they won’t help you sleep at night. In the back of your head, you’re waiting for the binky to fall out—for the project timeline to slip—and everyone starts crying again. Here’s how to break the habit of leaning on these common IT project management crutches.

Almost 30 years ago, when my wife and I were proud and exhausted new parents, we found that pacifiers would help our newborn twins sleep. This strategy worked for a little while, but when a binky fell out of one of their mouths, they cried. One of us would get up, put it back in place, and enjoy a few more moments of rest until it fell out again. We always say that one of the things we would do differently as parents is to have not used pacifiers. The boys became dependent on them, and they only postponed the inevitable.

Binkies remind me of how IT teams often use detailed timelines and project plans.

(more…) Read More

Avoid These 3 Traps When Intervening On Team Performance

How is it that some people can inspire us to strive for greatness while others turn us off?

For me, one of those amazing leaders was my high school biology teacher, Mr. Kaziersky. He knew how to engage, inspire, and motivate his students to achieve outstanding results. Our classes consistently outperformed our peers on AP exams and SATs. What was so remarkable was that he didn’t always have the best or brightest students. There was something about his approach and the learning environment he created that enabled us to thrive.

(more…) Read More

The Power of The Sprint in Managing Team Performance

During a sprint, many Scrum teams focus on action items, story points, ceremonies, and sprint length. They often overlook the importance of the sprint itself to the team’s potential productivity.

Sprints are relevant to performance because a team’s effectiveness evolves over time, and a sprint is a block of time—each usually 1 to 4 weeks in duration. With each sprint, team members participate in Scrum ceremonies and deliver work together. The ceremonies alone don’t turn a group of strangers into a team, but they can serve as shared experiences that help members feel more and more comfortable with each other.

(more…) Read More

Making Empowerment Stick

Let me know if this sounds familiar: You talk about empowerment with your staff, at skip levels, and at town hall meetings. It’s a concept you reinforce over and over again within your organization. And yet you still observe teams asking for permission in situations where you want them to make decisions and drive actions. You still find yourself as the bottleneck, giving tactical approvals on topics you don’t feel require your input.

There’s a good chance you’re the reason a culture of empowerment hasn’t taken hold.

(more…) Read More