It Starts with Intent: Do you want a “throat to choke”—or do you want the project to succeed?

Whenever I hear the expression “one throat to choke,” it makes me cringe. The phrase, in most cases, refers to contracting with a single vendor to help with every aspect of a technology project. Another variation is, “a single wringable neck.” Either way, it sounds like an explicit threat to the vendor: If this project fails, the blame will be placed squarely on your shoulders.

In reality, if a project does fail, it is very difficult to go after a vendor. Most organizations don’t. Lawsuits are risky, costly, and time-consuming. The only practical concession you can expect from a vendor is free labor, hardware, or software. But it’s from the same vendor that botched things in the first place.

Let’s face it—setting up a one-throat engagement is not really a threat. It’s a bluff. And it stems from an attempt to outsource accountability.

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Want to Accelerate Change? Slow Down and Observe Team Dynamics

Originally presented at SIM Connect Live 2019 (“Make Winning Normal: Maximizing Agility with High-Performing Teams”), the following concepts offer a new way for IT organizations to implement disruptive technologies and innovations at scale:

The Pace of Change and the Adoption Curve

The pace and complexity of new technologies and innovations have only been increasing over the past years and show no sign of letting up. We consistently hear the following questions from IT leaders:

  • How do I maintain a competitive advantage while keeping up with the pace of change?
  • How do I ensure my organization can effectively adopt new technologies?

One way to address these questions is by examining the Adoption Curve as described by Geoffrey Moore. The Adoption Curve details the distributions and tendencies of a population as it adopts an innovation.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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How to Spot a Fake Digital Transformation

Have you participated in or led a digital transformation at your organization? Was it really a transformation, or was it perhaps just a series of initiatives that sounded nice, felt good, and checked a few boxes?

I’ve seen many executives who’ve tried in earnest to digitally transform their organization, but were forced to settle for a set of random projects that don’t truly qualify as transformative. I’ve also seen some well-meaning but misguided initiatives fall short of embodying an effective transformation.

Sorry to break it to you, but swapping an analog clock for a digital clock in the lobby does not qualify as a digital transformation.

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