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Agile Results, Digital Business Transformation, and Program Management
Updated: 4 hours 30 min ago

Reimagine Your Productivity at Getting Results.com

13 hours 26 min ago


Imagine if you could master your motivation, your productivity, and your time management?

It’s time to get your game on.

I’ve completely revamped Getting Results.com (http://GettingResults.com) to help you think, feel, and do your best in any situation.

At Getting Results.com you can learn all about Agile Results.  It’s more than just a time management system or a productivity system.

It’s a personal results system for work and life.

Agile Results is a simple system for meaningful results.

It helps you respond to change while making things happen.  It helps you use your best energy for your best results, while you keep learning and improving.

What Will You Find at Getting Results.com?

Getting Results.com is a source of insight, inspiration, and action for mastering productivity, motivation, time management and more.

Here are some of the key things you’ll have access to:

  1. Get Started with Agile Results.
  2. Articles on Agile Results, Goals, Motivation, and More.
  3. 7 Day Agile Results Jumpstart, helps you take Agile Results for a test-drive and potentially have one of your best weeks.  Ever.
  4. 30 Days of Getting Results, this is advanced training that will help you get better results for work and life.
  5. Resources that include Cheat Sheets, Checklists, How Tos, Visuals, and more.

You can also read Success Stories to hear about how others have implemented and are using Agile Results.

Getting Started with Agile Results

While there are a lot of resources at Getting Results.com, the most important thing you can actually do is just get started with Agile Results:

Get Started with Agile Results

Take it for a test drive and see if you can create better results at work and in your life, the Agile Way.

Categories: Architecture, Programming

How to Have Better Fridays

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 16:50

Recently, I’ve been teaching more people Agile Results. 

I teach them really fast, because I just focus on teaching them the most important tool in Agile Results:

Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection

But before I walk through, I share a quick story of how it all started.

Monday Vision was Born for Better Fridays

It was a warm, sunny, Friday afternoon.
My colleague and I were on our way to our favorite pizza place.
It was a beautiful day.  It should have been a great day.
But I felt like a beast of burden with the weight of the world on my back.
Our backlog was overflowing, we didn’t make it through what we thought we would, and we had been slogging away.
And for what?
Well, I caught myself looking in the rear view mirror, more than looking ahead.
Instead of feeling great, I felt like crap.
So I turned to my colleague and asked him how much we realistically have to spend on work when we get back.
We lied to each other and ourselves.  Then we got real.
We figured the best thing we could possibly do would be to prioritize the value we could deliver next week.
With that, we enjoyed our pizza, and when we got back to work, we figured out what a great next week would look like.
I never wanted us to have another Friday where we couldn’t go into weekend feeling good about what we had accomplished for the week.
And that’s how Monday Vision was born.

Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection for Better Fridays

One I tell that little story, people get it pretty quickly.  They’ve been there.  They feel the pain.

They slogged away all week and at the end of the week, instead of feeling good about their achievements, they feel like they haven’t done enough.

They are never done.  They are overwhelmed. 

Instead of feeling like they earned their weekend for rest and relaxation, they feel guilty that they should work on their never-ending backlog and laundry-list of To-Dos.

Monday Vision for Better Fridays

So then I walk them through how to do Monday Vision, so they can have better Fridays.

On Mondays, imagine if it were Friday.  Really step into your future Friday and feel it.   What are Three Wins you really want to have under your belt?

What would you want to be able to say to your manager or to your team or to yourself, about what you accomplished or achieved for the week?

Get clarity on that.

Use that simple story of your Three Wins that you want to be able to talk about on Friday, as your way to prioritize your focus for the week on Monday.

Now you are doing “Monday Vision.”

Daily Wins for Better Fridays

Each day, identify your Three Wins for that day.  This is the “Daily Wins” practice.

You will have those days where your Three Wins might be, “Great Breakfast,” “Great Lunch”, “Great Dinner.”

There will be days that knock you down, and you wonder how you will get back up.

But then you will also have those days where you are on top of the world and your Three Wins for today will be magnificent.

You might even say, they will be your masterpiece.

Either way, get in the habit of starting your day by identifying Three Wins you want to achieve.

That will help you focus and prioritize all that you do in a more meaningful way for results that matter.

If you don’t know how to do this, just imagine if you were closing out your day, what are Three Wins that you want to be able to say you’ve achieved, either to you, your manager, your team or that someone special.

Friday Reflection for Better Fridays

Lastly, there is Friday Reflection.

Friday Reflection is your chance to dig deep and gain some new personal productivity insights.

Ask yourself, “What are three things going well?” and ask yourself, “What are three things to improve?”

Be honest with yourself about your answers.

You are the one that will win or lose from what you learn.

This is your chance to change any long-standing patterns of your personal productivity challenges.

Do you bite off more than you can chew?  Do you get randomized during the week?

Do you have a hard time figuring out what is actually valued?

Use what you learn to feed into next week.  This is your chance to change and practice your Growth Mindset.

Don’t expect any of these exercises to be easy, but they get easier with practice.

And that’s just it.  This isn’t a one-time trick.

This is a very precise set of productivity habits and practices that you can use for your lifetime to master time management, master your energy, master your motivation, and become more of what you are capable of.

Unleash your productivity, the Agile Way.

Best wishes for better Fridays.

Categories: Architecture, Programming

How Smart is Your City Transportation?

Fri, 06/10/2016 - 17:08

How easy is it to get around in your city from point A to point B?

Here’s an interesting article that rounds up some of the latest ideas:

Getting Around in European capitals: How smart is your city?

I really like this—talk about impact:

Autolib’ has taken thousands of cars off the roads, brought down driving costs by 90% and is reducing pollution by millions of metric tons per year.

Dense city + mass transit creates opportunities.

According to the article, here are what some cities are doing:

  1. In London, Transport of London implemented a contactless payment system, so users can just “touch in and out” to pay. When you’re dealing with a billion commuters a year, that’s a big deal.   Using Internet-of-Things, developers can use the sensors across London’s transport system, along with meaningful data in the Cloud, to build better transport apps that address technical incidents and protect passengers in new ways.
  2. In Paris, the Internet-of-Things made it possible to create Autolib, an electronic car-sharing solution. The fleet of electronic cars is managed centrally in the Cloud, allowing users to rent cars from kiosks and easily find charging stations. And users can easily find parking, too, with GPS-enabled parking.
  3. In Barcelona, they are using Internet-of-Things to improve Bicing, their bicycle sharing program. They can use sensors to monitor bicycle usage and detect issues between supply and demand. They can use that insight to distribute bikes better so that the bikes can be used in a more sustainable way. It’s smart logistics for bicycles in action.
  4. In Helsinki, they are using Internet-of-Things to get more value out of their 400 buses. By measuring acceleration, speed, engine temperature, fuel consumption, brake performance, and GPS location, they reduce fuel consumption, improve driver performance, and provide safer bus rides.

I also like how the article framed the challenge right up front by painting the scene of a common scenario where you have to stitch together various modes of transport to reach your destination:

“You just need to take Bus 2 for three stops,
then change to Bus 8 towards the City station,
walk for 10 minutes towards the docks,
then take Line 5 on the metro for 5 stops.
Then call a taxi.”

You can imagine all the opportunities to reimagine how people get around, and how inclusive the design can be (whether that means helping blind people safely find their next stop, or helping somebody from out of town, navigate their way around.)

Depending on how big the city is and how far out the city is spread, there is still room for Uber and Lyft to help stitch the end-to-end mass transit journey together.

And I wonder how long before Amazon’s Now drivers, go from local residents that fulfill orders, to become another ride share option (do Uber drivers become Amazon Now or do Amazon Now become Uber drivers?).

Categories: Architecture, Programming

Digital Transformation Books

Wed, 05/18/2016 - 08:43


Here is a roundup of my favorite books on Digital Transformation.

If you know me, you know I read a lot.  For me, it’s a quick way to “stand on the shoulders of giants” and to learn the patterns of what works.  I’ve found that the right books can help me leap frog ahead.

I’ve also found that reading a variety of books on a topic helps me get a better balcony view.  It’s from this balcony view that I can create clarity from chaos, and see the forest for the trees.

Reading multiple books on a topic also helps big ideas sink in better.  I might not quite get an idea in one book, but then it suddenly clicks in with another book, because the author presented it in a different way.   I find reading multiple books actually compounds my learning and pays off in ways I can’t predict, often creating serendipity.

Key Areas for Digital Transformation

My collection of Digital Transformation books spans a few key areas that I think help when it comes to driving Digital Transformation.

  1. One key area is innovation.  Innovation is the life blood of Digital Transformation.  If you can’t reimagine your business or explore the art of the possible, you won’t be very effective in your transition to the Digital Era.  Success transformation requires a reboot and a rethink of new ways to create and capture value at the edge.
  2. Another key area is business model innovation.  This is far more important than most people understand until they realize that it’s the business model that determines which ideas and which innovations survive in the market.  So many great ideas die on the vine because they lack an effective business model.   The more you learn about value engineering and how to translate ideas into real market opportunity, the better equipped you are to create new revenue streams in the Digital Economy.
  3. Another key area is culture change.  Culture is the environment you create for Digital Transformation to survive and thrive.  Culture is what can also kill Digital Transformation.  Creating a learning culture that obsesses over customers and embraces the Millennial way and empowers employees with new ways of working takes intentional effort and deliberate behavior change.
  4. Another key areas is Digital Business Design.  Thinking through your customers, your channels, your value prop, your value stream, and your differentiation is art, science, and strategy in action.  Arming yourself with a mental toolbox of methods, models, and tools can help you gain a real advantage here.
  5. Lastly, and perhaps my favorite topic, is trends and insights.  I don’t look for trends, as in trendy ideas that are more like fads.  I look for fundamental shifts in power or shifts in value or shifts in market demand or shifts in capabilities.  I build catalogs of trends and insights that help me innovate faster, put building blocks together, and use creative synthesis to reimagine and envision future state possibilities.  What if you knew the key trends shaping the world around you, influencing everything from where to live to what career to pursuit to how to create and capture value?

If you read the right books on trends, you end up with the closest thing to a crystal ball.  But rather than bet on one future, you can play the art of the long view and play out multiple paths of possibility.  And that’s how the paranoid survive.

With that in mind, here is my list of Digital Transformation books …

Getting Started

Some of you will want the full list of books.  Others will want the short-list.  All of you need to know which books to start with to get the most bang for the buck.

If you could only read one book, I think Leading Digital gives you the best all up, big picture view of what Digital Transformation is all about.  You will have plenty of stories to draw from, great mental models, and a working knowledge of how to frame out and think through Digital Transformation, including a good idea of what Gartner means when they say, “Bi-Modal IT.”

If you can read two books, then also read No Ordinary Disruption.  This will give you a comprehensive view of the key trends that are shaping the next 10 years around the world and will help you better anticipate the changes around you.

If you can read three books, then read Digital Transformation: A Model to Master Disruption.  This is really an “ideas” book, but it’s both surprisingly simple and surprisingly insightful.  You’ll need to separate the wheat from the chaff, but there are many ripe seeds that will inspire and kickstart your own thinking around how to best approach Digital Transformation.

1. Leading Digital image Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfeeLeading Digital is effectively a guide for driving Digital Transformation in the Enterprise.  While there is a lot of advice perfect for startups, Leading Digital is really a guide to existing large businesses that need to reinvent themselves for the Digital Era.

Leading Digital covers everything from successful Digital Transformation stories to dual-speed IT to customer experience transformation.  This book really provides a mental model and simple approach to driving Digital Transformation.


2. No Ordinary Disruption image No Ordinary Disruption, by Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan WoetzelDirectors of the McKinsey Global Institute do a deep dive to figure out the key trends and forces shaping the next 10 years.  The authors show how the trends are taking shape through anecdotes, data, and graphics.


3. Digital Transformation: A Model to Master Digital Disruption image Digital Transformation, by Jo Caudron and Dado Van PeteghemDigital Transformation introduces “The Infinite Loop of Transformation”:

  1. The Disruption phase: experiencing and acknowledging the severe impact of new players and/or technological evolutions on the core business activities.
  2. The Modeling phase: mapping out the impact of the disruption and trying to transform possible digital threats into digital opportunities, scenarios, and business cases for the future.
  3. The Transformation phase: implementing the digital transformation mode throughout the entire business processes, culture and systems.

The authors also introduce a simple model for approaching innovation:

  1. The Factory
  2. The Guesthouse
  3. The Garage



Digital Transformation Books A – Z

This is my more comprehensive list of Digital Transformation books that really helped me get an edge in terms of figuring out how to drive Digital Transformation.  It’s a wide variety, but like I said, it’s how the books come together in a symphony of ideas, or more like a mosaic of patterns, that helped me gain new insight well beyond what I could gain by just one or two books.  It’s this collective perspective and cornucopia of ideas that better equip me for driving forward in the Digital Frontier.

1. Age of Context image Age of Context, by Robert Scoble and Shel IsraelAge of Context provides a walkthrough of 5 technological forces shaping our world:

  1. mobile devices
  2. social media
  3. big data
  4. sensors
  5. location-based services

The authors use stories and examples to help us easily understand how brands can use the technologies to change the world. 2. B4B


image B4B, by J.B. Wood, Todd Hewlin, and Thomas LahB4B is a framework for transitioning from product-focused to customer outcome-focused.  It helps you prepare for a world of “pay for play” where customers pay when they use the product.


3. Blue Ocean Strategy image Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim and Renée A. MauborgneBlue Ocean Strategy provides a way to create disruptive innovation and create uncontested market space.  Rather than compete in a bloody “red” ocean and compete on features, the idea is to create a new market and enjoy a “blue” ocean.

A simple example is rather than try to compete in the circus industry with better animals and a better ringmaster, change the game.  Cirque de Soleil created a new kind of circus by focusing on adults and using acrobats instead of animals to create exotic shows.


4. Business Model Generation image Business Model Generation, by by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves PigneurBusiness Model Generation is a guide for creating new business models and designing tomorrow’s enterprises.  It provides a canvas, patterns, design, strategy, and process.

The backbone of the book is a walkthrough of the 9 building blocks for business model generation:

  1. Customer Segments
  2. Value Propositions
  3. Channels
  4. Customer Relationships
  5. Revenue Streams
  6. Key Resources
  7. Key Activities
  8. Key Partnerships
  9. Cost Structure



5. Business Model Navigator image The Business Model Navigator, by Oliver Gassmann, Karolin Frankenberger, and Michaela CsikThe Business Model Navigator is a great walkthrough of what exactly business model innovation is, along with 55 patterns that represent 90% of business model innovation to date.


6. Consumption Economics image Consumption Economics, by J. B. Wood, Todd Hewlin, and Thomas LahConsumption Economics explains the challenge where more value will be created than can be absorbed by users and consumers.  Additionally, the true disruption will be to your business model. Future customers won’t want to pay you high prices out of big “CapEx” budgets anymore. They will expect lower “cloud” prices paid from “OpEx” budgets only when and if they successfully consume the business value of your products.



7. Digital Disciplines image Digital Disciplines, by Joe Weinman and Fred WiersemaDigital Disciplines walks through how companies can develop a competitive edge through four digital disciplines:

  1. information excellence
  2. solution leadership
  3. collective intimacy
  4. accelerated innovation



8. Digital Disruption image Digital Disruption, by James McQuiveyThis is a guide to learn how to be a digital disruptor.

James McQuivey shares his approach to disruptive innovation.  He’s gone into the biggest companies, even in traditional industries like insurance and consumer packaged goods and changed the way they think about innovation.

McQuivey shares a simple 3-step process for digital disruption:

  1. First, adopt the right mindset; Take risks, invest as cheaply as possible, and build on existing platforms to find the fastest path to solving a customer’s problem.
  2. Second, seek the “adjacent possible”—the space just next to yours where new technology creates opportunity.
  3. Finally, disrupt yourself. Use these tools to make parts of your business obsolete before your competitors do.


9. Digital Master image Digital Master, by Pearl ZhuPearl Zhu outlines what the Digital Masters do to apply advanced digital technology across all business arenas to build high performing organizations:

  1. Develop visionary digital leadership
  2. Shape open and creative digital mindsets
  3. Craft and execute a holistic digital strategy
  4. Advocate digital innovation next practices
  5. Refine a highly effective enterprise culture
  6. Optimize high-performing business capabilities
  7. Explore data-rich digital Intelligence
  8. Unleash enriched digital talent potential
  9. Pursue high level digital maturity


10. Digital to the Core image Digital to the Core, by Mark Raskino and Graham WallerDigital to the Core is interesting because it’s written by two Gartner fellows.  In Digital to the Core, the authors walk through leading at three levels:

  1. industry
  2. enterprise
  3. self

The authors draw from interviews with 30 top C-level executives including GE, Ford, McDonald’s, and more.  The authors also include  Gartner’s annual CIO and CEO global survey research.



11. Digital Transformation image Digital Transformation, by Mark BakerMark Baker shares how different consulting companies and business leaders are thinking about Digital Business Transformation. He his insights to life through interviews with corporate digital leaders and real-life examples.


12. Digital Transformation: A Model to Master Digital Disruption image Digital Transformation, by Jo Caudron and Dado Van PeteghemDigital Transformation introduces “The Infinite Loop of Transformation”:

  1. The Disruption phase: experiencing and acknowledging the severe impact of new players and/or technological evolutions on the core business activities.
  2. The Modeling phase: mapping out the impact of the disruption and trying to transform possible digital threats into digital opportunities, scenarios, and business cases for the future.
  3. The Transformation phase: implementing the digital transformation mode throughout the entire business processes, culture and systems.

The authors also introduce a simple model for approaching innovation:

  1. The Factory
  2. The Guesthouse
  3. The Garage



13. Disrupting Digital Business image Disrupting Digital Business, by R “Ray” WangDisrupting Digital Business walks through how organizations no longer control the conversation.  In this era of social and mobile technology, customers, employees, suppliers, and partners are in direct communication with one another.

Ray Wang explains new ways to think about 5 areas of business:

  1. Consumerization of technology and the new C-suite
  2. Data’s influence in driving decisions
  3. Digital marketing transformation
  4. The future of work
  5. Matrix commerce



14. Edge Strategy image Edge Strategy, by Alan Lewis and Dan McKoneEdge Strategy provides a simple frame to better understand the edges you can use to create and capture value:

  1. Product edge. How to capture incremental profits and other benefits by slightly altering the elements and composition of a core offering
  2. Journey edge. How to create and capture extra value by adjusting your role in supporting the customer’s journey to and through your offering
  3. Enterprise edge. How to unlock additional value from resources and capabilities that support your core offering by applying them in a different context, for a different offering or different set of customers



15. How Digital is Your Business? image How Digital is Your Business?, by Adrian J. Slywotzky, David Morrison, and Karl WeberSlywotzky and Morrison show how a digital business is one whose strategic options have been transformed–and significantly broadened–by the use of digital technologies.


How Digital is Your Business shares the following:

  1. The core of How Digital is Your Business: Profiles of the future: the in-depth story of the digital pioneers–Dell Computer, Charles Schwab, Cisco Systems, Cemex.
  2. Insight into how to change a traditional enterprise into a digital business: the stories of GE and IBM.
  3. An analysis of the profitable dot-coms: AOL, Yahoo!, and eBay.

Through stories and case studies, How Digital is Your Business? also provides digital tools you can use to create a digital future for your company.


16. Leading Digital image Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfeeLeading Digital is effectively a guide for driving Digital Transformation in the Enterprise.  While there is a lot of advice perfect for startups, Leading Digital is really a guide to existing large businesses that need to reinvent themselves for the Digital Era.

Leading Digital covers everything from successful Digital Transformation stories to dual-speed IT to customer experience transformation.  This book really provides a mental model and simple approach to driving Digital Transformation.


17. Leading Digital Strategy image Leading Digital Strategy, by Christopher Bones and James HammersleyLeading Digital Strategy shares strategies, methodologies and models to improve the effectiveness of your online offering.

Leading Digital Strategy also shows you how to implement a customer-centric culture, and provides a practical framework for multi-channel success.


18. No Ordinary Disruption image No Ordinary Disruption, by Richard Dobbs, James Manyika, and Jonathan WoetzelDirectors of the McKinsey Global Institute do a deep dive to figure out the key trends and forces shaping the next 10 years.  The authors show how the trends are taking shape through anecdotes, data, and graphics.


19. Scaling Up image Scaling Up, by Verne HarnishScaling Up shows you how to scale up a venture and build an industry-dominating business.

The goal of Scaling Up is to help you create a company where the team is engaged; the customers are doing your marketing; and everyone is making money.

To do so, Scaling Up focuses on the four major decision areas every company must get right: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash.


20. Service Design for Business image Service Design for Business, by Ben Reason, Lavrans Løvlie, and Melvin Brand FluService Design for Business shows you how to transform your cusotmer experience and design services that respond to customers’ needs and demands.

In Service Design for Business, you’ll learn the following keys to designing more effective services:

  1. Approach customer experience from a design perspective
  2. See your organization through the lens of the customer
  3. Make customer experience an organization-wide responsibility
  4. Analyze the market factors that dovetail with customer experience design


21. Ten Types of Innovation image Ten Types of Innovation, by Larry Keeley, Helen Walters, Ryan Pikkel, and Brian QuinnTen Types of Innovation provides insights to diagnose patterns of innovation within industries, to identify innovation opportunities, and to evaluate how firms are performing against competitors.

The 10 types of innovation are:

  1. Product
  2. Product System
  3. Service
  4. Channel
  5. Brand
  6. Customer Engagement
  7. Process
  8. Structure
  9. Profit Model
  10. Network


22. The Digital Economy image The Digital Economy, by Don TapscottIn the Digital Economy, Don Tapscott provides new forecasts of where the digital world is headed.

The essence of the book is effectively essays where Tapscott walks through the following topics:

  1. Natural frictions between present-day Industrial Capitalism and the Digital Economy
  2. The radical effects of the Internet on traditional corporate structures and systems
  3. Dramatic changes in business collaboration and culture thanks to social media
  4. The rise of web-based analytics and how they have transformed business functions
  5. Government transparency, citizen empowerment, and the creation of public value
  6. Teaching and learning—revolutionary developments driven by digital content



23. The Digital Enterprise image The Digital Enterprise, by Karl-Heinz StreibichKarl-Heinz Streibich provides a guide to Industry 4.0 and lights it up with 20+ examples of Industry 4.0 in action.  Learn how Industry 4.0 will bring massive efficiencies to aviation, utilities, and many other industries.


24. The Digital Transformation Playbook image The Digital Transformation Playbook, by David L. RogersThe Digital Transformation Playbook helps business leaders create and pursue a digital plan.

In The Digital Transformation Playbook, Rogers provides 5 key rules to help businesses create new value and outperform their competitors in the digital age.

Roger’s rules address the following categories:

  1. customers
  2. competition
  3. data
  4. innovation
  5. value proposition


25. The Essence of Value image The Essence of Value: Secrets of Desired Products- 80 Inspiring Strategies for Creative Companies, by Mario PrickenThe Essence of Value reveals the fundamental parameters that create value and make products “shine”, based on examples from the worlds of business, the arts and religion.

Mario Pricken has analyzed more than 300 products, objects and events over their entire lifecycles in order to reveal the patterns that make things extraordinarily valuable. He’s identified 80 parameters that can be found, for example, in the biographies of exceptional cars, watches, luxury foods, designer furniture, artwork and services – such as the elements of uniqueness, scarcity, the effect of time or magnificently orchestrated transfers of ownership.

You can use the tools to quickly determine the “value-DNA” of a product.


26. The Experience Economy image The Experience Economy, by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. GilmorePine and Gilmore make the case that experience is the missing link between a company and its potential audience. The Experience Economy offers rich examples—including the U.S. Army, Heineken Experience, Autostadt, Vinopolis, American Girl Place, and others—to show fresh approaches to scripting and staging compelling experiences.


27. The Fourth Industrial Revolution image The Fourth Industrial Revolution, by Klaus SchwabKlaus Schwab dubs this era of profound change as the fourth industrial revolution.

The fourth industrial revolution brings waves of great change including:

  1. Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing
  2. Artificially-intelligent robots
  3. Self-driving cars
  4. Neuro-technological brain enhancements
  5. Genetic editing

Schwab has been at the center of global affairs for over four decades and is convinced that  the period of change we are living through is more significant, and the ramifications of the latest technological revolution are more profound than any prior period in history.


28. The Industries of the Future image The Industries of the Future, by Alec RossAlec Ross explains what’s next for the world: the advances and stumbling blocks that will emerge in the next ten years, and how we can navigate them.

While Alec Ross was working as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State, he traveled to forty-one countries, exploring the latest advances coming out of every continent. From startup hubs in Kenya to R&D labs in South Korea, Ross has seen what the future holds.

Ross shows us what changes are coming in the next ten years, highlighting the best opportunities for progress and explaining why countries thrive or sputter. He examines the specific fields that will most shape our economic future, including robotics, cybersecurity, the commercialization of genomics, the next step for big data, and the coming impact of digital technology on money and markets.


29. The Profit Zone image The Profit Zone, by Adrian J. Slywotzky, David J. Morrison, and Bob AndelmanIn The Profit Zone, the authors address the most fundamental question in business:
Where Will I Make a Profit Tomorrow?

30. The Second Machine Age image The Second Machine Age, by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfeeErik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee identify the best strategies for survival and offer a new path to prosperity amid exponential technological change. These include revamping education so that it prepares people for the next economy instead of the last one, designing new collaborations that pair brute processing power with human ingenuity, and embracing policies that make sense in a radically transformed landscape.


31. Value Migration image Value Migration, by Adrian J. SlywotzkySlywotzky walks through how several companies created a business design – how they select customers, differentiate their offerings, configure their resources, go to market, and capture value – based on a strategic understanding of their customers’ highest priorities.


32. Value Proposition Design image Value Proposition Design, by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda, and Alan SmithValue Proposition Design gives you the processes and tools you need to create compelling products and services customers want to buy.


33. Zone to Win: Organizing to Compete in an Age of Disruption image Zone to Win, by Geoffrey A. MooreZone to Win is a playbook to address the challenge large enterprises face when they seek to add a new line of business to their established portfolio.

Zone to Win is a high-powered tool for driving your company above and beyond its limitations, its definitions of success, and ultimately, its competitors, by focusing on spurring next-generation growth, guiding mergers and acquisitions, and embracing disruption and innovation.


I hope my list of Digital Transformation books helps you, or someone you know, get an edge.  Digital Transformation is risky business and a lot of companies fail to cross the Cloud chasm.  Sadly, what they don’t know, can hurt them.

Don’t let a lack of know how set you back during what can possibly be called the greatest opportunity in our lifetimes to build a better world and empower every person and every organization on the planet, the digital way.

What great Digital Transformation books did I miss?

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Digital Transformation Explained

Tue, 05/10/2016 - 17:01

In a previous post, I defined Digital Transformation.  But now it’s time to explain Digital Transformation, and make it real with examples.

Satya posted his mental model for Digital Transformation:


I like the simplicity.

What I like is there are four clear pillars or areas to look at for driving Digital Transformation:

  1. Customers
  2. Employees
  3. Operations
  4. Products

What I also like is that this matches what I learned while driving Digital Business Transformation with our field with customers.

Customer Experience Transformation

In terms of customers, you can engage with them in new ways.  You can connect with your customers through apps that provide a mobile experience, so that your customers can interact with your organization, anywhere, anytime.  You can listen to your customers through social listening and perform sentiment analysis.  You can learn about your customer’s behaviors through telemetry insights that reveal what features your customers use and which ones they ignore.  You can use data-driven insights to deliver personal experiences.  With the insights you gain, you can segment your customers in more effective ways, and you can target new customer segments.  You can use the Cloud to reach new customer segments around the world ,and you can test new experiences, and you can scale as needed.  You can deliver a seamless and personal experience across all customer interactions, providing a true omni-channel experience.

You can push the envelope of customer interaction and drive deeper engagement with more immersive experiences.

By walking your customer journey, you can identify Digital Hot Spots—places where you can connect better, collaborate better, share information better, gain new insights, visualize better, or use infinite compute and infinite storage in new and exciting ways.  And you can reveal new ways to create and capture value.  This is innovating at the edge in action.

One example of customer experience transformation is the story of Real Madrid, the Spanish football club and the world’s #1 sports franchise.  Previously, Real Madrid had just a one-way communication method for broadcasting information and news, to it’s 450 million fans, without the ability to get any feedback.  Real Madrid wanted to know who their 450 million fans are, where they are, and what they want from them, so they could engage in more personal ways.

Fast forward to where are they now.

Real Madrid’s fan engagement platform captures and stores every interaction with a fan, including mobile check-ins at the club’s stadium, online fan profile updates, and online merchandise purchases.  It also collects social media data from Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites, for social segmentation of the individual fan, and analysis. Real Madrid’s extended video platform provides new and historical video content, including previous Real Madrid matches.  Fans can filter searches to view specific games using criteria such as games where the club scored a certain number of goals.

Real Madrid’s consumer app lets fans virtually access the stadium before, during, or after each game, and they can search data on all the club’s players, past, and present, while exploring detail statistics from specific games.  Real Madrid can now capture and discover personal preferences to provide more relevant content to their fan through the new mobile app, or when fans use the app to check in at the stadium, they an get a personal QR code for a loyalty in-stadium offer, or even a simple message that thanks the fan.

Employee Experience Transformation

In terms of employees and workforce, you can change how people work together.  Imagine if employees could bring their own devices and they can access the apps and information they need to do their job, anywhere, anytime to serve customers better.  Imagine if employees can find the experts they need to collaborate with in real time.  Imagine if they can discover the apps, the documents, the information, and the people they need to perform their work better, faster, and cheaper.  Imagine if employees could connect with their peers, as well as with customers and partners to innovate on new ideas as well as solve problems better together.

Imagine if your workforce can “work out loud” in a more open way, leading to more connection and collaboration as employees learn to “work like a network.”

Imagine digital assistants that can help employees find the information they need, perform routine tasks, and guide them through new scenarios.

One example of employee experience transformation is the story of KUKA’s Intelligent Industrial Work Assistant. Employees are able to collaborate with robots to perform jobs better, easier, and faster than ever before.  KUKA’s lightweight  robot is able to sense its way around a complex task and perform precise automation movements safely and securely.  This enables human-robot collaboration in new and exciting ways.

Another example is the story of the Edge.  The Edge is a smart office space project that focuses on both a greener building and more productive occupants.  The building connects and communicates with employees through the Edge smartphone app.  The app helps employees find a parking spot at the building when they arrive.  Then the app finds them a desk. Because at the Edge, employees don’t have one. No one does. Workspaces are based on their schedule: sitting desk, standing desk, work booth, meeting room, balcony seat, or “concentration room.”   This helps

Wherever they go, the app knows their preferences for light and temperature, and it tweaks the environment accordingly.  Side note – the Edge is the greenest building in the world.  The British rating agency BREEAM, gave it the highest sustainability score ever awarded: 98.4 percent.

Operations Transformation

In terms of operations transformation, you can improve process visibility end-to-end, increase decision making speed, and improve collaboration across silos.  Another key to operations transformation is getting information to the people who need it most, when they need it most.

With machine learning, you can use predictive maintenance to replace parts before they break, provide just enough maintenance when you need it, and avoid expensive downtime. With predictive analytics, you can more intelligently optimize your schedule or logistics, or even figure out your next best offer to promote.

DevOps models and practices help drive continual delivery and IT service delivery agility.  By promoting better communication, collaboration, and integration between software development and IT operations, DevOps helps produce software and IT services more frequently, with rapid iterations.

An example of operations transformation is the story of Fujitsu.   Fujitsu enabled managers, engineers and scientists to simultaneously manage product quality, process efficiency, and equipment performance.  As Fujitsu CEO Hiroyuki Sakai put it: “…we are able to deliver real-time visualization of the engineering process for big data analytics to improve the entire production process and inform decision-making.”

An example of operations transformation in healthcare is the story of Dartmouth-Hitchcock.  Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System is piloting a highly coordinated, intensely personalized solution to provide visualizations and deep insights that will transform business operations.

An example of operations transformation in logistics & transportation is the story of Scania.   Scania is a global company that delivers trucks, buses, and engines, as well as services in more than 100 countries.  Scania developed a system in the Cloud that measures the entire transport flow of a mine, with data sent wirelessly every second from the trucks in the production flow to Scania’s field workshop. This allows them to calculate uptime and down times and have useful data to make decisions that affect operational efficiency in real time in their customers’ mining operations.

An example of predictive maintenance is the story of ThyssenKrupp.  Using the Cloud, can ThyssenKrupp can guarantee a higher uptime percentage on our elevators to gain a competitive advantage.  Drawing on the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT) by connecting its elevators to the cloud, gathering data from its sensors and systems and transforming that data into business insights, ThyssenKrupp is vastly improving operations.

Product Transformation

Wrapping engineering teams around your customers creates a new world of possibilities.  By engaging with your customers more deeply, you gain new insights into their pains, needs, and desired outcomes that you can use to shape and create new products and offerings.

You can use your social insight and sentiment analysis to gain even deeper understanding of how to create and capture value for your customers.

Best of all, you can use telemetry to figure out what features your customers actually use and which features your customers ignore.

An example of product transformation in automotive is the story of Delphi Automotive.  Delphi Automotive created Delphi Connect to give drivers many exciting ways to remotely monitor and control their cars.  Delphi Connect can turn any car into a connected car with affordable, cloud-based telematics.

Another example of product transformation in automotive is the story of Qoros.  Qoros engaged Microsoft Services to design and build the Qoros telematics system, which it calls the QorosQloud.  QorosQloud provides more than 30 services, which can be also accessed from the driver’s smartphone, tablet, or PC, delivering functionality that goes beyond driving and the car.  Vendors can provide data to QorosQloud—traffic data, points of interest, restaurant reviews, parking data and so forth.  Qoros owners tell their car which points of interest they want to see on their in-car monitor.  QorosQloud connects to the Qoros dealer management system, customer relationship management, company websites, mobile apps, and other business systems that run both in the Cloud and on-premises in a small Qoros datacenter.

Business Model Innovation

Collectively, these four Digital Transformation pillars (customers, employees, operations, and products)  set the stage for transforming your business model.  According to The Business Model Navigator, you can think of your business model in terms of four components:

  1. Customer – Who are your target customers? (This is the heart of your business model, and it’s where your customer segments come into play.)
  2. Value Proposition – What do you offer to your customers? (This is where your products and services come into play.)
  3. Value Chain – How do you produce your offerings? (This is where supply chain optimization can have profound impact.)
  4. Profit Mechanism – Why does it generate a profit? (This is where reducing cost structures and adding profit generating mechanisms come into play.)

Business model innovation is a significant change in two or more part of your business model.

When you think through your business model, imagine if you could use the Cloud to reach new customer segments in emerging markets.  Or, imagine if you could completely change your supply chain.  Imagine if you can take an idea that’s working in another industry and bring it into your industry.

Another way to think about business model innovation in a mobile-first, cloud-first world is to think about new digital products you can create as you shift your mix from physical things to digital things for the digital economy.

Here are a few examples of business model innovation that you are likely familiar with:

  • AirBnB is a large hospitality provider, but it doesn’t own any real estate.
  • Netflix is a large movie rental service, but it doesn’t provide any physical retail stores.
  • Uber is a large taxi service, but does not own any cars.

In the TED Talk: The Currency of the New Economy is Trust, Rachel Botsman provides a good overview of how service networking, the collaborative consumption, and the sharing economy are changing business models.

Putting it All Together

When it comes to Digital Transformation it helps to have an all up mental model to work from.  The more you can model and map out your Digital Transformation, the more effective you will be.

In the article, Microsoft IT cloud computing strategies continue to evolve, you can see how Microsoft’s IT department is going through it’s multi-year Digital Transformation journey.

In the article The systems approach on how to transform your digital healthcare organization, you can see some healthcare examples of the Digital Transformation pillars in action, such as customer experience transformation and operations transformation.

In the article Welcome to the Digital Revolution, you can get a really good overview of the big picture of Digital Transformation that is happening all around us.

Now that you know what kinds of Digital Transformation are taking place, along with concrete examples of Digital Transformation in the real world, hopefully that inspires you to re-imagine what you can do in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

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What is the Secret to Insane Productivity?

Wed, 05/04/2016 - 19:00

Productivity is truly an advantage.  Imagine if you had boundless energy and could tackle your challenges with all that you are capable of.

What if you could double, triple or maybe even 10X your productivity?

Maybe you can.

But how do you take your productivity to the next level?

In What is the Secret to Insane Productivity, I walk through what it takes to achieve high levels of performance, but I want to summarize some of the key insights here.

One of the most overlooked challenges to your personal productivity is your energy level.  You can chase a bunch of mental tricks, and you can try to organize the heck out of everything you do, and you can apply extreme prioritization, and you can add in some extreme motivation, but if you don’t have the energy you need, you won’t get very far.

The key is that you have multiple sources of energy.  Start with your body.   If you start to move more, you generate more energy.  Energy isn’t something you just have.  It’s something you create.  But you have to kick start your energy factory and the key to that is to move more often.  It could be as simple as parking a little further away, getting up for quick walks, or adding a 20 or 30 minute workout in the morning.

Even Richard Branson says the secret of his extreme productivity is working out.

You can also draw energy from your mind, emotions, and spirit.  So if your body is primed and ready for action, but you have a way of knocking yourself down with negative self-talk, that’s not going to help.  The easiest way to deal with negative self-talk is to talk about to your negative thoughts.  That’s right, challenge them.  This is not a new idea.  In fact, this is a proven practice used by many of the world’s best counselors and coaches to help people get out of depression, defeat limiting beliefs, and find new levels of motivation, inspiration, and boundless energy.

Creating better energy for high performance is a a matter of both reducing negative energy drains, and adding rituals and routines that make you come alive.  A quick way to do this is to stop or limit doing the things that drain you and spend more time in your strengths.  Spend much more time in the things that you could do all day.  And then use your strengths as your creative twist to add more value in everything you do.  This is how you become unstoppable.

Energy is truly the secret of insane productivity because you can’t get more hours in a day, but you can add more energy to everything you do.

But like anything, there is no silver bullet.

So what else really makes the difference when it comes to high performance and insane productivity?

Your strategies.  Your techniques.  There are ways to do things better, faster and cheaper.  And experts around the world know them.  And they tend to share them.  They write them in books.  They share them in videos.  They are all around you.  They might be the unsung hero down the hall.  How do you find them?  You start to look for them.  You ask.  You will soon find the people that will help you take your game to the next level, as they share their best strategies and techniques with you.

OK, now.

So you have this boundless energy.  You are spending time in your strengths.  You have these super strategies and techniques for high performance.  

Have you nailed it?

Are you now super productive?

Well, there is another key you need in your arsenal of insane productivity.   There is one more true secret that is underlies exponential productivity.

The answer is this:

Value is the ultimate short cut.

And value is in the eye of the beholder or stakeholder.

When you know what is truly valued, you can trim away all the waste and want not.

So now then, how do you figure out what’s actually valued?  What is really valued by the system you are in, by your customers, by your team, by your partner, by your friends, by whoever?

Well, one way is to ask.  (Yeah, it sounds simple, but you’d be surprised by how many people don’t actually do this.   Did you ever get a gift somebody swore you would love?)

But people don’t always know.  If Ford asked his customers what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.

And value changes.  Time changes what’s important.  And ultimately the value is in the change.  So if you aren’t changing, you aren’t creating new value.

So then, how do you pursuit value?

You treat value like a verb.

Act on it.  Test it.  Learn it.

Create rapid learning loops where failure is OK and learning is valued.

Learn your way forward.

The value you create in your wake will fill a void in the world that will be your unique dent in the universe.

Categories: Architecture, Programming

Digital Transformation Defined

Fri, 04/29/2016 - 07:16

This post is a walkthrough multiple definitions of digital transformation from multiple sources.

Digital transformation can be elusive if you can’t define it.

Lucky for us, there is no shortage of definitions for digital transformation.

I find that rather than use one single definition for digital transformation, it’s actually more helpful to look at a range of definitions to really internalize what digital transformation means from multiple angles.

Before you walk through the definitions, be sure to review Satya’s pillars for Digital Transformation so you have a simple mental model to work with.

Wikipedia on Digital Transformation

Wikipedia has a simple explanation:

“Digital transformation refers to the changes associated with the application of digital technology in all aspects of human society.”

What I like about that definition is that it goes beyond pure business and includes all impact on society, whether it’s education, government, sports, arts, leisure, etc.

Altimeter on Digital Transformation

Altimeter defined digital transformation from a customer-focused lens in their online report, The 2014 State of Digital Transformation:

“The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.”

What I like about Altimeter’s definition is that it’s outside in vs. inside out.  The big idea is to leverage technology to adapt to your customer’s changing preferences.  So if you “transform”, but there is no visible impact to your customers or to the market, then you didn’t really transform.

Capgemini and MIT Center for Digital Business on Digital Transformation

Capgemini and MIT Center for Digital Business define Digital Transformation in Digital Transformation: A Roadmap for Billion-Dollar Organizations like this:

“Digital transformation – the use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises.”

While their definition may look simplistic, the power is in the data behind the definition.  It’s a global study of how 157 executives in 50 large traditional companies are managing – and benefiting from – digital transformation.

Agile Elephant on Digital Transformation

Agile Elephant defines digital transformation like this:

“Digital transformation is the process of shifting your organisation from a legacy approach to new ways of working and thinking using digital, social, mobile and emerging technologies.  It involves a change in leadership, different thinking, the encouragement of innovation and new business models, incorporating digitisation of assets and an increased use of technology to improve the experience of your organisation’s employees, customers, suppliers, partners and stakeholders.”

While this definition may seem more elaborate, I find this elaboration can really help get somebody’s head into the digital transformation game.

MIT Sloan’s 9 Elements of Digital Transformation

In The Nine Elements of Digital Transformation, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAfee identify the key attributes of digital transformation:

Category Items Transforming Customer Experience
  1. Customer Understanding
  2. Top-Line Growth
  3. Customer Touch Points
Transforming Operational Processes
  1. Process Digitization
  2. Worker Enablement
  3. Performance Management
Transforming Business Models
  1. Digitally Modified Businesses
  2. New Digital Businesses
  3. Digital Globalization


The nine elements are excerpted from their digital report, Digital Transformation: A Roadmap for Billion-Dollar Organizations.  Here are quick summaries of each:

  1. Customer Understanding – Customer Understanding is where “Companies are starting to take advantage of previous investments in systems to gain an in-depth understanding of specific geographies and market segments.”
  2. To-Line Growth – Top-Line Growth is where “Companies are using technology to enhance in-person sales conversations.”
  3. Customer Touch Points – Customer Touch Points are where “Customer service can be enhanced significantly by digital initiatives.”
  4. Process Digitization – Process Digitization is where “Automation can enable companies to refocus their people on more strategic tasks.”
  5. Worker Enablement – Worker Enablement is where “Individual-level work has, in essence, been virtualized — separating the work process from the location of the work.”
  6. Performance Management – Performance Management is where “Transactional systems give executives deeper insights into products, regions and customers, allowing decisions to be made on real data and not on assumptions.”
  7. Digitally Modified Businesses – Digitally Modified Businesses is “finding ways to augment physical with digital offerings and to use digital to share content across organizational silos.”
  8. New Digital Businesses – New Digital businesses is where “companies are introducing digital products that complement traditional products.”
  9. Digital Globalization – Digital Globalization is where “Companies are increasingly transforming from multinational to truly global operations.”

Sidenote – George, Didier, and Andrew sum up the power of digital transformation when they say, “”Whether it is in the way individuals work and collaborate, the way business processes are executed within and across organizational boundaries, or in the way a company understands and serves customers, digital technology provides a wealth of opportunity.”

Digital Business Transformation

I think it’s worth pointing out the distinction between Digital Transformation and Digital “Business” Transformation.

Digital Business Transformation is specifically about transforming the business with digital technologies.

There are many lenses to look at but in particular it helps to view it through the lens of business model innovation.   So you can think of it as innovating in your business models through digital technologies.   Your business model is simply the WHO (customers), the WHAT (value prop), the HOW (value chain), and your WHY (profit model.)

An exec from SAP at Davos said it well when he said “new business models are driven by different interactions with companies and their customers.”

In pragmatic terms, that means evolving your business model and interaction patterns to meet the changing demands of your customers all along your value chain.  For example, consider how millennials want to interact with a business in today’s world.  They want to learn about a company or brand through their friends and family on social networks and through real stories from authentic people, and they want access to services anytime, anywhere, from any device.

Another way to think about this is how many companies are learning how to wrap their engineering teams around their customer’s end-to-end journey to directly address the customer’s pains, needs, and desired outcomes.

Hopefully, this helps give you a good enough understanding to get going with your Digital Transformation and to understand the difference between Digital Transformation and Digital Business Transformation so that you can pave your path forward.

If nothing else, go back to the Altimeter Group’s definition of Digital Transformation,“The realignment of, or new investment in, technology and business models to more effectively engage digital customers at every touchpoint in the customer experience lifecycle.”, and use Satya’s pillars for Digital Transformation as a guide to stay grounded.

Additional Resources

Digital Transformation: A Roadmap for Billion-Dollar Organizations, by Capgemini and MIT Center for Digital Business

The 2014 State of Digital Transformation, by Altimeter

The Nine Elements of Digital Transformation, by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAfee

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SWAYAM: India’s First MOOCs Platform

Wed, 04/27/2016 - 18:20

It’s always cool to see the work our team is doing around the world to help hack a better world.

Our Digital Advisory Services team is helping the Government of India, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), to reimagine the student experience and to develop India’s first MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) platform.

Apparently, the presentation went so well that the honorable HRD minister, Smriti Irani tweeted our Student Experience Journey Map that helps show the vision and the Digital Transformation opportunities.

Way to go!


Categories: Architecture, Programming

Satya Nadella on Digital Transformation

Sun, 04/24/2016 - 23:55

Satya posted his mental model for Digital Transformation:


I like the simplicity.

What I like is that there are four clear pillars or areas to look at for driving Digital Transformation:

  1. Customers
  2. Employees
  3. Operations
  4. Products

Collectively, these four Digital Transformation pillars set the stage for transforming your business model.

What I also like is that this matches what I learned while driving Digital Business Transformation with our field with customers, and as part of Satya’s innovation team.

Effectively, to generate new sources of revenue, organizations re-imagine their customer experience along their value chain.  As they connect and engage with their customers in new ways, this transforms their employee experience, and their operations.  As they gain new insight into their customers behavior and needs, they transform their products and services.

In a world of infinite compute and infinite storage…how would you re-imagine your business for a mobile-first, cloud-first world?

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A Language for Architecture

Sun, 04/03/2016 - 17:52

This is an article that I originally wrote for the Architecture Journal to walk through how we created “a language for software architecture.”  Since the article is no longer available, I’m making it available here for old time’s sake.

The goal at the time was to create a simple way to work through solution design challenges and expose some of the key architectural concerns and choices.

The idea was to make it very easy to zoom out to the broader context, and then very quickly zoom into common architecture choices, such as deployment topologies and cross-cutting concerns.

I also wanted to be able to better leverage the existing patterns in the software industry by giving them a backdrop and a canvas so architects could compose them easier and apply them in a more holistic and effective way.

Grady Booch, one of IBM’s distinguished engineers, had this to say about the Architecture Guide where we first created this “language for architecture”:

“Combine these styles and archetypes, and you have an interesting language for describing a large class of applications. While I don’t necessarily agree that these styles and archetypes are orthogonal (nor are the lists complete) for the general domain of software architecture, for Microsoft’s purposes, these styles offer an excellent operating model into which one can apply their patterns and practices.”

While a lot has changed since the original creation of our Architecture Language, a lot of the meta-frame remains the same.  If I were to update the Architecture Language, I would simply walk through the big categories and update them. 


One of the most important outcomes of the patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project is a language for the space. A language for application architecture. Building software applications involves a lot of important decisions. By organizing these decisions as a language and a set of mental models, we can simplify organizing and sharing information. By mapping out the architecture space, we can organize and share knowledge more effectively. By using this map as a backdrop, we can also overlay principles, patterns, technologies, and key solutions assets in meaningful and relevant ways. Rather than a sea of information, we can quickly browse hot spots for relevant solutions.

  • Overview
  • A Map of the Terrain
  • Mapping Out the Architecture Space
  • Architecture Frame
  • Application Types
  • Application Feature Frame
  • Architecture Styles
  • Quality Attributes
  • Layered Architecture Reference Example
  • Layers
  • Tiers
  • Conclusion
  • Resources
A Map of the Terrain

One of the most effective ways to deal with information overload is to frame a space. Just like you frame a picture, you can frame a problem to show it a certain way. When I started the patterns & practices Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project, the first thing I wanted to do was to frame out the space. Rather than provide step-by-step architectural guidance, I thought it would be far more valuable to first create a map of what’s important. We could then use this map to prioritize and focus our efforts. We could also use this map as a durable, evolvable backdrop for creating, organizing and sharing our patterns & practices work. This is the main map, the Architecture Frame, we created to help us organize and share principles, patterns, and practices in the application architecture space:

Mapping Out the Architecture Space

Creating the map was an iterative and incremental process. The first step was to break up application architecture into meaningful buckets. It first started when I created a project proposal for our management team. As part of the proposal, I created a demo to show how we might chunk up the architecture space in a meaningful way. In the demo, I included a list of key trends, a set of application types, a set of architectural styles, a frame for quality attributes, an application feature frame, a set of example deployment patterns, and a map of patterns & practices solution assets. I used examples where possible simply to illustrate the idea. It was well received and it served as a strawman for the team.

Each week, our core Application Architecture Guide 2.0 project team met with our extended development team, which primarily included patterns & practices development team members. During this time, we worked through a set of application types, created a canonical application, analyzed layers and tiers, evaluated key trends, and created technology matrix trade-off charts. To create and share information rapidly, we created a lot of mind maps and slides. The mind maps worked well. Rather than get lost in documents, we used the mind maps as backdrops for conversation and elaboration.
Key Mapping Exercises

We mapped out several things in parallel:

  • Key trends. Although we didn’t focus on trends in the guide, we first mapped out key trends to help figure out what to pay attention to. We used a mind map and we organized key trends by application, infrastructure, and process. While there weren’t any major surprises, it was a healthy exercise getting everybody on the same page in terms of which trends mattered.
  • Canonical application. This first thing we did was figure out what’s the delta from the original architecture guide. There were a few key changes. For example, we found that today’s applications have a lot more clients and scenarios they serve. They’ve matured and they’ve been extended. We also found today’s applications have a lot more services, both in terms of exposing and in terms of consuming. We also noticed that some of today’s applications are flatter and have less layers. Beyond that, many things such as the types of components and the types of layers were fairly consistent with the original model.
  • Layers and tiers. This was one of the more painful exercises. Early in the project, we met each week with our development team, along with other reviewers. The goal was to map out the common layers, tiers, and components. While there was a lot of consistency with the original application architecture guide, we wanted to reflect any learnings and changes since the original model. Once we had a working map of the layers, tiers, and components, we vetted with multiple customers to sanity check the thinking.
  • Application types. We originally explored organizing applications around business purposes or dominant functionality, customer feedback told us we were better off optimizing around technical types, such as Web application or mobile client. They were easy for customers to identify with. They also made it easy to overlay patterns, technologies, and key patterns & practices solution assets. The technical application types also made it easy to map out relevant technologies.
  • Architectural styles. This is where we had a lot of debate. While we ultimately agreed that it was helpful to have a simple language for abstracting the shapes of applications and the underlying principles from the technology, it was difficult to create a map that everybody was happy with. Things got easier once we changed some of the terminology and we organized the architectural styles by common hot spots. It then became obvious that the architectural styles are simply named sets of principles. We could then have a higher level conversation around whether to go with object-based community or message-based and SOA, for example. It was also easy to describe deployments in terms of 2-tier, 3-tier, and N-tier.
  • Hot spots for architecture. When you build applications, there’s a common set of challenges that show up again. For example, caching, data access, exception management, logging … etc. These are application infrastructure problems or cross-cutting concerns. You usually don’t want to make these decisions ad-hoc on any significant application. Instead, you want to have a set of patterns and guidelines or ideally reusable code that the team can leverage throughout the application. What makes these hot spots is that they are actionable, key engineering decisions. You want to avoid do-overs where you can. Some do-overs are more expensive than others. One of the beauties of the architecture hot spots is that they helped show the backdrop behind Enterprise Library. For example, there’s a data access block, a caching block, a validation block … etc.
  • Hot spots for application types. When you build certain classes of application, there’s recurring hot spots. For example, when you build a rich client, one of the common hot spots to figure out is how to handle occasionally disconnected scenarios. The collection of hot spots for architecture served as a baseline for finding hot spots in the other application types. For example, from the common set of hot spots, we could then figure out which ones are relevant for Web applications, or which additional hot spots would we need to include.
  • Patterns. Mapping out patterns was a lengthy process. Ultimately, we probably ended up with more information in our workspace than made it into the guide. To map out the patterns, we created multiple mind maps of various pattern depots. We summarized patterns so that we could quickly map them from problems to solutions. We then used our architecture hot spots and our hot spots for application types as a filter to find the relevant patterns. We then vetted the patterns with customers to see if the mapping was useful. We cut any patterns that didn’t seem high enough priority. We also cut many of our pattern descriptions when they started to weight the guide down. We figured we had plenty of material and insight to carve out future pattern guides and we didn’t want to overshadow the value of the main chapters in the guide. We decided the best move for now was to provide a Pattern Map at the end of each application chapter to show which patterns are relevant for key hot spots. Customers seemed to like this approach and it kept things lightweight.
  • patterns & practices solution assets. This was the ultimate exercise in organizing our catalog. We actually have a large body of documented patterns. We also have several application blocks and factories, as well as guides. By using our architecture frame, it was easier to organize the catalog. For example, the factories and reference implementations mapped to the application types. The Enterprise Library blocks mapped to the architecture hot spots. Several of the guides mapped to the quality attributes frame.
  • Microsoft platform. This was a challenge. It meant slicing and dicing the platform stack in a meaningful way as well as finding the right product team contacts. Once we had our application types in place, it got a lot easier. For example, depending on which type of application you were building (RIA, Web, mobile … etc.), this quickly narrowed down relevant technology options. We created technology matrixes for presentation technologies, integration technologies, workflow technologies, and data access technologies. Since the bulk of the guide is principle and pattern based, we kept these matrixes in the appendix for fast lookups.
Key Components of the Application Architecture Map

Over the weeks and months of the project, a very definite map of the landscape emerged. We found ourselves consistently looking for the same frames to organize information. While we tuned and pruned specific hot spots in areas, the overall model of common frames was helping us move through the space quickly.

  • Architecture frame. The architecture frame was the main organizing map. It brought together the context (scenarios, quality attributes, requirements/constraints), application types, architectural styles, and the application hot spots.
  • Application types. For application types, we optimized around a simple, technical set that resonated with customers. For example, Web application, RIA, mobile … etc.
  • Quality attributes. We organized quality attributes by key hot spots: system, runtime, design-time, and user qualities.
  • Architectural styles. We organized architectural styles by key hot spots: communication, deployment, domain, interaction, and structure.
  • Requirements and constraints. We organized requirements by key types: functional, non-functional, technological. We thought of constraints in terms of industry and organizational constraints, as well as by which concern (for example, constraints for security or privacy).
  • Application feature frame. The application feature frame became a solid backdrop for organizing many guidelines through the guide. The hot spots resonated: caching, communication, concurrency and transactions, configuration management, coupling and cohesion, data access, exception management, layering, logging and instrumentation, state management, structure, validation and workflow.
  • Application type frames. The application type frames are simply hot spots for key application types. We created frames for: Web applications, rich internet applications (RIA), mobile applications, rich client applications and services.
  • Layered architecture reference model. (Canonical application) The canonical application is actually a layered architecture reference model. It helps show the layers and components in context.
  • Layers and tiers. We used layers to represent logical partitions and tiers for physical partitions (this precedent was set in the original guide.) We identified key components within the key layers: presentation layer, business layer, data layer, and service layer.
  • Pattern Maps. Pattern maps are simply overlays of key patterns on top of relevant hot spots. We created pattern maps for the application types.
  • Product and technology maps. We created technology matrixes for relevant products and technologies. To put the technologies in context, we used application types where relevant. We also used scenarios. To help make trade-off decisions, we included benefits and considerations for each technology.
User, Business, and System Perspective

One thing that helped early on was creating a Venn diagram of the three perspectives, user, business, and system:


In application architecture, it’s easy to lose perspective. It helps to keep three perspectives in mind. By having a quick visual of the three perspectives, it was easy to reminder ourselves that architecture is always a trade-off among these perspectives. It also helped remind us to be clear which perspective we’re talking about at any point in time. This also helped resolve many debates. The problem in architecture debates is that everybody is usually right, but only from their perspective. Once we showed people where their perspective fit in the bigger picture, debates quickly turned from conflict to collaboration. It was easy to move through user goals, business goals, and system goals once people knew the map.
Architecture Frame

The Architecture Frame is a simple way to organize the space. It’s a durable, evolvable backdrop. You can extend it to suit your needs. The strength of the frame is that it combines multiple lenses:


Here are the key lenses:

  • Scenarios. This sets the context. You can’t evaluate architecture in a vacuum. You need a backdrop. Scenarios provide the backdrop for evaluation and relevancy.
  • Quality Attributes. This includes your system qualities, your runtime qualities, your design-time qualities and user qualities.
  • Requirements / Constraints. Requirements and constraints includes functional requirements, non-functional requirements, technological requirements, industry constraints and organizational constraints.
  • Application Types. This is an extensible set of common types of applications or clients. You can imagine extending for business types. You can imagine including just the types of applications your organization builds. Think of it as product-line engineering. When you know the types of applications you build, you can optimize it.
  • Architectural Styles. This is a flat list of common architectural styles. The list of architectural styles is flexible and most applications are a mash up of various styles. Architectural styles become more useful when they are organized by key decisions or concerns.
  • Application Feature Frame. The application feature frame is a concise set of hot spots that show up time and again across applications. They reflect cross-cutting concerns and common application infrastructure challenges.
Application Types

This is the simple set of technical application types we defined:

Application Type


Web applications

Applications of this type typically support connected scenarios and can support different browsers running on a range of operating systems and platforms.

Rich Internet applications (RIA)

Applications of this type can be developed to support multiple platforms and multiple browsers, displaying rich media or graphical content. Rich Internet applications run in a browser sandbox that restricts access to some devices on the client.

Mobile Applications

Applications of this type can be developed as thin client or rich client applications. Rich client mobile applications can support disconnected or occasionally connected scenarios. Web or thin client applications support connected scenarios only. The device resources may prove to be a constraint when designing mobile applications.

Rich client applications

Applications of this type are usually developed as stand-alone applications with a graphical user interface that displays data using a range of controls. Rich client applications can be designed for disconnected and occasionally connected scenarios because the applications run on the client machine.


Services expose complex functionality and allow clients to access them from local or remote machine. Service operations are called using messages, based on XML schemas, passed over a transport channel. The goal in this type of application is to achieve loose coupling between the client and the server.

Application Feature Frame

This is the set of hot spots for applications we defined:



Authentication and Authorization

Authentication and authorization allow you to identify the users of your application with confidence, and to determine the resources and operations to which they should have access.

Caching and State

Caching improves performance, reduces server round trips, and can be used to maintain the state of your application.


Communication strategies determine how you will communicate between layers and tiers, including protocol, security, and communication-style decisions.


Composition strategies determine how you manage component dependencies and the interactions between components.

Concurrency and Transactions

Concurrency is concerned with the way that your application handles conflicts caused by multiple users creating, reading, updating, and deleting data at the same time. Transactions are used for important multi-step operations in order to treat them as though they were atomic, and to recover in the case of a failure or error.

Configuration Management

Configuration management defines how you configure your application after deployment, where you store configuration data, and how you protect the configuration data.

Coupling and Cohesion

Coupling and cohesion are strategies concerned with layering, separating application components and layers, and organizing your application trust and functionality boundaries.

Data Access

Data access strategies describe techniques for abstracting and accessing data in your data store. This includes data entity design, error management, and managing database connections.

Exception Management

Exception-management strategies describe techniques for handling errors, logging errors for auditing purposes, and notifying users of error conditions.

Logging and Instrumentation

Logging and instrumentation represents the strategies for logging key business events, security actions, and provision of an audit trail in the case of an attack or failure.

User Experience

User experience is the interaction between your users and your application. A good user experience can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the application, while a poor user experience may deter users from using an otherwise well-designed application.


Validation is the means by which your application checks and verifies input from all sources before trusting and processing it. A good input and data-validation strategy takes into account not only the source of the data, but also how the data will be used, when determining how to validate it.


Workflow is a system-assisted process that is divided into a series of execution steps, events, and conditions. The workflow may be an orchestration between a set of components and systems, or it may include human collaboration.

Architectural Styles

For architectural styles, we first framed the key concerns to organize the architectural styles, and then we defined some common architectural styles.
Organizing Architectural Styles

These are the hot spots we used to organize architectural styles:

Hot Spots

Architectural Styles


Service-Oriented Architecture(SOA) and/or Message Bus and/or Pipes and Filters.


Client/server or 3-Tier or N-Tier.


Domain Model or Gateway.


Separated Presentation.


Component-Based and/or Object-Oriented and/or Layered Architecture.

Architectural Style Frame

These are some commonly recognized architectural styles:

Architectural Style



Segregates the system into two applications, where the client makes a service request to the server.

Component-Based Architecture

Decomposes application design into reusable functional or logical components that are location-transparent and expose well-defined communication interfaces.

Layered Architecture

Partitions the concerns of the application into stacked groups (layers) such as presentation layer, business layer, data layer, and services layer.


A software system that can receive and send messages that are based on a set of known formats, so that systems can communicate with each other without needing to know the actual recipient.


Segregates functionality into separate segments in much the same way as the layered style, but with each segment being a tier located on a physically separate computer.


An architectural style based on division of tasks for an application or system into individual reusable and self-sufficient objects, each containing the data and the behavior relevant to the object.

Separated Presentation

Separates the logic for managing user interaction from the user interface (UI) view and from the data with which the user works.

Service-Oriented Architecture

Refers to Applications that expose and consume functionality as a service using contracts and messages.

Quality Attributes

For quality attributes, we first framed the key categories to organize the quality attributes, and then we defined some common quality attributes.
Organizing Quality Attributes

This is a simple way to organize and group quality attributes:


Quality attributes

System Qualities

· Supportability

· Testability

Run-time Qualities

· Availability

· Interoperability

· Manageability

· Performance

· Reliability

· Scalability

· Security

Design Qualities

· Conceptual Integrity

· Flexibility

· Maintainability

· Reusability

User Qualities

· User Experience / Usability

Quality Attribute Frame

These are some common quality attributes:

Quality attribute



Availability is the proportion of time that the system is functional and working. It can be measured as a percentage of the total system downtime over a predefined period. Availability will be affected by system errors, infrastructure problems, malicious attacks, and system load.

Conceptual Integrity

Conceptual integrity is the consistency and coherence of the overall design. This includes the way that components or modules are designed, as well as factors such as coding style and variable naming.


The ability of a system to adapt to varying environments and situations, and to cope with changes in business policies and rules. A flexible system is one that is easy to reconfigure or adapt in response to different user and system requirements.


Interoperability is the ability of diverse components of a system or different systems to operate successfully by exchanging information, often by using services. An interoperable system makes it easier to exchange and reuse information internally as well as externally.


Maintainability is the ability of a system to undergo changes to its components, services, features, and interfaces as may be required when adding or changing the functionality, fixing errors, and meeting new business requirements.


Manageability is how easy it is to manage the application, usually through sufficient and useful instrumentation exposed for use in monitoring systems and for debugging and performance tuning.


Performance is an indication of the responsiveness of a system to execute any action within a given time interval. It can be measured in terms of latency or throughput. Latency is the time taken to respond to any event. Throughput is the number of events that take place within a given amount of time.


Reliability is the ability of a system to remain operational over time. Reliability is measured as the probability that a system will not fail to perform its intended functions over a specified time interval.


Reusability is the capability for components and subsystems to be suitable for use in other applications and in other scenarios. Reusability minimizes the duplication of components and also the implementation time.


Scalability is the ability of a system to function well when there are changes to the load or demand. Typically, the system will be able to be extended over more powerful or more numerous servers as demand and load increase.


Security is the ways that a system is protected from disclosure or loss of information, and the possibility of a successful malicious attack. A secure system aims to protect assets and prevent unauthorized modification of information.


Supportability is how easy it is for operators, developers, and users to understand and use the application, and how easy it is to resolve errors when the system fails to work correctly.


Testability is a measure of how easy it is to create test criteria for the system and its components, and to execute these tests in order to determine if the criteria are met. Good testability makes it more likely that faults in a system can be isolated in a timely and effective manner.


Usability defines how well the application meets the requirements of the user and consumer by being intuitive, easy to localize and globalize, and able to provide good access for disabled users and a good overall user experience.

Layered Architecture Reference Model

This is our canonical application example. It’s a layered architecture showing the common components within each layer:


The canonical application model helped us show how the various layers and components work together. It was an easy diagram to pull up and talk through when we were discussing various design trade-offs at the different layers.

We identified the following layers:

  • Presentation layer
  • Business layer
  • Data layer
  • Service layer

They are logical layers. The important thing about layers is that they help factor and group your logic. They are also fractal. For example, a service can have multiple types of layers within it. The following is a quick explanation of the key components within each layer.
Presentation Layer Components

  • User interface (UI) components. UI components provide a way for users to interact with the application. They render and format data for users and acquire and validate data input by the user.
  • User process components. To help synchronize and orchestrate these user interactions, it can be useful to drive the process by using separate user process components. This means that the process-flow and state-management logic is not hard-coded in the UI elements themselves, and the same basic user interaction patterns can be reused by multiple UIs.
Business Layer Components
  • Application facade (optional). Use a façade to combine multiple business operations into a single message-based operation. You might access the application façade from the presentation layer by using different communication technologies.
  • Business components. Business components implement the business logic of the application. Regardless of whether a business process consists of a single step or an orchestrated workflow, your application will probably require components that implement business rules and perform business tasks.
  • Business entity components. Business entities are used to pass data between components. The data represents real-world business entities, such as products and orders. The business entities used internally in the application are usually data structures, such as DataSets, DataReaders, or Extensible Markup Language (XML) streams, but they can also be implemented by using custom object-oriented classes that represent the real-world entities your application has to work with, such as a product or an order.
  • Business workflows. Many business processes involve multiple steps that must be performed in the correct order and orchestrated. Business workflows define and coordinate long-running, multi-step business processes, and can be implemented using business process management tools.
Data Layer Components
  • Data access logic components. Data access components abstract the logic necessary to access your underlying data stores. Doing so centralizes data access functionality, and makes the process easier to configure and maintain.
  • Data helpers / utility components. Helper functions and utilities assist in data manipulation, data transformation, and data access within the layer. They consist of specialized libraries and/or custom routines especially designed to maximize data access performance and reduce the development requirements of the logic components and the service agent parts of the layer.
  • Service agents. Service agents isolate your application from the idiosyncrasies of calling diverse services from your application, and can provide additional services such as basic mapping between the format of the data exposed by the service and the format your application requires.
Service Layer Components
  • Service interfaces. Services expose a service interface to which all inbound messages are sent. The definition of the set of messages that must be exchanged with a service, in order for the service to perform a specific business task, constitutes a contract. You can think of a service interface as a façade that exposes the business logic implemented in the service to potential consumers.
  • Message types. When exchanging data across the service layer, data structures are wrapped by message structures that support different types of operations. For example, you might have a Command message, a Document message, or another type of message. These message types are the “message contracts” for communication between service consumers and providers.

Tiers represent the physical separation of the presentation, business, services, and data functionality of your design across separate computers and systems. Some common tiered design patterns include two-tier, three-tier, and n-tier.

The two-tier pattern represents a basic structure with two main components, a client and a server.


In a three-tier design, the client interacts with application software deployed on a separate server, and the application server interacts with a database that is also located on a separate server. This is a very common pattern for most Web applications and Web services.


In this scenario, the Web server (which contains the presentation layer logic) is physically separated from the application server that implements the business logic.


It’s easier to find your way around when you have a map. By having a map, you know where the key hot spots are. The map helps you organize and share relevant information more effectively. More importantly, the map helps bring together archetypes, arch styles, and hot spots in a meaningful way. When you put it all together, you have a simple language for describing large classes of applications, as well as a common language for application architecture.

Categories: Architecture, Programming

Personal Empowerment All-Stars: Jack Canfield, Ken Blanchard, and Stephen Covey at Microsoft

Mon, 03/28/2016 - 16:44

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”  — Stephen King

One of the best things at Microsoft is the chance to meet extraordinary people.

Jack Canfield, Ken Blanchard, and Stephen Covey are a few that top my list.

They are personal empowerment all-stars.

As I was re-writing my posts on lessons learned from Jack Canfield, Ken Blanchard, and Stephen Covey, I noticed what they share in common.

What do Jack Canfield, Ken Blanchard and Stephen Covey have in common?

Their work has a heavy emphasis on personal-empowerment, positivity, and people.

I thought it would be interesting to write a narrative about lessons learned from each, to supplement my bullet point write ups.

Here we go …

Jack Canfield at Microsoft

Jack Canfield is all about taking full responsibility for everything that happens in your life.  And he starts with self-talk.  He says it’s not what people say or do, it’s what you say to yourself.  For example, it’s not what Jack says to Laura, it’s what Laura says to Laura.

From a personal empowerment standpoint, Jack reminds us that we have control over three responses: 1) what we say or do, 2) our thoughts, 3) the images in our head.  Jack is a big believer in the power of visualization and he reminds us that’s how athletes perform at greater levels — they see things in their minds, to guide what they can do with their bodies.

Jack shares a very simple formula for success.  Jack’s success formula is Event + Response = Outcome.  If you want to change the outcome, then change your response.  It sounds simple, but it’s empowering.

Jack Canfield also reminded us that we are the creative force in our life and to get out of victimism:

“You are not the victim of your circumstances–You are the creative force of your life.”

Grow your circle of influence and make tremendous impact.

Read more at Lessons Learned from Jack Canfield.

Ken Blanchard at Microsoft

Ken Blanchard is really about accentuating the positive.  So much of the world focuses on what’s wrong, but he wants to focus on what’s right, so we can do more of that.

Ken has an incremental model of leadership that starts with you and expands from there: you, your team, your organization.  The idea is that you can’t lead others effectively, if you can’t even lead yourself.

Ken’s model for leadership is really an adaptive model, that’s focused on the greater good, and it starts by helping everybody get an “A.”  Leaders that apply one style to all team members, aren’t very effective.  Ken suggests that leaders apply the right styles depending on what individuals need.  Ken’s 4 leadership styles are:

  1. Directive
  2. Coaching
  3. Supportive
  4. Delegating.

Perhaps, the most profound statement that Ken made is that “leadership is love.”  He said that leadership includes “loving your mission”, “loving your cusotmers”, “loving your people”, and “loving yourself — enough to get out of the way so others can be magnificent.”

Read more at Lessons Learned from Ken Blanchard.

Stephen Covey at Microsoft

Stephen Covey was really about personal effectiveness, realizing your potential, and leaving a legacy.

Covey really emphasized a whole-person approach: Body, Mind, Heart, Spirit.  His point was that if you take one of the four parts of your nature away, then you’re treating a person like a “thing” you control and manage.

Covey also emphasized the importance of a personal mission.  It gives meaning to your work and it helps you channel all of your efforts as you live and lead your legacy.  He also suggested writing your personal mission down and visualizing it to imprint it on your subconscious.

The other key to realizing your potential is finding your voice.  Use all of you, your best way, in your unique way, for your best results.  That’s how you differentiate and add value for yourself and others.

And, of course, Stephen Covey reminded us of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

  1. Be proactive.
  2. Begin with the end in mind.
  3. Put first things first.
  4. Think win-win.
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
  6. Synergize.
  7. Sharpen the saw.

Habits 1,2,and 3 are the foundation for private victories and integrity.  Habits 4, 5, and 6 are the keys to public victories.

Read more at Lessons Learned from Stephen Covey.

All-in-all, I have to say that while individually each of these personal empowerment all-stars has great wisdom and insight for personal effectiveness, leadership, and success, they are actually “better together.”

Each day in the halls of Microsoft, I find myself reflecting on their one-liner reminders, whether it’s Covey’s “Put first things first,” or Canfield’s “You are the creative force of your life”, or Blanchard’s “None of us is as smart as all of us.”

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Categories: Architecture, Programming

Now Available: The Relaunch of Sources of Insight

Wed, 03/16/2016 - 19:41

image“Do your own thing on your own terms and get what you came here for.” — Oliver James

Long ago, I had spun off a focus on Personal Effectiveness to Sources of Insight.

I mentor a lot of teams and leaders for high-performance, and I needed a place to consolidate and share principles, patterns, and practices for personal effectiveness. In fact, the tag-line is:

Proven Practices for Personal Effectiveness

I’ve significantly revamped the user experience, the content, and the collections of resources on Sources of Insight to reflect the latest feedback that users have shared with me (thank you all.)

Sources of Insight is for people with a passion for more from work and life. The goal of Sources of Insight is to be your source of insight, inspiration, and impact to help you achieve more in work and life. Whether you are an achiever or a high-performer, or simply want to work on your personal effectiveness, Sources of Insight will help you accelerate your results.
Better Insights, Better Results

One of the slogans I use is “Better Insights, Better Results” because the big idea is to “empower people with skill for work and life.”

Sources of Insight is now a success library of more than 1,300 articles with a focus on helping you “create a smarter, more creative, more capable you.”

You can think of this as applying patterns & practices to work and life, as well as making “Agile for Life” real.

The idea here is to give you the tools and techniques that will help you rise above the noise, get a better vantage point, and make better decisions to change any situation you find yourself in, or to create better situations from the start.

Stand on the Shoulders of Giants

As part of building out Sources of Insight, I draw from great books, great people, and great quotes, to help you “Stand on the shoulders of giants.”

As my friend puts it, what I really do is help you “Run with the titans.”

I’m a big believer in finding the “best of the best” from various disciplines and experts around the world and synthesizing into actionable guidance.

I periodically have featured guests on Sources of Insight.  I try to find the people that are the best in the world at what they do, or that have some interesting insight that will help you think differently or make more impact.

Many of my guest posts are by best-selling authors, but I also include comedians, and others.  

Some of my guests include Al Ries – the father of brand positioning in the mind, Guy Kawasaki – who is all about empowering people, Gretchen Rubin – author of The Happiness Project, Jairek Robbins – author of Live It (and Tony Robbins’s son),  Jim Kouzes – author of The Leadership Challenge, Marie Forleo – some say she is a female Tony Robbins, Michael Michalko – author of Thinker Toys, and a former Disney imagineer, Rick Kirschner – author of Dealing with People You Can’t Stand, Tim Ferris – author of The 4-Hour Work Week, and many more.  (You can see featured guests at a glance on the Feature Guests page on Sources of Insight.)
Realize Your Potential

What makes the articles a bit different on Sources of Insight is they usually reflect problems that I am helping people with, so they are real-world scenarios and solutions.

In this way, Sources of Insight is more than a clearinghouse of the world’s best insight and action for work and life – it’s also a self-paced, virtual mentor where you can learn how to be YOUR best.

Some readers say that the key thing for them is that Sources of Insight helps you “realize your potential.”

As Ralph Waldo Emerson would say, “Make the most of yourself….for that is all there is of you.”

And I would add, nobody else is going to do it for you Winking smile
Popular Topics for Personal Effectiveness

On Sources of Insight, I cover key topics for personal effectiveness. The most popular topics are:

Personal Effectiveness

Emotional Intelligence


Life Hacks



Personal Development

You can browse more topics including Confidence, Conflict, Influence, Intellectual Horsepower, Interpersonal Skills, Strengths, Time Management, and more on the Topics page at Sources of Insight.

Great Books, Great People, Great Quotes

I also have collections of Great Books, Great People, Great Quotes:

Great Books – These are hand-crafted indexes of interesting and insightful books that you can use to improve all aspects of your work and life.  I spend a lot of money on books every single month and I read a lot of books each and every week.  In fact, many of my blog posts are what I call “Book Nuggets” which are like the best needles in the haystack.  My Great Books collection reflects a heavy investment in my quest to find the best wisdom of the world that is spread across hundreds, and thousands of books. Some of my more popular collections of books include Business Books, Career Books, Leadership Books, Personal Development Books, and Productivity Books.

Great People – This is where I shared and scale my best lessons learned and key insights from all walks of life.  What I do is I try to compact and distill the best insights from various people into lessons learned.  You can think of it as “Greatness Distilled.”  Some people are famous and others are unsung heroes.  What I focus on is the interesting insights that you can use to get better at work and life.  Here are a few of my more popular great people pages:  Bruce LeeChalene Johnson, Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Covey, Tony Robbins, and Steve Jobs.

Great Quotes – This is my attempt to organize collections of the world’s best wisdom of the ages and modern sages at your fingertips.  The right words can spark the right ideas, or the right thinking or the right feeling or taking the right action.  The right words help us live better, and they help us do better, and they help us be better.  The right words help us build better vocabularies and better mental models and better ways of doing and being, living, and even breathing.  Here are some of the more popular quotes collections: Focus Quotes, Happiness Quotes, Inspirational Quotes, Leadership Quotes, Motivation Quotes, Personal Development Quotes, and Productivity Quotes.

As I mentioned early, Sources of Insight is a Success Library of more than 1,3000+ Articles for Personal Greatness.  You can start at the Articles page, 

The Articles page has a simple set of some of the best articles.  From there, you can also explore the Archives.  You can also browse Topics from there.

Some of the most popular articles include:  7 Habits of Happiness, 25 Inspirational Movies, 50 Life Hacks for Your Future Self, 101 of the Greatest Insights and Actions for Work and Life, 101 Questions that Empower You, How To Get Whatever You Want, How To Think Like Bill Gates, Inspirational Quotes, Lessons Learned from Bruce Lee, The Exponential Results Formula, You 2.0.


On Sources of Insight, the Books page is where I share free eBooks as well as feature the books I author.  At this point, my main book featured is Getting Results the Agile Way, which is a personal results system for work and life. 

Getting Results the Agile Way is where I introduce my simple productivity system: Agile Results.

Agile Results is really a simple system for meaningful results.  It helps you create more moments that matter.  It also helps you work on the right things, at the right time, the right way, with the right energy, to amplify your influence and impact.

Most importantly, it gets you spend more time in your strengths, less time in your weaknesses, and it helps you give your best where you have your best to give.

In terms of free eBooks, on the Books page you can find the following free books:  You 2.0, 30 Days of Getting Results, Getting Started with Agile Results, and The Zen of Results.


On Sources of Insight, the Courses page is where I share training to help you realize your potential and bring out your best.

My favorite way to provide training is through what I call “Monthly Improvement Sprints” or “30 Day Improvement Sprints” or just “30 Day Sprints.”

They are effectively 30 Day Challenges where you practice a little each day, to get better over time.

I find 30 Day Challenges or 30 Day Sprints are a great way to build better habits, learn new things, and improve your skills and abilities at whatever you focus on.

On the Courses page, you’ll find 30 Days of Getting Results, which was my attempt to share the absolute best principles, patterns, and practices for personal productivity.

Best of all, it’s free.  It could well be the best self-paced training you ever take for high-performance and for mastering productivity, time management, and work-life balance.

Plus, it’s a powerful way to learn Agile Results in a simple way, with one mini-lesson each day, that includes an exercise to put it into practice.


On Sources of Insight, the Resources page is effectively a library of helpful resources at your fingertips.  Here are a few of the key resources:

Book Review – My Book Reviews are like mini movie trailers of books, where I include key highlights from the book as well as my key take aways.  I don’t really do book reviews, where I talk about pros and cons.  Instead, I look for the most interesting or the most insightful parts of the book and focus on those.  I always ask the question, “How can I use this?” and I apply those “Book Nuggets” and those key take aways to real world scenarios.

Cheat Sheets – Cheat Sheets put key information at your fingertips.  The only Cheat Sheet I have so far is a Blogging Resources Cheat Sheet.   It’s actually a very powerful Cheat Sheet though, if you happen to be a blogger.  I get asked a lot about blogging, everything from how to get started to how to create a successful blog.  People ask me what the connection of blogging is to Personal Effectiveness, and to me it’s simple:  Working on your blog, is working on your life.  By building a blog, you build a personal platform for learning and growth.   Blogging is still one of the most effective ways I know to focus on personal development, while giving your best where you have your best to give, and sharing your unique expertise with the world.  I plan to add some very special Cheat Sheets of hard-core knowledge, so this page is more of a placeholder for now.

Checklists – Checklists are a quick way to provides lists of “one-liner reminders.”  In general, I try to focus on creating actionable checklists that inspire and trigger the right thinking or the right actions.  Currently, I provide a Focus Checklist, Leadership Checklist, Time Management Checklist, and The Charge Checklist, which is a checklist I created based on the best-selling book, The Charge.

How Tos – How Tos are a great way to turn insight into action.  My most popular How  Tos include How To Achieve Any Goal, How To Avoid Breaking Under Pressure, How To Change Any Habit, How To Find Your Strengths, and How To Find Your Values.

Product Recommendations – This is my roundup of the best products I’ve used for personal development and improving personal effectiveness.  The big deal here is The Greatest Personal Development Gifts Ever.  Not only are these the personal development programs that have served me well, but they are the gifts that I give to friends and family to give them an edge in work and life.

Trends – This is where I share key trends each year.  If you’ve ever read one of my trends posts, you know that they are deep, and they help give you a big advantage when it comes to seeing the road ahead.  One of the most important personal effectiveness skills that you can build is anticipation.  The way to improve your anticipation is to learn how to identify, understand, and apply trends to create your future.  When you focus on trends, they also help you build your visionary leadership skills, and if there’s one thing this world needs more of, it’s visionary leadership.  Here is my Trends for 2016 post.  It is a really deep dive into what’s happening around the world, but it also provides you the balcony view at a glance.  Use this as your advantage to maneuver at work, to shape your business, and to shape yourself, with clarity, courage, and competence.  After all, 2016 is the year of the bold!

Personal Effectiveness Toolbox

I wonder if I saved the best for last?  The Personal Effectiveness Toolbox is, to this date, my greatest compilation of the greatest programs and tools to help you do more and achieve more in this lifetime.

On the Personal Effectiveness Toolbox page, I share all of the best tools that I have used over the years to exponentially improve my ability to get results and to amplify my impact.

These are some of the best programs that have helped me really understand influence and impact.

They have helped me create my own personal achievement systems.

They have helped me get over any limiting beliefs and master my mind.

They have helped me really understand emotional intelligence at a deeper level and learn real skills and techniques.

They have also been my greatest programs for personal development and improving personal effectiveness across mind, body, emotions, career, finance, relationships, and fun.

Change the World or Go Home

We have a little saying that we use in the halls at Microsoft:

Change the world or go home!

Every now and then, you can see a poster in the hall or on somebody’s wall of the Microsoft Blue Monster.

It was the work of Hugh MacLeod as you can recognize by his art – simplicity and elegance in action (and you can read the backstory at The Blue Monster.)


You have everything at your fingertips to be YOUR best and to realize your potential, the agile way.

Go ahead and change the world, your way.

Always remember to give your best, where you have YOUR best to give.

Thrive on.

Categories: Architecture, Programming

Digital Transformation is Ongoing

Sat, 03/12/2016 - 02:05

Digital Transformation is much broader than a technical play.  It’s a chance to reimagine your customer experience, how your employees work, and how you perform operations.

It’s also a chance to continuously create and capture value in new and innovative ways, and I don’t just mean with DevOps.

Your business isn’t static.  Neither is the world.  Neither is the market.  Neither is Digital Transformation.

Instead, Digital Transformation is a way to continuously evolve how you create and capture value in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

In Digital Transformation Dr. Mark Baker shares how “digital” is more than just bits and bytes and there is always more Digital Transformation that can be done.

Digital Transformation is Bound by Business Decisions, Not Technical Ones

Your Digital Transformation should not be bounded by technical decisions.  Your Digital Business Transformation approach should be driven by your business decisions and your business design.  What matters is that the landscape is digital and that you have to design for new customer experiences, new ways of working, and new ways of performing operations in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

Via Digital Transformation:

“Today, when we talk of digital transformation we mean restructuring an organization to use any and all information and network-based technologies that increase its competitiveness, in a way that, over a period of time, excludes and out-competes un-transformed organizations.  Of course, in a literal sense, when we walk literally about digital we mean something like expressing data as series of the digits 0 and 1 or using or storing data or information in the form of digital signals: digital TV, a digital recording or a digital computer system.

However, if we think about it that way the whole scope of our understanding and what we are thinking of achieving is quite limited and fairly technical.

In the bigger sense of digital we mean a road map that includes the full process of making a business or service so that every part is freely accessible at every level with bounds set by explicit management models, not by physical constraints.  Ultimately it means that all decisions become business or usage decisions, not technical ones.”

Example of First Generation Digital Transformation

There are always some basic things you can do to get in the game of Digital Transformation.  But that is just the start.  Baker shares an example using a library and how they performed their Digital Transformation.

Via Digital Transformation:

“It might be useful to give a simple example where, whose general principles apply to all digital projects.  The Bodleian Libraries are a collection of approximately 40 libraries that serve the University of Oxford in England.  One of the largest and most important libraries in the world, they hold 11 million printed items, 153 miles (246 kilometers) of shelving, including 3,224 bays with 95,000 shelf levels, and 600 map cabinets to hold 1.2 million maps and other items.

During the first generation of transformation I talked to senior librarians at the Bodleian, and the digital library projects that I was told of turned texts into bitmaps.  Information was still effectively siloed and not electronically searchable within books, but the advantage of digital transformation at that stage was that the physical master copies were protected and copies could be sent with manually controlled access over electronic network to authorized users anywhere in the world.”

Example of Second Generation Digital Transformation

Once you go digital, more opportunities open up for further transformation.  Baker continues the example of a library that undergoes Digital Transformation.

Via Digital Transformation:

“Later more advanced approaches, like Project Guttenberg, digitized the text into ASCII format so that catalogs of books were both digital and searchable as were the individual books.  Beyond that, projects like Google Books Library Project allowed the whole contents of all the books to become accessible to a single keyword search that could search all text across volumes.”

There is Always More Digital Transformation That Can Be Done

There is always more you can do and there are many stages to a full Digital Transformation.

Via Digital Transformation:

“Of course, going digital goes beyond digitizing content and a more advanced model would determine accessibility, access and usage rights and payments, not just in the local user community but worldwide.  In a project of that type any user would be able to do keyword searches across all the contents of a particular library and then usage and any payment would be determined for the specific books or documents they wanted access to, appropriate access would be granted and payment (if any) would be collected. If acquisition was performed on the same platform then requests for information, usage statistics, reader feedback and null-searches could be matched to the acquisition of new materials for the library, so as to better serve the users.

Ultimately even search goes further so that improved semantic search tools would allow search by meaning s well as by key words or phrases, as well as predictive analysis of future usage creating a proactive model, rather than a  reactive model where the available content is always out of date.

At each state the instigators might have expressed the view that they had ‘gone digital’ and at each stage there would have been much, much more that could be done.  This is, of course, just one specific instance of digital transformation related to libraries, but shows a simplified example of how there are many stages to a full transformation.”

Digital Transformation is not done when you are “transformed.” 

It’s a journey of continuous evolution.

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Categories: Architecture, Programming

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Tue, 03/08/2016 - 22:53

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Categories: Architecture, Programming

Digital Transformation is Business Transformation

Tue, 03/08/2016 - 20:22

Digital Transformation is everywhere.   It’s easy to let the tail wag the dog, especially when you are in the face of disruption.

But great and meaningful change always goes back to strategy.

In fact, if you really think about it, a lot of digital disruption is rooted in simple strategies for creating and capturing value at the edge, shifting power to users and consumers, reducing friction, and driving extreme efficiencies as new customer segments are created, new markets are forged, and the market seeks the dominant design.

Fundamentally, Digital Business Transformation is the digitization of business.  But as part of digitizing, you need to know WHY and WHAT you are digitizing before getting lost in the HOW of digitization.

To survive and thrive in the digital age, it helps to have a handle on how to think about the landscape and how to play the game.

In Digital Transformation Dr. Mark Baker shares how different consulting companies and business leaders are thinking about Digital Business Transformation.

Business Strategy for the Digital World

PwC is in the leadership quadrant because rather than focus on a digital strategy for the business world, they focus on a business strategy for the digital world.  I can relate to this because I’m on a team where we put business before technology.  This means fundamentally thinking about market trends, business drivers, business outcomes and investment objectives to shape the Digital Business Transformation approach.

Via Digital Transformation:

“PwC Consulting, if you look at the Gartner reports, or if you look at the Forrester reports, you’d see that they’d been doing a lot of work in the space over the past few years and are positioned in the leader’s quadrant.  Some of the reasons for being in the leader’s quadrant for PwC is because they’ve done something remarkably well and I really, really like the philosophy and that’s why I joined PwC.  It’s because that they believe that, you know, we don’t need the digital strategy.  What we require is a business strategy for the digital world and it just makes so much sense.”

Customer Journeys are Changing—How Do I Engage with My Customers?

One way to keep your bearings in the Digital Age from a business leader standpoint is to remember that your customer is your North Star.  A business exists to create a customer, as Peter Drucker puts it.

It’s easy to get lost in trying to implement multi-channel this, or API structure that, but those aren’t the real questions.  According to PwC, the real questions to drive your Digital Transformation start with recognizing that your customers demand new ways of learning about , trying, exploring, adopting, and socializing your products and services now.  So the real question is how do you connect and engage with your customers in relevant ways.  Once you shift your focus to your customer and their journey, now you can align your technical capabilities to support your key decisions that directly address your customer’s pains, needs, and desired outcomes.

Via Digital Transformation:

“So I think when we talk about PwC and their philosophy for digital, what they’re really saying is a digital strategy perhaps is limiting the impact of digital in today’s world.  It’s really a business strategy for the digital age and we do know that the digital age is here to stay for a considerable long time and it’s not about saying, ‘Hey, how do I have a multi-channel strategy or you know, how do I, you know, choose to go with an API structure?’  These are not the questions that are really being asked. 

The questions that are really being asked are…you know, ‘Customer journeys are changing today because of what digital has done, and therefor, my acquisition or my retention, you know, frameworks, or the way I’m going to go out and engage with my customers, needs to change.  So can you help me to manage this change?’  So there’s a difference between the two things to say, ‘Here’s a digital strategy,’  ‘Here’s a multichannel strategy’ while on the other hand you’re saying, ‘Hey, how do I actually…’ The same questions, but asked for the digital age and I think there’s great merit in that position.  So that’s all about PwC Consulting and their take on digital.’”

Digital is Greater than the Sum of All Parts

Digital Transformation cuts across the board and spans your business.   A simple way to think of it is to think in terms of the impact on customer experience transformation, employee or workforce transformation, and operations transformation.    Your customer experience transformation spans your value chain.  Your value chain connects your customer to product or service, supported by your business capabilities, which in turn are supported by technical capabilities.   And as you evolve your value chain to better support customers, you also change how your workforce interacts with customers, partners, and each other.  And as you evolve your workforce, you evolve your operations, and you innovate as you find ways to do things better, faster, and cheaper.

As you can imagine, you can’t just look at one business function or one piece of the business.  You need to take a whole business view to better understand how Digital has a ripple effect across the entire business, and how the sum of the digital change is more than the parts.

Via Digital Transformation:

“So digital isn’t a part of a division.  Digital is greater than the sum of all parts.  As we’ll see as we progress, if change is inevitable, it’s likely to be transformative and revolutionary rather than incremental and evolutionary in many cases, and there is likely to be disruption and resistance.  That doesn’t man that if it is planned ahead, like expert surgery, or a space mission, it can’t be mitigated in such a way that no individual step is traumatic, and the appearance of an incremental, stepwise process is retained.”

Digital Transformation is here.  You can run from it, or you can embrace it and re-imagine how you can lead your business in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.


Categories: Architecture, Programming