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Software Development Blogs: Programming, Software Testing, Agile Project Management
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if you are not afraid to read more than one page to be a smarter software developer, software tester or project manager!
Some people specialize in a narrow domain. They are called specialists because they focus on a specific area of expertise, and they build skills in that narrow area.
Rather than focus on breadth, they go for depth.
Others focus on the bigger picture or connecting the dots. Rather than focus on depth, they go for breadth.
Or do they?
It actually takes a lot of knowledge and depth to be effective at integration and âconnecting the dotsâ in a meaningful way. Itâs like being a skilled entrepreneur or a skilled business developer. Not just anybody who wants to generalize can be effective.
True integration specialists are great pattern matchers and have deep skills in putting things together to make a better whole.
I was reading the book Business Development: A Market-Oriented Perspective where Hans Eibe SĂžrensen introduces the concept of an Integrating Generalist and how they make the world go round.
I wrote a post about it on Sources of Insight:
Given the description, Iâm not sure which is better, the Integration Specialist or the Integrating Generalist. The value of the Integrating Generalist is that it breathes new life into people that want to generalize so that they can put the bigger puzzle together. Rather than de-value generalists, this label puts a very special value on people that are able to fit things together.
In fact, the author claims that itâs Integrating Generalists that make the world go round.
Otherwise, there would be a lot of great pieces and parts, but nothing to bring them together into a cohesive whole.
Maybe thatâs a good metaphor for the Integrating Generalist. While you certainly need all the parts of the car, you also need somebody to make sure that all the parts come together.
In my experience, Integration Generalists are able to help shape the vision, put the functions that matter in place, and make things happen.
I would say the most effective Program Managers I know do exactly that.
They are the Oil and the Glue for the team because they are able to glue everything together, and, at the same time, remove friction in the system and help people bring out their best, towards a cohesive whole.
Itâs synergy in action, in more ways than one.You Might Also Like
Iâm a fan of monthly plans for meaningful work.
Whether you call it a task list or a To-Do list or a product backlog, it helps to have a good view of the things that youâll invest your time in.
Iâm not a fan of everybody trying to make sense of laundry lists of cells in a spreadsheet.
Time changes whatâs important and itâs hard to see the forest for the trees, among rows of tasks that all start to look the same.
One of the most important things Iâve learned to do is to map out work for the month in a more meaningful way.
It works for individuals. It works for teams. It works for leaders.
Itâs what Iâve used for Agile Results for years on projects small and large, and with distributed teams around the world. (Agile Results is my productivity method introduced in Getting Results the Agile Way.)
A picture is worth a thousand words, so letâs just look at a sample output and then Iâll walk through it:
What Iâve found to be the most effective is to focus on a plan for the month â actually take an hour or two the week before the new month. (In reality, Iâve done this with teams of 10 or more people in 30 minutes or less. It doesnât take long if you just dump things fast on the board, and just keep asking people âWhat else is on our minds.â)
Dive-in at a whiteboard with the right people in the room and just list out all the top of mind, important things â be exhaustive, then prioritize and prune.
You then step back and identify the 3 most important outcomes (3 Wins for the Month.)
I make sure each work item has a decent name â focused on the noun â so people can refer to it by name (like mini-initiatives that matter.)
I list it in alphabetical by the name of the work so itâs easy to manage a large list of very different things.
Thatâs the key.
Most people try to prioritize the list, but the reality is, you can use each week to pick off the high-value items. (This is really important. Most people spend a lot of time prioritizing lists, and re-prioritizing lists, and yet, people tend to be pretty good prioritizing when they have a quick list to evaluate. Especially, if they know the priorities for the month, and they know any pressing events or dead-lines. This is where clarity pays off.)
The real key is listing the work in alphabetical order so that itâs easy to scan, easy to add new items, and easy to spot duplicates.
Plus, it forces you to actually name the work and treat it more like a thing, and less like some fuzzy idea thatâs out there.
I could go on and on about the benefits, but here are a few of the things that really matter:
I find a plan for the month is the most useful. If you plan a month well, the weeks have a better chance of taking care of themselves. But if you only plan for the week or every two weeks, itâs easy to lose sight of the bigger picture, and the next thing you know, the months go by. Youâre busy, things happen, but the work doesnât always accrue to something that matters.
This is a simple way to have more meaningful months.
I also canât say it enough, that itâs less about having a prioritized list, and more about having an easy to glance at map of the work thatâs in-flight. Iâm glad the map of the US is not a prioritized list by states. And Iâm glad that the states are well named. It makes it easy to see the map. I can then prioritize and make choices on any trip, because I actually have a map to work from, and I can see the big picture all at once, and only zoom in as I need to.
The big idea behind planning tasks and To-Do lists this way is to empower people to make better decisions.
The counter-intuitive part is first exposing a simple view of the map of the work, so itâs easy to see, and this is what enables simpler prioritization when you need it, regardless of which prioritization you use, or which workflow management tool you plug in to.
And, nothing stops you from putting the stuff into spreadsheets or task management tools afterwards, but the high-value part is the forming and storming and conforming around the initial map of the work for the month, so more people can spend their time performing.
May the power of a simple information model help you organize, prioritize, and optimize your outcomes in a more meaningful way.
If you need a deeper dive on this approach, and a basic introduction to Agile Results, here is a good getting started guide for Agile Results in action.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times âŠ
Itâs not A Tale of Two Cities. Itâs a tale of the Innovation Revolution.
Weâve got real problems worth solving. The stakes are high. Time is short. And abstract answers are not good enough.
In the book, Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of building Breakthroughs, Larry Keeley, Helen Walters, Ryan Pikkel, and Brian Quinn explain how it is like A Tale of Two Cities in that it is the worst of time and it is the best of times.
But it is also like no other time in history.
Itâs an Innovation Revolution âŠ We have the technology and we can innovate our way through radical transformation.The Worst of Times (Innovation Has Big Problems to Solve)
Weâve got some real problems to solve, whether itâs health issues, poverty, crime, or ignorance. Duty calls. Will innovation answer?
âPeople expect very little good news about the wars being fought (whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or on Terror, Drugs, Poverty, or Ignorance). The promising Arab Spring has given way to a recurring pessimism about progress. Gnarly health problems are on a tear the world over--diabetes now affects over eight percent of Americans--an other expensive disease conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and cancer are also now epidemic. The cost of education rises like a runaway helium balloon, yet there is less and less evidence that it nets the students a real return on their investment. Police have access to ever more elaborate statistical models of crime, but there is still way too much of it. And global warming, steadily produces more extreme and more dangerous conditions the world over, yet according to about half of our elected 'leaders,' it is still, officially, only a theory that can conveniently be denied.âThe Best of Times (Innovation is Making Things Happen)
Innovation has been answering. There have been amazing innovations heard round the world. Itâs only the beginning for an Innovation Revolution.
âAnd yet ...
We steadily expect more from our computers, our smartphones, apps, networks, and games. We have grown to expect routine and wondrous stories of new ventures funded through crowdsourcing. We hear constantly of lives around the world transformed because of Twitter or Kahn Academy or some breakthrough discovery in medicine. Esther Duflo and her team at the Poverty Action Lab at MIT keep cracking tough problems that afflict the poor to arrive at solutions with demonstrated efficacy, and then, often the Gates Foundation or another philanthropic institution funds the transformational solution at unprecedented scale.
Storytelling is in a new golden age--whether in live events, on the radio, or in amazing new television series that can emerge anywhere in the world and be adapted for global tastes. Experts are now everywhere, and shockingly easy and affordable to access.
Indeed, it seems clear that all the knowledge we've been struggling to amass is steadily being amplified and swiftly getting more organized, accessible, and affordable--whether through the magic of elegant little apps or big data managed in ever-smarter clouds or crowdfunding sites used to capitalize creative ideas in commerce or science.âItâs a Time of Radical Transformation and New, More Agile Institutions
The pace of change and the size of change will accelerate exponentially as the forces of innovation rally together.
âOne way to make sense of these opposing conditions is to see us as being in a time of radical transformation. To see the old institutions as being challenged as a series of newer, more agile ones arise. In history, such shifts have rarely been bloodless, but this one seems to be a radical transformation in the structure, sources, and nature of expertise. Indeed, among innovation experts, this time in one like no other. For the very first time in history, we are in a position to tackle tough problems with ground-breaking tools and techniques.â
Itâs time to break some ground.
Join the Innovation Revolution and crack some problems worth solving.You Might Also Like
âBecause the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has twoâand only twoâbasic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.â â Peter Drucker
Iâm diving deeper into patterns and practices for innovation.
Along the way, Iâm reading and re-reading some great books on the art and science of innovation.
One innovation book Iâm seriously enjoying is Ten Types of Innovation: The Discipline of building Breakthroughs by Larry Keeley, Helen Walters, Ryan Pikkel, and Brian Quinn.
Right up front, Larry Keeley shares some insight into the journey to this book. He says that this book really codifies, structures, and simplifies three decades of experience from Doblin, a consulting firm focused on innovation.
For more than three decades, Doblin tried to answer the following question:
âHow do we get innovation to succeed instead of fail?â
Along the journey, there were a few ideas that they used to bridge the gap in innovation between the state of the art and the state of the practice.
Here they are âŠBalance 3 Dimensions of Innovation (Theoretical Side + Academic Side + Applied Side)
Larry Keeley and his business partner Jay Doblin, a design methodologist, always balanced three dimensions of innovation: a theoretical side, an academic side, and an applied side.
âOver the years we have kept three important dimensions in dynamic tension. We have a theoretical side, where we ask and seek real answers to tough questions about innovation. Simple but critical ones like, 'Does brainstorming work?' (it doesn't), along with deep and systemic ones like, 'How do you really know what a user wants when the user doesn't know either?' We have an academic side, since many of us are adjunct professors at Chicago's Institute of Design and this demands that we explain our ideas to smart young professionals in disciplined, distinctive ways. And third, we have an applied side, in that have been privileged to adapt our innovation methods to many of the world's leading global enterprises and start-ups that hanker to be future leading firms.âEffective Innovation Needs a Blend of Analysis + Synthesis
Innovation is a balance and blend of analysis and synthesis. Analysis involves tearing things down, while synthesis is building new things up.
âFrom the beginning, Doblin has itself been interdisciplinary, mixing social sciences, technology, strategy, library sciences, and design into a frothy admixture that has always tried to blend both analysis, breaking tough things down, with synthesis, building new things up. Broadly, we think any effective innovation effort needs plenty of both, stitched together as a seamless whole.âOrchestrate the Ten Types of Innovation to Make a Game-Changing Innovation
Game-changing innovation is an orchestration of the ten types of innovation.
âThe heart of this book is built around a seminal Doblin discovery: that there are (and have always been) ten distinct types of innovation that need to be orchestrated with some care to make a game-changing innovation.â
The main idea is that innovation fails if you try to solve it with just one dimension.
You canât just take a theoretical approach, and hope that it works in the real-world.
At the same time, innovation fails if you donât leverage what we learn from the academic world and actually apply it.
And, if you know the ten types of innovation, you can focus your efforts more precisely.You Might Also Like
Iâm always on the hunt for people that do what makes them come alive.
Artists in particular are especially interesting for me, especially when they are able to do what they love.
Iâve known too many artists that lived painful lives, trying to be an artist, but never making ends meet.
Iâve also known too many artists that lived another life outside of art, but never really lived, because they never answered their calling.
I believe that in todayâs world, there are a lot more options for you to live life on you terms.
With technology at our fingertips, itâs easier to connect with people around the world and share your art, whatever that may be.
On Sources of Insight, Iâve asked artist Rebecca Tsien to share her story:
Itâs more than a story of a digital artist. Itâs a journey of fulfillment.
Rebecca has found a way to do what she loves. She lives and breathes her passion.
Maybe her story can inspire you.
Maybe thereâs a way you can do more art.
Business model innovation has a couple of myths.
One myth is that business model innovation takes big thinking. Another myth about business model innovation is that technology is the answer.
In the book, The Business Model Navigator, Oliver Gassman, Karolin Frankenberger, and Michaela Csik share a couple of myths that need busting so that more people can actually achieve business model innovation.The "Think Big" Myth
Business model innovation does not need to be âbig bang.â It can be incremental. Incremental changes can create more options and more opportunities for serendipity.
â'Business model innovations are always radical and new to the world.' Most people associate new business models with the giants leaps taken by Internet companies. The fact is that business model innovation, in the same way as product innovation, can be incremental. For instance, Netflix's business model innovation of mailing DVDs to customers was undoubtedly incremental and yet brought great success to the company. The Internet opened up new avenues for Netflix that allowed the company to steadily evolve into an online streaming service provider.âThe Technology Myth
Itâs not technology for technologyâs sake. Itâs applying technology to revolutionize a business that creates the business model innovation.
â'Every business model innovation is based on a fascinating new technology that inspires new products.' The fact is that while new technologies can indeed drive new business models, they are often generic in nature. Where creativity comes in is in applying them to revolutionize a business. It is the business application and the specific use of the technology which makes the difference. Technology for technology's sake is the number one flop factor in innovation projects. The truly revolutionary act is that of uncovering the economic potential of a new technology.â
If you want to get started with business model innovation, donât just go for the home run.You Might Also Like
Lifeâs better with the right words.
And life quotes can help us live better.
Life quotes are a simple way to share some of the deepest insights on the art of living, and how to live well.
While some people might look for wisdom in a bottle, or in a book, or in a guru at the top of a mountain, surprisingly, a lot of the best wisdom still exists as quotes.
The problem is they are splattered all over the Web.The Ultimate Life Quotes Collection
My ultimate Life Quotes collection is an attempt to put the best quotes right at your fingertips.
I wanted this life quotes collection to answer everything from âWhat is the meaning of life?â to âHow do you live the good life?â
I also wanted this life quotes collection to dive deep into all angles of life including dealing with challenges, living with regrets, how to find your purpose, how to live with more joy, and ultimately, how to live a little better each day.The Worldâs Greatest Philosophers at Your Fingertips
Did I accomplish all that?
Iâm not sure. But I gave it the old college try.
I curated quotes on life from an amazing set of people including Dr. Seuss, Tony Robbins, Gandhi, Ralph Waldo Emerson, James Dean, George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Buddha, Lao Tzu, Lewis Carroll, Mark Twain, Confucius, Jonathan Swift, Henry David Thoreau, and more.
Yeah, itâs a pretty serious collection of life quotes.Donât Die with Your Music Still In You
There are many messages and big ideas among the collection of life quotes. But perhaps one of the most important messages is from the late, great Henry David Thoreau:
âMost men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.â
And, I donât think he meant play more Guitar Hero.
If youâre waiting for your chance to rise and shine, chances come to those who take them.Not Being Dead is Not the Same as Being Alive
E.E. Cummings reminds us that there is more to living than simply existing:
âUnbeing dead isnât being alive.â
And the trick is to add more life to your years, rather than just add more years to your life.Define Yourself
Life quotes teach us that living live on your terms starts by defining yourself. Here are big, bold words from Harvey Fierstein that remind us of just that:
âNever be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no oneâs definition of your life; define yourself.â
Now is a great time to re-imagine all that youâre capable of.We Regret the Things We Didnât Do
Itâs not usually the things that we do that we regret. Itâs the things we didnât do:
âOf all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, âIt might have been.â â John Greenleaf Whittier
Have you answered to your calling?Leave the World a Better Place
One sure-fire way that many people find their path is they aim to leave the world at least a little better than they found it.
âTo laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of childrenâŠto leave the world a better placeâŠto know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.â -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Itâs a reminder that we can measure our life by the lives of the people we touch.You Might Also Like
Confidence is one of those things that makes all the difference when it comes to realizing your potential.
So many people have great ideas and great ambitions, but lack the confidence to follow through when it counts.
They hold themselves back.
Their amazing and bold ideas turn into lackluster ideas, as fear starts talking (if they talk at all.)
A while back, a team in HR interviewed me on confidence, because enough people pointed back to me as somebody they saw as confident.
What HR wanted to know is, where does my confidence come from?
For me, it mostly came from a relentless focus on making impact.
I put my focus on doing great things, creating raving fan customers, and taking on big challenges.
Where you put your focus, instantly changes your confidence.
If youâre too worried about how you look or how you sound, then you arenât putting enough focus on the amazing thing you are trying to do.
So it wasnât confidence per se. It was more like putting my focus on the right things.
But there was more to it. I was confident because of a few basic beliefs:
Another thing that helped is that one of our leaders was relentless about âexposing our thinking.â He wanted us to always detach ourselves from our ideas. He wanted us to present ideas without being attached to them so they could be criticized and evaluated in more objective ways.
This sounds simple, but youâd be surprised how difficult it can be to detach yourself from ideas. But the beauty is that when you are able to do this, your focus changes from defending your ideas, to really helping to create better ideas. And this little shift takes you from fear or lack of confidence, to purposeful exploration, with full confidence.
Anyway, I think we become the thoughts that we think, so I think itâs really important to fill our head with the right words on confidence.
To that end, here is roundup of some of the greatest confidence quotes of all time:
See if you can find at least three that you can use to help add more juice to your day.
If there is one that I find myself referring to all the time, to remind myself to get up to bat, itâs this one:
âA ship is safe in harbor, but thatâs not what ships are for.â â William Shedd
I learned it long ago, and itâs served me well, ever since.
While that one reminds me to do what I do best, itâs really this one that inspires me to expand what Iâm capable of:
âLife shrinks or expands in proportion to oneâs courage.â â AnaĂŻs Nin
I hope you find the right words that give your confidence just the boost it needs, when you need it most.
Itâs time to blow your mind with the amazing things going on around the world.
Each year, I try to create a birdâs-eye view of key trends. Itâs a mash up of all the changes in technology, consumerism, and ideas that seem to be taking off.
Here are my trends for 2015:
I call it the year of Digital Transformation because of the encroachment of technology into all things business, work, and life.
Technology is everywhere (and itâs on more wrists than Iâve ever seen before.)
Whatâs different now is how the combination of Cloud + Mobile + Social + Big Data + Internet-of-Things are really changing how business gets done. Businesses around the world are using Cloud, Mobile, Social, Big Data, and Internet-of-Things to leap frog ahead of their competitors and to differentiate in new and exciting ways.
Businesses around the world are using technology to gains insights and to shape their customer experience, transform their workforce, and streamline their back-office operations.
Itâs a new race for leadership positions in the Digital Economy. With infinite compute and capacity, along with new ways to connect around the world, business leaders and IT leaders are re-imagining the art of the possible for their businesses.
While Cloud, Mobile, Social, Big Data, and Internet-of-Things might be the backbone of the changes all around us, itâs business model innovation that is bringing these changes to the market and helping them take hold.
Here is a preview of 10 key trends from Trends for 2015: The Year of Digital Transformation:
As a tip, when you read the post, try to scan it first, all the way down, so you can see the full collection of ideas. Then circle back and slow down to really absorb the full insight. Youâll find that youâll start to see more patterns across the trends, and youâll start to connect more dots.
I designed the post to make it easy to scan, as well as to read it end-to-end in depth. I think itâs more valuable to be able to quickly take the balcony view, before diving in. This way, you get more of a full picture view of whatâs happening around the world. Even if you donât master all the trends, a little bit of awareness can actually go a long way.
In fact, you might surprise yourself as some of the trends pop into your mind, while youâre working on something completely different. By having the trends at my fingertips, Iâm finding myself seeing new patterns in business, along with new ways that technology can enhance our work and life.
Trends actually become a vocabulary for generating and shaping new ideas. There are so many ways to arrange and re-arrange the constellation of ideas. Youâll find that I paid a lot of attention to the naming of each trend. I tried to share what was already pervasive and sticky, or if it was complicated, I tried to turn it into something more memorable.
Use the trends as fodder and insight as you pave your way through your own Digital Transformation.
Motivation is a powerful skill.
It can lift you up from the worst of places, and inspire you to new heights.
After all, nothing is worse than slogging your way through your days, or working your way through a bunch of mundane tasks.
But, like I said, motivation is a skill.
You need to learn it. For many people it does not come naturally. And chances are, many of us have had bad models, bad advice, and worse, bad habits for a lifetime.
One of the most important insights I found was said by Stephen Covey long ago â satisfied needs donât motivate.
Itâs why we need to stay hungry.
Hereâs how you stay hungry -- find a problem you hate, and focus on creating a solution you love.
But how you light your fire from the inside out in a sustainable way?
Thatâs where the 7 habits of highly motivated people comes in.
I wanted to put together a very simple set of habits and practices that actually work for building your motivational muscle and finding your inner mojo.
Here are the 7 habits of highly motivated people at a glance:
There is a lot of science behind the habits. If youâre that motivated, you can research it through bunches of books, bunches of sites, and brilliant TED talks.
But, Iâd much rather that you spent the time simply adopting and applying the habits, so you can set your motivation on fire.
Itâs time to do more of what you were born to do.
Itâs time to live and breathe the things that you want to live and breathe.
Itâs time to rise again from whatever ashes might have burned you down, and let your phoenix fly.
If you arenât sure where to get started, first read 7 habits of highly motivated people, and then adopt habit #1:
Find Your WHY.
Youâll be glad you did.
I can see your pilot light is on already.
We live in amazing times.
The world is full of opportunity at your fingertips.
You can inspire your mind and the art of the possible with TED talks.
You can learn anything with all of the Open Courseware from MIT or Wharton, or Coursera, or you can build your skills with The Great Courses or Udemy.
You can read about anything and fill your kindle with more books than you can read in this lifetime.
You can invest in yourself. You can develop your intellectual horsepower, your emotional intelligence, your personal effectiveness, your communication skills, your relationship skills, and your financial intelligence.
You can develop your career, expand your experience, build your network, and grow your skills and abilities. You can take on big hairy audacious goals. You can learn your limits, build your strengths, and reduce your liabilities.
You can develop your body and your physical intelligence, with 4-minute work outs, P90x3 routines, Fit Bits, Microsoft Band, etc.
You can expand your network and connect with people around the world, all four corners of the globe, from all walks of life, for all sorts of reasons.
You can explore the world, either virtually through Google Earth, or take real-world epic adventures.
You can fund your next big idea and bring it to the world with Kickstarter.
You can explore new hobbies and develop your talents, your art, your music, you name it.
But where in the world will you get time?
And how will you manage your competing priorities?
And how will you find and keep your motivation?
How will you wake up strong, with a spring in your step, where all the things you want to achieve in this lifetime, pull you forward, and help you rise above the noise of every day living?
That's not how I planned on starting this post, but it's a reminder of how the world is full of possibility, and how amazing your life can be when you come alive and you begin the journey to become all that you're capable of.
How I planned to start the post was this. It's Spring. It's time for a refresher in the art of Agile Results to help you bring out your best.
Agile Results is a simple system for meaningful results. It combines proven practices for productivity, time management, and personal effectiveness to help you achieve more in less time, and enjoy the process.
It's a way to spend your best time and your best energy to get your best results.
Agile Results is a way to slow down to speed up, find more fulfillment, and put your ambition into practice.
Agile Results is a way to realize your potential, and to unleash your greatest potential. Potential is a muscle that gets better through habits.
The way to get started with Agile Results is simple.
For bonus, and to really find a path of fulfillment, there are three more habits you can add ...
A simple way that I remember this is I remember to think in Three Wins:
Think in terms of Three Wins for the Day, Three Wins for the Week, Three Wins for the Month, Three Wins for the Year
Those are the core habits of Agile Results in a nutshell.
You can start with that and be well on your way to getting better results in work and life.
If you want to really master Agile Results, you can read the book, Getting Results the Agile Way: A Personal Results System for Work and Life.
It's been a best seller in time management, and itâs helped many people around the world create a better version of themselves.
If you want to take Agile Results to the next level, start a study group and share ways that you use Agile Results with each other around how you create work-life balance, create better energy, learn more faster, and unleash your potential, while enjoying the journey, and getting more from work and life.
Share your stories and results with me, with your friends, with your family, anyone, and everyone â help everybody live a little better.
"In a battle between two ideas, the best one doesn't necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it." -- Seth Godin
One leadership idea can change your life in an instant.
Like the right key, the right leadership idea can instantly unlock or unleash what youâre capable of.
Iâve seen some leaders lose their jobs because they didnât know how to adapt their leadership style. Iâve seen other leaders crumble with anxiety because they didnât know how to balance connection and conviction.
Iâve seen other leaders operate at a higher level, and influence without authority. Iâve seen amazing leaders in action that inspire others through their stories of the art of the possible.
Here are a handful of leadership ideas that you can put into practice.
None of these leadership ideas are new. They may be new for you. But they are proven practices for leadership that many leaders have learned the hard way.
The nice thing about ideas is that all you have to do is try them, and find what works for you. (Always remember to try ideas in a Bruce Lee sort of way, âadapt what is usefulâ, and donât throw the baby out with the bathwater.)
If you want to get hard-core, I also have a roundup of the best business books that have influenced Microsoft leaders:
Youâll find a strange but potent mix of business books ranging from skills you learned in kindergarten to ways to change the world by spreading your ideas like a virus.
Enjoy.You Might Like
Business change is tough. Just try it at Cloud speed, and youâll know what I mean.
That said, digital business transformation is reshaping companies and industries around the world, at a rapid rate.
If you donât cross the Cloud chasm, and learn how to play in the new digital economy, you might just get left behind.
Sadly, not every executive has a digital vision.
Thatâs a big deal because the pattern here is that successful digital business transformation starts at the top of the company. And it starts with digital vision.
But just having a digital vision is not enough.
It has to be a shared transformative digital vision. Not a mandate, but a shared digital vision from the top, thatâs led and made real by the people in the middle and lower levels.
In the book, Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation, George Westerman, Didier Bonnet, and Andrew McAfee, share how successful companies and executives drive digital business transformation through shared transformative digital visions.Employees Donât Always Get the WHY, WHAT, or HOW of Digital Business Transformation
You need a digital vision at the top. Otherwise, itâs like pushing rocks uphill. Worse, not everybody will be in the game, or know what position they play, or even how to play the game.
âThe changes being wrought through digital transformation are real. Yet, even when leaders see the digital threats and opportunity, employees may need to be convinced. Many employees feel they are paid to do a job, not to change that job. And they have lived through big initiatives in the past that failed to turn into reality. To many, digital transformations is either irrelevant or just another passing fad. Still other people may not understand how the change affects their jobs or how they might make the transition.âOnly Senior Executives Can Create a Compelling Vision of the Future
Digital business transformation must be led. Senior executives are in the right position to create a compelling future all up, and communicate it across the board.
âOur research shows that successful digital transformation starts at the top of the company. Only the senior-most executives can create a compelling vision of the future and communicate it throughout the organization. Then people in the middle and lower levels can make the vision a reality. Managers can redesign process, workers can start to work differently, and everyone can identify new ways to meet the vision. This kind of change doesn't happen through simple mandate. It must be led.
Among the companies we studied, none have created true digital transformation through a bottom-up approach. Some executives have changed their parts of the business--for example, product design and supply chain at Nike--but the executives stopped at the boundaries of their business units. Changing part of your business is not enough. Often, the real benefits of transformation come from seeing potential synergies across silos and then creating conditions through which everyone can unlock that value. Only senior executives are positioned to drive this kind of boundary-spanning change.âDigital Masters Have a Shared Digital Vision (While Others Do Not)
As the business landscape is reshaping, you are either a disruptor or the disrupted. The Digital Masters that are creating the disruption in their business and in their industries have shared digital visions, and re-imagine their business for a mobile-first, Cloud-first world, and a new digital economy.
âSo how prevalent is digital vision? In our global survey of 431 executives in 391 companies, only 42 percent said that their senior executive had a digital vision. Only 35 percent said the vision was shared among senior and middle managers. These numbers are surprisingly low, given the rapid rate at which digital transformation is reshaping companies and industries. But the low overall numbers mask an important distinction. Digital Masters have a shared digital vision, while others do not.
Among the Digital Masters that we surveyed, 82 percent agreed that their senior leaders shared a common vision of digital transformation, and 71 percent said it was shared between senior and middle managers. The picture is quite different for firms outside our Digital Masters category, where less than 30 percent said their senior leaders had a shared digital vision and only 17 percent said the shared vision extended to middle management.âDigital Vision is Not Enough (You Need a Transformative Digital Vision)
Itâs bad enough that many executives donât have a shared digital vision. But what makes it worse, is that even fewer have a transformative digital vision, which is the key to success in the digital frontier.
âBut having a shared digital vision is not quite enough. Many organizations fail to capture the full potential of digital technologies because their leaders lack a truly transformative vision of the digital future. On average, only 31 percent of our respondents said that they had a vision which represented radical change, and 41 percent said their vision crossed internal organizational units. Digital Masters were far more transformative in their vision, with two-thirds agreeing they had a radical vision, and 82 percent agreeing their vision crossed organizational silos. Meanwhile, nonmasters were far less transformative in their visions.â
Where there is no vision, the businesses perish.You Might Also Like
âLack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.â -- Zig Ziglar
Here is my collection of 101 Proven Practices for Focus. It still needs work to improve it, but I wanted to shared it, as is, because focus is one of the most important skills we can develop for work and life.
Focus is the backbone of personal effectiveness, personal development, productivity, time management, leadership skills, and just about anything that matters. Focus is a key ingredient to helping us achieve the things we set out to do, and to learn the things we need to learn.
Without focus, we canât achieve great results.
I have a very healthy respect for the power of focus to amplify impact, to create amazing breakthroughs, and to make things happen.The Power of Focus
Long ago one of my most impactful mentors said that focus is what separates the best from the rest. In all of his experience, what exceptional people had, that others did not, was focus.
Here are a few relevant definitions of focus:
A main purpose or interest.
A center of interest or activity.
Close or narrow attention; concentration.
I think of focus simply as the skill or ability to direct and hold our attention.Focus is a Skill
Too many people think of focus as something either you are good at, or you are not. Itâs just like delayed gratification.
Focus is a skill you can build.
Focus is actually a skill and you can develop it. In fact, you can develop it quite a bit. For example, I helped a colleague get themselves off of their ADD medication by learning some new ways to retrain their brain. It turned out that the medication only helped so much, the side effects sucked, and in the end, what they really needed was coping mechanisms for their mind, to better direct and hold their attention.
Hereâs the surprise, though. You can actually learn how to direct your attention very quickly. Simply ask new questions. You can direct your attention by asking questions. If you want to change your focus, change the question.101 Proven Practices at a Glance
Here is a list of the 101 Proven Practices for Focus:
When you go through the 101 Proven Practices for Focus, donât expect it to be perfect. Itâs a work in progress. Some of the practices for focus need to be fleshed out better. There is also some duplication and overlap, as I re-organize the list and find better ways to group and label ideas.
In the future, Iâm going to revamp this collection to have some more precision, better naming, and some links to relevant quotes, and some science where possible. There is a lot more relevant science that explains why some of these techniques work, and why some work so well.
Whatâs important is that you find the practices that resonate for you, and the things that you can actually practice.Getting Started
You might find that from all the practices, only one or two really resonate, or help you change your game. And, thatâs great. The idea of having a large list to select from is that itâs more to choose from. The bigger your toolbox, the more you can choose the right tool for the job. If you only have a hammer, then everything looks like a nail.
If you donât consider yourself an expert in focus, thatâs fine. Everybody has to start somewhere. In fact, you might even use one of the practices to help you get better: Rate your focus each day.
Simply rate yourself, on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is awesome and 1 means youâre a squirrel with a sugar high, dazed and confused, and chasing all the shiny objects that come into site. And then see if your focus improves over the course of a week.
If you adopt just one practice, try either Align your focus and your values or Ask new questions to change your focus.Feel Free to Share It With Friends
At the bottom of the 101 Proven Practices for Focus, youâll find the standard sharing buttons for social media to make it easier to share.
Share it with friends, family, your world, the world.
The ability to focus is really a challenge for a lot of people. The answer to improve your attention and focus is through proven practices, techniques, and skill building. Too many people hope the answer lies in a pill, but pills donât teach you skills.
Even if you struggle a bit in the beginning, remind yourself that growth feels awkward. You' will get better with practice. Practice deliberately. In fact, the side benefit of focusing on improving your focus, is, well, you guessed it âŠ youâll improve your focus.
What we focus on expands, and the more we focus our attention, and apply deliberate practice, the deeper our ability to focus will grow.
Grow your focus with skill.You Might Also Like
I revamped my positive thinking quotes collection on Sources of Insight to help you amp up your ability to generate more positive thoughts.
Itâs a powerful one.
Why positive thinking?
Maybe Zig Ziglar said it best:
âPositive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.âPositive Thinking Can Help You Defeat Learned Helplessness
Actually, thereâs a more important reason for positive thinking:
Itâs how you avoid learned helplessness.
Learned helplessness is where you give up, because you donât think you have any control over the situation, or what happens in your life. You explain negative situations as permanent, personal, and pervasive, instead of temporary, situational, and specific.
Thatâs a big deal.
If you fall into the learned helplessness trap, you spiral down. You stop taking action. After all, why take action, if it wonât matter. And, this can lead to depression.
But thatâs a tale of woe for others, not you. Because you know how to defeat learned helplessness and how to build the skill of learned optimism.
You can do it by reducing negative thinking, and by practicing positive thinking. And what better way to improve your positive thinking, than through positive thinking quotes.Keep a Few Favorite Positive Thinking Quotes Handy
Always keep a few positive thinking quotes at your fingertips so that they are there when you need them.
Here is a quick taste of a few of my favorites from the positive thinking quotes collection:
âA positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.â â Herm Albright
"Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?" â Dennis and Wendy Mannering
"Be enthusiastic. Remember the placebo effect â 30% of medicine is showbiz." â Ronald Spark
"I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet." â Mahatma Gandhi
"If the sky falls, hold up your hands." â Author UnknownThink Deeper About Positivity By Using Categories for Positive Thinking
But this positive thinking quotes collection is so much more. Iâve organized the positive thinking quotes into a set of categories to chunk it up, and to make it more insightful:
Adaptability and Flexibility
Anger and Frustration
Appreciation and Gratitude
Attitude, Disposition, and Character
Defeat, Setbacks, and Failures
Focus and Perspective
Hope and Fear
Letting Things Go and Forgiveness
Love and Liking
Opportunity and Possibility
Positive Thinking (General)
The distinctions you can add to your mental repertoire, the more powerful of a positive thinker you will be.
You can think of each positive thinking quote as a distinction that can add more depth.Draw from Wisdom of the Ages and Modern Sages on the Art and Science of Positive Thinking
I've included positive thinking quotes from a wide range of people including Anne Frank, Epictetus, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Napoleon, Oscar Wilde, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Frost, Voltaire, Winston Churchill, and many, many more.
You might even find useful positive thinking mantras from the people that you work with, or the people right around you.
For example, here are a few positive thinking thoughts from Satya Nadella:
âThe future we're going to invent together, express ourselves in the most creative ways.â
âI want to work in a place where everybody gets more meaning out of their work on an everyday basis.
I want each of us to give ourselves permission to be able to move things forward. Each of us sometimes overestimate the power others have to do things vs. our own ability to make things happen.Challenge Yourself to New Levels of Positive Thinking through Positive Quotes
As you explore the positive thinking quotes collection, try to find the quotes that challenge you the most, that really make you think, and give you a new way to generate more positive thoughts in your worst situations.
In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger."
You can use your daily trials and tribulations in the workplace as your personal dojo to practice and build your positive thinking skills.
The more positivity you can bring to the table, the more youâll empower yourself in ways you never thought possible.
As you get tested by your worst scenarios, itâs good to keep in mind, the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald:
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise."
Iâll also point out that as you grow your toolbox of positive thinking quotes and you build your positive thinking skills, you need to also focus on taking positive action.
Donât just imagine a better garden, get out and actually weed it.Donât Just Imagine Everything Going Well â Imagine How Youâll Deal with the Challenges
Hereâs another important tip about positivity and positive thinking âŠ
If you use visualization as part of your approach to getting results, itâs important to include dealing with setbacks and challenges. Itâs actually more effective to imagine the most likely challenges coming up, and walking through how youâll deal with them, if they occur. This is way more effective than just picturing the perfect plan where everything goes without a hitch.
The reality is things happen, stuff comes up, and setbacks occur.
But your ability to mentally prepare for the setbacks, and have a plan of action, will make you much more effective in dealing with the challenge that actually do occur. This will help you respond vs. react in more situations, and to stay in a better place mentally while you evaluate options, and decide a course of action. (Winging it under stress doesnât work very well because we shut down our prefrontal cortex â the smart part of our brain â when we go into flight-or-fight mode.)
If I missed any of your favorite positive thinking quotes in my positive thinking quotes collection, please let me know.
In closing, please keep handy one of the most powerful positive thinking quotes of all time:
âMay the force be with you.â
Always.You Might Also Like
How has the Cloud changed your world?
One of the ways we challenge people is to ask, do you want to move to the Cloud, use the Cloud, or be the Cloud?
But to answer that well, you need to really be grounded in your vision for the future, and the role you wan to play.
The Cloud creates a brave new world. It enables and powers the Digital Economy.
Businesses need to cross the Cloud chasm (and some donât make it) in an effort to stay relevant and to be whatâs next.
Businesses need to re-imagine themselves and explore the art of the possible.
Business leaders and IT leaders need to help others forge their way forward in the Digital Frontier.
And it all starts with a story.
A story that inspires the hearts and minds so people can wrap their head around the challenge and the change.
I think Satya says the Microsoft story for the Cloud in a very simple and compelling way:
"We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more." -- Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO
Thatâs a pretty simple and yet pretty powerful and compelling story of why do we do what we do.
Itâs a great way to re-imagine and inspire our transformation to a productivity and platform company in a Mobile-first, Cloud-first world. And, itâs a very simple story around productivity and empowerment that inspires and drives people in various roles and responsibilities to co-create the future in a profound way.
What is your simple story for how you re-imagine you or your business in a Mobile-First, Cloud-First world?You Might Also Like
I was reading the IT Showcaseâs page on the Cloud platform.
I really liked the simple little story around why we are moving to the Cloud:
âThree words: Agility, economics and innovation. Cloud technology satisfies the CEO's desire for greater business agility, the CFO's desire to streamline operations, and the CMO's desire for a more innovative way to engage customers.â
Some people move to the Cloud because they see an ROI play. Others move because they see opportunity cost. Others move simply because they donât want to be left behind.
The most common reason I see is business agility and to stay relevant in todayâs world.
In all cases, these transformations lead to business-model innovation and new opportunities to create and capture value.
Value is a moving target and the Cloud can help you stay in the game.
Are you in the game?You Might Also Like
When you need to make things happen, motivational quotes can help you dig deep and get going.
I put together a very comprehensive collection of the worldâs best motivational quotes a while back.
It was time for a refresh. Here it is:
Imagine motivational wisdom of the ages and modern sages right at your fingertips all on one page. I included motivational quotes from Bruce Lee, Tony Robbins, Winston Churchill, Waldo Emerson, Jim Rohn, and more.
See if you can find at least three motivational quotes that you can take with you on the road of life, to help you deal with setbacks and challenges, and to unleash your inner-awesome.Getting Started with Motivational Quotes
Iâll start you off. If you donât already have these in your personal motivational quotes collection, here are a few that I draw from often:
âIf youâre going through hell, keep going.â â Winston Churchill
âWhen itâs time to die, let us not discover that we have never lived.â -Henry David Thoreau
âDonât ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.ââ Howard Thurman
Howâs that for a starter set?Build Better Motivational Thought Habits
You can train your brain with motivational mantras. Our thoughts are habits. If you want to build better thought habits, then feed on some of the best motivational quotes of all time.
âAn ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.â â Ralph Waldo Emerson
âPositive thinking wonât let you do anything but it will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.â -â Zig Ziglar
âThe only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.â â Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you train yourself well, you wonât entirely eliminate motivational setbacks, but youâll be able to defeat procrastination, and youâll be able to bounce back faster when you find yourself in a slump. Motivation is a skill you can build, and it will serve you well, in work and life.You Create Your Future
The most important motivational concept to hold on to is the idea that you create your future. Or, as Wayne Dyer puts it:
âGo for it now. The future is promised to no one.â
So go for the bold, and get your game face on.
If you need some help kick-starting your fire, stroll through the motivational quotes a few times until something really sinks in or clicks for you. Lifeâs better with the right words, and there are just the right words already out there, just waiting to be found.
Enjoy and take your time sifting through the Motivational Quotes â The Great Motivational Quotes Collection.
Also, if you have a favorite motivational quote that I donât have listed, let me know.You Might Also Like
I think of inspiration simply as âbreathe life into.â
Whether you're shipping code, designing the next big thing, or simply making things happen, inspirational quotes can help keep you going.
In the spirit of helping people find their Eye of the Tiger or get their mojo on, Iâve put together a hand-crafted collection of the ultimate inspirational quotes:
If youâve seen my collection of inspirational quotes before, itâs completely revamped. It should be much easier to browse all of the inspirational quotes now so you can see some old familiar quotes that you may have heard of long ago, as well as many inspirational quotes, you have never heard of before.
Dive in, explore the collection of inspirational quotes, and see if you can find at least three inspirational quotes that breathe new life into your moment, your day, your work, or anything you do.The Power of Inspirational Quotes
Inspirational quotes can help us move mountains. The right inspirational words and ideas can help us boldly go where we have not gone before, as well as conquer our fears and soar to new heights.
Or, the right inspirational quote can simply help us roar a little louder inside, when we need it most.
Life isnât always a bowl of cherries. And work can be an incredible challenge. And sometimes, even our best laid plans, go up in flames.
So having a repertoire of inspirational quotes and inspiring mantras at your mental fingertips can help you roll with the punches and keep going.
One of the most important inspirational ideas I learned early on goes like this:
Whatever doesnât kill you makes you stronger.
It helped me turn trials into triumphs, and eventually learn to take on big challenges as a way to grow.
Another inspirational idea that really helped me find my way forward is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and, it goes like this:
âDo not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.â
Whenever I went on a new journey, down an unfamiliar path, it helped remind me that I donât always need a trail, and that many times, itâs about blazing my own trail.
The power of inspirational quotes is their power to light a fire inside and fan the flames until we go and blaze our trail that leaves our self, and others, in awe.What Lies Within Us
Perhaps, the greatest inspirational quote of all time is another amazing quote by Emerson:
âWhat lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.â
Itâs an awe-inspiring reminder to not only do what makes us come alive, but to realize our potential and unleash what we are capable of.Itâs Better to Burn Out, then Fade Away
So many inspirational quotes remind us that life is short and that we have to go for it. But maybe George Bernard Shaw said it best:
âI want to be all used up when I die.â
One quote that I think about often is by Seth Godin:
âLife is like skiing. Just like skiing, the goal is not to get to the bottom of the hill. Itâs to have a bunch of good runs before the sun sets.â
Itâs all about making the journey worth it.When Itâs Over
What do you do when itâs over. It all depends. Dr. Seuss has an interesting twist:
âDonât cry because itâs over. Smile because it happened.â
But the one that I find has true wisdom is from Dave Weinbaum:
âThe secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.â
Hereâs to new many more beginnings in your life.
Enjoy and be sure to explore The Inspirational Quotes Collection to soar or roar in your own personal way.You Might Also Like
A while back I put together a comprehensive collection of love quotes. It’s a combination of the wisdom of the ages + modern sages. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I gave it a good revamp. Here it is:
It's a serious collection of love quotes and includes lessons from the likes of Lucille Ball, Shakespeare, Socrates, and even The Princess Bride.How I Organized the Categories for Love Quotes
I organized the quotes into a set of buckets:
Broken Hearts and Loss
Falling in Love
Fear and Love
Fun and Love
Love and Life
Significance and Meaning
The Power of Love
I think there’s a little something for everyone among the various buckets. If you walk away with three new quotes that make you feel a little lighter, put a little skip in your step, or help you see love in a new light, then mission accomplished.Think of Love as Warmth and Connection
If you think of love like warmth and connection, you can create more micro-moments of love in your life.
This might not seem like a big deal, but if you knew all the benefits for your heart, brain, bodily processes, and even your life span, you might think twice.
You might be surprised by how much your career can be limited if you don’t balance connection with conviction. It’s not uncommon to hear a lot of turning points in the careers of developers, program managers, IT leaders, and business leaders that changed their game, when they changed their heart.
In fact, on one of the teams I was on, the original mantra was “business before technology”, but people in the halls started to say, “people before business, business before technology” to remind people of what makes business go round.
When people treat each other better, work and life get better.Love Quotes Help with Insights and Actions
Here are a few of my favorite love quotes from the collection …
“Love is like heaven, but it can hurt like hell.” – Unknown
“Love is not a feeling, it’s an ability.” — Dan in Real Life
“There is a place you can touch a woman that will drive her crazy. Her heart.” — Milk Money
“Hearts will be practical only when they are made unbreakable.” – The Wizard of Oz
“Things are beautiful if you love them.” – Jean Anouilh
“Life is messy. Love is messier.” – Catch and Release
“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.” – Unknown
For many more quotes, explore The Great Love Quotes Collection.You Might Also Like