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Consultancy & Training, Gender issues, Philosophy, Stability, Stakeholder Management

If change managers helped with.. babies


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We have change managers in business all the time. But in life we are somewhat lacking. If we had a change manager when a baby came into our lives – what would that look like?

I met a colleague this week. He won’t mind me saying this. He has looked better.

I took a small amount of pleasure in thinking about the last time we met. I had big bags under my eyes that time. Now those indicators of night time nonsense seem to have leapt across the room – right into his.

He is well versed in this by now though. I think it’s his 4th. He knows that this moment in time is fleeting. Amazingly, he seems to be enjoying the fact that he and his wife now have to play “whose bed is it anyway?” as his kids run amok at 4am.

So I have randomly googled a change management guru this evening to help us all in this tricky dilemma. In doing so, I have found 5 key themes that good change management call for. I then ask, “why, when we spend millions of pounds/ dollars in our work lives on investing in getting people to swallow the pill, do we not learn how to take the pill ourselves, during one of the most disruptive times of our lives?”

Let’s take each point in turn shall we? I take my change management steer from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_87.htm

  1. Sponsorship: Ensuring there is active sponsorship for the change at a senior executive level within the organisation, and engaging this sponsorship to achieve the desired results.

Okay.. hopefully you were both in on this. If one of you wasn’t in on it all I can say is oops and good luck!

2. Buy-in: Gaining buy-in for the changes from those involved and affected, directly or indirectly.

This is a wide one. All stakeholders. Well, that’s a long list. You know why? Because once you have a baby almost the whole world will be involved. I remember taking my first born out for a stroll in August (in the UK) and being told by a well-meaning middle aged lady to “be sure to put on a hat now”. Hmmm it was 70 degrees but even strangers have opinions on these things. Again, let’s hope both parties were involved in the decision. “Mistakes” might be hard to handle at this point as I’m sure each person blames the other for the “changes affecting them directly or indirectly”. Oh dear. Take cover. Mother-in-law/ Mothers are also very important at this point. Ignore them at your peril.

3. Involvement: Involving the right people in the design and implementation of changes, to make sure the right changes are made.

From decorating the nursery to what to feed ’em. Again, your stakeholder list will be very, very long. Involving everyone in these decisions is exhausting but better than the alternative. If you involve NO-ONE? They will laugh at your smugly as you struggle to attach the buggy on Sainsbury’s car park. Ask everyone for their opinion. Then ignore them all.

4. Impact: Assessing and addressing how the changes will affect people.

Oh dear. I really messed up here on my communications plan. My main aim was to set expectations early. My 4 year old found out about the impending cuckoo at about 6 month’s from blast off. BIG MISTAKE. Never tell people about a change too early. Often they don’t know enough and it bugs them. She bugged me for all that time because she just wanted to know what sharing me was like but I couldn’t really tell her. As a result she turned into the female version of The Omen until finally she realised what she was dealing with.

5. Communication: Telling everyone who’s affected about the changes.

Here is the question of WHEN to tell people. I am of the opinion that the 3 month rule is a stupid one. Mainly because anyone that knows me well, also knows I’m pregnant the first time I say “I’m not drinking tonight.” That aside, the 3 month rule leads any long suffering puker to have to suffer in silence. For the first 3 months what they really want to do is get as much sympathy as possible as they deal with (what feels like) the worst hangover they ever had in their life. One that no carbohydrates in the world can make better. Any men still listening to this.. you are having to deal with the worst individual you ever lived with and nothing you can do can ever be good enough unless you too are puking at the same rate. Don’t get drunk to try to achieve this. At least don’t be around when you do this. It doesn’t help.

6. Readiness: Getting people ready to adapt to the changes, by ensuring they have the right information, training and help.

So there are a number of people to get ready for this change that you are about to embark upon. Sorry.. let me rephrase.. A change that will happen to you. But the two people who are never made ready are the parents. Dads are not put into an SAS style, sleep deprivation setting that prepares them for just 4hrs sleep a night. They aren’t taught how to follow this up with a 4hr conference call across 4 time zones with people who think the words “plucking the low hanging fruit” are acceptable phrases in polite society.

And mum..

The new mum is not prepared for the biggest change of her working life. She was pregnant yesterday but at least she was still a teacher/lawyer/CEO/banker/entrepreneur/social work/ nurse/ doctor/ business analyst/ scientist/ blogger.

Now she isn’t pregnant anymore. But she isn’t the above anymore either. Instead she is a cleaner, cook, nursery teacher, swimming instructor, bottom wiper, nose wiper, poo sniffer, expert stain remover and her partner in crime is the worse deputy that ever lived. He hasn’t been on any bloody courses either!

But they are also both overwhelmed, amazed, blown away and happy beyond words. Love will sweep them up and take them on a roller coaster ride of epic proportions. No matter what. They will be

But if anyone had painted this particular picture for them – they wouldn’t be able to truly enjoy it. A paradise promised by a brochure is not half as sweet as the one we just happen upon.

Now, my major stakeholder is calling me. Best get off to see what she wants..

agile, Brexit, CIO, Investment Management, Leadership, Lean, Lean PMO, Politics, Stability, Strategy

A Nifty Article Fifty Breakdown


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If you are a UK CIO you have a lot to think about if June 8th takes article 50 to its natural conclusion…

Here is a nifty breakdown from CIO.com..

“The major milestones for CIOs to keep an eye on include the following:

  • U.K. parliamentary review of Great Repeal Bill (Late 2017): This will provide the first opportunity for an initial assessment of legal impacts on managed service agreements and other IT contract documents.
  • Royal assent of Great Repeal Bill (Mid 2018): At this point, any gaps in the legislation should be addressed, enabling IT organizations to confirm legal impacts and initiate contractual change activities.
  • Brexit negotiations wrap up (Fall 2018): This will create clarity the regulatory, operational, audit, and reporting impacts on IT services.
  • U.K. Houses of Parliament, European Council, EU Parliament, and remaining 27-member Parliament vote on deal (Early 2019): This will confirm IT impacts and enable CIOs to begin related IT change programs
  • Transition period begins (March 2019): CIOs can structure timelines for completion of IT projects to address necessary digital transition and transformation requirements.”

http://www.cio.com/article/3189040/it-industry/how-brexit-will-impact-global-cios-and-it-services.html

However, with all these (less face it) rather boring boxes to tick and cross there will be little resource to deal with the ever increasing pace of change within the wider economy.  As such, the threat of Brexit is not just one of legal and commercial wrangling (Although that will certainly feature heavily).  The real issue is going to be that already stretched IT departments are going to be hit with “Regulation, Regulation, Regulation” when they also have to deal with “Innovation, Innovation, Innovation”.

If Brexit goes ahead the latter is likely to be the biggest casualty.

So how can the CIO keep pace with this?

During this period 3 things will be key to the post-article 50 CIO:

  1. A razor sharp focus on investment in the biggest IT return.  Yes Brexit projects will HAVE to happen but others will need to be picked for their direct impact on organisational outcomes.  This might be revenue or reputation, either way it will be high on the agenda.
  2. Use of Agile to ensure that those BAU projects are kept on track.  Agile methods and techniques such as KANBAN will be needed more than ever to keep visibility high.
  3. IT departments will need to become product centric and better at marketing than the marketing department!  No-one will use your internal product let alone your external one if your team can’t break through the noise of Brexit.

Magic Milestones has a number of services specifically designed to give you maximum bang for buck in times like these.  Read more here.. https://magicmilestones.com/services/

Product Management, Teams

A Good De-Clutter


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This week I set myself the task of sorting out some areas of the office that aren’t used as often as others. We can try to avoid it as much as we like but whether personal or professional, somewhere in the building there is always that ‘Monica cupboard’. It’s what I discovered whilst doing it that gave me food for thought. I’m not talking about dead bodies or lost employees; but more the information that is kept ‘just in case we ever need it’. I found the notebooks of previous colleagues, project plans and strategy roadmaps from the last 9 years of  Magic Milestones. It made me feel quite nostalgic.

I spent more time than planned working my way through the paperwork identifying what should be kept and what can be recycled and I couldn’t help but think about all those who have moved on and smile fondly at the challenges (successes and failures) that have lead us to become the business we are today. Those lessons have been what have helped to shape us and I think we ought to be proud of the companies history. I know I am lucky to have been part of the Magic Milestones story for almost 3 years now. Its a great people focused company that makes me feel appreciated and also offers me (and all its employees) great flexibility ensuring an excellent work life balance. The last three years have raced by, time really does fly when you’re having fun!

The most positive result in this exercise, apart from a lovely clean work space, is reflecting on how we have grown and progressed over the years with help from all of those good and bad experiences, and of course our current and past employees. It made me realise how proud I am to be member of the Magic Milestones team. I’m already looking forward to having another de-clutter and reminiscing over our ‘yet to be written’ story in another few years.

By Rachel Wheeler

Leadership, Product Management, Teams

Kerching! Money as a Motivator


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Now I’m sure that by now you are all sat on the edge of your seats waiting to see how motivation levels are going at Magic Milestones, so here goes the last instalment of my motivational blog trilogy. 

I’ve been working with the Senior Management Team to help bolster everyone’s self-confidence throughout the company and get the whole team really believing in their ability. Everyone seems to be really motivated and giving things their all. The Sales Team particularly are already starting to see the fruits of their labour and the buzz they are generating in the office is great to see. As we have seen such great motivation levels within the Sales Team, we have now thrown out our motivational experiment to all teams across the company. So it is with great optimism that I turn to look at the third topic on motivation – money and rewards.

Rewarding staff for their hard work and success is something every employer knows is important. Making staff feel valued and appreciated goes a long way to helping create a motivated team as well as having an impact on staff retention.

So once again putting my MBA head on, what do the theorists have to say on this matter? J. Stacy Adams, a workplace and behavioural psychologist, developed his Equity Theory in 1965. It focuses on the need for a fair balance between what employees put in and what they get out and suggests that when the feeling of fairness is not achieved, employees become dissatisfied and create lower levels of motivation (Adams 1965). The idea of there actually being ‘demoralisation costs’ for companies when this fairness failed to be achieved was first put forward by Michelman in 1967.

So how is a sense of fairness achieved within a company? The most obvious answer is remuneration. If employees feel that the money received for their hard work is not a fair amount when compared to the effort expected in doing the job, then they won’t feel particularly happy or motivated in their role. If they feel they are being paid fairly then they are much more likely to put a fair amount of effort into doing the job they are paid for. I know from experience (as I’m sure most of you reading this also do) that simply paying a fair level of salary is not a magic key to having a highly motivated team. So how are we meant to interpret this theory?

Money as a motivator has been discussed from many view points over the years.

Pepper et al’s study (2013), based on the motivation of senior Executives; shows a clear linear improvement between the amount being paid and the effort placed into performance (Pepper et al 2013). Akerlof (1982) falls very much in line with Adam’s Equity theory and Pepper et all’s research, holding fast to the argument that if earnings are less than the perceived fair wage then the level of effort input into the work will fall to reflect this, while being paid a higher amount will increase the level of effort being input. (Pepper at al 2013). However, Herzberg and his Dual Factor Theory argues the contrary stating that money and pay are ‘hygiene factors’ (Job dissatisfaction causes) rather than ‘motivators’. He argued that eliminating issues that fall into the hygiene factor category would stop dissatisfaction at work, but would not be able to improve motivation. Motivation, he argued could only be addressed by looking at ‘motivators’, and as such money should not be used as a reward due to its basic inability to motivate (Hertzberg et al 1959).

To me this sounds like paying a ‘fair’ wage is only enough to stop dissatisfaction. To actually achieve an increase in motivation, there must be seen to be some form of ‘extra’ reward above and beyond basic salary to act as a true motivator. Does it really matter though if this extra reward comes in a money form or in some other guise? I decided to take this question to the Magic Milestones Team and see what they thought. I was also interested to see if there was any difference of opinion between the Sales and the Operations Teams.

Everyone agreed that some kind of bonus/ reward scheme is indeed motivating for them. The Sales Team was quick to voice their opinion that they preferred the cash based bonus scheme that has been in place for a while, rather than receiving vouchers or prizes. However various other staff put forward ideas such as being able to earn extra holiday days due to good performance, or shopping vouchers that could be saved up and awarded for Christmas time. The idea was also suggested of a ‘friendly’ competition between members of the team or even between departments with alcohol or chocolates being awarded on a monthly basis to the team/ individual who wins. I came out of the discussion thinking that yes, money can play an important part in improving motivation but it isn’t the be all and end all. The team atmosphere and recognition of effort being put in also goes a long way.

The experiment we have been conducting over the last few weeks at Magic Milestones has shown me that by involving the team in target setting, supporting their work performance with regular feedback and helping them to gain a real ‘can do’ attitude, the level of motivation has continued and in many areas even increased. To keep the existing buzz going I think ensuring there is some form of ‘extra reward’ system in place is a definite win/ win situation. As well as motivating the team to go the extra mile it also helps to make sure they feel valued and appreciated. I think the decision on whether the reward should be money or an alternative, is something that needs to be decided upon for each individual team, as people don’t all value things the same way. Although money will be a powerful motivator for some, for others the opportunity to ‘earn’ extra days’ annual leave and a bottle of champagne may well be the perfect motivator.

Cheers everyone, and here’s to all of our highly motivated teams. Long may it continue!!!

By Helen Milanes Tidmarsh

Product Management, Teams

The Power of Believing in Yourself as a Motivator


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We’re now into September and the evenings are noticeably beginning to draw in. Me and the Magic Milestones Sales Team are busy with new potential clients, catching up with existing or old contacts and developing a new sales target list to focus on for the next 3 months. Everyone has come back off annual leave excited and focused, and it’s my goal to make sure they stay that way!

As I mentioned in my last blog, getting the team involved in target setting and ensuring that while those targets stretch the team they are still realistic and achievable has made a real difference. Enabling them to have input and be able to discuss their goals with managers, really seems to have helped achieve more team buy in and higher levels of motivation.

So what now – how can I (and the rest of the Senior Management Team) try and maintain these levels of energy and enthusiasm? The next step is to keep our team motivated and get them into a positive upward sales cycle.

Well you know I like my theories so here it goes! Self Efficacy Theory- simplistically is an individual’s belief that they are capable of performing a task. Bandura (1997) states that ‘Self-efficacy beliefs regulate human functioning through cognitive, motivational, affective, and decisional processes’ (Bandura & Locke 2003 pg 87). In essence, the higher the self-efficacy of an individual, the more confidence they have in their ability to succeed and in turn the more likely they become to achieve success. They are also more likely to respond positively to negative feedback.

It’s critical to note, Managers and Team Leaders can have an important role to play in achieving high levels of self-efficacy which coupled with the Pygmalion effect (a form of self-fulfilling prophecy) could start to make a big difference to a team’s results, especially those in sales. If a Manager shows they believe in their staff or their team’s ability this can lead to self-belief, and therefore creating the right mindset for them to achieve their set goals. Coupled with ongoing feedback and regular meetings around planning and goal strategy this theory continuously gives great results.

Similarly to the self-efficacy theory, Victor Vrooms’ Expectancy Theory (1964),‘argues that the strength of our tendency to act in certain ways depends on our strength of our expectation of a given outcome and attractiveness focusing on three relationships’: (Robbins & Judge 2015 pg 237)

    1. Effort – performance relationship
    2. Performance – reward relationship
    3. Rewards – personal goals relationship

Although there are many theorists that have criticised Vroom arguing that not many individuals see direct links between effort, performance and rewards, many organisations reward individuals for seniority and skill level rather than performance.

This could well make it an invalid motivational theory for many teams, but in the case of Sales Teams it might just be worth some consideration. If a Sales Team earns commission as part of their package, then the level of commission will almost always be related to their achievements. So here we can see the direct link between effort, performance and rewards. What we must consider for the expectancy theory to really have an impact on a team as a motivator, is that the team must see the rewards as desired and at an appropriate level. If targets are being hit but the reward is perceived to be too low for the effort invested in achieving it, motivation will be more likely to reduce than increase.

The Magic Milestones Sales Team seem happy and bought into their agreed targets, and they are really working hard to hit and even exceed them! I now need to make sure that they really believe in themselves and their abilities. So this week I am discussing with the rest of the Senior Management Team how we can implement ongoing feedback and support to help them believe in themselves and their ability.

The mention of rewards as a motivator brings us nicely onto the theme for next week’s blog. I hope to be able to report that our Sales Teams motivation is still high and they are full of self-belief! 😉

By Helen Milanes Tidmarsh

Product Management, Teams

Post Holiday Blues, How do you Re-motivate your Team?


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Step aside summer…

With the summer holiday period coming to an end I’ve been looking back over our KPI’s for July and August. With the majority of the team on annual leave at some point over the summer, this time of year always tends to be relatively quiet for the Magic Milestones team and September always feels a bit of a fresh start for us. This led me to thinking about the best way to get everyone fully motivated as the long sunny days begin to become a distant memory.

As anyone who knows me will have heard about, I am currently halfway through studying an MBA. Work motivation is one of the subjects we covered early on so I decided to look back at some of the theories and see if there is anything there that could be useful in motivating the team and be worth sharing with you guys. It has turned into a slightly bigger exercise than I planned, so over the next three weeks I’m going to be sharing some of traditional methods and how we have been trying to adopt them. I also cover those we rejected.  My Blog Schedule is:

  1. Post Holiday Blues, How Do You Re-Motivate Your Team?
  2. The Power of Believing  in Yourself as a Motivator
  3. Kerching! Money as a Motivator

This week we’ve been looking at KPI’s for the sales team so I began discussing motivation with them. Interestingly everyone had slightly different interpretations of exactly what motivation meant to them. As we continued our chat the discussion led me to share some academic views on motivation.

Dr Craig C. Pinder, Professor of Organisational Behaviour within the Faculty of Business, University of Victoria, British Columbia describes it as ‘a set of energetic forces that originate both within as well as beyond an individual’s being, to initiate work-related behaviour and to determine its form, direction, intensity, and duration’ (Pinder (1998, p.11) cited in Latham and Pinder 2004)

We came to the conclusion that one of the most challenging aspects in any business is not only how to initially motivate employees but also how to maintain that level of motivation long term. How can managers get employees to work hard and achieve the best results that they can on a monthly basis? Businesses need continually motivated teams to be able to achieve ongoing success within their markets. All these are questions, and more, we ask ourselves at Magic Milestones on a regular basis.

Goal setting is seen as the norm within most companies today, but the idea was first put forward by Edwin Locke in the 1960’s. The concept of goals being used as motivators was then developed further by the suggestion that goals needed to be specific. Locke and Latham (2002) both claimed that by setting specific goals an employee would know exactly what is expected of them and how much effort is required. This would be much more likely to increase an individual’s level of motivation that being given vague goals with nothing to measure against, and being left to interpret them in their own way. We tried this theory and it seems to be working really well.

Other ideas about how targets can affect motivation are around how achievable the targets are seen as by the individual. Vroom’s Expectancy Theory (1964) argues that ‘the strength of our tendency to act in certain ways depends on the strength of our expectation of a given outcome.’ (Robbins & Judge 2015 pg 237)

So workplace goals need to be realistic otherwise they can have the opposite effect. For example in a sales environment, if the targets are viewed as too high, realising that achieving the targets is unrealistic can change an individual’s behaviour and reduce motivation levels significantly. This can then lead to a self-fulfilling cycle where goals are rarely hit and the individual finds it increasingly harder to recover.

However, used correctly goals do give direction and structure to a team allowing them to work more cohesively to hit given targets. The buzz the team get from achieving the targets will then help them keep momentum and stay motivated.

With this in mind, our sales team then started discussing whether the boss should set individual and team targets alone or if working together to agree targets following feedback given, would lead to happy and more motivated team. We agreed that often this would depend on the individual, but that some level of discussion or explanation around target levels would go a long way to getting people more bought in to achieving them. Locke and Latham (2002) show that most theorists agree with this.

So how can feedback help improve motivation? Ashford & Black state that active feedback seeking by employees (especially new ones) is related to high performance achievement. (Latham and Pinder, 2005 ).

Of course, feedback needs to be given at the correct moment; when something has happened or there has been a result (negative or positive), so that it will have the right impact on employees. Frese & Zapf (1994) stated that it is feedback that gives employees the understanding that enables them to achieve their targets. This shows that it is just as important to give feedback when successes happen as this helps re-inforce to employees where they should focus their energy and effort.

Over the summer break we expected things to be quieter in the sales department and the reduction in target reflected this. Of course we all know that the targets then jump back up in September and the team fully understands the reasons why. Hopefully discussing the September sales targets together and making sure we agree that although they are aimed to stretch us, they are achievable, coupled with giving constructive feedback (positive and negative) to the team about the summer performance will help ensure our team are all set with a can do attitude and high levels of motivation.  I’ll let you know next week how motivated we are all still feeling! 😉

By Helen Milanes Tidmarsh

Leadership, Lean, Lean Startup, Product Management, Project Management, Stability, Teams

Did you just build the wrong team?


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No-one goes to work to do a bad job.

Sometimes it may feel that way but really… they aren’t!
Some people may be in the wrong job, someone may be having a bad day, they may have a completely different agenda to you but 99.9% of the time they aren’t trying to fail.
So why do technology teams so often fail? How can we be so bad at ensuring that technology teams actually succeed?
Well my team and I have been pondering this for some time. We’ve been working on something called ‘Team Genes’. Looking at the genetics of what makes a good team so that we can replicate this for our clients. This is my current stance on the subject..

If we built software like we built teams we wouldn’t be so surprised at the outcome.

Organisations consistently go about building project teams with no purpose, design or thought behind them at all and wonder if they have built the wrong team later down the line. The usual process is this:

  1. Bill says he needs an X
  2. Jill is an X
  3. Jill is available to do X (sort of)
  4. Bill meets Jill
  5. Bill and Jill get along
  6. Jill joins the team!

So imagine the same in the software process:

  1. Bill says he needs an X
  2. Acme’s product is an X
  3. The organisation already bought 20 licenses of Acme product
  4. Bill uses Acme product for an afternoon…and he likes it!
  5. Let’s roll out Acme tomorrow!

So let’s break down where Bill went wrong on the product front and then maybe we can learn how he goes wrong on the people front..

  1. Bill’s assertion that he needed an X wasn’t really challenged by anyone.  (Ring any bells?)
  2. The organisation is already familiar with a product so it decides that’s enough to be a contender.
  3. Hence, no-one goes out to look for any other options thus assuming the organisation’s first choice of product was a good one.  Note that the requirements have had a cursory glance at best.
  4. Bill’s happy so let’s go!

The dangers of choosing a software product in this way are that:

  1. An organisation repeats its mistakes time and time again
  2. Politics tend to rule over substance
  3. There is no strategic relationship built with the supplier or investigation into common values and goals.  Hence, the organisation may find the vendor giving them less value over time.

And most CIOs would laugh at Bill.  Silly Bill.  Rash Bill.  And yet the product that Bill was assessing was worth maybe, 10K a year in licenses.  (These days probably a lot less).

But the person that Bill is assessing in the first example is going to cost the business between £200 and £800+ PER DAY!! People often cost between 10 – 20 x more than software does and yet we use MORE RIGOUR in choosing the former than the latter!

Here’s where you might be thinking the following..

This doesn’t apply to my company as we always create job specs for all roles

Newsflash.  A job spec isn’t a requirement.

Do we write a product spec when we go looking for software?  Hell no! We write user requirements.  We state the problem and not the solution.  (Well most of the time anyway).  A person specification would be something like this.. “My name is Bill.  I’m a busy Product Owner with a day job and I’m currently writing all my own user stories.  It would be great if I had someone who could reduce the team’s reliance on my time by creating user stories for me.  I could then spend the time I do have with the team answering their day to day questions about business processes.”   Yes the answer might be to get a business analyst in.  Or, it might be to utilise the test team differently.  Or, it might be that the Dev team lead is totally happy to help out here.  Unfortunately, because we are so used to the status quo we leap to the solution in the blink of an eye.  This is partly because we want our problem solved and partly because in most people’s hiring process, the quickest way to get your problem solved is to ring up an agent and say,

“I want a business analyst please.  For the rest of the project. 3 months would be good and I want them ASAP please”

Let’s look at the next part of the process.  Jill is available.  So Jill is suitable.  That’s the problem with hiring ASAP.  Suddenly there’s a drought for the thing you need the most.  So we look at who is available.

Are you now throwing things at your computer?

Of course I only hire people who are available!!  Why would I do anything else?

Well this point is kind of related to the last one.

Sure someone may not be available, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help you.

Being lean is about minimising waste and waste (when applied to people) comes in the form of under-utilisation.  But how many companies truly assess this ruthlessly before going off and hiring?

Finally, let’s look at the 3rd part of Bill’s process.

He likes her.  He hires her.

Well here’s where I can totally disagree with you.   We hire people using personality assessments as well as those for competency.

Okay not bad.  What if Jill hates doing X? Wants to move away from X and you are just making her do more Xing?? We rarely find out if people are interested in roles just whether they are competent enough.She might be good at it sure but is she passionate about it?

Last but not least, Bill and Jill may not even be working together to produce the same stuff. Jill gets parachuted into a brand new team and left to fend for herself. We used to let software out of the packaging to fend for itself but we soon stopped that. We realised it was insane to impose software on people without due care and attention and yet this is exactly what we do when we impose one person on a whole group of people and vice versa.

Doesn’t that sound a little insane?

How about we do this instead?..

  1. Write a problem statement not a job spec, rather like we do for products
  2. Let the team interview the person rather than their prospective manager or someone who ‘knows’ about the area in which you are hiring
  3. Test where Jill naturally sits in a team and assess if Jill would clash with anyone else or whether there is still a gap.
  4. Ideally do an assessment of your team before you hire ANYONE.  Then you can use this information to inform your choice of both role and the type of person you need.
  5. If they are costing more than around £8K per month, try them out for an afternoon.
  6. Be prepared to accept a failure has occurred – fast – and take action if necessary.  People are rarely fired for swift action provided it’s backed up by evidence.

But that sounds a bit of a long winded process.

Really?  How many hrs did you spend interviewing people last week?  You probably did at least 3.  That’s 3 hrs of your time.  That doesn’t include anyone else’s either.   HR?  Your boss?

We think life’s too short for endless interviewing.

So.. here’s the news.  Magic Milestones can set this up in under 24hrs and it saves time beyond just the first hire.  No-one gets near us without a competency check anyhow so that bit’s done.

To be a member of the Team Genes club our people are tested all year not just when you ask for their services.

Using a different method of hiring is brave.  We know that people’s habits are hard to change.  Why don’t you start the ball rolling and find out more here.

In the meantime, I’m just going off to help Bill out of a fix..

 

 

Entrepreneurship, Failure, Investment Management, Philosophy, Product Management, Strategy, Teams, Uncategorized

The Boy and the Starfish


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When the tide is coming in..

You need a team or a consultancy that can focus on solving one problem at a time.

A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water.
Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.

As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.

The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,”I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. “But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference.”
The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied,

“I made a huge difference to that one!”

Author Unknown

 

Consultancy & Training, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Lean Startup, Product Management, Project Office, Stability, Strategy, Teams

Why the “Intrapreneur” has self-discipline beyond any entrepreneur


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Eric Ries (the author of ‘The Lean Start Up’) has written that people can apply entrepreneurial principles within the corporate world.  “It’s not ‘intrepreneurship,’ it’s not ‘like entrepreneurship,”’  Ries says.  “Corporate entrepreneurship is regular entrepreneurship.”

In a recent Birmingham meetup we had a great conversation around this..  One of the things that came out of the discussion was that people in the corporate world actually face a set of challenges that largely come from over-resourcing.  If you think about it, there is a pattern, a path that many have already walked.  However, the intrapreneur needs to reject this path.  Why?  Well, because if they walk it, they just fall into the same trap as everyone else in their organisation.  They are unlikely to change the outcome by doing what everyone else has done before.  If a project manager, a product manager, a DBA, a front-end developer, a back-end developer, a tester, a designer, a UX specialist etc. etc. all get hired straight off, this is fishy to me.  Someone is hiring the Rolls Royce Team for a Fiat Punto job.  However, if the smallest possible team is hired and later skills are begged, borrowed or stolen then this is the equivalent to acting more like an entrepreneur would.  Sorry… I will amend that.  This is tantamount to acting like an entrepreneur should.

However, entrepreneurs are only human.  Just like everyone else.  People like people. Entrepreneurs don’t set up businesses to sit around by themselves.  They want a team around them.  In fact having met and talked to well over 100 of my fellow business owners over the years..  I’d even go so far as saying they NEED them.  So even entrepreneurs, with their tight budgets, cash flow constraints etc. etc. are prone to a little ‘pushing the boat out’ when it comes to hiring people.

But what about Intrapreneurs?  Well, I have to confess here that I haven’t ever been an intrapreneur but I have worked alongside many people tasked with the job of making something work.  Generally, something other people have failed at.  Although they all had the best of intentions I can think of more than a one or two who decided to hire based on the standard template.  And who would blame them?  Entrepreneurs are constrained by the fact they HAVE NO MONEY.  Much of the time it hits their own pocket!  Yet they still OVER HIRE!!  I have done this.  Many times.  It does not end well.

So who can blame the intrapreneurs for acting in the exact same way?  The only difference being that they have more money to waste.

Hence, the actions of an intrapreneur must be more measured, more calculated.  Their resistance to following the status quo must be second to none.  They must have the grit to be able to deliver on a shoestring with all the risks involved.

They are putting themselves in the line of fire by acting in the best interests of the organisation.  WOW.

To me, it kind of feels like an intrapreneur needs to be way more disciplined, way more entrepreneurial, than the entrepreneur ever was.

Stephanie Chamberlain runs Magic Milestones Limited, which is a Delivery Management Consultancy.  She is a serial entrepreneur, published author on Agile Methods and a visiting industrial fellow at Aston Business School.