Archive for the ‘Books Read’ Category

Books Read: “Thought Leadership”, Ryde   Leave a comment

Excellent book on thinking and the impact it has on our ability to persuade.

As the sub-title states: “Moving hearts and minds”.

The starting point is our standard thinking repertoire:
– deficit thinking: focus on faults, weaknesses in the target of discussion
– rational thinking: accentuates the logical components to a problem
– sticky thinking: views raised build on previous view
– common sense thinking: problem solving through inexpert knowledge
– binary thinking: mutually exclusive options
– equity thinking: fairness

By and large we default to these standard “thinking engines” due to our automatic responses to various language triggers.

Thus, to change thinking engines we need to use different triggers.

The proper use of thinking channels can be used to create movement, achieve buy-in, release energy and start action. To change channels during the course of a conversation there are three techniques:
– channel flipping
– channel hopping
– channel targetting

Now Ryde proposes shadow thinking channels:
– deficit > strength-based
– rational > feeling
– common-sense > insight
– equity > 360 degree
– binary > re-integrated
– sticky > exit

For me, this is quite a useful tool. It opens up a pathway to get better informed meeting outcomes and decisions in other contexts.

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Posted February 21, 2013 by terop in Books Read, Innovation, Leadership, Team Management

Books Read: “The Technology Management Handbook”, Dorf.   Leave a comment

In short, this is a major piece of work. It runs to around a thousand pages. It is quite comprehensive as it comprises essays by authors from a range of specialties.

The Sections are:
– The Technology Manager & The Modern Context
– Knowledge for The Technology Manager
– Tools for The Technology Manager
– Managing The Business Function
– Strategy of The Firm
– Core Relationships for The Technology Manager
– Global Business Management

What is of interest to me is the HR aspect of work. That is, the motivations we have and the design of our jobs.

The questions that must be asked concerning the motivation of technical professionals are:
– what energizes particular behaviours
– what directs or channels these behaviours
– how the behaviours are sustained/altered

Two things of note:
– we must create the kinds of job assignments, careers & work-related conditions that allow professionals to satisfy their individual needs
– the organization designer’s job is to select the least-managerially demanding organization that best fits the “design criteria” appropriate to the situation & strategy

Now, the theories behind all this are:
– cognitive models of motivation:
  – Maslow’s hierachy
  – Herzberg’s 2 factor
  – McClelland’s Theory of Needs
– motivation through design of work
  – equity theory
  – expectancy theory
– Hackman & Oldman suggest 3 task dimensions:
  – skill variety
  – task identity
  – task significance (important)
  – also: autonomy, feedback (weak in IT)
– socio-technical model of job design means that team covers breadth/depth/height of the work rather than individuals:
  – depth of expertise
  – breadth of functional tasks
  – height of leadership activities
– importantly in all of this, the trust & confidence in manager is crucial

This tome certainly covers the full gamut of technology management issues. Issues such as:
– economics & finance
– marketing
– decision and simulation methods
– and so on.

In all quite comprehensive. For me, its almost a must to have as a ready reference

Books Read: “The Six Dilemmas of Collaboration”, Bryant   Leave a comment

Collaboration can be quite an integral factor for some in this networked economy. And as collaboration involves people, there is sure to be conflict.

This book addresses this conflict.

Bryant covers off the five ways that collaboration challenges are faced:
– process
– analysis
– culture
– technology
– structure

Now, as a baseline, there are six dilemmas and six related stances. Bryant’s aim is that strategic intent can be achieved through confrontations that are the result of strategic interaction. Its about the management of relationships.

The dilemmas (and related stances) are:
– threat (blusterer)
– persuasion (oppressed)
– rejection (appeaser)
– positioning (realist)
– co-operation (defector)
– trust (sceptic)

The thinking here is best quoted from the book:
“once characters have adoped clear positions in a collaborative situation they will find themselves at either a Committment Point or a Crisis Point. In either case they face dilemmas. At the former they will have to deal with Trust & Co-operation dilemmas; at the latter with dilemmas of Threat, Persuasion, Rejection and Positioning. To do so convincingly, their own preferences must shift so that any associated threats and promises become willing. Such transformations are accompanied by negative or positive emotions, respectively, toward the other characters. At these dramatic moments, driven by their emotions, characters may well act irrationality and in accordance with the new preferences towards which they are inclining. To handle the transitory dissonance between desire and action, characters will tend to reframe issues in such a way that their newly adoped positions can be supported by rational argument, free of paradox. The way that any individual deals with this whole process is characteristically distinctive and can be thought of as representing their ‘personality’.”

He uses both drama theory and game theory as a basis for his approach.

For me, not being an HR specialist, these frameworks are both illuminating and instructional to how difficulties in collaboration can be managed.

What I would do – version 1.2!   Leave a comment

Now, five more posts on, here are updated action points.

1. Establish the IT Strategy, but as a “living document”
2. Expose people to ideas through networking, events, seminars, courses & the like
3. Provide ongoing professional development and mentoring opportunities to all
4. Setup a system that establishes, and rewards, an ongoing flow of innovation
5. Look for improvements in structural and social capital
6. Keep a forward looking “upgrade” agenda
7. Maintain contextual perspective (organisation, users, finance)

All in the context of servant leadership.

The quote which best summarises a valid, comtemporary & successful leadership style is this:

“Leadership is the discipline of deliberately exerting special influence within a group to move it toward goals of beneficial permanance that fulfill the group’s real needs.”

Books Read: “The Leaders Guide to Radical Management”, Denning   Leave a comment

Or as the sub-title succintly puts it: reinventing the workplace for the 21st Century.

This book is an easy read, and full of straightfoward principles.

The primary thesis here is that radical management is about generating in-demand output that involves people with a common passion and who are good at what they do.

And at the outset he quotes the American philosopher to lay a foundation for the aim of the book:
  “If a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory.

Its about continuous innovation, and whilst the principles he puts forth have been separately “discovered” before he states that its through the interlocking nature of them as a whole that will have great impact.

These principles are:
1. focus work on delighting the client
2. do work through self-organising teams
3. do work in client-driven iterations
4. deliver value to clients each iteration
5. be totally open about impediments to improvement
6. create a context for continuous self-improvement by the team itself
7. communicate through interactive conversations

For me, it is about the client. And although not every client would welcome it, incremental innovation does indeed have benefits to both the provider and the client.

Books Read: “The Frontiers of Management”, Drucker   Leave a comment

Drucker, in this series of wide ranging essays, postulates two things:
1. the future is being made by totally anonymous people
2. change is opportunity

His aim for this book is to provide knowledge, insight, foresight and competence. Plus create vision.

One of his chapters is on white-collar productivity. He posits three measurements for this class of productivity:
1. length of time taken to bring product out of development into the market
2. the number of new products and services introduced to the market in a given period
3. number of supporting staff, including levels of management, for a given output

The comparison is with blue-collar organisations. Blue-collar output is roughly proportional to the number of staff, whereas white-collar output can/should be inversely proportional.

Other thoughts sprinkled throughout the book are:
– information-based organisations rest on responsibility
– modern leadership is one that respects performance, but requires self-discipline & upward responsibility
– innovation requires backing people, rather than the projects (especially early in the life of the innovation)

For me, this collection of Drucker’s thoughts is mostly of informational value. However, the insights into white-collar productivity (ie, IT) are most relevant. The basic implication is that as time goes on, IT staff should be able to handle more systems (with the assumption that existing systems become more efficient & effective).

Books Read: “The Firm of the Future”, Dunn, Baker   Leave a comment

Whilst this is a book about professional services firms, there are nuggets of truth & thoughts that do apply outside this sphere.

One example of this is the comparison of the old, with their mooted, practice equation:
– old practice equation:
  – revenue = people power x efficiency x hourly rate
– new/mooted practice equation:
  – profitability = intellectual capital x price x effectiveness

So, applying this new equation to the internal IT function can look something like this:
  – impact upon host business = intellectual capital x resource costs x effectiveness

Now while the resource costs (human & fixed, opex & capex) are fixed to a large degree, its effectivess can be improved. As can the third factor: intellectual capital.

And its that last factor that I’ll focus on – intellectual capital. It’s the first book I’ve come across to deconstruct intellectual capital.

It was Benjamin Franklin who coined the saying: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”.

There are three types of intellectual capital:
– human capital
– structural capital
– social capital

Thoughts on human capital:
– it needs to be invested in
– people volunteer themselves to their current organisation (be attractive)

Thoughts on structural capital:
– structural capital is the systems, procedures, technology, etc used to get things done
– capturing and using knowledge (knowledge management) is part of this
– thus, structural capital must be optimised and be used efficiently

Thoughts on social capital:
– social capital is:
  -customers
  -reputations and brands
  -suppliers and vendors
  -shareholders & other external stakeholders
  -joint venture partners & alliances
  -professional associations & formal affiliations
  -alumni
– all these elements of social capital should add value to the economic chaiin

For me, Dunn & Baker open up the discussion of intellectual capital. And by focusing on the appropriate elements of intellectual capital, greater value can be provided back to the host organisation.

Posted February 21, 2013 by terop in Books Read, ICT Strategy, Innovation, Team Management