Archive for the ‘Team Management’ Category

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.

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

What I would do – version 1.1!   Leave a comment

So, what amendments to this list?

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. Keep a forward looking “upgrade” agenda
6. 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.”

What I would do – version 1.0!   Leave a comment

After having read all of these books, although there are more reviews to come, what would I do given the opportunity?

1. Expose people to ideas through networking, events, seminars, courses & the like
2. Setup a system that establishes, and rewards, an ongoing flow of innovation
3. Keep a forward looking “upgrade” agenda
5. Maintain contextual perspective (organisation, users, finance)

All in the context of servant leadership (more posts to come on this topic).

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: “Managing Intellectual Capital”, Teece   Leave a comment

This academic puts his finger squarely on the problem: “knowledge, competence & related intangibles have emerged as the key drivers of competitive advantage in developed nations”.

Thus, the essence of the firm in the new economy is its ability to create, transfer, integrate, protect & exploit knowledge assets. That is, its intellectual capital.

So, a firm needs dynamic capabilities as well as knowledge assets. This dynamic capability is the ability to sense and then seize new opportunities, to reconfigure and protect knowledge assets, competencies, complementary assets & technologies, and to achieve sustainable competitive advantage.

Whilst a large part of the book is spent on how to manage intellectual capital in different fields, for example market entry strategies, licensing options & public policy, the foundational concepts espoused are sound.

And again the innovation meme. This innovation meme that is central to our modern economy. Teece maintains that in order the maintain competitiveness firms need to adopt innovation strategies that force change. These strategies are:
– increase exposure to ideas and approaches external to the firm
– design organisational structures and incentives to catalyse and reward creative action
– promote the continual shedding of established assets and routines

For me, this book again demonstrates the centrality of innovation to organisational effectiveness.

Books Read: “In Search of Excellence”, Peters   Leave a comment

This is one of the classic management books. First released in 1982.

In developing his thesis on the attributes of excellence, Peters draws together several threads.

One is his background. Whilst Tom was an “Organisational Effectiveness” practice leader at McKinsey & Co he developed their “7-S Framework. This framework was designed to inculcate flexibility into organisations to meet their changing conditions.

The multi-variable “7-S Framework”:
– structure
– strategy
– staff (people)
– (management) style
– systems (& procedures)
– style (guiding concepts)
– shared values

Another is management theory. He explores the shortcomings of the “rational models” with their foundations in Frederick Taylor’s scientific management theory. Moves onto the “human relations” management theories of McGregor, et al. And finally ends up with some of the current thinking around the impact of an organisation’s environment upon its management practices.

Taking the above with real-world analysis, Peters posits eight attributes of excellence:
  – a bias for action
  – close to the customer
  – autonomy & entrepreneurship
  – productivity through people
  – hands-on value driven
  – stick to the knitting
  – simple form, lean staff
  – simultaneous loose-tight properties

A recipe, I believe, for an IT department or a whole organisation

For me, this book develops the ideals for a good performance.

Posted February 19, 2013 by terop in Books Read, Team Management

Current Role – Manage the IT Component of the 2008 Head Office Relocation   Leave a comment

This was a significant project, with a specific timeline. Our head office was moving, and I was the IT lead.

Not only did it encompass co-ordinating the moving of computers for 220 staff, the re-commissioning of business applications involving teams across the nation, and the relocation of 60+ servers. But it also involved co-ordination with the three data communication providers that we had at the time, and leading discussions with senior executives about the move and the risk mitigation procedures we would have in place.

I had at my disposal about 40 people and four days. I split them into three teams. One team managed the desktop computing, the second the server relocation, whilst the third managed the computing services re-commissioning. The desktop computing team was tasked to re-connect and test the PC’s on each of the desks, it included replacing CRT with flat-screen and checking that the new Cisco VoIP system worked.

And that was an added complication, we moved from a standard PABX in the old building to a Cisco VoIP system in the new. I was also the technical lead for that project – co-ordinating user training, making system design choices, liaising with the third-party supplier.

The second team, to a set schedule and order, removed the servers, switches, etc (after I had shut the server room down in graceful manner – applications first, backend second, infrastructure third, switching last) and relocated them to the new building. The order and schedule was important as I wanted to give some sense of redundancy (ie, AD servers spread across separate racks), and I wanted to bring things back up in the reverse order from which I shut them down.

I had scheduled the computing-services recommissioning team to be available after the servers were relocated and computers rebuilt. This team of application owners and testers was spread out across the nation (I needed to make sure that the WAN was still working and the internet-facing services were still available). As a result of the server relocate order decisions that I made, we were able to perform some perfunctory tests of each of the applications before the application testing team did their work. Their testing proved that the move was successful by the Saturday afternoon.

The final part was having IT helpdesk and VoiP trainer “floor walkers” on the first day of work. They were tasked to troubleshoot minor problems with computers, printers and phones on the spot and refer up the chain anything else. Their work was larger done by lunchtime.

So, from a move leadership perspective, I was across each of the many details and had several meetings with each of the teams leading up to the weekend, but once the design and choices were set delegation to section leaders was the modus operandi.

And, from a timing perspective, although we had four days to get the new head office up and going, we completed it within 48 hours. Thus, when people came to work in the office on the Tuesday (we started the Thursday night), and when people interstate started to work on the Monday morning – it was as if it was just another business day.

And so, that adage “prior planning prevents poor performance” was truly proven during that long weekend in March, 2008.

A Previous Role – Building and Construction Industry Royal Commission   Leave a comment

Engaged to manage three IT staff to ensure high-availability and highly-secure facilities in a technical environment incorporating Windows 2000 desktop and clustered server operating systems on high-end HP servers providing MS-SQL and MS-Exchange applications, Cisco firewalls, access card systems and video surveillance equipment.

This was an interesting role. It was not so much technical as maintaining morale and the customer service focus of my staff as the commission wound down.

The Technical Side:

I was the third IT Manager of three over the life of this Royal Commission. And up to when I started, the staff had travelled all over the country. They had set up the “mobile” hearings court in all major capital cities and some major regional centres. They had been dealing with mainly with lawyers, and other high-powered individuals. The systems we managed were fairly stable, but it did require a fair degree of knowledge, especially on my part, to ensure that the robustness and security of the systems were maintained.

And, as I was the last IT Manager, it fell to me to wind things down. To prepare the equipment for auction, to ensure the security of archived data, and to forensically clean all hard drives that went out the door. I also had to maintain skeleton services as long as possible and to work with the Commissioner’s changing timetable to achieve all of these things.

The People Side:

Putting this phase of the commission into a human context, you realise that a range of emotions and motivations will come to the fore.

There was handling of my people’s responses as our internal customers started treating them unprofessionally. There was interviewing for replacement team members as people left. There was the maintenance of motivation of my team members.

’twas a time of learning!

Posted February 21, 2011 by terop in Career, Firewall, Microsoft, Network, Previous Role, Team Management