Great Management Quotes

“The first people had questions and they were free. The second people had answers, and they became enslaved.” - Wind Eagle, American Indian Chief

“If you don’t like change, you’ll going to like irrelevance even less.” - General Eric Shinseki, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army

“It makes all the difference in the world whether we put truth in the first place, or in the second place.” - John Morley

“The truth that makes men free is for the most part the truth which men prefer not to hear.” - Herbert Agar

“Great leaders build a workforce for the future. They are human capital developers. Great leaders always ask themselves: “Am I prepared for what’s next?” They invest in themselves by constantly learning.” - Jonathan Fietzer

“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends” – Walt Disney

“It is not a question of how well each process works; the question is how well they work together.” – Lloyd Dobens and Clare Crawford-Mason

“An ability to embrace new ideas, routinely challenge old ones, and live with paradox will be the effective leader’s premier trait.” – Tom Peters

“The highest challenge inside organizations is to enable each person to contribute his or her unique talents and passion to accomplish the organization’s purpose.” – Stephen R. Covey

“It is never too late to be who you might have been.” – George Eliot

“Leadership is a combination of strategy and character.  If you must be without one, be without the strategy.” – General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

“Trust becomes a verb when you communicate to others their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.” – Stephen R. Covey

“I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life.  The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.” – Mark Twain

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but what you should have accomplished with your ability.” – John Wooden

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.” – Anatole France

“For every failure, there’s an alternative course of action.  You just have to find it.  When you come to a roadblock, take a detour.” – Mary Kay Ash

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” – Harry S. Truman

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison

“Strategy gets you on the playing field, but execution pays the bills.” – George Eubanks

“A life isn’t significant except for isn’t impact on other lives.”  - Jackie Robinson

The mysteries of supermarket pricing

Had to pop down to the local supermarket this evening to stock up in advance of the arrival of guests; which of course meant buying a few items I don't normally buy (such as breakfast cereal)(my brother eats breakfast, I don't).

Of course that meant scrutinising the unfamiliar prices even more closely than usual, as I'm always keen to get the best bang for my buck, grams for my pence, or whatever unit happens to be appropriate. Imagine my shock to see this (I was looking at the branded cereal as I had a voucher for 50p which made it cheaper than own-brand :) )

Lo and behold - 750g of crunchy nut cornflakes markedly cheaper than the smaller 500g box. Odd. Though not unusual for Tesco.

Transient

I decided to tweet my curious find and include the Tesco customer care team @UKTesco

I was surprised to get a response a short time later asking me which store. I was even more surprised to get the following response after that!
(You have to read from the bottom up)

Transient

So there you have it; crazy pricing due to ongoing negotiations, supposedly. In the meantime it pays to keep an eye on what costs what.

TOGAF 9 Exam Pointers

Having been the first of a bunch to take the TOGAF 9 Combined level 1 & 2 exam (and pass, I might add ☺) I thought I would share my general tips about the exam as I've been asked by loads of my colleagues who are about to take it.

Please note, there are strict disclaimers to sign about keeping exam material confidential, so I will not be sharing any of that here - however, some of my own study observations are mine and mine alone, and also some basic mechanics of the test are helpful for first-timers. I don't see why they couldn't tell you this upfront to reduce anxiety.   

Study Tips

1) I put everything in a mindmap in order to visualise the whole structure and relate concepts. I took everything our tutor had highlighted and put it here, along with keywords to remember and his other useful tips for passing. By doing this, in one whole view you can see everything you need to know and remember to pass level 1.

I HAVE HAD MANY REQUESTS FOR THE MINDMAP, in fact it has become a bit unmanageable - so you can now access a small pack of documents for a small donation, which also includes some example exam questions too.. The document pack contains mindmaps in the following format:

.mm = freemind
.mmap = mindjet
.xmind = xmind

 

The TOGAF mindmap is large - this is just a small section

My personal tips for Scenario questions (part 2 of the exam)

Please note, these are my personal tips based on my experience of one exam. They are therefore not scientifically/statistically valid, so be prepared to junk them if they don't apply. That said, maybe they will:

1) when looking at an answer, don't just consider the things they have covered in the answer to gauge its correctness, but consider the things that are missing in the others. If you read the rationale given on the example answers, you'll see why.
 
2) USE THE BOOK. Do not guess, even if you think you know it. In particular, remember there is stuff that may not have been taught. So, for example, in the BOOK there are recommendations about additions to process or other little snippets we never covered. You can't learn it in all in advance, but if you use the book during the exam (and know your way around it) you'll find the missing stuff.
 
3) Be careful with scenarios, not to over complicate them and distract yourself. But, consider reading at least the last 30% of the scenario (after you've read the question) - in most cases I found this was necessary to give the right context to the question. This helps avoid situations where there may be deliberate confusion going on with "fully correct" answers, but for different ADM phases. I get the sense that the examiner wants you to figure the phase(s) you are entering, in or exiting - and the answers alone may not establish that. 

For those that think having access to the book makes everything trivial - be careful. As you know, some concepts are not grouped as individual parts of the book. One particular scenario question took me almost 25 minutes to try and complete, much of it scanning backwards and forwards - and in the end, I gave up on the book and used instinct, because it was not helping me. (There are usability issues with the book too, see below).

Exam Mechanics Tips

First things First: you might have been allocated a 4 hour slot, but this is not the time you get to take the exam. This slot includes registration, signing everything, tutorial time, wrap up etc. For the exams you get:

  • 60 minutes max  for Level 1 = 40 multiple choice questions
  • 90 minutes max for Level 2 = 8 scenario questions
  • You cannot use time from level 1 to carry over to level 2
  • The exams run straight from one to the other  - there is no pause in between
  • You can end early if you so wish - e.g. end level 1 after 40 minutes and go straight into level 2.

So - it's a straight 2.5 hour session plus registration etc. So, as with any exam, my advice is don't eat and drink beforehand!

I had to hand over all belongings, including keys and watch and of course, smartphone. So, you might as well take as little as possible with you to the exam centre.

The exam is conducted on a PC equipped with keyboard & mouse. You barely have to use the keyboard.

Writing materials are provided in the form of a marker pen and 2 laminated sheets of paper, a rather baffling solution. I had to ask for an eraser, concerned I might use all the sheets. I found this a generally unsatisfactory solution - felt tip too blunt, eraser ineffective. But that's it, that's what you have to deal with.

There is a tutorial to watch on the PC first about how the exam system works. I strongly recommend watching this as it explains how you can mark your answers for review and go back to them later if you have time.

The open book part of the exam allows reference to the TOGAF 9 book in PDF form. I found this system very clunky. The exam runs full screen (kiosk mode) on the PC and you cannot change this. The PDF opens up in front. You can move this and resize it to help see the content side by side, but it is a poor user experience. You could not maximise it. My screem was at most a 15 inch monitor running at, what I suspect was 1280x800 resolution. It was appalling, and barely possible to read the PDF, especially the diagrams. The whole thing opened with the contents window on the left of the PDF reader way too small and even if resized, it kept resetting back to this.

I'm not sure if the PDF reader was an old version or something customised - but searching was a poor exerience: slow; and the FIND button, while helpfully on screen, took up a load of really valuable screen estate. I was unimpressed with the setup in terms of usability.

There is only one cure for this (unless you get a better PC system): know the book as much as you can in advance.

The system allows you to leave questions unanswered if you wish and also "mark" (i.e. flag) them for review. After the last question you then have a summary page which shows a list of all your questions and which are unanswered and "marked". You can go back to any question at this stage to continue working on it. I finished early, but used all the time available via this review screen to go back and check all my uncertainties. The exam system itself is easy to use and navigate - I had no complaints with this.

Your time remaining is shown at the top right of the screen in minutes and seconds at all times. I had no access to any other clocks/watches other than looking at the sun.   

And if you are taking your exam soon: Good Luck!

Fixing the desk-spaghetti

This weekend I decided to tackle the mounting cable problem on my desk. Which was somewhat serendiptous, as at the moment I'm also involved in a project at work about "workplace transformation" that also happens to include small desks over-run with cables.

The problem arose because I had a "laptop refresh" at work from a Dell to an HP and consequently could not use my existing docking station. (Over the years I have come to love the simplicity and tidiness a docking station provides, especially at home.)  The company does not provide docking stations, but I was fortunate that my last work and personal laptops were the same model, so I had my own dock.

Anyway - the cable problem was getting out of control with power cable, monitor cable, network cable, USB printer cable, USB wireless keyboard adapter, mouse cable, microphone cable (for VOIP calls), USB webcam cable, and 2 x audio cables - one for my TV/Monitor and one for the cinema system. Practically every slot on the PC was used up, and unlike the old Dell, the ports on the HP Elitebook are spread round 3 sides of the machine, so it's all exceedingly messy when it's all wired up.

Thankfully my desk is a home-made affair: a slab of board strung between two walls mounted on batons. I'm no DIY expert, but this setup has done me proud since 2003. So, there is no problem drilling it, making holes in it, or generally sticking things to it. It already has several holes to take cables from the top to the underside; and also has plenty of plastic trunking already screwed underneath along the back to keep cables tidy. I even have a small cisco network switch mounted to the underside to provide me with four network ports. 

However, so far I have not had any trunking on top of the desk, because I've not had that many cables needing to trail across it. That's changed with the new laptop, as well as the addition of docks for my blackberry and iPhone. 

The piece de resistance in sorting all my required cables out on top of the desk is some trunking I have used many times in my recording studio from studio-spares

This trunking comes in different sizes, but the great thing is you can stick it down with the built in double sided pad, or screw it down. You can cut it to size and it is very easy to insert and remove cables even in situ. I mounted some of this along my desk edges (side and back) and also from front to back underneath, so that I could bring audio cables out to the audio ports on the PC. It has made a huge difference. 

My other trick was to mount a USB hub on the wall (just using "no more nails" double sided tape) behind my TV/Monitor, which is also wall mounted. This means only one cable running to a USB port on the laptop, back to the hub. Then all the devices are plugged into that, such as printer. All these cables are almost totally concealed now. Result.  

 

Some customer service tips for couriers

I find couriers one of the hardest of service organisations to deal with, so here are some suggestions to substantially improve their customer service.
  1. The reason you had to leave a card is because I'm not available during the day. Thus if you are going to leave a contact number, make sure it's available AT NIGHT
  2. It's all very well leaving a card to arrange web redelivery - but the whole benefit of this is that you can relieve yourself of responsibility of my parcel sooner & more reliably. So it's not acceptable that I can't arrange it for the forthcoming day, especially when you can still have at least 24 hours to organise it. You managed the logistics in <24 hours when it was sent, so why not again?
  3. If you're going to leave something in a safe and secure space, at least leave a card to say so. I'm indeed grateful for your trouble, but it could be there for weeks because you've hidden it so well. Just a card will do.
  4. Why not answer the phone once in a while? Some of us customers are actually friendly and we're actually trying to help you discharge your duties. Oh, and being able to call the LOCAL branch is kind of more helpful since that's where you have my parcel. 
  5. Get your driver to wait more than 8 seconds after knocking on the door. Once in a while I'm on a call, in the shower, or just plain on-the-top-floor - it's silly for him to miss me, or for me to fall down the stairs getting to him. 
This is real basic stuff - driven by customer experience and customer satisfaction - not targets and KPIs and time-based metrics. Of course, if you follow these above rules, you'll actually deliver more parcels more successfully anyway. Win-win wouldn't you say?

There are two ways to save money...

There are two ways to save money without undermining what you do: reduce cost and cut wastage.

When I recently invested in my bread machine I thought I was probably doing the former - reducing cost - because I anticipated the price of raw ingredients to be much less than the price of the finished product (a loaf of bread). 

It turns out this assumption is not as starkly true as I had hoped. Sure - there is a lower price point for raw ingredients, but it's more marginal than I had imagined. Silly me for not doing my ROI (return on investment) calculations based on more detailed research/discovery.

Notwithstanding, my bread machine is still saving me loads. How?

Because, for one, it's cutting down wastage. The ability to make my bread "on demand", to make the appropriate quantities I need, AND the ability to store the ingredients until they are needed (rather than keep unused bread until it is mouldy) means my purchasing and consumption patterns are much more closely aligned. I'm putting less into the system, but still getting what I need out. And it's fresher - i.e. better quality. In a sense, my process is more lean.

But there's a third factor two - possibly even the most significant - that is contributing to my results: transformation.

That's right - I have transformed my behaviour. And this is the third way to cut costs - by changing what you do.

In the case of the bread maker, my behaviour has changed so that I eat more bread, more often. This change in behaviour translates into less eating of other, more costly, foodstuffs (such as snacks and ready meals). And that is where the significant savings come. If I can feed myself on bread and soup for a day, it'll cost me, say £2 - when I might otherwise have spent £5 or £10 on alternatives (TV dinners, take aways, or even home-cooked meat & two-veg). The effect of transformation is stark. 

And this is how it applies in business too - technology is an enabler. It may slice a bit of cost off here, enable a slightly more efficient process there - but ultimately, it's by transformation - change in behaviour - that the big bucks can be saved. 

So there you go - the essence of business process transformation in a nutshell - or indeed, a bread machine.

Stigma still very much in evidence at Management Today

Given the recent high-profile campaign by ReThink, I was saddened, disappointed and perhaps even slightly disgusted to read an article in management today that demonstrates - with textbook accuracy - the prejudice and stigma towards mental health issues that still exist today. It's not clear whether it is the result of ignorance or arrogance on the part of the author, in an attempt to be humourous - but for me, it doesn't work. It's embarassing. It's a publication that you think could do better.

The article is a commentary on a BT Tradespace survey that suggests Stephen Fry would be the small businesses'  dream employee. Unfortunately Management Today doesn't show the same insight and understanding as those small business, as it goes on to say:

But Fry has managed to trump them all, and by some distance too. Our only alarm is that – judging by his much-publicised walk-out from the West End a few years ago – he doesn’t have a great track record for dealing with pressure.

False Alarm. Whatever judgement is being exercised here, it is wrong. Fry's "much-publicised walk-out" was not a failure to deal with pressure - but by his own frank and moving admission, a result of a deeply dark period manifesting from his bi-polar disorder. Bi-polar is an illness, a malfunction - like a broken leg -  not a character weakness, as the author implies. Hey, but never let the facts get in the way of a good story?

In fact, anyone following Fry's life in detail through his twitter "tweets" will be staggered at the man's ability to cram twice as much as the rest of us into his day - not only responding to the thousands of followers who "tweet" to him daily, but jet-setting left, right and centre between TV sets, riding stubborn mules up mexican mountains, amidst writing and recording and everything else he does. The man is an inspiration.

Thankfully UK small businesses seem to recognise this - while the hand that feeds them - Management Today - should know better.