This category contains 36 posts

Commitment as a Facilitation Weapon?

I recently finished reading “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Cialdini. The six ‘weapons of influence’ that he describes in the book are fascinating and I found myself thinking about how any influence tool can be used for good or ill. One of the principles that caught my attention with respect to the work that … Continue reading

How Can Planning Poker Improve Software Requirements?

Have you ever started implementing a software feature from a specification that seemed to be complete, only to find that almost every time you asked a question you uncovered another business requirement? Hi John – I’m working on the ‘Approve’ button and just want to confirm the location:  it should appear at the bottom right, … Continue reading

Plan – Do – Check – Adjust: so simple yet so elusive… Why?

The PDCA (or Shewhart’s cycle) popularized by Edward Deming in the early 1950 is one of the most effective execution, problem solving and continuous learning tools in many organizations’ toolkit. Yet, its practice remains elusive today. Let’s examine it in detail. First, the plan. How good are the plans you have seen, used or followed? … Continue reading

Everybody wants it yesterday! How to deliver major improvements quickly?

As management consultant, I have often been asked this question in performance conversations with executives: “How can I get results quicker?” Executives are often disappointed by the time major change initiatives take to deliver real results, if they ever do succeed. According to McKinsey research, 70% of change projects fail [to deliver the expected results]. … Continue reading

When it comes to solving business performance problems, is there anything new?

The business unit you are responsible for is failing to achieve its performance objectives. Perhaps sales are lagging, profits are decreasing, gross margin is below target, product quality targets are not achieved, investment projects are not delivering the expected payback, customer complaints and after-sales costs are too high, or promised delivery dates are missed, etc. … Continue reading

Secrets to Powerful Joint Ventures

Joint ventures are tricky business. It involves the blending of two paradigms that can fail without cross-process discipline in place that ensures a transition and sustainable change. MCKinsey & Co just published a great podcast on the topic which can be found here. The conversation touches on the causes of joint venture failures. These include: … Continue reading

How to keep spirits high on a sinking ship

Even when the water is rising, there are ways to help team members remain focused and outperform the storm. Don’t you find the list of things people want to do when told they only have a little amount of time on earth with us amazing? Why didn’t they do these things before? For organizations that … Continue reading

CEO Succession: to be graceful or a goose?

Over the holidays I was catching up with a former CEO. He said one of the biggest challenges for him was knowing when was the best time to leave the top spot. The average tenure for all CEOs is around 8.6 years, half that time for the Fortune 500 CEOs. A 2013 study by Xueming … Continue reading

As a business leader, what strategies exist for thinking about the future?

Ambiguity in the road ahead is part of what makes life interesting. Everyone thinks about the future, especially this time of year. As an entrepreneur at heart and business venture and strategy opportunist in practice, I’m constantly looking around and asking, what’s coming next? Where is it all going? Jeffrey Gedmin of the Harvard Business … Continue reading

Visualizing Retrospective Priorities

We tried a new retrospective prioritization/voting technique this week that worked really well. After we had generated and discussed all of our ideas for improvement, it was clear to me that there were several excellent ideas and it would be hard to use our regular voting technique to single out one or two. In fact, … Continue reading