4.12.11

Workflows pentru Mac OS Snow Leopard

Un Guerilla Project Manager e un productivity freak, si la fel sunt si eu. Inspirandu-ma din articolul lui Steve Pavlina Sharpen the Saw, in care Steve Pavlina pledeaza pentru folosirea timpului liber nu doar pentru relaxare ("drop the saw"), dar si pentru a face diverse lucruri ca sa devenim mai productivi ("sharpen the saw"), am folosit o jumatate de zi ca sa studiez posibilitati de automatizare cu Automator-ul din Mac OS. Ca si utilizator de Windows trezit intr-o dimineata buimac in lumea Mac OS (mi-am luat un Macbook Air pentru ca era singurul ultra-portabil de pe piata care era la fel cu minunatul meu Toshiba Portege, pe care l-am dat cand am schimbat jobul si care intre timp nu se mai fabrica), am ajuns in scurt timp sa iubesc Mac OS si sa renunt la ideea de a pune Windows pe Macbook. Dar sunt unele features ale Windows-ului care sunt grozave pentru productivitate si pe care nu le-am regasit in Mac OS, cum ar fi Cut & Paste de fisiere si Send to Mail direct de la clic dreapta pe fisier. Automatorul parea sa fie solutia la aceste probleme.

De asemeni utilizam in Windows Create New Text Document, Create New Word Document, etc, direct dintr-un director. Cautand pe web, se pare ca a existat acum mult timp un utilitar pentru Mac numit NuFile care facea exact asta, dar nu mai este intretinut si nu functioneaza pe Leopard. Dar se poate foarte simplu in Automator.

Asa ca sa le luam pe rand:
In loc de Cut and Paste am facut un worflow foarte simplu pe care l-am numit Move. In automator (se gaseste in Applications), dati new service.

Workflowul este de fapt o succesiune de operatii care se executa ca un script, de aceea ceea ce trebuie sa facem in continuare este sa spunem care sunt acesti pasi. In "Service receives selected" selectati "Files and folders" in "Finder.app". Aceasta arata Automatorului ca serviciul este un plugin pentru Finder si se aplica pe fisiere si directoare. Din stanga, din meniul Actions, alegem "Files and Folders" si actiunea "Get Selected Finder Items". Aceasta spune Automatorului sa ia selectia curenta din Finder si sa o paseze ca valoare pentru actiunea urmatoare. Pentru actiunea urmatoare, tot din meniul "Files and Folders" alegem actiunea "Move Finder Items", unde alegem un director default, de exemplu Documents. Move Finder Items nu e o actiune pe care sa o lasam 100% automata, deoarece vrem sa putem alege destinatia. De aceea, din ultima actiune dam clic pe options si bifam "Show this action when the workflow runs", ca mai jos:


Il salvam cu numele Move. La clic in Finder pe numele unui fisier sau director (merge si pe selectie multipla), se vede actiunea Move, ultima optiune a meniului contextual. Dau clic pe Move si apare fereastra de dialog:


De aici aleg unde sa dau Move.

Nu e la fel ca si Cut & Paste din Windows, dar deocamdata imi pare mult mai util pentru ca nu mai trebuie sa navighezi printre fisiere pana la destinatie si apoi sa revii la calea initiala.

In acelasi mod am creat automatorul "Send to gmail", care arata ca mai jos:


Ce e special la acest automator este ca am folosit o variabila pe care am denumit-o Files, pe care o initializez dupa primul pas cu actiunea "Set Value of Variable" si pe care o folosesc la Subject ca sa includa informatii despre numele attachmentului. De asemeni, foloseste ca si cont de mail contul de gmail (am mai multe), de aceea am botezat automatorul "Send to gmail". In mod asemanator mi-am facut un automator "Send to outlook" pe care il folosesc pentru mailul de serviciu, pentru ca datorita infrastructurii din firma trebuie sa folosesc Outlook pentru Mac pentru mailul de la firma.

Ca si observatie, daca dai Send to gmail pe un director, Automatorul il va zipui si atasa ca arhiva (fara ca eu sa fi precizat asa ceva in Automator). Dragut, nu?

N-o sa mai insist, prezint mai jos restul automatorilor pe care i-am facut:
Create New Text File direct din Finder:

Create New Excel Document direct din Finder:

Create New Word Document din Finder:

3.12.11

Communicating benefits

An important activity in Program Management is the setting, management and communication of benefits. It is not enough to carry out large-scale activities that lead to real improvements, if such improvements are understood only by a handful of top managers. A Program Manager must lobby for his Program and communicate its benefits, while making sure that all those affected by the program's results see its benefits as such. For example, when launching a new suite of products, although studies show that these products are required by the market, customers will not benefit from them if sellers were not trained and motivated to promote them. Similarly, if the organization does not provide visibility about sales growth after launching these new products, the team who worked on the program and those who were forced to make further efforts to adapt to change will not understand if their efforts mattered. Without this effort on training, communication, follow-up on training and support, the success of the program is seriously endangered, and also the organization's confidence in future initiatives may be undermined. An organization that does not believe in large-scale transformations becomes apathetic and will be quickly surprised by market movements or competition. So, before starting the program, set realistic goals for targeted change. Communicate these objectives (see chapter 12.4 Program Governance), check during the journey that they remain realistic and truly perform the work required on communication. Program Managers use the following techniques for managing and communicating the benefits, and you should make sure the designated Program Manager in your organization uses them:

Communication plan
This plan contains information about the benefits that must be communicated, and to whom. The audience is split in groups affected by the program (stakeholders) based on individual interests. Who needs that information, when (how often), and which is the most effective communication form?

Benefits Register
Similar to the concept of risk register and open problems in Project Management, the Program Management has a Benefits Registry, which lists all the benefits provided, how to touch, how to measure them, the frequency of monitoring and responsible roles in achieving benefits.

Training Plan
To ensure that all concerned benefit from improvements brought by the program, a training strategy is required. Usually, in extensive changes, training is done in several iterations, checking at each iteration the readiness of the employees. For example, in a information system implementation, the users are trained during an intensive program and then they are verify with a test a few days before the entry into production, then the entry into production, users working in the new system in the workshops, together the implementation team.

Transition Plan
Similar to the transition plan in project management, which is the hand-over of complete deliverables to their use in production, in the case of Program Management it is necessary to establish responsibility for maintaining benefits after the program is complete and operational. For example, when implementing an ERP system, before launching it, a support team should be established and a support line communicated, where users can call to request additional information. It is also important to establish a method to promote the new system and nominate champions that will gather additional requirements arising from the use of the system in production.

Support Plan
The inherent difficulties in using the results of a program can be planned and managed through a support plan. This plan should contain information about the location of the new manuals and procedures, who can give information about new procedures, and a way to frequently collect and disseminate the most common issues with how to resolve them.

Managing Benefits Process




Figure above presents the process of benefits management and how the above techniques can be used in the process. The process begins with the formalization and analysis of the benefits. The program was born as a result of targeted benefits, so this step is just to make sure they are formally stated. During analysis, the benefits are prioritized and methods of measurement are established. The Program Manager needs to plan how they will be implemented, monitored and progress communicated. As the objectives are achieved, information is communicated to those interested. At the end of the program, benefits are handed over to operations.

28.10.11

Antreprenor pentru viitor

Vineri, 21 octombrie si sambata, 22 octombrie am tinut primele 2 seminarii de "Management antreprenorial" din cadrul proiectului Antreprenor pentru viitor, desfasurat din fonduri europene de catre Bucharest School of Management. "Antreprenor pentru viitor" este un proiect pe care in acest moment il vad de mare impact, in care 200 de antreprenori aflati in dificultate au posibilitatea sa intre in contact, sa se instruiasca dupa o curicula in stilul MBA-ului Romano-Canadian, dar mult prescurtata, sa faca un plan de afaceri pe care vor primi feedback de la trainerii MBA-ului si sa obtina o finantare de 10.000 de euro daca se afla printre primele 20 de planuri de afaceri cele mai bune. Si alte planuri de afaceri pot fi considerate viabile si echipa BSM isi propune sa gaseasca "business angels" pentru acestea. Antreprenorii sunt din Bucuresti si Cluj, iar seminariile se fac la fel, in Bucuresti si Cluj.

Am avut cateva mari indoieli cu privire la succesul pe care il vor avea aceste seminarii, care din fericire au fost spulberate de roza realitate. Mi-era teama ca:

1. Antreprenorii din audienta sunt in fapt interesati doar de banii pusi in joc; probabil e adevarat pentru unii dintre ei, dar este si suficient de motivant ca sa traga tare la cursuri, pentru ca isi dau seama ca vor fi evaluati mai bine daca pun in practica ceea ce incercam noi sa predam. Eu mi-am propus sa ramana cu ceva dupa acest seminar de Management Antreprenorial indiferent de rezultatul evaluarii planului de afaceri, si ei au raspuns cu entuziasm, ceea ce a fost o surpriza tare placuta.

2. Antreprenorii nu vor veni la cursuri; de fapt au venit toti si au stat si inainte si dupa ore de vorba cu mine si cu colegii lor, dezbatand diverse probleme si facandu-si unii altora propuneri de afaceri. Chiar si eu am beneficiat in mod suprinzator de acest networking, si mi-am facut cateva contacte care ma vor ajuta foarte tare pe viitor.

3. Antreprenorii vor fi dezinteresati, plictisiti sau blazati de o abordare mai academica asupra mediului de afaceri, ca cea dintr-un curs de management; aici si eu m-am straduit sa vorbesc pe limba lor, sa le insuflu entuziasm si sa ii focalizez pe ceea ce pot ei controla: propria strategie, propria echipa si propriile abilitati. Adesea, frustrarile legate de mediul economic si de afaceri au iesit la suprafata sub forma de "La noi nu se aplica" si "La noi statul ia, nu da"; dar incet, incet am canalizat discutia spre "Poate ar fi mai bine daca as sti taxe sau as consulta un specialist pe taxe" si "Gata, ma inscriu la masterat de drept comercial sau ma duc la un avocat".

4. Eu nu voi avea ceva nou sau util sa le spun acestor oameni. Aici suprizele placute au fost multiple: Au considerat ca am ceva interesant de spus lumii, au invatat si din studiile de caz (romanesti) pregatite cu ajutorul colegului meu Adrian Chindis si au invatat unii de la altii, tot dezbatand si contrazicandu-se. Si eu am invatat de la ei tot felul de lucruri si mi-a placut entuziasmul pe care nu il asteptam de la niste antreprenori in dificultate.

Asadar, despre ce e vorba in cursul asta?

Acest curs are ca obiectiv principal să convingă antreprenorii ca notiunile și abilitățile de baza de management le sunt de ajutor pentru dezvoltarea unei afaceri sustenabile și pentru a face față situațiilor dificile. Iși propune să motiveze antreprenorii să gândească strategic și să planifice mai degrabă decât să exploateze pur și simplu o oportunitate întâlnită.

Acest obiectiv global este atins prin:
- furnizarea tehnicilor si framework-urilor de analiza necesare antreprenorilor pentru identificare oportunităților;
- furnizarea instrumentelor de evaluare pentru a vedea dacă sunt capabili să capitalizeze ideea pe care o au pentru afacerea lor;
- furnizarea instrumentelor de articulare a viziunii, misiunii, valorilor si planului de implementare, cu trimitere catre cursul de „Planificare a afacerii”.

Cursul porneste de la premisa ca ideea afacerii în sine, oricât de inovatoare, este doar o parte (importanta) a unei afaceri de succes, pe langa aceasta fiind necesare si o echipa, o tactica de implementare si abilitati proprii de management antreprenorial. Acestea alcatuiesc fundamentele unei afaceri sustenabile.

Cursul se concentreaza si da exemple din afacerile actuale, de preferinta de pe piata romaneasca, punand in discutie nume cunoscute cum ar fi Blue Air, EBoda sau Mic.ro. Are o componenta puternica de tehnologie IT si Internet, care nu putea fi ignorata daca cursul se doreste a fi actual.

Alaturi de prezentarea modelelor teoretice, cursul contine un caz ce va fi prezentat ad-hoc inca de la inceputul cursului de catre un cursant voluntar care a mers pe ideea francizei si va expune din experienta sa dificultatile unei astfel de abordari. Franciza este cea mai facila abordare la prima vedere daca ai un capital de investit si doresti sa pornesti pe cont propriu, este printre primele optiuni in cazul unui start-up si de aceea sunt sanse mari ca cineva din auditoriu sa fi incercat acest model. Altfel, se va alege un voluntar care isi va prezenta povestea si facilitatorul va modifica discursul in functie de aceasta, prezentand conceptele teoretice in lumina experientei prezentate si invitand auditoriul sa expuna pareri pe masura ce conceptele teoretice sunt dezvaluite. In plus, alte două minicazuri vor fi înmânate cursanților și vor fi dezbatute.

De asemeni, cursul are ca obiectiv amintirea unor subiecte mai putin familiare, cum ar fi derularea afacerilor in strainatate sau conducerea afacerilor in familie, pentru a furniza idei in plus de dezvoltare a afacerii sau de identificare a unor oportunitati.

Nu în ultimul rând, dorim ca subiectele expuse să constituie o sursă de inspirație și de motivare pentru antreprenori și să determine o ordine mai corectă a priorităților pe care se consumă resursele limitate ale unei afaceri mici.

Recunoscând ca durata de trei ore este suficientă doar pentru deschiderea unor căi spre antreprenoriatul de succes, cursul conține și o listă de lecturi constând în cărți fundamentale de afaceri precum și materiale alese de pe web cu articole valoroase pentru dezvoltarea personală, abilități de management și problematică specifică antreprenoriatului.

27.10.11

Ram Sharan in Bucharest

I was one of the thousands privileged to listen to, and interact live with Ram Charan in Bucharest. Mind the fine irony between "thousands" and "live interaction" and we will move forward to the good stuff :). (But it was really a great opportunity for which I want to thank my manager.)

The workshop was a fast forward of concepts in Ram Charan's latest books.

1. The first session was called "How do leaders cope with difficult times". They do stuff like these:
  • Always keep an eye for unusual places in business to spot new competitors - using technology in a globalization era, the competitors can be anywhere. Web sites for instance can make you visible anywhere you need to, and freedom to travel, work and do business anywhere in the world attracts talented people in new markets with multiple opportunities;
  • They are "fierce" in their journey to achieve their results;
  • They are "visible"; they leave their ivory towers and interact with people in the low ranks; they aknowledge these people have the potential to emit the next improvement idea and the correct image of the business reality; ivory tower - no good. As a personal comment, I was for a year a direct for a manager that wouldn't listen to people in their own team. This ended up ugly for her and the organization and I promised myself then to be smart, to learn from other people mistakes and never to do the same;
  • They are credible;
  • They are very sensitive about how they choose to allocate their time;
  • They trust themselves and therefore make other people trust them;
  • They are over optimistic and over pessimistic at the same time: something like "hope for the best but prepare for the worst"; or better, "things will get ugly but we will be able to cope";
  • They have courage;
  • They are determined and their actions are decisive - this goes alone with the second bullet, they are "fierce";
  • They pay attention to resource allocation and hate waste - sounds like something very general, but it really refers to being able to choosing and to let go of some opportunities if pursuing to many means dissipating the resources of the organization. He talked about the classic Steve Jobs coming-back to run Apple. Apparently, out of 26 de projects, Steve Jobs kept 5 that allowed everybody to focus and create exceptional products. Personal comment: Steve Jobs also had the reputation that he wouldn't listen to anyone when making decisions.
  • They take care of key-employees: during difficult times, these are the first persons hunted by other companies; this is a fresh idea that did not occurred to me before; I always thought difficult times are difficult for employees, period;
  • Communicate and make sure the information flows smoothly in the entire organization; again, not Steve Jobs-like;
  • They drop business lines that are not bringing cash;
  • They look outside-in at their company - as seen by the clients, as seen by the partners; but not as the company sees itself;
  • The budget allocation is dynamic and flexible - this will make a finance specialist such as myself stop and think. I always looked at a budget as something fixed, analyzed the variations and tried to correct; I never thought being flexible with your budget can be a competitive advantage.
I put in bold above the three most important success factors for coping with difficult times, in Ram Sharan's view.

Ram Sharan suggested the next question for self assessment: Which is my personal brand from an execution point of view? I am perceived as a person that is effective and gets things done? - which transited to the next session, Execution.


2. "Execution" session had the same title as the book and had some of the concepts in it.

Each quarter, perform the following analysis:
  • Which are the 10 companies that are known for their ability of getting things done?
  • And how do they do this?
Setting priorities is key in Ram Sharan's speech:
- Determin 3-maximum 5 "laser sharp priorities" for you and your directs;
- Measure progress for the asssigned priorities.
  • create deadlines because they create discipline, focus, energy, cooperation
  • maximum 3-5 deadlines per quarter
- For each dead-line, create a dashboard that shows completion percentage, in a manner that is transparent and visible to everyone. This stimulated collaboration;
- Analyze progress:
  • what causes the results; if the results are negative, analyze the causes; if they are positive, do the same; congratulations when the results are good is not enough; you need to find out what went well and see how you can replicate that;
  • are these results based on some external factors and contexts? if yes, how can you benefit most (or minimize negative impact) and what should be done after they are gone?
  • analyze people's performance; if the results are good, then the cross-departmental teams are good; if the results are poor, the the cross-departmental teams do not work.
3. Talent masters - "Right people in the right jobs"

-Define three success criteria, the example below has been created through interaction with the participants and it refers also to Apple:
  • Different Consumer Experience
  • Modern, Sexy, Young
  • New Team
- Match internal abilities with business needs
- Provide real-tine, constructive, specific, on one-subject only, 60 seconds long, feedback. Any feedback that is above 60 seconds will not be put in practice (and hurts worse, too, I add).
Feedback categories in an importance order:
  • Behavior/attitude
  • Team work
  • Business/functional/technical
Note the emphasis on the human component (2 components out of 3), while the "hard skills" area is represented by 1 component: business, functional, technical.

4. Create a management team that performs

- Selecting team members: focus on "team player" abilities, helping the team to win, not competing against each-other.
- There is a deviant member in each team: identify that persona, bring it on track or eliminate her.
- Perform real time coaching and benchmarking with your competition.

Ram Sharan's entire speech was based on people and their abilities as being the primordial solution to all problems; or at least the solution generator. This is an idea that is embraced by everyone, but is seldom practiced. So I guess there lies your next competitive advantage: right people, right organizational culture is very hard to get for everyone.

28.9.11

Change Management


Change management refers to the set of activities necessary to ensure acceptance and support for the program and its results at both organizational and human level. The existence of a formal change management plan results in increased Return On Investment (ROI), reduced risks associated with any large-scale program and supports those involved in obtaining benefits for which the program was created.
Change approach: Similar with the levels explained in Program governance, we need a two-tier management structure to carry out Change Management activities. A Program needs a board of senior management to meet once a month or at major phases, with the responsibility to review the activities, take decisions and allocate resources to implement change. This can be the Steering Committee. The second level is the Change Management team, whose roles are:
ü  Define the risks and problems that could slow down or endanger implementation and recommend strategies for their elimination, with particular emphasis on organizational and human factors;
ü  Carry out activities to disseminate information and training to raise the knowledge and skills that will be necessary after the adoption of program results;
ü  Prepare personalized plans for top managers and employees affected by the change, which contain presentations of the new business processes and their impact on how operations are carried out routinely;
ü  Recommend strategies to minimize the impact, additional effort or difficulties in ongoing business after the change;
ü  Encourage greater involvement of the sponsors and top managers in the program;
ü  Establish a support system and help those in difficulty after the implementation of program results;
ü  Disseminate and communicate the anticipated benefits continued to ensure acceptance, enthusiasm, performance and to support those affected;
ü  Recommend the necessary organizational changes, including hierarchical and human resources (performance assessment, compensation, benefits, rewards);
Analyze together with those involved and recommend changes in the hierarchical structure, policies, procedures and job descriptions amended in accordance with the changes.

25.9.11

Program Governance


“Program governance” is the name used for all formal mechanisms that must be put in place to ensure alignment between business objectives and deliverables of the program, and ultimately, to ensure the success of the program. These mechanisms are organizational structures, methods and processes that allow the Program Manager to assess whether the program is on track and to order corrective actions if necessary. Their goal is to provide:

1. A structure (virtual team) for necessary decisions related to the program;

2. A method for providing focus to the common goal of all parties involved;

3. A risk and stakeholders requirements management process.

Successful implementation of a program will be managed by managerial teams at four levels, with a clear role and performing a set of activities appropriate to their level of competence:


Level
Participants
Frequency
Objectives
Executive Committee
· C-level
· Program Management Team
Quaterly
· Status
· Sets strategic direction of the program
Steering Committee
· Sponsors, managers
· Program management team
Monthly or on major deliverables
· Status
· Ensure the necessary resources
· Escalation
Program management team
· Project Managers
· Technical Leaders
Weekly
· Progress
· Coordination
· Escalation
Project management team
· Project Managers
· Technical Leaders
Weekly or on demand
· Status
· Coordination
· Solutions approval



The role of each entity is explained below.

The role of the Executive Committee

The Executive Committee shall meet quarterly or more frequently depending on the health of the program and will perform the following roles:
ü  Define the vision of the program, the strategic direction and the appropriate tactical objectives;
ü  Ensure alignment of long-term strategy and program direction;
ü  Monitor all aspects of high-level planning, time, cost, benefits, deliverables and support to achieve the ultimate program benefits;
ü  Support and implementation of decisions required to change business processes and practices;
ü  Review and solve problems that require executive action, such as major changes and strategy issues;
ü  Establish and maintain strategic relationships with suppliers and customers involved in the program.

Role of the Steering Committee:

The Executive Board will meet monthly, at major milestones and at the request of program management team, with the following objectives:
ü  Review of program status;
ü  Approval of deliverables;
ü  To make decisions beyond the authority of the Program Manager.

The Role of Program Management Team:

The program management team includes in addition to the Program Manager, the Project Managers of the components and can include a Program Assistant. The program management team meets weekly and has the following roles:
ü  To plan the following activities and focus on program objectives;
ü  To ensure integration, coordination and correct sequencing of interrelated projects;
ü  To define milestones for the high-level deliverables of the program;
ü  To initiate and prepare governance actions (escalation, meetings, etc.);
ü  To provide progress reports and communicate to those interested;
ü  To communicate and disseminate information on best practices and reusable components from project leaders;
ü  To take proactive measures to manage risk;
ü  To implement the communication plan and change management;
ü  To ensure quality program deliverables.

The Role of Project Management Team:

ü  Planning and coordination of projects, taking into account the vision, objectives and constraints of the program they belong;
ü  Monitoring and reporting for the project;
ü  Provide necessary material and human resources for the project;
ü  Risk management and changes in the project;
ü  Budgeting and financial analysis;
ü  Quality assurance.