Open post

Everyone has a perfect competence

Being a good team player is essential in delivering under pressure.  Knowing what to do, when to do it and why are critical demonstrations of individual competency too often dissolved into the melange of ‘teamwork’.

Collaborating in today’s environment is as much performance art as it is a team sport, and like both of these activities it depends on whole hearted engagement.

Depending on the role you play in the team, you’ll often be asked to contribute – and if you’re in a good team – to take the starring role as the need arises.

And this is where things can get messy – what if standing up and taking centre stage is not your thing?

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t participate – it just means that you need to engage others, especially your team leader,  to show off your mastery of the 3Dub.*

From the team leader perspective, understanding your performers (which is really what everyone in the workforce is) is vital. This is where tools like the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) can give critical insights for managing the stars in your team.

Often overlooked in the stampede to apply the skill levels is the first half of the SFIA framework – the generic capabilities.  This half alone can help to profile a highly skilled personality by showing their preferred working styles, and from that any team leader can work out how best to support individual levels of personal capability.

Of course, it doesn’t excuse the need to apply common sense and any team leader, scrum master, project manager should be aware of the need to address the personal capabilities of their team members to ensure they can shine in their 3Dub moment.

Everyone deserves their moment for a perfect score where what they know and how they work are allowed to shine.   A perfect performance, like a perfect score.

*3Dub is the ‘what to do, when to do it and why’ moment that is the test of absolute competence that comes to all at some – or several – points in a delivery scenario.  Failure is an option, but then so is stepping up first.
Open post

Courage. Leaders need it.

Looking back – or the ‘rear view mirror’ approach – is considered by many to be the source of insight and learning, as much for what to do as what NOT to do.

For emerging leaders at every level, this approach can be both terrifying and exhilarating.

Leading others means to be aware of the context of one’s leadership as much as it is about one’s style. For that reason, leadership isn’t a static topic – and perhaps, is something that can’t really be ‘taught’ in the traditional sense.

However, the one constant in leadership – sometimes writ large, sometimes a footnote – is the need for courage. Not fearlessness, although that helps – but the willingness to make a decision and stick to it, steering a confident course for followers. This willingness of people to follow reflects leadership ability, but questioning a leader’s judgment is the root of leadership failure. In a communications world increasingly dependent on constant change, social opinion and groupthink for relevance, leadership can be a personally risky business.

This is why not all leadership training can be created equal and why not all leaders of the past or the present can be effective teachers for tomorrow: because leadership – and the training of it – is a moving target.

Does leadership success in, say WW2 have the same characteristics as it did in the Vietnam War? Or is successful leadership of Google the same as it is for Microsoft or even Apple? Are the skills of political leadership the same everywhere? The answer is obviously no, because strong leadership is contextual to the situation of the leader. The courage they require is commensurate with the size of the challenge they’re facing and their ability to share and communicate this with those who follow them, knowing that many will do this blindly. Will it take more courage to be a leader tomorrow than it did yesterday? Are the skills the same… or different because of context?

Shaping tomorrow’s leadership

We’re entering a management era where shared social value – between an organisation and the communities, citizens and stakeholder it serves – will shape tomorrow’s leadership. And that management era will coexist with the powerful influence of social media, global communication and near real time discussion of leadership judgement and decision making.

While navigating those treacherous waters, leaders of tomorrow’s shared value organisations will balance a heavy burden of ethical choices both personal and corporate, steering a path through citizen/consumer trust and economic benefits, around shareholder expectations versus obligations to workers and importantly, the choices of disclosure versus knowledge. Data gives tomorrow’s leaders the keys to a kingdom never seen before, but no instructions about leading the way through it. As they shape their future, emerging leaders will face an endless commentary on their decisions and judgement, more so than their intentions and outcomes. Staying the course in the face of criticism, courage in holding on to conviction is what will determine true leadership.

How to steer forward? Distilling the rear view lessons taught by failures of ethics, courage and conscience is a worthy challenge today’s leaders should consider – and through it, shape their own leadership legacies.

This blog first appeared on

Open post

Would you let a robot cut your hair?

Any workforce and all management is thinking about tomorrow.  The skills we need, how we’ll manage with remote workforces, managing automated worforces. How we’ll deal with all the HR issues we have today – like absenteeism, sick days, low performance…but really, will they be issues?

If we have remote workforces and the technology to engage them properly – and the work for them to do that they are a) capable of doing and b) happy to do – won’t that have a natural knock on effect to lower issues?

Of course, there will be the ongoing problems with isolation and human contact but proper profiling and work allocation, with calibrated contact models (think ‘employee service’ instead of customer service and you’ll have the idea) and this should all look completely different.

Tomorrow’s problems won’t be because of today’s issues.

Tomorrow issues will be how we manage the work itself, who does it and how – and this is where the work of the future is more than just about the skills we’ll need.

Work as we know it today is designed the way it is because of the way computer software, early automation and process was designed.  There was nothing organic about it – it was all designed to align with the time and motion studies of the early twentieth century and the software business rules that originated in the 1970’s.   Process has tied organisations in knots since the first computer terminal had an interface.

So how to unpick that?

Work in the old days (before accelerated systematisation – say, 1950s) regardless of whether it was office or manufacturing was done in organic, logical steps that included all of those who wanted to work and could.  Sure populations were smaller, things were less complicated, systems did not exist for continuous improvement and things took a bit longer.  Compare that to today:  we have process snarls that kill efficiency gains, technologies that can halt business for days, vulnerabilities that defy capture and whole workforces marginalised because they don’t fit the ‘workforce models’.

This means that the workforce changes we need to see for the future – especially in streamlined back office operations, in so called digital transformations – could look back to what did work in the past. Community, sharing, trust. Employee loyalty and confidence.   What did these have in common?  People.  Is it reasonable to design work for people AND work for robots?  The skill for technologists and business analysts alike (and ok, solution designers) is how to separate the work that people can and should do, from the work they rush to design for automation.  The new skill in digital will be how far you can humanise work, not the opposite.

For today, that translates as  work that can best be done by people should be done by people, and things that benefit from digitisation should be designed for optimisation by that new army of automation.

This means a distinct workforce design, different work architecture and an overhaul of the work design architecture inherent in software and application (apps) business rules.

What’s wrong with simple batching and consolidation techniques?  Let’s move away from today’s assumption of how things should be done and move to how they can best be done.

After all, let’s imagine the future as we’re racing to that vision: would you really let robot cut your hair?


Robotbarber pic courtesy of PC Mag 21032012