Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Network Effect

I have always been a highly social person, an extravert I suppose.  Those personality ass

essments always put me into that sort of category.  I’m a Yellow-Red for instance. 

I’ve made it a priority to reach out internally and externally to people like me and different from me, within the public and private sectors, to build relationships, share ideas, dream, lament, argue or debate, etc.  I knew I was pretty well connected but this recent transition period, sabbatical of sorts, has really highlighted how my network really works.

So many people reached out through LinkedIn, Twitter, and email asking to get together for coffee, lunch, and to see how I was doing.  They shared such positive and affirming comments with me which really helped with getting through this period and to help me figure out what’s next. 

I had well connected friends reaching inside the organizations they work for to see what opportunities there might be that are a good fit for me.  They introduced me to other people who may be able to help.  Everyone was so generous with their time and energy (and money, thanks for all the free coffees and lunches – my turn now!).  You know who you are – thank you so much for being in my court!

I will highlight one friend in particular who is very well connected.  He said that if I wanted to go solo as a consultant he would help me write a business plan and get started – he introduced me to LEAN Canvas.  If I was interested in a role with a particular company, he would get me an introduction to the right people.  He also said that he would reach inside his company to his leadership team to brainstorm an opportunity they might create for me.  You know who you are – thank you so much!

I now have a most exciting role with Softlanding as their Virtual CIO (vCIO) and I really must thank Mat and Shaun from Softlanding for reaching out and believing in me.  I look forward to working with you and the team on exciting initiatives.

Thank you to my LinkedIn network friends and colleagues for your kind, reassuring, and affirming comments in response to me announcing my new role.  I really appreciate you.

If you are reading this and have not yet made it a priority to build a meaningful network, I encourage you to start today.  It just may change your life’s trajectory!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Time to Shift Learning

I received an email recently from LinkedIn Learning offering me a free course on creating infographics using PowerPoint.  So, I decided to give it a go.  I surprised myself by learning new techniques for working with icons, shapes, graphics files, layouts, charts, among others, in PowerPoint.  Did you know that you can merge shapes using union, combine, fragment, intersect, subtract to create new or modified shapes.  One example was to use a lightening bolt shape to ‘cut’ (subtract) from a few letters in the word (a shape) “MIGRAINE”.  It emphasized the pain this represents.  Cool hey.

Since I currently have flexible time available to me, I allowed this free course to prompt me to sign up for 1-month of free LinkedIn Learning! I have wanted to learn Lean and Six Sigma processes for some time so I dove into these topics first.  I was granted my Lean Foundations certificate today.  I will be going deeper into some aspects of this as my interests lead me.

I’m reading a book, recommended by my friend Steven titled Factfulness: Ten reasons we’re wrong about the world – and why things are better than you think.  We are bombarded through the news media, social media, and by friends and family about how bad things are in our world.  According to the authors, most people around the world (they have lots of evidence) are less capable than a chimpanzee of choosing correct answers about world trends and statistics!  We learn and accept incorrect information and perceptions about reality, all the time.  I would like to be more knowledgeable and able to speak more intelligently about reality, especially in these “troubling” times.  This requires ongoing learning.

It’s interesting how when I start to learn in one domain, I get pulled into other seemingly unrelated domains.  For example, I started reading a book on Six Sigma (public library e-book), then added Factfulness (Kindle), then Blockchain (public library e-book), and finally a collection of books on Lean related practices (Kindle).  I’m also learning about Lean Canvas as a way to write business plans – this through blog posts and articles, also free.  I’m now switching amongst these topics depending on what I want to progress with next.  It still amazes me that these books are obtained digitally and instantly.  This in itself would not have been possible without Lean practices being applied to reengineer the supply chain!

Learning is essentially free, other than us investing our time.  YouTube videos of how to assemble, repair, accomplish, ____ (fill in the blank) are free.  Information is often free as are training courses.  Even if you choose to pay for learning materials, as I did for a couple of books, they are substantially less costly when obtained digitally.  Digital continues to change the game for learning and so many other aspects of our lives!

I don’t know exactly where my learning journey will take me but my goal is to gain new and useful knowledge that I can apply both professionally and personally.  I am putting into practice a Lean principle or Kaizen specifically, to continuously improve myself.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Delightful Technology

A friend of mine introduced me to the idea of delighting users of technology.  I don’t know about you but that is not always my experience when using a website, app, or some tech hardware.

I bought an iPhone XR recently and I surprised myself.  I thought I would not care much about the facial ID feature – I was wrong.  It is a delightful experience.  Your messages are secure until you look at them.  You need to enter a password into a website, no problem, allow your face to grant access to your favourite password vault to send the password.  Similarly I now use Apple Pay with my VISA to tap and pay – again my face authorizes the transaction.

Full disclosure, I’m a Microsoft fan.  Their CEO, Satya Nadella, has led a transformation and my opinion is that the result is a company that creates delightful software.  It may not start out that way but their change cadence, driven by agile and cloud computing, continuously (monthly) just makes software and experiences better.

I was recently leading a digital transformation initiative and we adopted Microsoft Teams to support digital workplaces.  While we were piloting and then implementing Teams for various groups, committees, working groups, matrix groups, the stuff that frustrated people about the tool, regularly was addressed and missing features added.  It’s the first time I’ve led something like this where the end result was unknown but definitely better, delightful.

Companies and governments are onto this.  I was speaking with the CIO for Public Services and Procurement Canada recently and she talked about the transformation work for Canadian government.  It was a little shocking to learn that I, as a citizen, can not visit a government website, change my address or other profile details, and expect the change to find its way through all government agencies.  I would have to contact all the agencies which have my information and have it changed for each.  Okay, this is not delightful, but it will one day be possible to accomplish through a single contact.

Delightful experiences with technology are becoming a differentiator for companies and public sector entities.  I think those that get it and do it, will win!