May 15th, 2011 // 9:12 pm @ Taki Tsaklanos
May 15th, 2011 // 8:50 pm @ Taki Tsaklanos
The seven principles that Steve Jobs recommend, from his experience :
- Do what you love
- Put a dent in the universe
- Kick start your brain
- Sell dreams, not products
- Say no to 1.000 things
- Create insanely great experiences
- Master the message
August 15th, 2010 // 11:22 pm @ Taki Tsaklanos
I found this quote from Roland Vandamme, a Belgian finance advisor, on his website analysenet.be. Extremely recognizable in day-to-day life, it’s worth reminding yourself (even daily).
Power is an illusion.
The stock market is no exception on that rule.
Manipulation and fraud result in big imbalances, and hence big potentials for profit, for those who see that game.
(original quote in dutch)
Macht is een illusie.
De beurs is daarop geen uitzondering.
Manipulatie en fraude veroorzaken grote onevenwichten, en daardoor al even grote winstkansen, voor hen die het spel doorzien.
A nice and very realistic insight!
July 31st, 2010 // 6:00 pm @ Taki Tsaklanos
I have been working the past 2 years as a programme manager on a large account. So my view on things in this article comes from a function in a servicing company in the world of digital. Quite convinced the below principles apply to all area’s, though in a supplier/client setting.
How does a programme manager need to organize people, roles and responsibilities (on a high level) in order to achieve success? I am convinced the key is to start thinking outside-in! Let me explain.
A programme manager is actually the bridge between the business (in this case the client) and the production teams (in this case a digital services company). He needs to understand both worlds and must be able to combine them. Understanding both worlds is key, but combining them is a key success factor in my opinion.
I have combined those two worlds by using the principle of mirroring. It’s a way of organizing the service you deliver in order to match (“mirror”) as much as possible the needs of the business. Of course, such a thinking always start from the business point of view, i.e. the client. Remember, outside-in is the way to go.
You could look at it as a matrix organization. It’s about combining the skills and talents you have in the servicing company (which are logically structured in the way it fits best the company’s strategy) with the necessary knowledge area’s for the business (client’s needs).
I would summarize it as “a matrix organization based on the principle of mirroring”. Now that one sentence may sound complex, but if you think about it, it’s logic and even rather simple. Of course, implementing it in a right way and making it work in an efficient way, is a key challenge (but that’s not the topic of this article, I only look at the matter on a higher level).
The outside-in thinking I have been talking about, is of course the opposite of inside-out. I have seen organizations in the past where the inside-out principle was governing. It results in serious barriers in achieving client’s goals. I am convinced inside-out thinking can only work in one situation: that’s where the company or the team don’t have (or don’t want to have) a strategic competitive advantage. In those cases, yes, you could apply the inside-out thinking. In my opinion though, it’s the only one …
July 31st, 2010 // 5:59 pm @ Taki Tsaklanos
When working in a start-up in the digital area, I saw in the past that there is one critical success factor: it’s vision. If you want to succeed with a startup, you better make sure you have people with which you share the same vision on the matter specifically that you want to offer. Moreover, on a higher digital strategy level, you better share the same vision. Why is that? It’s because the direction of your small company or startup project will change when growing, and you almost for sure will touch new area’s.
So who is sharing the same vision as I do (just have a look on my site here and you know how I think)? Let me know via Twitter, Linkedin, …
July 27th, 2010 // 1:09 am @ Taki Tsaklanos
This is the spirit I love (quote from Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley):
“We want to be one of the three big players in the social Internet”
July 21st, 2010 // 3:56 pm @ Taki Tsaklanos
I was just reading a very interesting article on McKinsey Quarterly, entitled “The case for behavioural strategy“. Very probably I’ll blog something about it, but in the meanwhile there was one specific sentence that impressed me:
“It is through teamwork, and the process that organizes it, that we seek a high-quality outcome.”
July 5th, 2010 // 7:53 pm @ Taki Tsaklanos
During the past years, I have occupied the function of project manager in web projects. I learned sometimes the hard way, by trial and error. The methodology discussions have been hot several times. As a programme manager, I was leading several project managers. I have also worked with people who were very punctual in applying a methodology. During that period, I spent quite some time on the (real life) value of a methodology.
In this article I want to reflect my thoughts about how to apply a methodology and in which circumstances it works. Of course this is my vision and I realize it conflicts with other people’s idea. But that can be good, right?! I am writing this only from my industry’s perspective, which is the digital industry. The objective of this article is not to reflect thoughts about a specific methodology like Prince2 or PMI, but instead it’s about all the side conditions, implementation, etc.
As a central thesis, I am convinced that a methodology has a facilitating effect BUT context remains key. This implies that methodology is not an end on itself. Let me explain this, as there is a lot to be said about it.
I believe that a methodology helps us to create a structured environment, which makes it more easy for all people and parties involved to achieve the desired output of the project. Every single project though will encounter unforeseen circumstances, some easy to overcome but others with high impact. That’s where context jumps is: based on the context you need to decide as project management on how to continue. It’s not the methodology that is leading.
Here is where I think that a good project manager, that differentiates itself from the others one, has some elementary things like entrepreneurship, vision and pro-activeness to take the lead. Yes indeed, you will need to gather insights (which is a challenge on itself), you will need to apply your soft skills (which you need to have), you will need to understand the strategic and tactical environment, will need to understand the business and its goals, you need to be willing to take responsibility, in order to come a solution that can work in real life but that maybe requires to deviate (a bit) from the chosen methodology.
Fundamentally this touches one of my strong beliefs: soft elements are key in achieving a goal (not only in life in general but also within a specific setting like a project). I don’t believe this is conflicting with applying a methodology. By contrast I see it as complimentary. One of those soft elements is undoubtedly excellent communication (skills) by project management. Another one is the “feeling” (call it “instinct”) to have the right person on the right place.
My whole point is that a methodology is interfering so much with a lot of other elements. It is no exact science to cope with it, although methodology on itself pretends to be an exact science. It is by zooming out and taking on this overall view, that you can define how exactly to handle the chosen methodology.
Let’s not forget what fundamentally a methodology stands for: it is an easy way to structure things, in order to achieve a desired goal. It’s just a way to achieve something. Of course there are other ways to achieve the same goal. Probably with some consequences, like more resources needed. But as long as everyone involved is on the same path and everyone understands what’s going on, it should be fine, right?!
Now in practice I have seen some conflicts (sometimes frustration) between the hardcore believers and the other ones (to describe in a simple way). Where does the frustration come from? My personal belief is that specific individuals who don’t show some flexibility, are the ones causing it. I have had the impression that some people are so strict that they become destructive. I know this is a hard statement, but until I have seen proof of something else, I’ll continue to see it that way.
Now there are some attention points. First I am focusing on our industry, which is digital (web, online, mobile). I can imagine that the IT industry works a bit different, or that very large projects require a high degree of strictness. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the web environment is so complex, bringing together totally different types of knowledge like communication skills, graphical skills, technical skills, business knowledge and strategic insights.
My conclusion: it can be dangerous if you are too strict in implementing a methodology. You should always take the context into account, not only while choosing a methodology but also while executing it. Yes it is fine to deviate from the prescribed rules, it is a must in my eyes. A methodology is no panacea.
July 5th, 2010 // 7:40 pm @ Taki Tsaklanos
Although I am passionate about the internet, I also have had a considerable frustration. I recently discovered what it was. My personal frustration has been caused by the enormous amounts of content available on the web, and the feeling you are never on top of it. It seems like it’s impossible to stay on track.
Yes I realize now how important it is to have a very clear focus, you could call it a strategy. Making choices and setting priorities, how easy and logic it seems to be, appeared to be of critical importance to still enjoy internet usage, at least for me …
July 5th, 2010 // 7:39 pm @ Taki Tsaklanos
The question “how to create maximum added value in web projects” has been top of my mind the past two years. It’s mostly in my role as programme manager for Sony Europe (via the digital agency Nascom), where I was and still am heading quite some projects and people.
Digital needs to be result driven. It needs to be effective and efficient, because that’s what differentiates it from the other forms of media. It’s from that point of view that I defined “creating added value” in this article.
I realize that getting the best out of project teams is quite a challenge. But it’s worth the efforts. If you succeed in doing it, it brings a lot of energy and satisfaction in the team and to people individually.
I believe it is a phased approached, where it all starts with getting the best out of individual people. It’s not a click away though, there is quite some time needed to have an optimal fit. I’ve found out that giving people a balanced challenge is of critical importance to have them in their “flow”.
Second step is to have the project team to a higher level. I don’t believe it is given that you will succeed if you just have (very) good people. It’s a matter of team work. It’s a matter of putting the right people on the right place. But mostly it’s about bringing in enough specialized knowledge and skills.
I currently see that the web environment has become very complex. It brings together totally different types of knowledge area’s: communication skills, graphical skills, technical skills, business knowledge, strategic and architectural insights, analytics skills, etc. To create maximum added value, you’ll really need to combine all these knowledge area’s with specialized people.
I know it may seem a bit funny, but I compare it with football teams. And by coincidence, I was just looking at the world cup match between Argentina and Germany (quarter final). Yes there were some top players in the team of Argentina. No I didn’t see the big stars in the German team. But what a fantastic team play did I see with the Germans. It made them so strong. I didn’t expect it, and afterwards seen I don’t remember a wow performance. But it was the combination of very strong team play, with the right person on the right place combining different techniques and skills.
In the same respect, I have seen teams in digital projects, that achieved very strong results by simply combining all those different types of knowledge areas.
Digital needs to be result driven. So in my eyes, the critical success factor to create maximum added value, is analyzing all the knowledge area’s that are needed (and there are a lot of them) and then bringing those together.
Some facilitators I have seen, to achieve top results:
- continuity in the team(s)
- trust amongst members
- project management with strong soft skills
- clear (strategic) objectives
- accountability among project team members
Some practical things I have seen in the past:
- it’s good to have team members give feedback on each other’s work
- you need to get the most out of people, which implies that people need to have enough challenge; that means not too much for their capacity but neither too limited; human insights are critical
- there should be no ego’s in the team
- [ list will be updated on a regular basis with fresh new insight ]