“Musicians play their instruments. I play the orchestra.” Steve Jobs attributed this quote to a famous conductor in the film Steve Jobs. It’s hard to come up with a more vivid illustration of leadership. It acknowledges that conductors may be less adept at playing instruments than any of the players in front of them — and other instruments not at all — yet they elicit brilliant performances. I have been told by a San Francisco Symphony musician that guest conductors can in a few rehearsals have the orchestra sounding like the orchestras where they are based. Leadership, per Webster, means “the quality of a leader; capacity to lead”. In recent years, the word has become Read more
Tips on being a better leader and creating great leaders within the organization.
Cutter Fellow Bob Charette’s 2013 assertion that The STEM Crisis is a Myth inspired quite a bit of discussion in education and industry, which has apparently not subsided! In STEM Literacy and Jobs, wsj.com blogger Irving Wladawsky-Berger taps Charette for his thoughts on the STEM jobs “crisis.” When it comes to STEM, the discussions have mostly focused on STEM jobs rather than STEM literacy, and in particular, on whether we have a STEM crisis or a STEM surplus–a debate I recently wrote about. A number of articles have pointed out that, as is often the case with such complex questions, both sides are right. It all depends. STEM includes a variety of disciplines, degree Read more
Life complexifies. Perhaps it is a fundamental law of information that the complexity of information increases. In the world of biology, over time organisms become more complex, with new genetic permutations appearing alongside of old genetic pieces. In the hyperastronomical space in the animal genome, nature constantly produces new combinations. In human knowledge and scientific discovery, the same is true. New insights are built on top of old ones. Breakthroughs in insight usually have higher levels of complexity and hence require higher levels of abstraction and difficult codification to accommodate the widening domain covered. We all know E=MC2 but how many of us really know what it means? In the world of medicine, treatments are Read more
Cutter Fellow Rob Austin and Senior Consultant Shannon Hessel received a Danish Society for Education and Business Prize for their “Leadership in the 21st Century Organizations” course at Copenhagen Business School. Cutter Fellow Dick Nolan was also honored for the lectures he contributed to the course. One of the three DSEB Education Prizes went to Assistant Professor Shannon Hessel and Professor Rob Austin from the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, especially due to their work in the course: “Leadership in the 21st Century Organizations”, in which they combine technology with good old-fashioned storytelling. – via CBS Observer Congratulations, Rob, Shannon, and Dick!
Software development is not really a single discipline. What comes under the overall field is a combination of disciplines that address a range of problems: Maintaining and evolving fielded code Adding significant new features to an existing application or platform Building an entirely new application or platform These differ in the amount of innovation required and the amount of information available for delivering a quality system. Teams working on type 1 problems generally are not required to invent anything and they have detailed information on the code change required and available technology. Teams addressing type 2 efforts may need to be innovative in building out and integrating the capability. Also, they usually have incomplete information Read more
The whole notion of an enterprise chief information officer (CIO) or chief technology officer (CTO) is obsolete. As technology itself decentralizes — regardless of formal organizational structures — there will be multiple technology experts/specialists/leaders. There are already “go-to” technology experts, leaders, and, yes, even “chiefs” in every business unit, every business pod, and surrounding every business process. They are seldom part of the central IT organization, and if they are, their loyalties are aligned more with the business units than with their “boss,” the enterprise CIO. In fact, time and time again I’ve seen “assigned” technologists commiserate much more with their business units than with the IT organizations to which they belong or with their Read more
The 21st Century was introduced by the tumultuous climax of the dot-com boom on March 20, 2000 when the NASDAQ peaked at 5,132. Since then modern corporations marched on to become the majority of the 100 largest organizations in the world (in terms of revenue/budgets and employed people) surpassing the size of many sovereign national governmental organizations. And this phenomenon happened fast. In 1954, the Boeing Corporations became just the 23rd corporation to exceed $1 billion dollars in annual revenue. By the end of the 20th century, hundreds of corporations exceeded multi-billion dollars in annual revenue. I rejoined the University of Washington faculty in 2003 to research one of the hotbeds of corporate foundings and Read more
Last year, I predicted the work force would continue to shrink. I was right. Relative to the population, the work force continued to dwindle, and it will continue to do so in 2015. The percentage values will become even more dramatic when considering the migrant workforce (legal and otherwise). As such, it’s still a good year ahead for those who can find ways to leverage smaller staffs in 2015. Tragically, this will lead to a greater divide between the rich and the poor. Any industries marketing with a “we care” strategy that applies across the “have/have-not” divide will be seen as philanthropic and societally beneficial (in a time of increased political turmoil). Turmoil bodes well Read more
If you only adopt one practice of Agile, adopt retrospectives. The rest will emerge from that. This is old wisdom among Agilists, and back in the early 2000s, Cutter Senior Consultant Alistair Cockburn boiled down his Crystal Clear method to “Iterate and Reflect.” I thought everything of interest had already been written on this topic — until I was involved recently in a mostly failed transition during which this was a major topic. Looking at leadership models, you find the concept of post-heroic leadership where the heroic leader solves problems by either being the expert him or herself, or an “achiever” who pushes others to solve the problem. The post-heroic leader works by providing the Read more
It should come as no surprise that decision making in some flavor or another is at the heart of nearly every business book, method, conference, and article. After all, especially in business, what are we trying to learn from the past if not the answer to “why” or “how did they do that?” Looking at any project or process technique, any analysis, any case study in nearly any topic, ultimately what we’re after is making sense of the means and the ends. Any metric, measure, and indicator is — when used properly — merely a trigger, tripwire, forecast or estimate of something on which to guide the path forward. All of project management can be Read more