What is Situational Leadership


Leaders need to adapt they management style to fit the performance readiness of their teams.

Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard created the concept of situational leadership in the field of organisational behaviour.

They said that “readiness” not only varies by person, but also by task. People have different levels of ability and motivation for different tasks. Leaders can choose from directing, coaching, supporting and delegating depending on the situation and team member:

Situational_leadership

Directing

This style is recommended for team members that require a lot of specific guidance to complete the task. The leader could say: “Gerard this is what I would like you to do, here you have a step by step approach and here is when I need it done.” It’s primarily a command and control approach, one way conversation with little or no input from the team member.

Coaching

This is style is for team members who need guidance to complete the task, but there is a two-way conversation, the team member gives input. Coaching is for people who want and need to learn. The leader could say: “Gerard this is what I would like you to do, here you have a step by step approach and here is when I need it done. What do you think?”. Although the leader still set the approach, the team member is invited to give input and ultimately workout any change in the delivery plan if the leader and the team member think it will benefit the project.

Supporting

This style is for team members that have the skills to complete the task but may lack confidence to do it on their own. The leader could say: “Gerard, here is the task I need you to do and here is when I need this done. How do you think it should be done?, let’s talk about it, how can I help you on this one?. The leader knows the team member can achieve the task but s/he needs support to remove any impediment.

Delegating

This style es for team members who are motivated, have the ability to complete the task and have confidence. They know what to do, how to do it and can do it on their own. The leader could say: “Gerard, here is the task I need you to do and here is when I need this done. If I can help just ask, if not you are on your own.” Although is highly recommended to schedule health checks, the leader is confident the team member will complete the task based on his/her track record.

One style is not better than the other, each style is appropriate to the situation. Effective leaders know who is on their team, who can be left alone and who needs more direction.

Scaling Up and Rolling Out Change


Kaiser Permanent (KP) is the largest integrated healthcare system in United States, the facts as of 2014 are over 10 million members, 177,000 employees and with annual reporting revenue of $56.4 billion.

doctors

KP undertook few years ago a scaling journey to develop and implement electronic health record systems with the goal to make life better for patients and employees.

KP suffered a string of failed attempts to develop. The turning point came when its leaders realised that to scale up the record systems to all KP hospitals  needed to do things very differently.

Before the scaling effort, KP had endured a decade of failed efforts to implement electronic health records.

Between 2004 and 2010, KP scaled up KP HeatlhConnect. The scale up journey started by first being implemented in one of the smallest regions, Hawaii between 2004 and 2006, then rolled out the largest region, Southern California in 2008 and it deployed to LIVE in every region by 2010.

The leader of this initiative was Dr. Louise Liang and their team took a different approach to make this a success. They understood that the biggest obstacles to spreading the mindset across KP and rolling out the system was that hospitals operated under a paradigm of siloed regions with a weak relationship to shred functions. To succeed, KP required a lot more collaboration among regions.

However, understanding the history and culture of the local autonomy, the delivery team couldn’t insist that the exact same system be implemented in the exact way in each region, the team had to balance 3 constraints: commitment, creativity and customisation.

KP HealthConnect required local leaders to learn from and imitate other regions; Hawaii’s early success created challenges because, in the past, large regions like Southern California dictate and set the tone for changes across the entire organisation.

Starting in Hawaii was a great option, they were hungry for change, serve a smaller patience and medical audience and took less time; when the rollout was complete, initial fears and resistance vanished, and local doctors, nurses and patients reported that the system was making their lives easier.

Another reason why Hawaii succeeded was that in contrast to many other KP failures in the past, they didn’t implemented alone. The delivery team along with leaders from all other regions travelled to Hawaii to observe and help out, providing lessons and hands-on experience that guided and accelerated the roll out process.

The delivery team master a balance between standardisation and customisation, by specifying few critical constrains “non negotiables” for each region, this helped to ensure that each roll out was efficient, regions could learn from each other experience and users could learn faster to use a common system.

The non-negotaibles:

  1. the name: KP HealthConnect this reinforced the “one” solution mantra across all regions
  2. interoperability: no modifications could be made to the system that reduced the KP’s ability to maintain a single and integrated system, any software developed as a result of a customisation by a region, hospital or function had to work well with the rest of the system
  3. common data mode:  every local system had to use uniform data and definitions. This enable each region to generate consistent and comparable data so performance differences could be identified, problems spotted, improvements made and comprehensible reports generated.
  4. configuration no customisation: when Dr. Liang took charge, more than 300 contractor were working on customisations, this increased risk and maintenance costs. The delivery team understanding the need to provide fit to purpose solutions, allowed regions to select their own configuration, but they say no to programs that were built or designed differently from the system.

The operational model was also different, for instance when a new region went LIVE, teams from other regions that had already completed the implementation and deployment were “on loan” ready to support, guide and learn.

The learning in this case is:

Risk goes down and efficiency goes up when leaders and team complete a template that they can see and touch. It’s easier, faster and cheaper to imitate solutions that work elsewhere rather than to invent something from scratch every time.

Read more: Hayagreeva Rao and Robert I. Sutton. “Scaling up Excellence“. Random House Business.

How to Select the Right Digital Portfolio?


The digital portfolio management objective is to determine the optimal resource mix and schedule to best achieve the organisation’s operational and financial goals.

financial_reports

Selecting the Portfolio

  1. Establish the viability of projects based on their strategic alignment, return on investment and resource requirement
  1. Carry out risk assessment and build contingency into the portfolio by integrating contingency planning
  1. Do more with less by systematically reviewing project management processes and removing inefficiencies

One simple way of achieving a primary selection is to rate each project’s alignment to corporate strategy by assessing whether it is:

  1. strategic (contributes to corporate goals)
  2. efficiency (increase output or reduce costs)
  3. operational (to maintain services)

Some organisations use a ‘hurdle rate’ or minimum return on investment (ROI) rate to ensure that projects return a positive benefit.

The final assessment of each project or program could be carried out using the following types of evaluation criteria:

  1. Project Type: is it mandatory (to meet regulatory or operational continuity requirements) or discretionary (to meet business needs, increase efficiency or infrastructure)?
  2. Strategic Fit: is it critical, important, supportive (one or more strategic priorities), tenuous or has no link?
  3. Potential Benefit: the expected net present value of the business benefits (which is likely to be a range rather than an exact figure)
  4. Cost: the expected net present cost of the project (which is also likely to be a range rather than an exact figure)
  5. Non Quantifiable Benefits: any other benefits such as customer satisfaction or business simplification
  6. Resources: are the resources required to deliver the project fully available, partly available or not available?
  7. Delivery Risk: is it a high, medium or low risk and high, medium or low complexity?

The final step is to balance the portfolio by adding or removing projects in order to achieve the best possible outcome for the organisation with the human resources and finance available to it, a simple street light report can help:

  • Red (critical and urgent): immediate action needs to be taken on the recommendations or the project or program is likely to fail.
  • Amber (critical but not urgent): the program can move ahead but action on the recommendations should be addressed before key decisions are taken.
  • Green: the program is on target to succeed but may benefit from the uptake of recommendations.

To be successful an organisation needs to change and evolve in line with the environment and also to take advantage of new opportunities. This means the vision, mission and strategy will change and therefore the portfolio must change to reflect that by re-examining all existing programs, projects and operations and any new potential programs, projects or operations.

What is Digital Disruption and How Companies can Embrace it?


Today the only source of competitive advantage and value delivering comes from seeing what customers need and delivering it.

Digital disruptors are changing complete industries, delivering value at a lower costs, with faster development times and with greater impact on customer experience.

Digital disruption

Digital disruption is simply a mindset that leads to a way of behaving; a mindset that bypasses traditional off-line obstacles, eliminating the gaps and boundaries that prevent people and companies from giving customers what they need in the moment that they want it.

Digital disruptors are obsessed with measuring results and rapid innovation cycles in which failure and mistakes are viewed as feedback.

Always evaluate your customer, benefits, business and product

  1. Customer: isolate the core target customers and make some smart guesses about what makes them tick. Ask yourself what your target customer really needs
  2. Benefits: what is the next thing that customer needs?, express the need in terms of what the customer will get out of the deal if you succeed.
  3. Business: what will we get out of it if we innovate?
  4. Product: the art of harmonising Customer, Benefits, Business and Product into a single approach

In other words, you need to focus on creating innovations that are most likely to give the consumers you want to reach the benefits they really desire while achieving strategic outcomes that are meaningful to the organisation.

How to deal with digital disruption inside a large company?

  • Create small innovation teams
  • Identify silos and break down the boundaries between them
  • Get senior executives to commit their support
  • Insist on short development time frames

Digital disruptors constantly seek for the adjacent possible:

  • Asking a simple question “what is the next thing my customer needs?
  • Iterating so quickly from one adjacent to the next
  • Giving the customer the next logical thing, or things

Digital disruptors keep the scope of their innovations small. Rather than creating a five-year innovation plan, digital disruptors proceed from adjacent possibility to adjacent possibility, occasionally failing, but failing so quickly and so cheaply that recovery can be nearly immediate.

Read more: James McQuivey. “Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation“. Amazon Publishing.

What are the Responsibilities of a Program Manager?


We know that programs are longer-term collections of related projects and other activities that will be managed in a coordinated way.

Program manegement

A Program manager goal is not about managing the details of each individual project, but rather about managing the big picture, in order to achieve the strategic objectives and realise the benefits for which the program is designed.

What are the Program Manager tasks:

Program Manager is responsible for leading and managing the program from its initial set up, through the delivery of new capabilities and realisation of benefits to program closure. The program manager has primary responsibility for successful delivery of the new capabilities and establishing program governance.

  1. Managing the inter-dependencies between the individual projects in the program
  2. Prioritising issues that arise from different projects
  3. Making sure the strategic goals and objectives of the organisation for which the projects are being executed
  4. Realisation of benefits from the program
  5. Management of stakeholders
  6. Management of program risks
  7. Oversee the projects in the program and provide high level guidance to the project managers

Management Skills of a Program Manager:

  1. Change: not only expect change but actively encourage it in order to maximise the strategic benefits of the program
  2. Leadership Style: focus on managing relationships, conflict resolution and the political aspects of stakeholder management
  3. Management skills: need to provide overall vision and leadership
  4. People Management: manage the project managers
  5. Planning: responsible for performing high level planning and providing guidance to project managers for their detailed project planning
  6. Success: measured in terms of return on investment (ROI), benefit realisation and new operational capabilities delivered by the program

How Leaders Create Conditions for Change


Leaders can not dictate the culture, but they can nurture it. they can create the right conditions for change, creativity and innovation. Leader can multiply the effect of a team. Liz Wiseman interviewed more than 150 leaders to research her book Multipliers: How the best leaders make everyone smarter.

Leading a team

Leaders who are multipliers can double the output of a team or a company and improve morale in the process, here is how you can become a multiplier:

  1. be a talent magnet, who attracts and retains the best people and help them to reach their highest potential
  2. find a worthy challenge or mission that motivate people to stretch their thinking
  3. encourage debate that allows different views to be expressed and considered
  4. give team members ownership of results

Basic group dynamics

  • great groups believe they are on a mission beyond mere financial success, they believe they will make the world a better place
  • they are more optimistic than realistic
  • they ship
  • belonging to a strong creative group can be one of the most rewarding aspects of working life

In Agile, How to Handle New Client Requirements?


When your customer discovers what they really want in their project, ask them how they would like to handle it. You can push out the release date or add more resources (which is like saying we are going to need more money), or you can drop some of the less important stories from the to-do list (preferred).

Managing change requests

Don’t get emotional when you have this conversation. It is not your call to make. You are simply communicating.

Your responsibility is to:

  1. make them aware of the impact of their decisions and
  2. give them the information they need to make an informed decision.

If your client really wants it all, create a nice-to-have list and tell them that if there is time at the end of the project, these are the first stories you will do.

But make it clear, the nice-to-haves are currently off the table and are not going to be part of the core plan.

How to move a slow project to Agile?


You are running a project that is not going well, progress is not as planned, confidence on meeting a deadline is low, what you are currently doing is not working and you need to get something out of the door fast.

You have read about agile and understand the benefits of this way of delivering, but you are already in the middle of the project and do not know how to transition your slow motion project into an agile one.

Project Management

How to transition a slow motion project into agile?

1) You need to make sure everyone is on the same page

  • Why you are there
  • What you are trying to accomplish
  • Who’s the customer
  • What big rocks you need to move
  • Who’s calling the shots

If there is any doubt about these, ask the tough questions and get some alignment.

2) You need to start delivering

If you have to ship something fast, throw out the current plan, and create a new one you can believe in. Just as if you are creating a new agile plan from scratch, create a to-do list, size things up, set some priorities and deliver the minimal amount of functionality to get something out the door.

If you need to show progress but have to work within the confines of your original plan, start delivering something of value every week.

Take one or two valuable features each week and just do them completely. Once you have shown you can deliver (and regained an element of trust), slowly rework the plan and define a release based on your now measured team velocity and how much work there is remaining.

Then simply keep delivering until you have something you can ship. Update the plan as you go, execute fiercely, and use the sense of urgency you have been giving to blow through anything standing in your way.

Change and Negotiation


When people think about negotiation, they immediately think of having to influence someone else but Erica Ariel Fox says you have to manage yourself first.

She introduces the big four concept:

  1. Your Dreamer, or inner CEO. This part of you operates on intuition, and imagines big possibilities for the future
  2. Your Thinker, or inner CFO. This part uses facts and logic to make rational assessments, to evaluate options and manage risk
  3. Your Lover, or inner VP of HR. This part of you runs on emotion, values relationships, and excels at communicating with other people.
  4. Your Warrior, or inner COO. This part of you thrives on action, wanting to close the performance gap and getting things done, tell the hard truth, and take a firm stand for your values.

Without the CEO, you could miss the vision that is essential to an innovative strategy. No CFO, and the budget collapses. Without HR, the right people do not get hired or developed. If the COO’s absent, it’s all talk and no action.

The big four change from within

The Big Four represent your capacity to dream about the future, to analyse and solve problems, to build relationships with people, and to take effective action; they enable your visioning, thinking, feeling, and achieving; they make it possible for you to take four approaches to leading and living: inspirational, analytical, relational, and practical.

Ideally, you have these 4 c-level executives operate within you in balance, they are available to you and you can call on each one when the time is right. Negotiating with yourself means letting your Big Four consider which of them is in the best position to get the result you want.

Read more: Erika Fox. “Winning from Within: A Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living, and Lasting Change” HarperBusiness

Business and Poker


Tony Hsieh is one of the most important business leaders of our time, in his book Delivering Happiness he explain how Zappos is built on branding, culture and pipeline as the only competitive advantage that Zappos will have in the long run.

In the chapter 3 of the book, Tony clearly defines the lessons he learnt from playing poker and that can be applied to business:

Evaluating Market Opportunities

  • Table selection is the most important decision you can make
  • It’s okay to switch tables if you discover is too hard to win at you table
  • If there are too many competitors (some irrational or inexperienced), even if you are the best it’s a lot harder to win

Marketing and branding:

  • Act weak when strong, act strong when weak. Know when to bluff
  • Your “hand is important”
  • Help shape the stories that people are telling about you

Financial management

  • Always be prepared for the worst possible scenario
  • The guys who wins the most hands is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run
  • The guy who never losses a hand is not the guy who makes the most money in the long run
  • Go for positive expected value, not for what’s least risky
  • Make sure your bankroll is large enough for the game you are playing and the risks are you taking
  • Play only with what you can afford to lose
  • Remember that is a long-term game. you will win or lose individual hand or sessions, but is what happens in the long-term that matters

Strategy

  • Don’t play games that you do not understand, even if you see lots of people making money from them
  • Figure out the game when the stakes aren’t high
  • Don’t cheat. Cheaters never win in the long run
  • Stick to your principles
  • You need to adjust your style of play throughout the night as the dynamics of the game change. Be flexible.
  • Be patient and think in the long-term
  • The players with more stamina and focus usually win
  • Differentiate yourself. Do the opposite of what the rest of the table is doing.
  • Hope is not a good plan
  • Don’t let yourself go “on tilt”. It’s much more cost-effective to take a break, walk around or leave the game for the night

Continual learning

  • Educate yourself. Read books and learn from others that have done it before
  • Learn by doing. Theory is nice, but nothing replaces actual experience
  • Learn by surrounding yourself with talented players
  • Just because you win a hand doesn’t mean you are good and you do not have more learning to do. You might have just gotten lucky.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for advise

Culture

  • You have to love the game. To become very good you need to live it and sleep it.
  • Don’t be cocky. Don’t be flashy. there is always someone better than you
  • Be nice and make friends. It’s a small community
  • Learn what you have learnt with others
  • Look for opportunities just beyond the game you sat down to play. You never know who you are going to meet, including friends for life or new business contacts
  • Have fun. The game is a lot more enjoyable when you are trying to do more than just make money

Read more, not only from business but happiness: Tony Hsieh. “Dilivering Happiness a path to profits, passion and purpose” Business Plus