Long term digital lifestyle vision

26 02 2010

I love it when a plan comes together… or at least, I like to watch someone put a long term plan together and execute it – especially when I am along for the ride. 

I’ve been told that I’m too impatient when it comes to proposing and executing strategic organizational and product movement.  Perhaps that’s true.  Sometimes the wait is internal inertia, sometimes it is for technology to catch up with the science fiction, and sometimes it’s waiting for the market to emerge.

Seeing the market before it emerges is what differentiates revolutionary plans from incremental plans.  While revolutionary plans come together on the backs of incremental gains, those gains are shaped and directed by a vision.

Your digital lifestyle

OK, this is going to sound like an advertisement, but I’m looking at it from a strategic roadmap and product management perspective.  Also, I already have a lot of this stuff lying around, so I’d like to see it work!  Now, onward…

Whether you knew it or not, the first thing to make progress toward the “paperless” (or perhaps “virtual”) anything was your house.  The office has too much inertia and weighty processes holding it back to really embrace the digital vision wholeheartedly.  It will move that direction, but nowhere near as quickly as your own household. 

That’s largely because you choose your own digital destiny.  New sexy products become available rapidly and the adoption curve for certain new technology items is based both on peer pressure and the desire for shiny objects.  Because of this, your house is very likely more advanced than your office.

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When Licensing Metrics Must Change

5 11 2009

Everyone knows that technology changes quickly.  So it’s surprising (at least to me) that licensing metrics for software are so difficult to change.  Purchasing contracts, license agreements, and license enforcement tend to lag technical milestones.  Sometimes this is a good thing – for instance, everyone waited out the predicted move to 64-bit servers during the development of the Itanium processor.  At other times, licensing metrics are not compatible with IT practices that develop due to technology – you license per-Ethernet port and they buy per-device.

Consumer packaged goods don’t usually have to keep pace with technical changes.  Cars are licensed per unit, not per cylinder, seat, or window.  In many ways software is licensed “per cylinder” which makes it susceptible to fundamental changes.  Think of the impact hybrid technology or turbo chargers would have on a per-cylinder vehicle licensing model during the current green movement.

What to disrupt when you’re disrupted

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Flexibility is not strategy (part 4)

27 05 2009

Flexibility – it can manifest in many forms and can quietly work against the soundest strategy.  In this, the nearly final installment, I’m going to talk briefly about dissemination and communication based on my experiences.

Many jokes are made at the expense of having consistent representation of a topic.  Being “on message” is corporate obfuscation and doublespeak, but its power can be used for the purposes of good.  Believe it or not, it is possible to be “on message” and also be transparent at the same time.

Bottom line: if you don’t have a communication plan around your new strategy, you’ve got a problem.

Water cooler messaging

Everyone’s reticent to learn the details of a new strategy.  So sometimes a 1 minute water cooler conversation is worth a 60 minute company address or a 10 page document.  Documents in particular have two major problems:

  • They probably don’t speak specifically to the reader
  • They require reading

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Flexibility is not strategy (part 2)

29 04 2009

I mentioned that by remaining open to everything, you risk accomplishing nothing.  The resulting dispersion of resources and effort can cause paralysis (or perceived stasis in your customer base).

So, what if you decide, like Hamlet eventually did after Act 3, Scene 1, to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing, end them?

Come together, check your weapons at the door

First off, nobody is too busy to participate.  This isn’t a one hour lunch time meeting where you order pizza and get through it before your next big conference call.

It is a time for commitment, honesty, speaking truth to power, and putting all the assumptions or corporate mythos into play.

You are in the “cone of silence” and the “truth circle”.  If you don’t trust your players, the process will be undermined and fail.

It has to be a safe environment to air legitimate concerns and defuse feuds between leadership or divisions.  Inside these sessions, you need to show your work and shred a lot of rough drafts.

Sensitive topics will be broached and in the process of tackling these perceptions (real or otherwise) is ugly.  The process is transient and understandings will forged and dismantled many times over.

The objective is to neutralize or plot a solution to counteract threats or weaknesses.  The words and work that are said during these sessions can potentially be used (in or out of context) as weapons that could decimate morale at large.

Mind you, being iconoclastic and cavalier about other people’s beliefs isn’t the same as being objective.  Like any relationship, there may be a role for a neutral third party to arbitrate pointed issues, take down all that is said, and offer guidance to becoming “unstuck” when the topics “rathole” into minutiae. Read the rest of this entry »





Flexibility is not strategy (part 1)

23 04 2009

You can’t focus on everything and succeed.  Obvious, right?  Clearly if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there (in this case, all roads do not lead to Rome).

No person or company knowingly decides to be everything to everyone.  But that’s exactly what happens when you can’t choose (and stick to) a specific goal.

Banking on flexibility is tantamount to saying yes to everything.

While it’s OK to be open to possibilities, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between distraction and opportunity.  Opportunity’s transient nature can lead you to chase every possible direction until you forget who you are and how you got there.

You may ask yourself, “how did I get here?”

Some companies end up backing into disperse activities through growth or acquisitions.  Acquisitions can bolster a product portfolio in an unusual direction which deviates from the company’s core competency and tenets.  Unless the company consciously adopts a new strategy. Read the rest of this entry »