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 IT & BPO Service Providers (Pure Plays) face an uncomfortable future; maturation, stagnation, cannibalization and disintermediation figure large on the Indian Sub-Continent.

Talent scarcity; competition from other, cheaper locales; fractured client expectations and competitive pressure from Global IT Service Providers threaten the IT & BPO Service Provider industry inIndia.

 Is this True? What does this mean? Should I be concerned?

John Bolden, founder and principal consultant of TLIR Group, is intimately familiar with the mechanics, dynamics, optics and politics associated with in-country, virtual, near-shore and off-shore outsourcing.

John consults with organizations large and small on the benefits and pitfalls associated with outsourcing. His perspective reaches far beyond the business case; shining a light on upstream, downstream and parallel aspects of outsourcing that are typically overlooked, ignored or taken for granted whenever outsourcing is on the agenda…

Leader’s who truly understand the implications of what has to happen in order to realize the benefits associated with outsourcing are far better positioned to make the right outsourcing decision, realize their objectives and attain the results they were promised and that they promised to others.   

  John’s unbiased, independent viewpoint is refreshingly blunt, totally honest and harbours no hidden agenda. The rationale for why you choose to outsource is not in question – whether you have all the facts necessary in order for you to make certain that outsourcing meets expectations is another question entirely.

Contact John to schedule a private conversation, it will be a very wise investment of your time today and could save time, money and reputations tomorrow…


Recently, news hit the airwaves that the Government of Ontario had hired a high priced economist to join a 4 person commission studying what to do to improve productivity, streamline service delivery, etc, etc. While I do not understand how and why an economist would have the right credentials to join such a commission I wish him well…

As I see it, this commission will be expected to think outside the box…

A far, far greater issue that no one in government has got their mind around is the fact that any, good worthy ideas coming out out of this commission will end up being defined, planned and executed as though they were inside a linear, insular business improvement box…

Ergo, whatever this commission comes up will not be realized in a timely, effective manner if handled from within the Government proscribed Business Improvement Box…


Trivia Time!

William Shakespeare and Miguel Cervantes are probably the best known or even the greatest writers in the English and Spanish languages. These stellar lights of the literary universe died on the same day yet Cervantes died ten days before…!  

Answer:

For a long, long time the first day of the official year in Englandfell on the 25th of March. So, for example Elizabeth I of England was recorded as having died on 24 March 1602 (Old Style New Year’s Eve). Her death, if the year were recorded as starting on January 1st (the modern system of numbering years) would be written 24 March 1603 which would then, after Julian to Gregorian transformation, correspond to 3 April 1603 (New Style).

Clear? Clear as mud! Does this remind you of the mindless ambiguities spouting from the mouths of transformation leaders?

Catholic countries such as Italy, Poland, Spain, and Portugalwere first to change to the Gregorian calendar. Thursday, 1582 October 4 was followed by Friday, 1582 October 15, with 11 days “missing forever”. Countries that did not change until the 1700s observed an additional leap year, necessitating 12 “missing days”. Some countries did not change until the 1800s or 1900s, necessitating more “missing days”.

Are you familiar with transformation projects where multiple streams of activity are occurring in apparent isolation? There would be a moment in time, far in the future where everything might, just might be synchronized, but until then – rampant confusion!

France changed from the Julian to Gregorian calendar on 9 December 1582 where the next day was 20 December 1582. In Russia, the Gregorian calendar was introduced much later—on February 14, 1918. Hence, the October Revolution of 1917 actually took place in November! (November 7 New Style = October 25 Old Style).

Englandchanged to the Gregorian date system in 1752. When Shakespeare died on 23rd April 1616 his date of death was recorded according to the Julian date system. Spain, as noted above, changed to the Gregorian system in 1582 so when Cervantes died on 23rd April 1616… he didn’t die on the same day as Shakespeare, he predeceased him by ten days. 

 And you thought corporate transformation was complex…!


Information is the Key that enables Good Decisions…

How many places one has to go to get the Information is the Lock

Filtering Information through Place Based Layers Lines Up the Tumblers

 Information is a product of Process

 THEREFORE

When what is being asked is Process Centric, the Process is the Information source IF you know what Process to turn to, know who to contact, what steps to follow and understand the rules that govern access and use of the Information.

 BUT

Across any and all levels of government and within any medium sized business or large corporation; Processes in the tens of thousands create, update, maintain and use Information millions of times every hour… When one needs to access, layer, filter, consolidate and analyse in order to infer, conclude or make informed decisions from multiple Process / Information Verticals – one is faced with a challenge!

 HENCE

When what is being asked spans processes, dynamically shifts according to what the Information yields and changes each and every time; the Information Repository for the Process is the place to go – not the Process itself.

SINCE

Information Sets emanating from multiple Information Repositories will be as diverse  as there are numbers of Processes; some Information Sets will be massive, others will be sparse, some will be exquisitely detailed, others greatly summarized , some will be subject matter specific, some will be generalized.

 THUS

Finding the linkages, relationships and implications within and between Information Sets; thereby, enabling informed decision making would be a monumental task each and every time a multi-Process Information Requirement arose.

 EXCEPT

Place Based Information Management cuts through mountains of process specific Information; filtering, interrelating and highlighting Information independent of Process and brings to the fore key facts and figures about places, communities, areas and regions that would otherwise be buried.

Advances in technology hinged upon faceted search enable Place Based Information Management do be a reality without massive investement in time, money or restructuring of current IM practices – contact us to find out more via our web presence.

 


The ability to respond to constant change and adopt new paradigms for success is based on information, ingenuity and insight and knowing exactly how to use them all to best advantage…

But! Before one can take advantage of tomorrow’s thinking, one has to stop thinking inside the linear, insular, singular project box!

Time after time, we see cases where efforts to improve the business failed to meet expectations because the need was envisioned as though it were the only demand, plans were drafted as though the business will stand still in the meantime and the project executed as though it were the only project!

Demands to strengthen, improve, streamline, consolidate or reinvent the business are NOT linear, demand does NOT line up sequentially. Today’s demands will not be the same as last week and tomorrow’s will be different yet again…

The problem lies in the fact that HOW each demand is envisioned, planned and executed is bound by linear, insular, singular thinking.

Such thinking is the major reason WHY so many efforts to improve the business fail to deliver what is required, when it is required!

NO business can afford to be constrained by allowing such thinking to dictate how the business responds to today’s issues and opportunities.

To find out more about how we can help you apply tomorrow’s thinking to today’s business challenges; call (1) 905 484 6274, e-mail us at Information@TLIRGroup.com or use the form on the Contact Us page at www.TLIRGroup.com to start exploring the possibilities…


 “A Map of the Business Landscape Provides a Firm Foundation for Establishing Direction and Making Decisions about What Is, What Will Be and What has to Happen in Between…”

Essentially, the absence of clarity and cohesion about which processes and information sets intersect, interconnect and interrelate across the business (any business) is a major reason why so many good, worthy efforts to improve the business fail to meet expectations. Time after time, surprises arise…

 •           Processes that were not part of the original scope pop up everywhere, how and why these processes exist is one question, how and why these processes were not part of the original scope is another question entirely!

•           Information repositories elsewhere in the organization already contain the information that this project will be creating from scratch!

•           New Process need is addressed from a linear, insular perspective – collateral outcomes of processes elsewhere in the organization that are of value by being copied/reused or avoided at all costs are ignored!  

•           This project will change part of the business on this date for this reason; the fact that another project will make changes to that part of the business the day before will be a surprise – the day after!

•           That project experienced significant problems deploying a certain piece of functionality into the business; this project wants to deploy the same functionality into another part of the business!

•           Ad infinitum!  

 The reason for the absence of clarity and cohesion is not hard to pin down; there is no overarching view of how processes and information hang together.

By extension, there is no easily seen, understood and grasped view of what is, what will be and what has to happen in between.

Consequently, there is no foundation that assists the business to make the best decisions about how to best improve the business.

A map of the business landscape ensures that systems, processes and information repositories across the Business are visible to those who have to keep the business running and those who seek to improve the business.

 With a map of the business landscape; management has a firm foundation for establishing direction and making decisions as to sequence, priority, budgetary and resource allocations for future business improvement projects.

 Mapping the business landscape is neither complex nor time consuming; typically, assignments start out by mapping the critically important components of the business first; thereby enabling management to take advantage of quick wins.

Interested in learning more about the richness and value of the business landscape map? Please call or send me an e-mail (JBolden@TLIRGroup.com) noting your interest in scheduling a brief meeting.

P.S. If you are wondering how and why processes and information repositories would be created without making sure they fit together neatly and seamlessly – ask for a copy of my thought leadership text: ‘Information/Process Silos – The Bane of the Enterprise’

Extract: Thought Leadership Form – IPMS, Basle, Switzerland

September 2009 – All Rights Reserved


SNAFU! Just another business improvement debacle…

Many business improvement problems – cost overruns, delays, low quality, stakeholder dissatisfaction, etc, etc. – can be traced back to the fact that when external parties (vendors, consultants, service providers) are involved; profit centric objectives of these parties take first priority over business objectives.

Far too often, what is intuitively obvious (to me) is overlooked, ignored or taken for granted by those who think they know better (project people) and those who ought to know better (business people) take what is said as given (the fact that project people often know that miracles have to occur in order to deliver according to business people’s expectations is not said).

Unfortunately, as history evinces, far too many so called project managers have been raised on the premise that consensus is best. An utterly and completely wrong perspective when one is dealing with greedy, backstabbing external parties intent solely upon making money. It is not difficult to manage external parties provided one is prepared to bruise egos or spill blood at the first inclination of upcoming problems.

Here then are some words to the wise. The following quips and quotes speak to matters far more damaging than the mere mechanics of change and that, I suspect, is the root reason why so many good, worthy efforts to improve the business fail to meet expectations. Each quip is generalized and the specific degree of impact would shift for better or worse according to the situation of the reader but, and this is important, would rarely be totally obviated.

 1. In this instance, one could replace the words ‘corporate transformation’ with the name of a company or government entity and, accepting that scale of impact may differ, the rest of the statement would hold true. I would be very pleased to be proven wrong…      

 Introductory Remarks: Sun Tzu and the Art of Corporate Transformation
 “Never in the history of corporate transformation have so many business improvement projects delivered so little, so late, so poorly for so much cost and aggravation. Now for the bad news…”

J. Bolden, ICKCCO, Boston USA

2. The following is a perfect question to ask when the sum of business improvement projects are not delivering results as expected. Both Hierarchical and Matrix Organization structures are the breeding ground for too many chiefs, far too many mercenaries and far too few truly focused on improving the business.

 Keynote Presentation Extract: The Case for the Chief Change Officer
 “One trusts that someone, somewhere, has full and complete vision of everything that is being considered, being planned and being undertaken to improve the business, across the entire business. Let me ask YOU! Who would that be…?”
J. Bolden, IICM, New Orleans USA

3. This statement speaks to the dangers of accepting what is proffered at face vale by external parties as the means to salvation. It is only by independently assessing what is on the table within the true context of who will be doing what to whom, why, where, when, at what cost and with what expected result that one can determine if what is envisioned is plausible and possible, that what is planned is practical and achievable and that what will be done makes sense, avoids risk and will meet expectations…

Tutorial Extract: Quislings Multiply Like Lemmings
 “Asking questions about who is going to do what to whom, where, when, why, at what cost, with what intended result and with what impact to the organization and other projects is Good management. Relying solely upon answers from those who stand to Gain or Lose the most from the outcomes of change is Not necessarily Wise management…”

J. Bolden, ECITM, Paris France

4. There are hundreds of thousands of project managers, most are good at what they do – the question is, is what they do right and proper for the greater good of the business or right for the project? If external parties are in play, their change mechanics govern and their change mechanics are aligned first and foremost to profitability, not to changing the business as quickly and effectively as possible. In far too many cases, project managers (internal or external) are excellent managers of the mechanics of change but have little appreciation or skill about the other dimensions of change that are ready to render yet another good, worthy effort to improve the business a failure.  

 Keynote Extract: Corporate Singularity – Who’s On First?
 “No Matter What You Want to Do to Improve the Business… Seamless, Deft and Adroit Management of Change Mechanics AND Business Dynamics AND Corporate Optics AND Office Politics is Essential for Success… 
Focusing Solely Upon the Mechanics of Change is a Recipe for Disaster!
Let Me Explain…”
J. Bolden, PAC-CM, Singapore

5. Ah! I equate this to shooting at the moon. Aim at the moon (the business), fire the gun (define the improvement), wait for the explosion (the outcomes and deliverables). Nothing happens, the moon has moved (the business has moved on in the meantime) and the intended deliverables no longer fit and/or are not needed!

 Presentation Extract: Corporate Transformation, Who’s on First?
 “Today, most business improvement projects are managed according to yesterday’s thinking. Linear – Singular – Insular Project Management mindsets all but guarantee business improvement projects will fail to meet expectations. Let me explain…”

J. Bolden. EMTC, Rome Italy

6. The dichotomy of silo based process improvement …

¨        Business Motives Beget the Need for New or Changed Process… 

¨        Process is created or changed through Project(s)…

¨        Project(s) view Information from the perspective of the Process Need…

¨        Project(s) cause Information to be structured to satisfy Process Need…

¨        The result… MORE INFORMATION/PROCESS SILOS

Information/Process Silos are outcomes of defining and structuring Information as a Necessity for Process rather than as a Value Enabler for the Enterprise.

Keynote Extract: Information / Process Silos / Bane of the Enterprise

 “If Information is the DNA of the Enterprise, then Information/Process Silos are Viruses that Prevent Seamless, Cohesive Transfer of Knowledge between Enterprise Nodes.”

J. Bolden, IICM, New Orleans USA


Change initiatives; one, several, tens or even hundreds vie for resources, time and attention – concurrently striving to address defensive, offensive, expansion, growth, contraction and improvement pressures.

New ideas, new opportunities, new threats fill Pandora’s Box to the brim…

Vision vs. Reality is one of the more serious types of problems that emanate from opening Pandora’s Box without due care and attention.

Leaders are charged with formulating the overall Vision. More often than not; assumptive, inclusive and/or exclusive envisioning by leadership places projects at a disadvantage from the very first moment an idea or imperative is just a gleam in the leader’s eye!

Leaders are business people first and foremost; projects are a way for them to get the business where they want it to be, when they want it but how to envision correctly and therefore make the project happen as it should is not necessarily what they do well. Hence, gaps and disconnects…

Good, effective leaders separate ‘vision’ from day-to-day operations so that emotion, sympathy and other assorted ‘care and feeding’ influences do not interfere with the decision making process.

The ability to separate ‘what will be in the future’ from ‘what is today’ is a critical leadership quality and, many leaders are very good at doing this.

However, the trouble with this approach is that leaders tend to forget to interlock their ‘vision’ with what really needs to happen in order to make the vision reality and unfortunately; those who the leader trusts to provide a sense of reality cannot or will not voice concerns, for a variety of reasons…

Interlocking vision with reality means that leaders must be attuned to everything that is happening across the organization – what is, what will be, what is happening in between and the inherent gaps, chasms and gulfs that stand between the leader’s vision and reality.

Failure to interlock vision with reality occurs for many reasons and typically results in envisioning that is assumptive or inclusive or exclusionary.

Assumptive or inclusive or exclusionary envisioning is what leads many organizations into uncharted waters.

When such envisioning takes hold, we enter the realm of Jean-Luc Picard on the other Enterprise (pardon the pun). An imperious command: “Make it so…” and the adventure into dangerous, unexplored places begins.

When leadership envisioning spans both organization centric and project centric interests from the very first moment a need, an opportunity or an issue arises; there are far fewer project failures due to disconnects between vision and execution.

If you would like to learn more about the seminar themes I speak to, types of consulting engagements and research that underpins my thinking, feel free to browse my web presence at http://www.TLIRGroup.com

John Bolden

RMA, Mil C, C/MBB-ISSSP. F-IICM, F-IPMS

 

John is renowned for value laden advice that stakeholders depend on when assessing the wisdom of investing billions. John’s views and observations enable corporate leaders to ask the right questions, probe problematic answers and avoid surprises.


Information / Process Silos In Corporate Settings

 

•           Profit Centric Motives Beget the Need for New or Changed Process… 

•           Process is created or changed through Project(s)…

•           Project(s) view Information from the perspective of the Process Need…

•           Project(s) cause Information to be defined and structured to satisfy Process…

•           The result… MORE INFORMATION/PROCESS SILOS

 

Information/Process Silos are outcomes of defining and structuring Information as a Necessity for Process rather than as a Value Enabler for the Enterprise.

 

In any business, there are literally thousands of Information/Process Silos. The bigger the business, the more Information/Process Silos there will be. Today, finding the linkages, relationships and implications within and between Information Silos, thereby enabling informed decision making,  is extremely time consuming, prone to error and full of real as well as implied risk.

 

Each and every Silo is a barrier that prevents seamless, cohesive use of information across the enterprise. As the number of Silos increases, so do the problems of being able to gather information from multiple, disparate silos.

 

Silos might contain highly structured data accessible only through Process specific pre-defined screens and reports; therefore absent enterprise context and value.

 

Silos might be template driven files and folders scattered across the enterprise – mobile sales forces, branch offices and similar distributed business functions rely heavily on non-corporate wide information to manage their responsibilities, every instance of such distributed files might a unique Silo (depending in the information inside) or part of a scattered, virtual Silo held together (just!) by virtue of organizational structure rather than seamless, cohesive information linkages.

 

Silos might be totally unstructured. This means that there is no standard by which information is captured and stored. The only standard might be the software that facilitates information capture.

 

Microsoft Office has a neat piece of Software called OneNote, it provides users with a quick way to capture information but the information goes nowhere else and, perhaps it shouldn’t. Then again, perhaps, it should. Mobile computing again provides a useful example; how often does useful to the enterprise information make an appearance on Blackberry screens?

 

A prospective purchaser contacts a sales rep’ via Blackberry because he wants to order a gazillion widgets now. Presumably this vital knowledge would only become known to the enterprise from a pure information perspective when the sales rep’ gleefully enters information through the usual order processing channels.

 

Is this right and proper, one could imagine many scenario’s where the poor rep is waylaid or otherwise constrained which then begs the question – should that information percolate ‘upward’ into an information repository that is accessible by more than the Blackberry user who received the information?

 

If the answer is Yes in whole or part; each Blackberry is by definition a Silo unless the ‘upward percolation’ mechanism is in place. A whole series of troubling questions emanate from both Yes and No answers, too detailed to list here but I am sure you start to understand the implications and linkages between mobile devices and Silos.

 

To recap; the more lines of business there are – more Silos. The more products there are – more Silos. The more segmented the customer base – more Silos. Silo proliferation, without doubt, causes the enterprise to be data rich and information poor.

 

Simply put; businesses cannot quickly, efficiently and cost effectively access, gather, layer, filter, consolidate and analyze information in varying formats from multiple Silos.

 

Beyond the inability of the enterprise to find and use information lies the danger that any failure to deliver information when required by external stakeholders (customers (current and prospective), suppliers, investors, etc.) is seen by these important parties as the enterprise having serious internal operational issues.

 

In today’s virtual world, stakeholders outside of the enterprise expect, request and require that the right information, in the right context be provided to them when they ask and provided to them immediately. Anything less is a black mark against the enterprise.   

 

The Process side of the Silo effect brings another serious risk dimension into view. Silos are built-in impediments that limit what the enterprise can do to quickly and simply improve the business.

 

Information/Process Silos are designed and built to serve a Process Need; when one looks to combine, streamline, consolidate or reengineer more than one Process, innumerable obstacles bubble to the surface.

 

These obstacles take the form of gaps and disconnects that are only apparent when the Silo is to be changed. Filling the gaps and fixing disconnects quickly renders what looked to be a quick, relatively inexpensive improvement to the business into a Pandora’s Box of costly surprises.

 

Given the vast number of Information/Process Silos that are in operation today and the likelihood of many more being created in the future – you could end up spending a fortune redesigning current systems, processes and data repositories to make information readily and cost effectively available across lines of business, between product families and spanning customer segments.

 

You could spend even more removing the barriers that currently impede quick and efficient streamlining of the business.

 

In both cases, whatever you spend, the value would quickly diminish as new Silos are deployed into the enterprise to address future needs for new or improved processes.

 

Addressing these issues requires a different approach; one that adroitly constrains future Information/Process Silo proliferation while enabling the enterprise to deftly cut through current Information/Process Silo barriers…

 

You do not need to spend a fortune; you just need to explore with us how we could help you bring clarity and cohesion to the convoluted world of unconstrained Information/Process Silos.


‘Some shot will go straight to the target every time; some shot will explode in the barrel while some shot will ricochet in the wrong direction. Some powder will flash in the pan; some powder will flare uncontrollably while some powder will be too powerful in the usual measure. Some fuses burn too fast, others too slow; some fuses will take forever to light while other fuses self ignite.’

Look again at the first sentence in the ‘old soldier’ adage; each time you read the word ‘shot’ replace it with the name of someone you are about to entrust with leadership of a critical and probably very expensive corporate transformation / business improvement project.

Can he or she hit the target every time? Do they explode prematurely? Do they jump to the wrong conclusion and fly off in the wrong direction? Unless you are absolutely certain of the answers, you might want to rethink your leadership choice.

Now reread the second sentence of the ‘old soldier’ adage again; in similar fashion, replace the word powder with either the name of the same person or another person if the first failed the ‘shot’ test.

Do the statements ring true of the person? Do they promise action but fizzle out, do they take off in many directions at once or do they overreact? Having considered the person from the perspective of these character traits, is this the right person for the project?

Finally, reread the adage again – replace the word fuses in the third sentence with the name of whoever made it through the first two ‘tests’ or someone else you might now want to task with leading the big project.

Would the person flare up too soon, would he or she take too long to make decisions, do they have difficulty getting up to speed or do they self destruct?

Finding a person who brings the right blend of shot, powder and fuses such that the project will not blow up real good is difficult enough but, unfortunately, that is only the start.

This metaphor of shot, powder and fuses is not just relevant for leadership selection. From a wider perspective it is a metaphor that speaks to the fact that corporate transformation / business improvement projects of size/import are an amalgam of conflicting egos, political infighting, silo budgetary control, not-in-my-backyard objection, optic based decision making, special interest influences, external vendor and supplier agendas, personal preferences and individual fears – a battlefield! And; every person who has, is or will be involved in the battle brings their own shot, powder and fuses.

Across every corporate transformation battlefield; shot, powder and fuses of varying strength, quality and design can be found everywhere. Peers, supervisors, subordinates, constituents, external parties and key stakeholders all possess ammunition; often carefully hoarded and hidden – ready to fire, explode, erupt, disrupt, dilute and destroy worthy, valuable projects at a moments notice.

Far too many leaders of critical improvements act like Haig of WWI infamy, they lead from the rear, they issue orders yet take pains to remain far from the action, they keep throwing away resources and money trying to conquer insurmountable obstacles instead of looking for a way to outflank the opposition, they blame others for failure.

It is one thing to select a leader with an impressive arsenal of shot, powder and fuses to lead an important initiative; it is another thing entirely if that person’s idea of leadership does NOT include stepping out into the perils of no-man’s land and braving the shot that comes from every direction including that which nowadays is termed ‘friendly fire’!

If you would like to learn more about the seminar themes I speak to, types of consulting engagements and research that underpins my thinking, feel free to browse my web presence at http://www.TLIRGroup.com

John Bolden
RMA, Mil C, C/MBB-ISSSP. F-IICM, F-IPMS

Transformation Leadership, Innovation & Research

All Rights reserved