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Archive for July, 2009

A few simple rules to make meeting more efficient

  • participants need to respect the time box allocated to them for speaking;
  • there can only be one active discussion at any time;
  • electronic gadgets must be turned off should not be visible during the meeting;
  • the facilitator and the participants must be prepared before the meeting;
  • participants must arrive on time and cannot leave the meeting before the end;
  • guests can not enter the meeting or leave the meeting between breaks;
  • all participants must raise their hand before speaking;
  • discussions and debates are encouraged;
  • the language must always be respectful and there should never be personal attack during discussions;
  • once a decision is made, it needs to be supported by all participants.

Do you use simple rules for your meetings? Share them here…

Interesting blog posts (July 30/2009)

Along the same line as an earlier post I wrote, Tara Lee Whitaker demonstrates that using an Agile approach (Lean or Scrum) allows you to start realising the benefit of your work before the project is officially ‘finished’.

Mike Cottmeyer highlights the challenges of not defining what “Done” means.

Owner of the Strategic Process

I officially took on the role of Strategic Process Owner. My role is to own (and lead) the process and ensure it works well in order to define and implement a global strategy to achieve our corporate vision.

The strategic process will look like this – more on this topic in an upcoming post.

Strategic Process

Strategic Process

As owner of the process, I am responsible for:

  • overall effectiveness of the process;
  • working closely with the leaders of the various areas of responsibility so the organization supports them in achieving their objective;
  • updating the backlog of objectives and activities required to achieve the strategy;
  • setting SMART goals in relation to the strategic map and ensuring coordination and alignment of objectives between the various leaders;
  • promoting constructive exchanges in relation to the objectives and potential opportunities to achieve them;
  • maintaining a decision log and following up on the items moved to the “parking lot” for future discussions;
  • communicating the process to all stakeholders and communicating the strategy to all employees;
  • establishing and using performance measurement to monitor progress toward achieving the vision;
  • holding the meetings and ensuring attendance;
  • ensuring commitment and support of the process by all parties.

In a nutshell, this management role is similar to the role of the Scrum Master in software development projects. We are adapting (as much as possible) the Agile principles to the management of the organization, in the hopes of establishing Agile Management.

Introduction to Scrum – Shareable Power Point Presentation

For those interested, I’m sharing “Introduction to Scrum“. It is a power point presentation covering the following topics:

  • Problems with a traditional approach
  • What is Scrum?
  • Why use Scrum?
  • How does Scrum work?
  • The Product Owner
  • The Scrum Master
  • The Team
  • The Product Backlog
  • Benefits of using a Product Backlog
  • The Sprint Backlog
  • The Scrum Cycle
  • The Burn Down Chart

You can copy, distribute, and use the content of the presentation in accordance to Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.

Problems with a traditional approach

Do you know why you show up at work every day?

Inspired by a colleague, I recently decided to document my reasons for showing up at work on my personal page of our company’s wiki. A few people “copied” the idea and told me it helped them crystallize their purpose and helped them focus on their contribution toward the success of the organization. Some of them told me others outside our organization might be interested in this – so here it is. There is no copyright on the content ;) so feel free to use it.

My dream for Pyxis

Using varied and innovative approaches Pyxis substantially increases the level of performance of companies it serves. As such, Pyxis generates a high profitability that it re-distributes to its shareholder-employees and to the community.

To its shareholder-employees:

  • By introducing the 80% rule where shareholder-employees receive 100% of their salary while working 80% of the time on an annual basis. Individuals use the remaining 20% to spend more time with their family and their friends, their colleagues and their community;
  • By paying annual bonus and dividends in relation to company performance;
  • By increasing the capital value of the company.

To the community:

  • By allocating financial and human resources to advance social causes.

My personal commitment

In line with the vision, mission, values and culture of the organization, I pledge to exercise strong leadership, to ensure the sustainability of our operations and to support the organization’s growth by deploying efforts and resources needed to achieve the objectives.

My reason for being

In line with my personal commitment to the organization, my goal for the next 24 months is to act primarily on the following 4 vectors:

  1. Establish an Agile Business Intelligence consulting practice.
  2. Participate in the sales and marketing process for our products and services.
  3. Lead the definition and implementation of our corporate strategy.
  4. Support the development and capabilities of my “golfers” through the Caddy process.

My commitment as the owner of the strategic process

I promise to take the leadership and work with all interested individuals in the establishment and implementation of a corporate strategy allowing the organization to achieve its objectives and its mission.

My commitment as a caddy

I am unwavering in the individual success of my players, my caddy and the caddy team.

Interesting blog posts (July 23/2009)

ANTHONY TJAN provides Four Simple Ways to Make Your Employees Happier – Help her create a meaningful role, Give feedback, Offer professional development, and Say thank you.

Scott McArthur also discusses happy employees = performing employees.

JOHN BALDONI provides information on How to Make People Passionate About Their Work.

Henrik Mårtensson talks about Performance Evaluations, Business Strategy, and Agile Methodologies which is related to the perception issue I raise in a recent post.

Eric D. Brown provides suggestions to Mind the gap between Strategy and Tactics.

Bret L. Simmons brings up something counter-intuitive in his post – Optimism: Too Much of a Good Thing for Entrepreneurs?

Distorted reality or listening to the voice inside your head?

I admit I was biased. It actually happened more than once. I stuck to a perception or to an earlier impression to judge someone’s message or their action.

This isn’t a new phenomenon and I certainly am not unique but it is important to remind ourselves that the voice inside our head sometime leads us to incorrect assumptions about other people. Want an example?

You don’t know Christina or Patrick but you heard that Christina is slightly hysterical and the Patrick is a slow learner. Then one day you attend a meeting where both Christina and Patrick have been invited. At some point, someone in the group makes a simple joke and Christina bursts laughing while others only politely smile. Later in the meeting, after a lenghty explanation by a colleague, Patrick asks a very simple question about something everyone else already understood. You leave the meeting thinking Christina is hysterical and Patrick seems dumb.

Are these individuals as you perceive them to be or are you victim of selective perception. Did the events confirm your perception or did your brain play a trick on you looking for evidence of their peculiarities?

As managers, we are often required to make judgements in order to take quick decisions so this situation is a dangerous one. I don’t believe we can eliminate this bias but awareness is important in order to properly assess our employees, our colleagues, and all people we work with.

Helping employees grow without an HR department?

Our organization is using an innovative human resource management approach inspired by the “golfercaddy” relationship in golf. Although the approach isn’t fully matured and there are still adjustments to be made, I believe there is value in sharing the process.

Some background

During its early years, human resources management was done entirely by the management team. The communication was centralized and the company’s founders had relations with all employees. They were responsible for hiring, annual evaluations and taking decisions relating to salary revisions. The fast growth of the organization highlighted certain limitations:

  • Managing the relationships between employees and the founders was increasingly difficult to maintain as the organization grew;
  • The centralized communication channels weren’t efficient;
  • The willingness to develop a new process without hiring specialized HR specialists;
  • The management of special situations and salary determination lacked transparency and were perceived to be unfair.

To address these emerging issues, the organization developed the “Caddy” process, a model of decentralized community-based human resource management.

What is a Caddy?

In golf, the caddy is the person who carries the golf bag, gives advice and provides moral support. A good caddy is aware of the difficulties, obstacles and peculiarities of the course, as well as the best strategies to play the course. The caddy is not the one who plays the game, the golfer is!

Objectives of the process

The objective of the process is to support employees’ success and monitor their well-being. In addition, the caddy process is a way for all employees to participate in the management of the organization by helping their peers to receive the proper feedback and skills to be successful in their role. The caddy process is deemed more efficient than the traditional hierarchical model.

The process

When an employee joins the company, he/she is assigned a caddy for a period of six months. After that period, an employee may decide to change caddy any time. A discussion between the golfer and the new caddy is required to identify the expectations of each party and determine if the match is possible and desirable.

Role and responsibilities of the Caddy

The caddy has certain responsibilities to the employee. In a traditional organization, these responsibilities are held by the Human Resources Department:

  • Communication of the corporate strategy;
  • Keeping track of business objectives;
  • Accompanying the employee in his career development and providing the support to develop new skills;
  • Assisting the employee to set goals and support them in achieving these objectives by offering the means to do so;
  • Preparing the salary revisions and making recommendations.

Caddy Team Charter

“I am unwavering in the success of each of my players, my caddy and the caddy team”.

Why?

Because people are the most important asset of the organization. Their development is linked to the success of the organization.

What?

The Caddy process is based on trust and respect. It is a relationship of support and coaching without direct authority.

Who?

The Caddy is a humble person with great listening capabilities. He has the courage to confront the person if necessary and the wisdom to do so in respect of the person. Above all, he shares a common goal with his golfers: the professional success and development of the latter.

Mean

The Caddying is one of the most important roles in the organization and he is recognized as such, encouraged and valued by the organization.

Result

The Caddy process has a significant positive impact on the development of the golfer.

The kids are having a great time at Sportmax

This is not a traditional post. At least, not for me in the context of this blog but I am so impressed with the Summer Camp (Camp de jour du College Gerald-Godin) my kids are attending that I couldn’t keep it to myself.

As a parent, I want my children to develop their body and mind and have fun in a safe and stimulating environment. Sportmax has it all.

Every night at dinner, the kids can’t stop telling us about their day, their friends and their monitors. The day goes by so fast they tell us!

One more thing, the monitors who take care of the children have high energy, they are smiling every time I see them and they seem to enjoy their work. That’s a winning combination – some organizations I work with could grow their business if their employees were as involved as the camp monitors are.

Thanks to everyone at the camp who are making my kids’ summer such a great experience.

Can an organization grow without bosses and formal authority?

Most people are familiar with the traditional hierarchical organizational structure – one person at the top has a handful of direct reports, who in turn have a handful of direct reports, who in turn… You get a pyramidal structure with as many levels as required by the organization to operate as it wishes.

At the other extreme of the organizational structure spectrum, you have small dis-organized entrepreneurial environments – the company founder with every employee reporting to him / her.

As the organization grows, we are trying to implement a new organizational structure that is innovative and that moves away from the old paradigms. The challenge we are facing is that we want to implement a structure that is scalable – will work immediately and throughout the organization’s growth – and respects the fundamental values of the organization.

Sounds easy? Try to come up with an organizational structure that can work with the following constraints:

  • every employee owns shares of the company
  • nobody has authority over another individual
  • everybody can pursue their goals as long as it fits within the company’s mission
  • people choose their assignments
  • leaders are accountable to achieve results
  • the company has to be profitable
  • leaders can only build teams through negotiation and influence
  • collectively people decide where to deploy resources (people and money) and which projects to pursue
  • no single area can have more power than any others
  • there is no Human Resources department
  • the organization is approaching 100 employees in 4 cities (2 countries)

I’d like to hear your suggestions. I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks what the new structure looks like.

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