Tag archives for Teaming

Developing Brand Ambassadors

Many of us have heard the idea that “everybody sells”. In today’s competitive environment this notion is more polished and is more apt to be expressed as the development of brand ambassadors. While there is a formal definition that revolves around proactive use of a celebrity to help market products and services, there is also a significant awareness and movement to make everybody within a company more of a brand ambassador.

Performance-minded companies are recognizing that employees are the big obvious source of brand ambassadors, and are implementing programs to nurture them.  And of course this leads to consideration for the relevant characteristics of the people that are hired into the company. A most simple and direct way of analyzing peoples’ aptitude for becoming brand ambassadors is to assess them in terms of motivation, relationships, and work style.  These personal characteristics can indicate whether the candidates appreciate the idea and whether they would support it. This is important to cultivate because in turn, brand ambassadors help provide a company path to optimization, customer engagement, and employee engagement.

Motivation is the desire or driving force to do things. Is there alignment between the values of the individual and those of the company? Is there a strong enough response or stance to suggest that the person will have the will to do things that support the stakeholders? From motivation there should be a discernible link to pride.

Relationships are derived from social actions and social behaviors that give meaning. These actions/behaviors are directed toward the society or social structure your business represents. Does the person get off on the right foot with people and suggest an ability to maintain meaningful dialogue? From relationships there should be a discernible link to lasting impressions.

Work style is determined by what a person can do, what he/she prefers to do, and how it gets done. Is the person overtly collaborative, or does she/he work better alone? How might the person handle tradeoffs of quality and time? From work style there should be a discernible link to perfectionism.

Applying Rules for Business Performance

TAKEAWAY: Rules are getting more attention because, more than ever, they demonstrate ability to impact productivity. This article provides insight into why this is the case, and how rules can help companies succeed in today’s competitive environment.

Rules have always been around, even taken for granted. Of late rules have been subjected to increased diligence, and increasingly subjected to automation. New approaches are enabling rules to be proactively used in business analysis, change facilitation and solution development. Progressively approached, rules are an integral part of the business blueprint and vital to performance.

Rules that can be applied to make repeatable decisions on a predictable basis are the starting point. Such rules reside in different places, like policy, regulations, legacy computer systems, and “tribal knowledge”. These rules work in direct conjunction with decisions and processes to impact performance.

Why Companies are Investing in Business Rules

  • Rules bring efficiency to structured repeatable decisions, so productivity is improved and more predictable. Additionally, this operational efficiency keeps experts free to spend their energy on the more unique unstructured situations.
  • Rules can be made clear and transparent, enabling team understanding of how and why decisions are made. In operation you can see precisely what might need to change, and there is a workable path to do so.
  • Rules, as defined and owned by the business and as supported and facilitated by IT, provide a vital opportunity to get the team communicating and working together. The nature of rules injects discipline and attention to detail, while directly serving strategy.

How to Approach Business Rules (and Get the Desired Outcomes)

Rule-oriented techniques and tools have evolved and are a proven path for business analysis, using a genuinely business-driven approach. This is resulting in high quality business requirements, and leading to the best available solutions – solutions that are flexible, get used, and deliver results.

Rules are vital and need to be treated in context of the productivity improvements that are available, and their ability to bring a company to relatively high performance teaming (or even influence the culture). To establish rules as an important element of a company’s performance architecture, deliberate steps must be taken to recognize the commitment, keep the right people involved, manage the initiative, and assure a solid support structure. In hope of distinguishing this from the usual motherhood and apple-pie, the following points are offered to help make a rules-based program successful:

  • A rules-based program can start to resemble “moths drawn to a flame”, so be prepared and take advantage. Business people will have their interest piqued and stay engaged if the effort shows promise. IT will be anxious for true requirements that brings them closer to the business and the allure of high system ROI. Recognize and stand up to the pervasive challenges of credibility and communications. Start with (and maintain) a communication strategy that includes development of a business vocabulary (not geek speak).
  • Recognize that business people do understand and care but will be hard pressed to stay engaged because there is real cost when they are pulled away from operations. Organize the program to involve the right business people at the right times and in the right ways. Prepare and work to cultivate the active, high-impact participation of business stakeholders with an absolute minimum time investment. Administer the program with the same clarity and transparency that is to be embodied into the rules themselves. Continuously clarify and validate roles and responsibilities.
  • Recognize that IT people are required and can assume the role of program leader/facilitator. There is a significant list of items that must be diligently addressed, all from an unwavering business perspective. These include scope, charter, goals/objectives, issue management, business and system analysis and modeling, reporting/metrics, and ultimately the rules themselves. Certainly the right IT people can do this, and it is true that a rules-based program typically leads to system requirements, design etc. However, more fundamentally, note that rules present a unique opportunity to link to strategy, something that must be done in close cooperation (even deference) to the business. The point is that this is one of those key opportunities for IT to be one with the business, and it is no place for trial-and-error, poor communication skills, or questionable credibility. Send the A team.
  • Use methods and spend energy to extract rules from their natural state, where ever they are (policies, systems, peoples’ heads, etc.). and establish them as a baseline within a business rule management system (BRMS).  Along the way, seek to gain real-business-life insights into successes and failures. Recognize that the goal is not simply to have a centralized repository of rules, but to proactively apply them for performance improvement. Map and refine rules in relation to the established vocabulary and key performance indicators (KPIs). Decompose and understand the affected decisions, and place those decisions in their process contexts. Analyze the rules in context of affected processes and supportive automation. Automation makes a huge capability improvement, but there will always be need for a practical understanding of how it works (if the system rejects someone, it’s not acceptable to simply say it’s because the system said so). Test specific rule adjustments to anticipate their impact before deploying. Maintain a clear path for business stakeholders to realize timely adjustments as required. Treat the program as a well-qualified source of company knowledge and best-practices.

Business Fusion and Performance via PPM

TAKEAWAY: Project & portfolio management (PPM) has come along well in recent times, primarily by IT in the course of building business-IT relations. In some cases this PPM discipline can be viable to strengthen the enterprise.

Kudos to the IT community for putting new structure and discipline around project & portfolio management (PPM). Not only does PPM present the opportunity to build business-IT relations and alignment, PPM can be used to inject all manner of goodness into business capabilities and performance at large.

PPM sits at the junction between the business architecture and the underlying business model – the performance crossroad. A progressive adoption of PPM can be a gatekeeper, reinforcing positive change and behaviors. Approach it as  IT or IT governance only and you might be missing some attractive opportunities.

 

PPM is typically adopted to promote transparency and understanding in terms of how IT is to be developed and deployed in support of business objectives. The basics include things you might expect or use within a program management office (PMO), addressing such as project criteria and prioritization, funding allocation and appropriation, and deliverable specification (and satisfaction) in context of business requirements. PPM brings some formalization to business-IT interactive processes and gets everybody on their toes.This typical application of PPM can help keep a spot light on the chronic worry of IT spending, the percentage spent on sustain versus new development, etc. Importantly, it also helps protect against the usual reasons IT projects don’t live up to their expectations.

Then one day there can be an epiphany. PPM is really working well as relates to the IT projects and portfolio. So why can’t this structure and efficiency be applied to the corporation’s wider interests, to all the classes of projects and the associated investment portfolio? Is there existing redundancy, and if so, is it really needed and can it be afforded?

Consider that many projects are undertaken to establish new capabilities. And when it comes to establishing those capabilities in business operations, the business-IT fusion has to be there. And this fusion is much more flowing and probable and effective if it has been established and in evidence from the top down.

The suggestion is that PPM can grow beyond IT in scope and benefits. To do so it has to be a dynamic exchange characterized by good communications and structured control. Artfully executed, stronger business-IT fusion can begin to creep in, and the PMO function is elevated to the enterprise. This could bring it to the point where all things are more aligned, and where there is less tendency for “shadow IT”.

While the benefits of progressive PPM can be seen on a project basis, benefits can go up and some forms of complexity can go down when the discipline is applied to the enterprise portfolio. By doing planning and prioritization in one spot, it can foster an atmosphere of trust and ownership, and facilitates good cross-functional learning. PPM can become a center of knowledge and expertise, providing an excellent forum to drive to common terminology and practices, such as lean. Positioned and defined this way, PPM can be used to deliberately manage change. It can be used as the company’s focal point for definition of key processes and their associated key performance indicators (KPIs), and merged with process automation.

Business-IT integration is always going to happen in some fashion. PPM, especially when applied as an enterprise enabler, just makes it more predictable and productive. PPM might start for IT oriented purposes, but can be extended for wider business interests. PPM as suggested might be one of those crawl-walk-run propositions, probably starting with a rigorous self-examination that assumes a willingness to take on some challenging realities.

Everyone in the Enterprise Needs to Know How They Contribute to the Goals and Objectives

Imagine what it would mean if every employee knew how they contribute to the company goals and objectives. Making sure they know can be pursued as part of a human resource strategy. You can think of it as an effort to achieve high performance teaming, or to harness the full power of the team.

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