Seventhman Blog

  1. IT, Project Management and The Impossible Dream

    "project management"Is there such a thing as a perfect project management method?  As businesses are struggling to implement Agile with all the rapid iteration in the hope of coming up with something innovative, the pressure is on.  We’re currently in the last quarter of the year and one can only look back to January to see if you’ve got more items ticked on your wish list.  From status reporting, budgeting, managing teams to numerous technology that allows you to do all these in a breeze, surely, there’s one (or more) things you would like to wish for this coming 2014?

    An IT Project Manager’s Wish List

    You might wonder why I’m writing about this too early when we are a few months’ away from the coming of the new year.  The thing is, there’s never such a thing as ‘too early’ or ‘too late’ if you want to implement real change, right now.  I believe that most of you can relate to one or more of the items here:

    Wish #1 Managing the Right Team

    While every project manager wishes for the best team, it is only the best project managers who can bring out the best in each person (no matter how hopeless).  Would you agree?

    Wish #2 Getting More Involved

    For those of you who are working with big organizations, being included in key management decisions is an ultimate dream.  It would feel so much better when the right expectations are set because IT is not some magic pill that will solve every issue in the business.

    Wish #3 Clarity

    In line with the item above, if there’s strong leadership support, it’s easier to manage stakeholders.  Having a clear objective and clearly communicating it can help avoid delays, slipups and all the ugly situations in between.

    Wish #4 User-Friendly Project Management and Collaboration Tools

    While the internet is rich with tools to get things done, finding something simple for everyone on the team to use is just a minor challenge; getting everyone to accept the idea of using it is another.

    Wish #5  Earning Trust and Respect

    Project management is about respecting, empowering and entrusting your team.  It’s seldom that project managers get to earn their team’s respect especially in running a diverse team of skills, personalities and dreams.  Only a few has conquered the unimaginable..

    And wouldn’t any IT project manager want issues to be resolved by themselves, that resources can be put on auto-mode to keep everyone productive, and that clients won’t make any request for changes?  Now, these are wishful thinking.

    In reality, project management is not for project managers alone and there will always be unique challenges to face.  One thing’s for sure though: Technology speeds up the way we work and communicate, helping us make better and informed decisions.

    Is there a wish you have right now where managing your IT project is concerned?  I am no genie, but my experience allows me to guide you in the right direction.  How Can I Help?




  2. The Greatest Challenge a CIO Has to Face

    "cio"For quite some time, I have been pondering about the current talent shortage that many businesses are complaining about.  Is it really a lack of people who fit skill-wise.. or personality-wise?  For the same reason, CIOs should spend more time thinking about human resources so they can bridge the gap between innovation and strategic initiative. When there is a need to manage people to perform their best and increase opportunities in corporate profitability, perhaps it’s high time that the CIO and HR executive work head-to-head over a cup of coffee.. and brew a plan that will advance the company’s business goals to create results, for real.

    The Paradox: Integrating IT with Business

    Thanks to the rise in cloud applications, CIOs are taking a more strategic role in the business side of things, rather than simply sit back in the tech department.  Sooner, every CIO will be equipped with ways to merge IT and business so s/he can make plans that will drive revenue, solve customer pain points and fix persistent business issues.  While the HR has  a treasure cove of data about workers lying dormant in the system, the CIO has the analytic skills to unearth value out of these data.  To deal with managing talents, having a scientific approach will turn businesses into game changers.  The CIO may just find the crucial piece that connects value creation and innovation.  But the real challenge is how to make everyone think that IT is not a separate entity from the entire business.  This time, we have to shift the focus on IT tasks to relationships.  Simply put – just because you’re not writing codes don’t mean you are not adding value on the table.

    With High Risks Come High Rewards

    Maybe I’m asking too much.. but CIOs who are adopting mobility these days are also the ones who are facing high rewards – with greater risks.  Those who embraced the idea of telecommuting are seeing better results, with happier employees as a plus.  While it’s totally fine to be cautious about mobility, being resistant to change is not.  If you take longer than the rest to moving things forward, you will be left behind in the race.  With the recent reports on China’s cyber-espionage, the outsourcing industry hit another dent where data security is concerned.  Still, adopting mobility in the workplace is on the rise to meet end-user demand.  How can we do a better job for our talents and make sure we attract new ones?  This is the question everyone in business has been asking lately to make sure they increase speed, agility and productivity – while improving their brand value, customer loyalty and competitive advantage.

    The Quest for Continuous Improvement Begins

    Where do CIOs go from here?  The only way to improve is to actively measure what works and what doesn’t.  The issue is not much about identifying problems, but the quality of new solutions being run.  At some point, you have to check if your KPI (key performance indicator) is up-to-date.  Data on job candidates alone are not enough to identify the key element to their success.  You have to anticipate their needs so you can plan programs that will improve their job satisfaction and keep attrition rate closer to nil.  Money alone is not a great motivator so you may have to revamp what will have a greater impact on your bottom line – then, draft incentive structures based on what exactly makes them perform best.  You can’t take the back seat this time hoping that things will improve soon.

    If you want to have a clue about what’s happening – you have to be in the game.  This is the ONLY way.  It’s high time to match your IT portfolio with your business strategy.  The Good News?  It’s achievable.

  3. To Create Innovation, You Must Inspire Loyalty First

    "innovation inspire loyalty"If there’s one thing I haven’t enjoyed as a client managing outsourced talents, it’s getting straight talk when things go wrong.  I believe it’s only human to avoid bad news, so much as becoming its torch bearer.  The truth is that the days of lifetime employment are over and we’re now seeing a shift to agile workers who defy time, culture and place.  In a perfect world, you would want to have top talents who are loyal to your brand.  Those who share their skills, offer solutions, add valuable ideas, help the team and boost the morale of the group – are a gem.  They are the very heart of successful companies.

    Loyalty:  The Tie that Binds Creativity and the Entrepreneurial Spirit

    To my fellow business owners, the real question to ask yourselves is this: How open are you at encouraging your people to take chances?  There have been many bad stories that add to the list of nightmares any client can have, whether running a virtual team or managing a vendor-client relationship.  While everyone is in the quest for innovation, sometimes, the problem here is not really logical.. but emotional.  Mistakes do happen and you know that there’s a risk in every business.  Why take the blame on the person completely?  The more you practice this, the backward your business model will be.  You have taken all the risk to become the leader that you are.  It’s time to support your people to take smart risks and learn, don’t you think?

    How to Inspire Loyalty in Outsourced Teams

    A loyal employee makes for a winning team.  When you’re dealing with cultural and geographical differences, the challenge is even tougher.  The key here is giving everyone your flexible and undivided attention, starting with:

    1. The Hiring Stage

    It’s a rigorous task to filter the right person or agency among the batch.  If you’re careful selecting now, the lesser percentage of attrition rate you get later.  Those who are well-matched are more likely to stay loyal.  What values do they share with yours?

    2.  The Onboarding Stage

    You want your virtual assistant to work now and become more productive so s/he can produce results quickly.  Would you suffer quality for quantity then?  If you can spare a week of properly introducing the person to your business so s/he can fully understand the brand, the lesser room for miscommunication and demotivation in the future.

    3.  The Training Stage

    While many independent contractors and consultants are equipped with the latest tools and tricks of the trade, providing upfront training about your brand will give new recruits to talk to you intelligently and contribute ideas to the group.  If you’re short on time and budget, why not use your top performers to introduce your organization, mission and vision?

    4.  The Work Stage

    Your team’s needs will always evolve and as their leader, you can inspire them to help you succeed by offering career advancement opportunities, other than monetary rewards.  Offer everyone the opportunity to tailor their job to your needs so they won’t simply leave and join your competition.  Give your people the right to make choices, the freedom and control to make decisions, and trust them when they do so.  Communicate clearly their roles and responsibilities.

    And simply have fun… as you watch your A-team fulfill the success of your dreams.  If you value them more than their job titles, you may just win their heart over.  Not everyone is created equal, but having an open mind to change may just send a domino effect leading to a positive change.

    Are you ready to lead by example this time?  Or, better yet.. ask your team what they want you to stop doing right now.

  4. Do You Manage or Lead Innovation?

    "innovation creativity"Sometimes, doing nothing is the right thing when it comes to giving your team the independence they need.  Managing an invisible workforce made it harder for businesses to trust their virtual teams to become more innovative.  The physical distance has become a great challenge where leadership and management is concerned.  The issue always come in how you can motivate your team to achieve their fullest potential.  How do you know that they’re working and committed to your business goals?

    Manage Without Managing

    I can’t deny that this is the age of creatives and geeks – of individuals who will push the limits of your imagination so you can come up with a cutting edge solution.  But with talent comes difficulty, especially on how to manage effectively.  You see, your talented crew may also be the most difficult to work with as they want autonomy far from the structured work environment that we see in the turn of the industrial age.  But, this doesn’t mean you can’t lead them.  You have to walk on a tight rope here and keep your balance, to make them feel that they’re part of a group while giving them the freedom to explore. It’s not easy.  Achievable? Definitely.

    When Conflict Meets the Creative Process

    You may disagree with me, but when teams are forced to face a conflict, they are more likely to come up with better solutions.  The key here is moderation.  If you’re open to the idea, instead of trying to control the leash on your people – let it loosen a bit and encourage civil disagreements on certain tasks.  Their independence will translate to inter-dependence as they try their innovative best to come up with the best fix.  Your team’s diversity may just be the missing link between failure and success.  Innovation becomes a fun, exciting quest for everyone then.

    Lessons I Have Learned in Working with Creatives

    To lead or to manage?  I’ve often asked myself this.  In my years of working with remote teams, I have learned that guiding them helps us all win.. than me having to actively manage people like puppets.  This doesn’t mean that there are no rules.  Instead, I focused on the bigger picture.  Boundaries are simply guides so everyone’s effort can complement each other’s.  Think of your team as a pack and you’re the pack leader.  It’s not about deadlines, but more on timelines.  Think about that the next time someone missed a milestone so you can address the issue, and not the person.

    If there’s one hard pill to swallow – it’s learning that there are better, inspiring ideas than yours.  It’s up to you now to listen, collaborate and open up avenues for creative conversation with your entire team.  You have the power to encourage everyone to think big and when they do, your appreciation will mean more than anything else in the world.

    Are you ready to give your team the freedom to fail.. so they can succeed faster?

  5. Business Lessons: The Art of Doing Nothing

    "doing nothing style"Someone told me that if you want to succeed, you must learn how to do nothing.  I bet you’ll raise your eyebrows too and argue otherwise.  But if you take time to do nothing and ponder on the wisdom of these words, you’ll realize that to become a great leader, you have to stop over-managing and step away from the comforts of your status quo.  It can’t be any simpler than that.  It will all boil down to trust – you don’t have to be involved all the time in what your team does.  You can just observe from a distance.

    Cultivating Innovation in the Workplace

    If you’re open to change, it is easier for you to allow change to happen at work.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a small startup, a big business, or working with virtual teams across the globe.  Are you running an office without walls?  I’m not talking of physical barriers here.  Just take a dive at how Google works and what makes it an innovative place is its company culture.  But this doesn’t only limit you to working within the office.  You can also outsource innovation and create empowered teams regardless of culture, language and region.  Collaboration may be the key to creating and sustaining innovation at its prime.

    Do-Nothing Leadership Style Scrutinized

    So far, you must have thought that doing nothing is all about playing golf all day and placing your business in auto-pilot.  Wishful thinking, I’d say.  What I meant here is spending more time thinking of awesome strategies in the hope of helping your team implement these.  It’s about introspection, of taking the time to check every detail of your business road map and see to it that everyone is on the right path – making key decisions that will help everyone do their jobs better.  The next time you’re looking for the next big idea, why don’t you take a leisurely walk in the office and talk to your employees?  Your openness is the final test to breaking the barriers of conversation within your team.  You may just unlock the door to real innovation.

    Breaking the Do-Nothing Rule

    The biggest mistake any start-up founder can do is to be out in the open, doing everything.  There’s nothing wrong with that, you may think.  After all, the whole business is your idea and you want to get involved in every process.  You may feel vulnerable if you will take a step back and watch the process unfold.  Don’t be afraid.  Let things unravel as you take time to allow room for creativity, freedom and flexibility to work its magic.  The only time that you have to stop doing nothing is when you’re the only person who can do the task immediately or when no one feels like doing the dirty work.  That’s the time you take responsibility and spring from inaction.. into action.

    At the end of the day, doing nothing is doing the right thing.  Would you agree?

  6. Do You Have What It Takes to Become a Great CEO?

    "great leadership"I’m just catching up with the news around this year’s Olympics in London and thought that I would blog about inspiration you can get from the game that applies to an entrepreneur’s world.  Problem is that many are doing that already.  Come to think of it, business is a lot like sports.. where you engage in the game of solving your customer’s pain, offer them something unique, sell, build relationships, lead and try to gain your sanity by aiming for a work-life balance.  Sometimes, it makes you think that radical thinking is the only real thing that separates a good business from a great one.  While many of the benefits far outweigh the challenges every business owner face, it makes me wonder why only a small percentage of companies are truly great.  What is great..?

    What Makes a Great Startup CEO

    Being CEO has more than a touch of glamour printed on your business card.  It’s more than that drive to innovate that moves the usual CEO to becoming a great one.  S/he is a keeper of the vision that’s larger for everyone to understand and I’m talking long term here.  Just take a look at how giants like Apple, Facebook and Google all started as startups.. and the great leaders that pushed everyone to put the pieces of a huge jigsaw puzzle together in building something larger than life.  Have they known that they will become a phenomenal success?  Of course, not!  Only movies got spoilers for that and for the rest of us who work hard to make this vision a reality, it takes passion, determination and extremely low levels of tolerance for stress that makes you wonder if we’re some sort of a sadomasochistic herd ( no pun intended ).  Yes, everyone wants to have our job because we are insanely successful, we can take off whenever we want, got lots of time to party around and so on.  I hate to break the bad news to you.. but the real scenario is far from the myths that surround an entrepreneur’s life.  I can work 18 hours or more in a day or two just to keep things working for my clients.  I may not be building the next breakthrough in the name of tech, but the harder I work, the more results I see.  Great CEOs are always excited to control their own destiny.

    Do You Have What It Takes to Build a Great Business?

    Most of us online are already well connected.  You got the expertise and the contacts.  What should you do next?  In my years of competing in the consulting business, I have learned that there is a fine line between being unique and being useful.  What differentiates you from the rest doesn’t necessarily mean that it is something of value to your customers, and focusing on benefits alone can turn your business into a boring brand, something that looks like everyone else.  Where do you draw the line?  While you may disagree with me on this very opinionated post that you should not focus on revenues, your sensitivity through active listening will just help you pinpoint the real root cause of the problem.  In a world where the fast beats the big, time is quintessential.  As Bill Gates said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”  Consequently, it is of no coincidence that the world’s greatest leaders ( even the infamous ones ) are great communicators.  Truth is, your clients won’t really care how much you know until they know how much you care about their problem.  Creating this culture of caring into your business will pave the road to greatness.

    Managing Your Mind: The Great Barrier to Your Success Reef

    The biggest challenge that you will face before you become a great CEO is facing the doppelganger of your restless mind.  How many times have you doubted your performance?  You think you’re doing a great job and yet, you feel bad.  What’s wrong in this picture?  The only way for you to become a great leader is to be one.  No amount of management training can really prepare you for the job of running a company.  And even if you think you know what you are doing in an era where everyone is involved in the new way of doing business, things can go awfully wrong.  When it does, you may add more injury to the pain by taking everything too personally or not personally enough.  Where do you really step in?  Is being great a lonely job, after all?  I’d say that there will be plenty of times when you feel like quitting and if you succumb, you wouldn’t know that you’re only a step away towards success.  Fear is irrational and it’s all inside your head.

    Can you keep your focus on your roadmap?  That’s something for you to ponder on this summer..