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Measuring quantitative vs. qualitative people metrics December 1, 2009

Posted by Darth Sidious in Managing Employees.
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Regarding measuring the staff metrics, it’s relatively easy to measure quantitative performance indicators. I can measure how many rebel command ships a Captain of a Star Destroyer blows up, or how many rebels a Storm Trooper captures, and how many staff are fed to the panna monster for incompetence by my Sith Lords.

But measuring quality is hard. If someone puts in 50hrs/week and another puts in 80hrs/week, by sheer numbers the second person is putting in an enormous amount of extra effort. However, it’s really about results, so if the person at 50hrs/week gets more done in less time compared to the other person, should be rewarded more.

Technical work is a little bit easier to measure quality – if you can link back the amount of defects to a person, that’s one way to do it. However defects aren’t the only indicator of quality, if someone implements a “better” solution that allows for easier maintenance going forward… that’s a higher degree of quality.

Or for the Star Destroyer Captain, if he can take out a rebel command ship with the least amount of damage taken to the ship, that’s a statement of quality to his strategy.

But how do you quantify it in measurable terms… Sometimes you need to just start somewhere – in this case dollars spent on repairs would be a start.


I.T Managers – assess the needs of the company September 16, 2009

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Business Management.
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All too often I.T Managers develop an agenda, an I.T agenda. It may very well be intentioned such as increasing server availability, business continuity, network intrusion prevention, software upgrades, etc… and not that they shouldn’t be done, but it needs to be top down driven.

This means that you need to assess the needs of the company, and then translate that to your technology goals. And this assessment needs to be periodically reassessed as the business is in a state of constant change – what is a priority now might not be a priority 3 months from now.

Periodic reassessment of corporate needs, the real needs, help ensure you’re working on the right things. Your I.T goals need to be directly aligned to corporate goals and initiatives.

Successful I.T managers are those that have a strong ability to quickly assess the needs and tangible issues of the business, and how the current technology platform serves (or doesn’t serve) those needs. And for those that are weak, they create initiatives that miss the ball and end up costing the company huge sums of money.

As an I.T manager, make a point to develop this skill, and make it a recurring task to re-evaluate (and publish) an assessment of where the company is and how close the technology is to supporting that. Career wise, this will open the doors to more responsibilities.


Long distance work relationships have more problems July 10, 2009

Posted by Darth Sidious in Statistical Tidbits.

According to research by VitalSmarts, working remotely causes 243% more workplace problems (such as lack of trust, misrepresentation of information, etc…) compared to those who work locally. Not only are they more common but are harder fix with 54% of survey respondents saying problems with long distance employees last a few weeks vs. problems with local employees which tend to last a few days.

Darth Sidious

Crisis – it might be what’s needed for change March 26, 2009

Posted by Darth Sidious in Business Management.

It’s easy to campaign for improving how things are done, and you’ll get a lot of lip service with people who say they like and support the idea.

But what usually ends up happening is that it’s business as usual. Habits are hard to kill, and it takes a concious effort to do something different than what you normally do (especially if what you normally do kinda works ok).

What can happen though is the lack of making these changes can eventually lead to a crisis, but you know what? Maybe that’s exactly what you need.

Bad things aren’t always bad…

Of course something bad happening (lost revenue, customer escalation, mission critical system outage, etc…) is bad. However as managers and leaders, part of your responsibilities is to use these bad events as opportunities for positive change.

And an outright crisis is a big opportunity for that change as you’ve gotten people’s eyes wide open. So if getting to that right spot isn’t happening – don’t view a crisis as totally bad, some good may become of it.

Darth Sidious

Luck is being prepared for an opportunity… March 18, 2009

Posted by Darth Sidious in Inspirational Quotes.
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I love this quote:

Luck is being prepared for an oppotunity

Ever hear people complain that such and such Sith Lord is lucky? True, unpredictable events occur where someone was at the right place at the right time. What’s predictable is that unpredictable events occur all the time, so those who are prepared for it are able to capitalize on it and thus be lucky.

Those who are not prepared, are unlucky. They let life push them in whatever random direction life pushes them in.

Darth Sidious

The Danger of Entitlement and Incentives March 10, 2009

Posted by Darth Sidious in Managing Employees.
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One of the problems with salary increases, bonuses, and other incentives (ESPP, stock options, etc…) is that they quickly become viewed as entitlements. The first or second time you try it, you get a boost of appreciation as it’s unexpected, but from then on it’s just merely expected in return for existing levels of performance.

So what’s a Sith Lord to do? Well for starters be careful how often you use it – reduced and unexpected frequencies help, and the moment it becomes expected stop before employees become dependent on it (I’ve seen people base their personal finances on anticipated bonuses, ESPP, and stock options).

Also, try to rotate between incentives so that it doesn’t become the expected, routine, and periodic quarterly bonus check. But rather incentives targetted towards rewarding something specific (e.g. a thanks for completing Death Star #23 ahead of time and under budget).

You can be successful at periodic incentives, just make sure they reward very specific achievements (preferrably goals and expectations that were communicated early on). You don’t want employees to feel they’re getting it out of entitlement (e.g. for merely existing for a period of time), but because they completed and outstanding job on a certain task (and if they want another one, they’ll need to repeat the outstanding performance – because it’s not going to happen with status quo).

Darth Sidious

Ultimus Releases BPM Prioritization Tool February 15, 2009

Posted by Darth Sidious in Business Management, Project Management.
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Ultimus announced an interesting tool aimed at helping organizations prioritize what processes to automate, based on the value it presents to the business.

Ultimus, a maker of business-process management (BPM) and workflow-automation software, announced the released of a Microsoft Excel-based application designed to help organizations select and prioritize which business processes to automate.

The tool guides the process owner through a systematic approach to automation goals, ranks the suitability of choices, and determines which are most likely to provide the greatest benefit to the organization, said the company.

For more information, read on…

What’s Your Next Step February 12, 2009

Posted by Darth Sidious in Plugs.
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A piece of good advice for anyone in both their professional and personal life is to surround yourself with experts.

Of course this doesn’t apply to me, for I am the greatest being that has ever existed. But for those of you who are mortal, try as you might, you can’t possibly be an expert at everything. Silly but extreme example – have you ever met someone who was a brain surgeon and a forensic accountant?

If you’re in a Sr role in your team, a manager, or in a leadership role this is even more important. So although I enjoy blowing up planets, I’ve decided to leave a few planets alone for the services they provide. I course have no personal need for such services (due to my perfection) but in helping my staff grow and become successful I’ve been sending them to work with these companies.

One such service is the Consultant Advisor – which I currently have Darth Nihilus attending (he’s the President of our Sith Professional Services consulting division). The Consultant Advisor (TCA) can guide you into breaking into the consulting industry, becoming a leader in consulting, and becoming entrepreneurial. Since sending Nihilus to work with Emi at TCA he’s improved profits by 22% in that line of business.

tcaFor more information Visit:


Causing a Crisis to alter behavior February 11, 2009

Posted by Darth Sidious in Managing Employees.
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Back in 2007 we posted research that showed that not even the possiblity of death was enough to change people’s behaviors. Most humanoids are weak minded, they hate change, and love staying within their comfort zone. But the reality is that you can never just coast along for long, change is inevitable, so you either get on board with it or you die.

As a manager you don’t want your business to die, and you don’t want people to lose their jobs. The key to managing people is to recognize that there is no one size fits all solution, you have to personalize your approach with each individual – what works for one person may not work for another.

So in your manager’s toolkit you may have tried various reward mechanisms, recognition, compensation, ownership, etc.. You may have tried to subtly point out that jobs are at stake – but people may have assumed that their particular position is safe because they’re working hard, so it’ll probably be someone else.

Here’s something different to try – create a crisis on purpose to see if it causes people to change. It takes 20-45 days to modify behavior, so with a bit of luck, perhaps a good jolt will cause people to adapt. It’s a little bit risky because you’re taking a calculated risk by exposing the business to the consequence of instability, so you’ll want to plan it out and identify what indicators you’re going to measure to know when to pull the plug on your crisis experiment.

If people aren’t filling the need, and things are functioning, how is it that the crisis doesn’t occur normally? Probably because you’re having to jump in and constantly handle the burning ambers yourself before they blaze out of control. But you can’t grow an organization if you’re having to burn up your time dealing with these little things while the team itself isn’t growing.

So what kind of crisis’s can you incur? If you run a support team, how about you stop jumping in to save the day whenever the team isn’t picking up the slack? Let them get overloaded, throw out suggestions, but see if they’re able to adapt. Or if a deadline is coming up on a project and normally you would jump in to save the day… don’t save it. Or if an automated alert indicates an important system is out of disc space and no one responds because you’ve conditioned them to subconsciously knowing that it magically gets taken care of… let it go unresolved.

You need to be creative with this one, but this is just one of many things you can try to alter team or individual behavior. Good luck!

Darth Sidious

Nurture positive perceptions February 9, 2009

Posted by Darth Sidious in Career Management.

Perceptions are everything…

There is no reality, it’s only what people perceive. Perceptions are formed by what people see and hear (vs. researching the raw data). Even data is easily manipulated to manage perceptions (e.g. squishing a line chart horizontally makes the peaks and valleys look more drastic). One study showed that those who work in the office vs. telecommuter counter parts were often paid more or promoted more often because the face time affected perceptions (vs. the actual results).

That’s how Anakin Skywalker came to the dark side. The Jedi Council wouldn’t promote him to a Jedi Master, even though he was given considerable responsibility and skill wise he was in the top 5% of those on the Council itself. Although the Council’s intentions were good, Anakin perceived this as disrespect (which then made it easy for me to milk that perception and get him to wipe them all out).

So… here’s the thing. It takes months of hard work to form a positive perception, and it takes only a day to destroy it (via one bad event, e.g. missing a deadline). So once you there, you need to maintain it. This includes your perception with your teammates, boss, customers, etc…

Darth Sidious