Last week, DID’s “Sharpen Yourself” series discussed the Agile Software Development trend. This week’s installment discusses the issue of team member performance. The context involves a team member who will not perform within the team’s new Agile development approach – but the issue surfaces in many contexts within the workplace.
One manager in the UK offers some thoughts from his own experience. Our own experience disagrees somewhat, in that there is more than one way, and team pressure can be an effective approach when used properly. We’re also reminded of a friend’s experience, which prompted him to write “My Ft. Bragg MBA.” On the other hand, Kelly Waters’ provides a useful sequence and toolset that should form the core of a good manager’s response.
“I’ve managed software development teams for many years (in the UK) and am currently responsible for a web development group of about 90 people. I think I’ve experienced every HR/management procedure in the book and keep promising to write a book about some of the more extreme examples (that are entertaining stories in hindsight but certainly weren’t at the time!).
…In my experience there’s only one way to deal with someone behaving badly in an Agile Development team (in fact in any team):”
Government contracting is a difficult field for businesses to enter. This is especially true if they lack the prior experience that can help them find and filter potential contracts, understand the cycle times and effort involved, secure the cash flow required as table stakes, and bid successfully. Within that arena of public sector contracting, defense is its own field, with its own characteristics and sets of relationships.
These obstacles have traditionally made it difficult for small and medium sized businesses that focus on the civilian sector to become involved in defense contracts. This is so despite federal targets for small business contracts, programs for service-disabled veterans, and other inducements. Those programs create opportunities, but don’t offer the services that help businesses bridge the gap.
The US Defense Logistics Agency’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) program relies on matching state funds, but states who invest in it can create a useful resource that helps bridge the gap in their states. One state that has invested in PTAC is Utah, under Gov. John Huntsman…
by Art Fritzson, Lloyd W. Howell Jr., and Dov S. Zakheim
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) took an unprecedented step on May 15, 2007, blocking troop access to MySpace, YouTube, and other popular Web sites. The official reason was to conserve bandwidth and safeguard security. But the DOD’s ban also highlighted a gap in understanding between senior military leaders and what demographers call Generation Y (alternatively known as the millennial generation or the baby-boom echo). Few members of this generation, born after 1978, can recall a time when the Internet was not at their disposal.
Not long ago, one of the authors of this article was asked to lead a U.S. Air Force study on the implications for the military of this new online generation. The request came from senior officers who had been appalled to discover a number of junior officers using the still-permissible Facebook Web site for the purpose of organizing their squadrons. These senior officers were having difficulty with the concept of using a civilian social-networking site for military purposes. What would that mean for military security? How would it affect the control and vulnerability of squadrons in the field? And from the perspective of DOD “middle management,” what was a major supposed to do? Forbid the behavior and risk losing the real benefits of an online community? Or protect it and risk the wrath of more senior officers who just didn’t understand?
This kind of conundrum is relevant not just for the U.S. military. A wide range of organizations, including most global corporations, will soon face a large, new cohort of young employees. Generation Y’s affinity for the interconnected world is just one of its intriguing characteristics…
What sort of a presence have you built online? If a recruiter had the perfect opportunity for you, and typed in all of the keywords in a search on LinkedIn, would your profile show up in the results? If a potential customer searched for terms related to your specialties or services on LinkedIn, would you get noticed near the top of the list of results?
Inside The LinkedIn Personal Trainer, I present a program that teaches readers how to use LinkedIn to find, get found, and network your way to success. That middle component – Get Found – is significant!
With presentations a fact of corporate and military life, “Preparing More Powerful Presentations” offers tips that can help presenters improve, and links to additional resources. One way to ensure better presentations is to use shorter presentations, with advance hand-out or held back Appendices that offer key details and information.
In order to really make shorter presentations work, however, one must think about them in a different way. Silicon Valley has its own semi-standard 12-slide pitch format for entrepreneurs, but it doesn’t always translate directly into corporate presentations. Enter Bill Jensen, whose best-selling book “Simplicity” speaks to the internally-generated, productivity-sapping “fog of business,” and discusses ways to think and act differently in order to create more clarity. Jensen’s site, SimplerWork.com, also includes a number of resources – one of which is “The Ultimate 10 Page Presentation” [PDF, 350k]. Tips include:
“People will tolerate your logic for no more than a couple minutes. (Usually less!) After that, they start forming their own conclusions – whether or not you’ve gotten to your point…”
Management is its own discipline, and good managers must always be sharpening their own skills. This is true in the defense industry as well, as engineers climb the ladder, officers rotate out into civilian life or into desk rather than field jobs, and globalizing teams need more native management skills within the team to keep them productive. With that said, Dilbert creator Scott Adams is a rich man for a reason. We’ve all seen the firm that promotes an excellent salesperson, or an excellent engineer, or some other kind of high-performing employee – and shoots itself in the foot, twice. Once by losing the expert services of that employee, Twice by promoting someone who may not have management training, and may not be able to perform well in their new role.
DID’s “The Project Management Podcast” discussed the potential usefulness of MP3 podcasts as a training tool that can be used at convenient times. It’s a great tool for new managers, and can be useful for existing managers as well. After all, even major league athletes spend a lot of their practice time working on the fundamentals. Along those lines, the Manager Tools podcasts offers a set of free sessions devoted to practical fundamentals, as well as sessions covering more advanced topics.
Everyone we know hates a lot of the meetings they’re forced to attend. Manager Tools’ 3 sessions on Running Effective Meetings talk about what works at Intel, Google, et. al., and offer a good introduction. This is an MP3 set you’ll want to pass around:
EM Part 1 [20.5 MB]. Includes “how do you handle a boss who is late?”
EM Part 2 [12.5 MB]. Includes continuous improvement, and discussion re: facilitators.
EM Part 3 [16.7 MB]. Includes: “the meetings I must call” and the “no surprises” rule.
Globalized production has become a staple in many industries, but the defense industry is a unique sector where maintaining national capabilities has been given greater weight. The growing cost of defense platforms, and shrinking defense budgets in many first and second world countries, are now driving growing internationalization of the defense industry as well. At work, this means engineers need to pick up more project management skills, and entire companies are shifting toward “integration” skills that place a greater premium on good project management as a core corporate competency.
Education and training go hand in hand with these trends. One new option is Podcasts, “on-demand radio shows, to go” that are available via the internet, and downloadable to an MP3 music player via iTunes or workarounds. With the right connectors, or a CD burner, podcasts can even be played in the car during your morning commute. The Project Management Podcast(TM) is one option, and episode 56 is especially applicable to DID readers [MP3 Podcast | accompanying PDF presentation]:
“Tim Covington, PMP, was the Project Manager of the Boeing C17 Single Line Project, the largest lean manufacturing project ever attempted on the C17 Program. In today’s interview of The Project Management Podcast™ we explore this large project. We discuss the goals and challenges involved, the success factors that enabled Tim and his core team to successfully deliver the project, the awards the project has won and Tim’s tips to project managers who are embarking on similarly large projects. And just to break from our usual routine, we asked Tim not 10, but 11 final questions. We also continue our book giveaway of Quentin Fleming’s book “Project Procurement Management” and we answer a listener question from our voice mail line.”
DID’s new “Sharpen Yourself” category aims to supplement our ongoing procurement and defense coverage with articles like “Preparing More Powerful Presentations,” which are equally valuable to professional readers of an industry magazine. One aspect that often gets neglected in this industry is career management, especially among engineers. The defense industry is widely seen as stable and recession-proof, and to some extent that’s true, but long-time veterans know from personal experience that this is only a partial truth. Programs get canceled, firms move or consolidate, the politician a Hill staffer works retires or is defeated, or it becomes clear that a change of scenery and/or role is in order. When those shocks hit, the difference between a managed and an unmanaged career is like the difference between a managed and an unmanaged defense program.
This article addresses a growing trend in business, and a topic that’s coming up more and more frequently to a Human Resources consultant of our acquaintance: the use of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Ning, Friendster, LinkedIn, et. al. in the hiring process. For those in the active military, these sites also have a security dimension.
Social networking sites are distinguished by a keystone combination. A personal profile, which any job board also has, is part one. Part two is a central mechanism that leverages the voluntary connection of these profiles to each other – a major shift that can be “6 degrees of separation” powerful. These sites can and are used for many purposes, including entirely personal uses like sharing family photos. For dedicated professional business networking, however, LinkedIn has become the clear leader, and is now a key platform for executive recruiters (DID has no business affiliation with LinkedIn). If you’ve never seen these sites, you’ll need to see an example to understand. The Watershed Publishing team have all built free LinkedIn memberships and profiles – here’s mine:
LinkedIn carries few risks, but there are features you’ll want to pay careful attention to as part of good career management. Other social networking sites like MySpace carry more risks – for candidates, for employers, and for military members…
The $35 billion KC-45 aerial tanker deal has attracted a lot of attention and commentary lately, as one might expect. It has also attracted a lot of lobbying dollars – again, as one might expect. While the Pentagon hopes it can keep a lid on the program’s planned costs, it’s an absolute certainty that the lobbying bill will grow quite a bit before all is said and done.
Taxpayers for Common Sense, who built that useful Congressional earmark database, offers some figures re: lobbying monies paid to date – and DID looks at the message in terms of the political system, and the industry…