I have a young inexperienced employee who is viewed as immature and non-professional in meetings. I thought the best way to improve her perception was through working with her on following an easy “best practice” list of accepted behaviors.  Below is the list I compiled to review with her gathered from my own observations and from posts from  across the web:

Participating in a Meeting – If you are participating in a meeting, here are 15 fundamental techniques to follow:

  1. Show respect to the process and the person who called the meeting.  Arrive on time; be well prepared with all meeting materials printed out, notes on the subject at hand, and a pen and notepad to take notes.
  2. Do not state your opinion on everything.  Don’t share your opinions just for the sake of it. Sometimes it is better to say nothing and just listen.  When the time is right, then you can state your opinion.
  3. Stay Positive. This is a business meeting and you are there to make progress on the issue, not bash it
  4. Don’t be quiet throughout the entire meeting.  When there is something positive, important or insightful to say, be sure to say it.  Don’t hold back.
  5. Don’t ramble.  State what you have to say in as few words as possible.  If you go on for too long, the point might be lost.
  6. Do not say anything negative about anyone.  This includes your staff members, boss, co-workers, and customers.
  7. Don’t feel like you’re in a competition to be the smartest.  Sure you want to make sure your boss or upper-management knows how talented you are, but at the same time saying less is sometimes more.  Do do not argue, play mind games, or try too hard to get attention.  Always remain calm and professional.
  8. Don’t agree with someone just because you feel intimidated.  Speak-up when you disagree. It is not okay to keep quiet, and then complain about it later .
  9. Don’t interrupt. At least let the other person finish their thought before speaking.
  10. Watch your body language. Most of our communication comes from the non-verbal. Don’t make faces, roll your eyes, cross your arms, slouch in your chair, unless you want to send the message that you are extremely disinterested.
  11. Don’t tune out.  If the topic doesn’t interest you or is import to what you do, suck it up and listen.
  12.  Don’t be rude. EVER
  13. Recognize people. If you like what someone said or did, tell them. Everyone loves getting recognized in front of their peers.
  14. Don’t have side conversations. It’s just rude to all.
  15. Keep commitments. If a decision was made to do something, do it. Other people are keeping their commitments.




This is a long article that finally gets to the point of “This is a tall order for a leader. It moves the CIO from being the one to say “Here is your computer, and your database, and your file system, and this is how you enter information and save files,” to someone who says, “Here are all the ways you can work with information, now go to town and see how you can use this stuff to get our goals met!.  here is often a metaphor used for the difference between “Giving someone fish” and “Teaching someone how to fish.” For the future role of the CIO, this metaphor will be a little different. It will be the difference between “Giving someone a fishing pole and telling them what to catch” and “Giving them the river, they have their own pole, and they know what to catch.”

The Future Role of the CIO in the NonProfit | NTEN.

Everything we thought that technology would do to democratize information is happening, and it’s happening in ways that we didn’t dream of. So do we still need an IT department, or a CIO?

This is the deal: Everything we thought that technology would do to democratize information is happening, and it’s happening in ways that we didn’t dream of. Had Arthur C. Clarke known that there would be social media, HAL and Dave in Kubric’s classic movie 2001, A Space Odyssey, would have been tweeting while making their journey to Jupiter. #monolith

The result of everyone being able to access very sophisticated technology tools with only an Internet connection has broad implications in the way we think about leading the way people work. In both the private and in the nonprofit sectors, the role of the technology department has always been to provide technology as a service, but if the functional areas of an organization that the IT department traditionally service can get this from the cloud, why do we need a technology department? Or a CIO for that matter?

Two recent events occurred that have brought into my horizon the topic of the future role of the CIO in the NPO sector. The first event was the NTC panel on IT leadership where colleagues Peter Campbell, Almin Surani, Laura Quinn and I bantered on this topic while NTEN program director Lindsey Martin-Bilbrey did her best to keep us on task. The second event was that upon returning from NTC, I was asked to speak to this same topic, as part of an interview that transpired as result of an award nomination for San Francisco Bay Area CIO of the Year.

Luckily, the themes from the recent discourse with my NTEN colleagues and those that attended the panel were still fresh in my mind, and one of those themes was that of the future role of the CIO in the NonProfit.

A key idea that emerged from the discussion from the panel was that the future role of the CIO is to ensure appropriate integration and alignment of all these exciting democratizing tools into the business strategy of the NPO. Once the CIO took care of integrating these tools, it was time to get IT out of the way and let innovation occur!

This way of looking at IT in an organization presents the CIO as less of a change agent in regards to increasing adoption of a new technology platform, but as a cultural change agent: One to get the organization to be able to incorporate all this democratized technology and put it to use toward the mission.

The success of an IT organization then can be measured by how well the organization can seamlessly executive strategic initiatives that further impact and improve efficiencies, with little dependence on IT in the traditional way.

This can be a dilemma: We want our organization to like (and to hopefully love) technology, so that they can use all this cool stuff to help propel the mission, but at the same time, we hope that all this access we are providing to the Internet is not distracting them from the task at hand. The last thing CIOs want to be in the future is just a better cyber-cop, figuring out more complex ways to monitor Internet usage, remote swipe mobile devices, and filter urls.

So, at the same as we will be empowering our employees to use all these great democratizing tools to further our missions; we also have to ensure appropriate alignment with the strategic direction of the organization while also addressing security concerns. Simply put, most CIOs get a little nervous at the thought of allowing everyone to set up their own Dropbox, Basecamp, Smartsheet, Google Docs, and the list goes on. But as CIOs we also think, “Heck, that will help them get things done without calling helpdesk and having to set up more servers!”

The role of the CIO in leadership given this dilemma will be the one who helps transform the “users” of their job, into the “owners” of their jobs.

Let me explain: In today’s world of ubiquitous access to universal communication, any person in any organization has access to all information. If you want the people who work for your organization to use these tools to their optimum potential, they have to “own” the tasks and jobs that they do for your organization.

This is a tall order for a leader. It moves the CIO from being the one to say “Here is your computer, and your database, and your file system, and this is how you enter information and save files,” to someone who says, “Here are all the ways you can work with information, now go to town and see how you can use this stuff to get our goals met!”

There is often a metaphor used for the difference between “Giving someone fish” and “Teaching someone how to fish.” For the future role of the CIO, this metaphor will be a little different. It will be the difference between “Giving someone a fishing pole and telling them what to catch” and “Giving them the river, they have their own pole, and they know what to catch.”

I learned very early on in my career that what gets measured gets improved.  Yet, I am still surprised to this day at how many business leaders do not practice this principle. Maybe they do not understand or believe in this principle, maybe they are too busy to implement this principle or maybe they just don’t ask their technology departments to mine the data necessary to implement this principle.

As a leader in Micro Technology Stewardship I do my best on a daily basis to preach this principle of utilizing data from Business Intelligence initiatives to track those items you look to improve, be it sales, revenue, costs or productivity.

Striving to improve and utilize the many models of continues improvement is a key element in leadership success.  Continuous improvement at the  most basic level is easy, just ask yourself and your personnel three easy “How” questions:

1. How are we doing

2. How can it may be better

3. How about if we try something different

But remember, you can not improve without the data, you need the data to establish a baseline starting point (what are we doing today) and you need the data to measure if your changes positively improve or negatively impact your desired outcome and you need the data on an ongoing basis to continue to improve and course correct if things start to slip.


I really love this post from Christopher Scordo “The Early Warning Signs of a Project in Trouble”; so much so, that I reposted it below.  As you can tell, the post is about identifying when a project is in trouble, and we, as good corporate citizens frequently find yourself on project teams.  If you remember from my earlier blogs, “Micro Technology Stewardship is the use of people with enough experience of the workings of a business or department to understand its technology needs, and enough experience with technology to take leadership in addressing those needs.”

I especially like Mr. Scordo’s warning sign titled “Corporate Leadership and Project Goals Conflict with Each Other”.  As Micro tech Stewards, one of the hardest things you will face is identifying and then acting on the issues that directly fly in the face of your corporate sponsors.  I sure if you look at your past experiences, you will find plenty of examples of gaps between the corporate leadership and the project team and I bet you, most of the failures occur when no one speaks up, or when someone speaks up it is often  too late.

it is hard to be Micro Technology leader in today’s corporations, but if you want to be a successful leader, sometimes it means taking the risk to speak up and putting in the work to carry the flag of “right”, rather than just following blindly.

Early Warning Signs of a Project in Trouble

By Christopher Scordo (PMP, ITIL) of www.PMPerfect.com  

Ever had a favorite football jersey which was starting to come apart after years of wear and tear?  You picked at the seam occasionally; only to find that one day, your jersey has unravelled completely.  This is what it feels like to have a project you are in charge of spin out of control.  Of course, if you had just taken a few minutes to stitch the seam that was coming undone, you’d have been in a much better position (and you’d still have that favorite football jersey).

Project management is much the same.  As a project manager it is your duty to keep an eye on warning signs that your project might be hitting a snag which could result in full on combustion.

Luckily, there are a few warning signs which are common in project management; and knowing what they are can save you a massive headache down the road.  Below are some early warning signs of your project being in trouble.

Team Members are Working Too Much Overtime

Simply put: when a project is running on schedule, there will be little or no overtime required from team members.  Overtime is a band aid to cover poor scheduling or scope management, and too much team member over time is a tell-tale sign that there are project management issues that need to be addressed.  The impact to team members can also be more negative than expected; late nights of sedentary work, too much junk food to placate appetites, and too much caffeine to keep team members works.  All of these indirect attributes of excessive overtime will result in poor team morale, and high turnover.  Of course, occasional overtime is perfectly fine, especially ahead of critical delivery periods.  But when overtime progresses to multiple hours on a daily basis, it is time to revisit your project schedule and calibrate client expectations to ensure a health project environment.


Project Goals are Misunderstood by Team and/or Client Stakeholders

Most projects have an overarching business goal, or two, or three.  The problem is that corporate leaders, project managers or even client stakeholders may assume the business goals of a given project are obvious to everyone.  So obvious that nobody ever mentions exactly what they are.  These types of assumptions can lead to a slew of project issues as team members are never quite clear on task priorities or “the big picture”.  Simply assuming that the overall business objectives of a project are obvious to all may lead to dangerous presumptions; and ultimately is a simple communication issue to resolve.


Poor Communication within Your Team

If your team members frequent have personality issues with you or each other, or are just not getting along well, then as the project manager you need to better manage communication.  While it is impossible for everybody to get along magnificently all the time, it is imperative that people put their differences aside and forge a business relationship.  As a project manager, it’s up to you to make sure the business relationship between people who don’t get along on a personal level is put in place, and that communication channels are kept open and flowing.  You might need to call upon the conflict resolution cavalry, but that’s what project managers are there for.  By not addressing let inter-term communication issues at the start, a project can experience massive productivity issues.  This goes for the project manager as well; it is important to understand that you are a team member, and not an emperor.  Condescending communication will lead to similar issues.


Project Direction is Missing or Inconsistent

If there is no direction from project managers or task leads, and communication channels aren’t kept open, your project might be in a bit of trouble.  When team members are not privy to the overall schedule of a project, or are micro-managed with small finite tasks, it is akin to removing the compass from the crew of a ship.  Nobody but the captain knows where the boat is headed, leading to poor team morale, and a misunderstanding of project priorities.  What’s worse than the absence of direction, though, is contradicting direction.  Constantly flip flopping between stated goals and objectives is a huge, red warning sign; and can indicate poor scope management on behalf of the project manager.


Corporate Leadership and Project Goals Conflict with Each Other

No matter how on schedule your project is, if there is conflict with the corporate leadership objectives, there could be a pending project disaster.  When corporate leadership decides to shift their business focus away from the needs of your client stakeholder, this is a red flag for your project.  For example, when an IT consulting organization decides it will no longer support a technology your client has invested in; the confidence and trust bestowed in your project leadership may plummet, ultimately leading to a whole slew of issues.   Recognizing the overall goals of your enterprise, and ensuring they align with your project is a simple way to ensure your project is not taken by surprise.  If you do notice a project conflict with regard to corporate communication, address it immediately by communicating directly with corporate management.


Assuming “No News is Good News”

Ever had a client that simply doesn’t return calls, either because they are so overwhelmed or because they simply don’t have the knowledge to provide feedback?  Communication among client stakeholders is absolutely critical to the success of a project, and when you find your client becoming unresponsive, it is easy for project managers to assume “no news is good news”.  This can be a slippery slope, especially as critical decisions are made regarding business objectives and project direction.  One way to counteract this issue without becoming an annoyance is to schedule a weekly status call with your client which can be as brief as five minutes.   Secondly, be sure to send weekly status updates that show exactly what your team is working on, upcoming deadlines, and any action items you require of them.   This type of proactive communication ensures your client remains engaged in a project and decreases the risk associated with an unresponsive client.  By moving along a project path with no input from your client (even if you prod them), you put your project and yourself at extreme risk.

Overall, an effective project manager must strike a balance between communicating effectively, ensuring agreement among stakeholders; and managing the three legged constraints of scope, schedule, and budget.  The warning signs mentioned are meant to be addressed immediately to avoid larger issues down the road.

 Early Warning Signs of a Project in Trouble – Project Managers.


Just for the Health of it

This is from the “Burger Conquest” Blog but it is so simple and so funny, I had to reprint it.  A simple analogy combining hamburgers and social media to create a tool that can measure any small business’ social media savvy.

Social Media Made Easier Through Burgers | Burger Conquest.