Saturday, March 8, 2014

Investing Your Attention for Fun and Profit

What is the best way to manage your attention? This is a complex topic. Yet this field map is a good starting point. 

Audience AwareAudience Unaware

Let's break it down:
  • Things/People You Like
    • Unaware - Introduce your audience to what you are sharing. Give background. Share context. 
    • Aware - Amplify the message with your audience. Likes, RTs, and +1s are fast. Building on the message with your own is powerful. 
  • Things/People You Don't
    • Unaware - Ignore it. Telling people about something you don't like is like giving someone crumpled dollar bills. They all spend the same!
    • Aware - Refute the message. 
Things we like are pretty easy. After all, it's what we do with TV shows and popular movies. We introduce people to new things (Breaking Bad!) and amplify the things others know about (omigoddidyouwatchBreakingBadlastnight?)

Where we tend to fall down is on things we don't like. Here's the problem: negative attention is more valuable than no attention. If you introduce someone to something you don't like, they might like it anyway!

Say you have 100 followers on Twitter. You go on a rant about something horrible. Half your followers know about it and you convince 5 of them that it is indeed lousy. The other half don't know about it, yet they check it out and 10 of them find they like it. Congratulations, you just increased the popularity of something terrible by 5 people!

The more people in your audience, the worse the problem gets. This is one reason why ideas spread. The more exposure an idea gets, the more people will adopt it. Refuting an idea effectively requires highly targeted messages or it makes things worse!

Here is how to harness this :

  • Focus on sharing things you like and want to spread.  There's no downside!
  • If you must talk about something negative, limit your audience to those already aware of the idea. Posting a negative book review on your blog is a bad idea. Putting it on an Amazon page is much more effective.
  • If you can get someone with a following to denounce you, you win. Getting the Pope to call you evil is a good career move.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Homo Socialus in the Age of Distraction - key takeaways

As I discussed in my TFT14 talk, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the activities from social media. Multitasking won't help. Ignoring or demonizing the tools is a disease worse than the cure. Don't despair - we can take control by being more deliberate in how we use social tools.  Here are some simple ways that can help.

Determine what success means to you

You have more options in how to live than any of your ancestors. Choose to live a meaningful life. Ask yourself:
  • What do you want to be? (NOT "What do you want to have?" - we are human beings, not human havings!)
  • What do you want to experience?
  • What relationships do you want to build?
Write them down and look at them every day. These items are where you want to focus your attention.

Shape your environment for success

Your attention is your most valuable resource. Treat it as such. Turn off alerts, notifications, etc by default. Limit who can interrupt you to the people and ideas that matter. 

Set smart boundaries around social tool usage. Put distracters away when you need to focus. Set aside time each day to review your feeds.

You will fall behind on occasion. Don't panic! Let go instead. You do not have to keep up with everything. 

If you start to get overwhelmed, take a deep breath. Then start pruning your feeds. What no longer helps you be successful? Don't apologize for unfollowing, hiding and ignoring what no longer works for you. 

Build relationships

Success is not a solo sport. Connect with others. Instead of posting what you had for lunch, reach out. We feel closer to people we communicate with regularly. Don't mistake this for following someone, though. Communication is a two-way street!

When you are connecting with others, be there and be authentic. Use technology to support the conversation, not instead of conversation. If the other person starts to tune out, shift the discussion to something they are interested in. Or end the chat - respecting their attention is important too!

Use the attention you get

Learn from everything you share. Every response is useful, even no response. 
  • Positive response - keep it up!
  • Negative response - refine and adjust
  • Trolling/hate - don't respond, but don't stop because you are doing something that is attracting attention
  • No response - reassess and ask for feedback from people you trust
Lastyly, be a venture attentionalist - invest your attention in resharing and encouraging others that create great content but don't have a lot of attention. This helps them and helps you too!

This is a rich topic and I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Reach out to me here, on Google+, or on Twitter. Best wishes on your journeys!

    Thursday, October 24, 2013

    My 2014TFT Proposal - Homo Socialus in the Age of Distraction

    There are many ways to use social media, and most of them are lousy. Join me as we examine why Homo Hermitus and Homo Multitaskus are headed for extinction. What traits can help you join the rise of Homo Socialus? 

    I've been online for 20 years and a lot has come and gone. I have learned a few things and look forward to sharing them with a global audience. Thank you for your consideration!

    Wednesday, May 22, 2013

    The ITSM acid test for People, Process, and Tools

    The ITSM trinity of People, Process, and Tools is most evident in reporting. If all three corners of the triangle are not in alignment, the following issues will be evident:
    • If PEOPLE do not have the proper incentives and deterrents to encourage desired behaviors, reports will often have missing or incomplete information. This is because only enough information is captured in records to allow the person to meet their needs, while the needs of others are unlikely to be met.
    • If PROCESSES are not defined, agreed, communicated, and trained, reports will have information that is disjointed, duplicated, and inconsistent between groups and team members. This is because different areas are applying different standards to how they capture information in records.
    • If TOOLS are not properly configured, reports will not aid analysis required to determine trends and enable effective decision making. This is because the tool does not correlate information well, or is unable to access information in a manner to allow for trending.
    How do we avoid these challenges? 
    • Ensure that processes are more than documents in a binder. They must serve as agreements between teams on how work will be performed.
    • Develop tool configurations in concert with process development. This must be an iterative approach as process development should drive tool selection and configuration, while tool capabilities may impose limitations on a process.
    • Train staff on the intent of the process and how to use the tool to enable the process.
    • Publish clear standards on how information created during process execution should be captured in records.
    • Sanction appropriate rewards and reprimands to drive adherence to norms and rules.
    • Monitor and improve all of these elements.
    Getting the ITSM trinity working in concert will transform an ITSM practice into a value engine for the enterprise. That's the best kind of report!

    Sunday, May 5, 2013

    The most neglected role in IT Service Management?

    Pop Quiz:

    • Who do most people in your organization go to first when there is a notable Problem?
    • Who provides your final IT sign-off on a significant Change?
    • Who defines the available Service levels?
    Hopefully, your answer to all 3 questions was the same - the appropriate Service Owner. Sadly, in many organizations this is not the case. The ITSM organization is really a process organization. Even if the process owners try to focus on process improvement, they get sucked into being the default service owners for every IT Service. In trying to pull double duty, they often make little progress on either front. 

    A friend of mine recently reminded me that Senge's Fifth Discipline calls out focusing on "highest leverage" points. One of those points for IT Service Management is clear accountability and authority for IT Services. A motivated Service Owner can often overcome poorly defined or nonexistent processes. 

    If you're early in your ITSM journey, it's easy to get focused on all the processes described in ITIL. Don't fall into the trap of doing IT Process Management - it's called SERVICE Management for a reason!

    Sunday, March 17, 2013

    My submission for TFT13

    It's time to put the "Manage" back in IT Service Management - the ITSM way!

    In my TFT13 presentation, I will apply Service Management thinking to the four domains that today's IT Manager must succeed in:
    • I - great managers begin by managing themselves effectively
    • Team - great managers build great teams with their staff and form great teams with their peers
    • Stewards - great managers understand and deliver against the needs of their direct supervisors and other organizational leaders
    • Marketplace - great managers respond to and shape their customers, industry, and society
    For each domain, I will show how good practices from frameworks such as ITIL and COBIT 5 apply. I will also translate those ideas into specific actions you can take immediately to increase your value. 

    After over 17 years in IT and over a decade in leadership positions, I have learned a lot about what works - and what doesn't. I would be honored to share some of these lessons with a global audience. Thank you for your consideration!

    Saturday, February 2, 2013

    People Being People

    This post is about the critical role people play in ITSM efforts. It is inspired by recently getting the pleasure to discuss ITSM with Pink Elephant's Troy DuMoulin. He shared a blog about rethinking the common mantra of People, Process, and Tools and I'd like to expand on this line of thought a bit.

    I created a graphic that I think is a more accurate reflection of the relationship between these three pillars of how work gets done.

    • People Being People - I first heard about the concept of jen from Alan Watts. In the context of ITSM, we can never forget that people are going to behave as people throughout history always have. They will forget things, they will sometimes take advantage of others, they will break rules to help others, and they will behave in all other sorts of noble and depraved manners. You can't ignore it, and you'll always have surprising and unexpected behaviors to keep things interesting.
    • People Executing Process - Processes don't execute themselves. Furthermore, people don't truly execute a process, they execute their understanding of a process. Troy shared a great quote on this topic - "the tangibles are not the deliverables". The reason to create documentation is to facilitate a common understanding among people. Otherwise it's just ink on paper on a shelf!
    • People Employing Tools - Tools are powerful, yet they can never guarantee quality or effectiveness. People will employ tools to do things they consider valuable, and "fire" them if they get in the way. That may or may not match up with your intent! For instance, if a Service Desk analyst values efficiency over data quality, don't be shocked when they figure out the quickest way to record a valid Incident record so they can get to the next caller. 
    The key takeaway is that we tend to fall short of what people need to adopt ITSM. A great approach to use in ITSM is the Balanced Diversity portfolio advocated by Karen Ferris. Whatever approach you take, give yourself some slack when your improvement efforts are impacted by people factors. After all, you're people too!