Monday, March 14, 2005

Walk First

I am coming up on the end of my first year as the Director of Development for Sento Corporation. This has been a very busy, fun year for me. I manage a group of very talented people who do great work. The products and services that we develop and support are significant and allow us to compete in the contact center outsourcing space.

This past year has taught me some very valuable lessons. I have written about some of the lessons in previous posts. One very important lesson I have learned is that you have to match your engineering efforts to the capacity of your engineering group. I'm not saying that you shouldn't stretch people, I am just saying that you need to honestly evaluate whether or not you can afford to take on a project.

Another important lesson is that you need to plan your projects so that they fit in to the current environment so they can be metabolized. Your chances of being successful in a major enterprise infrastructure project is limited if it is a major departure from your current capabilities and infrastructure unless huge investments in capital and people are made. This is not new info, and has been written about a lot by people smarter than me. The difference is that I have personally experienced successes and failures because of this principle.

Success will be more likely if you fit enterprise IT projects and product development projects in with your existing capabilities and infrastructure. It's like an evolutionary process. You can't skip from crawling to running, you have to walk first. The thing that you need to push is the speed at which evolution takes place.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Personal Stock Price

I've been thinking about the ups and downs that can happen at any job and evaluating my own situation. Thinking about it deeply you might draw the same conclusion that I and others have drawn: that is that you need to honestly assess whether your professional value is on the rise or on the decline, like a stock price. This goes along with #8 below.

You need to evaluate the "value market" at your organization. Is it fickle? Is it tolerant of highs and lows in your stock price? Figure out what price levels you think your boss can't stand. He might just have a limit order to get rid of you at certain price. If you are lucky, he might take the opportunity to invest more heavily in you through training and mentoring if your price is low, if he is confident that you are a good buy.

Like real markets, your actual price is always fluctuating, and that's a good thing. Every event, project, success, failure, or communication can have an effect on your stock price. I would also submit that there are dishonest things that people do all the time to inflate their price, like taking undue credit or diminishing another's value. This is not a good long term strategy. It will catch up to you and then you will get de-listed. Try to build honest value.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Principles for Professional Excellence

I have been thinking and reading about execution and professional excellence. I have compiled a list of principles that I believe are the keys to professional excellence. They are:
  1. Create a portfolio of personal successes
  2. Get important things done
  3. Always seek out and expose truth and reality
  4. Take on only that which you can successfully complete
  5. Understand how your company makes money
  6. Understand how you contribute to your company’s success
  7. Do things to increase your capacity to contribute to your company’s success
  8. Maintain a positive balance in your value account with the organization
  9. Always do what you say you will do
  10. Build strong working relationships with people
This list may seem obvious, but I submit that there are few people who are good at all of these items, myself included.