Strategic Career Coaching

January 26, 2010

A solid equity investment in your work life. Long-term gains amidst short-term challenges.

Whether you are looking for a new job, building leadership skills, re-evaluating your work/life balance, changing careers, or starting your own business, I offer a structured roadmap that is both strategic and tactical with emotional support to accelerate change. Strategic Career Coaching is available in person in New York City, or by telephone.

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Steve Lohr wrote an article for the NY Times in 2004 about I.B.M’s brand shift: from hardware manufacturer that customized software solutions to strategic consulting partner offering customers customized “on-demand” service. At the time, it was too early to document results. Today, Steve Lohr reports in the NY Times on the financial fruits of that labor, including I.B.M showing a record year of profits.

How did the promise become a reality? Was the innovation as much in the organizational strategy as in the business strategy?

A compelling shift in a business model, without an equally thoughtful and resourced organizational strategy for change, may get off to a great start at the top but can fail to execute as change cascades through the culture and across organizations. Here it seems I.B.M. has done a lot of it right.

The 2004 article brilliantly lays out both the strategic business drivers AND the organizational change challenges mastered over the subsequent years by I.B.M. The story is a multi-layered case about innovative leadership, an integrated acquisition of PricewaterhouseCoopers, coordinated reorganization, and mobilization of “four in a box” teams to work with customers, creatively including technical experts and researchers with sales and account managers at the front-end rather than downstream.

Big Blue may be smaller than it was at earlier times in its history, but has become agile and resilient in its use of training, change management and culture alignment to adapt to new business models needed to remain competitive. Today’s article provides a confirmation of the value of such investments. I highly recommend reading both.

TIP: Create a tech project manager role that is a matchmaker of direct relationships between development and the customer rather than a translator between the two.

The back story: I worked for a software company that developed and patented an enterprise document manage/workflow system using a client-server architecture in the mid-eighties. But bits/bytes are not the point of this post, managing change is.  Let’s just say this PC-based server architecture went where only mainframes had gone before, and for that moment in time was “disruptive technology,” – the business solution offered competitive advantage and cost savings but would fundamentally change (disrupt) how the work was done, and to some extent the work culture. Fast forward:  this is mainstream technology now. Usually the management of disruptive change happens after the fact. We all know how much fun that is. Alternatively, anticipating change could be a part of collaborative product development – that’s what we did, and it worked. Literally, on-site development (the R&D anthropology concept). Today developing project-duration social network/collaboration sites is another way.

Here’s a short video about how Pitney Bowes does customer-collaborative product development.

Leave your tips for R&D anthropology by adding a comment. Serious play is good for business.

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Carpe diem vs. the superego

December 29, 2009

Some interesting new research for those who delay gratification as an art form, in this New York Times article.

Psychology research supports the benefits of cultivating children’s (and adults’) ability to delay gratification today to gain a (larger) reward later. Controlling impulses is good, but what about overcontrol?  For people who have overshot the mark on this skill, it could be beneficial to take some rewards sooner as a way to boost mood and motivation when taking on the less enjoyable, but necessary activities of work and life. I coached an executive who dutifully began each morning at his computer, checking email before he would take time to read the newspaper, something he enjoyed more. I suggested he experiment trying the reverse. He was just as productive, got a boost in starting the day well, but it wasn’t so easy at first to turn a deaf ear to the voice of his superego.

It can take discipline to allow some fun first and reward yourself — with work — later. But it’s worth the effort.

Partnering with customers with opportunities to play with product prototypes lets business innovate quickly and test satisfaction before going to market. Read how Disney, 3M, Hershey, and Pitney Bowes are using innovation centers to do just this in this article in The New York Times.  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/27/business/27proto.html?th&emc=th

The twitter essence about Kandinsky’s fame would be: Lead art zeitgeist beyond abstraction into nonrepresentational painting activating “inner necessity” emotions, transcendence and spirit.

The gorgeous and sweeping retrospective of painter Wassily Kandinsky at the Guggenheim Museum in NY http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/exhibitions/on-view-now/kandinsky on view until January 17th is a feast for the eyes, and as Kandinsky himself would hope, for the soul. In this show we see three major shifts in his work corresponding to changes in response to world events and his own psychological development. If you didn’t know it, you might not even think it was the same artist – particularly the first two phases.

Throughout his life, there was one iconic image to which Kandinsky ascribed a magical transformative quality: the horse and rider. We could say the horse and rider was Kandinsky’s Avatar, an alter ego or symbolized part of himself that catalyzed and steered him through life transitions, and served as a psychic compass. The horse and rider is everywhere for Kandinsky: in his autobiography, in paintings, as the name of his major art movement, The Blue Rider, and in the very last painting he created before passing on.

Read more: what Kandinsky said about the horse and rider and how it became his Avatar…

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The Cultivate Your Gardens® School Program

An Ecosystem for Schools to Harvest the Potential of Today’s Youth for Tomorrow’s World
Excerpt from the E-Book by Adrienne Gans, Ph.D

As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/1999/03/05/EB104698.DTL

It’s not a gardening program. Think of Candide’s resolution in Voltaire’s novel, still relevant today. In Cultivate Your Gardens: 1) academic projects; 2) no cost, on-site coaching by interns; and, 3)community service leadership boost each other through their interaction, and form a model for continued learning throughout life. Building a Cultivate Your Gardens (CYG) program in a school leverages the individuality and passion of teachers and staff to tune the program to its local cultural niche and ensure its sustainability. It utilizes the best practices gained through research on community-based school programs, emotional intelligence, and project-based learning.

Read more:  Cultivate Your Gardens Overivew

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