My second mentor meeting

Normally I am not very fond of Mondays. But today was an exception. I had my second meeting with my mentor Christian Ørsted. Our first meeting was 1½ months ago, we primary got to know each other and decided to continue the process. I got a lot of ideas, links and book titles from Christian. I bought the books, checked out the links looked into the ideas and overall developed. I was quite busy a week before our next meeting, making sure I was following up on the process, showing Christian I toked it seriously. I know I wouldn´t have gone through with my assignments, if I only were obligated to my self. This is really a strength in the mentor relationship. You get things done. But be aware that its the protege that takes the initiative and sets the direction and goals, it has to be in order to succeed. Make it easy for your mentor to spend time on you and be present. Once again I went home with a lot of ideas. I had the feeling that Christian didn´t really know how valuable his feedback was, reflection is difficult to measure. The mentor relationship is a process, it has its peaks and i probably has its downs, but do not underestimate that, it might be at that point you focus and develop. Once again I have a lot of ideas and homework I must get into, and I look forward to our next meeting, making one more Monday merry.

Innovation, udspringer det fra toppen/strategi eller nedefra/processer

Onsdag eftermiddag d. 21/11-07, jeg løber ned af Købmagergade til SAS institute. "Der står Transformation og innovation gennem IT" på programmet. Det er egentlig en netværksgruppe for CIO´s, men jeg er kommet med på et afbud fra min chef. Der er 3 indlæg, Rambøll Mangement fremlægger markedsundersøgelser om IT og koblingen til innovation og forretningsprocesser, med afsæt i deres (rigtig gode) IT i Praksis 2007. Dernæst er det IT-direktøren fra Alm. Brand og dernæst CIO fra Vestas. Nå nok om rammerne nu til indholdet. Alle 3 indlæg var ganske fine. Men de indlæg som Alm. Brand og Vestas præsenterede, handlede om at få basis i orden, få dokumenteret sine processer og mange rigtig gode tanker, men det som i min optik handler om drift og en naturlig udvikling og modenhed af ens IT miljø. Der var intet konkret om hvordan man har brugt innovation og om man havde. Innovation var snarere beskrevet i metaforer og betegnet som værende diffust. Jeg måtte spørge, hvorvidt innovation udsprang fra toppen/strategien eller nedefra via processer og optimering (Lean for nogen). Dette kunne de ikke svare på, fordi de erkendte at de ikke var på det modenhedsniveu hvor innovation kan udøves. Selverkendelse er godt, men jeg ville ønske at medicinal eller mobil telefoni branchen var repræsenteret, for jeg forestiller mig at de død pine er nødsaget til at benytte innovation struktureret for at kunne være i konkurrence og eksistere. Et andet spørgsmål jeg stillede tog udgangspunkt i Rambølls præsentation af Doblins 10 types of innovation, hvor de påpegede at der er mange andre indsatsområder end produkt innovation som de fleste relaterer til innovation. Potentialet indenfor eks. proces, forretningsmodel, branding innovation m.fl. er langt større. Tilfældigvis kender jeg modellen og deres undersøgelser påpeger at 2 % af innovationsindsatsen resultere i 90% af det samlede udbytte, og mit spørgsmål lød hvorvidt Rambøll vidste om de 2% tog afsæt i strategien eller kom det nedefra via processerne. Den skarpe læser vil opdage at det egentlig er samme spørgsmål. Rambøll vidste det ikke men de ville se på det. Jeg forlod selskabet lettere opløftet, desværre ikke fordi jeg var blevet klogere på Transformation og innovation gennem IT, men fordi vi sluttede af med et meget konkret og underholdende vin smagningsarrangement leveret af Bo Jacobsen fra "Restaurationen". Hvad er konklusionen så, er Innovation diffust, kan det bedst beskrives med metaforer og er det vigtigt at det nævnes overalt som et buzzword, for så er man med i eller anden grad. Min holdning er at innovation er et paradigme, som dækker over konkrete værktøjer, det er målbart og det er den bedste metode til at opnå strategiske mål eller løse udfordringer på kortere tid - alt i alt en gevaldig vigtig parameter for at være i konkurrence og vinde kapløbet. Det varer ikke længe før det kan måles hvilke virksomheder der løser manglen på arbejdskraft, dem der tilfældigt får en god ide, eller dem der struktureret fokusere på at løse problemet vha. innovative værktøjer og metoder. Jeg ved godt hvor jeg placere mine penge :-)

Mentor me please!

Some time ago I decided I would like to have a mentor, to challenge me with my professional life. I asked my husband Jacob, who he would recommend if he should choose one! I new I didn´t want someone who knew me already, since this could interfere with the process if there already were impressions from the past. Jacob pointed out Christian Ørsted. I contacted Christian and he agreed on meeting me. He was surprised being mentor material, but this only showed he was a humble person, witch was positive in my opinion. We set a date, and I was really excited to meet him. We found a cafe and I introduced my expectations and goals. Christian was interested in spotting mutual interests, witch is given, since he wanted to be sure that he could contribute with his knowledge. We didn´t directly mention it, but the first meeting was of course a chance to see if we had chemistry. This is probably more important for the mentor than the protege, since the mentor has to get something out of the time spent. I asked Christian, what was in it for him, what was his expectation. He answers - energy. 1½ hour went really fast. We had a very interesting meeting, and it gave me a lot to think about. I picked up my kids went home, and i was loaded with a lot of ideas to follow but most of all - Energy!

Open office landscapes - hip or hopeless?

A few years ago I was participating in creating a open office at work. It really looked nice, everyone could see each other and the thought was that we should change seats every day, in order to meet new colleagues. I must admit, being an extrovert person, it was really hard for me to concentrate on my work. People didn´t hesitate to disturb me, and I discovered it was impossible to get work done. So I ended up answering mails and taking my work home instead. I actually thought it was just me struggling with this way of working. But every time I talk to my friends or other people in my network about this issue, everyone states the same. They hated this way of working, they couldn´t concentrate, they got more tired from constant interruptions and they ended up working at home. The argument for working in these environments would be transparency, knowledge sharing etc. But it seems like people are more focused on concentrating so they really try not to pay attention to the talk around them, witch shoots down knowledge sharing. So I must conclude from my little market analyses, that unless you work as a stockbroker, in a sales team or other types of business where the buzz makes you productive, open office landscapes are no longer hip, but rather hopeless!

Less is more?

I really like this motto. But is less more? when i play tennis it is, when i use google search it is, when I look at beautiful architecture and design i must agree. But when it comes to personal service this motto is no longer appropriate. When I shop on the Internet, i am stunned with the excellent service I receive as a customer. Compared to my local post office or bakery shop witch I have boycotted several time, the Internet businesses are aware that this is a key factor for getting customers and making them stay. And once I receive excellent service I will be a faithful customer and spread the word, so the motto here must be "To much is never enough".

The death of “out of office reply”

I am in a meeting so I will not be able to read your mail the next 2 hours. This is an example of time consuming information overload, probably with the best intentions. But I am not interested in spending time on reading that you're not available. Instead write me when you are, and if I really want to know what you are doing, write it on twitter, jaiku, facebook etc. I believe that its time to declare the out of office reply for dead. Its time to give information quality not quantity. And if everything goes wrong I bet you still have a phone. So next time you receive an "out of office reply" bend your head and have 1 minutes peace. So the next time I get a reply I will feel excited when I am reading your answer, instead of the disappointment of time loss.

“Mentor” a buzzword?

I am hearing "mentor" everywhere. The government wants to give immigrants a mentor in order to integrate them in Denmark. The newspapers business section recommends leaders to get a mentor. Television has a show with people presenting there inventions and ideas to a board of mentors. Is it a buzz or are we just starting to see the potential of others experience. It makes sense, let me find one of my own so this protege can develop herself.

Social networking

The world is getting smaller, we tend to say. What about the Internet? From being one big mass of users around the world, social networking tools now helps us get in touch with exactly the people that match our interest. The potential is overwhelming. Differences such as nationality, race, religion etc. no longer keeps us apart, now similarity gets us together.

If I was Google

For some time I have been speculating on what the next step in desktop computing will be. Most of all because I am confused by Microsoft signals compared with Googles increasing market position and ability to innovate. Microsoft doesn’t really show a Internet strategy, they adapt online services but they stay “local”. So my guess is, besides that Microsoft will appear with a new more online strategy also on their platforms, that Google within a year will be a new provider of desktop and software computing. But how will they do it?

The development in Grid computing is now very close to a launch. Using this technology will enable a very cheap hardware platform, and the software is of course provided online. Google already introduced Google Pack. More info http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2006/01/make-your-computer-just-work.html. So the next step should be obvious.

When you buy your Grid computer you will be able to get online immediately, and download your simple OS (GooglOS?). Then you are free to choose your Software provider. You will turn to Google who will provide a wide range of common used software. The Software will be a direct competitor to Microsoft, its free, install on-line, no maintenance, you no longer have to worry about updates, antivirus, backup (they store and backup your data), on-line e-learning, overall access to your documents, and I could continue. This will create a revolution on the PC market, comparing the cost and development with the mobile phone industry. Whether Google will develop their own products or determine the use of standards, to appeal to a “best of breed” mindset, is harder to predict. But why shouldn’t they have their own brand. Is a merger with Sun Microsystems and their Open Office a possibility or they will just buy up a smaller company?

The suggestions about Grid computing are that your electric power supplier should deliver bandwidth and Grid services, but my guess is that Google will take advantage of this technology.

Any way, I am looking forward to se if my guesses will come too real.

If they do I promise to be a customer!

International conference about open standards

It was a cold Friday in January, I was invited to a conference at Christianborg (the danish goverment). The topic was Open Standards. Among the attendees was members of goverment parties, municipality representatives, Harvard, Oracle, IBM, SUN and Novell. The only one missing was Microsoft, witch was a loss from my point of view as a Microsoft specialist.

The first person on the stand was Jeff Kaplan from Harvard, founder and director of the Open ePolicy Group http://shn.dk/openization/HomePage. He started with this story from the Tsumani december 2004.

“A thirty-foot-high wall of water – a tsunami – slams into the famed resort islands off Thailand’s southern coast. In one tragic moment, thousands of lives are lost, and thousands more are missing. In the race to identify victims and assist survivors, Thailand’s government hits its own wall. Responding agencies and non-governmental groups are unable to share information vital to the rescue effort. Each uses different data and document formats. Relief is slowed; coordination is complicated. The need for common, open standards for disaster management was never more stark or compelling. The Royal Government of Thailand responded by creating a common website for registering missing persons and making open file formats in particular an immediate national priority.”

This is of cource a very big disaster, but the same could happen anywhere in a smaller range, if different authorities need to communicate. This could be the fire department, police, transport companies, hospitals etc. that needed to collaborate. Would they be able to share data within time limits? It’s a very good example of the need of this discussion, and also the reason why a lot of people nationally (Denmark) and internationally are working for some common standards. Some of Jeff Kaplans recommendations was to demand the following:

- Collaboration

- Mandatory interoperability

- Technology and brand neutral

- Open data formats.

And he continued with, Open means access, transparency, collaborative. It is easy to say “we are open” and there is a lot of standards, this doesn’t make them open. Some standards are cost-intensive, does that appeal with the general idea of being “open”? If you want to spread a standard and make sure that it is used by as many as possible, the price will affect this criteria.

Then Kim Østrup from IBM was on the stand. He started talking while he twisted a screw and a bolt together. This metaphor was to show the similarity with open standards. It worked for me, I was already imagining my own frustration if I had to try 10 different screwdrivers before my new chair was assembled, not to mention how difficult it would be to build a house. A bunch of different craftsmen working with different tools and screws. Any way I bought it, and listened very carefully. He recommended the Danish software standards booklet published by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, http://www.oio.dk/files/Softwarestrategi_-_Engelsk.pdf http://www.videnskabsministeriet.dk.

His opinion was that the use of standards was a political decision. Some of the concrete choices he mentioned should be File formats ODF (Open document format) and W3C standards.

Oracle said: We compete on our methods not our standards.

Then there was a discussion panel with the suppliers, mentioned above. They got some of these questions:

Q: The largest obstacles for implementing standards?

A: KMD (a Danish IT company witch is a large supplier to the public sector)

A: The parties and the government must do more.

Q: Hvad should the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, do for Open Standards?

A: Educate, execute and define policies.

Other comments:

- We will need to invest in the spreading of Open Standards, until then we decrease the opportunity of innovation.

- We make policies for security, development etc. but we don’t se companies defining Open Standard policies – yet.

- The increased dialog and need of Open Standard is the first sign of a paradigm change on the area.

- The price that we are paying for being a part of a monopole (i.e. Microsoft) forces us to look at generic methods.

- Compete on implementing standards, not how many.

- Especially open tendering will have the advantage of Open Standard.

- OIO has a top 20 list with standards http://www.oio.dk/standarder/20standarder

- Include Open Standards in your companies architectural principals.

Sun Microsystems, Susy Struble:

- Business Innovation is accelerated by the Global Internet.

- Look at the issue as a chocolate chip cookie recipe. The Interface (API, protocols, schemas etc.) is the recipe. Implementation is the cookie.

- There are many possible implementations that support the same interface.

- If you control the Interface you won’t need the implementation. I.e. if you control the Interface you’ve got the real power.

The comments referred to above, was just some of the very interesting point of views that were mentioned this day. One thing I unfortunately experienced was that none of the vendors took responsibility of starting implementing standards for real in their organizations. And with Microsofts influence on the market, collaboration is a necessity. Under these circumstances there probably will be a need for a governmental decision. Until then dear vendors (and Microsoft) please collaborate with your customers, so they will start demanding standardization.

I will end this blog with a sentence from the day.

He who does not move, does not feel his chains…..

How can Innovation affect a companys profit

Innovation has been a buzzword for some time, but is it fully integrated in organizations strategies and goals for profit? In Denmark, witch is my point of view, it is only a handful of companies that has taken this challenge seriously, and the main reason is that their business is to deliver innovative products. But what if an ordinary service or production company, adapted some of the same methods, would this affect their profit and market position. My hypothesis is that this is an area in witch companies would discover a great development potential, so my personal opinion is yes. How can your organization get started? Well first of all you probably want to show some documentation of your companies present level of innovation. By having this baseline you can registrate new concepts and measure the development and profits. There is of course a long way from deciding to work seriously with innovation until this new work process is implemented and the results appear. The real work is to evaluate your organization and determine witch methods you should develop and follow. This part is very challenging and interesting, because you don't want to implement a method that turns out not to live up to your goals for benefit or profit. In other words, put a lot of effort into this part of the process, and most important, talk to the people who you plan should work with the new methods, those who has to deliver the goals, or maybe the most significant group, the customers.

How to set up a process:

This method is an overall example witch can lead to inspiration. But there is yet a lot of work to do for every proces.

Before you get started, analyze your companies primary products or services. Then look at the possible areas of innovation, but don’t conclude anything before your interviews with the business areas is accomplished.

Doblins 10 types of innovation.

Doblin describes 10 types of innovation. Take a closer look at these 10 areas, and keep them into consideration until it is revealed where your company can gain innovative benefits.

  1. Business Model
  2. Networks and alliances
  3. Enabling process
  4. Core processes
  5. Product performance
  6. Product system
  7. Service
  8. Channel
  9. Brand
  10. Customer experience

Here is an example of how you can plan your process:

  1. Point out your companies primary products, services and customers
  2. Compare with the strategies and goals for the organisation
  3. Analyze department profits compared to the goals
  4. Point out key areas, departments or customer segments
  5. Select a appropriate amount of people who can anticipate with an interview
  6. Make an interview guide, and prepare the chosen persons and have them consider where they can point out optimization areas. The interview guide for the organization could look like this:
  1. Name and position.
  2. Working area
  3. Years of employment. Recognize new employee’s great potential to point out optimization areas.
  4. Note the innovation areas that the interview person chooses for them selves or other people/departments. It is often easier to se other peoples problems or potential clearly.
  5. Write a conclusion

A customer interview guide:

    1. Name and position
    2. Customer use
    3. Years of application
    4. Note the innovation areas that the interview person chooses for them selves or other people/departments. It is often easier to se other peoples problems or potential clearly.
    5. Write a conclusion

    Interview the organisation

    1. Make a catalogue/report witch gathers all the answers.
    2. Now you take a look on the 10 areas and evaluate from all your answers witch area(s) you should focus on.
    3. Compare strategi and goals with your new knowledge and se if there is a relationship. If the outcome and the companies benefit doesn´t reflect your strategi and goals, maybe they should be evaluated. The result of describing and measuring goals for the chosen departments can alone have a positive impact because everyone knows what the primary focus is.
    4. Presentate the report to the decision makers, including an action plan for implementation.
    5. The decision or output from this presentation is defined in individual goals for key persons, departments or areas. Measure the results for example once a month. Establish a innovation task force that can support the goal owners with creative processes.
    6. Measure yearly output (i.e. witch new initiatives are presented to the market or organization) and optimize.
    7. Start over.

    More information on creative processes http://www.mycoted.com/creativity/techniques/index.php

    Notice Doblins figure. The main perception of innovation is that innovation is a new invention or a drastic change and performance of a product. The consequence of this assumption is that companies put a lot of effort into the product performance area. Analysis show that 2 % of projects, produce more than 90 % of value, and the lowest output of results is produced within product performance.

    One area that Doblin doesn’t recognize is society and organizational innovation. This is probably the easiest innovation to predict, due to history. The types and areas of development in society maybe new, but for centuries and more we have developed our social skills, way of living, how to survive and earn a living. Today the west is going from industrial production to a service oriented and knowledge based production. The service oriented production trend has been present for a while, but our organizations change, leadership evolves and peoples priorities change from money earned to value of living. The new generation witch are students at this point, will not only focus on what they can earn, but far more on how can a company contribute to my life and skills, and how flexible is the organizational framework. The framework refers to what is measured, your physical appearance or your results. Does a leader give attention to the way, or where, you decide to do your work or is it your results that counts. There isn’t a lot of organizations that dare to give free reins yet, but the wave is rolling, and the competition to attract the best employees will force this development. Until then and concurrent, analysis show there will be a larger attraction towards self-employment.