Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs

Walter Isaacson describes the 14 imperatives behind Jobs’s approach: focus; simplify; take responsibility end to end; when behind, leapfrog; put products before profits; don’t be a slave to focus groups; bend reality; impute; push for perfection; know both the big picture and the details; tolerate only “A” players; engage face-to-face; combine the humanities with the sciences; and “stay hungry, stay foolish.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Help Those You Lead--The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time - Tony Schwartz

If you're a manager, here are three policies worth promoting:
1. Maintain meeting discipline. Schedule meetings for 45 minutes, rather than an hour or longer, so participants can stay focused, take time afterward to reflect on what's been discussed, and recover before the next obligation. Start all meetings at a precise time, end at a precise time, and insist that all digital devices be turned off throughout the meeting.
2. Stop demanding or expecting instant responsiveness at every moment of the day. It forces your people into reactive mode, fractures their attention, and makes it difficult for them to sustain attention on their priorities. Let them turn off their email at certain times. If it's urgent, you can call them — but that won't happen very often.
3. Encourage renewal. Create at least one time during the day when you encourage your people to stop working and take a break. Offer a midafternoon class in yoga, or meditation, organize a group walk or workout, or consider creating a renewal room where people can relax, or take a nap.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

New Product Development Best Practices

This recent study provides insights on NPD best practices and reinforces the importance of strategy for successful NPD---one of the reasons we spend so much time on it in the Stanford Advanced Project Management Program. Sample factors include:

  • Goals: Clearly defined, visible to the organization, clearly aligned with organization mission and strategic plan
  • Projects and programs are reviewed on a regular basis
  • Opportunity identification is ongoing and can redirect the strategic plan in real time
  • Common NPD process cuts across organizational groups, is visible, and well documented
  • Go/no-go criteria are clear and predefined for each review gate
  • NPD process is flexible and adaptable to meet the needs, size, and risk of individual projects
  • Top management supports the NPD process
  • Management rewards and recognizes internal “entrepreneurship”
Project climate
  • Cross-functional teams underlie the NPD process
  • Activities between functional areas are coordinated through formal and informal communication
  • Ongoing market research is used to anticipate/identify future customer needs and problems
  • Concept, product, and market testing is consistently undertaken and expected with all NPD projects
  • Customers and users are an integral part of the NPD process
  • Results of testing (concept, product, and market) are formally evaluated
Metrics - Practitioners surveyed could not agree on any consistent best practices for metrics
  • The launch team is cross-functional in nature
  • A launch process exists and project postmortem meeting is held after the new product is launched
  • Customer service and support are part of the launch team