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Latest insights2018-10-02T15:34:15-04:00

Our Insights

Our latest thinking on the biggest opportunities and most challenging issues facing problem solvers today

2007, 2017

7 Steps to fix my team’s broken priority system

By |July 20th, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

In the search for an effectively prioritized problem dashboard, you often come across a well-intentioned task list that shows everything is on fire, no resources are available, and that your team is doing "the best they can". Often times this frustrating situation causes both stress and anxiety for all involved. What can be done when everything seems important? Where should you even start? In times like these, I refer to a tool called Situation Appraisal (SA). This tool is a simple, yet powerful framework for separating the concerns being faced, using the concepts of current impact, future impact, and timeframe [...]

305, 2017

Problem Solving: You’re doing it wrong!

By |May 3rd, 2017|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Problems are bad, right? They must be solved, avoided, mitigated and managed – or must they? What if business, IT, and manufacturing leaders are wrong about problem-solving? Perhaps, it’s time to take a closer look at problem-solving within your organization and what you can learn from it. A good place to start is by looking at how your organization perceives problems. Is there a general perspective that all problems are negative? Almost every breakthrough in human history began with a problem that a smart, perceptive person recognized as an opportunity. Problems can help you understand the environment in which your [...]

2608, 2016

The Troubleshooting Amusement Park – How to focus on the important changes when chasing IT stability

By |August 26th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to find the change that started a mess in times of pressure and panic In the world of solving problems, everyone knows that more often than not, root cause comes from change. Something didn’t change and it should have, or something changed and wished it really hadn't. The worst days are those when a change that was made a long time ago does not take effect until a very recent change is made and they combine in a unique way to ruin your day. These changes can be hard to track down, and the resulting delays during an outage [...]

1507, 2016

5 questions that you need answered before your next problem-solving meeting

By |July 15th, 2016|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Sometimes when people come together to solve a problem they can be like a herd of wild buffalo, charging around in all directions, creating a lot of noise and confusion. This situation is very common when a major problem is affecting the ability of the business to meet its objectives, usually causing tensions to rise and feelings to take control of outcomes. There are likely to be multiple theories on where the problem lies, what caused it, and how it should be resolved. Diverse agendas can also hijack a meeting, taking it off track, wasting time and possibly end up [...]

2008, 2015

Crashing a Project Without Damage

By |August 20th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

It was Lady MacBeth who warned, “What’s done cannot be undone.” And yet, after scheduling project work, you may discover the schedule needs to be “crashed.” Crashing a project means shortening the project schedule by compressing the critical path without changing the sequence of work. The critical path is the longest sequence of activities that must be completed for the project to be finished on its due date. Because it is the minimum time it will take to complete an entire project—if something impacts the duration of work packages on this path, it will directly impact the finish date. Crashing [...]

2007, 2015

Empowering David to Tackle Goliath-Sized Organizational Improvement

By |July 20th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

When it comes to tackling the Goliath of organizational change, the right projects must be selected, defined, invested in, developed and finally executed. In structuring positive change, David, with his small slingshot—that is, employees at all levels regardless of their position within the organization—plays a critical role in achieving and sustaining change. The Six Sigma DMAIC cycle is a powerful approach to driving change with multiple, incremental improvements. The five basic steps: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control use different tools and techniques to focus change activity. In the Improve and Control stages, good project management is crucial for completing [...]

1307, 2015

10 Essential Components to Incident Management

By |July 13th, 2015|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

Recently, major critical operations hubs including the NYSE and United Airlines experienced wide scale and nationally reported system outages. The confusion, frustration, and monetary loss of these outages have not been calculated but I can only guess that they will be astronomical, and linger in the minds of people for time to come. According to press releases the four-hour outage at the NYSE was apparently due to a software upgrade. Although the upgrade was planned during an off-hours maintenance window, it began causing havoc as traders logged in to resume their regular activities at 7 a.m. the next morning and [...]

810, 2013

Having Expertise and Using Expertise: Is there a difference?

By |October 8th, 2013|Categories: Blogroll|0 Comments

Technical certifications at IT and telecommunications companies offer an established path for certified individuals to build advanced skills and command salary premiums. Recently, Tim Roberts, an engineer and network operations supervisor based out of Virginia, shared his experience failing and then excelling on Cisco’s CCNP advanced certification exam. His certification program required intense study and four, instructor-led courses followed by a rigorous exam that included theory and practical, lab-based simulation questions.   The first time Tim took the exam, he studied his coursework and used an exam simulator of hundreds of questions for practice. The test was not what he [...]

1607, 2013

A Cry for Clear Thinking: US Federal Agency Wastes Millions Chasing Non-existent Malware

By |July 16th, 2013|Categories: Opinion|0 Comments

A Federal agency spent over a year and nearly $3 million dollars on expensive actions against non-existent, system-wide malware. The drama finally halted when the agency ran out of money after its request for $26 million to continue the battle was denied. Some clear thinking before any action was taken would have saved millions of dollars and hours of wasted time. The incident addresses only too well the value of clear thinking—before the desire to act overtakes knowing what to do. The incident began when Homeland Security advised the Department of Commerce (DOC) of a potential malware infection within its [...]

1505, 2013

Top 10 Ways to Derail a Project

By |May 15th, 2013|Categories: Evil Project Manager|0 Comments

I am the Evil Project Manager.  In this reveal, I show you the top 10 ways I play with your mind – leaving the projects of the untrained and unaware putty in my hands; ready for manipulation. You can expect that in future articles I will speak about concepts like this in further detail, but to whet your appetite, here are my favorites:   1)      Using vague problem, project, or situation statements 2)      Prioritizing using a single dimension 3)      Masquerading Opinion as fact 4)      Creating Musts out of Wants 5)      Stating objectives that are difficult to measure 6)      Removing alternatives [...]

204, 2013

The Evil Project Manager

By |April 2nd, 2013|Categories: Evil Project Manager|0 Comments

So here I am, sitting my corner office and staring at another failed attempt at creating a project plan. I’m expected to edit this as part of a “peer-review” and provide comments by the end of the week. I don’t know how much of a “peer” I am, but based on the level of gaps I am seeing in this overly complicated task list that’s pretending to be a project file - this poor PM should be receiving my critique, chock-full of PMBOK page references (that I simply made up) and find himself either crying, overloaded with re-work, or both [...]

610, 2011

Whitepaper: Staying in Control – Designing Dashboards and Metrics to Improve Thinking Under Pressure

By |October 6th, 2011|Categories: Whitepaper|0 Comments

The human mind is the fastest computer in existence. In a moment, it can take in multiple sensory inputs, match them to a pattern in your memory, and register it as good or bad. It then requests all your attention, adrenaline, and focus, to allow you to make a split second decision. By doing so, the mind allows you to take advantage of, or perhaps avoid a challenging situation. In the Service Excellence world, dashboards are the keys to providing the sensory inputs necessary to allow your mind to naturally assist you in handling complex, and time-sensitive operations. In this [...]

103, 2011

Thinking Correctly Under Pressure

By |March 1st, 2011|Categories: Webcast|0 Comments

Thinking Correctly Under Pressure (TCUP) continues to gain more and more attention in companies that are committed to the idea of Service Excellence. The ability to "stay cool and focused" when the situation at hand gets hot is something that is required whenever we look at Incident Management, but could also be transferred into any other environment where effective decision making and proactive thinking is essential for success. Thinking Correctl The webcast will introduce you to some key influencing factors that make the difference when companies aim for high quality and stable performance in an environment where pressure can come [...]