Archive | March 2013

1-Minute Assessment: Organizational Learning

Take today’s 1-minute assessment:

  1. Do you identify your organization’s strategic learning needs?
  2. Do you tie your learning strategy to resource planning and to talent management?
  3. Do you have a tactical plan for organizational learning?
  4. Do you consider the needs of your 3rd parties in your learning strategy and plans?
  5. Do you indeed deliver the required learning?
  6. Do you assess the learning’s effectiveness?
  7. Do you consider your Learning Organization a chief lever to pull for managing effective change?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you probably should consider if you are succeeding in developing the skills and knowledge of your people, so that they can do their roles effectively and efficiently, in support of the book of work you have signed up for.

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013

100 Tweets: A Report Card

I’ve reached my 100th Tweet on Twitter, a milestone of sorts, a time to reflect.  Here’s some observations and thoughts.

Whom I Follow, Who Follows Me

I am following 185 Twitter users and 55 are following me.  I’m pretty certain that I am at the lower end of Klout’s index,  but I’m feeling real good about where I’m at and whom I associate with on Twitter.

Mine is a robust and manageable portfolio of Tweeters I follow: news distributors, government agencies, companies, municipalities, foundations, community action groups, thought leaders,  provocateurs, Tweeting on the arts, science, entertainment, business, health, finance, education, and more.

These are the back-end of my Twitter existence, suppliers of information that make me smarter, more attuned, and timely.  Their content and insights complement my own, spurs me to evolve and to innovate.  My back-end prepares me for interactions with my front-end.

People are the front-end of my Twitter existence: collaborators, challengers, consumers, conversationalists, and counselors.  I do not consider this group as potential clients.  I consider them a peer network of wholesome, spirited, bright, and principled human beings: the Tweeters who follow me.

We can steer one another to opportunity, together we can create opportunity, but I would not market to these followers, at least not in the model that I’ve described here.  It’s important to differentiate between a peer network and one’s clients.  It appears that many on Twitter do not make this distinction.

Patterns In The Following/Followed Pools

There’s a lot of riffraff up there, and there’s also a staggering amount of potential.  I’ve found it useful to consider some basic patterns of usage and structuring one’s Twitter space to enable effective use of Twitter resources.

Thought Leader Pattern

Seth Godin, an American entrepreneur, author and public speaker, is a Twitter user.  His approach is fascinating, though difficult to duplicate, especially at his scale.  As of this writing, Seth has 255,602 followers, and he follows no one.  Zero.

The Celebrity Pattern is similar.  Jay-Z has 2.5 million Followers; he follows only 11.

Thought Leaders and Celebrities essentially follow no one, publish their own content, and offer their following innovative and thought-provoking experiences  This pattern can scale large and small,  as might be right for the Thought Leader’s, or the Celebrities,  purview and aspiration.

Two separate Twitter accounts would prove helpful

1 to manage a Peer network, as discussed above, and the other to manage a Thought Leader or Celebrity pattern.  This structure separates your front and back ends, your enterprise so to speak, from your prospective clients, your Market.

Reader Pattern

At the other end of the spectrum of Thought Leaders and Celebrities, are Tweeters who follow the Reader Pattern.  Readers follow everybody and everything, and have zero or very little following.  If they Tweet, they do so for a small group, or for their own benefit.  The Ultimate Reader would follow everything.

Follow for a Follow Pattern

I’ve met users who are following X number of users, and have roughly the same number of followers.  Further, it seems that it is the same people comprising both groups.  I call this the Tit For Tat Pattern, or the Follow For Follow pattern.  You follow me, and I’ll follow you, although it’s possible that neither of us really has much to say.

Curator/Distributor Pattern

Curator/Distributors are users with a healthy balance of Following/Followed.  Curator/Distributors realize that they do not have to follow everyone who follows them, and so the Tweeters in their Followed group are largely not the same Tweeters found in their Following group.

Curators follow a lot of sources, filter and combine those for their Readership.

Regarding Scale

How many can a Twitterer actually follow with any effectiveness?  300,000?  15,000?  750?  100?

And why would a user rely on a push model for information and not a pull model, especially at large-scale?

Consider:  there are 6 Billion plus mobile phone subscriptions out there today.  That doesn’t mean that I want them all in my local phone book.  All I really need is the couple of hundred that I might actually call.  I can always reach the rest of the 6 billion if I need to.

Perhaps it’s a “collect 1, collect them all” mentality, rearing its head here in the digital age.

I am cautious of anyone who is following more than 500. I could not manage anything more than that without sacrificing integrity.  Unless I was professionally aspiring to amalgamate and redistribute content, to sitting on my account 24 by 7 doing nothing but consuming content, or having a bot do it for me, there is no reason for following so many.

My strategy is to hone in on a small feed of content,

I will integrate that content with my own, communicate and iterate on that with my peer group.  The rest can listen in.

When Followed, I am diligent in deciding if I should follow in turn

I take the time to understand who that person is following, and who’s following them.  Go one generation out, so to speak.  Be alert for sketchy characters there on the fringes, those that one is better to avoid, and so block those requests.

I ask of my target follows:  Are you follow worthy and why?

I ask of those wanting to follow me:  Do I and the folks already in my immediate network, consider you inclusion worthy?

Improvement Plan

  • Regularly refine the list of Tweeters I follow to assure broad and deep coverage of topics relevant to the Charter articulated in my Twitter profile.
  • Monitor the profiles of Tweeters who follow me, to find those for the inner-more circles, and those who might need cycling out.

Tweet Makeup

I reviewed my 100 Tweets and found they fall pretty much equally into 3 broad categories:

  1. Tweets of original and thought-provoking work, of a small handful of industry leaders in various disciplines.
  2. Tweets where I am serving as a curator of sorts for a broader population of content providers.
  3. Tweets that lead to my more substantive blog posts, or Tweets that attempt to impart words of wisdom, to invigorate, and to stimulate innovation, in 140 characters or less.

Improvement Plan:

Shift greater emphasis to Type 3  Tweets.   Limit the sources for 1 & 2 to recognized pundits in their respective topical areas.

These are my thoughts for now.  I will certainly continue to revisit and confirm these points of view with each Tweet milestone.

This New Yorker cartoon is paid for and used under Non-Exclusive license agreement with Conde Nast.

Cartoonist: Ros Chast, The New Yorker Collection

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013

1-Minute Assessment: Value Management

Take today’s 1-minute assessment:

  1. Organizations typically have a framework for Risk Management.  Do you have one for Value Management, to enable business and IT decisions to maximize the value from IT-enabled business investments?
  2. Is your Value Management integrated with your financial planning?
  3. Do you have a targeted investment mix for your IT Portfolio?
  4. Are you happy with the Value/Return side of your business cases?
  5. Do you plan for people and talent in line with the managed Portfolio?
  6. Do you watch and report on Portfolio performance?
  7. Do you retire programs that crowd out potentially more lucrative investments?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you aren’t realizing ideal value from your IT-enabled business investments, and potentially flying blind with respect to practices to aid the Board and executive management in understanding and carrying out their roles related to such investments.

A framework for Value Management will enable you to:

  • Manage costs, risks, and benefits, in an integrated way
  • Increase the chances for a Portfolio mix having the potential to generate the highest return
  • Reduce the number of losing propositions in the mix, and so cut cost and free-up talent
  • Increase business value and goodwill

ISACA’s ValIT, one such framework for Value Management, provides a foundation for you to manage strategy, architecture, delivery, and value, from a common set of principles and practice.  Are you doing the right things?  Are you doing them the right way?  Are you getting them done well?  Are you seeing the benefits?

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013

The Soundtrack

Wake up, sing in the shower, exit your flat, whistle a tune, commute,  i-Play a favorite ditty, Zumba to beats, 150+ per minute, dine to ballads, promenade to hip-hop, talk over soft jazz, shop to Pop, fall asleep to pink noise.  Music and sound everywhere.

Now consider your workplace and its soundtrack, the themes motivating the dancers on your projects, programs, and change initiatives.  A lonesome horn, over some bass and swirling brushwork?  A blend of finely tuned multi-part harmonies?  12-tone and dissonant or easy to hum?  The usual verse-chorus-verse-chorus-fade, or something more?

Satie’s Trois Gymnopédies.  Miles’s Blue in Green.  SOS Band’s Take Your Time.  Sinatra’s Come Fly With Me.  Segovia’s Bach Prelude.  St. Vincents Party.  Your favorite?

They’re all playing out there, in your head, in the office next-door, on the floor below, down the boulevard, across the country, after the sun, the different tunes, the backbones laid down by the different drummers.

To each their own.  Include your favorites and then play them all.  Not one at a time, but all at once.  You will potentially need to, dear Maestro, to bring order to what would otherwise be cacophony.

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013

1-Minute Assessment: Requirements Management

Take today’s 1-minute assessment:

  1. Do you have templates to formalize the capture of requirements?
  2. Do you have well-known governance around who you authorize to articulate requirements, and who can accept them?
  3. Do your teams attribute requirements to catalog business priorities, plus rank the complexity, time, and cost to deliver?
  4. Does IT, together with the Business, agree to baseline the requirements at some point during the delivery lifecycle?
  5. When requirements change, do you understand the effects of those on design and on the project’s schedule?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you might be seeing inconsistencies in the way IT products and services are reflecting Business needs.  Consider that requirements are upstream from planning and scheduling, analysis and design, coding and testing, learning and roll-out.

Requirements management is a continuous and dynamic process.  Competency here pays off in predictable cadence for all involved, and is a solid foundation for goodness in design and architecture.  Lack of it results in thrash and dissatisfied customers.

Related Reading

Quality Attribute Workshops

1-Minute Assessment: Sizing and Estimating

Agile Architecting

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013

A Synapse Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

You do not typically have the liberty to start with a blank slate, to flash it all away as the Men In Black do, to wait it out and hope for collective memory to fail.  There is no command-shift-delete that allows you to clear the cultural cache.  It endures, persists, and will outlive your brief footprint on its surface.

Learn from the past, the dying memories, the latent, the dormant, that which lurks but which in due time will once again rear its head.  Relive the good times, celebrate the tribal successes of those who came before, pay homage to the spirits that yet float about the halls, get out the old albums and reminisce.  Motivate with tales of olde, good and bad.

Tell each other why this time will differ from the last, and the time before that, or why the good times will continue to roll as they always have, or why the turn in the road ahead will demand a new and improved We.

Break the amber around the professional hearts and minds of those who will follow, who will lead, and who will give counsel, each according to their comfort.  Provide compelling reasons, examples, and demonstrations, of what goodness looks like.  Enlist both, those who’ve succeeded, and those who’ve failed, to tell their stories.  Make each accountable for each, person by person.

This New Yorker cartoon is paid for and used under Non-Exclusive license agreement with Conde Nast.

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013

Tickets Please

Is every employee entitled to a seat on the moving vehicle of an organization undergoing change?  Who goes, who endures, and who thrives?  Ducks, swans, and eagles, quacking, singing, and soaring.  There are some moving on, others rehearsing the next meaningful soliloquy, and those who for the first time will show ’em what they’ve got.

As you contemplate the challenge, do you see yourself still standing when all that’s ahead is behind?  Are you outside looking in, or are you center, in the mix?  Are you motivated and are you able?  Do you still have a chisel to whet?  Dust, talc, or bedrock?

Consider your tolerance for challenge and for change.  How long does it take to get to a new you?

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013

1-Minute Assessment: Risk Management

Take today’s 1-minute assessment:

  1. Do you have a strategy and procedure to find, analyze, and mitigate risks?
  2. Is your team familiar with industry frameworks, like ISACA Risk IT, or NIST RMF ?
  3. Does the Business acknowledge risk-mitigating projects as important, deserving of IT investment?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you might be lacking a continuous and forward-looking process, at the project, program, portfolio, and enterprise levels, that would enable IT and the Business to effectively manage risk.

Consider sources for risk, internal and external, like staff, contractors, partners, competitors, the market, regulators, the disgruntled ex-employee, the organized and syndicated hacker.  Risk will manifest through acts of omission and commission.  Remember what’s at risk – your people, facilities, information, value, brand, intellectual property, perhaps even your very existence as a practical public or private entity.

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013

The Henny Youngman School of Consulting

Henny Youngman, was an American comedian and violinist, the “King of the One-Liners.”  Mr. Youngman passed away in 1998; he would have been 107 years old this March 16th, 2013.

The Urban Dictionary has an entry for what’s known as a Henny Youngman Problem:  A problem that is best solved by avoiding the problematic situation.  Or, as Henny’s one-liner tells it:  Patient says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this!”  Doctor replies, “Don’t do that.”

The next time you are considering handing over part of your budget to consultants for advice, ask instead: Do I have a Henny Youngman Problem?  You can potentially save yourself some upfront time and money.

  • Hurts when you manage change?  Well, don’t do it that way any more.
  • Operations planning painful?  OK – then stop and adopt a new way.
  • Portfolio reviews ineffective and tedious to prepare for?  Cease and check.
  • You agreed to all that scope and now you can’t deliver?  Well, whose fault is that?

Additional one-liners that might prove useful:

  • My doctor grabbed me by the wallet and said “Cough!” Are you providing IT value?
  • The more I think of you, the less I think of you.  Does your IT brand withstand the scrutiny?  Equally applicable to transparency around IT spend.
  • Nurse: “Doctor, the man you just gave a clean bill of health to dropped dead right as he was leaving the office”. Doctor: “Turn him around, make it look like he was walking in.”  Your own caption here.

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013

To Integrity!

This morning a friend of mine awoke and found herself richer, in dollars and in spirit.  A past client had overnight transferred a sum of money her way, a “bonus” for services above and beyond.  Though the contract said it was possible that she could receive such payout, a premium for value received, it was totally at the client’s discretion with absolutely no obligation for them to do so.  They easily could have said, “Out of sight, out of mind,”  and rested on goodwill already attained between them, and left it at that, but didn’t.

I raise my glass to those who do not allow circumstances to offer an excuse for a lapse in integrity.  Gestures like these are palpable demonstrations of ethic and principle, and they kindle the same in those they touch.

Salut! Ade Yamas!

© Michael C. Simonelli,, 2013