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Frank Patrick's Focused Performance Business Blog
This Focused Performance Weblog started life as a "business management blog" containing links and commentary related primarily to organizational effectiveness with a "Theory of Constraints" perspective, but is in the process of evolving towards primary content on interactive and mobile marketing. Think of it as about Focusing marketing messages for enhanced Performance. If you are on an archive page, current postings are found here.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Today's Off-Topic Thought --
"What's offensive is that we let the offended run the world."
...courtesy of BuzzMachine... by Jeff Jarvis.

If you agree with the sentiment, I encourage you to respond to the latest over-reaction.

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Soothing the Savage Breast -- In one ear and out the other... I've just been handed a Musical Baton that's slip sliding around the blogosphere. This one came to me from the Creative Generalist (Thanks, Steve - I was amazed to see you listening to Beautiful People. I'm the only other person I know who knows them.) via caff, Brand New, Russell Davies, thingsmagazine, and so on...

Total volume of music on my computer:
4937 songs (or 17 days, 20.8 GB)

The last CD I bought:
Terry Riley - Riley: In C (25th Anniversary Concert) (bought via iTunes today.)
(Last physical CD bought: Brian Wilson - Smile)

Song playing right now:
Pere Ubu - Cry, Cry, Cry (from Worlds in Collision)

Five songs I listen to a lot, or mean a lot to me:
Do Something Different - Brave Combo (mine's from Polka Comes to Your Haus! - Compilation)
Clarinet Concerto (or Quintet) - Mozart
Quodlibet - Peter Schickele (aka PDQ Bach)
Think Too Much - Paul Simon (Hearts and Bones)
Hallelujah - Leonard Cohen (Various Positions)

(Five is definitely way, way too few. How can I leave out Mahler, Manhattan Transfer, Bach, John Hartford, Mingus, Laurie Anderson, and Philip Glass? See my personal blog for another recent review of my listening habits.)

Five people I'm passively passing this on to:
Jack, Joe, Esther, Johanna, and Glen. Take a break from your knowledge, lean, and project management, folks, and run with it!

Tagged at Technorati under .

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Friday Fun: AutoBlogger -- I think I've found a solution to the lack of time and energy to feed this blog...AutoBlogger.

(Quicktime required for full story. You do have Quicktime, don't you?)

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Books: The Art of Project Management -- A lot of my writings tend to focus on the mechanics and "science" of project management, although I do think that much of the strength of the TOC-based project and multi-project management stems from an understanding of the human element involved. Based on an available pdf excerpt of chapter 3, this book, The Art of Project Management, looks like it might provide some additional good insight into the politics and people. (Pointage via 43 Folders.)

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Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Linkage Redirect -- Over at Learning about Lean, Joe Ely pointed to a few of my recent posts today. If you're here looking for what he's pointing at, the full links are here and here.

Things have been quiet here recently -- too quiet. I'm glad Joe gave me an excuse to jump in with a posting, even with something as inocuous as this. I'll be back with some meatier stuff one of these days. I promise.

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Friday Fun: A Real Good One -- On a source of Parkinson's Law...

(From you know who.)

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Monday, May 16, 2005

On Getting Productive --
"The best way to get more productive is to probably turn off the internet for a few hours a day!"
    -- Seth Godin
(From the Apple Matters interview.)

posted by Frank - Permanent Link - |

Saturday, May 14, 2005

On Experience --
"Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again."
    -- Franklin P. Jones
(via The Quotations Page)

posted by Frank - Permanent Link - |

Friday, May 13, 2005

Is This Cool or What? --

It's called Bitty Browser. I've got this one pointed at my linkage inbox -- a collection of links of interest, including a lot of potential blog fodder.

posted by Frank - Permanent Link - |

Tom Peters at PMI -- Tom Peters is presenting at the Denver chapter of PMI this week. His slides are available online (in PowerPoint downloads) from his blog. A couple quotes in them stand out...
"A focus on cost-cutting and efficiency has helped many organizations weather the downturn, but this approach will ultimately render them obsolete. Only the constant pursuit of innovation can ensure long-term success."
   -- Daniel Muzyka, Dean, Sauder School of Business, Univ of British Columbia (Financial Times/09.17.04)

"To grow, companies need to break out of a vicious cycle of competitive benchmarking and imitation."
   -- W. Chan Kim & René Mauborgne, "Think for Yourself — Stop Copying a Rival," (Financial Times/08.11.03)
Sound familiar?

A lot of the slides are probably pretty cryptic without Peters' usual bombast presentation, but there are more interesting bits to be found in them. I've got to look into his Project 50 a little closer.

posted by Frank - Permanent Link - |

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Productivity Killer Comes to the Mac (Boom!) -- A few days ago, I mentioned MS Project as the one reason I need to use a Windows machine. Now, via Tiger's Widget Dashboard feature comes the one now previously Windows-only app that I run for enjoyment. Once I load my Tiger upgrade, my blogging capacity could be in jeopardy.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Remember All-Nighters? -- For more and more these days, a good memory might not be necessary. It might have been last night...
"Even the most unapologetic globalization proponents nevertheless acknowledge that offshoring has resulted in longer, stranger hours for white-collar workers in the United States. Some business experts worry that the trend could result in massive burnout if offshoring isn't properly managed.

"Silicon Valley workers grumble that communicating with colleagues overseas requires midnight teleconferences, 6 a.m. video meetings and the annoying 'pling' of instant messages and twittering cell phones all night long..."
Read the whole AP article, For Some Techies, an Interminable Workday. (Linkage viaWorthwhile.)

posted by Frank - Permanent Link - |

Small Revolutionary Events in the Larger Scheme of Things -- The confluence of my earlier post today and Joe Ely's Learning about Lean piece on a kaizen event and the importance of seconds has just led me to one of those a-ha moments.

Kaizen is often touted as a process of continuous, incremental improvement.

But it's also often practiced in terms of "kaizen events."

From the larger system's viewpoint, it might be continuous. From the point of view of the process subjected to a kaizen event, not quite. At the granular level, it probably has quite a non-continuous impact.

hmmmm...Could it be the best of both worlds, continuous global improvement from a series of disruptive local events?

That, of course, assumes that the targets of the events and their results are related to enhancing the goals of the global system (in most cases, by alleviating constraints in the system). Contraint management (TOC) provides guidance on where to improve. Tools and activities like Lean, kaizen, Six Sigma provide the means to effect the improvement.

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Everyday Changes: Necessary But Not Sufficient -- At Working Smarter, Jeffrey Phillips ask the question...
"What changes have you made to the way you work, and the way the organization works, to make it and you more productive?" his piece on the value of slow evolution via everyday changes. Please pay attention to the "and the way the organization works" in the quote. It's the piece that is most important and too often overlooked.

Most regular readers will realize I'm a fan of the big bang, "puncutated equilibrium" approach to evolution to get the big improvements from "periodic dis-equilibrium." It may be occasionally painful and disorienting to go through such shifts (although that's only the case if it's irrationally imposed without sufficient attention to change management. Who was it who said that while change is required, suffering is only optional?), but also necessary for addressing deep-rooted erroneous assumptions that get entrenched in the culture and its supporting processes and technology over time.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking the "everyday change" is absolutely necessary for adjustments and tweaks and minor course corrections at the tactical and operational level between major cultural and technological dislocations. But care must be taken to assure that the small changes, typically addressing sub-system issues rather than global system needs, do not result in entrenching and enforcing the last big improvement when the larger organization really needs to shift directions. Smaller improvements, because they are, by nature, typically "local" improvements to parts of the system living in the environment created by the last big systemic change and define success (and improvement) in terms of the assumptions underlying the current environment.

They also run the risk of defining improvement in terms of local optimization in terms of what's good for me, my department, or my business unit, and as a possible result, sub-optimizing the results of the system that counts -- the larger global system or orgnization; the function or process rather than the individual, the company rather than the department, the supply chain rather than the company, etc. (It's not "what's good for General Motors is good for the nation," but rather the other way around.)

The issue about improvement is not big versus small, or revolutionary versus evolutionary, (or even necessarily local versus global, despite my harping on that dichotomy). The issue about improvement is how it is defined. Systemically (not necessarily hierarchically), a valid definition of improvement is driven top-down from the goals of the largest applicable definition of the system. Whatever helps to achieve more high level "goal stuff" without violating other necessary conditions of success is an improvement.

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Friday, May 06, 2005

A McLuhan Reversal -- A while ago, I posted about McLuhan's Laws of Media. Today I came across a possible example at the Search Engine Roundtable...
Let's think about how search engines rank Web sites. One of the main components that factor if page A should rank above page B is the linkage data. Simply because, that was the way the World Wide Web worked. Page A links to Page B so the reader of Page A can find out more about a particular topic.

If people are now less likely to navigate the Web via hyperlinks and are more likely to navigate via search engines, we have the potential to lose one of the core factors in ranking criteria, linkage data. This of course is not an issue now, the if you saw the chart posted at the conference, the line graph was pretty shocking, in my opinion. User navigation via hyperlinks were declining at the rate user navigation via Web search. If this trend continues, less and less linkage data will be available for search engines to rank Web sites.

I thought to myself, can this happen, is it happening? Are people not linking to Web sites anymore and relying on the user to use Web search? First memory that popped into my head was that I have noticed that many new pages are linking to search results. For example, I commonly notice a sentence like, "If you want more information about widget, search Google." where the link to Google would contain the search phrase. Not convinced yet? Well, my new OS (Apple Tiger) came with a new search feature named "Spotlight" which has revolutionized the OS. Everything I right click on, any word, any file, pretty much anything in any program has an added two options. (1) Search in Spotlight and (2) Search in Google. How hard is it for someone to now right click on a search phrase or word and click on "Search in Google". Am I saying people will stop linking to pages? I doubt that; look at the number of times I linked to other pages in this entry. But think about the possibility of such a future.
Referring back to McLuhan's laws, or questions for considering the implications of a new course of action (in his terms, new media)...
- What does the artifact enhance or intensify or make possible or accelerate?

- If some aspect of a situation is enlarged or enhanced, simultaneously the old condition or unenhanced situation is displaced thereby. What is pushed aside or obsolesced by the new "organ"?

- What recurrence or retrieval of earlier actions and services is brought into play simultaneously by the new form? What older, previously obsolesced ground is brought back and inheres in the new form?

- When pushed to the limits of its potential … the new form will tend to reverse what had been its original characteristics. What is the reversal potential of the new form?
The search revolution on the internet has clearly been advancing the possibilities associated with the first three questions, and companies like Google and DigitalGrit have taken advantage of those possibilities. But how long until the last question leads to a new "media" landscape becomes a real strategic question?

Will "subjective" relevance replace the more mathematical linkage algorithms?

Will paid placement dominate search as the natural listing ranks deteriorate?

Will link-building become more important as link traffic drops, or less as rankings rely less on linkages?

Just a bit of thinking about change applied to my 9-to-5.

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Agile Tiger vs BDUF Longhorn -- This might not be a perfect analogy, but it just struck me that Apple's annual incremental delivery of operating system value (Tiger is the 5th increment of OS X) is in stark contrast to the Big Design Up Front feel I get from reading about how great Longhorn will be once (if ever) it is ready for prime time in a few years. Like I said, not a perfect analogy, since it did take Apple a while to come up with the first version of OS X, but it's close enough for jazz (and off-the-cuff blogging).

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More PM Sites to Read -- Gord Schmidt over at Do More Than Manage offers up a handful of project management oriented blogs and sites, including a few that are new to me. Not that many of us need more input these days, but check 'em out anyhow. I plan to.

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Friday Fun: Cross Platform Life --
Oh, if it wasn't for the need to run Microsoft Project...

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Monday, May 02, 2005

Isn't it Ironic...that when I post a piece knocking the concept of best practices and enterprise software, my Google AdSense offers a counterpoint in the form of a bunch of ads for just such stuff.

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Global Virtual Classroom Award Winners Announced -- Some of you may be aware of the side project I’ve been involved in for a couple years – the Global Virtual Classroom program of the Give Something Back International foundation founded by my sister. The objective of the program is to give students from around the world an opportunity to hone important 21st century skills -- cross-cultural communication, collaboration at a distance, and computer skills.

This weekend (actually last night at about 2 AM), we finalized the judging for this year’s GVC contest -- the second since our relaunch in 2003. 57 schools from around the world worked in 22 teams (10 teams up to grade 7 and 12 teams from between grades 8 and 12) that built websites on topics of their choosing. We gave out three awards, plus special merit recognition, in each age group.

Check ‘em out, as well as the full sets of sites from the two age groups

In particular, you might want to check out the interactive interface of the second place winner in the High School group, actually built by 8th graders in a middle school. Impressive. Also the flash whizzes from our first place high school group did a particularly nice job. I showed these around to our designers and developers, but had to thell them that their parents wouldn't let them relocate from Illinois or Israel for a summer internship.

My one hesitation about sharing this with you folks is the condition of the GVC website. It’s an old (circa 1999) design (tables within tables within tables within…aaarrgh, and little individual graphic-based button navigation…yuck) inherited from the original AT&T program upon which it is based, and moved to a Linux-based server (don’t ask) about 8 months ago, which broke all the neat forms I had figured out on the old temporary Windows server we used last year. (And now that I’ve been learning about SEO from my day job, I see a whole lot more shortcomings.)

I had planned to do a CSS-based redesign this year, but just haven’t found time and energy yet -- supporting and following up with the participating schools (plus the new server setup) has taken up most of the time I thought I’d have to do it. Plus, this last year, I’ve been a little busier from 9 to 5 than I was as an underutilized consultant.

Any ideas or pointers would be appreciated, as would some friendly linkage to promote the GVC program. We'd like to have over 100 schools involved in the 2005/06 program.

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PMI Congress Notes: Using Risk Management for Strategic Advantage

Tell Me How You'll Measure Me and Ah, But What to Measure?

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Why Can't We All Just Get Along?

Why TOC Works
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Critical Chain and (not or) XP

Defining Project Success (But for Whom?)

Down 'n Dirty w/TOC and PM (Part 1 of 5 consecutive posts)

End of Project Review

If Project Management is the Answer, What's the Question?

In Defense of Planning

It Ain't the Tools

Lessons Learned, Revisited

Predicting Uncertain Futures

Project Conflicts

Project Determinism (and other myths)

Project Portfolio Management

Promises, Predictions, and Planning

Removing Bottlenecks - A Core Systems Design Principle

Stage Gates and Critical Chain

Ten Top Sources of Project Failure (The Executive Version)

The Meaning of "Schedule"
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Invisible Dogma - Perpetuating Paradigms

Nothing But Value

On Assumption Busting

Personal Productivity - An Excuse?

The Psychology of Change Management

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