Announcing: The ASTD Management Development Handbook

American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) recently released a fantastic collection titled The ASTD Management Development Handbook”. This book provides current thinking on various management aspects by practicing management professionals. Lisa Haneberg, the editor of this book invited about 37 bloggers/authors to contribute their thinking – people who are active NOW, who are exploring the emerging trends in management and are willing to share their thinking on the best management practices. This is a very non-traditional approach to write a handbook of management development!

I am grateful to Lisa for inviting me to write in this book. I contributed a 23 page chapter titled “From Quality to Excellence: Essential Strategies for Building a Quality-Oriented Culture” (download the table of contents and a sample chapter here). My chapter covers key insights to lead for excellence.

In her foreword, Betsy Myers writes,

“The book in your hands is a remarkable compendium of fresh perspectives on management and leadership. As richly diverse as these authors and approaches are, they have one thing in common: They all are aimed at helping you become better at bringing out the best in yourself and the people around you.”

This is a management compendium for people who are already managing, people who are responsible for developing managers and the ones who aspire to manage someday. I think this book is also a very useful resource for the management students because it is a forward-looking book that touches upon very important topics which may not still be a part of their curriculum.

In management, it’s the soft stuff – the people stuff – that’s actually very hard as Tom Peters rightly says. People are right in the center of any excellence program and chapters in this book lay enough emphasis on this all-important human aspect of leading others towards greatness.

Management is important – a crucial link between strategic intentions at the top and real actions on the floor. It is also a privilege, an opportunity to make a huge difference in lives of others while getting important things done.

I hope you will pick up a copy of this book, have it in your library and share it with those you think will benefit out of it.

Getting Ahead: Interview with Joel Garfinkle

I had a pleasure of reading a new book titled Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level by Joel Garfinkle (@workcoach4you). Joel is the founder of Garfinkle Executive Coaching, author and one of the top 50 coaches in America. Joel was kind enough to share his book with me, which focuses on perception, visibility and influence as key tools for advancing our career.

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[Tanmay Vora] Joel, it is a pleasure interviewing you. "Getting Ahead’ is essentially a career oriented book. Why did you write this book now and how is it different from a lot of other career books out there?

[Joel Garfinkle] I spent the last 16 years working with thousands of executives, senior managers, directors and employees at the world’s leading companies. I realized that when a business professional works on only these 3 areas (Perception, Visibility and Influence) they will be successful. It is guaranteed. My research showed that it didn’t matter what a person’s title, background, location or responsibility. The most successful utilized the PVI model better than anyone else.

Getting Ahead is different than a lot of other career books because it provides immediate benefit, reward and easy implementation. You have only 3 concepts (PVI model) to work on and implement. With less content and concepts to be focused upon, what the reader needs to learn from this book becomes easily known, applied and implemented.

[Tanmay Vora] What does the book broadly cover?

[Joel Garfinkle] While some people leave the fate of their careers in someone else’s hands, others determine their future using these three critical skills (1) improve your perception, (2) increase your visibility, and (3) exert your influence. This book will teach you the PVI-model of professional advancement. Through practical advice, true-to-life examples, and action-oriented tips, you will learn how to:

– Create the right image
– Increase your profile across the organization
– Exert influence by driving change and inspiring people
– Identify and recruit advocates who will speak up on their behalf
– Become a known, valued and desired at your company
– Get effective tools to implement immediately so you can become an invaluable–and noticeable–resource for their company.

[Tanmay Vora] In the book, you talk about improving perception to grow in your career. Perception is a very subjective thing and while we can always be conscious about how we are being perceived, it is very challenging to always manage the perceptions of others. What advice would you share with readers of this blog about managing perception?

[Joel Garfinkle] If you don’t take control of how others see you, you will undermine both your career and your future success. People form opinions about you without any input from you. You can’t leave the fate of your career in someone else’s hands. Here’s how to manage your perception:

1. Notice how your behavior affects others. When interacting with people at work, how do they respond to you? What do they say and do? Document the patterns you notice based on your daily interactions. Learn to take the negative reactions and find specific ways to improve upon them. At the same time, it’s important to identify behaviors that cause positive perceptions and engage in them more frequently.

2. Gain advocates who speak positively about you. You can directly change others’ perceptions of you by having people express their enthusiasm for the impressive work you are doing. Whether it’s your success on the projects you are leading, the accomplishments you achieve, or the recognition you receive from others, it’s vital that you have people in your company singing your praise and promoting your value.

[Tanmay Vora] If you had to summarize three key messages from the book to readers of this blog, what would those be?

[Joel Garfinkle] Here they go:

1. The most successful leaders have gotten to where they are by leveraging and applying perception, visibility, and influence better than anyone else.

2. The reality you face at work is that talent, results, and competence alone simply will not allow you to attain the success you deserve.

3. The PVI model is your guiding light throughout your entire career, so you can maximize your potential and realize your professional greatness.

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You can also find out more and download a free chapter of getting ahead. View his books and FREE articles at Garfinkle Executive Coaching.

5 Insights on Creativity from Osho

Creativity is at the core of building quality in design. People rarely innovate when they simply follow instructions. This led me to think more about creativity – the act of doing something in an unconventional way, the act of creating something meaningful that changes you and hence the world. Traditionally (in an industrial world), only artists were meant to be creative – painters, dancers, poets and so on. In the knowledge world, every professional has an opportunity (and a need) to be creative – to see patterns that others don’t see, to create and initiate.

Around the same time I was thinking about creativity, I stumbled upon a great book titled “Creativity – Unleashing the Forces Within” written by 20th century spiritual teacher Osho. I read the book with great interest and gained some very enlightening insights. Here are a few:

Ego is the enemy of creativity. You are at your creative best when you do things because you find joy in doing it, because it has an intrinsic value to you. When you do things with a purpose of gaining recognition (and hence satisfy your ego), creativity is limited. Our need for external validation for our work stops us from being receptive, open and curious.

Creativity is a paradox. The more you try to be creative, the less creative you will be. Conscious effort to be creative comes in your way to be creative – that is because creativity flows. I wrote earlier that constraints help us become creative – but being in a state flow, being with the work, being in the work is the key to be creative. The book says, “It is not a question of what you do, it is the question of how you do it. And ultimately it is a question of whether you do it or you allow it to happen.”

Creativity means letting go of past. Too much reliance on our past stops you from being creative. Creative person is the one who lives in the moment, understands the context and looks at possibilities. As Osho rightly says in the book, “To bring intelligence into activity, you don’t need more information, you need more meditation. You need to become less mind and more heart.”

Creativity is an inner game. It stems from your love for the subject. It stems from your passion to practice, courage to try and learn by doing. Osho says, “If your act is your love affair then it becomes creative. Creativity is the quality you bring to the activity you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach – how you look at things. Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, then it is creative”

Creativity demands a lot of courage. Because doing something unconventionally requires you take risks, be prepared for failure, and learn from it. Osho observes that once you recognition and respect (external validation) keeps us from experimenting, because we are too afraid to fail.

Bottom line:

Creativity isn’t always about doing something that no one has done before – but in my view, it is always about executing your ideas with great love, great joy and a deep interest. If world recognizes it, you will be grateful. If not, you will still find intrinsic joy and happiness. Being creative is a selfish act!

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Related Posts at QAspire:

– The Creative (Process) – A Few Thoughts
Engaging in Alternative ‘Creative Pursuit’ to Be More Effective
Managers, Nurture Creativity. Don’t Kill It!
Creativity, Effectiveness and Constraints

What We Need The Most in 2012?

Business ecosystem is rapidly changing – and as a student of personal and organizational change, I recently re-read Dr. John Kotter’s book (published in 2008) titled “A Sense of Urgency”. I have read it before and somehow felt the need to read it again. In the book, Dr. Kotter argues that single biggest reason most change efforts fail is because we fail to create high enough sense of urgency to set the stage for making challenging leap into a new direction.

Sense of urgency does not mean frantic activity, an endless list of exhausting activities or running anxiously from meeting to meeting. Activity without purpose or meaning is a waste, a false sense of urgency. As Dr. Kotter explains,

“When people have a true sense of urgency, they think that the action on critical issues is needed now, not eventually, not when when it fits easily into a schedule. Now means making real progress every single day. Critically important means challenges that are central to success or survival, winning or losing. A sense of urgency is not an attitude that I must have a project team meeting today, but that meeting must accomplish something important today.”

I would add that “critically important” in today’s world also means challenges that give us joy, happiness and make a difference to the world in whatever way.

Dr. Kotter also goes on to explain that our major issue is not complacency – but a lot of false sense of urgency. This is a point where we mistake activity with productivity. Sense of urgency, according to Dr. Kotter, is a positive and focused force because it naturally directs you to be truly alert to what’s really happening; it rarely leads to a race to deal with the trivial.

A new year is a time when most of us reflect on personal/organizational changes we seek in the coming year. My submission: when you think of a change, also think about making it happen. If you have ideas, give it a life. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Develop a discipline to execute your art regularly.That is the only way I know to achieve excellence.

Last year, I wrote about “excellence” as a worthy goal to chase. It still is. But to achieve that, we need a compelling vision of future for ourselves and our organizations accompanied with real sense of urgency – pro-activity and desire to make a difference. We need a commitment to execute.

On that note, wish you an “excellent” 2012.

Review: “Love Presenting…” by Nicholas Bate

Love Presenting Hate (badly used) Powerpoint

In an ever-expanding new world of work, leaders have to reach out to more people and spread their ideas. A lot of leaders do presentations of all kinds (sales/training/conferences) but are not sure how to make them really effective.

Nicholas Bate delivers what the world really wants – an effective guide titled “Love Presenting Hate (badly used) PowerPoint” on creating and delivering presentations that get people to act.

Here is the basic premise of book, in author’s own words:

We’re going to restore the joy of attending a presentation and re-discovering what it is to present with passion. We’re going to remember that there is a reason for having the very expensive gathering of people in that room: it is to get people to do something. And finally we’re going to remind ourselves there is a very thin line between chaos and creation in a presentation.”

Design and content organization in the book is a great example of an effective presentation. Vibrant cover, hand-drawn illustrations (more on his blog) and succinctly presented content (with a lot of lists, of course) makes this reading experience a very pleasant one.

Here’s what I have observed in many presentations attended: there is too much of “information” and too little of “inspiration”. Without inspiration, it is very difficult to get people to do something. Isn’t it? Like any other art, the purpose of presentation is simple: to transfer the energy and emotion, not just information. A presentation that does not do this, fails to make any mark.

This book is a quick read with less than 100 pages, and the one that you might want to refer before every presentation you deliver.

Poke The Box: A Review and One Question to Seth Godin

Last year, Seth Godin showed us a way to become a Linchpin. This year, he urges us to “Poke the Box” – to act, to start, to initiate, to experiment, to try (and fail and learn from it) and most importantly to finish and deliver. Poking the box is about taking initiatives, not just waiting for someone to delegate them to us.

Seth has packed a lot of punch into this book, so much that the passion and force in his writing almost instigates us to start/act.

With Poke the Box, Seth is also challenging the traditional methods of content distribution adopted by the publishing industry. He started “The Domino Project” – his new publishing venture with Amazon that is aimed at changing the the way books are built, sold and spread. He leads by example!

Here are some gems from the book

“The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; The job is to invent the status quo.”

“The world is changing too fast. Without the spark of initiative, you have no choice but to simply react to the world. Without the ability to instigate and experiment, you are stuck, adrift, waiting to be shoved.”

“Excellence isn’t about working extra hard to do what you’re told. It’s about taking the initiative to do work you decide is worth doing. It’s a personal, urgent, this-is-my-call/this-is-my-calling way to do your job.”

One question to Seth Godin

After reading this book, I thought about reasons why people stay away from taking initiative in organizations and what could leaders do about it. This led to me to ask one question to Seth Godin:

Tanmay: The readers of my blog are people who are leaders, aspiring leaders and the ones who are willing to make a difference. How can a leader prepare others so that more people from their circle of influence initiate meaningful things and poke the box?

Seth Godin: Simple, but scary: don’t punish failure, reward it. Reward smart initiative, even when it doesn’t work.

Thanks Seth, for nudging us (or rather pushing us) to initiate.

Over to you

I think anyone who is willing to make a difference by doing meaningful work should read this book. You can read Q & A with Seth Godin at the Amazon page and learn more about The Domino Project.

So, what are you doing to poke the box? What are you initiating? Great questions for the mid week.

Book Review: From Bud to Boss

When we work as an individual contributor in early years of our careers, we are in-charge of our own outcomes. At some point, we get promoted to a leadership position, and we have to get things done through people. This is one of the most significant transitions in our careers, and the one that is never easy.

Kevin Eikenberry and Guy Harris have written an comprehensive guide titled “From Bud to Boss – Secrets To A Successful Transition To Remarkable Leadership“. Yes, this one is more than just a book. It is a guide that outlines steps and strategies to become a remarkable leader whom people choose to follow.

I read this book with great interest, and found that it is as useful for people who are already leading, as it is for people who are transitioning to leadership positions. The book enables you to look at your own self through a series of “Self Assessment” sections. It then compiles some very important lessons (named “Remarkable Principles”) and then offers practical steps/exercises that you can take now to strengthen your transition.

Here are some of the remarkable leadership principles that I really liked:

  • “Your desire to listen is at least as important as, if not more important than, your skill of listening.”
  • “If you want people to feel ownership of a goal, set the goal with them, not for them.”
  • “Ultimately what matters is not goal setting, it is goal getting.”

This book does a few things: it offers new ideas, offers new perspectives on what you already know and outlines steps to make it all happen. Through out the book, you will find “Bonus Bytes” that will point you to some very useful resources. “From Bud To boss” is also supported by a strong community that Kevin and Guy have built around the ideas presented in this book. The “Bud to Boss Community” is a collection of some very useful learning material that nicely complements the book.

This book is a practical one. Irrespective of what leadership level you are at, this is a must read book.

From Bud to Boss – Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership publishes on February 15th, but the Free Bud to Boss Community is open and available now! To celebrate the launch, they have gathered some terrific gifts from partners. To find out about the gifts, please visit the book website. Thanks to Kevin, Guy and Becky for their generosity in sending me an advance copy of the book that now becomes a valuable addition to my book shelf.

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Author Interview: ‘Awesomely Simple’ by John Spence

John Spence has done a brilliant job of writing a very useful handbook titled “Awesomely Simple – Essential Business Strategies For Turning Ideas Into Action”. It is a privilege to interview John on his book. Business is complex and this book is a great attempt to simplify it through ideas and how they can be turned into action.

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[Tanmay Vora] John, it is a pleasure interviewing you. Please tell us something about how did you come up with the idea of a business book that turns essential business strategies into actions?

[John Spence] There are many fine business books, and truthfully most of them focus on the same basic ideas, but what I wanted to do with this book was to make it as easy as possible for the reader to take the key ideas in the book and put them into immediate action in their business. I have been teaching a class on strategic thinking at the Wharton school of business at the University of Pennsylvania for the past several years and I always ask the attendees of my program (typically about 100 senior executives) what the single biggest hurdle is that stands in the way of organizational success. The answer, year after year, is lack of disciplined execution. These are very smart folks, that know what it takes to be successful, but still struggle to turn their great ideas into actions. That is why my entire book focuses on excellent ideas combined with specific action steps to implement those ideas.

[Tanmay Vora] The title of the book is really interesting – ‘Awesomely Simple’. Why did you decide to focus on the simplicity aspect of business essentials?

[John Spence] Well Tanmay, I have actually based my entire career on making complex things simple to understand. Whether the topic is business excellence, leadership, teamwork, building a winning organizational culture… I try to take massive amounts of research and years and years of personal experience as a business executive – and boil it all down to the essential, fundamental things that make up the foundation of success. As an example, I have read a minimum of 100 business books a year, and listened to an additional 30 to 50 audio business books, every year since 1989. The books alone would not be enough to truly understand what I’m studying, but combined with nearly 17 years of working for some of the top companies around the world, when I put the two things together and then focus them on looking for a pattern of excellence, it allows me to try to make the complex and challenging parts of business as simple and clear as possible.

[Tanmay Vora] What does the book broadly cover?

[John Spence] The book covers what I feel are the six essential strategies for business success: 1) having a clear and well-communicated vision for the organization. 2)hiring absolutely the best people you can possibly get on your team. 3) high levels of open, honest and transparent communication. 4) a culture of urgency were people want to get the important things done right now. 5) a culture of disciplined execution where people take the great ideas in the business and turn them into positive action in the business. 6) extreme customer focus – taking the first five elements I’ve just mentioned and focusing them all on delivering consistently superior customer service that creates loyal and engaged customers.

[Tanmay Vora] If you had to summarize three key messages from the book to readers of this blog, what would those be?

[John Spence] Actually, I have boiled all the ideas in the book down to a simple equation: (T+C+ECF) x DE = Business Success.

The T stands for talent, C is culture, ECF is extreme customer focus and DE stands for disciplines execution. To me, this equation does a pretty good job of capturing the fundamental formula for business success.

[Tanmay Vora] Thank you John for your time and I am sure readers of this blog will be able to pick up some very useful insights and turn complex business strategies into simple actions.

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Have a GREAT day!

In Review: The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau

I have been following Chris Guillebeau’s remarkable work via his blog since last couple of years. So when I heard about his new book “The Art of Non-Conformity”, I could not wait to order it. I am glad I did, because this book instantly made it to my favorite books in 2010 which also includes Seth Godin’s Linchpin.

The book is sub-titled “Set Your Own Rules. Live The Life You Want and Change the World” – very apt because the book tells you how to do that using a combination of powerful personal stories, anecdotes and some solid advice on success and living a remarkable life.

The underlying message that Chris delivers through this book is, “You don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to.” According to Chris, we all have a choice. To comply to the rules set by others or to rewrite the rules. He says, “The possibilities are unlimited, but it all begins with a deliberate choice to think differently”.

That choice of living a remarkable life starts with waking up to our current realities, setting your terms for the unconventional life, challenging the status quo, undertaking contrarian adventures, building serious competence, organizing your personal finances, living in possibilities and thinking about your legacy now. The journey through this book contains these important milestones and some very practical advice on each of these.

I loved it when Chris divided all our work in two parts – “’busy work (responding to things)’ and ‘legacy work (creating something that outlasts us)’. Each chapter has number of such useful ideas that will help you surge ahead.

The messages in this book are so powerful that when I was reading it, I was compelled to take short breaks to reflect on what I had just read. This book will push you to think about your life and how you want to live it.

“The Art of Non-Conformity”, in many ways, adds to and complements the ideas presented in ‘Linchpin” by Seth Godin. This led me to ask one question to Chris (the same one that I asked Seth Godin about in Linchpin’s book review).

Tanmay: Changing the world is impossible without actualizing with one’s gifts (that we are all born with). How does one discover these gifts and unwrap them for the world?

Chris Guillebeau: I’m not sure it’s impossible, but I agree it’s a lot easier to change the world if you know what you are good at and what you are motivated to do. It’s very difficult to motivate yourself into doing something you don’t care about. When you find something that keeps you up at night with good ideas, start thinking seriously about how to do more of it. That’s where the unwrapping comes from.

Tanmay: Your book made for a wonderful read. I just wanted to thank you for writing a book that will change people and world around us for better.

Chris Guillebeau: Thanks, Tanmay! That’s very kind of you to say. Good luck with your own world domination plans.

If you are looking forward to lead a remarkable life, or if you think you are stuck, this book is a must read for you. For readers in India, “The Art of Non-Conformity” is available via Go, get it and you will be doing a worthwhile investment in yourself.

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Chris Guillebeau is a true non-conformist himself. He is on a mission to help people live unconventional lives and he sets a powerful example for others. He is on a personal quest to visit every country in the world. He has been to more than 125 countries so far. The book carries some very interesting anecdotes from Chris’ travel in different countries.

Have a GREAT week ahead!

Book Review: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect

A few weeks back, my friend Becky Robinson at Mountain State University gifted me with a copy of John C. Maxwell’s latest book “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”. The book, as the title suggests, is all about establishing meaningful connections to build great relationships at work and in personal life. The book introduction says,

“Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate with them in a way that increases your influence with them. And the ability to communicate and connect with others is a major determining factor in reaching your potential. to be successful, you must work with others. To do that at your absolute best, you must learn to connect”

It was interesting to note the difference between “communication” and “connection”. I learned that communication is about content and connection is about relevance of that content and how it is received by others. Connecting with others is more than just transactional communication. It is about seeing others as human beings, understanding them, their energies and establish a deeper connection.

I have observed that all great “performers” are great connectors too. A singer has to understand the taste of audience and sing accordingly. A trainer has to connect with participants. An actor has to truly connect with the character being played. A blogger has to connect with the readers. An organization needs to connect with the customers.

Ability to build meaningful connections is the first step towards engaging others and building an influence. Connecting with others accelerates learning and spreads the ideas.

Maxwell’s book offers useful ideas for connecting with a group, connecting one-on-one and connecting with audience. The book does not offer any ground breaking ideas – we all know that we need to connect effectively. Still, the book does a GREAT job of outlining and reinforcing the fundamentals of connecting through explanations, stories and action points at the end of each chapter.

If you are a leader, an aspiring one or a professional who wants to make a big difference, this is a great book to pick up and read.

Have a GREAT week ahead!

Are You An Artist? A Review of Seth Godin’s LINCHPIN

Over last couple of weeks, I was reading and re-reading Seth Godin’s remarkable book “Linchpin”. I have been following Seth’s blog and books since last 4 years. This book has brilliant ideas that can change the way you work, how you work and most importantly, why you work.

Linchpin urges us all to be artists – to be the best we can, to take our work to such a level that it is viewed as an art. Seth says that manufacturing world required cogs – people who follow the instructions, were compliant, low-paid and replaceable. New world of work needs people who care, who are original thinkers, risk-takers, provocateurs – Linchpins, who are difficult to replace.

Linchpin is about being remarkable – being different and being original.

On being an artist – Seth says:

‘You can be an artist who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.”

This book also introduces us to “Lizard Brain” – a little voice inside our head that prevents us from being different. This voice convinces us to stick to old ways of doing work – because doing it differently is a risk, of failure and embarrassment. Lizard brain thrives on our strongest emotion – fear.

Organizations need more linchpins to deliver more value – and for people, their jobs are a platform to deliver value, to be generous, to express their unique skills and be an artist.

The book also made me realize that doing “emotional labor” is extremely important to be a linchpin. Emotional labor is the task of doing an important work, even when it is not easy. It is about walking that extra mile, when you don’t feel like doing it. A larger part of work involves doing things we don’t particularly love doing. But unless that is done, art cannot happen.

The book is a GREAT read (also a NY Times bestseller), because it drives important points home with brilliant examples and stories along the way. I specially liked the diagrammatic representation of ideas – making it simple and easy.  A blog post is way too short to express the profoundness of messages this book encapsulates.

Most people don’t know about their unique gifts – their art. It sometimes takes a lifetime to discover what their art really is. This prompted me to ask a question to Seth. Here is the question and Seth Godin’s response:

Tanmay: Being a Linchpin is impossible without actualizing with one’s gifts (that we are all born with). How does one discover these gifts and unwrap them for the world?

Seth Godin: To use your analogy, if you want to find gifts, you have to look under the tree. And if you don’t know which tree, look under all of them. Too many people want a promise that the effort will be instantly rewarded. It won’t. Fail frequently. That’s the only way I know.

Tanmay: Thank you so much. “Fail Frequently. Ship Early. Ship Often. Realign” that is my takeaway and probably the only way to discover your gifts.

Seth Godin: Thanks Tanmay! Keep Shipping.

Thanks Seth, for that insightful conversation through your book and your response.

Linchpin is a wake-up call – to stop being ordinary and compliant and start being remarkable. Life – as Seth says – is too short not to do something that matters!

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P.S: Check out Carnival of Management Improvement at Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog by John Hunter – fantastic collection of posts on leadership, improvement, lean and quality. Carnival includes my post “Building a Culture To Promote Differential Thinking

Book Review: Agile Excellence For Product Managers – A Guide to Creating Winning Products with Agile Development Teams


The game of software product development is the one of adding value to the businesses and customers.

With rapid changes in business environment, typical waterfall SDLC fails to deliver value, because by the time the scope is developed, business requirements change!

Adoption of Agile Development Methodology by software product managers is steadily increasing because Agile embraces business change into products.

I recently read the book “Agile Excellence For Product Managers” by Greg Cohen. This book is a guide to develop winning products with agile development teams. When most of the books on Agile focus on the process, this book focuses on the product manager’s perspective of how Agile process should be managed. The book also has a small section that touches upon XP and Lead Software Development.

I have been studying Agile for over a couple of years now, and have also implemented Agile in a number of  projects. I still found this book useful because it also deals with issues of organizational agility and importance of leadership in implementing Agile.

Agility is a mindset, more than just a process. For this very reason, adopting Agile means an organizational change in mindset. Agile is a shift from typical command-and-control structure to a trust based, highly accountable model of software development.

Bottom line: If you are a product manager who is keen to explore Agile or is already using Agile, this book will help you dig it little deeper and gain better understanding.

#QUALITYtweet – Interviews, Guest Post and Reviews

QUALITYtweet_cover[1] I am delighted to share a couple of things that happened this week around my book #QUALITYtweet.

Phil Gerbyshak is a cool friend who also wrote advance praise in the book. Phil is a “Make it Great” guy whose attitude on life is nothing less than contagious. It reflects in the way he writes. Phil interviewed me this week on my book. You can read the full interview here.

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Tom Glover been devoting the last several articles to my book #QUALITYtweet. He reviewed the book in a previous article and shared two-part interview with me. You can read Part – I and Part – II of the interview. Today, Tom features my guest post Intersection of Reflection Leadership and #QUALITY. Here is an excerpt:

Leadership creates an environment for people to work. It is therefore very important for leaders to reflect on the environment they are creating. I read somewhere that the only legacy of great leaders is the culture they create. Thoughts and deeds of a leader set examples and precedence for others to follow and emulate. Long after a leader is gone, these examples and precedence stay on.

Culture of a team or organization forms an eco-system for people to deliver great results. Hence, culture is at the very core of a quality oriented culture.

I have been fortunate enough to receive some fantastic reviews of the book so far from the kind folks. You can visit the “#QUALITYtweet Reviews Page” where I have compiled all reviews of  the book so far.

Finally, I would like to Thank You for all your support to this blog so far. If you have any feedbacks or suggestions for improvement, please do not hesitate to contact me or share your feedbacks in the comments section.

Have a Wonderful Wednesday!

#QUALITYtweet at Reflection Leadership (Thanks to Tom Glover)


Tom Glover is a “Leadership Friend” who hosts Reflection Leadership Blog. I came to know Tom via our common leadership community over at Twitter. We have been exchanging ideas and thoughts on leadership via Twitter and Tom is also a regular reader of this blog.

My book #QUALITYtweet has a chapter dedicated to ‘Management, Leadership and Quality’ and I thought Tom would enjoy reading the ideas presented in the book. I sent him a copy of #QUALITYtweet for review a few months back. Tom loved the book and decided to devote one full week of his blog posts to #QUALITYtweet which would include his review of the book, my interview in two parts and finally a guest post from me that looks at intersection of Quality and Reflection Leadership. This week, #QUALITYtweet features on Reflection Leadership Blog and here are a few links that you can follow (I will keep updating this post for more links to come in this week):

I was continually surprised throughout the book when entry after entry continued to reinforce much of what I know about quality management and even gave me some new things to think about.

The beauty of the short “micro” entries is that in many cases they are designed to invoke our own thought processes about the topic instead of just instructing. The format of the book also makes it easy to go back and reread.

The purpose of any quality management system is to build a quality oriented culture (internal goal) and deliver exceptional value for money to customers (external goal).

In a knowledge-intensive business environment, people deliver services and products, not machines. Hence they are at the core of the quality equation. Great people deliver great services.

Thank you so much Tom!

Book Review: Lead Well and Prosper by Nick McCormick

41Z1GE04FKL._SL500_AA240_[1] Being a good manager (self-management and team management) is essential ingredient of success in today’s business environment. Looking at all the bad examples of poor management around, we all know what good management is not.

This week, I read a book titled Lead Well and Prosper: 15 Successful Strategies for Becoming a Good Manager by Nick McCormick. Nick was kind enough to send me a signed copy for review.

This book is a very handy tool for young managers and aspiring leaders to lead well and prosper. This book outlines 15 successful strategies for becoming a good manager. The book focuses on a simple yet profound management truth – When you are managing people, be human and treat your people well to get the most out of them.

The book is broken down into short chapters which start with a situation and a cartoon, which makes it interesting to read. If you are time-challenged, you can also read the concluding part of each chapter which has bulleted list of Do’s, Don’ts and Action Items. It just makes the ideas more practical to apply.

Here are some key ideas from the book:

“Teaching is quite often the precursor to effective delegation.”

“When do you teach? Essentially, you teach all the time. Team members will be constantly observing you. There are also more formal opportunities you should use, such as honest feedback sessions or monthly one-on-one sessions.”

“As a manager, you must maintain positive attitude. That doesn’t mean that you ignore the ugly realities. It does mean that you must work to improve things you can control, and chip away at those you can’t do without allowing them to be all-consuming.”

“When you are among your peer managers, don’t vent. Your energy is much better spent on finding creative solutions to problems”

“Most managers are ‘too busy’ because 1) They are disorganized and 2) They are working on wrong things.”

This is one of those books I would hand over to a young manager, ask him/her to read and review themselves against these key points on a periodic basis. A great tool for the beginners in management.

#QUALITYtweet – Video Review

Simon Young at iJump reviews my book “#QUALITYtweet – 140 bite-sized ideas to deliver quality in every project” and other books in Thinkaha Series. You can also watch this video at iJump TV website.

I resumed my article series on ActiveGarage with my 13th article titled “Reviews Can be Fun (if done right)” published a few days ago. You can read previous 12 articles here.

Here is an excerpt from my latest article at ActiveGarage:

Success of any process depends on 2 E’s – Efficient and Enjoyable. Same holds true for your review processes. Review is a control mechanism, and hence the focus on getting it right the first time is still very important. A good review is just an internal quality gate that ensures that internal customers (reviewers) are happy with the final product. If your internal customers are happy, your external customers will be happy too!

Have a great Wednesday and a wonderful remaining week ahead!

Book Review: The Leadership Test by Timothy R. Clark

leadership_test_book_cover[1] Businesses today are plagued by people who are "installed" in leadership positions just because of their prior performance as a "worker". I have seen some excellent technical brains failing miserably as project leaders. Why so?

The answer is simple – they got into a leadership position as a natural progression without any reality check on their aptitude, skills and capability to lead.

When I interview people for technical positions, one question I invariably ask is – "Where do you see yourself two years down the line?". Most of these would answer that they want to be a team lead, manage people and projects. That is a noble aspiration, because business needs good leaders. But why do they want to lead? There are plenty of resources available to address "How to lead?" aspect. But a very few touch upon "Why do you want to be a leader?"

Any one who aspires to be a leader must read "The Leadership Test – Will You Pass?" by Timothy R. Clark, Ph.D. (His Blog) The book is organized in form of conversation between a teacher (named Isadore Kroll, Izzy) and his former student (Marcus), who is now facing a dilemma of whether he should accept a leadership position being offered to him by his company. The teacher takes Marcus through a soul-searching process to address "Why" aspect of leadership. At the end, teacher puts Marcus through a leadership test. Quite a revelation!

Here are a few very important excerpts from the book on spectrum of leadership –

“Leadership is a business of influence, but what kind of influence? Think about it on a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum is manipulation. At the other end is coercion. In the middle is persuasion.”

“All three may be considered to be forms of influence, but only persuasion is leadership. Only persuasion really helps people. The other two hurt people.”

“Leadership is based on influence-through-persuasion at the front end, combined with accountability at the back end.”

Most important of all leadership test questions is the fourth question “Take the Oath” – a personal oath to act with honesty and integrity at all times. The organization or society may not need it, but it is up to you to take that oath and enforce it. I find this more important because private virtue is the most important factor that determines growth/health of a team, organization or a society. No point in having leaders who are self-centered or dishonest.

At the end of all this, the book emphasizes the most important fact – “Leadership is about RESULTS”. Leadership is an applied-science. You can think about leadership, but that won’t help until you practice it to execute and deliver.

Reading this book cover to cover took me 30 minutes, but story of Marcus and Izzy still occupies my mind space. The more I think about it, the more it reveals.

That, to me, is a power of well written book. Go, read “The Leadership Test” to kick start some serious soul-searching and self-assessment on leadership.

Have a happy Monday and a great week ahead!

Nicholas Bate’s Book ‘Instant MBA’ and Other Great Resources for 2010


Nicholas Bate is a prolific thinker, blogger and author. More than that, he is a wonderful friend.

He shared some of his best work with me in 2009, in form of his books and innovatively done cards. With his book titled “Instant MBA" – Think, perform and earn like a top business-school graduate” – I can safely say that I have just completed my “Instant Do-It-yourself MBA”!

The thing about a good book is – every time you read it, you learn something new. Instant MBA will do that with some very practical advice on how to inculcate MBA thinking and emotional intelligence to advance your career. Through this book, Nicholas Bate intends to say that more than a degree, MBA is a way of thinking. Whether you have done an MBA or not, whether you are experienced or novice, you got to read Instant MBA. MBA thinking is crucial for success in modern workplace.

Creativity, Effective Presentations, Pricing, Excellence, Vision, Human Resources, Research, Entrepreneurship are just some of the topics covered in the book. Bate’s brevity and style of representation comes out nicely in each chapter – informal and straight-to-the-point. Quotes at the end of chapters add to the reading pleasure.

Here are a few more FREE resources (PDF Downloads) from Nicholas Bate’s kitty –

2010 promises to be exciting and there is no better time than now to read such brilliant resources and go from good to great!

Seth Godin’s “What Matters Now” and a Few More Gems


Seth Godin recently released a free eBook titled “What Matters Now” – it is a collaborative effort of 70 great thinkers who have presented brilliant ideas that will truly shake you up to think deep and wide as we approach 2010.

I read it and found it to be truly REMARKABLE with short and profound insights. Some of the ideas that deeply influenced me:

“Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb” Hugh McLeod

“You are only as rich as the enrichment you bring to the world around you.”Rajesh Setty (@upbeatnow on Twitter)

“Here’s the final measure of your success as a speaker: did you change something? Are attendees leaving with a new idea, some new inspiration, perhaps a renewed commitment to their work or to the world?”Mark Hurst

“Gratefulness is a muscle, not a feeling. You need to work it out daily. Every morning, give thanks to two people that helped you yesterday and one person that will assist you today. This will focus your mind on what you have, and you’ll soon realize you are not alone.” TimSanders (@sanderssays on Twitter)

Download it now and share the invaluable wisdom from some of the best brains!

A Few More Gems

Enjoy reading these gems and have a great weekend ahead!

Monday Thoughts (Thanks to Paul Schwend)

Paul Schwend is a wonderful friend who lives in Florida and is referred to as an ‘Insurance Man’. Paul made my weekend by sending me a wonderful book titled “Soul Happy” – a brilliant compilation (by Kobi Yamada) of soulful thoughts on some of the core facets of life. My family read the book and totally enjoyed the compilation. It is a perfect reading material for the month of December – a month of reflection, rumination and peeping within ourselves. There is something special about December, and more so if you are born in this month!

Here are a few thoughts from the book as we are about to start a fresh week with a Monday.

On Abundance:

For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it. For every truth there is an ear somewhere to hear it. For every love there is a heart somewhere to receive it. – Ivan Panin

On Gratitude

…it is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful. – Brother David Steindl-rast.

On Essence

In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with the present time. – Leonardo Da Vinci

You need to read the book for more profound insights.

Last week, I received the paperback version of my book #QUALITYtweet – what a feeling to have your first book in your hands for the first time ever. Some excellent reviews of book are coming in and hence I have put up a Book Review” page, where I will share excerpts of review comments. Last week, #QUALITYtweet was reviewed by cool friend Utpal Vaishnav (read the review here) and the GREAT Michael Wade (read the review here). Encouraging!

If you would like to receive a review copy and post a review on your blog, contact me to drop a note and I will be happy to send you a copy of the book.

It is said that the best gift you can give someone is a gift of ideas. Paul Schwend has just done that, and I cannot thank him more for this generous gesture.

Here’s wishing Paul Schwend and all the readers of this blog, a FANTASTIC week ahead!