I’ve played the drums since a teenager. It was a saviour for me and opened my mind to so many great aspects of creativity, collaboration and people passion. I still play today as part of my overall physical and mental health routine. Nothing quite like making a noise and holding a beat to a sweat!
I stumbled across this article and read it with great enthusiasm as you’d imagine.
It got me thinking about how I have used my experiences in drumming, patterns, structures and creativity to overcome challenges personally and professionally. How I go about organising competing tasks or managing tight deadlines. A solid backbeat and ability to recall structures and patterns managing the interruptions and distraction of obstacles, but always back to the beat.
I love the challenge of making things better for all. Sometimes competing and conflicting but that is what makes life interesting at the best and worst of times. It can be a scary place but exhilarating. Like an intricate beat with a dynamic drum fill at the apex of the song with a complex arrangement, and getting the pace and timing just right feels so rewarding. Reading the article enlighten me to this.
Now the devil is the detail – tackle that full on and get organised – get intimate knowledge of it – as that is where we find clarity and the pace of the beat. Drumming and my passion for precision, to hear something in different ways and work the pattern (beat) differently but with an interesting rhythm has always been where I push myself.
Unbeknown to me I have been applying my drummers perspective to so many challenges in my business career without understanding why I take the approach I do. Keep an open mind, study the detail, find the beat, play the song, not the drums.
Where do you draw your skills to fight the devil that is the detail? What other aspects of your life has subconsciously crept into your professional habits?
We all strive to do the very best we can to develop deep capability in our chosen professions. We also sometimes have to dig deep to keep the motivation and belief that our contribution is valued and our legacy provides long term sustainable contribution to our chosen discipline.
We are also told to tell stories as part of any engagement; selling, describing, explaining . . . .. consulting!
I recently had the good fortune to work with someone who in spite of his age and in spite of circumstance (business model) still shows real joy and fun in what he does. He was able to deliver wisdom, advice and stories of sheer joy of his work and accomplishments.
A confession. I was so chuffed to be asked to do this and “we” had absolutely no rehearsal prior and never played together. It was the first time I used that kit in about 5 years! But it was music to my ears.
Listen to him tell stories. Song starts about 5.50 in. Enjoy my walk on the wild side!
But what did this teach me? A team of professionals (in this instance semi-pro in my case) that all understood the part they played in the execution; their role, their responsibility, their contribution and collaboration and support all danced (played) to the same tune and pulled off an immediate and fun accomplishment. At no point did any of us doubt that the other wouldn’t do their job, deliver their part to time and beat and be there for the other.
Why isn’t work more like this more of the time? Why is it that we develop skills that are then compromised by “process” or “policies” or worse – politics and power play! Turning out a horrible tune!
If you don’t know who Herbie Flowers is check out this link http://www.herbieflowers.com/ and just think of Lou Reed Walk on the Wild Side and David Bowie Space Oddity, to name a few . . .
Herbie’s stories made me reflect on how I view my career. My contribution, my legacy and what it is that keeps me motivated irrespective of the challenges and demands that our modern work cadence places upon us. Is it creating beautiful music or wonderful stories!
So I hope you enjoy this and many thanks to Nik for providing me the opportunity to listen, learn and revisit my drumming skills for such an iconic and wonderful piece of music under the instruction of a one of the world’s greatest bass player ever. Thanks Herbie.
The thing is everyone in the room is a solutions architect. But not one a pop star! There’s tension and their pain and emotional investment of a life time career is exposed and raw. There is great endeavours and knowledge experts that would score highly in Master Mind for their chosen subject, and a fascinating array of professional office politicking. But not one harmonious tune.
My role gives me great insight into many situations, sectors and cultures where change and design clash constantly and where ownership and authority dance to the tune of a different song to that which they think is playing. They need to change tune but more on that later.
I see this clash more and more as enterprises make that move from old platform to Cloud and the realisation that standardisation demands a new song that only a shared platform can sing.
In the room they are all looking for a solution; they are all trapped in a decision of the past and now embroiled in the challenge of change. What often astounds me are the players in the room, the leadership of risk taking and the real issue; “our business model is no longer fit for purpose and our operating practice broken!”
Large amounts of operational expense are maintained in maintaining the modus operandi. Large capital expense is questioned and fought for to establish “betterment” against the backdrop of legacy. This is modern enterprise business in a world of unpredictable change and overpowering competition of new business models of “subscription”.
The intent of all in the room is to do the right thing. The opinion of what is “right” is the challenge of culture, belief, experience and legacy at odds with each other.
When I am sitting in the room and layer after layer of conversation, deviation and ultimate indecision fills the air with noise and awkward body language, indifference, and/or dogma I can’t help having the tune “Complicated” pop into my head. You’re singing the chorus now aren’t you?
Chill out, what you yellin’ for?, Lay back, it’s all been done before , And if you could only let it be, You will see . . . .
I want these companies to go back to the beginning and try to find the true reason why the company and its product became. What drove it to success? Where is the value? What is the differentiator? Cling on to these and then ask:
Why do you have to go and make things so complicated?
I see the way you’re acting like you’re somebody else
Gets me frustrated
You fall and you crawl and you break
And you take what you get and you turn it into honesty
You promised me I’m never gonna find you fake it
No no no
If you fancy a sing alone try this!
Must thank Avril Lavigne fo adding to my corporate change wisdom and therophy.
It was always going to be a challenging project. The end users had the attention span of a gnat. The delivery was to change their way of working significantly. We knew we were looking at an uphill battle of acceptance, agreement and adoption. But it was a transformational project and had benefits beyond the front line use (CRM).
My key sponsor knew how to play this landscape and knew how to navigate the culture and habitat of the business. As such he drove an extremely hard line on the project team and maintained a level of focus and engagement that ensured that we did the “right things”, not always “did things right”.
As the project manager this approach often conflicted with the fundamental way minds work in an engineering project discipline. It clearly did not sit well with the project team. “Where is the best practice?” rang in each team meeting, “this doesn’t work with the deliver dependencies in the plan!” Somehow we needed to find common ground and understanding with the business and agreed demarcation of decision making and domain respect.
I was accountable for the delivery of the solution. It had to meet the business needs but also needed to be sustainable and workable across the wider solutions and process platforms. It also must protect the long term ROI by the manner in which we engineered the solutions for several international areas of the business.
Some environments can tolerated the “do the right thing” v’s “doing things right” approach and other will push back. The birth of Agile PM as an example has been bastardised from it pure efficiency gains into a delivery expectation paradigm which is wrong, wrong, wrong. It places business, projects and outcomes at risk by setting expectation that do not align to a design and puts avoidable pressure on all sides of the project. Some things we build need foundations; it isn’t just painting and decorating!
However, in this instance my sponsor had the positioning bang on and influenced the way I priorities and multitasked the project into what would “curry” favour with key stakeholders, answers their concerns and keep the project from by flushed down the loo! The key was to make an early deliverable to the end user communities and make an immediate and important win whilst building solid reputation and greater tolerance of the project for doing thing right going forward.
I must confess, at the beginning of this journey this approach created some degree of challenge for me and great anxiety for the team. It went against all my experience and best practice as a PM. I was tasked with managing a delivery whilst my sponsor was tasked with delivering an outcome. I have since come to realise that these in essence are one and the same.
So over too many drinks one night this miss-alignment resulted in a heated debate (constructive and open) between us. My sponsor resolved it by setting me a test. This proved his point and influenced how I would assess delivery forevermore.
“You have been out all night drinking copious amounts of beer. You’re hungry and in desperate need of a toilet. You grab a microwave curry on the way back to your flat. Keys in the door into the hallway and you see that you have some messages on your answerphone (those were the days). So you’re hungry, desperate for the toilet and there are messages waiting for you. What do you do first?”
I’ll leave you to work out what is the correct answer and please let me know by leaving your comment below,
Suffice to say this approach has continued to influence my thoughts and approach in engagements and project management. Where there is a clear need for “quick wins” that conflicts with “best practice” it is important to find a way forward that allows leveraging greater stakeholder tolerance of the wider delivery and a more pragmatic direct focus on doing the “right things” by the team in order to do things right.
As a leader of the project team my task is to gain buy-in from all parties to identifying why a “doing the right thing” by your business stakeholders is the first deliver that any project needs to make.
Now you won’t get the girl and this won’t “show you the money”. But for me it is the starting point of acting on the impulse to Blog! I have to confess I like the film. It speaks to me on many levels; my romantic inner sense of crusading, challenge the norm, conflict of conforming and doing the right thing. That aside Magic Bus is a great Who track. That definitely speaks to the drummer in me. In fact the Who Live at Leads must be one of my favourite albums.
So when we blog do we pour open to the world our wider and/or deeper thoughts and should we give consideration to consequence, personal and/or professional, or is it just a yearning to be out there and be heard?
I enjoy reading blogs when I get the chance. Always busy, always more to do. I believe it is a crucial part of life’s learning in this modem digital and social media age and forms part of a great deal of self-therapy and confirmation in our diverse and ever changing society. Let alone a truly magnificent information gold mine as a professional blog- opedia.
For me my venture into this space is scary and also renewing. Yes we all have things to say and yes I want to be understood and contribute to the greater good of self-realisation. But what I write about and how I say it and the values I put out in the blogosphere may fundamentally conflict with my circumstance and current position. “Do as I say don’t do as I do” type scenario.
Will my statements resonate as intended from a black and white browser based delivery into the emotion, passion, belief and empathy that is intended by this blogging?
I guess life’s lesson tells you to follow your instincts and better to live on your feet than die on your knees. So give me the bag with the gold fish. Let me take on the challenging clients and let me bring these together to get the girl and show me the money.
I hope that by following my blog and commenting on this you the reader will help unravel the mystery of being out there and making a stand for doing thing differently. As the film shows, doing things the same way gets the same result. Doing things differently however. . . . Enjoy!
Having a portfolio career and an amassed array of skills, experiences through a range of roles and industries, sitting on both sides of the desk and working with people of all ranges of power and persuasion can make for a challenge to laser focus on any particular item that promotes a value or resonates with a particular job description.
It is said that variety is the spice of life. I constantly see, in today’s world of disruptive commerce, shouts for innovative and dynamic entrepreneurial people. Employers are demanding the candidate to exhibit endless flexibility, continuous learning spirit, leadership (which comes from a variety of real-world experiences) and passion above and beyond the ends of the universe. Job posts full of adventurous “go-get-em” and WOW description asking for an all-rounder with specific specialisations!
Now its great to fire up candidates imagination, and entice them to want to rise to the challenge and make a difference. We all aspire to contribute and show value. Organisations want to attract the best candidates and have the best talent available to them. That is utterly right and worth the pursuit of lengthy and diligent recruitment.
However, too often in the background is an automated candidate vetting process. This word search and pattern match process leads to exclusion of the very characteristics and experiences the candidate has, and so often desired by the hiring organisation. Adding value to the role and organisation.
Maybe AI and Machine Learning will overcome this challenge with improved fine-tuning and deeper profiling. Just maybe the robots will be able to see through the pile of noise and applications to the very gem an employer requires.
The online world offers so many data points with a clear connection to leverage the intelligent mass evaluation through automation of applications and fit for the role profiles. The danger is it will miss the person behind the logic and the personality that strikes at the very heart of what can make a company great; it’s people, not its robots.
I feel challenged by the conundrum. Putting myself in a box and meeting word pattern criteria to express who I am and what I can add. I struggle with this, as my core principle and journey through life has never been one of a closed mind or single threaded passion but an excitement to learning through new experience, the challenge of the unknown and the thrill of it all. The robots guard the gates to constructive and engaged exploration I fear.
How disciplined should one be in updating their CV and professional profiles? When promoted or role change within their existing organisation? But how often do you really need to? What is the catalyst for this? Clearly the opportunity to seek new employment, or change of role within your current organisation. Now how do you relate your content to the robots?
I took time out to read the recommendations I have gratefully received on Linkedin (me on Linkedin). I wouldn’t say I have a vast number of them (17) but tracking the period of time from the first to the latest gave me food for thought as to “what is it that I’m really good at, but don’t recognise?”, “what is the consistent comment that resonates across these?” and “how do I feel this has changed over time?”
Your skills should change and be influenced by new experiences; good, bad and ugly. But always to the benefit of your growth and learning. The relevance of any comments or observations overtime may appear to become less relevant as a consequence. They all show the journey from what you used to do, to what you can do, and now what you want to do.
What’s more, would the Robots be able to interpret these in context? And does a leopard change its spots or is it that the spots just get bigger?
Clearly, I had a good run through 2010/11 and when I think about what was occurring in my professional life at the time and the market it was driven by the need to reinvent my proposition and value to find a new role to challenge me. Digging deeper into the content of the recommendations and out of the 600 words used the top 10 words were:
With that in mind, the following is the most used (para) phrases concerning activity (not a recommendation): time and on budget and attention to detail.
So how would you use this to align your CV to what you are successfully capable of achieving as value and assuredness for your next employer? Would the robots then box you into? Computer Says No! When you really are looking to reach upward to the next level of your career.
I used http://www.writewords.org.uk/word_count.asp to analyse the text in my recommendation and manipulated these as lists in Excel to contextualise them for this exercise. The full distribution of useful words is depicted below.
Was this a useful exercise? I found it helped confirm what I know I am good at. It gave me food for thought as to what I possibly really want to do, but isn’t being recognised! And also suggested that it is too easy to fall into the trap of the easy option when really to feel alive you want more.
I sincerely thank all my colleagues (past and present), business associates and acquaintances that provided a recommendation.
I’d be interested to hear how this Linkedin Recommendation Analysis process worked out for you. And to all those seeking new employment, good luck in your endeavours.
I have been busy exploring the varied and wonderful world of legacy solutions and modernisation compatibility. My role has been listening, understanding and exploring business critical requirements and looking for solutions and scope from which to devise a way forward for transformation and improved efficient business practices. All at a cost! Are you willing to pay? Can you afford not to? Do you actual know what you want, what you need?
Now I really feel for the teams who after years of blood, sweat and tears and loyalty to an organisation have had to come to terms with seeing their “labour of love” criticised, or analysed as to what the future shouldn’t be like. I hear statements like “we want to simplify”, “this is far too complex and can’t adapt”, “we over engineered this” . . . .
Having to make business wheels turn under business as usual pressures, the constant demand of changes and having to lovingly safeguarded doing business using is a champions job and no small feat! However too often I am seeing this endeavour become a thankless task when modernisation comes into play. I’ve been here!
We should thank these teams for the hours of devotion as it is their past innovation, solution engineering and practices that has helped a whole software consulting industry learn what, why and the many “how” that helped develop new solutions, technologies and paradigms (Cloud/SaaS).
Decisions are made for the circumstance of the day. Solutions built to support the needs of that era weren’t meant to last a life time and be infinitely flexible and accommodating. At some point they will just not be able to cut the mustard any more. They will be no longer fit for purpose. The world matched on . . .
Business moves on, commerce and industry devise new needs and opportunities, models and processes develop, opportunities demand new support models, and yet sometime the infrastructure that is built to support the legacy business model is forced under pressure to perform above and beyond in the new world model!
I recall in another life where the development of the solution had to address the most bizarre requirements at the edge of every possible combination of circumstance and possibilities. This is often termed “future proofing”. Tell me who has the crystal ball and have really ever seen “that” coming”?
This leads to the classic costly over engineering and the long haul cost of ownership and maintenance change, fix and repair cycles, let alone integration, scaling and portability challenges.
I came across this coffee machine at a wonderful facilities provided by a very well established consultancy. It caught my attention in relation to this topic over engineering, bells and whistle and then the cost of ownership and maintenances. It got me thinking while waiting for my coffee. Will it ever be able to make a good cup of tea? Was it ever meant to?
Too many moving part, accommodating people interaction experience verse their responsibility to (place the cup under the tap head), compensating for people effort and generally build complexity for more vulnerability and cost of ownership. How many times have you designed a solution around people capability over what would work simplest?
Easier said than done when there is more than one engineer having fun!
Often I get a little vexed when travelling in a taxi and having to look at the head rest of the chair in front. It obscures my forward vision and obstructs my line of direction. And then on an aeroplane with only one view even worse!!!
With the long traffic congested journey to the airport frustrating me for the lack of doing anything productive eats in. Really I’m an okay traveller but . . .
When I discovered the dashboard for my membership with British Airways it further made me consider the impact business travel has on productivity and wasted time. But that’s often our 21st century busy life. And we all have to arrive somewhere, somehow.
On a particular journey I decided to ignore the big black seat in front with the tall head rest blocking the view and looked out of the side windows. It got me thinking. Trying to move forward and make progress whilst managing the obstacles of company, customer politics, policy procedure and legalities and work life balance can often bring to the surface the feelings of frustration, unproductive, time wasted and no clear line of sight.
Fundamentally we drive our business objectives and how we achieve our personal or professional goals interlink with though around us through as a shared journey of which some get the front seat and other peer over the shoulders.
However, it occurred to me that maybe a sideway glance, a look left or right may actual unearth opportunities that move all forward via an alternative route. It also speaks to the need to collaborate and stay in tune with the side view of your career and/or corporate activities.
Business will continue to change and challenge in 2015 and with these will produce opportunities which were previously not visible in a straight line of direction of the journey of yester year.
Yes it can be advantageous to sit in the front seat and see the road ahead but a sideways glance can reveal a more interesting landscape.
So my 2015 starting point is to keep sideways view of all the activities that may contribute to the shared success, achievements and wellbeing of colleague, family and friends. Have a great and adventurous journey through 2015 one and all.