Archive for April, 2009

Using Agile to Run your entire company

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Do you feel that innovation and speed are important to your company’s growth? Then agile software development principles should be applied to running your entire business.

Creating detailed tactical plans for months (and sometimes years) worth of work and then handing them off to your group of ‘doer’s’ is a sure way to stagnate and crush the innovative opportunities of your company.

Spending time on the vision of where to take your organization and engaging your employees in the creation of it is a very good use of time. Planning every step of the way is a waste of time.

At Total Attorneys we have created small teams in every department of our organization; we task them with high-level business objectives (that they often help shape) and give them the ability self-organize the execution of the work. These teams break down work into short time frames–never longer than a few weeks–and focus on results through iteration. Teams evaluate and then plan out the next few weeks of work.

The saying goes, ‘How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.” We now have agile principles applied to HR, Sales, Call Center, Product Development, Accounting, Finance, and IT.

By working in short bursts and being agile we are able to:

• Focus on what is important now

• Adapt new product deployment in real time with our customers

• Enable employees to be creative and innovate, which results in attracting and retaining top talent

• Never head in the wrong direction for more than a few weeks

• Frequently evaluate and re-evaluate everything we do

• Change directions without organizational resistance or confusion, because we do this all the time

• Not get overwhelmed with our aggressive product role out and growth plans

• Move faster and have more fun than everyone else : )

Traditionally you need multi-year planning to keep your organization in lock-toe step with one another. Now technology has enabled organizational agility through collaboration and transparency. We have recently launched Jive Software’s SBS, formerly called Clearspace, to allow us scale our agility. Check out a great Fast Company interview with Cisco’s John Chambers on how the multi-billion dollar company is doing the same.

If you want to move faster than your competition and engage your work force in innovation, go agile.

Your CEO Should Twitter

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

This video post was recorded from the balcony of the Oberi Amarvilss in Agra India.
If you have the opportunity to stay a night, I suggest you do.

CEO’s can find great value in using twitter.

Twitter allows CEO’s to connect with employees, potential employees, clients, vendors, competitors, in a very efficient manner.

Using twitter, CEO’s become more approachable. People can send a message informally and give suggestions, comment, complain, or ask a question. Three people recently interviewing with Total Attorneys mentioned that seeing the CEO on twitter helped positively shape their perception of our organization. Your approachability has an impact on your brand.

Listening to the conversation on twitter can provide you insight into your customers, your employees your brand and your market.

Twitter provides a platform to engaging in informal conversation that previously was not available. These conversations can help CEO’s vet ideas, shape their vision, or just show that your company cares enough to engage.

Many tools make this easy.

TweepBeep –Tweetbeep allows you to monitor keywords, like a brand, industry terms, a twitter name, competitors, vendors, etc. TweetBeep delivers you summary email so you can quickly scan the information, much like Google Alerts.

Tweetdeck – Create groups of your ‘friends’ to see, for example, customers or employees tweets very easily. Tweekdeck allows you to watch the real time flow of search words you are interested in, and see the ‘tweetscape’. For example I always watch the keywords ‘Legal Services’ and ‘Legal SaaS’.

Topify – Provides an efficient way to see who has decided to follow you and gives enough information to quickly decide if you want to follow back.

ExecTweets - See what other CEO’s are already are twitter. Watch what they are saying and see how they use it all in one place.

What tools to you think are effective?

Do you agree that CEO’s should twitter?

Listening = Growth, Success & Satisfaction

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Listening is something we should all be working on. It is one of the most important things you can do in business.

Listening to you employees, customers, vendors and competitors (or anybody for that matter) makes you more effective.

When you are passionate about what you do it is very easy to get caught up in meetings and talk the whole time.

When you are really busy it is easy to not hear what your employees are telling you, through not only their words but also their actions and faces.

When you are focused on developing and delivering products or services for your customers it is way to easy not to take them time to listen to what they need.

What do you do to be an effective listener?