Monthly Archives: August 2011

Keegan Bradley’s example for all IT managers

You probably have never heard of Keegan Bradley before unless you keep up with golf. Keegan is a rookie on the PGA Tour and he just won one of the four major golf championships this past weekend – the PGA Golf Championship.

What’s more amazing is how he won, , , and it is a great lesson for IT managers.

You see, rookies are supposed to choke on the last day of a major, , , they tend to shoot 75 to 80 on the most pressure packed day of their life when they get into contention on the final day of a major championship. It is exactly what he did the week before at the Firestone tournament.

Not only was he a rookie on tour, , , this was Keegan’s first major golf tournament. This alone made him a most unlikely candidate.

It looked like Keegan would succumb just like so many before him.

The final four holes of Atlanta Athletic Club were touted as maybe the toughest finishing holes in tournament golf, , , ever. Water on three of the four holes with essentially no bail-out options and all very, , , very long holes. Only a few players had played these holes even or under par for the first three days.

On the 15th hole, , , it happened.

Keegan hits a tee shot to what looks like a good safe spot on this treacherous par-3 hole with water to the right of the green. He is just off the green to the left with a downhill chip and it sits deep in the thick Bermuda grass, , , a tough shot.

His chip goes racing across the green and into the water. The net result is he takes a whopping triple bogey 6 and falls five shots behind the leader, Jason Dufner, who is in the group behind him, , , with only three holes to play.

Most believed he had just blown the tournament with one unlucky chip shot.

Not to be, , , Keegan birdies the next two holes while the leader goes bogey, bogey, bogey, , , he picks up five shots in essentially three holes and then wins in a dramatic three-hole playoff.

The lesson, , , don’t give up when disaster strikes. Buckle down and play hard. As Yogi Berra used to put it, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”

The PGA Championship this weekend was a great lesson about persevering and getting positive results when you remain focused to the task at hand.


Merger and acquisition overview

I’ve been involved in 45 company acquisitions, leading the IT due diligence in all of them. Prior to 1990, I had no idea what “due diligence” was, , , since then I have gained more experience in this area than possibly any IT manager or CIO.

Here is a merger and acquisition (M&A) overview that might be helpful to you one day:

An acquisition begins with a Letter of Intent from the acquiring company to the targeted company. When accepted, due diligence begins.

The model above shows each department in the company being involved in due diligence, , , orange box. To complete a successful merger of the two companies it is important for each department to conduct discovery in order to develop an appropriate transition plan.

It is vitally important the IT organization be involved in due diligence because many of the things that must take place immediately after the deal is completed will be dependent upon the IT support organization.

Once due diligence is completed, final negotiations take place and the companies agree to a merger.

When the deal is completed, assimilation activities begin, , , green box. The IT organization will be busy even if the company decides to leave the acquired company alone and to operate it as it has been operating. Even so, the parent company will want to merge Payroll, accounting and accounts payable into the parent company systems.

In addition, the company will want everyone to be on the same email systems and all company offices networked together for communication purposes, , , requires IT support to make it happen.

The assimilation box also shows every department being involved in assimilation activity.

Once the key transition projects are completed, the merger is done and we now operate as one company.

Make your presentations interesting

I’m sure you have sat in a boring presentation before. Everything in it is so boring it is all you can do to sit through the whole thing.

Presentations don’t have to be boring, , , in fact, they ought to be fun, informative, and interesting, , , something that makes the audience sit on the edge of their seats in anticipation of the next slide.

Here are some quick tips to “spruce up” your next presentation:

Tip #1 – Create an appealing slide master

  • Keep it simple, use warm colors and a theme that ties into your presentation topic.
  • Minimize background “noise” so it does not distract from your bullet points

Tip #2 – Slides with impact

  • One key thought per slide
  • Minimal bullet points
  • Don’t read your slide, , , discuss your key points
  • Incorporate personal experience stories and examples

Tip #3 – Create visual interest

  • Add an interesting graphic to enhance your point
  • Animation can be good but also distracting
  • PNG files are made for PowerPoint slides with background

Tip #4 – Energize your audience

  • Raise your energy level and it will boost audience interest
  • Use pauses and emphasis on key points for effect
  • Keep it moving
  • Smile and have fun

Tip #5 – Prepare

  • Become very familiar with each slide to glide through them
  • Know your key points on each slide
  • Practice in front of a mirror until you are comfortable

Delivering a presentation is frightening for many, but don’t let it intimidate you. Being nervous is not only natural, , , it is a good thing and shows you care.

The more you present the easier it gets, , , even becomes second nature over time. Remember to have fun and enjoy the opportunity and experience.

Five lessons about the way we treat people

I received an email from a close friend that had some valuable lessons in it. Most of the stuff I get like this is pretty much junk, but this one is worth sharing.

Five Lessons About the Way We Treat People

1. Cleaning Lady
During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one:

“What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50’s, but how would I know her name?

I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello.’”

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. Pickup in the Rain
One night at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway, trying to endure a lashing rain storm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960’s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance, and put her into a taxicab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him.

Seven days went by and a knock came on the man’s door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read:

“Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband’s’ bedside just before he passed away… God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others.

Mrs. Nat King Cole”

3. Always Remember Those Who Serve
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.

“How much is an ice cream sundae?” he asked.

“Fifty cents,” replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

“Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?” he inquired.

By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.

“Thirty-five cents,” she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins.

“I’ll have the plain ice cream,” he said.

The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.

When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies.

You see, he couldn’t have the sundae, because he had to have enough money left to leave her a tip.

4. The Obstacles in our Path
In ancient times, a king had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock.

Some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded.

After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway.

The peasant learned what many of us never understand: Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

5. Giving When it Counts
Many years ago when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease.

Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her five-year-old brother who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.

The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister.

I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, “Yes I’ll do it if it will save her.”

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor. He thought he was going to have to give his sister ALL of his blood in order to save her.

Think about how you treat your employee, your client, even your family. Sometimes, I know I lose sight of how important they are and take them for granted, , , shame on me.

Take responsibility for failure

I have always believed there is a “golden rule” when it comes to managing an IT organization.

Give credit to your team for successes and take the responsibility for failures

Let’s say you have a support programmer who puts some new code into production without testing it completely and without communicating it to the users affected.

In most situations your change management process will prevent this but in a small company it might happen so let’s use it to explain my point.

He installs the code and something breaks, , , big surprise – right?

You get a call from a manager, , , one of your largest clients, , , and she is irate to put it mildly. Not only did it break but several screens have changed and many on her staff are confused and have called her or gone to see her.

All of this is impeding her organization’s productivity and she doesn’t like it. Who does she share her frustration with?

You bet, it will be you, , , but that’s not all. She may share it with her boss, the CFO or other senior managers. Unhappy people tend to share their displeasure with others, you know.

Even though this has happened before and you have told the programmer to never do it again, it still happened.

When the client shares her frustration, the last thing you want to do is to pass the blame onto the programmer.

Yes, he caused the problem and you have discussed the issue with him before, but you still have to take responsibility. You are the manager.

Accept responsibility and tell your client you will take care of the issue, , , never bring the programmer up. The client may even know who actually caused the problem, but that’s ok. Don’t mention the programmer, , , just take your medicine and move on.

After the client meeting, , , now is the time to have a one-on-one meeting with the programmer. Behind closed doors you can make absolutely clear this is not to happen again and you spell out the consequences if it does.

Taking the “hit” for failures yourself and giving your team the credit for successes builds loyalty among your team. Your employees will walk through fire for a manager they know supports them to the fullest.

Believe it or not, , , word gets around about the problem that occurred and how you handled the issue. You gain respect from your IT employees and clients as well.

And, , , the programmer won’t do this again if there are real consequences for failing to follow your direction.

6 rules in building an IT organization

There are many things to consider when building an IT organization. Here are six rules you should consider:

#1 – Find your replacement and position to fill your shoes.
Take this seriously. It’s hard to be promoted and gain additional responsibility in a company when your organization is completely dependent upon you to manage it.

 #2 – If there is a gap, IT must close it.
Often there is a gap between what the IT organization is working on versus what your client really needs from you. It is up to you to determine if there is a gap first of all and if so, you must take the initiative to close it. It is not the client’s responsibility.

#3 – Right-size the organization.
Understand that most CEO’s want to spend little to nothing in IT. You should spend the lowest possible amount that is sufficient to support your business. Company need should dictate the size, skills, , , even the organizational structure of IT.

#4 – You must earn respect.
Respect is not a given, , , you earn it every day. Employees and clients may respect the position you hold but they won’t respect you unless you deliver what you say you will, it provides business value, and you treat others with respect.

#5 – Managing people is a specialized skill.
Teamwork is not an easy thing for IT people, , , over 90% are independent who like to do things themselves and do it their way. Building an organization has a lot to do with developing a culture of teamwork with people who are not particularly inclined to work on teams.

#6 – Great client service is built.
World class client service only happens if the manager makes it happen. Again, this is not necessarily something that comes natural to highly independent people. You must create a culture built around client service.

Find good people, focus them on the business need of your company and coach them on ways to be responsive the demands of the business.

Best of success.