Category Archives: On Leadership and Management

Confucius on Leadership

What makes up a good leader? Where do we start in selecting our leaders?

About 2500 years ago, Confucius’ student Zigong asked his teacher a puzzling question: if a whole village love a person, is he a good person? Confucius answered, “Not enough”. Zigong asked again, if a whole village hate a person, is he a bad person? Confucius answered, “Not enough”. Confucius continued to explain that a good leader is better a person that all the good people in the village love him and all the bad people in the village hate him.

A true leadership must stand to be controversial because it needs high courage to face difficult choices and make tough decisions. Rarely everyone in any village shares the same views on issues, nor each person shares the same interest. When the world we live today becomes more complex, more entwined, more tumultuous, more unpredictable, the leaders we choose need a lot more grits to stand for high values, face up to complex conflicts and endure ugly tribulations. Leadership does not need positions or titles, but when true challenges call, it’s no simple job to select a leader, and even more daring to become one.

The Money-Value of Time and Time-Value of Money

We say, ‘Time is money.’ Very soon, we may also start saying ‘Money is time.’

Realizing or not, the perception of time changes when someone transfers from a full-time FTE job to a paid-by-hour income style. It promotes one to start asking him/herself if it’s worthwhile to do one thing vs. the other at a certain time. One may not want to waste their energy on tasks which can be done by others with fewer hours or lower hourly rate. However one’s money earned is directly proportional to the number of hours spent on the job specified.

One step further, if a man moves from a paid-by-hour job to a paid-by-completed-job income style, then he will likely think harder about how he can finish the same job with more efficiency – same amount of money earned but less time. He can then use the freed-up time to accomplish other things in life, either with family or on leisure. A happier and more productive individual may be in the making.

However in today’s business practices, we often project budget estimate or cost accounting by calculating resource man-hours, with very little consideration on the deeper meaning of productivity. Primarily out of the money-saving consideration, the money-value of a task is calculated by the average time of an average skill-level resource, which often yield mediocre results in terms of either the productivity or the morale. In these practices, the definition of “productivity” is often misplaced, as well as the understanding of the relationship of time and money. As a result, the society also moves backward in the value and meaning of a productive individual’s lifetime. With the new-age waves, these practice needs to be carefully re-evaluated.

In the new age (call it Disruptive Innovation Age, the Second Machine Age or any other catchy names), with the progress of today’s disrupted society where every past structure, social norm, business model is being challenged, the century-old concept of Time vs. Money should have no exceptions. For both individuals and businesses, calculating “Time Used” may take less significance than calculating “Time Freed”. Once that mindset is shifted, the concept of money, or cost , will in turn change dramatically.

A business is made up of individuals. The value of an individual is the hardest to calculate in money terms. There is no best formula. If a life can indeed be tracked by a sequential timeline in our scale of the world, then a few flashes of moments in life or career can prove a lot more valuable than any other period combined. Those most creative and productive moments can yield the largest values to the individual, to the business or to the society.

How to capture and calculate the money-value of those time moments will be one of most challenging questions to the future-minded leaders of any business. For an individual, how to free up oneself from endless money concerns in favor of more favorable conditions, e.g., more free time, relaxed mind, balanced life style, constant learning, etc., to create those precious moments, and to master the еnlighten time-value of money instead, can be the toughest challenge in pursuing a truly productive life.

OKRs and Culture

A company’s culture cannot be formed in a Powerpoint presentation. TriStrategist thinks that a company’s core quantitative measurement system can be one of the most important influencers of an established company’s culture, whether it is linked to goal setting, performance, compensation or time usage. For an established company, the influences to its culture from its founders’ glorious past or larger-than-life persona have already waned with time or scale. With effects subtle yet persistent, the company-wide “number” systems are usually interpreted by every employee in day-to-day job as “what are important” for the company and for individual’s success, and the closest reference to anything “objective” or “concrete”. Thus it’s consequential to get the measurement system right for a desired culture. For example, if a company’s most frequently visited number-entry system is a timesheet tool, then the company is surely not encouraging creativity, because creativity can never be tracked by hours. Usually the opposite effect is true.

OKRs(Objectives and Key Results), a simple quantitative goal-setting and measuring system, was introduced by Intel but made famous by Google. That’s how Google uses it to encourage its large pool of “smart creatives” (a term by Eric Schmidt in the 2014 book “How Google Works“) to think big, take risks and achieve results. OKRs can be applied to both individuals and teams. For example, “Increase customer traffic to the site by 20% by end of Q2.” is a clear goal and the progress can be measured and scored (1-100%) at the end of the time period. If anyone often scores 100% for all his/her goals, it could mean that the goals are set too low.

Google’s OKR implementation, as many other Google ventures, has its own characteristics and helped enhanced their desired cultural benefits when the company scales. Main ones are:

1. Link the big picture to concrete and measurable results. This is not the “Underpromise-and-Overdeliver’ type of the corporate game-playing. The precedence has to be set from the top on aiming at very ambitious goals towards the visions, but with deep thinking on measurable executions.

2. Transparency. All OKRs, from CEO to everyone else are published. Read one person’s OKRs can quickly understand what motivates him/her the most.

3. Alignment in a large and flat organization. Each quarter the top leaders will present and explain their well-established OKRs in a company meeting and grade themselves against the previous quarter OKRs. Failures are candidly discussed from the top. Everyone understands the shared stretch goals and priorities for the company and for the team.

4. Encourage risk-taking and a healthy environment of innovations. OKRs are scored, but the scores are not tracked or used for punishment. If the top leaders set high goals and are tough in grading themselves, failures become more the motivators in an innovation-driven environment. People can honestly grade their performance on goals. Hard goals and endeavors are valued. BAU(Business-as-usual) stuff are not even allowed in OKRs.

5. Forget about competitions. In the current highly competitive technology age, for any company or individual, creative innovation is the only way to stay ahead and not fall into oblivion. Well-formed and stretched OKRs will keep employees excited and focused on where they want to go instead of chasing competitions on things of the past.

How to change the culture of an established company which no longer has the startup ease and glaze? Culture change can start from something simple. “Aiming for simplicity” is also one of the lessons that Steve Jobs taught us from his legacy. OKRs is one such example. TriStrategist thinks that for any established company to change the culture, watch your company-wide number systems. If they are obsolete or cumbersome, change them quickly for something simple yet well-aligned to the desired culture. Then watch for the influences and make adjustments as needed.

The Concept and Practice of Self-Management in Modern Management

Fractal Coastline
Fractal Coastline
The discovery of fractals and Chaos Theory in mathematics was profound. All of a sudden, seemingly unruly and complex layouts can many times be explained by a simple and elegant equation, be it the pattern of tree leaves, a landscape of coastline erosion, or the turbulence in a hurricane. Following the simplest and least-resistance paths, nature creates the unthinkable. That’s nature’s mechanism of selection and scale out.

The laws of nature can often mysteriously find their ways into complex social arenas. The unsolvable paradoxes in today’s corporate and business environments (For example, see TriStragegist’s earlier blog on Challenges to Today’s IT Managers) indicated that some fundamental changes are needed in leadership and management space of modern businesses. From surveying 43 global CEOs and 400+ young employees, the Wolff Olins Report of 2015, drew some similar conclusions. As the report noticed, “Employees are now more confident, more mobile, more demanding, more idealistic in some cases, and less willing to be company people. Employees, more than ever, are individualists.” Leaders, in response, need become “more the shaper, the connector, the questioner.” “What is clear, as leaders forge their own new models, is that the old ways no longer work. CEOs can’t fall back on best practice. They have to be original. Leadership, more than ever, needs creativity. And achieving the impossible needs the most radical kind of creativity.”

TriStrategist thinks that one of such creative solutions to a modern corporation’s management dilemma has already existed in many forms. That’s the concept of “Self-Management”, which allows employees as individualists to manage their own work and ideas, and collectively a corporation still runs its organic, dynamic and healthy growth. Creative ideas and smart practices can quickly replicate themselves in such a setting, comparable to the way fractals can grow from something simple into complex yet elegant self-growth patterns.

The mere concept of self-management could scare many managers, but the trend may be inevitably coming. With the progress of current age of modern technologies, repetitive tasks are gradually eliminated by automation, and complex endeavors increasingly need a collaborative team of diverse talents from different areas, who are more the creative individualists than the rule-followers.

Will the concept of self-management lead to the disintegration and chaos of a corporation? That may depend on the future definition of a corporation and its condition setting. Future competent leaders are more than ever in demand, but their functions will be more to create the conditions for the healthy growth of a group of self-managed individuals to jointly accomplish complex tasks or common goals, and maintain the cohesiveness of the group in the process.

For self-management to work, a corporation first needs to be super-flat so that ideas from the individuals and small teams can organically grow. To achieve high goals and complex tasks that require large collections of skillful individuals, an organization needs to have the right processes and tools in place so that team collaborations and communications are smooth, intuitive and without barriers. The organization also needs meaningful data-driven measurement mechanisms. As Peter Drucker mentioned, “What measured improves.” Each self-managed individual will understand clearly what success means to him/her and to others. With these, a corporation of collective self-managed employees can function as a cohesive yet dynamic organization.

Such a concept in fact has already been seen in practice. Google is a great example. From their founders who prefer contrary thinking and doing, Google’s management practices have demonstrated many creative and daring ideas for future organizations. A few notable ones are flat organization, smaller teams, data-driven decision-making, talent hiring, impact-focused grouping, and ample freedom for employees to manage their ideas and time. A 2014 book on How Google Works, written by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former executive Jonathan Rosenberg, provided us a glimpse of Google inside. They in fact illustrated how the basic home-grown concept of self-management worked in Google. Conditions and restrictions of today’s society certainly have limited the effects of some of these ideas and the increasing size of the organization has added more complications, but Google’s unusual success and trend-setting records in many cutting-edge technologies and business models nonetheless demonstrated the power of these modern management concepts.

As the modern society comprises more the individualists, the concept of self-management may likely be the only way for any organization to grow and scale out effectively.

Challenges to Today’s IT Managers

IT managers seem to be living in a sphere of paradoxes these days. With the rapid shifts of many technologies, business models and processes, from traditional server and desktop software support to today’s cloud computing and service-oriented models, from past role-based IT structure to today task-focused realignment, from clearly defined functional teams to highly mixed and collaborative environment, the calling for new management thinking, models and skills is imminent.

A few of these interesting paradoxes to today’s IT managers include: reduce 1. Bold initiatives vs. Business-as-Usual

Nowadays there is no business-as-usual with all the disturbances and changes around IT businesses. Management whose goals are to maintain a steady growth in functional scope likely find themselves walking towards an obvious dead-end. It’s a demanding world for IT managers as new technologies, new concepts, new markets call for bold initiatives and actions towards uncharted territories in order to stay relevant.

revitalize benadryl diphenhydramine uk 2. Delegation vs. Details

To be effective, experienced managers must know how to delegate. Yet in order to show competence in today’s fast-moving IT environment, managers are expected to stay hands-on and understand all details of the ongoing business, technical or otherwise, and be able to articulate every detail to higher management at any time. As things are moving faster and changes are constant, a balancing act is harder and harder to achieve. Situations can get ridiculous.

reduce indulekha tel price 3. Role-based vs. Skill-based Team Building

Increasingly IT managers are no longer managing a functional team of similar job requirements and skillset. Today’s IT environment often assigns a manager to lead a new initiative or deliver by projects and milestones. Under such a situation, a team of versatile skills are needed to fulfill the delivery requirements. These members with the needed skills, especially those who possess new skills or be able to quickly acquire new skills, can often be called upon to assist other concurrent projects in the larger organization. The concept of “a team” is more a collection of needed skills. An IT manager becomes more of a recruiter or facilitator than a traditional “manager” to fit into such a picture. 4. People vs. Cost

In many large IT organizations, one of the central theme in the adoption of new technologies is to significantly drive down the cost. At the meantime, modern technologies and automation are indeed replacing many human jobs, especially those with manual labor or tasks. RIFs, layoffs are so often these days among large companies’ IT organizations. However we often hear that a good manager must first be a people manager. In an unstable or relentlessly cost-driven organizational environment, this paradox can add to tremendous stress.

5. Experience vs. Everything New

Expectations are high for today’s IT managers in a traditional organization. They need maintain existing business operations fully functional without major troubles, and lead transitions and new initiatives at the same time. They need to be experienced leaders and people managers who can gather together diverse, shared or often newly recruited resources to perform, and concurrently deal with the constant demands and changes of the organization. They need know their daily business in details, and also keep themselves up-to-date on rapidly emerging new concepts and trends in the markets. A complete new set of skills is in urgent need for IT managers.

What are the solutions to these paradoxes? TriStrategist thinks that these daunting challenges to IT managers could be a direct signal that some fundamental changes to the structure or management concepts in IT business may be due. In today’s highly technology-driven environment, new thinking to both organizational structure and management as a science is clearly needed.

Amorphous Business

In a recent interview with WSJ, the well-known former GE CEO Jack Welch and his wife Suzy Welch mentioned that the internet has made today’s business amorphous and more competitive than ever. “Now everyone knows everything”. And in fact everyone can compete on almost everything.

It is definitely a fact that there are no longer protected territories in today’s business environment. With the right ideas, all businesses, no matter small or large, can penetrate into each other’s territories and penetrate into once drastically different industries with unprecedented ease enabled by the unprecedented speed in technology innovations.

Such examples are plenty today:

– Telecommunication once had been a long-standing industry with a few larger players. However, Google has started laying out Fiber Optic cables in cities and offering internet services directly to customers.

– Auto industry was straightly a territory for “Big Three” in the US for decades. However a few years after the dust of “the Rusty Belt” has settled, technology firms Google and Apple are now rolling up sleeves to build a future technology-driven automobile industry.

– Since the major consolidation from 50+ companies in 1980s, about 90% of the American media services (news, newspapers and TV programs, etc) have been controlled by 6 large corporations such as News Corp, Disney, Time Warner, GE, etc.. Yet today, numerous startups are entering into the online “social media” arena, which has forced these large media giants to spend millions on acquisitions to stay current. For example, News Corp spent $25 million in 2013 for Storyful, a Dublin-based “social news” startup. Moreover, Netflix or even Amazon are also becoming TV content providers which are directly competing with them.

– The very ancient businesses of money transfers, currency exchanges or loan-making are no longer banks’ protected space today. Growing numbers of tech startups are now offering global money transfer, peer-to-peer lending or digital currencies such as Bitcoin.

These stories are everywhere. Almost no traditional industry has escaped the current waves of threats. Welcome to the age of disruptive innovations!

With the right innovative ideas, technologies can enable everyone to get into everyone else’s business, by new products, services or unique business models. The business competitions are no longer limited to a particular industry, territory or country, but can appear in every corner on the globe. With the transparent and amorphous nature of the business of this age, the challenges are increasingly daunting for today’s business leaders. While businesses with legacies face huge changes and transformations, however new businesses demand broad mindsets and bold innovations, they also require focus and sustainable growth. We will likely expect many more business lessons along with exciting growth or survival stories, as if everyone is learning on the same page.

2015, A Year of Continued Transformation

The world is changing rapidly and we are living in an age of major transformations. For personal or for business, embracing the changes, looking forward to the future, being adaptive and flexible will become more important than ever. It’s certainly easy to say than done.

Almost all business leaders today agree that the coming years will see tremendous technology-based business transformations. The forces and momentum for changes have already been established in the broad market and society. Many of these transformations for businesses are taking place at this moment and year 2015 will surely be a significant year along the path.

Decade-old business models, mindsets or business processes will continue to be challenged and put under scrutiny as new technology innovations and new business concepts on the global scale are shaking up the society in every way. New breakthroughs will open ones’ minds and imaginations to far greater possibilities. Today’s technologies also helps enable many of the new business ideas to penetrate into the worldwide mainstream almost instantly.

When we look into the future, many seeds have already been sowed today. In 2015, TriStrategist thinks that we are likely to see fast changes in the following business areas, just to name a few:

– Cloud business: When IaaS are moving more towards commodity services, SaaS may become the differentiators in public cloud offering. Customers are seeking new features, flexibility and easy-to-understand pricing models in SaaS offerings.

– Device business: Worldwide competitions are only getting more and more fierce. It demands innovative ideas in manufacturing, selling and distribution, marketing, pricing and many more. Joint design and investment model will become a norm in device business as any new device comes and goes so quickly. Order-on-demand will likely be the preferred mode of operation for OEMs/ODMs and retailers. Speed and superior design innovations will be essential in all device business.

– Enterprise IT: Carried by the cloud computing waves, internally IT departments will likely move more towards SLA-based offerings – measurable on-demand or shared services models for more efficient and cost-effective internal infrastructure, platform and application support. Pain will be felt as many past established IT processes and roles will be shuffled through such changes.

– Ubiquitous Connectivity (UC): New gadgets, new sensors will continue to mushroom. UC will start taking clearer shape.

It will be an exciting time for many new entrants, but for large traditional businesses, trials and tribulations await because majority of technology innovations today are distinctively disruptive in nature. Yes, an elephant can dance, but for how long and how well is a serious question in today’s environment where new rivals and threats come from every corner of the world, possibly in the most unexpected manners.

For both personal and business, successful transformations will eventually come from the ready minds with visions, courage, dedications and agility. Peter Drucker once warned that yesterday’s breadwinner, “soon becomes a bar to the introduction and success of tomorrow’s breadwinner. One should, therefore, abandon yesterday’s breadwinner before one really wants to, let alone before one has to.” He also reminded us, “Do not kill tomorrow’s breadwinner on today’s altar”. If we have followed his wisdom and practiced routinely, we should hold onto the belief that successful transformation will be with us when we need it in the forward-looking new reality.

Moral Dilemma in Decision-making for International Business

“One man’s meal is another man’s poison.” Perhaps there is no better way to describe the dilemmas in dealing with diverse issues in international business. Increasingly in technology sector, along with the unprecedented speed of progress, modern technology innovations can reach beyond one country’s border instantly. Inevitably they become the disruptive forces that are marching into many uncharted territories including international and domestic laws, social norms and conventions, cultural and moral realms. Adding to the challenges, complex government and business relationships with globally entwined economic and political situations are real and present. Decisions, especially those touching on the “right or wrong” moral issues of public concerns, yet without adequate or accepted international laws or practices, are increasingly difficult for today’s business leaders.

Absolute moral compass in business does not exist. Without a workable compass or guiding principles, how can we claim that we are making sound business decisions with the right conscience?

Quoting moral sense in critical business decision-making is common. Google’s 2010 pulling its search business out of China was a well-known case of a decision by the sense of moral justice. It was made at the time Google still touted “Don’t be evil” as its corporate slogan. With the maturity of its profit-making business, the slogan is less mentioned as Google realized that it can be a huge liability to the company. The pursuit of profits itself can be viewed as evil by many world religions on moral grounds. The pervasive storing, tracking and mining user usage data on search and advertisements can also be said a questionable practice against uninformed individual’s privacy rights. It’s simply lopsided to justify as righteous or evil. In fact years later, when the number of internet users has grown from 30 million in 2000 to 2.75 billion in 2014 with half of that from China, it’s hard to imagine that Google never pondered back their past decision regarding the issue. As they expand globally and strive to push their internet services to every corner of the world, Google, the promoter of the ‘free internet’, unfortunately is increasingly frustrated with more governments’ controls and restrictions to its services. For example, they are facing even worse censorship in Russia today and just recently UK government delivered a ruling that UK citizens can demand the results of their name search be removed from Google’s search result list.

At the meantime, Microsoft is risking the “contempt of court” by refusing to surrender its user data stored in its Dublin Data Center to the Fed. The case is on its path to higher court after Microsoft’s initial appeal was turned down. From international users’ point of view, this is the right action to call for a better protection of user privacy in international business. Clearly if they did follow US government’s ruling, they could potentially lose all their valuable international cloud-service customers in the near future. Today there is definitely a tug of war going on for the technology industry on several related issues of significant importance and yet extreme trickiness, with not only international countries, but the US government as well.

There are universal moral values (honesty, fairness, respect of individual life, etc., to name a few) but no superior judgment on moral justice in international affairs. In practice, a little more humility and respect in international business has always been a more effective approach. That does not mean that we need comprise our long-held business ethics on professionalism and accountability, nor our key principles of enduring values. Today as a business leader, when facing a tough decision that one has to call out moral conscience for some guidance, perhaps we can start playing out the potential decision impacts on an enlarged space and time scale: not only for today’s limited users, but for the greater good of tomorrow’s extended audiences; not just for one region or country, but treat the world as a whole on this very much flattened globe; not just for the profits of a few earning seasons or tenure years, but consider the broader implications for many years to come; not through fixed lenses to view the present situations, but detect the positive changing trends to the future … The decision may be inevitably hard, but this frame and scale shifting may be one way to help mitigate some potential short-sightedness, narrow-mindedness, oversimplification or arrogance in our decision-making process to build a lasting global business presence.

Unfortunately on many tough issues, we may have to choose side despite the dilemmas and trickiness. In 1960s book of “Business Adventures” by John Brooks, considered a favorite business and management classics by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, which was re-printed this year, it documented that Joseph C. Wilson, the then CEO of Xerox, said in a 1964 speech, “The corporation cannot refuse to take a stand on public issues of major concern.” Apparently history can also provide some wise guidance.

Roles and Responsibilities

Complaints about confusing roles and responsibilities in corporate environments are typically one type of clear indicators on the ineffectiveness of an organization or the disarray of its management. It always comes from more roles but fewer responsibilities for individuals, and not the other way around. They are usually late indicators as well.

Space triggers creativity. Mental space, a period of mental emptiness, rest and meditation, clarifies the mind and enhances the subconscious awareness. Personal physical space elevates the sense of freedom, independence and individuality. Temporal space changes perspectives. In life and work, we gain more from space and certain lacking than the total fills and crowdedness. Less is more.

The same principle works for corporate management. The Rule of Thumb for an effective management on roles and responsibilities should always be “Fewer roles, more responsibilities”. More than ever, we live in a world of sweeping changes triggered by technology innovations. The pace of competitions and changes today is demanding more flexibilities and responsiveness for organizations and people. Downsizing, reorganizations and re-training of people are all reactive afterthoughts. They are more costly and less effective. A smartly managed organization will see the natural migration of talents following forward-looking and ever-changing business needs. To achieve the best flexibility and market-driven growth, along with innovations and creativities to stay ahead of the game, an organization needs to consciously leave space to allow the natural flow and adaptation of its people inside. It’s human nature to stretch and explore. With space, talents will define their own roles in new challenges, grow into new skills and carry on needed responsibilities to their best abilities. We rarely hear people become unhappy when they are given more responsibilities of their liking.

Nowadays “Revenue per Employee” is likely a useful number to measure the effectiveness of an organization, small or large. All people inside a corporation need to be reminded that true leaders can lead everywhere and need not be a manager. The roles of the leaders and the success of each individual’s career are measured by their impacts to the business, not by the number of layers they can build or the number of reports they can accumulate. The file-and-rank system is a thing of the past in today’s business environment.

For individuals, leave some space in life with no fear, and let the universe magically fill it with wonders.

Global Program and Project Management as Core Skills for Organizations

TriStrategyIn today’s complex and interconnected world, the success of every business around the world depends on how it can effectively operate in collaborative mode: collaborative on global strategies and advantages, collaborative with governments and industries on joint global initiatives, collaborative on the intersections of sciences, technologies and engineering for cutting-edge innovations, collaborative to perform and solve tough problems with people of diverse skills across multiple locations, organizations, teams, etc.. The most practical operational unit for these collaborations is a global program or project. A business’ growth very much depends on the successful execution of these programs (typically include multiple inter-related projects or iterative projects with more breadth) and projects.

Not only are vertical chains of command and rank-and-file structures no longer sufficient to capture new opportunities or deal with organizations’ challenges, they are impractical or ineffective for global collaborations most of the time and for many reasons. Differences in culture, jurisdiction and standards can still be barriers for global businesses. Global projects, often more complex and challenging in nature than localized ones, are strategically important to most enterprises today. In the new business reality of ever-changing landscape of global innovations and competitions, as well as new market demands for quick learning, high adaptability, global perspectives and versatile skill-set, effective global program and project management skills, as a combination of mindsets, leadership skills and rigorous disciplines, which often times can only be trained and enhanced through years of real-world practices, are essential for both organizations and for each aspiring leader’s career.

Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay and current CEO of HP, in her autobiography ‘The Power of Many’, mentioned that “Project management skills are surprisingly rare in business, even though they are possibly the most important skills needed to be a good operating executive.” Alan Mulally, in his successful transformation of Ford, essentially adopted many of the sound principles of global project management to collaborate with Ford’s executive teams to lead and transform the aging company. For example, similar to the open communication principle and the collaborative techniques for leading a matrix environment in a project, he used the recurrent weekly Business Plan Review Meetings (BPRs) to gradually foster a positive culture change in a flattened organization and keep his global leadership team informed at all time, at the same time, on all aspects of the business. Running in comparison to a giant global program operation, he encouraged honest data-driven status reporting, joint planning and full leverages of the global strategies, platforms, resources across the company, emphasizing sharing and collaborations among all global top leaders and teams. These techniques proved substantially more efficacious and popular to transform an old business today than the command-and-control, abrupt changes or costly “new-boss restructuring” carried out in many of the business transformations of the past.

On an immensely flattened globe today, “going global” is no longer a slogan but an ever-present reality. Skills of leading and managing global projects cross-country, cross-industry and cross-group are more and more in high demands. Global projects are no longer limited to contracting out straightforward lines of tasks or responsibilities such as offshore development and testing in software development, or support offices for call centers. Increasingly global program and projects are set up for running large global efforts of joint marketing and sales initiatives, interdependent product/service R&D, supply-chain operations, strategic investments, joint ventures, choice placements of business segments and resources in multiple global markets, etc., to achieve the maximum levels of growth potentials, cost structures, performance or go-to-market efficacy.

It’s hard to summarize all the skills entailed for an effective Global Program or Project manager, but TriStrategist would list out a few core requirements for such a role:

  • Essential Program and Project Management skills and experiences in diverse businesses or environments;
  • Have broad-minded big-picture focus and global strategic views of the business; be able to balance the competing needs of the multi-factors of the global program or project in the framework of the big picture;
  • Open-mindedness with a true appreciation and respect for cultural diversity;
  • Great negotiation and communication skills;
  • A willing leader who not only can lead people and projects, but can take calculated risks; be able to initiate tough decisions and win over global audiences to support the proposals or decisions for the long-term benefits of the business;
  • A quick learner and “constant gardener”- willing to learn and adapt constantly.

Eventually all businesses need to proactively develop these skills and mindsets in their leaders and managers, or acquire these resources, but good and ready ones can be hard to find.