Archive for March, 2010

Pain Free Client Relationship / Managing-Up

One of things that happened to me a few weeks before. Where I talked to another manager to discuss on some details that was missed much earlier on the project & the project manager was upset that this was discussed with the other manager … and it ended up in a conflict.

One of most relatable SXSW session I attended was “pain free design sign-off” by Paul Boag. Honestly, this was really about managing clients & which gave me another point of view.

This session was for web design, but it definitely apply for any IT solution implementation
Problem: All of us are too defensive on deliverable/solution/process we provide

Solution: Collaboration, Not Confrontation

The session showed us the nightmare scenario about how a IT project goes downhill when the client start to micro-managed your project & ending up with you & your client in fights & ending up no communication situation.
What the client is looking for:

– They wants re-assurance that he is making the right decision
– They feel in control of the process, since they end up living with the decision
– They needs to be confident on the result, allowing him to justify his sponsors & others
– They personally like the deliverable
6 Steps of Collaboration:

Let clients understand their role
– Make sure your clients are defining the problem & not suggesting the solution
(Since that’s what they hired you for)
– If clients are suggesting a solution, ask deeper questions to understand why they want that solution … hence defining the problems
Have a strong methodology/process
– Clients understand your process & the work being done
– Allow the client is reassure the decisions being made are educated & reasonable
Include the client early & often
– Don’t go away after you got the requirement
– Understanding the client & their preference
– Allow the client feel in control of defining the problem & shaping the result of the deliverable
Educate the client about decision being made
– Guide them the decision through educating them
– Give them confidence in you, your process & your deliverable
Ask specific feedback
– Not just ‘What do you think?’, such as ‘How does this meet your business objective’
– Let them understand why the deliverable meets their needs
Avoid say NO!
Not to make the decision for them & minimize conflicts
– Make sure you provide the reasons on parts of the design & let the client say yes
– Make sure you provide the consequences (cost & work) on adding for this & that
… Then, let the client say No

This way clients are more inclusive on decisions, when the deliverable arrives, clients are less likely to flip.

For any one that’s interested, here is the session:

Somethings are just not a decision for you to make … even though you know what’s is the best choice/solution; You need to bring it up with the client or manager & provide a case to allow them to make the right decision. After the session I realize that it was not that I provided a bad solution, but it was because I didn’t get the decision maker involved in the process.

Be collaborative, not confrontational.


Lessons Learned – Days after SXSW interactive

It’s been a few few day since SXSWi, I’m still buzzing on from the energy & amazing ideas from it. Honestly, I forgot how much can happen one day to the next.
I found myself keep on changing everyday to fully experience SXSW.

Day 1: Lost … Wow
Day 2: Making notes & Just taking it in
Day 3: Participate & meet the person next to me
Day 4: Walk up & meet the panelist
Day 5: Interact on the hallway

By the end, I have decided to commit into the world of social media

General Lessons Learned from the trip:

  • Try & try again to find your passion, you probably won’t find it in 1-2 shots
  • Time is short, if something is not worth it, then leave
  • Take action into your own hand
  • If you are having second thoughts, kick that thought out & just do it (otherwise you are wasting your own time)
  • Put you time in social media & network with similar interest, don’t do it half ass-ish
  • Read up on people you want to meet, so there’s something to talk about when you meet them
  • Be inclusive

Got to Apply the lessons learned, otherwise the trip = wasted.
Here are my To Do:

My blog need to be rework for better content strategy

– I’m going to find a way to apply the Content Strategy session
– There is still a lot of notes, I don’t know how I will publish it … I guess that will depend on what kind of strategy to use.

Participate in social media & reach out:

– Participate in sites with similar interest
– Try podcasting
– Check out the Toronto social media community

Every other person either are personality in Social media or working at a startup.
My target is to be a worth participant at SXSWi next year !

My SXSWi Experience: Day 4 & 5

Day 4 & 5 was just as great of a learning experience as day 3 or any days before at SXSWi.
Day 4 Sessions:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk Presentation: be authentic, own your brand, don’t waist other people’s time, find your passion & work your ass off on it. I know we heard it before, but he is the prove that it works (Above was from session)
  • Result Oriented Work-Environment: A new work culture where time is not important, only measure results. No gossip/sludge about people not doing their 9-5, as long as you are getting results + meetings would be optional
  • Gen Y Want to Work ‘With’ You, Not ‘For’ You: Most Gen Y is looking for empowerment, not entitlement & every generations has bad lemons, find out if you need to fire them or is it just a bad fit.
  • Passionate People – Key to Success: Figure out your passion & find people who have similar interest & share/build your community

Day 5 in the Hallway:

  • How to Keep Your Blog from Sucking from Josh Holmes: Be consistent, Act professional online & Don’t bad mouth others
  • Alexandra Levit’s Advice: Put yourself out there & work hard at being persistent (for free if you need to), that’s how she got to continue to be a author of multiple book & joining Wall Street Journal.

The last 2 days at SXSW interactive was just as great as before, I got to:
– Meet a session speaker who is a fellow person from Toronto, Meghan Warby … found out there is a social media community in Toronto.
– Meet Ryan Paugh from Brazen Careerist and talked about the site’s growth (a gen Y career networking site)
– Talk to Cali Ressler, author of the book Why Work Sucks and How to Fix it, about what happens when new management enters into the ROWE environment
– Experience Gary Vaynerchuk talk live, the whole exhibit hall was filled with energy … pure awesomeness. GaryVee also shaked everyone’s hand when we enter the exhibition hall (Me include), it was very humbling
– Had dinner with people we meet on the street from SXSW (surprisingly mostly canadians)
– Got recognized (that’s a first for me) 2 times from the day 3 previous session as the guy that participated in the design workshop; Once at hotel shuttle to SXSW on Day 4 and the other when boarding the plane on Day 5.
– Have a one-to-one presentation with Microsoft blogger, Josh Holmes, on blogging etiquettes
My last memorable event was a walk & talk with Alexandra Levit, where we talked about how she got started to be a successful author & also recognized me from commenting at her blog.

Thank You Austin & SXSW interactive!
The sessions & the experience surpass any expectation I had. My goal is to be a worthy attendee for SXSWi2011.

Thank you to everyone being so friendly at SXSWi2010!

My SXSWi Experience: Day 3

The last 2 day I was there, but very passively listening & only talked to 2-4 people.

Today was my real first day at sxsw & I got 2 free books (1 real, 1 pdf)
– Talk to Dan Roam & personally thank him … he also a signed copy of the Back of the Napkin
– Start conversation with a dozen people .. which lead to me to a free book (Engage)
– Went to the podium for 3 minutes at session to 300 & talked about how to market an idea that started from a toilet making waffle
– Actively Participated in answers & questions at the funemployed un-session
– I left my laptop at a session (ran back 5 minutes later & thank god that people at sxsw are nice & no one grabbed it
– I left all my note for the last 2 day in another (I found out 2 hours later), I got a free ebook – Fans, friends & followers. Plus, we got to check out OK Go videos,
– Saw Michel Condry – director of my favorite film ESOTSM
– Saw an awesome megatron-scarface shirt that I need to get for myself & 2 other people

Oh yeah, here are the sessions I went to:

  • Exploiting Chaos: How to build a successful product when your business is falling apart.
  • Blah Blah Blah: Why words won’t work: Vivid Thinking → Merging word-think, visual thinking to communicate in stories
  • Your Design Process is Killing You: How play pushes the next level of innovation
  • Fans, Friends & Followers: 20th vs 21st century audience
  • Funemployed: an un-session where everybody in the room just share their experiences → Nurture a Network that will value you

Anyways, I will put up my notes & experience for this when I’m back in Toronto

My SXSWi Experience: Day 2

There was a lot of notes taken on day 2 at SXSW.

The sessions were so great:

  • Pain Free Design Sign-off: key point – Collaboration, Not Confrontation
  • Failure Panel: My take was … own your failure early … build trust
  • Trust Agent Panel: Be interesting, build community (It’s awesome seeing them in real life)
  • Content Strategy FTW: There is a huge gap in content design … it’s as big as UX design
  • Austin Eats 101: #1 – Breakfast Taco & There is something called chicken-fried steak

Learned a lot, I will put up my notes & experience for this when I’m back in Toronto

Also … First social media sighting, I saw Holly Hoffman from Brazen Careerist’s early today, but didn’t talked to her & much younger than I thought … that was kind of cool.

My SXSWi Experience: Day 1

I’m at South by South West right now, my first conference I have every gone. There are definitely lots of things happen. Everyone owns something apple; 4/5 of the people are using iPhones & 3/4 of laptops are macs.

Between 2-6, I have gone to 6 sessions today, all the planned ones wasn’t that interesting. The one I had stumpled upon were really good:

The Happiness Project (Author: Gretchen Rubin)
– She talked the different approaches to happiness… must get her book/audiobook
– To have challenges & new things happen to you
– Sometimes the little thing helps, such as making your bed everyday (I am not doing that)
– Have a 1 sentence journal: it’s just so much easier to manage & in a few months, it will be massive & can be reflect on.
– Most of us naturally dwell on the bad stuff & it just make you feel worst & worst; so start by focusing on the good stuff

Eight ways to Deal with Bastards
(After running to 2 session happening at the same time, but found little value … I missed the first 30 minutes of this great session)
– How to work with/for/manage bastards?
– Should you pull other person’s weight if they are not performing
– When an argument heats up … leave
– If you are working under a bastard & they don’t know it, how to handle it? I don’t remember the exact answer, but essentially they said to define metrics with the boss & measure it; then they can see the result. Upon their reactions, then decide on your actions.

This is it for now. To remember the session, I will document the thing I pickup.

Really great podcast at Eight Ways to Deal with Bastards, the whole session was really good.

Getting over Bottlenecks: Perspectives & Priorities

When was the last time you got stuck at work/project, because it’s dependent on others’ part? That’s a bottleneck & it happens to many of us on a daily, if not hourly basis. It even get more frustrating when you find out no work has been done it while you are waiting so you can complete your part.

In IT projects many task rely on each other but I do find that some tasks get dropped until it’s too late & impact the project. To make sure important tasks doesn’t get stuck at a bottleneck, you will need to convince other the importance of the task in their perspective.

Everyone & each role has their own priorities. In order to get someone’s attention, you got to know what’s important to them.

Here are some role specific priorities:

  • Project Manager: On-Time
  • Developer: Making it work as per spec
  • Business/System Analyst: Make sure things doesn’t break
  • Database Admin: System performance & data integrity
  • IT/Project Coordinator: Clear Communication/minimize confusion

(Of course, these are not their only concerns; but it’s important to their role)

In the last post, I mention why project manager will concern about time > money in most scenarios. To get the project manager’s attention, you can focus on how your bottleneck would impact the project time, rather than just requesting to get it done.

Why would we need to do this, isn’t this part of their job?

Nowadays, most of us has a million things to do; as the day goes on, your request can get delay because:
– We/They don’t have enough time
– Other priority overrides
– We/They are juggling too many balls
… or any other reasons
In short, sometimes tasks does get dropped … that’s the reality. That’s why you sometimes need to explain from their point of view, so they will give it priority.

Like requesting for anything, the approach is as important as the ask; It will end up with a difference in results.