Apr 16 2009

Will & Skill

Published by at 12:06 am
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Andrew today shared a tidbit of leadership and motivation with the group. Not too sure other’s opinions of this kind of thing, maybe some people said it was “neat” just to humor Andrew, but of course I eat this kind of thing up.

The concept was looking at the individuals “Will” and relative “Skill” and take the appropriate approach to coaching them. It’s presented in am X/Y matrix, but can be explained just as simply in a list. Skill is just that, the skill and individual has at completing the task. Will is the level of self motivation the individual has at completing the task. Different people have different levels of skill and will for any given task. Some people might have HIGH will for doing very detail oriented work, but LOW will at doing very creative oriented work. So really I see this as not a catch all for all individuals, but needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

  • Direct people who have low skill and low will. By doing so, you show them a clear, direct path to success. This kind of coaching is almost on the level of teaching, but this approach will increase skill over time and with relative confidence that comes with the increased skill, their will can increase as well.
  • Excite people who have high skill and low will. By doing so, the aim is to increase their level of will to complete the task at hand through enthusiasm and other soft motivational techniques.
  • Guide people who have low skill and high will. These individuals seek to complete the task at hand, but need guidance on how to get there. You don’t need to completely direct them, but push them in the right direction and maybe even create barriers to help guide their success. Over time as they gain skills, they will need less guidance and that leads to…
  • Delegate people who have high skill and high will. These individuals not only are motivated to do the job, but can be trusted to get the task at hand done right with little to no supervision. Basically these individuals need to be empowered in every sense of the word and you need to support their efforts.

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Apr 15 2009

Understanding another’s thought process

Published by at 2:36 pm
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I’ve been taking a Virtual Leadership course with IHS and thought I’d include a few tidbits in my blog of different angles on how to effectively communicate. I know I struggle with this particular thing and sometimes I know others I communicate with who have a hard time with me as well. Maybe when I’m having a hard time talking with people maybe I can make sure to present them my thoughts in this mode to help them understand my point of view. Likewise I of course need to help people who are trying to communicate an idea to me to follow this process so I can effectively understand what they are trying to communicate to me.

In regards to my interactions with my boss, I think he very quickly skips steps 1 and 2 and immediately jumps into step 3 and 4 without taking the time to appropriately go through steps 1 and 2. This causes long drawn out spin out at times. I think it would be better for both me and him if we took the time to make sure that all the data is understood, how I interpret the data, the conclusions I’ve made, and what assumptions I’ve made. Then if I have holes then please test my assumptions, but don’t jump to that step. 

I’ll see what I can do to work with him on this process and see if it works better in regards to how he and I communicate.

All of us have at one time encountered the peer whose methods and thinking we didn’t understand. They mystify, frustrate and, on occasion, upset us. Rather than give up on him or her or try to glean their next move, you’ll find it more valuable to analyze their thinking process. In any particular coaching moment, start by trying to understand why the person has come to the conclusion they have. Ask them to:

  1. Describe the data and what it means. What’s the relevance of the data to them, to the industry, or to experts in the field?
  2. Explain their assumptions. Based on the data they’ve acquired, what assumptions have they made relative to the project? Why?
  3. Test their assumptions. What’s your impression of what they just said? Do these ideas seem reasonable to you? Are there additional assumptions to make? Encourage others to ask questions at this point.
  4. State your conclusions, and show your reasoning. Consider: Who and what will be affected? How will they be affected? Why did you come to this conclusion? How will it impact the company?

Remember that few people are used to defending their conclusions, and that these questions might make the person uncomfortable. Assure him or her that you are asking in order to better understand their thought process and provide additional perspective. As you continue to work together, start considering some alternative conclusions and possibilities — different ways of thinking outside both your normal realms. Another peer or someone else on the team may offer another perspective.

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Apr 12 2009

Global Climate Changes, seeing results, and analyzing it’s causes

Published by at 12:46 pm
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The Facts
Satellites Show Arctic Literally on Thin Ice*:

  • Satellite monitoring of arctic ice began in 1979
  • 2008-2009 winter had the fifth lowest maximum ice extent on record
  • Six lowest maximum events recorded have all occurred in the past six years (2004-2009)

*Source: NASA (http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/arctic_thinice.html, 04.06.2009)

What is causing the accelerated melting of the Arctic ice sheet?
Potential Conclusions or Hypothesis

  1. This is just part of the natural cycles of the earth
  2. Volcanic and other tectonic activity has caused temperature changes in arctic ocean temperatures
  3. The steady and constant increase in global CO2 production has caused global climate change due to CO2’s greenhouse effect

Discussion
On the basis of my personal and professional knowledge of global climate change, these are the facts that I know regarding the natural cycles of the earth and man’s “unnatural” influence on the natural order of things. Personally this is an important topic for me, being environmentally conscious, but professionally this is an important topic because I manage the development of Environmental Cap & Trade software, so I’m well versed in all the supporting information like the Kyoto Protocol and global legislation regarding climate change.

  1. There is a natural order and cycle of the earth that results in global warming and global cooling cycles, but these cycles happen over a long period of time, generally over hundreds of thousands of years.
  2. CO2 and other green house gas producers and reduces are the primary drivers in global warming and cooling.
  3. CO2 has been globally recognized by the Kyoto Protocol as one of the 4 leading green house gas contributors to global warming.
  4. Man has increased the production of CO2 globally, consistently, and at an ever increasing rate.
  5. Volcanic and tectonic activity might be contributing but there is little data to support this hypothesis.

These natural and unnatural systems seem to be in conflict. I believe that this is both a natural process, but also man’s influence on the natural process is worse than some people would like to believe. The change we are seeing is faster than earth scientists believe can be explained simply through natural systems. Therefore, I select the final hypothesis as the most likely reason for the accelerated melting of the Arctic ice sheet: The steady and constant increase in global CO2 production has rapidly increased the speed of natural cycle of the earth, causing accelerated global climate change.

Supporting Argument for the Thesis
Earth scientists agree that the “natural” cycle of the earth is as follows. During an ice age period of hundreds of thousands of years, the global ice sheets advance as global cooling occurs. Once they advance, more and more trees are killed by advancing permafrost. Less trees means less CO2 reducers and the global CO2 amount increases dramatically over hundreds thousands of years. Once CO2 levels are high enough, more solar radiation is trapped in the atmosphere, global warming occurs and the ice caps recede and trees advance north. The cycle repeats itself.

Man has changed the “natural” cycle of the earth by the following actions. Burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil based products has advancing the rate at which CO2 is generated in our atmosphere. Not only has it accelerated, but if it wasn’t due to recent efforts by global governments, the rate would be increasing more and more every year. Countries like the US and China continue to advance the rate of CO2 production year after year. On top of CO2 production, man has also deforested, reducing the amount of CO2 reducers globally.

Climate change is a *hot* topic these days. Arguments continue on both sides of the table, but people have begun to see the global effects of climate change. This change has affected our agriculture, ocean currents and weather patterns, coral reefs have begun to die due to temperature increases, and worst of all we have begun to see increases in global sea levels. Countries are beginning to make legislature change recommended by Kyoto Protocol. Even the United States, one of the largest CO2 producers in the world, has presented The American Clean Energy And Security Act of 2009, which would meet and exceed the suggestions of the Kyoto Protocol within the United States. Global climate change is real and the world is beginning to realize and support my hypothesis that CO2 production need to be reduced to bring balance back to the natural order of things. 

*Note: I originally wrote this as part of a logic and critical thinking assignment for school, but decided to post it here as well.

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Feb 27 2009

Feedback from a friend

Published by at 12:10 am
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From one of my readers who sent me a PM:

I was reading your cybervic blog earlier about “You think a lot” and I wanted to comment on it. Considering there’s an issue with me being able to post the comment on your blog (why, I have no idea), I figured I’d write it here.
Thinking a lot can be interpreted in many difference ways and you can see example of it by observing other people.

(Perceptive) For instance, someone with a lot of time on their hands might start thinking about random stuff. If their work is mostly physical, their minds have lots of time to think and, for a lot of people, it seems to be a get-away drug for their monotonous lives. Half the time, it’s philosophical and the rest is normally about how things work.

The key thing here is understanding that thinking a lot, in their case, does not make them wiser but more perceptive.

(Analyst) Some people have the tendency to consider every possible outcome before executing a task. They plan things out and will often go in denial if something unexpected happens. This is what most people refer to when they talk about thinking.

(Elaborator) There are those who over-analyze things and they are often found being annoying to those around him/her. They are either slow to respond or are extremely vague in their answers. Nonetheless, they understand that answers are never as black/white as others believe and they’ve taken the time to think and analyze in detail to give the most accurate answer. They’re often incapable of giving a “yes” or a “no”.

(Worrywart) Thinking a lot can also mean that someone worries a lot. It’s a form of paranoia, I suppose. “If I put a glass of water at the edge of the table, chances are it won’t fall but the possibility still exists therefore the glass of water should be moved elsewhere.” A mother hen is also a good example.

There are great thinkers all around the globe. From philosophical, to analytical, to all the way to a mother reminding her kids of their dental appointments while she finds the time to pack their lunch-boxes for school.

You DO think a lot, but what KIND of thinker are you? I am merely a graphic artist, but I’d say you’re a [A-W-E-P].

Anyways, my 2 cent.

P-S. I’d say I’m about [E-P-W-A]

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Feb 26 2009

Polishing Style

Published by at 11:33 pm
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Let’s face it. I’m opinionated guy. Although I’m opinionated, I’m not a stick in the mud and am MORE than willing to understand the view point of the other side and like to have honest discussions and come to equal understandings of the problem so that everyone involved comes to logical conclusions. So one can say that I do my share of persuading, asking of ideas, brainstorming in discussions, and in general always do so in a very enthusiastic way. My communication style is very unique and take an entire project management team and every single manager in the local office I work in and I’m the only person with my unique communication style. If you are at all familiar with DiSC, I was the only one at our office for example who was a high “i”. Because of my unique and generally unfamiliar communication style to others, I’m often perceived incorrectly by most until people get to know me and then they “get where I’m coming from”.

I’m also a very open and strait forward person. I don’t hide my opinions, right or wrong and love to share them, but am willing and welcoming to opposition to my opinions. The way I see it, how do I know that my opinions are wrong if I don’t share them and give someone else the opportunity to correct me? Equally so, if someone has something to gain like overall understanding of the problem thanks to my opinion, I like to share that information.

Unfortunately my unique form of communication style doesn’t mesh well with the fact that I’m younger than all of my peers and most of my colleagues in general. This last fact is something that sucks, but I’ve slowly come to accept over time and realize that while it sucks I do need to recognize that there is a certain level of age discrimination that exists and egos get in the way. I can’t fight it, so I need to just learn how to deal with it.

Fact is I’ve been described as overwhelmingly enthusiastic, intimidating, overly opinionated, cocky, pontificating, and a myriad of other terms. Am I truly this way or is honestly true that I’m being perceived incorrectly? Maybe I am… maybe I’m just being perceived as such. Maybe it’s as simple as some words I use on the phone that without simple gestures and body language leave others to fill in the blanks. Regardless, there is an opportunity for improvement and something I need to adjust. The problem is identifying the exact item that is incorrect. I can’t identify the problem myself and am getting vague examples at best.

So here are some recommended reading for myself to get my mind on the right track and help me figure out what I’m doing wrong. It’s a big concern and something I really need to focus on improving.

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Feb 25 2009

A new regular reader

Published by at 5:32 pm
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So I found out today during a meeting with some of my peers that apprently my boss reads my blog. I didn’t tell him I had a blog… maybe I mentioned it in passing, I can’t remember. Who knows, maybe he was just curious and found me while searching for topics that I’ve blogged about, or maybe he knew I was a blogger, or someone slipped my URL to him. Either way it seems like Andrew is reading my blog now which is kinda good and kinda bad. I will continue to blog as I always have, not caring about who’s reading which might be bad sometimes, but in general I think that if he does read my blog he’ll have a better understanding of how I think and might be able to help coach me.

So Andrew… welcome to my brain. As I’m sure you’ve already noticed I’ve been blogging for a very long time, over 4 years now. Here is where I collect my thoughts and take things out of my mental reserves. Here is where I put my stresses to paper and let them sit and collect. Here is where I explore my deepest ideas about myself and work through my shortcomings, strengths, and weaknesses.

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Feb 10 2009

Criticism

Published by at 4:48 am
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It’s came to my attention recently that I suck at taking criticism.

 

Sometimes people will do an excellent jobs at presenting me with good honest criticism. Sometimes my boss especially gives me honest “learning experience” criticism, stuff that’s just for future reference / learning purposes and I am taking it too hard and being hard on myself about things. I don’t want to disappoint and taking the criticism too heavily. I don’t want to sound cliché, but I guess it’s part of being a high “I” that I care about what others think about me.

 

Today was an excellent example when I was given some feedback about an email thread and when to and not to CC certain people. When I was presented the feedback, I wanted to say “Oh yeah, well observation in hindsight is awesome!”. It was good honest feedback on something I amd still working on, but I guess… I dunno I took it wrong. 

 

I apprently get spun out when I’m struggling with something and people over simplify the situation by making statements such as “it’s simple” or “don’t worry”. I think statements such as “for future reference do this instead” might come across to me easier and not freak my brain out. I need advice on how to be a better manager and especially on how to play better corporate politics, but right now politics especially is really confusing and complex to me. There’s a lot of variables that I don’t see very easily and don’t know how to compute. When people say “it’s simple” I feel like I’m a dumb ass and should know better. Things are not simple if you don’t understand how to navigate some of these frankly challenging situations. Playing the Saxophone is simple for me but insanely complex for other people.

 

I’m a new manager on a restructured team that has been disorganized in the past, I’m trying to fix the root causes of a lot of problems, I don’t have (right now) a full time product manager, and I feel like I have the world on my shoulder and as much as my boss things I can take it off my shoulders, I still need to carry it until someone else takes a continent or two off of it. It’s a constant struggle and I hope things get better soon.

 

I think I’m going to take Friday off. A four day weekend will be healthy for me.

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Feb 04 2009

Anyone still reading?

Work has been seriously draining on my as I’ve moved into my role as manager of software development for ecoAsset Manager. Many things including learning more about the product to leadership training and in general getting more used to the big corporate processes and procedures of IHS. I’ve been really deeply involved in the migration of all of our code from the Mountain View office as well as Salt Lake City from their old source control onto TFS. On my product specifically, I’ve been doing a mix of prototyping different technology stacks including WCSF with MVP vs .Net MVC and LINQ to SQL vs LINQ to Entities.

Family and health have been ok, family more so than health. I’ve been really stressed out recently and that’s really affected my health a lot since Chron’s flare ups are more likely during times of stress. I’ve been learning how to deal with the stress better and started recently going to the chiropractor which has helped with shoulder and neck strains from stress.

While Warhammer has been fun, I really haven’t had nearly enough time to play it because when I get home I’m so tired / stressed out that I can’t think. The good news is that I love my new boss more and more every day which helps with my stress level. My team is really starting to come together and become more integrated and used to working with each other. Overall while things have been stressful and insane, I see them getting better and hope that things will improve over time.

NOTE: Posted some backdated blog posts which I kept in emails to myself.

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Dec 18 2008

“You think a lot”

Published by at 6:48 pm
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Someone recently told me “You think a lot” and it got me a bit spun out. But in the end it was emotionally productive.

 

Yes I think a lot.

 

I’ll think about a comment like “you think a lot” for days.

 

I haven’t gotten the “you come across as cocky” out of my head since someone brought it up the first time. In fact it keeps coming up and back into the front of my mind even more. I’ve talked to so many people I know about this because I’m concerned about it.

 

Wanna talk to a guy about how much I THINK about things and think through them? Talk to Victor Hermenze, lol.

 

That’s why sometimes I’ll laugh or get spun out about a comment somone might make in giving me feedback because immediately I’ll start to think and internalize. Sometimes being self critical, but not because I take people’s comments ill received, but because I take them seriously.

 

And you know… I’d like to clarify the difference between me taking something said seriously and my feelings getting hurt. I really don’t get my feelings hurt very easily. In fact the only way to really hurt my feelings is if I feel I’ve been disrespected. FYI, there are very few people who have ever in my opinion disresected me, and I generally make them know. So if know me and you feel you’ve ever hurt my feelings, that’s not the case, I just might take feedback and immediately start thinking about it deeply which might come across as me having my feelings hurt.

 

I guess, I’ve always been a social, emotional animal. It’s why I was beat up in school. It’s why I think I was shunned as a kid. Wanna talk about Spock complex, well my calculus didn’t hurt me, so I found comfort in logic. It’s why I got into programming because in my teens I hated working with people and just wanted to work with computers. I always cared about people’s perceptions of me and in doing so I go the extra mile to make sure people perceive me correctly. For a long time I tried to just say “don’t care about what others think” and then tried to shut down those feelings and become all logical. But I’ve at some point, maybe when I started taking up leadership tasks in my personal life, that my social and emotional side has come out and I’m captain enthusiasm as you see me today. As a result, yeah you know I do care about what others think of me and how others perceive me and that’s ok. Heck the DiSC training helped me realize and accept that about myself which is why I was so spun out about it. By the way, I was classified as an iDCS, way off from what I classified myself as.

 

I’d like to clarify that the Victor of today is not the Victor of 3 years ago. After my divorce, I went through a long and very crazy re-inventing of myself. I gained a lot of confidence in myself, was less of a pushover, and took control of my life, direction, and really that’s when some of my leadership skills were blossoming at the same time. So really a lot of the self analysis I do of myself is because I still don’t know how I tick right now. I’ve changed a lot over the last 3 years and I’m still getting used to some things and how I act and how I’m perceived. Hell I’m told that sometimes my eyebrows come across as intimidating and I am not aware of the perception give off by my facial expressions and body language. Noodle on that one for about 2 months when your girlfriend tells you that.

 

Some people who don’t know me too well ask what I do in my spare time? I think.

 

Or I do activities which allow me to SHUT OFF my thinking. For me whether it’s thinking about myself, thinking about the project that I’m focused on, thinking about the vision of where things are going, thinking thinking thinking. It doesn’t stop. Generally it doesn’t even stop in my sleep. I’ve many times woken up in the middle of the night thinking about a problem I’m trying to solve. So yeah I think a lot because I’m highly self critical, self analytical, and comments about my communication style which translate to my leadership style inevitably translate to not only work, but the leadership I do in my personal life.

 

So yeah… I  think. A lot. And that’s an understatement.

 

Many times I think on something because I want to do it the best I ever can. I want to do something in a way no one else ever has. To be the best and… ok now I’m just rambling. Really. Get it off your chest yet? Yeah ok, that’s way too much sharing at this point. Ok done now.

 

Well… back to taking finals!

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Aug 25 2008

Degree Update

Published by at 3:05 pm
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20 credits left in the core of my degree (9 humanities, 3 Law, 4 CIS, and 4 Management)
19 credits left in my specialty (4 classes and my senior project)

So the question is: Now that I’m management do I persue a specialty in Business Management or Systems Analysis and Integration. I think the appropriate answer given my circumstances is Business Management. Here would be the difference in class load.

Systems Analysis and Integration
SAI430 – System Integration
SAI440 – Adv. Topics in Enterprise Analysis
SAI460 – Organizational Process Analysis
SEC340 – Business Continuity
CIS470 – Senior Project

Business Management
MGMT303 – Principles of Management
PROJ330 – Human Resources and Communication in Projects
MGMT410 – Human Resource Management
MGMT420 – Managing Technological Change
BUSN412 – Business Policy
CIS470 – Senior Project

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