Monthly Archive: May 2010

May 29

4 – The Law of Navigation

In John C. Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (2007), John shares the importance of navigation to the leadership arsenal. Leaders plan the route to the desired destination, which is much more that simply controlling the direction of travel. Navigation incorporates vision, strategy, planning, and execution. The vision represents the mental model or picture of the desired end-state. The strategy provides the approach and the plan captures the considerations of all aspects potentially affecting the attainment of the goal. Those leaders that follow the law of navigation, see more than, see farther than, and see before others do (Eims, as cited in Maxwell).

Leaders that navigate draw on information from a variety of sources as shown in the graphic below. Leaders consider past success that build confidence for tackling a new venture. Leaders consider their own past failures and the failures of others. Leaders tend to look forward, forgetting the past. Great leaders learn from the past and the lessons that those experiences provide and apply them to future endeavors.

Leaders that navigate consider the current conditions before embarking on the path. What is the cost in terms of finances, time, and resources? What is the level of commitment to this action? Does the culture support this endeavor? Does the action carry any momentum? Is this the right time for this action?

Leaders that navigate solicit and consider the input and counsel of other people. One person rarely has all the answers to every question or issue that arises when tackling a major initiative.

Leaders that navigate balance their optimism, intuition, and faith with the realism, planning, and fact surrounding any major initiative.

Leadership-MixBooks abound that contain detailed approaches information related to visioning, strategic planning, and project planning and execution, but Maxwell (2007) shares a simple acrostic – PLAN AHEAD – that provides a reminder of the major steps involved in navigational leadership.

  • Predetermine a course of action
  • Lay out your goals
  • Adjust your priorities
  • Notify key people
  • Allow time for acceptance
  • Head into action
  • Expect problems
  • Always point to the successes
  • Daily review the plan

Over the years, I committed many hours to learning various processes and planning techniques. My personal library (physical and virtual) contain many books on those topics. I recognize the important contribution that process definition and planning provides to reaching goals successfully. Some try to convince me that the current environment does not lend itself to thorough planning but I am not convinced. I firmly believe that going slow to move fast comes into play for any project of consequence. I recognize the need to balance the plan’s level of detail with the level of project complexity. I also witness the tendency of many to rush into implementation with an appropriate level of planning.

I regularly create project workbooks that contain the project’s charter, plans, decisions, and results. The workbook includes the plans for risk management, resources, development approach, artifact library, testing, deployment, and others. Those workbooks capture many of the concepts highlighted in this post and in Maxwell’s book. I use the workbooks at work and in my volunteer activities. My experience supports the approach that planning contributes to the successful execution of the project. My observations also support the fact that ineffective planning nearly always results in projects that take longer and cost more than expected or results in project cancellation or project deliveries that fail to meet stakeholder needs.

In 2007, the leaders of the church where I attend requested that I lead an effort to organize the ministry leaders with organizational planning to improve the efficacy of the various church programs. This group and I spend many Saturdays over five months, which culminated in documented plans for each ministry. I began with a strategic planning session to assist these leaders with solidifying the organization’s vision and mission, understanding their strengths and weaknesses (SWOT Analysis), and aligning the various programs with overall organizational objectives. I presented a planning template for each ministry leader to develop that identified the ministry goals and the plans to achieve those goals. Each leader presented their respective planning to the other leaders and collectively refined the plans to ensure alignment and support. At the beginning of the new year, each leader presented their plan to the entire membership and sought volunteers to assist with the execution. The entire process garnered positive feedback from the leaders and church members. The benefits and results of the effort also caught the attention of other people and groups seeking to leverage the approach. With navigation applied, the group benefited by gaining a thorough understanding of each program’s contribution to the overall success of the organization.

Links
Links to other posts in this discussion on the laws of leadership.
Mind map of the 21 laws of leadership.
Introduction to the leadership laws
1 – The Law of the Lid
2 – The Law of Influence
3 – The Law of Process

Tools
Six Hats – a tools for group or individual thinking that assists with evaluation from a variety of perspectives.
SWOT Analysis – an approach for evaluating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to gain greater perspective for evaluation of a venture.

Reference
Maxwell, John. (2007). The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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May 13

Apple iPad Unwrapped

I finally received my iPad Wi-Fi + 3G 64BG on 12 May 2010. I missed the home delivery by 7 minutes so later in the evening I had to drive 56 miles round-trip to retrieve the box from the FedEx site. I simply could not wait another day.

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May 12

3 – The Law of Process

In John C. Maxwell’s book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (2007), John discusses the importance of understanding the path to leadership is a process and does not happen overnight. We live in a time that is dominated by a microwave mentality. We like our popcorn in three minutes or less. Television portrays the resolution of problems in 30 to 60 minutes. The constant and sometimes subtle reminders of instant gratification lures us to desire that leadership development also occurs rapidly if not instantly. Maxwell reminds his readers that leadership development is an investment. Similarly, you are unlikely to become financially independent in one day but small financial investments over time compound and often result in financial success over long periods.

Some people demonstrate natural leadership ability and grow more rapidly, while others require a focused approach to develop leadership skills. Growing the factors that contribute to leadership ability – character, relationships, knowledge, intuition, experience, and past success – takes time and your focus to develop (see leadership factors in this blog post for more details).

Personal Growth Phases

Personal growth tends to follow the phases shown in the following figure. Your dedication to personal growth influences the progression through the phases. Bennis and Nanus (1997) state, “It’s the capacity to develop and improve their skills that distinguishes leaders from their followers” (p.56) and therein lies the responsibility for each of us to take charge of our personal growth.

Phases-LeadershipGrowth

On a personal note, over many years I developed an enjoyable and rewarding career in technology. I was provided and pursued many opportunities that allowed me grow my technical and leadership skills.

However, the telecommunication downturn and recession of 2001 initiated vast workforce reductions throughout the industry. After many years of growth and demand for technologists, the reductions flooded the market with a pool of talented people. As a result, many employers raised the standard for entry to personnel with degrees. The situation created some personal anxiety and concern regarding my viability in the workplace and overall marketability. While I remained employed throughout that period, I choose to return to school to complete a bachelors program to bind my experience and skill with education. The phases of personal growth became readily apparent throughout the education process and reinforced the necessity to maintain a watchful eye over industry trends and to close the gaps that affect my personal marketability.

To summarize, growth is a process that requires observation, planning, and dedicated focus. One does not develop leadership ability in a day but evolves over time through attention to the growth process.

Links
Mind map of the 21 laws of leadership.

Reference
Bennis, W. and Nanus, B. (1997). Leaders: Strategies for taking charge. HarperCollins.
Maxwell, John. (2007). The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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May 08

iPad Keyboard Dock Unwrapped

The unwrapping of the Apple iPad keyboard dock. At the time of the posting, I am still awaiting the arrival of the iPad but hope to receive this next week.

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May 08

iPad Keyboard Dock – Special Keys

I created this brief video to describe the Apple iPad keyboard dock special keys and available ports. I am awaiting the delivery of the iPad –impatiently, I might add - to give the keyboard a try.

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