Support the 2015 Stand Up for Heroes
By: Vernon Beatty
June 29, 2017
Military
Many of you may not know about the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s annual Stand Up for Heroes event in New York City’s Madison Square Gardens. If you do, then you know that it is one of the most rewarding events you could ever attend. This year, Chris Botti, Seth Meyers, John Oliver, Ray Romano, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Stewart and surprise guests will take the stage to raise awareness and funds for the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
 
At the last event I attended, I was witness to Roger Waters (most known as bass player, co-lead vocalist, lyricist and principle member of the band Pink Floyd) leading an amazingly-talented group of disabled veterans in a rendition of “Wish You Were Here”. Roger practiced with the troops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center before the event. It brought tears to my eyes as I am sure it would yours. I was able to get to know Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who sacrificed dearly in the defense of our nation. Their strength of spirit is nothing less than overwhelming.
 
The Bob Woodruff Foundation is the nonprofit dedicated to ensuring injured service members and their families are thriving long after they return home. A national organization with grassroots reach, the Bob Woodruff Foundation complements the work of the federal government diligently navigating the maze of more than 46,000 nonprofits providing services to veterans, finds, funds and shapes innovative programs, and holds them accountable for results. To date, the foundation has invested more than $28 million in 261 programs, reaching more than 2 million service members, support personnel, verterans and their families.
 
The Bob Woodruff Foundation was co-founded in 2006 by award-winning anchor, Bob Woodruff, and his family, whose own experiences inspired them to help make sure our nation’s heroes have access to the high level of support and resources they deserve, for as long as they need it.
 
Learn more by visiting www.bobwoodrufffoundation.org.
 
“Support Our Troops” is not a slogan. It is an action. Thank you for your action.

Walk the Walk
By: Vernon Beatty
June 29, 2017
Military
I was flying back to Saint Petersburg last month, settling into my business class seat when I noticed a young Marine in uniform boarding the plane. He passed by and took a seat in the economy section of the plane. I flagged down the flight attendant and asked her if it would be OK for me to trade seats with the young Marine on board. I suppose it was just instinctive for me to offer having made so many trips back and forth from Afghanistan and the Middle East with servicemen on board. As it turns out, the Marine was an Infantry Officer who served five tours in Iraq and deserved a lot more than I could ever give back to him.
 
As I took my seat in economy class, everyone around me started thanking me for my generosity. The flight attendant came to me and thanked me profusely asking if there was anything she could get for me. I asked her for a drink and a meal. While she was gone, I readied my wallet as you must pay for these things in economy class. When she returned she told me the meal and drinks were on her.
 
Later in the flight, I tried to pay her for what she had given me. I told her I really didn’t need anything at all in return for such a small gesture. That is when she told me that it was not a small gesture. She said she had only seen this twice in her 25 year career with the airline.
 
I am not writing this article as an indictment but as a call to action. Since the draw down of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, we don’t see as many veteran’s issues in the news. I would just like to urge all of us to take some time to meditate on how we might be able to ramp up our efforts to support veterans. Please don’t get me wrong. I know there are some real superstars reading this article who give a hundred fold more than I do. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you do. But I suspect many of us can do a little more.
 
I know of organizations that take wounded warriors hunting, camping, SCUBA diving, sailing etc. They are all in need of our time and charity. There are activities for veterans in every community so giving of time or money can stay in the local community. There are also some outstanding national organizations who do work in cities throughout the nation. I’m listing a few that I believe are amazing efforts run by amazing people that I have been lucky enough to know.
 
The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
 
The Bob Woodruff Foundation
 
Veterans Adaptive Sports
 
Let’s walk the walk shall we…

Suicide Prevention is Our Responsibility
By: Vernon Beatty
June 29, 2017
Military
Suicide prevention is for all of us. The VA has a great program in the Power of One program.
 
Check it out at www.veteranscrisisline.net
 
You can make the difference of saving a life with one call, one text, one word.
 
Be amazing!

Leading is a Brees When You Think Like Drew
By: Vernon Beatty
June 29, 2017
Leadership
There is something about Drew Brees and the results he has been able to deliver as part of every team in his career. He left college as one of the most-decorated players in the history of Purdue and the Big Ten Conference. He holds two NCAA records, 13 Big Ten Conference records and 19 Purdue University records. He remains the Big Ten record-holder in virtually every passing category, including completions (1,026), yards (11,792) and touchdowns (90).
 
Brees’ starting season in 2002 with the San Diego Chargers led quickly to a 2004 Pro Bowl selection. Nine months after a 360 degree tear of his labrum and rotator cuff, he signed with the New Orleans Saints as a free agent going on to earn eight trips to the Pro Bowl and leading the Saints to their first Super Bowl.
 
In eight seasons with the Saints in 2006, he has basically rewrote the Saint’s record book and led all NFL quarterbacks in touchdowns, passing yards and 300-yard games. He’s already set five NFL passing records and is closing in on several others He was the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2004, the Offensive Player of the Year in 2008 and 2011, and the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV. Sports Illustrated named Brees its 2010 Sportsman of the Year.
 
So what makes Drew Brees such a special player and leader?
 
Drew Brees said in a recent interview, ”I love the game of football. I like to do things that people haven’t done before or that people would say are impossible or extremely difficult to do. At the end of the day, I’d love for people to be able to look at my career, my legacy and say, ‘Man, he did it the right way.”
 
The money is obviously not the primary motivator for Drew Brees. Yes, of course I am sure that the money doesn’t hurt. But read what he said carefully – “I like to do things that people haven’t done before or that people would say are impossible or extremely difficult to do.” That is a powerful philosophy. Now I’m no Super Bowl MVP but if my 30 years in the Army taught me anything, it was that we could do things that people would say are impossible. I will also tell you that I have been lucky enough to see the light in the eyes young men and women who have just done something that they themselves felt impossible or extremely difficult for them to do. It is one of the greatest moments for any leader and one of the highlights of my life. And it is in those moments of achievement that one begins to understand that they can strive for the impossible and actually get there.
 
The second thing I noted about Drew’s quote was about commitment - ”I love the game of football.” As a military man, I would say, he is committed to the mission and the organization completely. This is something that makes leaders great. With true commitment comes tenacious drive to do things the right way every time. This is because you love the organization and you want it to be better because of your actions. I used to cringe a bit when people would say to me, “You are Army green to the bone”. But as I gained more experience with leadership, I realized that commitment to the organization and its mission is exactly what is required of a leader. I became proud of the description and let it guide me.
 
Finally, Drew said he would love for people to look back at his career and say, “Man, he did it the right way”. We all want to be led by people we can respect, people who do it the right way. This concept is at the core of Drew’s ability to lead. I would venture to guess that there is rarely a day when Drew’s teammates cannot say he was giving 110 percent of himself to the team. This constant drive to do it right and to be better every day builds respect, admiration and emulation. It is contagious and drives the whole team to achieve new heights of performance. And Drew has certainly done that.
 
I graduated from The Ohio State University and I didn’t much care for Drew Brees when he was at Purdue and playing against my Buckeyes. But man, he did it right.
 
For more articles on leadership, communications, project management and more, visit our website at www.auctusblue.com

Collaboration and Diversity
By: Vernon Beatty
June 29, 2017
Collaboration
My experiences with American Soldiers, American civilians, Central Asian, Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern learners are that diversity presents more unique opportunities than unique challenges, especially when it comes to collaborative environments. However, the reality is that the diversity in today’s global marketplace usually means that one size does not fit all when it comes to learning. Therefore, deliberate efforts must be taken to develop the right construct for achieving the standards for learning. It is unrealistic to think that all learners will achieve the same levels of knowledge. But it is realistic to expect that the majority of students can achieve the learning standards required by the organization when it comes to collaboration.
 
It is also reasonable to expect that the collaborative platform will be more of a common denominator for diverse groups than one might expect. This is because technology is becoming a ubiquitous characteristic of most societies. Due to the rapid growth of social platforms and collaborative video gaming, collaborating via webinar, video, chat, etc. is more universally understood than say supply chain or asset management processes and applications. If implemented well, the collaboration platform itself will become a learning platform for the future and should therefore eliminate many of the training challenges that were presented by diversity prior to having a collaborative platform.
 
The level of diversity of the group will determine how complex the tailoring of the program will be. Are there language barriers? Do different groups have different baselines of knowledge and skills? Are there learners from different cultures that have been educated in different teaching systems? So there are some basic questions that we need to answer:
 
What are the backgrounds of the learners and the implications for learning?
What curricular, teaching and assessment practices will promote learning for everyone?
How can we draw upon the diversity of the students to enhance and enrich learning?
What are the existing inequities and how do we promote equitable, inclusive and respectful climates for learning?
 
Pay particular attention to the organization of training, the interactions between groups, and the support groups available, e.g., Practitioner-Practitioner (P2P), Participant-Learner (P2L) and Learner-Content (L2C). The P2P interactions need to consider inclusion and engagement, respectful personal and teaching behaviors, accessibility for all participants, mentoring of less experienced practitioners. I would advise seminars for practitioners where they learn about the diversity of the learner population and the unique approaches that each might require. Initially, this may be as much a brainstorming session an orientation. Ideally, there will be a practitioner from each diverse group to be taught who can impart knowledge to the faculty of practitioners each in turn.
 
The P2L interactions must consider welcoming actions that are appropriately tailored for the new learner. Respectful inclusion in collaboration exercises is essential because the first time you offend a learner, you may have lost them for good. Take the simple example reading aloud and how some group members who are bi-lingual or less capable at reading aloud might be embarrassed by this exercise. Ground rules must be set at the beginning to ensure respect for the ideas of all and recognition of their value to the group. This ensures considerate interaction during collaboration exercises. We must think about any challenges of logistics such as access to computers or physical location that can hamper accessibility to exercises that occur outside of the primary learning environment. In some groups, the use of student mentors within the different groups who can assist group members within their own unique cultural context can be very powerful.
 
L2C interactions need to consider how each learner experiences the content. I would recommend “war-gaming” of class content with practitioners and perhaps even assembling subsets of learners to test the content effectiveness. This assists practitioners to determine how the content can be adapted and varied. By exploring novel methods and contexts for presentation, practitioners can enrich the experience of learners and practitioners alike.
 
All this must be considered then in terms of the automated collaboration platform and the objectives of the training. So it is not just a matter of determining the above training methods but also the technical baseline of learners and the impact this will have on the training program. Base-lining technical knowledge may be a significant portion of the training prior to teaching concepts, processes, and techniques of collaboration. However, I see that this is becoming less of a problem as collaborative technologies proliferate via social platforms.
 
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www.auctusblue.com

Five Powerful Points About Collaboration
By: Vernon Beatty
June 29, 2017
Collaboration
Collaboration is a great word but all too often we do not implement a system that fosters collaboration and convinces people to the degree that they embrace the changes required. As it is with every concept we want to bring to reality, there must be a method to execute and sustain the vision. After seeing collaboration done well and done not so well, I believe there are five key points to bringing a truly collaborative environment to an organization.
 
1. It’s a “Vision Thing”.
It is said “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.” In this case, if you don’t know where you are going, you are in for a very bumpy ride. Collaboration is not just an added component to the corporate culture. It is a paradigm shift and everyone will need a beacon and guideposts to get to the destination your vision outlines. You must be able to be very specific about what the team should be dissatisfied and what the new and different future looks like. Then and only then are you ready to tackle the next steps to get there. And as with everything else your team does, you are going to need help to do it right.
 
2. Treat collaboration like any other major initiative.
If you were starting a new project in your company, you would start with defining the business need and vision that would be recorded in a charter that defines the scope of the effort. You might select a cross-functional team of experts to study and define the goals and objectives of the project. Too many times, a collaboration strategy ranges from a meeting where the boss says something like “Collaborate People!” to a set of slides put together by a single “stuckee” who is tasked to get the group to collaborate more. This won’t work. Collaboration will span the people, processes, tools and culture of the entire organization. This project must be an effort that is deliberately approached, holistically planned, and tenaciously executed, monitored and controlled.
 
3. Get your soft skills on.
When you decide to make collaboration a part of your organization, you are deciding to change the culture. There is a pattern of shared basic assumptions that the group learned as it solved its problems along the way that worked well enough to be considered valid and , therefore, to be taught to new members of the group as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to those problems. Collaboration is a totally different way of solving problems. To make the change stick, you will need to tackle areas of leadership, work process, structure, group learning, technology, communication, interrelationships and rewards – key elements that if addressed collectively will enable the firm to undertake and be successful in implementing change. Remember that your organization’s values, heroes, rites and rituals, and the cultural network itself will need to change. If the change is not executed well, the culture will simply work behind the scenes to restore the status quo.
 
4. Have some folklore in your kitbag.
There is no better way to illustrate the vision than through storytelling. Tell the stories of how Kathy was never able to get the requirements from Bob’s team. They were always pointing fingers at each other instead of working together. Tell the story of how things are now that you have a collaborative culture. Get specific about the before and after. Highlight the value of the new way. In order to this story about the new collaborative future that your vision comprises, you must have a clear understanding of the capability gaps between the “As is” and the “To be” states of being. Your careful work in step two makes it easy to pick out how things have improved because it was all documented by the IPT.
 
5. Train from top to bottom.
I will not recommend a suite of collaboration tools here. The selection of a suite of IT tool to facilitate collaboration will be supported by your process team and the level of fidelity of the decision matrix will no-doubt be very granular. What I will recommend is that you train starting from the top to the bottom and demand that training be conducted with case studies and practical process-oriented exercises that demonstrate how the new future is better than the old ways. The IPT should map each capability gap and its associated goals to a training task that requires performance of the new processes with the new tools. Each training session needs to map back to the proverbial “moral of the story”. Each story needs to be told over and again until the folklore of the old way is forgotten history.
 
If you are planning to make the paradigm shift to collaboration or if you are wrestling with it now, I sincerely hope this article in some small or great way will assist you in how you think about the problems at hand.
 
Please visit my website, www.auctusblue.com to receive more helpful articles and resources in leadership, project management, supply chain and asset management.

The Perennial Project Issue - Communications
By: Vernon Beatty
June 29, 2017
Communication
We have all seen or worked on projects where communications is a muddled string of emails, sticky notes, pictures of white boards, chat conversations, spreadsheets, briefings, and frankly Navaho knowledge that can only be extracted through a series of interviews with the team and other stakeholders. Note that 53 percent of business analysts responding to surveys conducted by Blueprint Systems said that the majority of requirements feedback happens after sign-off in the development and testing stages. We have seen requirement designs that were approved and entered the development process only to be corrected when the Business Requirements Document (BRD) was vetted for final validation and approval at user acceptance testing. This is costly and frequently results in late deliverables, longer than anticipated project timelines, customer dissatisfaction and even project failure. Most of the time, these issues stem from poor methods of communication.
 
Many IT companies predict that transitioning to Agile methodologies will be the cure for the failings of the requirements gathering and design phases of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). Yet recent research into companies implementing the Agile Methodology shows that only 28 percent reported that they had a “successful result”. Reorganization and new processes can only make a difference if they holistic and supported by organizational leadership and change management processes that are just as sophisticated as the technical processes. Development teams working with poorly defined requirements will simply develop the wrong solution faster with Agile.
 
Communications is the key to common understanding – how we communicate, what we communicate, and how often we communicate. I have been through enough after-action reviews to know that the primary failure in operations is poor communications. Flurries of emails, spreadsheets, charts and the iteratively evolving versions of process control born of a lack of common visibility are not the solution, they are part of the problem.
 
So what is the answer? The organizational leadership process must contain specific goals, objectives, measures and metrics that foster and force communications among all stakeholders to the point of common understanding. The culture must be influenced through a synchronized plan comprising well-thought and comprehensive goals and objectives can improve project performance.
 
We all must capitalize on recent technological advancements in social media that are rapidly making email, spreadsheets and manually produced charts look like 1st generation collaboration processes. Most project teams find that the systems to capture artifacts, decisions and discussions are poorly linked to requirements and inadequate for auditing throughout the project life cycle. Processes and tools that provide complete visibility of requirements, key discussions and decisions from the C-Level through to the core staff studying and defining the business processes is the foundation of common understanding. Your company needs the culture, discipline and tools to provide instant visibility of the progress and history of the project’s efforts to execute the SLDC to a very granular level of detail.
 
Projects must communicate on common platforms using standard process control tools, a single dashboard and have the ability to review artifacts and comprehensive audit trails that can be reviewed if questions arise. Lack of common visibility is another key reason projects fail. Without an accurate, comprehensive dashboard provided to all levels of the organization, the project is bound for inefficiency. Project Managers (PMs) attempt to create common visibility with more meetings and new reporting formats but this is a pull-based system that promotes micromanagement and takes team members away from their core tasks. Chasing after the statuses wastes precious management time and distracts core staff from getting their jobs done. Common dashboards create self-directed, self-accountable teams that know they can rely on one another.
 
Lack of standard process control tools also wastes our precious time. In the same survey cited above, 54 percent of business analysts said that spreadsheets were used to manage traceability. This hampers the ability to bundle requirements within the designs and test cases themselves. Over half of all business analysts are dissatisfied with the tools they are using. They reported 80 percent of their time is spent on clerical tasks and only 20 percent of their time is spent on strategic thinking. And you may as well include the tasks of communicating those strategic thought in the 20 percent of their time. So the tools we use are both taking away our time to really think about what needs to be communicated and our time to actually communicate.
 
Lack of a single, audit trail inhibits our communications. Current technologies can link requirements, traceability information, organizational hand offs, test cases and dependencies in a single tool documenting key conversations and decisions within the requirements documentation itself. When people are trained to operate within the process, these tools can eliminate the need to open the myriad of disparate applications we currently use to research decisions and actions. Whether it be emails, chats or documents, managers and employees alike can view them in one screen. And there are even applications that integrate wiki capability that can serve as knowledge artifacts for future projects.
 
The point is this: Let’s communicate more effectively by leading, training and providing the enablers for our teams to communicate and therefore perform more effectively.
 
Your Aim is Our Goal.

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