Friday, October 27, 2017

11 Habits of Supremely Happy People by Dr. Travis Bradberry

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We’re always chasing something—be it a promotion, a new car, or a significant other. This leads to the belief that, “When (blank) happens, I’ll finally be happy.”
While these major events do make us happy at first, research shows this happiness doesn’t last. A study from Northwestern University measured the happiness levels of regular people against those who had won large lottery prizes the year prior. The researchers were surprised to discover that the happiness ratings of both groups were practically identical.
The mistaken notion that major life events dictate your happiness and sadness is so prevalent that psychologists have a name for it: impact bias. The reality is, event-based happiness is fleeting.
Happiness is synthetic—you either create it, or you don’t. Happiness that lasts is earned through your habits. Supremely happy people have honed habits that maintain their happiness day in, day out. Try out their habits, and see what they do for you:
They slow down to appreciate life’s little pleasures. By nature, we fall into routines. In some ways, this is a good thing. It saves precious brainpower and creates comfort. However, sometimes you get so caught up in your routine that you fail to appreciate the little things in life. Happy people know how important it is to savor the taste of their meal, revel in the amazing conversation they just had, or even just step outside to take a deep breath of fresh air.
They exercise. Getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your brain feel soothed and keeps you in control of your impulses. Happy people schedule regular exercise and follow through on it because they know it pays huge dividends for their mood.
They spend money on other people. Research shows that spending money on other people makes you much happier than spending it on yourself. This is especially true of small things that demonstrate effort, such as going out of your way to buy your friend a book that you know they will like.
They surround themselves with the right people. Happiness spreads through people. Surrounding yourself with happy people builds confidence, stimulates creativity, and it’s flat-out fun. Hanging around negative people has the opposite effect. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. Think of it this way: If a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with negative people.
They stay positive. Bad things happen to everyone, including happy people. Instead of complaining about how things could have been or should have been, happy people reflect on everything they’re grateful for. Then they find the best solution available to the problem, tackle it, and move on. Nothing fuels unhappiness quite like pessimism. The problem with a pessimistic attitude, apart from the damage it does to your mood, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy: if you expect bad things, you’re more likely to experience negative events. Pessimistic thoughts are hard to shake off until you recognize how illogical they are. Force yourself to look at the facts, and you’ll see that things are not nearly as bad as they seem.
They get enough sleep. I’ve beaten this one to death over the years and can’t say enough about the importance of sleep to improving your mood, focus, and self-control. When you sleep, your brain literally recharges, removing toxic proteins that accumulate during the day as byproducts of normal neuronal activity. This ensures that you wake up alert and clear-headed. Your energy, attention, and memory are all reduced when you don’t get enough quality sleep. Sleep deprivation also raises stress hormone levels on its own, even without a stressor present. Happy people make sleep a priority, because it makes them feel great and they know how lousy they feel when they’re sleep deprived.
They have deep conversations. Happy people know that happiness and substance go hand-in-hand. They avoid gossip, small talk, and judging others. Instead they focus on meaningful interactions. They engage with other people on a deeper level, because they know that doing so feels good, builds an emotional connection, and is an interesting way to learn.
They help others. Taking the time to help people not only makes them happy, but it also makes you happy. Helping other people gives you a surge of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine, all of which create good feelings. In a Harvard study, employees who helped others were 10 times more likely to be focused at work and 40% more likely to get a promotion. The same study showed that people who consistently provided social support were the most likely to be happy during times of high stress. As long as you make certain that you aren’t overcommitting yourself, helping others is sure to have a positive influence on your mood.
They make an effort to be happy. No one wakes up feeling happy every day and supremely happy people are no exception. They just work at it harder than everyone else. They know how easy it is to get sucked into a routine where you don’t monitor your emotions or actively try to be happy and positive. Happy people constantly evaluate their moods and make decisions with their happiness in mind.
They do things in-person. Happy people only let technology do their talking when absolutely necessary. The human brain is wired for in-person interaction, so happy people will jump at the chance to drive across town to see a friend or meet face-to-face because it makes them feel good.
They have a growth mindset. People’s core attitudes fall into one of two categories: a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. With a fixed mindset, you believe you are who you are and you cannot change. This creates problems when you’re challenged, because anything that appears to be more than you can handle is bound to make you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. People with a growth mindset believe that they can improve with effort. This makes them happier because they are better at handling difficulties. They also outperform those with a fixed mindset because they embrace challenges, treating them as opportunities to learn something new.

Bringing It All Together

Happiness can be tough to maintain, but investing in the right habits pays off. Adopting even a few of the habits from this list will make a big difference in your mood.

How to get noticed by your boss’s boss by Lynne Roeder

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Have you ever felt like your boss’s boss is somewhat of an enigma? After all, this person is more senior, and usually less visible than your boss, and as such it can be trickier to build a rapport with them. Yet your boss’s boss could be a valuable person to have on side throughout your career, if you get this relationship right.
As an experienced senior leader, your boss’s boss could teach you some valuable lessons about their own journey to career success. From a more practical perspective, they will also often have the final say on the decisions which could propel your career forward, from approving your attendance on a training course, to granting you more responsibility within your role or getting that well-deserved promotion.    
Of course, when developing a relationship with your boss’ boss, there’s a fine line to tread, and you have to be tactful. After all, you don’t want to undermine your immediate boss and damage this important relationship. At the same time, if you want to progress your career within this organisation, you really need their boss to have a positive opinion of you and your abilities.
I believe the below advice serves as best practice for getting noticed by your boss’s boss. 
Build a strong relationship with your current boss and team
Your current boss has a closer connection with their boss, and from time to time, the two of them will discuss your performance, a discussion which will rely heavily on your boss’s input. Therefore make sure the two of you have a good relationship, whereby you strive to meet their expectations and ask for constructive feedback on where you could improve in your role.
When considering your performance your boss will also factor in how much you collaborate with your team. If you work in isolation of everyone else, you will harm the productivity and dynamic of the team, and your boss is sure to notice. As such, you need to maintain an open and communicative relationship with your colleagues, helping them when needed and also asking for their insights and expertise.
On the whole, make sure your boss identifies you as being a conscientious, self-improving team player. Your boss’s opinion of you, and thus their boss’s opinion of you, won’t often be worlds apart, so it is important to get the former relationship right first and foremost.
Increase the dialogue with your boss’s boss
Understandably, you may be feeling slightly intimidated by your boss’s boss, especially if you haven’t spoken to them much in the past. Start off by looking out for openings to make small polite exchanges, such as a cursory “hello, how are you” as you pass in the corridor, or offering to make them a tea or coffee if you are both working late in the office.
As your confidence builds, share your ideas or questions with them at opportune moments, for instance if they are giving a departmental update and open the floor for questions at the end. The key here is to keep an eye out for chances to start building a professional rapport. Stay mindful of their seniority and be aware that any overly familiar exchanges may just harm your progress, for instance calling them a nickname that only other more senior colleagues call them. Use your common sense to judge where the boundaries are, and strike the right balance between friendly and professional.
Self-promote your expertise
Build your expert reputation within your organisation through some tactful self-promotion.
Talk to your current boss about the opportunities available for sharing your expertise, for instance; starting a blog, offering to speak at events, or presenting to their boss at company meetings and so forth. You can also build your reputation by offering internal training sessions or offering to train new starters. In doing so, you will be able to establish yourself as the “go-to” person for a certain area of expertise within your organisation, an accolade which should get fed back to your boss’s boss.
Think bigger picture
Whilst being known as an expert in a specific area is important when getting noticed by your boss’s boss, remember to think beyond the demands of your immediate role and towards the strategic direction of the team and business.
As Hays CEO Alistair Cox states in one of his blogs: “Thinking big means breaking out of silos”. Therefore, show an interest in other areas of the business, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the current objectives and challenges to the business as a whole, and be proactive in suggesting your own ideas. Your boss’s boss will notice somebody who understands that they are part of a wider business strategy, and can break out of the confines of their role to contribute to this strategy using their bigger picture thinking.
Getting noticed by your boss’s boss is, for the most part, about building your relationship with your current boss and team, whilst developing a reputation as an expert but also as a big picture thinker within your organisation. It is a delicate situation to navigate and it will take time, tact and patience. However, once you have this key person on side, then they, alongside your current boss, can support you as you progress your career within this organisation.

The Qualities of a great leader by Micheal J Berry

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


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10 Things New Project Managers Should Know

It would be nice to think that every company has a formal mentoring scheme, and that you can tap into the experience of other project managers through this. However, that isn’t always the case. As a result, people managing projects for the first time often find themselves making mistakes. That’s normal – we all make mistakes from time to time, especially in a new job.

1. Manage Scope

The scope of your project is normally set at the beginning, but it’s foolish to think that it won’t change. The average project goes through 4 formal versions of scope, so you need to come up with a way of managing those changes when they happen.
What documents should your project have?
Project Initiation Document
Project Plan
Risk log
Issue log
Change log
Project Closure Document
There are plenty of others but these are the minimum.

2. Learn the Vocab

Project management has a lot of jargon. From baselines to Gantt charts, work breakdown structures to risk sensitivity analysis, there are so many new terms to get to grips with. And don’t get me started on the terminology that goes with earned value management.
The thing is, even if you understand it, your business colleagues probably won’t. Part of your job as a project manager is to translate the project and the work you are doing into terms that they can understand.
Make it easy for them to work with you.

3. Review Success Continually

Traditionally, project managers reviewed the project at the end. The lessons learned meeting would look at everything that went well and everything that didn’t, and pick out key lessons to apply to future projects.
This is still a good approach, but a better approach is to do that as you go along, and not to leave it to the last minute. Whether that’s through ongoing Agile retrospectives or by talking about continuous process improvement as you go, keep thinking about what you could do better.
Then you can tweak what you are doing to improve the project and the processes.

4. Create a Common Goal

Projects are most successful when everyone knows what they are doing and why. I’ve worked on two particular projects where everyone had a very clear view of what would make the project a success and what the business outcome should be. They were easily the hardest, most challenging projects I’ve done to date, but it really helps to bring people back to the common reason why we were doing the work in the first place.
An easy way to do this is to create a mindmap covering what you are doing and why you are doing it: the core business reasons. You can show this mindmap at the start of each meeting as a reminder – it’s your business case distilled into a single graphic.
Shared objectives matter, so make sure you understand what your project is for.

5 Common Project Mistakes5. Use Short Tasks

Putting together a project schedule is time consuming and a bit boring. So it’s tempting to use massively long tasks on your plan like ‘testing’.
This isn’t helpful in the long run as it is far harder to track progress when your tasks are long. There’s a risk that someone on the team will keep telling you that everything is on track and it’s only when it is too late to do anything about it that you’ll realise they were wrong. Short tasks help you pick up slippage early and do something about it.

6. Learn What’s A Showstopper

Showstoppers are things that will prevent your project from achieving its objectives. What is going to kill your project? Some problems aren’t that big a deal. But some are huge and will cause significant issues.
Knowing which is which is partly down to your professional judgement, and if you are new to projects you might doubt your own ability to make that call. If you hit a problem and you don’t know how serious it really is, talk to your project sponsor or a trusted colleague. Chances are, if you are worried, then they will be too.

7. Manage Risk

Risks are things that could potentially cause problems (there are also risks that could potentially improve things, but that’s for another day). They haven’t yet, but they might.
Don’t ignore them. The project manager’s role is to work out how to make these risks disappear or at least have less of an impact if they do happen.
Each project risk will need a management strategy and an action plan. Work with your team to establish what to do about them. You might not take any action for some smaller risks but for those that have the potential to give you a big headache you’ll want to look at creative solutions to make them go away.
8. Learn to Cope When Things Go Wrong
When problems do hit (and they will!), the best project managers deal with them calmly and professionally.
If that isn’t your nature, you’ll have to work hard to give the impression of having everything under control. You set the tone for the team and they will take their lead from you.
However disastrous the problem, don’t run around like a headless chicken screaming, “The sky is falling!” Sit down with some subject matter experts and come up with some solutions to the problem so you can present your project sponsor with a recommendation of how to deal with it.
Resilience is a major skill for project managers!

9. Understand the Benefits

What benefits will this project deliver? Every project task you do should contribute to achieving those. These days, companies don’t have the budget or resources to invest in projects that don’t deliver anything useful. And as business priorities change at a scary rate, today’s high profile, top priority project is tomorrow’s pointless exercise.
Make sure you understand your project’s benefits and keep checking that they will be achieved and that the project does still align with current business strategy. If it doesn’t, it’s probably time for your project to be stopped and for you to work on something more worthwhile.

10. Accept the Fact That Your Job is a Mystery

Finally, accept the fact that people outside of project management won’t understand what you do. If the project goes well, they’ll ask why they needed a project manager at all. If the project goes badly, be prepared for it to be all your fault.
I have always found it hard to explain the role of a project manager. My job is to make it easy for other people to do their jobs, and if that doesn’t sound like a non-job then I don’t know what does.
If you can get a mentor, then get one. If you can’t, read everything you can, research good practices online, attend training and take some certificates. In fact, do all that even if you do have a mentor. You should never stop learning and developing professionally, even when you’ve got lots of experience and people are asking you to mentor them.
Project management is basically about building good relationships with other people to get things done, and as every project and every person is different, there is always going to be something you can learn and take forward to your next piece of work.

Ten Simple Exercises to Improve Your Own Creativity by Don Peppers

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A little girl is using a toy shovel to fill a hole in her back yard when a neighbor looks over the fence and asks “Hi! What you doing?” 
“My goldfish died,” she replies tearfully, “and I’ve just buried him.” 
The neighbor says, “But that’s a pretty big hole for a goldfish, isn’t it?” 
“That’s because he’s inside your stupid cat.”
Jokes like this one are funny because the punch line is so out of context with the setup. Such a darling little girl, and then – BAM! Something we would never expect of a little girl. Which causes the chuckle.
As human beings, we are all constantly observing the environment around us and making mental predictions for what will happen next, given the context of our observations. The ability to interpret observations and fit them into a context of some kind may in fact be one of the hallmarks of consciousness itself.
But context is also a key to innovation. Creativity drives innovation, and creativity is context-dependent. Only in this case, rather than using context to make predictions about our environment, creative ideas come when we violate context. Context violations produce things you don’t expect – not just funny punch lines, but innovative ideas, as well.
Your most creative insights are almost always the result of taking some idea that works in one domain and applying it in another context. As Matt Ridley has observed,
Innovation occurs when ideas get together and “have sex” with each other.
In evolutionary terms, this is called “exaptation.” Bird feathers, for instance, are thought to have evolved originally during the Cretaceous period to help land-based reptiles protect themselves from the cold, but when one species of reptile later began experimenting with gliding, feathers were exapted as excellent tools for controlling air flow.
And innovation thrives on exaptation. The anti-lock braking system in your car was exapted from the field of aviation, originally developed because icy runways can’t be sprayed with salt and gravel to assist in slowing a speeding plane. Computer punch cards were exapted from the cards originally used to drive mechanized looms. Viagra was originally developed as a drug to reduce hypertension.
You often become more creative when you violate the context of your own expectations. So if you want to generate more innovative ideas, then you should purposely expose your mind to unexpected things and conflicting concepts.
This, by the way, is also why so much creativity is fueled through social connections. Did you ever notice that people who are connected to diverse groups of others often seem to be teeming with creative new ideas? In commenting on the social implications of this, Clay Shirky said, “This is not creativity born of deep intellectual ability. It is creativity as an import-export business.”
So do you want to be more creative? Then look for ways to violate your own expectations by purposely changing the context of your existence. Here are ten simple exercises: 
  1. When meeting people you don’t know at a party, pick a point of view you vehemently disagree with and argue in favor of it instead. Be convincing.
  2. Or find the person you have least in common with and spend an hour in conversation with them.
  3. Read a magazine you would never ordinarily have the least interest in.
  4. At a restaurant, order a food you normally can’t stand, and eat it.
  5. Move to a different apartment, or a different office location, a different job, or even a different city. Change your environment for no reason other than to make the change.
  6. Drive a different route to work or school, or to church, or to the club. Take a long cut, on purpose.
  7. Spend 30 minutes a day with a language course from Pimsleur or Rosetta Stone to learn how to ask directions and order food in a new language. 
  8. Put your clothes on in a different order every day (i.e., shirt first one day, socks first the next, right then left instead of left then right, and so forth).
  9. Brainstorm different ways to use a common tool (like a hammer, or a Phillips screwdriver).
  10. Meet one new person a day for a whole month. Talk to them, converse with them, get to know them a bit more. You can easily do this online.

Finding inspiration… when you don’t feel inspired by Paul Wilson

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As you become more senior in an organisation you increasingly have to inspire others. And when your job and business depends on you for inspiration it’s a problem if you run out of inspiration yourself. 
So how can you keep your enthusiasm and motivation when you feel far from inspired? And how can you extract yourself from a creative rut when the last thing you feel like it being creative?
If I knew what inspired me, truth be told, I would spend far more time doing that! But over the years I have found some things that work for me… and they might work for you as well.
1)     Change your everyday routine
Have you ever arrived at work with little memory of the journey you took? Too often we commute on autopilot and block out the world in order to get to work like it’s another task on a to-do list.
But this often means we arrive numbed and anaesthetised from the world rather than attuned to it. Our senses are blunted not heightened.
So instead of taking the same route to work change your journey. Instead of blocking out conversations with headphones tune into and listen to them. Instead of looking down at your feet look up at the sky and the architecture around you. It’s amazing what you see and notice around you. 
If you don’t think there is much of note in your area read On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes by Alexandra Horowitz. In it, she walks around her New York neighbourhood with 11 different ‘experts’ – including an insect specialist, her child, and a typographer. You’ll never think of an ordinary street as ordinary again.
2)     Follow your curiosity
Too often we read things for work because we think they will make us more successful, more intelligent or more popular. Reading and finding things out then becomes a means to an end rather than the end itself. 
But by doing this we lose the joy of finding things out and the joy of losing oneself in a subject – no matter what that subject is.
But by definition, if you follow something that piques your curiosity you are going to be interested in it. The trick is not to worry too much about where it is leading you, just enjoy the journey. The surprising thing is that these meanders can often lead you to a different place – and that place opens up a different perspective that you might not have considered before.
I once spent an afternoon talking to people of different nationalities about what they called the piece of furniture several people can sit on to watch TV - Brits call it a sofa, Americans call it a couch and some Canadians call it a Chesterfield... which confusingly Brits call a specific type of sofa.
That arcane information came in use when I had to speak to a global furniture retailer about their search and tagging strategy - and how they needed to adapt their navigation for different countries when talking about different pieces of furniture like sofas. And I still use it today as an example of how seemingly similar cultures can have subtle but important differences in the way they behave.
3)     Find people who inspire and stimulate you
There are some people I know on whom I can rely to inspire me. They might look at the world from a different perspective to me, they might be able to articulate a thought in a way that zings or they might just know different things.  
But what they have in common is a generosity of spirit, and conversation with them always feels additive and generative. They build on ideas and add to thinking rather than battle, critique or nit-pick. I’m not saying those skills aren’t valuable – but they aren’t what I need when my inspiration batteries are running low! 
If you don’t know people like that then find some and if you do know some look after them – or at least buy them lunch. I’m meeting with a group of like-minded souls in Chicago in a week’s time and I can’t wait for my fix of inspiration
4)     Switch off, don’t log on
Sometimes the worst thing you can do when inspiration has run dry is to try to chase it too hard – particularly when you have an internet connection.  
Aimlessly surfing might feel like a creative endeavour but spending hours looking for inspiration online can be counterproductive – particularly if it means you are chained to your desk or worse lie awake late into the night.
So rather than chase inspiration take some time out and wait for it to come to you. Falling asleep under an apple tree did wonders for Newton's career and it can help yours too. 
And don’t believe the hype about super successful and productive people surviving on 4 hours sleep a night. Those people are the outliers and not the norm. Matthew Walker, Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California classifies anyone who sleeps less than 7 hours a night as being sleep deprived!
5)     Mentor others
Inspiration is often seen as one-way - you inspire other. But I remember John Sintrasalways talking about inspiration as being a cyclical relationship. – you inspire people and they inspired you. And I’ve always seen mentoring relationships like this. I’ve always felt that I’ve gained as much from mentoring as (I hope!) my mentees have gained from me. 
Not only does mentoring help you reconnect with what you found inspiring about a subject in the first place but you can also vicariously enjoys the enthusiasm of others. The joys of introducing someone to a writer or a subject that you know and love is two-fold. Not only is the fact that you are helping someone else but you can relive the inspiration you first felt went discovering those voices yourself.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Please tell me, what is blockchain and how does it work? by Peter van Emst

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(C) Peter van Emst

People ask me frequently, “Please tell me, what is blockchain and how does it work?” I have been using various approaches and media answering this question, whiteboards, paper and even beer-coasters, and recently created a single page canvas combining all my scribbles and drawings to answer this question. This works very well, with great response and I like to share it including the story that goes with it. Maybe it is somewhat technical but most people follow the explanation quite well and really feel that they have learned something. Re-use is granted, but please keep it “as is” and respect the copyrights. (See below for downloads, OpenOffice and PDF format)
Doing business and transactions between organizations and people requires TRUST. Normally we do not think about this but every day we pay our invoices or buy goods with a debit- or credit card, issued by a bank or credit card company who guarantees these payments. These so called middleman are initiated, regulated and audited by governments giving us the required trust. But what if you could arrange this via technology providing us with the same guarantees as a middleman but without the middleman. This is where blockchain can help us, providing a mechanism to do business without knowing your counter party or their reputation. First used for Bitcoin transactions (crypto-currency) but suitable for any other transaction or contract that we want to register in an immutable and secure manner. Think about registering land property, music rights or mortgages.
In a typical blockchain we recognize four important elements: the hash, the block, the nonce and the consensus model. How does this work?
First let me explain hashing, a key-element in blockchain. Hashing is a mathematical function that converts an arbitrary text into a fixed length digital key. This process is irreversible, every key produced is unique and even the slightest change in the input generates a completely different key. (Observe the W and w difference). This key, also called the HASH, can be seen as the unique signature or fingerprint of that piece of text or information. (FYI: Hash functions are designed by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) and made available under a royalty-free license.)
Next, let's have a look at a block and its structure in a simplified model. We distinguish two main parts: the heading of the block with housekeeping details and a section containing the transactions. (In this example you see a set of simple financial transactions, but any transaction can be included.) The housekeeping section is especially important as it is used to link the new block with previous blocks. Within the heading we see several fields and most are pretty straight forward; version info, time stamp and a copy of the previous block Hash. To secure that the transactions in the block itself are fingerprinted in an irreversible way, a “Transactions Hash” is generated from all entries with the above explained algorithm and added into the header. The information of all these header-fields is then used to generate the Hash, or signature of the block.
So why do we include a NONCE in the header?
Creating a signature of a new block is pretty straight forward but makes it also vulnerable for anyone who wants to tamper with its content. Calculating a hash is a matter of milliseconds, so changing a transaction and creating a new hash is very easy, too easy and therefore not 100% secure. We can prevent this by demanding that the Hash of a block starts with leading zeroes which is only possible if we change the input for the hash calculation. This is where the Nonce (Number Once) comes into play, every time we change its value a different hash is generated. Verifying all possibilities requires serious compute power/time and that makes it unattractive to tamper with the transactions in the new and all depending previous blocks. This process is known as - “the mining of a block”, providing us with the security that transactions are "written in stone and immutable". Mining - especially of crypto-currency - is financially very profitable and more compute power is added on daily basis. To deal with this, the number of leading zeroes is regularly adjusted to balance the increase in compute power. (FYI: Mining reward for the Bitcoin Blockchain is currently 12,5 BtC per block).
Once the right Hash is found, the newly mined block is presented to the network of “fellow” miners for approval and consensus. Typically six fellows have to confirm that the block is correct after which it is added to the chain. This consensus cycle is another security mechanism adding to the robustness of a blockchain. The process repeats itself and the hash of the recently added block is used as input to mine the next block resulting in a chain of blocks. Impossible to alter without changing the previous block, and the previous block, and the previous block.....
Blockchain offers us an highly effective means to organize the need for trust in a different way, secure and clean on a global basis, robust and transparent with no/limited overhead.
More info:

Sunday, September 3, 2017


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How Change Management Fits Into Projects

Change management was largely focused on communicating downwards and training.

Change Management has Changed

Change management today isn’t exactly like that any longer, at least not for most people. Larger organisations may have someone focused on change management, but often change management is (or should be) embedded in everything we do that shifts the way a company works.
Change management is the unwritten requirement in everyone’s job, especially those people involved in projects. Training is still important, but there’s also this idea of ‘readiness’: how prepared the organisation is to do things differently.
And if the answer is ‘not very’, change management is the way that we help them get better prepared. When have you ever come across execs who decided not to change their business because the staff weren’t ready? They might have delayed their plans, or put extra support in place, but if your strategy and survival rely on being able to move with the times and stay competitive, change is coming to those workers whether they like it or not.
Communication remains critical in a changing environment, both in laying the groundwork for the change and for ensuring people know what is happening.

Defining Change Management

The definition of change management I use in my book is this:
The way we facilitate the shift from current practice to new practice in order to achieve a benefit.
In other words, it’s a systematic and planned approach for helping individuals and teams be successful with new ways of working.
Change management delivers that by:
  • Building support for the change
  • Identifying and addressing resistance to the change
  • Helping individuals develop the knowledge and skills required to adopt the new practice successfully.
In doing all of this you are ensuring that your change has the best possible chance of long-term sustainability and success. Because that’s what we really want – and what project sponsors want. For most projects that involve organisational change, the emphasis is on making a difference over the longer term, not just changing behaviour during the month of August, for example.
It’s quite easy to define change management in this way. However, when you start trying to shift the behaviour of people who have worked in a certain way for years and years… Suddenly getting them to do something different seems a lot harder.

Change Management Is Not Project Management

Shifting someone from doing a job one way to doing it another? Isn’t that project management? No, it’s not.
Project management and change management are allied but different disciplines, although as a project manager you will probably end up doing both at points during your project.
Think of it like this:
  • Project management is about installation.
  • Change management is about implementation.
Here’s a table from my book, Communicating Change: How To Talk About Project Change, that sets out the differences (and one similarity).

The Tools for Change Management

Fortunately, if change management work forms part of your project responsibilities, you aren’t starting from scratch. We have a raft of tools available to make it easier to ‘do’ change management, and you’ll be familiar with many of them.
Here are five tools that you will help you with change management.
  1. Readiness assessments
These help you understand where the organisation and individuals are in their preparedness for the change. They act as the beginning of the journey and are key to helping you uncover the gap that you have to close in terms of helping people end the journey with their new behaviours.
  1. Project sponsorship
Unsurprisingly, having senior leaders involved and championing the change is a way to create buy-in, generate interest and get things done.
  1. Coaching and mentoring
Helping team members on a one-on-one basis to deal with and adapt to the change is time-consuming for large implementations, but you can offer team managers the skills to support their staff and devolve mentoring to subject matter experts or local champions.
  1. Training
Training is a structured way to embed and support the new behaviours, explain new processes and get people comfortable with new ways of working.
  1. Communication
Timely and meaningful interactions with the people affected by and interested in the change will underpin and support the achievement of the benefit that you’re looking for.