No contrasted against the blue sky

When Saying No Means Saying Yes

I have a confession to make. My weekly podcast, The Weekly Shufflepass, won’t be posted this week.

Not because I didn’t want to post one or because I had nothing to say. In fact, it wasn’t even because I decided not to. I simply decided to say yes.

I decided to use my dedicated content production time to knock out several work-related projects. I decided to stay committed to getting a healthy amount of sleep and getting up early to exercise. I decided to take advantage of a few once in a lifetime writing opportunities that spontaneously presented themselves. I decided to attend my daughter’s soccer game, my son’s baseball game and the multiple family birthday parties this weekend. I decided to say yes to pushing forward a new project Teresa and I are working on together as a couple. I decided to say yes to giving my content manager a break as she recovered from a car accident and subsequent delivery of her new son.

I said yes to quite a few, very important, things this weekend, but, that meant saying no to a couple of other things I really wanted to get done.

That’s ok, though. Sometimes yes means saying no.

What is it in your life that you should be saying no to in order to? Do you do it, or, do you put yourself in a frenzy? Learn to live an integrated life with humble confidence. Get it Now Join the Discussion

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Why You Should Automate One Thing Per Month

I’m a big believer in automation. The more you automate, the more productive you become and the more predictable your results.

Unfortunately, I rarely take the time to automate anything. My theory hasn’t turned into practice, so, I’m trying something new. I’m scheduling time to make myself more productive. I’m scheduling one hour per month to “automate something”.

It’s already paying off. Just last week I saved an estimated seven hours based upon a one hour investment.

A large part of optimizing our productivity is ensuring that we’re spending time on the things that matter most and have the most important impact. Boosting productivity often comes down to asking ourselves the following question.

Can I obliterate it?

Does it really need to be done? If not, don’t do it. Don’t feel obligated. Just cut it out if it’s not important to you and someone else is not depending on you for it.

Can I automate it?

Can I leverage a tool to do this for me? If it’s routine and consistently handled the same way, there’s a good chance the answer is yes. Don’t just ask the question. Do it.

Can I delegate it?

If you can’t automate it, it’s possible that you can get someone else to complete it for you. Perhaps it requires judgement, but, not necessarily your judgement. Unless it’s the core of what you do, it’s likely better to delegate a task to someone else than it is to complete it yourself.

#1 and #3 are easy to implement. It simply takes a decision. Unfortunately, #2 requires action. You must set up the system, process or tool that automates the task. Unfortunately, if you’re like me, you don’t spend the necessary time to actually implement automation.

That’s why I’m scheduling it into my calendar once per month. I fully expect that the one hour investment will translate into two, three, or even 10 hours the following month.

Automation should be your first weapon of choice against the onslaught of responsibilities that are thrown your way. Learn to identify route tasks that are required but can be done without any intervention. And then act on it.

If you want a boost in productivity, you will figure out how to make it a priority.

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Why Soft Skills Are More Important - David DeWolf

Why Soft Skills Are More Important to Innovation than Technical Competency

Many companies face the challenge of successfully developing new software products that drive their core business, leverage “big data,” and capture new revenue streams. As business imperatives, these products are measured by their ability to:

Increase market share Build customer loyalty Disrupt, or stave off, competitors Increase user base Drive profitable revenue

Ultimately, product development success is essential for business success, yet, for many companies, product development involves a lot of money, guesswork, and blind trust.


In the summer of 2014, 3Pillar Global commissioned a research study to better understand what drives success, failure, and challenge for businesses doing software product development. Simply, we wanted to collect data with the intent of leveraging the study’s insights to fuel not just 3Pillar thought leadership in the market, but also inform our business.

We had the big idea that we might be able to create some sort of index as a result of the study to determine a benchmark for what successful businesses do differently than the unsuccessful – getting ahead of ourselves a bit, we brainstormed Product Mindset Index, Product Management Index, and many cool names with “index” in them.

The reality was, we had no idea where the study and the resulting data would actually lead us, so we had to wait for the research to be completed. No data, no insights (and no index).

In late Q4 of 2014, we received the study’s results and associated findings. Third party researchers from the University of Maryland and Rockbridge Associates research confirmed many things we implicitly knew but had trouble articulating. Their data analysis and statistical correlation were used to create a model which defines what makes for successful product.

We call this model PDSI, the Product Development Success Index.

PDSI defines identified six (6) critical indicators of product development success:

Culture Feedback Communication Collaboration Staffing Time/Budget Focus

Across the hundreds of mid-market and enterprise companies involved the study that the average “score” of these companies surveyed was a “C,” indicating that most companies do not yet excel at product development innovation.

At 3Pillar we are committed to helping companies innovate and achieve ultimate success in their product development efforts. If you’re interested in learning more, check out where we have published the initial findings and will continually provide updates as we complete additional research and analysis.

About the study:

In collaboration with the Robert H. Smith School of Business Center for Excellence in Services at the University of Maryland and Rockbridge Associates, 3Pillar Global commissioned a comprehensive study of product development success drivers to benchmark product development and innovation success. The study was intended to explore what drives success, failure, and challenge for businesses doing software product development. The exploration resulted in not just powerful insights, but the creation of a diagnostic index that benchmarks product development and innovation success.

The research gathered information on a range of correlates and outcomes related to software product development and innovation success, including:

Industry trends Corporate demographics Product development function traits Adherence to methodologies Macro factors such as competition

Rockbridge Associates, Inc., a research firm specializing in technology and services, participated in the study as a primary research provider.

The target population for the study consisted of a statistically relevant number of software product development professionals in mid-sized and large corporations across a wide set of industries including: business services, education, financial services, healthcare, hospitality, information services, media and entertainment, technology, and telecommunications.

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The Weekly Shufflepass - David DeWolf

The Weekly Shufflepass Episode #007: Why Humility is Key to Leadership [Podcast]

The Weekly Shufflepass is a series of short podcasts in which I talk about something that’s on my mind. They are quick tidbits. No frills. No production. Just helpful thoughts on how you can go, do something greater than yourself.

Direct file download

Humility is a key component to any leadership repertoire. In this episode of The Weekly Shufflepass, I share a short story about the power of humility, and how a lack thereof can get in the way for even the strongest leaders.

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Getting Home Late (and How NOT to) - David DeWolf

Getting Home Late (and How NOT to)

If you’re trying to integrate your life and you’re having a hard time, here’s one of the fatal flaws. You’re Type A personality. You’re engaged and passionate about what you do, and it’s really, really easy to get caught up in the project of the moment, in that new thing that hits your plate right as you’re walking out of the door.

You have the ability to step back and notify your spouse when things reach the point that you know you’re going to be home late. The worst thing that can happen is you call your wife at 5:45 PM to tell her that you’re not going to be home in time for 6:00 dinner.

No kidding! Of course you’re not! You have a 30-minute commute home!

Rather, make it a point to be proactive. As soon as you see your day stacking up, give your wife a call. Let her know at 2:00 that things are beginning to get behind and set the expectations that you may have an issue.

The surprise is the worst part. Manage your time. Manage yourself as you would any other appointment you have.

Committing to being home on time and having that family dinner is an essential part of living an integrated life.

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5 Steps for Goals that Promote Teamwork - David DeWolf

5 Steps to Ensure Cascading Goals that Promote Teamwork

Every mature corporation has some sort of annual planning process. As part of the process, corporate objectives are converted into departmental goals, which are then cascaded to various levels of the organization.

Last year I felt I did a pretty good job. But I didn’t. One flaw stands out above the rest.

I failed to ensure that each department’s goals both supported and relied upon each of the other departments. I cascaded goals down throughout the organization, failing to weave them together along the way.

Collaboration and teamwork are key components of any high-performing organization. During the goal-setting process, it is important that leaders put an exclamation point on the need for for departments to collaborate and work together.

Here are 5 steps I have taken this year to ensure that I cascade goals that promote teamwork.

I clarified our corporate objectives.

Each year our senior leadership team identifies a “theme”, or focus area, that we believe will propel us forward the most. We make this theme clear by defining a single measure that will be used to determine whether we accomplished our goal. In addition, we identify between 3 and 5 “strategies” that we will use to accomplish it (this year we chose 4). Each of these strategies also has a metric attached to provides insight into our performance. The theme, it’s measure, our strategies and their metrics make up what we call our “annual objectives”.

Because our leadership team developed these together, during our annual planning retreat, they were fully aligned with our objectives. It was important, though, that we clarified the meaning of each one and simplified them so that they could be cascaded effectively throughout the organization.

I assigned a “primary” objective to each department.

As goal setting began, I asked each department to put a primary focus on one of the 4 strategies. This primary objective became the major planning initiative for the department. They were charged with creating one or two SMART goals that would measure their departments success in driving the strategy forward. In addition, some departments developed leading indicators that they would use to track their efforts along the way.

The primary objective did not exclude the department from setting goals oriented to the other objectives. In fact, so long as the objective was remotely relevant to the department, it was required to set a related goal by thinking about (and hopefully discussing) what other departments would need form them to be successful.

In many cases two or three departments were focusing on the same primary strategy. This proved to create strong synergies.

I challenged departments to create dependencies.

As goals were being developed I worked with department heads to create goals that would require inter-departmental collaboration. I asked departments to determine the dependencies they would have on other departments and the dependencies other departments would likely have on them in order to be successful.

By deliberately calling out the likelihood of dependencies I created an awareness. I made it known that these dependencies were intended and that goals should not be constructed to avoid them. In fact, whenever I saw that they were, I challenged the leader to be more aggressive.

For the most obvious dependencies, departments were instructed to create their own, measurable, goals that would align the departments in execution.

I reviewed and refined the goals.

After all of the goals were developed I asked for them to be submitted to me. I then stepped back and looked at them holistically, asking myself:

Was each of our objectives supported by enough of the departmental goals? Were there any conflicting goals that would prevent inter-departmental collaboration? Were there a sufficient number of dependencies embedded within the goals for each department The team presented their goals to each other.

Finally, each department head had to submit their goals to the entire team. It is important that everyone knows and is ready to support others in achieving their goals. I also wanted to make sure that there weren’t any missing dependencies and each leader had an opportunity to challenge another department to participate in their pursuits.

By deliberately cascading goals in a means that they were woven together, I’m confident that we will have greater success this coming year. The power of team work is when 1+1=3. This only happens when synergies are created.

How about you? Do you have a deliberate process for creating synergistic goals throughout an organization? What lessons have you learned?

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