Where Does Greatness Come From? A CSO Story

Great piece on leadership, culture, and professionalism.

Dr. Gerald Stein


Organizations have a culture even when they aren’t cultural. The ethic can be noble and good, bottom-line oriented, or a great many other things. But the question for me as a psychologist has been, how do they get that way?

Indeed, I’ve wondered how some of them become dedicated to a higher purpose, where the individuals believe that there is something more important than themselves at least some of the time. Well, I think I have the answer with respect to at least one such institution: the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO).

Not all orchestras behave well. The mid-20th century version of the New York Philharmonic was described by William R. Trotter in Priest of Music: The Life of Dimitri Mitropoulos, as having “an attitude comprising, in more or less equal parts, paranoia, economic insecurity, pride, touchiness, and tough-guy, chip-on-the-shoulder arrogance.” It took many years before conductors looked at an…

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#TechNotes: Mind your quadrants please

Technology Changes … Get Over It

Gartner's Famous QuadrantHello. My name is Adam Stanley and I have a problem. I get excited by new technology. All the time. Well, I guess that’s not really the problem. The problem is that I get bored by the constant debates about which is better. And, with all due respect to Gartner, the technology quadrants REALLY bore me.

• In 1996, there were debates about which search engine was better: AltaVista or Excite. Google didn’t exist. Now those prior leaders are defunct.

• In 2006, the battle royale in mobile phones was between the Nokia 1600 and the BlackBerry Pearl. IT departments were trying desperately to stem the proliferation of mobile devices caused by Blackberry while a little known player Samsung was barely noticed. Apple iPhone did not exist, nor the Android phones that now account for over 75% of the smartphone market. Windows Phone didnt exist (some might say they still don’t …. but they are now #2 in UK market.)

• In 2007, MySpace had more users in the United States than Google, Facebook, or any other social networking site. Today a re-birthed MySpace has circa 1 Million users while Facebook has 1.2 Billion.

• In 2009, CTOs and CIOs were negotiating with telephone carriers to help manage telephony costs by cutting some of the ridiculous charges for text messaging, especially while roaming in other countries. Today, only my Dad still uses text messaging. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit, but the big phone companies lost over $32 billion in revenue last year as users flocked to Whatsapp, kik Messenger, and WeChat.

Who is the bright red ball today?

Who is the shiny red ball today?

My point? I don’t think we need to be debating which tool is the Gartner winner. We need to discuss and determine which tool can best help us answer specific questions at the optimal cost to value ratio for our current and immediate future needs. We should not care whether CurrentTech Inc fails or succeeds unless we own part of them. And our customers don’t need to know what specific technologies we are using to provide predictive or prescriptive analytics to them so long as they are helping them make better decisions.

Don’t get me wrong, here. I LOVE technology battles. Anyone that follows me on Twitter sees this regularly with my #techwars tweets.  Those battles drive innovation via robust competition. And those battles are precisely why quadrants are difficult. Companies no longer provide one major release a year. Many push out improvements daily. Thus, the days of choosing a tool and sticking with it for ever are long gone. And when an IT team tells an internal client they shouldn’t explore an option simply because it is not the standard or the current leader in a Quadrant? Shame! Is it time for Gartner and others to update their comparisons daily or change them to visualizations that allow you to change the matrix based on your specific requirements and point of view?

Be Well. Lead On.


Adam Stanley

Adam Stanley

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#TechNotes: Facebook, Snapchat, and the new new thing


Are we there yet?

I’ve enjoyed reading lots of the analysis out there about Facebook and whether or not their attempt to buy Snapchat is a sign of desperation. Reportedly, an offer of three billion was made by the company and rejected by Snapchat ‘s young leadership. Everyone immediately said Facebook was doomed. Now, snapchat has been hacked and Instagram Direct is trying to fight back, under its new parent of course, Facebook.

A few quick thoughts :
1) I cannot begin to imagine the conversation where I decide to turn down 3 billion dollars but I can understand why snapchat would do what they did. It is entirely possible in this rapid change environment that investors would place value on snapchat that is comparable to the value placed on Twitter . Now, to be clear, I do not feel that the value on Twitter is appropriate nor do I feel that investors would necessarily be making the right call to place such a value on Snapchat. That said, whether you believe it to be a bubble or not investors are putting a significant premium on social media applications, especially those that are highly focused on mobile.

2) Facebook is falling into the trap of many large companies. It is scared to let go. In today’s hyperpaced communication overloaded society, users will flock from one platform to the next with little transition time or switching costs. Perhaps Facebook Inc strategy should be to intentionally kill Build the tool users will go to after Snapchat loses its luster. Building for the future almost means building amazing, but disposable, products for today. This is more than just pushing video ads to mobile phones. If they are good, they should be able to churn out new products and services much faster than competitors. If not, they will cease to be relevant like MySpace before them.

3) Some people are arguing that instagram, including the new instagram direct functionality, are Facebook’s answer to snap chat and their way of the remaining relevant for young people. I’ll offer an alternative theory. The reality is that, like Microsoft has done several times in the past, Facebook bought the popular photo sharing company because they thought it was the next big thing. But was it really the old next big thing? Facebook may have become the “late to the party” juggernaut that it would never have desired to be. Just as the lucrative 18 to 25 market has been leaving Facebook in droves, the same market will begin to leave instagram. Watch TLC, Bravo, A&E, and CNN and note how often they reference Instagram. Face it, when people over 35 start to use something, their children stop.

The bottom line is I don’t necessarily believe the Facebook is in its final days. I do believe, however, the company must drastically rethink their strategy and consider alternatives for growth in the United States. If they truly believe that growth in other markets will counter dramatic drops in USA, I believe that is misguided. Other markets will eventually follow the same path of the United States. Younger users will leave; older users will join the platform at a much lower level of engagement; upstarts will create the next next big thing and advertisers will be tempted away.

For now, I have sold my Facebook holding and bought a small Twitter holding so I can enjoy a brief ride on the wave of the current big thing. And I patiently await the next next big big thing. Oh wait! There it is….

Note: I am sure there are lots of Facebook fans out there that would tell me that I have lost my mind and perhaps I have. But, of course, I’ve heard that before. Post your comments below. I would love to hear from you.

Be Well. Lead On. And may the consumer be the ultimate victor of these fantastic #techwars.


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#TechNotes: Adventures with LinkedIn

Alternative Title: How a phone “user error” resulted in great conversations

LinkedIn on AndroidScreenshot_2013-07-23-12-13-07

As you may have read, I purchased and now love my new Samsung Galaxy S4. I cannot see returning to the iPhone at this point and only really use my iPad for playing Clash of Clans (I admit it.) As with many men, when I first setup my new toy, I had to try everything. I went app by app and installed every app that had been on my iPhone, noting key differences between the iOS and Android versions.

After I installed LinkedIn, I was presented with all kinds of screens and options for easy setup. Two of them are shown above. One allows you to sync your contacts with LinkedIn so that all of your LinkedIn contacts can easily be communicated with through your mobile phone. Great. I did that on my iPhone as well so no worries. The other option, however, was an “Add Contacts” tool. This setup step, as I learned only after pulling the trigger too quickly, sent the 512 people in my address book with whom I was not connected on LinkedIn an invitation to connect. Indiscriminately!

Let me repeat that. EVERYONE in my address book not previously connected to me on LinkedIn received the same generic “please add me to your LinkedIn network” email.

Pause. Open your address book and scroll down. If you are like most people, by the 15th entry MAX you will reach someone that might be a fantastic person but clearly was never meant to be a LinkedIn connection. Here are a few examples which may or may not have been in my address book:

  • Doctor or dentist
  • Roadside assistance AAA
  • Caterers and servers from prior events
  • An ex partner!
  • The home security company
  • Massage therapist
  • Housekeeper
  • and so on ….

Needless to say, I was horrified when I began to receive dozens of invitation acceptance notifications. Within a week, I had added 80 new connections, and after two weeks I was up to over 200 new adds. But, I must admit, despite the fact that it was a mistake, I am glad I did it. Because, I ended up reconnecting with lots of really cool people.

Among the throng that received the email were a few amazing people I had met on flights and exchanged cards. You know the ones: you sit next to each other for hours en route to somewhere or another and talk about everything. The conversation is so enjoyable you know you must stay in touch and thus exchange cards before rushing off for your next connecting flight or meeting. And, of course, you never actually get in touch. My accident allowed me to reconnect with a couple of those types.

Old friends that had lost touch were pleasantly surprised I reached out (they may now learn that it was an accident, but the ends justify the means?) and have now scheduled lunches and coffee catch-ups. A former server I hired for a party has now started an organisation and is quite the online activist these days. Vendors that worked with me years and years ago have now moved on to new companies and are doing fascinating things. And my MOM joined LinkedIn! Who knew??

Another amazing thing I discovered is how many of my new contacts were connected to each other, yet had no idea they shared a relationship with me. The world truly is a small place.

All in all, whilst my error resulted in a bit more spam than I feel comfortable sending out, the result was that I reconnected with cool people, found out more about my “network”, and got a few big smiles when an old familiar face popped up in my notifications.

Would I recommend you do the automatic send thing? Not at all! But I would encourage you to scroll down through your address book from time to time. Don’t just look for someone interested in potentially buying your services or products. Look for the first name that makes you struggle a bit to remember how you met. Send THAT person a request to connect on LinkedIn. Find an old friend that may have fallen out of contact for good or bad reasons. Send THAT person a request to connect on LinkedIn. The ex-partner? Maybe skip that one for now. But pick a few random people.

Life is about connections; some that come by planning and strategy, some through work or family links, and some that come because you happened to go to the car wash at a particular time of day. All have meaning of some sort and all have the possibility of changing your life in ways you may just never know.

Be Well. Lead On. 


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#TechReview: My Samsung Galaxy s4

I made the switch … again.


Samsung Galaxy S4

I have only had the device for a couple of days and must say that I’m already falling in love with it. I’m not going to do a full review but I will post some of the things I really like about the device.

Now I do realize that many of you read my blog when I reviewed the BlackBerry z10 and was so excited about that device. It is possibly true that in my desire to finally move on from the iPhone I did in fact latch on to whatever option was available. So in reviewing the samsung galaxy s4 I will both compare it to the iPhone as well as to the BlackBerry z10. I will say that the reason I have not given the blackberry further consideration is that the application store is still incredibly lacking in options. Availability of apps,  movies, and music is still too limited for me to give the phone serious consideration. I will also add that this is purely a personal review and is not necessarily imply I would support deploying the S4 in a corporate setting.

Voice recognition
One of the things that I immediately like about the Samsung is the ease with which you can speak to type. I am currently using  this functionality and I am amazed at the ease with which it captures my words. I type them immediately and it does not need to have all of the user interaction that is needed with Siri.

As I mentioned before the apps available for the BlackBerry were pretty sad. I had heard that the Android pad even more apps than the iPhone and I am pleased to say that so far that does seem the case. With one relatively minor exceptions all of the applications that I used on my iPhone 4s I have been able to download the exact same application or quite comparable substitute on the s4. Even better certain applications are easier to use of a better interface on the Android OS for device then on the iPhone 4s. The large screen also makes viewing several of the apps a better experience.

Apps that are better on the Samsung Galaxy S4:
1) Whatsapp – great communication app that works whether your friends have blackberry, Android, or iOS. The interface looks better and the options are broader on the Android.
2) Photos and folders. Transferring pics from PC to phone is so much easier.
3) Creating folders of similar apps is better. on iOS, there is a limit in the number of apps you can group.
4) Google maps of course comes native.
***Updated 22 July 2013. stay tuned for more.

Power and charging
In the grand scheme of things this is a very minor and petty item however I am happy that I can use the same charger that I use for blackberry when I charge my S4. The battery life is said to be better on the nee device but I have yet to actually notice a major difference.

Controlling television and DVR
Oh em gee! of all of the features on the phone, this one has to be one of the coolest. Someone out there will have had a Samsung for quite a while and think that this is old news. However the ability to set up the phone to serve as a remote control for any television in your house is absolutely astounding. I tried it with one of mine televisions and I am not exaggerating when I say that it took 20 seconds. It is easy, fast, clear and does not require purchasing or installing a side application. In fact, I had previously installed the Xfinity application from Comcast and will keep that but it is absolutely secondary. If you just want to flip channels and control remote like we did in the old days, all you need is the Samsung.


The last time I tried Android I hated the notifications and I still do. They are too hard to customize to turn off or to minimize. Unlike with the iPhone there is no central place where I can go to turn off notifications by application. I also have no way to specify what type of things I want to be notified about for applications.

Making the switch
Understandably, one of the biggest challenges in making the move from one mobile platform to another is the switching. This was certainly the case with me and perhaps one of the reasons that I stayed with iPhone for so long. In fact, my partner made the upgrade from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 5 and within hours was up and running as if no change had been made. Even if simply going from a non smartphone to an iPhone 5 the transition will be so much easier and one of the benefits of the iPhone remains its tremendous ease of use.

For me, making the switch turned out to be relatively easy although three or four days later I continue to tweak my new phone. For syncing my contacts I chose to use music application cost approximately 3 bucks and make the transition quite easy. For anyone who is not completely sold on Android that would still like to stick with the iCloud environment smoothsync is probably the best option. This is also a good option for those who have, like me, multiple devices across both platforms including, for instance, an iPad.

I also signed up for a Samsung sync and transfer application called kies. However, I am not sure how much I will actually use it as I would prefer not to move from one data hostage taker to another . While I do like the Samsung device the question for me is more about platform and applications and I might move from Samsung to something else at any point.

Things I do not like
1)On the iPhone, you can receive an email with a date and contact information in it and automatically convert that into a calendar entry. You cannot do that on the galaxy unless I’m completely missing something.
2)Storage absolutely sucks on the phone. You buy a device that allegedly had 16 GB of memory. You quickly realize it really only has half of that because of the bloatware you can’t remove.

Overall, I must say that I really like the device and I think that it will last beyond the 14 day trial offered by AT&T. I do have to get use to some of the new quirks, for instance, the cut and paste functionality. I am also somewhat frustrated by the navigation between apps and the notification system. However, I suspect that the majority of my problems with the phone are more related to a learning curve and the fact that I have had an iPhone since the very first one was issued several years ago.

If you have tried it out, I would love to hear what you think! And I am sure there are lots of iPhone fans out there that would tell me that I have lost my mind and perhaps I have. I also have one friend who was told me that the iOS 7 will change everything. But, of course, I’ve heard that before. Post your comments below.

Be Well. Lead On. And may the consumer be the ultimate victor of these fantastic #techwars.


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However Beautiful the Strategy, you should Occasionally look at the Results

Sharing thoughts from another tech leader. Always good to get different perspectives and I would love to hear what my readers think about this blog. Be well. Lead on. Adam

Bits of Life of a CIO

It’s one thing to say CIOs should be more strategic, but the CIO role is shaped (and often constrained) by the business. CIOs can equip themselves to be well-rounded C-level executives and boost their acumen in competencies such as market knowledge and external customer focus, but, as many CIOs have found, if their companies don’t see them in that light, it doesn’t matter how ready and eager they are to leverage their role more strategically. Consequently, in many organizations there’s a gap between expectations and capability that limits the value of the CIO. So what are the business Strategycharacteristics (the company’s direction, business process and the leadership climate) and business regard for technology (the company’s attitude toward IT spending and how the business interacts with IT and the CIO)? Both areas combine to determine the business need for and openness toward a strategically oriented CIO.

  • Seizing the Opportunity: Changes…

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#TechReview: My Blackberry Z10 Experience

I have now had my BlackBerry Z10 device for a few days and am beginning to get a sense of the device functionality and the overall experience. I am not a professional reviewer but like to share. I’m reserving my final judgement and not ready to decide for sure that I will be moving away from iPhone to this however I will say it is a pretty good device with some serious limitations I will cover.

The Hub

A big highlight in the advertising for the new device is the Hub, basically one spot where all of your email, social networking, and text messaging updates can be found. It is fairly easy to use, and quite convenient in allowing a simple view of all of the information you need to ignore (LOL) for the day. Is it absolutely amazing, best thing since sliced bread? Not really. But it is an improvement over iPhone where you would have to seperately open LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, email, and messaging to get the same content. And even viewing the actual apps is easier on Blackbery Z10 because you can have up to 8 applications open at the same time.

Setup for Facebook and LinkedIn are incredibly easy, by the way. And, when I set up LinkedIn, the phone asked me if I also wanted to add the email address I used for linked in to my device email accounts. I clicked ok and setup took seconds! Only question is why it did not do the same for FaceBook.

The Hub

The Hub

Email and Typing

Confident now to say that text recognition is better than iPhone. It is intuitive and suggests words not just on the letters I type but on the context of the sentence. If you start typing the quick brown fox, it knows you are about to write jumps over the lazy … pretty cool. And with some keyboard under the keyboard functionality, it learns how your fingers work and begins to correct the keyboard. So if your fat fingers always type Q when you mean to type W, it begins to shift the keyboard over to the right a little. Its coll and it just works. Plus it is SO easy to delete words and whole sentences with a slide of the finger. Finally, email addressing feature rocks. It remembers some of the last people who wrote you or you wrote and suggests they may be the ones you want to draft a new note to.

1) Annoying that I can’t just refresh to mark things like Facebook and LinkedIn updates as “read”. Drawback of the Hub is that email and social media feeds are treated the same.
2) The work/personal thing comes back to be annoying here as well as you cannot even see the work address list without unlocking Work. (See notes on Balance functionality below). This is good for those who want to let their children play with the device but since I do not do that, it just annoys me.

Balance Feature

So, on to Balance …. Balance allows you to partition your device between work and personal. This is EXACTLY what I have been looking for over the years. I carry a personal device and a work device because I just like to keep things seperate. With a swipe down from the top of the screen and a quick click of either the WOrk or Personal tab, you can go from your always open personally controlled apps and social networking things to a container that is locked down and segmented for Work. When in personal, you cannot access certain things in the Work side. And you can’t cut and paste between the two sides. But switching is very easy and only Work requires a password beyond the device password. You can choose whether to make it the same password for both getting into the device and getting into Work (though most Corporate security functions will not allow this … they shouldn’t!).

From a security perspective this function and its restrictions are great. Basically, things you do and emails you receive in your work world stay in your work world. This is very different from the iPhone experience without a container app like Good but similar to what you would experience with Good or Mobile Iron. If you have had a limited lockdown experience as many corporate iPhone users have, this Balance Feature may take some getting used to.

For instance, I emailed a photo from iPhone to the blackberry, saved it, but it is saved in work side. I kept saving it and thinking I had done something wrong because every time I tried to use it for my BBM profile photo, I couldn’t find it. It took me a while to figure out how to save a photo in personal side other than those I take with the camera.

Perhaps more frustrating is that I can’t even see my work calendar or contacts when in personal mode. To view details for an item I have to enter the work password. Again, from a security perspective, this is nice, but it can be a pain at first. Also limits the convenience of the Hub when BlackBerry Messenger is only in the personal side and the corporate version is still in beta. I assume the enterprise messenger would also be in the Hub however.

BlackBerry Messenger

BBM is pretty darn cool if you have other friends that use it. Like Whatsapp and now Facebook Messenger, it allows you to chat with contacts and share photos, voice notes, appointments, and other files less than a 6 MB. Given the ease with which you can take a video of yourself, you could send a video message as well. Strange that they did not add that explicitly as an option in BBM. The only way it seems you can send a video is to create one in Story Maker or Camera and then attach it as a file. It is easy to invite multiple colleagues to a chat and can even have a video or voice conversation.

WAY COOL application HOWEVER it only works with others that have a BlackBerry. So, it does not replace Whatsapp and/or Facebook Messenger given, frankly, not that many people have BlackBerry devices these days.

Navigation and Speed

Navigating will be hard for those uses to iPhones and likely easier if you’re coming from android or windows phone. But after a few days of using it, the peek and flow navigtion actually grows on you. And if you had an Android, I’m guessing it woudl be even easier to adapt to the BB10 gestures. Without the iOs style home button, the screen does get more space and navigation is done via any of the frame area on the device, which is pretty cool.

1) Speed going between screens in an app is a bit slow and I can’t tell if it is a network or software issue.
2) Every once and a while the screen will not rotate. Not sure what it is but it just gets locked up and no matter how I move the phone it stays in portrait mode. In some apps, like Story Maker, this is intentional albeit still annoying. But others, it just seems like a flaw.
3) The App Store is PAINFULLY slow. And then you find out why … Almost like they were embarrassed to show you the limited selection so made it open very slowly …

BlackBerry World

The good news is that many major applications are there. The ones everyone would expect: Fcebook (though not as robust as in iphone), twitter, LinkedIn, foursquare, YouTube, Adobe Reader, and of course Angry Birds. And native apps for photos, videos, and messaging are strong. Docs To Go blows most of the iphone editing apps out of the water.

The bad news is that it is still a very tiny (I mean minuscule) store compared to iphone and Android. And unless I am missing something, Whatsapp and Kindle are still not there. They announced at the launch event these apps would be supported on BB10 but not they are certainly not in the store yet. Disappointing. If the plan is they will come soon, I think it would have been better for Blackberry to wait to launch. This will hurt their ability to drive excitement.

Highlights of Missing Applications

Banking and Finance: Citibank, PayPal, Capital One, Fidelity were missing. To confirm it wasn’t just my American biased apps missing on my UK device, I also checked (and did not find) apps for any of the major UK banks. Emirates Bank was there …

Shopping: no eBay or Amazon (really????) but they did have Ocado, a winner for Uk grocery delivery. The other shopping apps were so random and obscure it literally looked as if Blackberry went door to door in several third world countries and asked for volunteers.

News: CNN, BBC News, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg were noticeably absent. The BBC iplayer was available though I must admit I’m not a big fan of that poor navigation system from BBC. Many of the dailies were there, including the London Evening Standard.

Communications: I did not find Skype, Whatsapp, or Viber. No yammer. No ooVoo.

Travel: No TripIt, TripAvisor,, American Airlines or seat guru apps. Lots of off small apps but none of the big ones available on iPhone and Android. and, sadly, my ESSENTIAL Hailo app for booking London taxis is not there yet. That is a must before I give up the iPhone.

Most disappointing to me was THERE IS NO KINDLE APP. But, overall, I am highly disappointed in the apps available. This may be a known limitation for long term blackberry users but having been with iPhone for the past 4 years or so, sorry this is a nonstarter.

Oh, and No Google Maps but thus far the native map application seems at least to be better than the awful one embedded in iOs 6. And it has voice instructions. Only issue is that it is very very very slow to get started. Not sure if that is a network or device issue.

Music and Movies

Noticably weaker than the missing apps is the limited entertainment options in the store. That said, whilst the music and video stores are embarassingly limited, this does not matter as much to me as the missing apps. I thought perhaps I had put on a filter of some sort as the television shows available were the common ones that seem to be available EVERYWHERE. There is literally not an online service (or airline) in the world that doesn’t offer Modern Family, American Dad, and How I Met Your Mother…. and I’m just not interested in either! This must drastically improve before there is an easy move from iTunes. Especially given thus far, I can’t transfer my iTunes content to the new device. That’s Apple’s fault, of course, with their proprietary format. #Annoyed. I bought it and should be able to use it wherever I want to …

Social Networking

Integration of social networking into the device is great, with four easy icons automatically added on the home screen and easy setup. The tiles allow uyou to have multiple social networking sites open on the phone at once, which is great. And Hub gives you all of your updates in one place.

1) Facebook – Inability to hold down on an image in Facebook and save to the phone is frustrating. Inability to add photos to an album from within the app. Also, if I did not tag a photo when uploadng it (via another device or my PC), I cannot tag it using the Blackberry Facebook app. Nor can I edit tags in the app.
2) Twitter – Cannot edit my profile to change text or photo, nor can I add another Twitter account so that I can easily change between, for instance, a work group and personal twitter handle. Both of these things I can do on my iPhone.
3) LinkedIn – just not as good as the one on iphone. Navigation and content limited.

Summary of the Good

1) StoryMaker is really really cool. So easy to take photos, add music and quickly create movies for sharing via text, email, Facebook, YouTube, etc. My family and friends will likely get quickly tired of my photo montages.
2) Navigation is fairly easy once you get used to it and it is great to be able to easily switch between applications that remain open (up to 8)

20130203-214452.jpg3) Calendar is great, with nice view of individuals in the meeting and any connections you have with that person (email, LinkedIn, etc). It also has lists of any emails relating to the meeting, and shows adjacent events in an easy view.
4) The Hub is convenient and allows for easy view of all of the information overload with which we must deal.
5) Screen size is fantastic and the images are fairly crisp. I want to try it out for watching a movie or TV show but of course the options are crap so I will wait on that!
6) Nice browser experience with easy to use navigation and settings.
7) FLASH!!! Yes, I know people have moved on but it sure is nice to be back to a device that supports Flash.
8) Ability to make calls and conference calls very easily from the address book, home screen, within calendar entries, etc. Also I forgot how much I had missed the ease with which Blackberry integrates into corporate conference call systems with the ability to program the number and password in a calendar or contact book entry.
9) The size, weight and look of the device. Cooler than any BlackBerry ever and just as cool as the other phones out there today. Smaller than a Nokia 920 and just slightly bigger than the iPhone 5.
10) Proprietary without being annoying like Apple. I can use a standard micro-USB charger!

Summary of the Bad

1) App Store is pitiful, with many critical apps missing. I mean truly truly truly pitiful.
2) App Store
3) App Store
4) Music store is limited.
5) Movie and television show options are limited in a really sad, almost pathetic, way. BUt I could deal with this if more content services were available on the device. Most of what I watch on my iPhone is via CNN and BBC news apps, neither of which are available on this device.
6) BlackBerry Link, the tool with which you sync your device with your PC, is not intuitive, has relatively poor navigation and just doesn’t have the functionality and convenience out of the box that iTunes has. ***Update 5Feb12: Finding this is more of a user education issue. Having been 5 years since I had a blackberry, the Link functionality is different. Getting used to it now. This is not longer viewed as a weakness as much as a reminder of the annoying proprietary nature of iTunes and the iOS ecosystem.
7) While the camera is nice, and the new functionality pretty cool, the quality of the photos thus far did not seem as good as the iPhone 5, or even the iPhone 4G.
8) I REALLY miss the screen capture functionality of the iPhone. This is key for sharing some things and even for this blog, I had to go online to get photos of screens on the device that on an iPhone I could have gotten via screen capture. ***Update 5Feb12: User education issue, pointed out by Paul in comments below. I can do this, just had to know how. Nice!
9) Going between apps and sometimes opening them in the first place can be somewhat slow.
10) Nothing further found to dislike thus far…..

Overall, I think this is a great looking device with some cool functionality and special features. It is slick, relatively easy to use, and has fantastic blend of the good things from iOs and Windows phone with a bit of Android thrown in. Call quality and camera are strong and integration with social media is superb. But the app store will make or break this device. Without apps, Blackberry will remain “great for email”. And for those that truly just need a device for email, the Z10 is still not the best for them (though the pending Q10 may be).

So I would say the jury is still out. I love the device and really want to consider it for permanent iPhone replacement. If Kindle, Whatsapp, skype, TripAdvisor, Amazon, Hailo, and a few more critical missing apps are added to the store, I will definitely consider it and be happy to revisit this review. For now, I’m in “Neutral” on the BlackBerry Z10. ***Update 5Feb12: Neutral trending up.

If you have tried it out, I would love to hear what you think! Post your comments below.

Be Well. Lead On.


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Blackberry 10 preview

From the BlackBerry Experience launch even in London at Old Billingsgate – 30 january 2012.

So this will be my first real-time Preview blog, reviewing SOLELY based on what is presented at the launch event. I reviewed iOS and Apple devices before and have been saying for months that I am moving on from iPhones. so the question remains where will I go? I will review the actual phone next week.

Windows Phone? Blackberry? Samsung Galaxy? Would love your thoughts!

Rough thoughts on BlackBerry10 based on the launch event:

BBM video chat – yet another option to compete with Facebook but perhaps more to kill upstarts like Viber and Whatsapp. But like iPhone messenger, value limited to Coms with other blackberry users.

Blackberry flow is awesome
Great folder organising scheme
Easy integration into tasks in outlook

Great camera and photo editing will compete with Instagram. Including really cool story maker tool that takes photos, music, and editing tools to quickly make videos.

Great work on apps with Skype, whatsapp and other competitors still working.
BlackBerry World now has all apps, music and movies like iTunes.
And you don’t have to reboot after installation.
Cisco webex

By end of February tests done everywhere. US market price plans and preregistrations today. Avail in March.
Canada available in Feb 5. In UK blackBerry Z10 will be available this week. Very impressive for UK team (kudos Rob Orr) as O2, EE, Voda, car phone warehouse, and more will all launch tomorrow.

Alicia Keys as global creative director of BlackBerry? That’s a bit odd … Interesting new marketing partnership.



Be Well. Lead On.


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Change Ahead

Yet another blog about Change!


Building Airplanes in the Air

EDS (now part of HP of course) ran a fantastic ad campaign years ago that highlighted how they help businesses manage through periods of major transformation. My favorite was called “Airplane” and showed a team of employees working on building a new airplane in the air. Yep, I wrote that right. In the commercial, filmed reality show style, there are several people who are discussing their pride in what they do. What do they do? Build airplanes while the planes are actually flying. Despite being a bit awkward in post September 11 times, the ad has always been such a great metaphor for what so many of us in Technology leadership roles have to do.

Transformation is never easy to begin with, and is made even harder by the mere fact that business does not stop and wait for you to finish with your initiative. While building the future, you must still keep the present up and running. Like building an airplane that is still flying!

The only way you can be successful in an environment like this is by remembering these principles:

1) Surround yourself with good people.
I can’t believe I am quoting Oprah Winfrey in one of my blogs but one must admit she clearly knows how to lead and drive change. One of her popular statements was “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” I completely agree this is essential. People who surround themselves with positive people naturally become more positive. Likewise, surrounding yourself with depressing, negative people leads to adopting their attitude.

But your team members can’t simply be positive thinkers. You need talent! I worked with a manager once who truly seemed intent on only hiring people who were not as smart as he was. Perhaps it was ego, perhaps insecurity, but it seemed that he was always needed to make decisions, solve problems, and break impasses. His people were neither empowered nor enabled to drive effective change. If you hire down, your organization dies. Period. I strive to always surround myself with people who are complimentary. I know my strengths and weaknesses, so why would I hire someone with the same strengths and weaknesses?

Find people that are intelligent but flexible, driven but not mercenary, loyal but not naive. Your change will be more successful. In the airplane example, a pilot only needs one co-pilot. The rest of the crew know more about customer service, cabin safety, in-flight entertainment and dining. They speak with clients more regularly and can get a sense of satisfaction. The team is made better because there are lots of good people doing their part to make the whole better. That should always be our goal!

2) Think like the successful automakers do. When I recently tried to explain how I think Technology shops should run with respect to relationship between Service (run) and Change components I thought of Mercedes Benz, my beloved car company. The change teams at Mercedes, those designing new cars and features, get a lot of glory when the next big thing is announced. Yet most people buy Mercedes both because of the design and styling of the car AND the fantastic service experience of owners.

  • The Design team constantly thinks of service while designing: periodic service alerts, inboard monitors, quality control, etc. They do not sit in an ivory tower in Stuutgart making stuff up! They talk to Service, Sales, and others to seek out ideas for what comes next.
  • The Service team, while striving to deliver quality service when you visit for service, also continuously feeds back to the design team things that need to be improved. And sometimes they advise the customers on how features in newer models go even further to address certain issues. Service is frequently the best source for add-on sales and upgrades!

Think about it! What if everyone in Technology worked in this mutually beneficial relationship structure? Applications would be designed for performance, infrastructures would be built to last, and customers would have a better overall experience “driving” the best solutions for their unique needs.

If we never forget the important relationship between change and run, we can effectively manage “building planes in the air”.

3) Communicate with your customers
Think about the last time you were on an airplane, or perhaps even in a taxi. Often the pilot or driver will inform passengers at the very start of the journey of pending problems. Turbulence ahead! A lot of traffic in one particular area may delay arrival! The light above your seat does not work! But on United Airlines in particular, you are also greeted at the beginning of the flight with a video from the CEO. In his intro, he highlights changes being made, explains any temporary issues that may frustrate clients, and thanks them for their loyalty and patience.

How many of our internal clients would be shocked to hear such messages?
Dear Clients: 1) We are going through a period of change that will bring enhanced stability, service, and innovation to better enable your success. 2) We know there will be some times of disruption and instability in the current environment and of course we will do all we can to minimize impact. 3) Thank you so much for your patience and support. Please know that everything we do is to add value for you.

Don’t surprise your clients with change, or downplay the risk so significantly you lose credibility. Be honest. Be open. Be consistent. And, of course, if the change is not something that adds value, rethink doing it at all!!

Let me know what you think. How do you effectively handle major changes while still managing to keeps things going? How do you build airplanes in the air?

Be Well. Lead On.


This blog was originally posted Feb 2012. Reblogged Sept 2012.

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Service Desk and Support teams everywhere … YOU MATTER!


This week, I had a very unique opportunity to be “on-boarded” twice. My new role is based in the UK however I have a base in Chicago and, at the end of the day, a US contract. Thus, my first day was in Chicago and my second day was here in London. As I reflected on my first two days, something struck me that I thought was worthy of mentioning here. Both days, my first significant contact was with Technology team members. Not the strategy or planning sessions, or beginning the challenging work with which I have been tasked. Those start tomorrow. Specifically, I am referring to the service desk and support guys that actually helped get me setup with my “kit”.

Think about it: the last job you started likely involved use of some end user technology, be it a phone, laptop, iPad, or otherwise. Before you began to work your first deal, draft your first work plan, or respond to your first company email, you were likely setup by someone in Technology at your company. And that experience may very well have established your impression of technology at your firm overall. Regardless of how small a portion of the technology budget is actually spent on end user support, this is sometimes the only part of IT to which the majority of your teams are exposed. And I have seen AWFUL on-boarding and support processes, including from large outsourcing vendors that claim to have expertise.

And as I reflected on this fact, I also considered the age old question of whether business and technology have an effective relationship and whether technology can actually drive and influence decision making. And I say “absolutely”. And, frankly, it starts Day 1. And thus, service desk and support teams everywhere must take note: you matter much more than you may ever think. Yes, you deal with some of THOSE clients whose major problem is that shortly after they learned to pose their thumbs they were given a computer with a plug and no instructions. But you also deal with the closet techies that yearned to be the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs before becoming actuaries. The one that built a program in DOS years ago before she decided to go back to law school. She was so proud of that program! The HR leader who admits to not knowing much about technology that simply begs for it to be as easy and user friendly as possible so she can help her clients recruit, train and retain talent so critical for the success of the firm. And yes, also that Finance major and banking strategist that spent 10 years in consulting before taking technology leadership roles and finding out how much he loved working with tech teams. For all of these users, you have the opportunity to frame their experience from day 1. And what a difference you can make!

Every five minutes you have with a CFO, you have the opportunity to represent your technology organization to an extent few others will ever have with that leader. You can listen to complaints and offer solutions. You can share their excitement talking about a new technology then work with the rest of the Tech org in finding ways to leverage that excitement for new solutions and services. You can make executives “happy” enough that perhaps the day we have a major sev 1 outage, they are stressed and concerned but not on the warpath. Because they know we care and that we realize the roll technology plays in generating revenue and sustaining profitability. You might just get them smiling right before they go to that special funding review meeting!

Like police officers in many urban centers, you don’t always get the glory. You are typically understaffed and insufficiently empowered. You get yelled at more than you get praised, and sometimes it may just seem that you have the most thankless job in Technology. But, goodness, YOU MATTER! And for me personally, you mattered this week. To Carey, Neel and Tom, a hearty thanks. You made my two days of on boarding easy and I can be productive from day 1 thanks to your help. You may never know just what that added productivity enabled for me, or for others. But you should know that it made a difference. You made a difference. And every call you take, every desk you visit, whether your clients say it or not, you continue to make a difference. And for those who do not, I say thanks.

Be Well. Lead On.


Adam L. Stanley | ALSWharton Connections
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