#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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Ready. Aim. Do it.

A New Beginning

Every day is a new beginning. All of life provides opportunities for new beginnings. Whatever has gone wrong, or right, in your life, you can begin again.
Jonathan L. Huie

New beginnings can be nerve wrecking. You spend years building a team, finding the people you can trust to get things done and do so in a values based manner. You drive strategy and create value for shareholders. And you check off so many boxes, proudly getting to a point where you can finally rest and look at the great things you and the team created …. and then you move on to the next challenge.

YIKES!! So much for resting.

“Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time” Arnold H. Glasgow

If I’m honest with myself, I will admit that I will likely never get to truly resting until retirement (target TBD). The fact is, I love gnarly, complex, global challenges and am thankful I have found that in my new role.

Leaders at All Levels

Top 12 Quotes on LeadershipI am incredibly excited about this new adventure and will enjoy getting to meet the new teams around the world. One concept I have constantly addressed that I expect will be highly relevant here is the fact that everyone in today’s technology organizations must be leaders. From time to time, everyone will be called on to make decisions, act independantly, and respond to crises without time to go up the chain for days.

You can’t always wait for the guys at the top. Every manager at every level in the organization has an opportunity, big or small, to do something. Every manager’s got some sphere of autonomy. Don’t pass the buck up the line.
Bob Anderson

I blogged about this a while back with “Leaders at All Levels”



I LOVE Chicago, the place I have called home for so many years. And I love having the opportunity to give back to the community in which I love. Living in London over the past two years was an amazing adventure, the opportunity to more deeply explore another great city, and to work with colleagues in other European cities. While my prior role required that I moved to London for a while, I am confident that the relationships I built in Chicago will continue to grow. And, of course, I hope to see many of my friends from London throughout the year. Visit!!

As Marilyn Monroe said, “A career is wonderful, but you can’t curl up with it on a cold night.” So I expect my friends to trek on over to see me from time to time, share a lager or a cup of coffee, and warm my heart with their presence!

Let’s Go

Two great quotes come to mind as I contemplate the week ahead and my new adventure:

“If your work is becoming uninteresting, so are you. Work is an inanimate thing and can be made lively and interesting only by injecting yourself into it. Your job is only as big as you are.” George C. Hubbs

“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” Henry Ford

I’ve enjoyed my time to reflect on the good and bad aspects of my prior leadership role, and the opportunity to give back via non-profit and civic consulting. But it’s time to go back to corporate, tackle this new and exciting challenge, and meet a new batch of great people with whom I hope to build something great.

Be Well. Lead On.


Adam L. Stanley | ALSWharton Connections
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Adam at Sunset

This blog is a revision of a prior post.

#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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My soapbox: Aim for life connections instead of networking


Networking or making life connectionsI met someone this afternoon with whom I truly felt an immediate connection. It was scheduled to be a “career conversation” but instead was an open introduction, over tea, and very casual. The conversation reminded me of a question someone asked me recently: “How can I get better at networking like you?” Those who truly know me realize just how much this question disturbs me. But to many, this would be considered flattery. I do not consider it so at all.

The fact is, I am not a networker. In fact, I detest networking.

Networking is to me a very clinical term, and reminds me of the technology of networking. I know that like various applications in a bank, I am connected to various people. Some linkages were planned and chosen carefully, others stepped in to a role that was by default in my network. Within a network, we depend on each other to work and do our part, and if one portion of the network is significantly damaged, the rest of the network is damaged. I know that to some extent, my success depends on others in the network being able to carry something from me and me in exchange carrying something back. Networking is a fact of corporate (and community) life. However …

I am not a circuit or a router. I am a human being.

When I am in my final minutes of life, perhaps I will think to myself, “If only I had made that one additional link that would have opened up my network to another dimension!” Of course not! I like people. (Of all types! Really! Click here for a blog I wrote on the topic, noting that yes, I even love jerks and *€$holes. I just don’t necessarily want to work with them.) In any corporate network, there must be someone that is necessary but not wanted. God, I never want to be that person.

I prefer to make life connections.

Life connections are not always about business. Some examples:

– Getting to know all of the bartenders at the Artesian Bar at the Langham Hotel in London. Learning how each came from their home countries of Italy, Russia, and elsewhere, to London and why they are so passionate about cocktails. Enjoying a laugh or two whilst enjoying a cocktail or three. Side bonus: I have been introduced to a popular chef/mixologist in my hometown of Chicago for when I return. Plus, the Artesian has become a great place I can bring clients, colleagues, and other connections.

– Building a relationship of trust with my vendor partners and colleagues whereby they share personal details of their lives with me and allow me into their world. Sharing a good meal and a great bottle of wine with no talk of contracts or issues. Side bonus: we find connections we did not know existed and ways in which we can help each other out in so many more ways that traditional sourcing relationships. And, as we move to different roles in different organizations, we can call on each other for advice and support.

– Introducing two people, not because I think they can help each other, but because I just think they are both just really really cool people. Watching them get to know each other and become friends. Side bonus: people have done the same to me, bringing some of the most wonderful people I currently know into my life.

– Having a cocktail party at my house with a mixture of people I have met through work, the neighborhood coffee shop, and other connection points. Looking around and seeing there are people from five different countries with incomes and careers as diverse as chalk and cheese. Witnessing how they all learn from each other: new recipes, fashion styles, tax policy changes, technologies, dating schemes, relationship tips…. Side bonus: Learning myself about all of the above!

Many people will classify the above as examples of networking, and perhaps they are. And, to be clear, I’m not necessarily against networking entirely. I just think it is critical people start with the right perspective. And be honest! If you really just want to meet me for what I can do for you, or who I can introduce, just come out and say it. At least you will save some time! But, I encourage you to take some time to get to know yourself better, enjoy meeting people just because, and see the amazing things that will come out of your connections forged by respect, trust, and integrity. It is amazing how much more one can get from a relationship when he leads from the heart and the mind.

Enough! Off the soapbox, here is some reading …

For those of you who REALLY want to get good at Networking, especially the shy ones, here is a decent CIO magazine article on the topic.

For those of you who like me want to learn how to be a better person and know that success that comes from good just feels better inside, there are a couple of good links for you. Yes, they are a bit kooky. And there will be some who succeed despite being downright bad people (I can name a few.) But, I choose to succeed, or fail, with my values intact. Here are a few links for you:
24 ways to be a better person
How to be a good person in 5 steps

And for those few out there (certainly not a regular reader of my rants) that are downright sinister and yet deep down feel they want to be good, there is even some help for you. I found this one both intriguing and humorous.

Thanks for reading another soapbox rant. I would love to hear what you think about networking and making life connections.

Be Well. Lead On.


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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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My Soapbox: Take talent personally

Talent should be on the agenda and objectives of every leader at every level, every day, and in every organisation

Talent Matters.

I recently went on the soapbox when a conversation was started about forming a committee to work on ways to identify and develop strong talent. It’s clearly not because I do not find the goal relevant. In fact, I think Talent should be on the agenda and objectives of every leader at every level, every day, and in every organisation. That is the only way to be successful. Committees formed formally to focus on talent, regardless of intent, simply do not work without concerted action and interest from leaders with true desire to manage and grow talent. And, worse, the experience for those on such committess can be downright disheartening if they feel they are part of an academic exercise that in the end does not matter. Talent matters!

I want each of my leaders to feel excited thinking about what they are doing for their teams. What opportunities are we finding for them to stretch and be rewarded? To train them and coach them? To sell them for career enhancing roles with peers and other teams (or even other firms) even if it means losing a critical resource in our world? Talent matters!

I view every top performer in my team as a future CIO, CTO, or executive. I LOVE being able to share stories of individuals who worked with me at some point and rose through the ranks to take on major leadership roles around the world. Love it! And I firmly believe that the only reason I have been successful (or recovered quickly from failures) is because I try desperately to hire strong, develop well, and appreciate greatly. Talent matters!!

Anyone that knows me recognises that I tend to hate governance and I disdain committees. I frown on talking and planning talent development “initiatives” unless I see the signs of true interest and passion. Because a committee or initiative without passion is …. sadly, like many many many leadership teams in the corporate world … just bureaucracy.

Just my soapbox for the week. Thanks for listening. And, one more time, as I hope you’ll agree … Talent Matters!!

Be Well. Lead On.


I pledge to listen harder.
Adam L. Stanley | ALSWharton Connections

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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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Top Traits: Fun to Work With


Defining the perfect employees

Let’s face it, for most people work is a means to an end. You work so that you can eat, keep your brain active, connect with other people, learn, or reach some apex in your ambitious plan to take over the world…. Whatever the reason, for very few people work is about finding intense joy and personal satisfaction every hour of every day. That is simply not reality. But, like any other required part of our lives, we can choose how we want to handle work. We can come in every day, do what is required, talk to nobody, and leave. Or we can bring a smile into the office, do our jobs and encourage others to do theirs, and try to bring fun into what can be otherwise mundane or stressful.

I worked with someone for years that was by far the very best at a particular function. This individual was 1)Both talented and hard working, and 2)showed a true pride in the products he created…..good so far, right? If you’ve read my two preceding “Top Traits” blogs, you’d say he is a perfect employee. But wait! This person was so depressing, so negative, and so, well, just not fun! There were days where despite the value I could get out of a conversation, I could simply not do it. It would drag me down into a depression instead of inspiring me to be better. Like the Dementor guards of the Azkaban prison in the Harry Potter movies, this kind of person can simply suck the soul out of a team, an office, or a company. Which brings me to my third top trait ….

… Trait # 3 – Fun to Work WithFun People

If you’ve done interviews, you’ve perhaps been asked to assess “fit” with the culture of your particular company. When I started my career, I thought those interviews were inappropriate. Fit translated into Golf Club network, family connections, and politics. But as I advanced, I realised more and more that fit can make or break a leader. A leader whose style is perfect at one place will bomb elsewhere. So, to be clear, being fun isn’t always going to make you successful. You still must deliver. This is my personal opinion and what I personally look for. I want employees that are fun to work with. Period.

What I like

There are some people that simply bring joy to the office. They bring smiles, jokes, the occasional cupcake or brownie …. They bring personality and just enough of themselves to break down barriers and create a culture of openness that makes work more rewarding.

I’m not talking about class clown, chronic joking, or distraction. I’m talking about balancing the “what” with the “how”. Say you have a complex team challenge that must get done in 24 hours. You have to work pretty hard to get it done and, especially as a leader, you can be a humourless tyrant and slave driver. Or you can be an inspirational and personable motivator. I’m choosing to be the latter.

I recently spent time with some of our colleagues managing technology in Europe. During the evening, we had a team dinner and drinks and I had the opportunity to get to know the Poland, Spain and Italy leaders. We laughed, joked, and had a really great time but occasionally someone would bring up a problem facing our firm and I would ask for a recommended solution. What amazed me is how smart the team was at coming up with ideas but at the same time they were having fun and enjoying being together. That’s the kind of team I want!

In short:

Don’t be a dud.

What I need to do as a manager to enable


When I’m having a funk of a day, I either stay home or avoid meetings. Smiles are contagious, I truly believe that. So if I can’t bring a genuine smile to the office, I try desperately to avoid contact with people! We can’t expect everyone to be happy all the time, but as a manager I need to both set an example and reward those that also bring fun to the office.

Last week, I woke to yet another rainy London day and, frankly, I was disgusted. I was so sick of rainy weather that I knew I would be in a bad mood. I went back into my kitchen, made a huge breakfast with a large strong cup of java and read a low intelligence required novel. Then, I went to the office. I was later than intended but by the time I got to the office I was refreshed and able to deal with another grey day.

Solicit feedback from team.

Talk to your teams on a regular basis to determine what makes them happy. What motivates them and when they smile, ask them why they are happy. Find something that brings them joy and do that.

Support and understand that some people just have bad days.

Recognise that some people will have bad days. Support them. Make sure they feel comfortable detaching if necessary. Make them leave if you must. If they need help, try to get it for them. And reward those that bring joy to the office and perform with a positive attitude.

In short:

Don’t be a dud.

Let me know what you think. What do you view as top employee traits? How do you build the best teams around different types of team members? Are you working hard on something worth doing?

Be Well. Lead On.


Be sure to view all of the Top Traits:
Trait 1: Hard working AND talented

Trait 2: Pride in work product

Trait 3: Fun to work with

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