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Posted by Susan Cramm on 7:56 PM Tuesday September 15, 2015 under ,

A while back, while shopping for clothes, I almost purchased T-shirts that were (most likely) made by slaves. The only thing that stopped me was remembering this video, which popped up while I was scrolling through my social media newsfeed. The video shifted my self-centered perspective, and I realized that what constitutes a good deal for me is, most likely, a bad deal for someone else. To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 11:37 AM Monday December 22, 2014 under ,

For more than 10 years, I worked as an executive in the fast food industry, and during my tenure, I believed that increasing the hourly wages of frontline employees would lead to lower profits. I now know I was wrong. According to Zeynep Ton, a professor of operations management at MIT, companies can provide good, well-paying jobs and drive profits at the same time. Choosing one over the other is, according to Ton, an “unnecessary sacrifice.” During a recent conversation...[to read more click here]

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 10:06 PM Tuesday September 23, 2014 under ,

If you haven’t studied conscious capitalism, you should. Doing so helped me answer a question—actually, the question—that ran through my mind for years while working as a leader in a large corporation: Does it pay off in the long term to focus almost exclusively on improving financial performance, all too often to the detriment of employees, vendors, and customers? My intuition told me that this was no way to run a business. And it turns out that my gut was right.  To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 12:09 PM Saturday January 18, 2014 under ,

As a leadership coach, I’ve developed a bit of a crush on Pope Francis. And I’m not alone.

What makes my heart go pitter-patter over Francis is that in less than nine months, he has quickly and effectively signaled who he is—and what he cares about—to billions of people. In order to lead remotely, Francis has used symbolic leadership, which amplifies and accelerates change by ensuring that every word and deed is carefully selected for maximum impact. Grounded in a firm understanding of his God-given mission and those who he is called to serve, he is readying his organization for change by carefully choosing his words and purposefully aligning those same words to his deeds. To read more, click here

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Posted by Susan Cramm on 9:44 PM Monday October 28, 2013 under

Fifteen years ago, Lori Patterson—a self-professed “accomplish-aholic”—walked away from a Fortune 500 company to join the ranks of the unemployed. She was done; she had finished working under a dysfunctional and disconnected system of leaders who took advantage of committed professionals by constantly moving the finish line and exerting their power rather than sharing it. After years of prioritizing work over family—and feeling terrible about it—she realized she had to make a dramatic change. To read more, click here.

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I remember the lazy days of my childhood summers, languishing in the grass, bored but too tired to move after spending most of the day in the community pool. No summer school for me. When I applied to college, anything above a 3.2 grade point average gained automatic admittance to a University of California school. Nobody asked, or cared, about my (nonexistent) extracurricular activities. And, even amid a recession, I left graduate school with a good-paying job and little concern about security.

The world isn’t so simple now. Although many of us—especially those raised in the U.S.—grew up in a world full of choice, our children are growing up in a world full of competition. We can’t give our children our past, but we can help them create a future by adopting an emerging-market mind-set that creates choices by making them more competitive. To read more, click here.

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Posted by Susan on 9:46 PM Wednesday September 12, 2012 under ,

If you’re tempted to ask your boss, “Am I your guy?” don’t bother. 

My guess is that you probably already know his answer.

Rather than asking your boss a question that will raise, rather than squelch concerns, it’s much more productive to ask yourself:  “What would my successor do?”  After all, if you think you may be replaced, you might as well replace yourself (with your new-and-improved self) and get your boss thinking about how you are the answer to his prayers rather than the cause of his problems.  To read more click here.

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Posted by Susan on 4:41 PM Tuesday July 17, 2012 under ,

There are quite a few companies who have tried to cut their way to IT success over the past five years and are starting to regret it. 

The economic crisis and subsequent lackluster recovery has IT spending at significantly lower levels than 2008.  Companies that have delayed investments – in people and technology – are finding that they are now at a competitive disadvantage.  New competitors, without the burden of legacy IT environments bowing their backs, are leveraging low-cost, fast-cycle disruptive technologies. These fast-moving competitors are pushing industry incumbents to build new IT-enabled capabilities or risk falling farther behind.

To read further, click here.


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Posted by Susan on 9:23 AM Monday May 30, 2011 under ,

Cloud computing is inevitable.  

The end state promises computing resources that deliver against the New Normal's need for speed, collaboration, productivity, and scale.

The transition state, however, delivers nothing but challenges for all involved.

On the vendor side, big names don't necessarily equate to big capabilities.  Every "world class" cloud vendor consists of mere mortal employees who are struggling (given organizational silos, fragmented technology, and dramatic growth) to deliver on their company's service level commitments .  Buyers beware.  Take your reference checks to a new level - and focus not only on vendor capabilities but also the internal capabilities necessary to make sure the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

On the company side, technology and process changes are pretty well understood, security implications less so, but the organizational impacts are the most profound and sure to confound.  

As we transition from managing assets to services, what is the role for our MVP technologists?  With the transition to cloud, they are being asked to transfer their knowledge and manage service levels without direct access to the tools that allow them to do so.  As an technical IT leader said to me recently, "We are now managing relationships and tickets - not technology."

Don't write off these employees as "unnecessary" in the end state and replaceable in the transition.  Companies need to "lift and shift" their MVP technologists from the micro to the macro:  architecting, integrating, innovating, directing, monitoring, resolving, negotiating.

As you move to cloud computing, how are you making sure that your people are moving with you?   

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Posted by Susan on 3:38 PM Sunday May 22, 2011 under

Big thanks to client Todd who turned me on a to a great article on innovation.

The article does a wonderful job illustrating that no one owns innovation - it's a horizontal, not a vertical process. One where innovations must travel across organizational boundaries to find purpose and become reality.

There are three major players in the innovation process:  those involved in an open-ended search for knowledge (e.g., found in universities and some great R&D labs), those facing needs and serious constraints (e.g., start ups, front line knowledge workers), and those with the discipline and resources to define and scale products that have broad-based appeal (e.g., vendors and IT organizations.)

Innovation is a messy little soup where the magic happens as the different players interact.  There is no simple recipe, but key ingredients include employees who understand the needs of marketplace, are exposed to the outside world, and work within a culture that nurtures creativity within a disciplined process of iteration, prototyping, and pruning.

The fact that no one owns innovation means that everyone should. This presents an enormous challenge for companies with bloated project agendas, over-burdened employees, and overzealous bosses.  Google's "20% time" is a boundary rule targeted at keeping these toxic ingredients at bay.

What is your company doing to foster innovation?



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Posted by Susan on 10:21 PM Sunday May 15, 2011 under ,

Question:  Why would a major technology vendor fire people for leveraging IT?

Answer:  When the employees are leveraging IT without involving IT.

A well-known technology company has become the poster child for locking down IT to capture efficiencies gained through consolidation and standardization.  Now, all IT decisions must be funneled through IT.  It's a good idea that has gone bad.  It's not unusual for engineers to wait a year for technology decisions.  Going it alone risks termination.  Courageous business leaders mask IT spending in their project budgets by calling it "equipment."

IT is at a crossroads - it needs to either figure out how to bring shadow IT out of the dark - and into the light - or risk being marginalized as increasingly tech-friendly business leaders take innovation into their own hands.

It's time for IT to control what matters. Imagine if IT defined investment policies rather than stewarding all business cases through approval?  Imagine if IT certified project managers rather than managing all IT-enabled projects?  Imagine if IT approved vendors rather than getting involved with all IT vendor provisioning?  Imagine if IT controlled access to applications and data rather than the access devices?

Shadow IT reflects a need.  Rather than shutting it down, IT should be building it up - while ensuring that it meets the needs of the enterprise as well as the individuals within.

How is your company bringing shadow IT into the light?


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Posted by Susan on 6:23 PM Wednesday June 02, 2010 under

Many of us involved with IT believe that success in the new normal calls for democratizing IT-enabled innovation. But democratized innovation represents a significant shift from how IT currently operates and there is no clear roadmap or consensus on how to move in this direction. IT leaders know that change is necessary, but are so busy struggling with today's challenges that they don't have the time to bring the future forward.

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Posted by Susan on 6:22 PM Wednesday April 28, 2010 under

Nobody knows how technology will be managed or consumed in 5, 10, or 15 years, but we do know that change is coming.

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Posted by Susan on 6:20 PM Friday April 23, 2010 under

My last post profiled a CIO who is interested in increasing the IT-smarts of his organization. To help ensure success, we encouraged the CIO to approach the effort in a way that respects that change is driven from psychological, not just logical, forces. With this in mind, we identified eight steps to smarter IT.

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Posted by Susan on 6:20 PM Monday April 19, 2010 under

Yesterday, a CIO said to me: "It's time to increase the IT-smarts of the rest of the business. They are demanding more direct control and they are ready for it."

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Posted by Susan on 6:19 PM Thursday April 08, 2010 under

In case any of us doubted it, our frustrations with IT — and IT's frustrations with the business — are alive and well. We recently posted a slideshow, 8 Things Executives Hate About I.T. based on the core principles in my book.

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Posted by Susan on 6:18 PM Thursday March 25, 2010 under

If you want to know what keeps IT leaders up at night, check out this oh-so-depressing article. Entitled "Why The New Normal Could Kill IT," is a well-written summary of the challenges and risks that IT faces as it tries to navigate the new economic order with complex and difficult-to-change technology, poor technology adoption, and the reality that consumer technology is outpacing enterprise technology.

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Posted by Susan on 6:17 PM Wednesday March 03, 2010 under

My previous blog emphasized the importance of increasing the IT-smarts of business leaders in order to fully leverage technologies that are reshaping the competitive landscape.

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Posted by Susan on 6:16 PM Tuesday February 16, 2010 under

Consumer electronics. Sensors. Analytics. Web services. The Cloud. The cool technologies that are transforming the competitive landscape and how companies operate are not prototypes in some electronic giant's lab. They're in the marketplace, and affordable. You don't have to overhaul your IT architectures to implement them. If anything, they improve the value of that architecture that you spent gillions putting in place.

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Posted by Susan on 6:02 PM Thursday April 30, 2009 under

With the cash crunch, focus is coming back in style. A lot of people are hoping for a future — both professionally andpersonally — that will be, in the words of Peggy Noonan, "pared down, more natural, more stable, less full of enervating overstimulation, of what Walker Percy call the "trivial magic" of modern times."

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