Collaboration in Manufacturing

The InformationWeek 500 review segregated companies into different categories and it was most interesting to me to see that the manufacturing sector led the way in deploying collaboration tools.   Companies have been working hard for years to tighten their supply chains, improve their design collaboration with partners and generally working to get things moving faster with less waste.  It just makes such good sense to see this happening.

In the case of supply chains, all companies are buying from suppliers and selling to customers and everyone involved wants to have the best possible information about everyone upstream and downstream.   Faster communications and as much collaboration as possible is a plus for everyone involved in the whole supply chain.   It is just hard for people and teams and companies to get there.   We’ve all got to learn to work together differently to get the real benefits.  

Collaboration tools are a natural in this space and it is good to see manufacturing companies leading out in this regard.  There is still much more to do however…

Collaboration and Trust

Trust in the Workplace

There is a really good article at HBR about the value of Trust in the Workplace. I’ve written about trust in my other blog before as I think it is such an important component of people and groups working together. Trust is the foundation that you build everything else upon. Without trust, you can’t build much of value.

I’ve had the opportunity to participate in several corporate adventure races(two in NZ and one in Australia) and they are terrific and amazing experienes. In those settings, you learn first hand about how important trust is for the team to succeed. If competing in a long adventure race, you will find that you and your teammates will all need to trust one another in order to be successful and in order to even complete the race. Each of us have strengths and weaknesses and by trusting one another and working together, we can achieve a better result than we could if we worked alone.

I’ve seen teams that work well because they trust one another. I’ve also seen teams not work well because one or more of the team members can’t be trusted. Lack of trust completely undermines a team’s effectiveness. Completely. I’ve seen individuals who simply can’t be trusted and when they break trust with others, their effectiveness going forward is virtually destroyed.

If you are working with others, think about trust in the group. Even if you are not part of a team today, think about your trustworthiness in all you do. Be a person who can be trusted.


This new IBM CIO Survey looks to be most interesting.  The findings about much greater focus on driving innovation and growth is right on.   I find that my time is spent more on these areas than ever before with far less focus on day-to-day operations.   This goes right in line with the InformationWeek 500 comments about more face time with the leadership team and more involvement with the strategy of the company.   A big focus on analytics also rings true.     IT has been collecting data in our data warehouses for years and now we must harvest that investment with better and deeper understanding for the business decision makers.

Operational excellence is a given just to be in the game.  The difference maker today is delivering real value to the company leadership, helping them solve their problems, helping the company move faster.

I was interviewed for the survey and I look forward to hearing more about the results.

Did You Know 4.0

The new Xplane video, Did You Know 4.0 is out and it is about social media.   I’ve become a big fan of the social media ideas and tools for use in corporate settings and I’ll be writing about it a lot in the coming days.   I came across this video today by accident and wanted to pass it along because it talks to the heart of opportunities in this area.   Enjoy.

Clever People

When I was a young engineer starting out in the software business, I learned and deeply understood that really great programmers were as much as 10x better than good programmers.  There were certain people that I met along the way who were just that much better that everyone else.  They were the ones you went to with hard problems or to ask questions about how to do this or that.   Gary and Jeff were early ones that I knew.   Since then, I’ve met others people in other professions who were that much better than others in the same field.

The book Clever:  Leading Your Smartest, Most Creative People is about these people, these teams and these organizations.   Individuals and groups who are simply that much better than their peers and who deliver better results more often.

There are great points in here about people having become more global and truly clever individuals are going to move to find the best things to do in the best locations.   “Global is the standard” and in my line of business where I work with people around the world, I know this is true.  Retention is now the key in HR.  The book identifies several characteristics of these people:

  1. Their cleverness is central to their identity.
  2. Their skills are not easily replicated.
  3. They know their worth.
  4. They ask difficult questions.
  5. They are organizationally savvy.
  6. They are not easily impressed by corporate hierarchy.
  7. The expect instant access.
  8. They want to be connected to other clever people and
  9. They won’t thank you.

The book talks about how to lead these people with more guidance and trust rather than giving orders.   You want to point these people in the right direction.  One quote in the book is “My own philosophy to lead people that are smarter than me is to find ways for them to be more productive in what they want to do.”   It is about reducing friction in the workplace for the clever folks and everyone else.  Better collaboration tools have huge potential in reducing friction in any teams.

The book talks about teams that didn’t work and things that cause these individuals and teams to fail too.

If you are interested in this topic and looking to improve the workplace, this is a good book to read.  Recommended.

IT Rankings and Studies

The InformationWeek 500 was published today for 2009.   The study describes IT priorities, spending and directions for a lot of companies and then in some sense ranks the IT shops.  Other organizations like Gartner Group do the same thing as well as other magazines like CIO Magazine.

I’ve got a fairly strong statistics background and I have to say, it really bothers me that these studies will always show the average IT spend as a percent of revenue by industry, state, group or whatever.  But they never show any 2nd order statistics.  It would really be helpful if they go that next step and tell us the spread about the mean.  If the Manufacturing group in the study has a average IT spend as percent of revenue of 1.8%, I’d really like to know the spread around the average.   Is the spread tight or wide?   That would really give me a deeper understanding of the data.  Specifically, if I’m away from that ‘average’  is that unusal or not?   If the variance is large, I’ll draw a different conclusion from a tight variance.

So to those of you doing these rankings, studies, evaluations, please start putting 2nd order statistics in your results.   Thanks from a CIO.

Just starting

Hello all.   I’m the CIO for Seagate Technology and have had this position for about 12 years.   Prior to that I was based in Singapore in the IT organization there and worked closely with our manufacturing operations in Asia.

I’ve been doing a significant amount of blogging inside the company on IT@Seagate blog where I’ve posted countless articles.  I usually post 2-4 times per week about all things IT, operations, people, values, etc.   I’ve decided to take to streets so to speak and start this blog on the outside.

I’m speaking for myself here.  I do not speak in an official manner for Seagate Technology.