Strategic Planning

I love planning. Absolutely, love it. I don’t think I realized how much I enjoyed planning until more recently as my job responsibilities have changed. I enjoy looking into the future to create vision and devising plans on how to achieve that vision. Thinking through the details, all the angles, all the possibilities. It excites me.

I guess I should have realized this sooner and worked to leverage that side of who I am. Even as a youngster the signs were there. Learning to play chess and enjoying the complex strategy needed to win. Visualizing what moves your opponent would make and what your options would be. Some matches even able to predict 7-10 moves ahead what my opponent would be doing. Other areas where planning tendencies manifested included putting together neighborhood fishing, basketball, and football tournaments.

In June, I transitioned from CIO to COO. My new set of responsibilities include Strategic Planning, PMO, and Internal Communications. While I’ve lead Strategic Planning for many of our Ramsey Solution digital efforts over the past 15 years, I’m now leading the company’s entire strategic planning efforts, and it is a challenge.

I’m excited about the progress we’ve made this year in developing some process and structure around our top level planning. In the past, we have been a bottom up very entrepreneurial culture. While we are still maintaining that very entrepreneurial bent, we are balancing it with some top level direction that connects our many businesses and products in a stronger way. With this change, we hope to reach even more people and impact their lives.

As I’ve reached out to other leaders at companies of all sizes, it has been interesting to discover how many companies don’t do any top level strategic planning. I’ve been asked several times from companies smaller than ours to several times larger than us, “are you getting any value out of strategic planning? What are you doing?”

For those of you who are interested, here a few of the resources that are influencing our strategic planning efforts.

Patterson’s StratOp Process

Traction – EOS (Entreprenuerial Operating System) by Gino Wickman

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The Rockerfeller Habits by Verne Harnish
Additional Resources

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Strategic Planning and Innovation Summit

 

Blogging Again

After taking a 1 year break from blogging, I’m back albeit with a different purpose.

The original reason behind my blog was to use it as a networking tool. I feel like I accomplished my goal. I used the blog as a calling card when reaching out to top tier business leaders. CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, CMOs and the like. Over the years, I’ve been blessed to make many connections, and I attribute many of those connections to the visibility I gained through my blog. One of my favorite achievements was the interview with Josh James while he was the CEO of Omniture. As a result of my blogging around the Omniture community, Gail Ennis, Omniture CMO, took notice and while attending the Omniture Summit, she afforded me the opportunity to sit in a room with Josh James. It was a fantastic experience.

Now in this next iteration of blogging, I hope to share thoughts and ideas that I’ve picked up over the years. Recently on a trip to Washington D.C., I was afforded the opportunity to visit Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson and also to visit George Washington’s home. During those visits, I was able to get a glimpse into what allowed these men to become great leaders of our country. They spent much of their time learning, but they also spent much of their time spreading ideas via writing, letters and meetings. Now at 45, father of 6 children, 17 years of marriage, with a moderately successful career, I now hope to share a little of what I’ve learned so that someone may find it useful on their life’s journey.

A New Breed of CIO

Technology is changing. The way companies use technology is changing.

The past – technology teams and CIOs relied upon by the organization as service level. Translation: Business leaders come up with ideas. Business leaders tell the technology department what they want or need. The technology team fulfills those requests. Very service level driven.

The future – technology teams and CIOs are peers with the other top level leaders in the organization. Translation: CIOs work alongside top level leaders to define strategy for the organization. CIOs make the transition to helping the company navigate the digital world. Online business, mobile, etc. CIOs that fail to make the transition will fail to bring the necessary business value and ultimately fail as the “new breed of CIO.”

This article from Tech Republic and David Nichols does a fabulous job laying all of this out.

Tech Republic – Digital CIOs

My Time at SXSW 2014

One more session and I’ll be leaving SXSW for the trip back to wonderful Nashville, TN. This was my second time to SXSW in 3 years. One the last trip, we brought along several members of our development team. With this trip we tried a new approach and brought along the leaders of our Digital Strategies Team. 2 from Development. 2 from Creative. 3 from Marketing. 2 from Digital Business. It was a wise decision.

While SXSW has been entertaining, informational and fun, the time with our leadership team has by far been the best value from the trip. A lot of companies deal with dysfunction amoung these groups and teams. At Dave Ramsey’s Organization, we work really hard not to let this happen. We actually like and enjoy working with each other. It’s really like working within a “positive” family experience. This makes our work environment extremely fun. One of the byproducts is how excited everyone is to work on projects together and to help improve and make things working and function better. Always striving for improvement. Sometimes that improvement is slow in coming, but rest assured, it is coming.

As for the rest of SXSW, it started a bit slower than my last visit. The weather was cold and rainy. Yuck! The sessions were rather weak. By day 3, things started picking up. The weather improved and probably unrelated, so did the quality of the sessions. Perhaps I just did a better job choosing. 🙂 In in case, I’ve picked up some really good ideas, and sparked my digital creative juices flowing again. Sometimes, I probably get a little too focused on work and need a break like this to pull me out of the weeds. It allows me an opportunity to see more clearly some of the things we need to focus on for improvement.

Thanks SXSW.

Josh James and DOMO

As I was perusing the social scene this evening, I began checking up on a few of my favorite online companies and their CEOs. LinkedIn‘s Jeff Weiner, and Yahoo‘s Marissa Mayer. I couldn’t help but notice Marissa’s 400,000 twitter followers and Jeff’s 60,000. I began pondering my own social footprint. Truthfully, I’ve not been interested in creating a huge Twitter or Facebook following for myself as is evidenced by my pitiful 862 followers who see sporadic tweets from me on a random out of the blue basis. However, as I navigated through LinkedIn checking to see if Marissa had somehow miraculously accepted my invitation to connect, I was greeted by a BI advertisement targeting CIOs, and as you may know, I am a CIO. I was enticed, and before I knew what was happening, I clicked the link. Yes. I fell for one of the same marketing tactics I use on others. Obviously, it’s a very effective marketing tactic, but that isn’t the story.

After clicking the link, I was greeted by a wonderful landing page at DOMO. DOMO, if you don’t know, is run by Josh James, the former CEO of Omniture, one of my favorite web companies. Josh did some wonderful things over at Omniture, and after leaving Adobe/Omniture, he landed at DOMO as a major investor and the new CEO. In typical Josh fashion, DOMO has really stepped up its visibility. Josh’s teams have done some very good things with marketing over the years. While at Omniture, one of those was to buy and use CMO.com to attract and support CMOs. Now, I see with DOMO, Josh has done it again with CEO.com, and I have to ask, why didn’t someone else do this? It’s a simple yet brilliant strategy.

Way to go Josh! And, if one of your guys can make it down to Nashville for our October CIO Peer to Peer meeting (this month covering DataWarehousing and BI Reporting), that would be great.

Another Wonderful Day at the CIO Leadership Event

Today was fabulous! The day began with some discussion on gamification, then rolled into a great session from Tom Wilson, CEO of Allstate. Probably my favorite session of the day was from David Williams, CEO of Deloitte Financial Services.

The conference is a bit lite on vendors which is a good thing, but the vendors that are present have been very helpful. CareerBuilder, Dimension Data, Dell, Service Now, and Microsoft.

Looking forward to another exciting day tomorrow!

Becoming a Better CIO

This weekend I’m experiencing the wonderful weather of Boca Raton, Florida. However, it’s not all fun and games unless of course you consider that I love my job and the company I have the pleasure of working at for the last 12 years.

Since being appointed as the company’s first ever CIO in January 2012, I’ve been on a quest to grow my abilities to better serve the company. We’re very dependent on technology. It permeates every project, business and initiative that we undertake. That’s the driving factor of attending this year’s CIO Leadership Event put on by CIO magazine.

Today was just a warm up. As with any event, networking is a huge plus. The amount of knowledge you gain from a simple conversation is amazing. Playing golf with Dale from Blue Cross Blue Shield in Birmingham, Alabama, Shad from Elavon, and Bryan from Dimension Data was a great start to the day. Not sure I enjoyed getting up at 6:15 or being the worst golfer on our team, but at least I ended the game well by having the longest drive on the last hole! Other notable persons I was able to connect with today included Houston Ross with ING Life Insurance and Geoff Sinn with Dimension Data, a cloud solutions provider.

In the afternoon, I had the opportunity to attend a Cloud Maturity discussion facilitated by Dimension Data. About 30 people were in attendance with several CIOs, some directors from various verticals including B2B, Insurance, Education, and even the LPGA was in attendance. I didn’t walk away with any earth shattering information, but I did walk away with a great contact and possible future vendor in Dimension Data.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

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Great Mobile and Digital Info from Mary Meeker

I’m spending some time working on mobile and digital strategy today and came across some work by Mary Meeker. After discovering Mary a few years ago at the Web 2.0 Summit, her research has become some of my favorite to read.

If you’re working in the digital space, this is some great material

Mary Meeker – Internet Trends, 05/2012

Economic Factors in the USA, USA, Inc. Presentation by Mary Meeker, July 2011

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Leadership Lessons from Bill Hybels

Great leadership ability is not something you attain. It’s something you constantly work to improve and refine. I find it extremely interesting that the best leaders are always looking for ways to improve. They never see leadership from the lens of “I’ve arrived.”

On August 9th and 10th, our leadership team was able to attend the Willowcreek Leadership Summit. As usual, the summit was phenomenal event. While I was unable to attend the full two days, I was very fortunate to fit a couple of the key speakers into my busy schedule. One of my favorites was Bill Hybels. Rather than taking time to write up my own summary, I’m taking the easy way out and cheating a little. Enjoy these fabulous summaries. 🙂

Mark Sanborn

Mark Waltz

Lifepoint Leadership

Productivity Quest

To say 2012 has been an active year for me would be a grievous understatement. A new assistant at work, a promotion to CIO, joining our company’s board of directors, participating on the Nashville Technology Council‘s board of directors, moving forward the Iota Soul project to help orphans, and all the while raising 6 children. Wow. I’m exhausted.

This year as I turn 42, time has become especially sensitive topic for me. As a result of the demands on my time have increased, I’ve been seeking new ways to eek out some productivity. One of the items that’s high on the list is Producteev. Producteev is a slick, simple and robust little task management tool. While most online software like this grants single user free accounts, producteev allows task sharing and assignment. Now my assistant and I can share tasks. Producteev is also one of the few task management tools we’ve found that supports both PC, MAC, iphone and ipad. We’re still in trial mode, but so far, we’re loving it.

Producteev