Select articles from Visular's knowledge library on various technology and business leadership topics.


The Value of Multi-Generation Planning for Technology

One of the better concepts for managing a set of systems over time comes from the product marketing world. A Multi-Generation Plan (MGP) is a high-level summary of functionality enhancements in phases. Applying this strategic thinking to your IT department’s list of core systems or your tech company’s products and services is invaluable.

What It Is and How It’s Used 

An MGP is first used as a tool for planning and decision making around your investments in technology. Then, once you have worked out the details and timing, your Multi-Generation Plan can be an excellent communication tool to inform all stakeholders what to expect. A well thought out MGP clearly summarizes key features and functions along a visible time line. It helps busy managers quickly digest a large amount of information so they can give their necessary input into a plan and also make preparations for changes that are coming. 

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Lessons Learned from Implementing a Fully Digital Hospital

Lessons Learned from Implementing a Fully Digital Hospital

In healthcare these days, the most challenging information technology efforts are the successful implementation of the Electronic Medical Record (EMR), Computerized Provider Order Entry system (CPOE) and all the needed interfaces that support these two massive (and incredibly important) systems. During my tenure as Chief Executive Officer for a hospital in Colorado, I had the pleasure of overseeing both of these implementations as we completed a journey from paper to fully digital. Focusing on the CPOE implementation and the critical interactions with physicians, below are nine key strategies that leadership will need to employ to ensure a successful CPOE implementation:

  1. Physicians must have a voice in the process

  2. Build credibility with physicians beforehand

  3. Respond effectively and in a timely manner

  4. Explain the value

  5. “At the elbow” support

  6. Local voice

  7. Customization

  8. Presence

  9. Key metrics

Details around each of the 9 strategies follow...

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Some IT Leadership Principles for CEO’s & Business Leaders

Some IT Leadership Principles for CEO’s & Business Leaders

I recently was asked to participate on a panel of technology leaders presenting to a group of CEOs. As I only had 10 minutes to give some advice and tips on how to effectively leverage technology, I did my best to pare down my thoughts to a short set of principles:

  • First People – then Process – then Technology

  • Never abdicate your responsibility for your company’s technology

  • Have a solid, documented IT strategy

  • Practice Rhythm of Review

  • Know your total cost of IT

  • Strive for simplicity

  • Proactively manage security and risk

  • Be a very tough, but very fair customer

  • Know ALL your “IT people” – treat them as one team

  • You get what you pay for – invest wisely and as part of a plan

  • Be wary of tech trends

Detailed explanations for each principle follow...

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Every Company Should Have a Master Calendar

Every Company Should Have a Master Calendar

Rhythm of Review was one of the most important management concepts I learned while at GE. Every manager (and most employees) knew the dates of the monthly financial closes as well as when the major strategy sessions with corporate were scheduled. These were big events where success or failure was objectively measured and the future of the company was energetically planned.

Regularly scheduled rigorous reviews of results against plan (finance, sales, project status, inventory, etc.) are critical to ensure companies stay focused on their most important metrics. In particular, your IT department needs this rhythm to align their efforts well with the business strategy and flow.

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Have to Give that Uncomfortable Bad Performance Review? Let Your Employee Talk First

Have to Give that Uncomfortable Bad Performance Review? Let Your Employee Talk First

No matter how experienced you are as a manager it's never fun to give a negative review to an employee, much less fire someone.

I recently gave some advice to a colleague who was lamenting going into a performance review for one of his people who was delivering far below expectations. It was at the point where if major improvements weren't made soon he would have to be fired. My approach helped and he just e-mailed me saying the discussion went much better than expected, so I thought I'd share the leadership tip.

When you sit down face to face with that problem employee for the dreaded bad review, before you go into your documented laundry list of their problems, weaknesses, and failings - let them talk first.

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Goals for Conducting a Successful Software Vendor Search

Goals for Conducting a Successful Software Vendor Search

Finding the right software or other technology solutions to meet your needs is critical. There are more and more options available to solve all kinds of business problems arriving on the market every day. So many companies and managers still have an "old school" overly competitive mentality when it comes to dealing with vendors. They tend to use the "I'm the customer" approach to a fault, driving such hard bargains and beating up tech vendors to the point where they are doomed to failure once the contract is signed. Ironically these same folks often abdicate their responsibility to vendors for their own business processes and defining requirements saying things like "you're the experts in XYZ, you tell me how it should work".

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A Quick Team Assessment Tool

A Quick Team Assessment Tool

Attached to this post is a tool I designed to quickly assess the strength of any team I'm managing.  As a leader there is nothing more important to your success than building up a winning team.

Download Visular-Team_Assessment_Tool_v02

This tool is strongly influenced by the GE leadership approach to managing people - focusing on A players and exiting C players.  It is NOT a substitute for a full employee management process (role documents, goal setting, performance reviews, merit-based bonuses, etc.).  Instructions for using the tool are included in the file.

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Back to Basics - Meeting Agendas (And More Importantly - Objectives)

Back to Basics - Meeting Agendas (And More Importantly - Objectives)

When you think of the salary (or hourly rate) of every person sitting in a meeting, even the smallest are quite expensive to any organization.  Why is it then that so many meetings happen with no stated objectives or even a simple written agenda?

Attached is my basic meeting agenda format that I try to use for all my meetings.  Many of my colleagues have found this template valuable.  Feel free to customize it as necessary for your needs.

Download Visular-Meeting_Agenda_Template_v03

The most critical elements for an effective meeting are clear, documented objectives, a detailed, timed agenda, and the right attendees in the room.  I also find it helpful to identify the key inputs required in advance so you're not all sitting around saying, "why didn't anyone bring the sales figures?".

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Startup Company Planning - Questions to Ask

Startup Company Planning - Questions to Ask

I've consulted with many people who were either considering starting their own business or had already done so recently and were planning their next steps.  I realized that I end up having the same conversations with potential business owners over and over again, so I began to capture all the questions I'd ask to help them plan in one document.  I've shared this with many people over the past 5 or so years and it constantly evolves - I'll keep the latest version posted here.  Comments are welcome and I'll use them for future updates.

Download Visular-Startup_Planning_Overview_v05

One caveat - I'm not a multi-millionaire from my own high-tech startup that I launched before Visular, so much of this is in the spirit of "learning from your mistakes"! 

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