The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Technologists, mentoring and today

mentoring.pngEvery year since 2001 I try and mentor some of the individuals going through the SMU MBA program. Sitting in the coordination meeting yesterday. One of the people was talking about the place of today in history – this site shows an interesting way to play with the concept of today.


I started working full time in 1981. So when I mentor folks coming into the workplace, that would be similar to someone from 1949 talking to me back when I got started. That is a pretty scary thought.


Back in 1949, there was no computer programming the way we thought of it when I was getting started. The concept of the transistor was just being experimented with, let alone the integrated circuit. The world that person started work was irrelevant to my efforts.


Granted some business concepts remain the same, but for the technologist when thinking about mentoring someone in their field – it can be a humbling experience.

Tags: Mentor| Trends
Labels: mentor| Trends

Failure to communicate

direction.jpgI have been talking with several technologists lately about influencing leadership. They’ve been frustrated because they feel their concerns are never heard.


I have a fairly simple check list that I try to use in correspondence. When I need someone’s help, I try and focus on the steps that need to be taken now:

1)      Define what you need

2)      Share the facts that the hypothesis is based on

3)      Identify who needs to do the work (dependencies)

4)      Determine what can be measured to prove that the change had the desired impact (validation)


And naturally try and get #1 described in the first sentence or two, because many times that is all the time you have to get your point across.


As I read through an analysis (that someone spent a great deal of time gathering) I feel sad whenever the real call to action is at the very end. I tell them that it is their role as the person making the request to ensure that the reader can consume the information and actually make a decision -- quickly.


Closely related to this is the issue of answering questions (via email or in person). Depending on the personal style of the leader, when a question requiring a one word answer (e.g., “yes”, “no”, “10”) is asked, individuals need to attempt to answer that question first – and then go into the detail only if needed. If they don’t get that answer, it can cause the person asking the question to ignore everything being said, essentially defeating the purpose of the conversation.


Are there behaviors you see where others could benefit from your perspective? Have you shared it with them??

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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