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As many of you know, I’m from Kansas City. Born and raised. I lived there my whole life up until the time I left for college. It’s a wonderful town with so much to offer.

So when I see it starting to get a lot of press as being the “Silicon Prairie”, naturally I am excited. But also cautiously optimistic because of what I hear from my friends who still live there and are active in the technology and venture capital space. I have a friend who is prominent in the startup scene, and it’s great to hear stories about how Kansas City is on the rapid incline. I have heard both good and bad things about KC becoming a major player in the space, and I firmly believe that (as with anything) there are certainly pros and cons to a relatively new player trying to race on to the scene and grow up in a hurry.

It is tough to argue that the cost of living and the quality of human capital available aren’t extremely competitive in the overall landscape of technology and corporate America, though. And, with continued advancements and investments from major companies (e.g. Google Fiber) – it may very well continue to rapidly expand into a major player on the technology/startup/venture scene. It will be fun to watch!

Take a look at this TechCrunch article describing the scene in Kansas City before you consider it just another “flyover state”. You might be surprised.

Til Next Time,

Michael

I am obviously far from an apologist for all things Project Management (the prevalence and blind embrace we give to PMI, PMP, every other acronym known in the project management certification universe, is sometimes rather exhausting). Lately, however, I have been analyzing the difference in mindset between a typical “project manager” and someone more sophisticated – namely a “program manager”.

To me, a project manager is like a line cook. Meticulously dedicated to the ingredients, the recipe, the steps to prepare a perfect dish. The program manager, however, is the one tasked with understanding where the line cook’s dish fits within the overall context of a meal. The project manager, in the face of adversity, will inevitably have tunnel vision. They will be derailed the moment any one thing changes (lack of availability for an ingredient, the absence of a critical cooking surface/tool, etc). The program manager, though, has the foresight and the understanding of how to make it all work, even against all odds. They understand if the patrons are vegetarian, they understand how meals must be coursed rather than served all at once. They embrace customer expectations and adapt their philosophy to fit the needs of a given situation.

Sure, I am giving program managers a little bit too much credit here. Even they can be as blinded by factors external to their tunnel as the project manager. But – the more we can start to make people think like a program manager more often (and – in doing so – understand where they fit in the grand scheme of things), the sooner we will see the macro picture instead of simply having to settle for the micro.

Til Next Time,

Michael

Employee Engagement has been a hot topic recently in many corners throughout Corporate America, and I think it is a wildly fascinating topic. Over the past decade, the radical shift towards a more “progressive” office culture has yielded many beneficial ways to spur engagement. Engagement is something that many organizations struggle with, and there is nothing worse for the corporate morale (or the bottom line) than a large faction of disengaged (or disgruntled) employees. But – there is no silver bullet. Everyone operates at their own pace, and is motivated by different things. Listening to employees, though, is the one way to be certain that the methods or tools you are using to engage your workforce are ways that are preferable to and resonate with your employees. It’s all about the “Voice of the Field”. Embrace it.

Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith published a great article on Forbes a few years back that gives her opinions and examples of times that Employee Engagement has been done well. I think it offers some good insight and provides food for thought for anyone struggling with the idea of engagement. Take a look; you may like what you find!

Til Next Time,

Michael

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It seems like more and more of these “National (insert activity, group, etc) Day” have been popping up recently. Every so often, though, there is one that I can get behind. Today is one of those days. Cheers!

Til Next Time,

Michael

Offered without comment, courtesy of American Express Tumblr. Enjoy!

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Til Next Time,

Michael

A buddy turned me on to a “Branding in a Box” type Kickstarter Campaign which got me thinking… Is it time for me to develop Change Management in a Box?

I know I have used this site to express a lot of my opinions, reflections, lists of “Do’s & Dont’s”, and generally opine on the topic (most of the time, that is – when I’m not selfishly reflecting on other items I’m passionate about like Music and Entertainment), but I don’t know that I really have that much to say that isn’t overly obvious or common sense? But at the same time, I probably have a lot to say and at least moderate organization skills and the requisite writing skills to pull it off so it’s not just another boring e-book on the topic?

I’m sure I could re-package these words, throw in some splashy design (think Cards Against Humanity from a design/aesthetics standpoint), add a couple online elements, and be halfway there…  But would people really buy it? I guess if I keep my investment cost low, and price it competitively (yet where I still experience a profit per unit) – maybe there’s a market? We shall see; stay tuned!

Til Next Time,

Michael


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