How do you find the people with the Internet Spirit? How do you ‘get the right people on the bus?’ Top Telecom Companies need people who are can ride the wave of change. Long live the Internet. The Internet Model now dominates all of telecommunications. The Internet’s End-to-End Model puts customers first. It is a model that empowers customers to drive the change in telecommunications. Telecommunications need to convert to “IP thinking” to succeed. They need staff who embody the spirit of the Internet. These are people with a hunger to constantly learn, constantly change, and be willing to question every assumption – including their own assumptions – testing everything empirically. In other words, it is critical to get the Right People on the Bus. “People” who have that Internet Spirit.
Where does someone start? How do you find people with that “Internet Spirit?” Conversely, how does someone develop that “Internet Spirit?” What follows are some guidelines to help two groups. First, it helps the our peers in the industry seek knowledge, habits, attitudes, capacity, and capabilities that foster that Internet Spirit. All the advice is derived from 25 years of working with the people who have shaped the Internet. Second, the guidance help organizations seek out peers who have that Internet spirit. What questions should be asked? It provides the most critical in the people you hire to build the best team to meet your customer’s and shareholder’s expectations.
Questions for prospective new Team-members
Use these question when interviewing new prospective team members:
Are you Interested in constant personal improvement? Are you willing to learn beyond the current job scope? Are you able to learn what your peers do so that can more effectively work with each other? Team empathy is key to ensuring the team’s drive to execute does not impose unreasonable consequences on our Team.
Are you able to Positively and Persistently work with peers throughout the organization? Every organization has adversity, backbiting, and derisive politics. Positive interaction applied persistently foster the teamwork and synergies that have a huge impact on our ability to deliver quality, profit, and innovation.
Are you willing to use the Organization’s Values and Guiding principles and be the example?Change agents in an organization are only effective if they can keep focused on the organization’s values, guiding principles and mission. They would check themselves, pushing a positive attitude to set an example for all to follow.
Are you willing to champion new tools, techniques, and approaches to solving problems? The Internet is a whirlwind of new tools that foster collaboration, increase productivity, and build transparency will be a hallmark of the team. Are you someone who seeks out new tools to increase team productivity and transparency?
Are you ready to be a role model for others to emulate? Actions speak louder than words. We are looking for leader transformation through action others seek to emulate.
Are you hungry to Learn skills that are part engineer, part program manager, part mentor? These skills are all tool needed to focus on our customers, shareholder return, and responsibility to society. They are essential to instigating and executing a project from start to finish.
Are you willing to think like a system? Are you willing to think like an architect? Are you willing to think of the Internet’s End-to-End Model? The new technology on the Internet requires people with a system think, uses architecture principles from all industries, and use the Internet’s End-to-End model with everything we do. Are you ready to change your thinking?
Are you ready to get into the lab, be hands-on, and work with the broad team?Execution requires people, everyone, to be hands-on – doing what needs to be done to maintain the customer experience. Effectiveness is not about “meetings.” In fact, too many meetings and Powerpoint presentations are indicators of an organization with poor customer experience.
Are you a People and Organizational process troubleshooter? We are looking for team members who constantly optimize the organization. We are looking for people who seek synergies with their teammates. The key limitations in any organization are not resources or technology – it is how we work with each other. Our ability to effectively execute, increase our capacity to execute, and drive for expanded execution capabilities depends on a harmonious organization.
Can you Map, understand, and be mindful of the “chain of consequences” within our organization? The chain of consequences is the series of actions that result from an inaction. If something is delayed, other items that depend on that “something” will also get delayed. Inter-dependency is critical inside an organization. We are looking for people who can think ahead, understanding the chain of consequences that will result from the various decision and then find ways to minimize the impact of those consequences.
Are you willing to be part of the team that explores how techniques like the 4Dx, Samsung Way, The Toyota Way, The Checklist Manifesto, Great by Choice, the Business Model Tapestry, the Balanced Scorecard, and other approaches can help the organization achieve their aspirations? The Spirit of the Internet is all about innovation that brings people together. It spans beyond technology. It includes approaches with how we work with each other, how we organize our selves, and how we build trust. Some of these techniques evolve organically. Authors of many of the popular management books observe the results in these “Internet companies.” They codify their observations in a way that others can learn and evolve. The results are the books we read. We then use these materials to foster further improvement. The cycle of improvement has accelerated with the Internet. It opens opportunities for productivity enhancements throughout the industry. Are you someone ready to read, learn, and try these techniques without being asked?
Habits & Attitudes seen in successful “Internet Engineers”
The Internet Engineers who are thriving in the community of companies around the Internet have key habits & attitudes that are the heart of their passion.
RTFM. Go to the source. The Internet succeeds because of the discipline of execution. The open and transparent standards process works because people read and comply with the standards. RTFM (Read The Freaking Manual) is a core behavior that is core to success. Engineers grow each time they go back to the docs, standards, and code, and RTFM. An engineer with the Internet Spirit will be constantly seeking new information to improve their network, services, applications, and customer experience. The Internet’s theme of open and transparent delivers to everyone free access to standards, source code (open source), and documentation (vendors). The path is clear. RTFM and grow.
Continuous Learning. The Internet is full of resources to learn. Watching Webinars, reading standards, reviewing whitepapers, listening to podcast, and participating in social media groups are all behaviors seen in the best talent in the telecoms industry. New on-line universities transform this ability in new ways.
Participating in Operations forums, Engineering forums, & Standard Forums Interactive, contributing, and learning from one’s peers is a MUST! Interaction with their peers in the industry is critical to success. When you look at the most profitable companies in Internet and Telecom, you find them actively participating in these Forums.
Creating Draft Solutions and Seeking Peer Review. No one is perfect. There are no perfect solutions. The best solutions are one where many people have active and productive influence. Success is measured by the ability to seek and accept feedback, criticism, and radical suggestions. Seeking critical reviews is a skill and art. It is cultivated over time.
Writing, note taking, illustration, and documentation – then share transparently. Documentation has always been key to the Internet’s success. Sharing that documentation collaboratively and transparently throughout the organization is essential to success.
Scientific & Empirical Thinking (think like Edison). Create hypotheses, know that it is a “guess” – not a fact, then create a test to validate that hypotheses – knowing that all results are a success (i.e. failed experiments are victories). This is the essence of Edison’s model of empirical thinking that is critical to success in today vibrant and ever-changing telecommunications world.
Build peer network. Good Internet engineers have a network of peers who that can call on for help. Customers do not care who solved a problem, they care about the problem being solved. An essential element of the “Internet Spirit” is to help each other. That is why it is essential for Internet engineers to build a network of peers. As the network grows, it needs investment. If someone asks you for help, invest in the relationship by helping. Build the address book. Use social media. Participate in local Internet community activities. All of these are common behaviors in the most successful Internet engineers.
Be humble – ask for help. Everyone gets stuck. Everyone needs help. Successful Internet engineers know when they are “clueless.” They seek clue from their peers and experts throughout the industry. They know when they need help and seek “clue” to become “clueful.” This clears the path for the project’s success.
Don’t take the simple answer – ask the 5 Whys – look for the root cause, then find corrective action. Many engineers will not dig until they find the core root cause. They do not seek out the chain of consequences was the source of the problem. They will respond to the first “why” – which are the consequences of the problem – the symptoms of the problem – and the impact of the problem. The top Internet engineers will know that if you respond to only the first Why, you end up with a “patch” to the problem, not a long-term solution. Engineers who dig, for the root cause, build the long-term fix to help scale the organization. Having the hunger and ability to digging into the root cause is critical to success. Cultivating the skills to dig with the 5 whys make it easier to quickly get to the heart of the problem and find a solution.
Respecting your Peer’s Overload. It is common for an organization to be overloaded. Changes in technology, market economics, competitive pressures, and the ever-present growth of the Internet all contribute to overloaded teams. Effective Internet engineers will respect this overload. Respect is a conversation to first seek and understand of their peer’s overload, understanding their priorities, and then consult on a way to add a new task to their overloaded work queue. Respecting your peer’s overload builds trust. It allows for the team to prioritize and consult on the workload in a way that builds teamwork. There are only so many effective hours in a week. It is prudent to respect theses hours – focusing on productivity vs long list of task and meetings.
Make your job obsolete! Scaling is everything. In 1996 Mike O’Dell (Co-Founder of UUNET) shouted out during an IETF Plenary “we have only one problem to solve! Scaling is everything! If you do not understand this, then you do not understand the problem.“ Scaling problems have dominated the Internet’s list of problems from the early years of the Internet. Effective Internet engineers constantly look for ways to scale. In fact, good Internet engineers will create new technology, tools, and processes to automate their old job. The goal would be to automate so that their job is obsolete …. knowing there will always be the next problem that needs a solution. It is hard for people to think of their role as “making their job obsolete.” But the approach fosters a discipline required to scale to the growth needed in the organization.
Entrepreneurial Spirit – The spirit of the technologist. Partnered with scaling is the entrepreneurial spirit seen with the top Internet engineers. The top engineers will look for ways to innovate and then advocate within their organization and throughout the industry (where applicable). They tend to be idea people pushing new improvements that will build the foundation for scaling.
Books to Read
Key Books to help learn tools that foster the Internet Spirit. These are a short list of books that inspire the habits, attitudes, skills, and knowledge to push the spirit in an organization.
- The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling
- The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles from the World’s Greatest Manufacturer by Jeffrey Liker
- The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande
- Great by Choice: Uncertainty, Chaos, and Luck-Why Some Thrive Despite Them All by Jim Collins, Morten T. Hansen
- Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur
- Pushing up People by Art Williams
- The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing that Changes Everything by Stephen M.R. Covey
- Innovate Like Edison: The Five-Step System for Breakthrough Business Success Paperback by Michael J. Gelb, Sarah Miller Caldicott
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