Announcing our New App: iLiv Composer

iLiv’s new application has been officially launched to Alpha testers, and it has a good name:


So, what’s in a name?

To answer that, let’s ask another question: what does a music composer actually do? The answer to this question depends on who you ask:

A music theorist might respond: A composer puts music notation on a page, according to the sounds she hears in her head or wants to hear in the real world, and the rules of music theory and notation; the page is then handed to a musician who plays the sequence of notes on his instrument so the audience can hear it.

A music teacher might say: A composer is a really talented person with great musical ideas, and you can play his music if you practice hard enough.

A musician might say: He wrote the piece, I play it.

A conductor might say: The intentions of the great composer are there on the page, and it is my job to manage the orchestra, keeping them all together and on the same page about how it is supposed to sound.

A social scientist might say: a composer sets up a social situation that results in an uplifting experience for everyone in the room.

And here’s where it hits home for many of you:

A project manager might say: A composer is a designer of an integrative process, and I, much like a conductor, coordinate the work and the people, and keep everything on time.

With iLiv Composer, we are focusing on a blend of the impulses of the social scientist and the project manager.

Getting Better at Getting Things Done

The great underserved aspect of getting things done — certainly by enterprise software — is a critical attention placed on process creation.

We simply must put creative attention on bettering the way we get things done: to remain competitively productive; to keep our sanity while herding cats; and to continuously improve. We need our processes to energize at scale – for the bottom line, and for the creativity and efficiency of the team.

We chose the name Composer because nothing says great process better than conjuring up the image of great music composed by a really interesting composer. It certainly beats the greyness of entering tasks in a task management tool or drawing gantt charts in a spreadsheet.

Composer has the potential to be game changing:  Simply put, your concept for Composer has triggered a domino effect of ideas within our operations team on how best to leverage it.  I hope it is clear from our conversations how excited we are to begin leveraging your excellent design concepts.”

This comment came in last week, unsolicited, from one of our most important Alpha users (also a long-time user of iLiv All-In). No drab greyness in this reaction, is there?

In my next posts I will start to lay out what iLiv Composer is beginning to do for high-growth design, certification, and professional services firms.

BTW, the photo with this post is of American experimental composer John Cage. I worked with him daily for the last 11 years of his life. During that time he came to think of his music as an example of anarchic harmony. This is what the Internet is too, of course. It is also an essential design objective of the inspired project manager.

Photo from:

iLiv is building a BRAND NEW APPLICATION

Most of you reading this know — and more likely than not — love iLiv All-In™. We know that because you tell us.  Makes us happy.

All-In is the software that, together with training, consulting, and customization, propels us in our mission to help our customers discover, re-use, and refine new and better ways of working together.

We have always based this mission around the idea that there are two broad groups of people who get a project done. We call them Performers and Composers, using a musical metaphor that is dear to our hearts.

With All-In we set out, first and foremost, to support Performers. For 11 years now it has helped people working on projects be more creative and much more productive.

All-In answers, for everybody working on a project, the 3 critical questions:

  • Who’s doing what?
  • What do I have to do next?
  • How are we doing?

With this one product, and a lot of customization and collaboration with our customers, iLiv’s users have realized productivity boosts of up to 1500%. Yep, that’s a lot.

All along, we have known that All-In did not deliver as much of a boost to Composers — the project managers, workflow designers, and process creators that all but the simplest projects need. That’s been alright for us, so far, because:

  1. 90%+ of project team members are Performers, and
  2. If the team members are not being productive and creating value, neither is the project manager.

Well, for the past few months, we’ve been working on addressing that shortfall.

Drum roll Please…

iLiv is building a BRAND NEW APPLICATION!

We will be posting all about it over the next 6 months, as alpha and beta users tell us what they think of it, and give us suggestions and feedback.

iLiv Project Management Composer

It’s still is the lab, and early days yet, but the goals are clear and the features growing daily.

In the next post I will tell you what its name will be. Sharp-eyed readers will spot it in this screenshot from a developer’s desk.

Stay tuned.

The 4 ‘Essential Types’ That Make a Team Great

Many factors contribute to making a team great, but one that sticks out in my mind is whether you have the 4 ‘Essential Types’ on your team.

According to David Culver, iLiv’s Chairman, you will always find all four of these types represented on any team that can truly be called great.

Culver grew Alcan to be one of Canada’s largest and most successful companies (a company that sold in 2007 for $38 Billion). He’s been awarded many accolades over the years, and is widely respected as a great leader. When asked to describe his key role as CEO, he once replied, “growing people quickly”. And this test — taught to him by management guru, James T. McCay — helped him to organize some VERY successful teams.

So, what are the types that every team needs?

Type 1: The Hunter

The Hunter is all get up and go, “Let’s do it.” Imagine a cave-dweller clubbing something and bringing it back to the cave. At that point, the hunter’s job with that ‘something’ is finished, and the hunter goes back out and continues hunting for another ‘something’ to bring back. The hunter is always hunting.

Type 2: The Spiritualist 

The Spiritualist asks questions, and then asks some more questions, and then more questions — the principle one being: “Why are we doing this?” The Spiritualist drives the Hunter crazy.

Type 3: The Jester 

The Jester has the innate ability to lower tension — to be the team’s pressure-release valve. The Jester thinks both the Hunter and the Spiritualist are a little nuts, but is fine with both of them, because the Jester is also keeping a critical eye on…

Type 4: The Leader

In spite of all of the traits that come to mind when you imagine a leader, there is one ubiquitous and essential quality of a great leader: The Leader understands that you must have all four types, and composes the team accordingly.

Of course, people can be more than one of these types at the same time. I often work with a team of 2, where we fill all four of these descriptions between ourselves. I’ve noticed my dominant ‘type’ changes as is required, and if we lose one of the types between us, that’s when we have trouble.

Your type can also change.

Perhaps you’re an executive (traditional Leader role), currently exploring your company’s purpose (the Spiritualist). Or maybe you’re in sales (traditional Hunter role), but strongly motivated to keep your sales team’s internal competitiveness in check (the Jester). This is all OK, as long as your team is always comprised of the 4 types.

So, the next time you’re wondering what you could do to make your team more successful, regardless of your traditional role, consider these 4 types, and be sure you’ve got them covered.