Tag Archives: Innovation

Announcing our New App: iLiv Composer

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

Composer

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: http://elestantedelfondo.blogspot.ca/2015/05/john-cage_25.html

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.

Communication: A must-have to get Innovation from Teamwork

Last month, both the New York Times Magazine and Quartz published articles regarding the recent findings of a Google study: That it pays to be nice to our teammates. Yes, it turns-out our friends at Sesame Street were right: Cooperation really does make it happen.

Both sources linked to a Ted Talk given by an old friend of ours, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, Amy Edmondson, whose own research has led her to similar discoveries about teamwork. In the talk, she says that, when working in teams, “Every time we withhold (a question, concern, or idea), we rob ourselves and our colleagues of small amounts of learning — and we don’t innovate”.

Did you catch that last bit?! It was pretty important. Her study revealed that when we don’t communicate, “we don’t innovate”. So, her research in this case focuses around creating a comfortable work environment, or as she calls it, a “psychologically safe” workplace where everyone on the team has a voice.

Of course, us green building industry folks have known about this for years – we call it “integrative design”, and it’s even been outlined by the United States Green Building Council as a possible credit toward the most up-to-date LEED certification.

In reading these articles and watching Amy’s Ted Talk, I couldn’t help but hear echoes from our 2013 interview with Architect, Bill Reed, another friend and iLiv advisor. Bill’s work with teams has given him superstar status on the green building circuit, and it’s no surprise that he and Amy’s work has brought them to similar conclusions. Back then, Bill told us, among other things, that we must be “co-learners” instead of “experts”. He said that “mutual learning” is imperative to a systems approach, and that it is necessary in order to find deep synergies — and to be truly innovative in teams.

Innovation is important. And it turns out that in teams, and on projects with lots of uncertainty, innovation won’t happen unless we’re nice and respectful of each other. We’ve got to learn to work well together, and that means communicating well together.

As a frequent collaborator and team leader, myself, I find this really interesting. And so, I plan to spend some time in the coming months looking deeper into how it is that we can get the most creativity from individuals on our teams. And, since we humans always want to improve, I will also look into how it is that we can ensure that individuals on our teams get the most out of our projects for themselves.

Can you think of a time on a team when you wanted to ask a question, or had a certain concern, or an idea, but didn’t feel comfortable enough to stand-up and voice it? I sure can. Please share your experiences in the comments section – Amy’s work tells us that sharing these stories (“acknowledging your own fallibility”) is a building block of psychological safety, after all. In the meantime, I’ll be looking forward to opening-up and learning more about the world’s latest, greatest, approaches to teamwork, communication, and innovation.