Lenovo


Well I haven’t been in a “leadership” position for much, but there are some things I have learnt, both form my previous experience (and what my old “bosses” did right and wrong from my point of view) and what has been an exiting journey so far.

Not so long ago I was a self employed freelance designer and programmer. Most of the time I struggled to survive and make a living, the remaining time I struggled to handle tons of work that seemed to come the same month. With such “work randomness” I had to work alone. Before that I manly played music (and had not-worth-mentioning-jobs) which is done in a group but has a lot of individualism as well (manly on the composition side). So, before IBM (and then Lenovo) I didn’t have a lot of teamwork experience. Right before I started working this kind of made me nervous: would I adapt?

I did. And I loved it. Quickly enough I could see that 4 people together could do a lot more than 4 people working alone. And quality is much better. The whole is more than the sum of the parts. Even better if there is a good leadership.

I had both good and bad leaders in the past (and will have both kinds in the future, for sure), I hope people consider I am in the first group, but that is not for me to say; but I can scribble a couple of concepts I think are good to keep in mind.

M stands for Motivation.
I cannot state strongly enough how key this is. If people are motivated they are unstoppable. They can achieve whatever you ask them to do, and more.
So, what motivates people? Well salaries are the obvious answer for many, but I think that even if good salaries are a must, they don’t motivate that much (on the other hand, bad salaries kill motivation as fast as light). You can’t motivate if you pay poorly, but a healthy pay check wont motivate people per se.
The enumeration isn’t looking very good this far, 1 thing that kills motivation but is not a motivation itself; lets try to do a little bit better now.

  • Create a good work environment. Enhance participation, make people comfortable.
  • Promote creativity. People have ideas, most of those are good, listen to them, take good care that their ideas see the light of day and that credit is given.
  • Absorb the punches, pass congratulations. Most “rants” about things gone wrong should be absorbed by leaders, lessons must be duly learnt and positive feedback should be passed along in every case (even in case of screw-ups). Every now and then a warning might be necessary, most of the time it’s not.

Communiquê.
Communication is the base. Listen and learn. The best way to learn what’s going on in a team is to listen to what people say and listen harder to what they don’t say. (Tricky, ain’t it?).
Take the time to listen to suggestions and issues. And do not “just listen”, take action to prove you are actually listening.
Make them out-stand.
The worst mistake I’ve seen leaders do is to “stop” their team members from doing things mostly because they are afraid of either loosing control or to be “out-shined” by them. In my experience the exact opposite is true. The better people in a team work, the better the leader looks. In terms of control, just re-read “Communique”.

Preach with the example.
“I don’t expect you to work more than I do”. If you prove you work, listen and are yourself motivated you’ll transmit exactly that. Works like a charm.

Always stand by them.
Make your team members life as easy as you possibly can. If you have to choose between covering your own back and theirs: cover theirs. You will never recover from a “treason” to your own team.

Final word.
I have always been part of creative teams. I know nothing about, say, working on an accounting team; but I think the same basic principles apply to all sorts of teams.

As I keep learning on a daily basis I’ll keep the blog updated on this regard.

Lenovo´s birthay was last month, we moved to our new location a couple of months before that. Management thought those were good reasons to celebrate, and thus, lenovo partied yesterday (September 21st, the day spring beggins in the southern hemisphere).

We had quite a good time with music and dancing, some games and some drinking…

Now we must actively seek for the next set of reasons to party again, probably the end of year will do…

Public support and help forums have been around for quite some time. Based on the concept that two heads think better than one and that 1000 are even smarter, lots of open source or low profit organizations have relied on forums as their primary support source. The obvious advantage to this is: its cheap. But there are others and plenty of other advantages.

First there’s the advantage of looking at problems from different (countless) perspectives. Some issues have a unique solution, others might have multiple ways to be solved. People might come up with solutions that even designers or creators didn’t think about.

Then there’s feedback. You can post a question and you’ll get replies (or direction to previous replies to the same subject) really quickly (if you have a broad enough user  base).

Another positive aspect is that it could be a really good source for  inspiration and ideas for improvements. You could hear from the “source” what things don’t work as expected, what things might need changes or adjustments and what things users want to see coming out (as a matter of fact I’ve read quite some posts asking for the next generation of ThinkPad tablets, just to quote an example). Then it’d be up to decision makers to evaluate if what they’ve learnt is where they want to go.

Finally, if all the data is well ordered, moderated and recollected it could eventually build up a knowledge base, the source of FAQ and answers for call centers and eventually cut (in part) support centers. If you find good answers on a website-forum you won’t ever dial that 1-800 number.

Just a random thought while looking around blogs and stuff.

How about a semi-official site from Lenovo with support for Linux users only? Would this “disturb” Microsoft?

The more I look around the web the more evident it seems that ThinkPads are the weapons of choice of Linux users around the globe.  This way it seems rather logical to provide some special support for them.

It sure would be a sort of bold move, and it would require quite some support from the Linux community (both from developers and from the user base). It’d be rather interesting to see how they react and how involved they are willing to get with a computer vendor.Everybody could learn from each other; if there are no  “corporate restrictions” I’d certainly like to see it happen and I know pleanty of others would as well.

WARNING! this is a rant! don’t keep readin if you like the software!

Okey, so yesterday I got my daily “run out of space” message. “Your ability to send mail has been blocked” blah, blah… Of curse I had to send quite a few notes before I left the office (7pm) so I decided I had to free some space and start sending them… Nice thought. Never happened. I moved around 150+ mails to my local archive, deleted the trash… nothing, still exeeded my quota. Whatever… I’ll deal with it tomorrow.

Today is tomorrow… and I emptied everything! I mean not a single note was left on my folders (inbox, trash, sent, all of them!)… still no mail going out… I was a couple of MB over the quota…

I scratch my head, gaze the screen in puzzlment and think my alternatives. Throwing the ThinkPad through the window looks tempting… and if it makes it safe and sound the whole 7 story fall I might even end up in ThinkPad Legends… But if it doesen’t I’ll have to do a whole lot of explaining. Uninstalling notes? uh! the temptation! but not quite practical. I guess I’ll have to deal with it.

Finally I see it… a “show all documents” folder. What on earth? ALL documents are there although they are not anyplace else… Select all > delete… Shazam… 20 minutes after a stalled notes and a replication after… I have my notes back!

In my mind it made no sense at all, but at least it worked…

Now don’t get me started about publishing stuff through notes on a server!! You don’t want me going down that road!

This month the PC turns 25. How much has the world changed? A lot. Think about it for a second, and picture your day (not even your life) without a computer. For starters you wouldn’t be reading this (or I wouldn’t be writting it), most of our jobs would not exist, and many things we know we wouldn’t of aquired.

Computers (in general) are arguably the biggest break thru in technology since the wheel. They allow us to prove things we wouldn’t be able to otherwise (chaos theory comes to mind, as an example), it makes our lives easier (remember “the worst thing that can happen is a machine doing a man’s job with the exeption of a man doing a machine’s job“), it comunicates us and it entertains us (it doesen’t entertain you? let me remind you your TV has a Chip, bowling alleys are computer controled and the car you drive to your nice Beach Vacation would’t go a mile without it’s computers).

Besides they are a great tool for democracy. A Computer connected to the internet is a learning tool, you have the same access if you are connected uptown or in a ghetto. You might even call computers Communists!! Its all up to you; if you want to spend your time in a 3D shooter or at wikipedia. PCs give you options, most of them free.

Its no secret that chips will keep getting smaller and faster. Communications can only improve, “evolution” will carry on; we’ve witnessed it for the past 25 years and it will only keep happening.

As part of the company that still employs many of the minds that came up with the PC you have a sense of pride. We’ve done great things in the past. So what about the future.

Being “migrated” to Lenovo felt like a whiff of fresh air, and I think this sensation is shared by most of my fellow Lenovians (lenovits? lennovers?) around the globe. We have this sensation that only great things are bound to happen. We have a lot of great minds in different and key possitions, it can only go well.  What will this great things be? I don’t have a clue, but then again I’m not that smart! Just make sure you keep looking in our direction, because 25 years after the first IBM-PC, we might start the next revolution.

(Disclosure: SIMON can be considered the first personal computer but we’re talking about something else!!)

Last year I was given the option to make the switch from IBM to Lenovo. I was still rather new to IBM, but the decision was not an easy one. Although there was a raise and a “promotion” to make my life easier I must say I was a tad uncertain.

IBM is IBM, big blue giant, a huge company with a gazillion different areas working on a googol ideas. Then there was Lenovo. “Just” PCD.

At that time what really made me go the Lenovo way was the challenge. A whole new team had to be set up for a massive template migration in under a month. Who can say no to that?

Lenovo Web Production LA team delivered on-time and on-target. It was an exhilarating moment. Everybody helped. Our internal clients from all over Latin America were very patient with us and eased up the work while we had to transition. QAs and Devs worked way too much overtime to meet the deadlines and what was expected in terms of our quality standards. Finally we had a great leadership in the hands of Diego Marcucci, who was handed a live and burning coal.

We have worked for the past 8 months on LA’s Web, and our work has only started. The good thing about making a switch as I did is that you get the sensation of being in a brand new company but one that is worth billions already. A lot to do, and quick. There’s a lot of money to be made out there. Latin America is emerging form some very harsh times, companies are settling, and for the first time in over a decade people have some serious spending money in their pockets. And they all need computers. Why not give them some really nice Lenovo ones?

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