Using Anxiety to drive improvement

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

There’s a great video over on the  Enterprise CIO Forum  with Enterprise CIO Forum editorial director Bill Laberis describing how CIO’s can leverage the ‘anxiety’ present withing IT Staff today. The video, titled Leveraging the anxiety in your IT staff,  initially put me off…when anyone talks about ‘leveraging’ things like anxiety…I get worried that the wrong message is being sent.

Not to worry though.  Mr. Laberis does a fine job of ensuring that you understand that his use of the word ‘leverage’ is meant with all positive connotations.

I’ve posted the video below for your benefit…take a few minutes to watch it as there are some excellent tips here.  I have a few discussion points posted after the video.

Some good ideas here.

In the past, as Mr. Laberis points out, an IT professional could enter the profession and learn one or two main skills and be set for their career.   This isn’t ideal today.  How many pure COBOL developers do you know today? How many did you know 20 year ago? I’d bet the number was higher 20 years ago.

Today’s IT professional needs to be able to have multiple skills.  But…with that multiple skill set, are we asking these professionals to multitask and de-focus? Will this de-focusing lead to poor performance? Or…will the additional skills that IT pro’s help them work through the information overload and allow them to focus even more?

One of the most important things a CIO and/or IT Leader can do for their organization is to help the IT team members grow.  Whether that’s by offering them challenging opportunities, helping them improve their skill set or even helping them grow into more rounded individuals.

Leveraging the anxiety within your team can be an extremely useful method in improving skill sets…but just be careful how you ‘leverage’ that anxiety.  Rather than use anxiety as a means to drive development, perhaps a better approach would be to consistently and constantly provide growth opportunities for your team.

Image credit: anxiety By FlickrJunkie on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

I. Love. WordPress.

Wordpress Logo

Wordpress LogoSorry for the silly title…but I do I love WordPress.

Well…I should clarify…I love the self-hosted version of found at WordPress.org).   The WordPress.com version is quite good but you lose the ability to do some customization over there (unless you’re on the VIP platform…and you’re still limited in what you can do there).

Why do I love WordPress?

It’s so much more than a blogging platform.  It’s really a framework.  It’s a framework for building websites.

Take a look at my site.  It’s built on WP using the Genesis Theme Framework (affiliate link) which I’ve customized to meet my needs. I added a customized version of the WP Featured Articles Slider to the front page to highlight previous articles.

Could I have done this with other platforms?  Sure.  Would it have been free? Perhaps.  Would it have been easy (given you know a little web design/development)?  Maybe.

But…every other platform I’ve used in the past would have required much more development to get the basic structure built.  I could have used Drupal or Joomla but neither of them are as easy and straightforward as WordPress is for me.

The real strength comes from the Theme developers like StudioPress (the folks behind Genesis), Thesis or Headway. With these frameworks, you can really extend the power of WordPress as a platform.

Personally, I’m a fan of Genesis due to the ability to build child themes for customization. These child themes allow the core Genesis framework to be upgraded without affecting the custom design / functionality.    I love the genesis framework so much I decided to customize one of the child themes to rebuild my Photography Minute photo blog.

WordPress…for more than just blogs

But…WordPress can be used for more than just an individual’s blog / website.

For example…take a look at the Boy Scouts of America’s Boys’ Life website.  It’s built on WordPress and hosted with the VIP program.  I’m happy to say that I was a part of the team that built the site last year….it was quite a learning experience for me and an eye opener to the power of the WordPress platform.

On first glance, that doesn’t look like much like a blog does it?  Doesn’t to me.   Lots of really cool stuff happening over there with a mixture of PHP, Flash, jQuery and Javascript…really cool stuff for us tech geeks 🙂

In addition to my own blogs and the work on the Boys’ Life website, I’ve been working on building a new website for Silicon Valley Expert Witness Group using WP as a Content Management Systems (CMS) for the underlying technology to run the website.  That site (planned go- live in early Sept 2010) is using a ton of custom development and Custom Post Types to handle the hundreds of Expert Witnesses and litigation consultants listed on the website as well marketing and corporate information.

I’ve got another stealth project going right now that uses WordPress, a Custom Theme and the PHPurchase shopping cart plugin to manage sales and subscriptions. Still putting the finishing touches on that project…maybe I’ll talk about it more in the future. 🙂

I’m finding WordPress to be an extremely flexible and wonderful framework to build websites with.  Not only do you get WP and themes, but a ton of developers and help from other WP developers and users. The power of Open Source in action.

PS – If you’re looking for a WordPress Developer or Designer, let me know … I’ll be happy to recommend a designer to you and might be able to take on the development efforts myself … if I can’t help, I know a few folks who can.