Mentors in business Reply

In life one can have many mentors, a family member, a family friend, a friend’s parent. As people come and go through one’s life journey we come across folks who influence and guide us and have an impact on how we think and behave. A lot of this is unconscious both from the mentor and the person being influenced.

Why not take a conscious approach towards mentor relationships in business?

My perspective on this topic in the business world stems from observing a huge talent pool of youth entering the business world, ready and eager to learn. The energy and aptitude in them is tremendous, however the wisdom that comes from experience takes time to acquire, and is lacking.
Why not pair these individuals with members of the workforce getting ready to retire, or even those who have already retired from the organization to help the new generation build their skills and propel their growth.

The concept of a mentor stretches back through recorded time.
In Greek mythology, Mentor was a loyal friend and adviser to Odysseus, king of Ithaca. Mentor helped raise Odysseus’ son, Telemachus, while Odysseus was away fighting the Trojan War. Mentor became Telemachus’ teacher, coach, counselor and protector, building a relationship based on affection and trust.

Mentoring today is synonymous with the process by which we guard and guide others. Mentors seemingly “adopt” those placed in their care.

It seems like a good idea to adopt these age-old ideas and help our employees along their career and life path. Specifically in the business world.

At its best, business mentoring is a process that activates the skills of the mentee within their current role and helps groom them for their next. Business mentoring helps them to produce high quality decisions that define them, their authority and their effectiveness. A business mentor provides a confidential sounding board, thinking room, and support for working through crucial and often complex decisions.

Business mentoring can also help organizations to retain their best people and increase staff loyalty.

I think that the quality that can be achieved in a business mentoring program would hinge on the expertise of those establishing the program in achieving the right fit between mentee and mentor. The best results will definitely be achieved when the mentor and mentee like and respect each other and where the personal chemistry is right.

A business mentor, by virtue of their experience, will be able to help the mentee steer through the organization. Perhaps more importantly, the business mentor will help the mentee to understand some of the more informal ways of getting things done and some of the unwritten and unstated ways of working (the world of corporate politics!), and therefore develop the mentee’s professional expertise and career.

Today, mentoring is being recognized as an important component of small business development. Many like myself see a void in the larger corporate business world and want to fill that void.

Mentoring uses the resources a company already has to improve employee satisfaction, develop leadership, and teach new skills.

Newswise says — Mentoring can be a powerful tool in introducing employees to an organization’s climate and help them progress in their jobs. It can be extremely beneficial to have someone who has your best interests at heart and can explain the facts of business life and offer valuable advice.
Informal mentoring has been going on forever, but companies are increasingly recognizing that formal mentoring programs can provide significant benefits for both the employee and the company, says Dr. Lillian Eby, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Georgia and an authority on corporate mentoring. 
Perhaps the most compelling reason to establish a formal mentoring program is that mentored employees have stronger commitment to the organization and are less likely to leave. “A key benefit of mentoring is retention. Turnover costs can be staggering. That’s one reason why organizations include mentoring programs as part of their business objectives,” Eby says.

Also, there is evidence that mentoring can lead to more satisfied employees, and therefore more productive and creative employees that will only add value to their organizations.

Integrity in Business 1

Change is the only constant these days..

In order to survive and prosper in today’s age any type of change – organizational, business or personal, some basic principles always come into play. These principles are forward thinking and emotionally mature and for those who value integrity above results, and people above profit.

It’s the future. Triple Bottom Line (Profit People Planet), Corporate Responsibility, Fair Trade, Sustainability, etc – these are not just fancy words – they are increasingly and ever more transparently becoming the criteria against which modern successful organizations are assessed – by customers, employees, and the world at large.

This is not to say that results and profit don’t matter, of course they do. The point is that when you value integrity and people, results and profit come quite naturally.

Rattan Tata, one of India’s most successful businessmen, decided early on not to succumb to the corruption that has been rampant in India for many decades. In order to succeed there, one has to bribe the way forward to succeed. He may not have succeeded as fast as he could have, but he stuck to his guns, and decided to follow his own path. Today, Tata is one of the largest companies in India.

What is the true nature of integrity? There are in fact some very basic principles that surround the qualities of business integrity. At its core, integrity begins with a company leader who understands the qualities of integrity which then filters down throughout the company into every department and every employye’s approach and attitude.
In recent research performed by the Institute of Business Ethics- an organization which is among the world’s leaders in promoting corporate ethical best practices, it was found that companies displaying a “clear commitment to ethical conduct” almost invariably outperform companies that do not display ethical conduct. The Director of the Institute of Business Ethics, Philippa Foster Black, stated: “Not only is ethical behavior in the business world the right and principled thing to do, but it has been proven that ethical behavior pays off in financial returns.” These findings deserve to be considered as an important tool for companies striving for long-term prospects and growth.

There are three “fruits” of integrity. The first is trust. Behaving with integrity builds trust among the people you are dealing with. Behaving without integrity builds distrust.

A second fruit of integrity is influence. Integrity creates reputation and sparks imitation; without it, you lack the ability to influence others and events. Influence is essential whether you want to be the leader of a successful organization.

The third fruit of integrity is repeat business. Whether you work in the services industry or manufacturing, acting with integrity almost always translates into more business from satisfied customers, their families, friends, co-workers, neighbors and on and on.

These behaviors are instilled in employees through leaders, and this inculcation requires diligence, persistence and ensuring that you ‘walk the walk and talk the talk’.

Inevitably, over time the culture of the company will attract and retain customers and profitability.

Can Oracle Unified Methodology support Agile Development Reply

The Oracle Unified Method (OUM) is built on the following five main principles as defined by Oracle:

Business Process and Use Case-Driven – Business processes and use cases are used as the primary artifacts for establishing the desired behavior of the system and for communicating this behavior among the stakeholders.

Iterative and Incremental – The development or implementation of a software system is done incrementally through repetition of a series of tasks intended to first define the system broadly, at a high-level, and then refine the definition of the system by adding details in subsequent iterations.

Architecture-Centric – The system’s architecture is used as a primary artifact for conceptualizing, constructing, managing and evolving the system that is being implemented.

Risk-Focused – A key focus of each iteration in OUM is to attack and reduce the most significant project risks. This helps ensure that the project team addresses the most critical risks as early as possible in the project lifecycle.

Flexible & Scalable – OUM is designed to support a broad range of project types. As such, it must be scalable and adaptable. The appropriate point of balance for a given project will vary based on a number of project risk and scale factors. The method has been developed with the intent that the approach for a given project be “built up” from a core set of activities to implement an appropriate level of discipline, rather than tailored down.

Agile project management principles allow for flexibility rather than the rigidity of traditional project management methodologies.
The principles behind ‘agile’ is to ‘go live’ with a minimal set of functions to derive an early ROI. Agile processes use self-organizing teams, a rapid pace, and decreased emphasis on detailed planning to allow for flexibility in managing projects.

So how are these two methods similar? How is Oracle’s OUM ‘Agile’?

Through Adaptability which is represented by the two principles of ‘Iterative and Incremental’ and ‘Flexible & Scalable’.

According to Oracle, in support of the Flexible and Scalable principle, OUM is ‘Fit-For-Purpose’

Fit for business purpose refers to the focus on delivering necessary functionality within a required timebox.

Traditionally, projects have been focused on satisfying the contents of a requirements document or rigorously conforming to an existing set of work products. Often, especially where iterative and incremental techniques have not been employed, these requirements may be inaccurate, the previous deliverables may be flawed, or the business needs may have changed since the start of the project. Collective experience shows that applying fit for purpose criteria, rather than tight adherence to requirements specifications, results in an information system that more closely meets the needs of the business.

In OUM, project managers and practitioners are encouraged to scale OUM to be fit for purpose for a given situation. It is rarely recommended or appropriate to execute every activity within OUM. OUM provides guidance for determining the core set of activities to be executed, the level of detail targeted in those activities and their associated tasks, and the frequency and type of end user deliverables. The project workplan can be developed from this core. The plan should then be scaled up, rather than tailored down, to the level of discipline appropriate to the identified risks and requirements.

Even at the task level, models and work products should be completed only to the level of detail required for them to be fit for purpose within the current iteration or, at the project level, to suit the business needs of the enterprise and to meet the contractual obligations that govern the project.

So yes, Oracle Unified Methodology has some similarities to Agile Project Management methodologies. Both can be tailored or made ‘adaptable’ to the project at hand.