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  • My Favourite Top Ten List of 2011

    Posted on December 30th, 2011 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    After spending the last week or so reading 2011 top ten lists, I’ve decided to link to my favourite one. The Top Ten Reasons why Large Companies Fail to Keep Their Best Talent, written by Eric Jackson for Forbes.

    The top 10 list runner up is:’s Top Ten Movies of 2011.–linda-barnard-s-top-10-movies-of-2011
  • Guest Post – Self Organizing Agile Teams: The Fine Line Between Freedom and Chaos

    Posted on September 8th, 2011 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    I recently wrote a guest post for Check it out:

    Self Organizing Agile Teams: The Fine Line Between Freedom and Chaos

    As always please feel free to leave me your comments here or on the site as well. i love feedback.

  • Success: A Road Map … It’s Not What You Think, or Maybe it is.

    Posted on January 26th, 2011 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    Disclaimer: None of these are my ideas and the full document can be found here: Quick MBA, I just wanted to capture a summary of these for future use. It’s based on the #1 bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey. My summary is actually a summary of a summary, I goal is to distill this information to it’s core. Call it laziness, call it efficiency… call it karma Ray.

    Call it Karma Ray

    The Seven Habits move us through the following stages:

    1. Dependence: the paradigm under which we are born, relying upon others to take care of us.
    2. Independence: the paradigm under which we can make our own decisions and take care of ourselves.
    3. Interdependence: the paradigm under which we cooperate to achieve something that cannot be achieved independently.

    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are:

    Habit 1:  Be Proactive

    Change starts from within, and highly effective people make the decision to improve their lives through the things that they can influence rather than by simply reacting to external forces.

    Habit 2:  Begin with the End in Mind

    Develop a principle-centered personal mission statement. Extend the mission statement into long-term goals based on personal principles.

    Spend time doing what fits into your personal mission, observing the proper balance between production and building production capacity. Identify the key roles that you take on in life, and make time for each of them.

    Seek agreements and relationships that are mutually beneficial. In cases where a “win/win” deal cannot be achieved, accept the fact that agreeing to make “no deal” may be the best alternative. In developing an organizational culture, be sure to reward win/win behavior among employees and avoid inadvertently rewarding win/lose behavior.

    Habit 5:  Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

    First seek to understand the other person, and only then try to be understood. Stephen Covey presents this habit as the most important principle of interpersonal relations. Effective listening is not simply echoing what the other person has said through the lens of one’s own experience. Rather, it is putting oneself in the perspective of the other person, listening emphatically for both feeling and meaning.

    Habit 6:  Synergize

    Through trustful communication, find ways to leverage individual differences to create a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts. Through mutual trust and understanding, one often can solve conflicts and find a better solution than would have been obtained through either person’s own solution.

    Habit 7:  Sharpen the Saw

    Take time out from production to build production capacity through personal renewal of the physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual dimensions. Maintain a balance among these dimensions.

  • The 4 Essentials of Effective Leadership

    Posted on October 7th, 2010 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way!

    As a leader when is it time to follow? Here are 4 items I’ve found along the way to keep in mind when aiming to be a great leader:

    1. Communicate. Communication is a 2-way street, be responsible for your part then listen for the response whether  it’s verbal, mail, e-mail, or something else if you don’t get the outcome you seek the responsibility lies with you the sender. The process: confirm, gain commitment, and solicit feedback to improve.

    2. Make decisions. Don’t be wishy washy the world has enough indecisive leaders, be part of the 20% who make the call, right or wrong. Delaying a choice is not what you’re being compensated to do, gathering what info you can, avoid perfection paralysis, and make the call. Everybody else on the team is looking to you for this strength, don’t let making a decision become a handicap in leading the team. Jump on opportunities before they slip away because you took to long to make a move. Even if you make a move and it’s wrong, or didn’t make a move because you decided not to, you’ll have your reasons and still have a confident team behind you.

    Three step recipe for respect: admit when you make a mistake, take corrective action, and move on.

    3. Delegate. Once you make the call, it’s time to share the workload. Don’t try to do everything yourself, dividing the work multiplies the results. This builds trust within the Team and fosters individual growth.

    Rule to remember: share the credit with those responsible when those great results come in.

    4. Hold others accountable. Do what you say you’re going to  do and expect the same from others always. Remember you expect what you inspect, so follow up and follow through. If you have kids, you know that behavior that is recognized is behavior that gets repeated. Guess what the same goes for any team that you lead, the team knows what you historically have paid attention to and what you overlook.

    So remember, change your behavior and you change your results. Or you can sum it up into one sentence: “Be the change you want to see in the world” – Gandhi

  • What If You Received $86,400 Everyday

    Posted on September 16th, 2010 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

    Imagine that your bank credited your account with $86,400 every day, and every night they canceled whatever funds were left over that you failed to use during the day, from the account.

    What would you do? Surely you would strive to spend every cent, every day! Or go find another bank that would do the same thing but let you keep the balance ;)

    Here’s the thing, everybody has this account. It’s the “TIME” bank, and every morning it deposits 86,400 seconds in your account. Every night it withdraws and writes-off whatever you failed to invest. Your balance is never carried over, no matter what the excuse and you have no overdraft. Each day a new account is opened, and each night the bank’s records are destroyed. You are the bookkeeper of your equity, experiences and knowledge. If you fail to use the funds, the loss is your responsibility.

      Live in the ‘now’ and seek to obtain the highest return on investment possible. By facing your pains, the injustices you’ve been dealt, your mortality and the challenges of your past, you’ll realize the true value of your “TIME” bank and look for ways to improve your ROI on future time investments.

      Time Perception:

      • 1 millisecond = the difference between who won silver and gold at the Olympics.
      • 1 second = the difference between someone who just survived an accident and some one who didn’t.
      • 1 minute = the difference between missing or catching your plane.
      • 1 hour = the difference between some one spending time with their family or missing it.
      • 1 day = the difference between a working or calling in sick if you’re on minimum wage, and have 5 kids to feed.
      • 1 week = the difference between a prisoner being released from their sentence.
      • 1 month = the difference between  giving birth to a premature baby or a healthy baby.
      • 1 year = the difference between passing or failing the exam.
      • 1 lifetime = the difference between realizing that you could have done better if you invested your time wisely.

      Can you hear the clock ticking?

      There’s always time to ask yourself can I start using my time better.

    • Conquer Doubt and Fear. Conquer Failure.

      Posted on August 19th, 2010 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

      My Grandfather once said the longer we live the more we realize that the greatest diseases of mankind are doubt and fear.  He wasn’t trying to take away from the seriousness of some of our other afflictions, however doubt and fear rob more people of more life than all the other diseases of the world according to him.  He said that they’re diseases because they’re acquired,  we aren’t born with fear and doubt we learn fear and doubt.  They’re communicable and most of the time they’re passed from one person to the next like a virus or bad cold.

      But the dictionary definition states a disease as: “a condition of the living animal that impairs normal functioning.”

      Doubt keeps us from making positive and long lasting changes in our lives because they’ll “rock the boat” of the status quo. Fear causes us to make weak and often irrational decisions that can hinder our future potential for the sake of today’s comfort. It takes away our happiness, our sleep, and our very lives.

      However, for the person who identifies the symptoms of these diseases, there are cures available. There are five techniques that Grandpa passed on that you can use to beat these diseases:

      1. Fear is an opportunity that has been given to you as a way to bring you closer to your full potential.
      2. When you run from your fear you miss the opportunity to grow.
      3. Your beliefs are the basis behind your behaviors dictating your results.
      4. Your everyday habits reflect your beliefs and fears.
      5. Change your beliefs to change your behaviors. Change your behaviors to change your results. Change your results to change your life.

      Use these five techniques to help change the way you think and feel to fully enjoy your life.

    • Leadership Must Have’s

      Posted on June 25th, 2010 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

      Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with teams over a broad spectrum; from Venture Capital Investors, to Automation Programmers, to hard working Electrical/Instrumentation/Mechanical Maintenance Crews in a mining and metallurgical plant, to Web Developers building the next killer app that’ll change the world, and finally to the Design/Maintenance/Reliability Engineers that are focused on continuously improving the operation of plant equipment and the safety of those within the plant. In each of these teams I’ve had a varying degrees of responsibility; from Engineering-Intern to Crew Supervisor, and Project Manager. It’s almost been a decade since I graduated and joined the real world, if I’ve only learned one thing since graduation it’s been that in any position you’re in it’s important to demonstrate leadership. Leadership at any level within an organization helps to get things done, however great leadership helps to get the right things done and done sooner, all while improving team morale. So here’s Ten Leadership Must Have’s for every leader out there. Which is basically everyone.

      It’s important to note that I’m not claiming any credit for coming up with these, it’s more of a composite list from my journey to date. As Issac Newton said “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.

      A good leader has an honorable character that selflessly serves his/her organization, weather that organization is a company, social group, family, or sports team. What makes a person want to follow a leader? People want to be guided by people they respect and who have a clear sense of direction. To gain respect, they must be ethical. A sense of direction is achieved by conveying a strong vision of the future.

      Ten Must Have’s for Every Leader:

      1. Know yourself and seek self-improvement. Understand yourself by continually strengthening your attributes through reading and self-study.

      2. Be technically proficient. You’ve got to know your job and have a solid familiarity with your employees’/coworkers’ jobs.

      3. Seek responsibility and take responsibility for your actions. Search for ways to help your organization reach new heights, and when things go wrong, and they will, do not blame others.

      4. Make sound and timely decisions. Use good problem solving, decision-making, and planning tools. I always try to remember the Chinese Proverb “Many a false step is made by standing still”.

      5. Set the example. Be a good role model for your employees/coworkers/kids/teammates. People believe what they see, not what they hear.

      6. Know your people and look out for their well-being. Knowing a bit about human nature and the importance of sincerely caring for your team, is vital. One spends the majority of their day with the people at their place of work so being a solid team-mate counts in any arena.

      7. Keep your people informed. Know how to communicate with your team, seniors, and other key people within the organization.

      8. Develop a sense of accountability, ownership and responsibility in your team. These traits will help them carry out their responsibilities, and the entire team will benefit from the extra effort, in along the boards or in the board room.

      9. Ensure tasks are understood, supervised, and accomplished. Communication is the key to this responsibility. As a manager I view myself as a multiplication symbol in the work equation. My job is to ensure that the work is organized, clear and linked to the organizations goal(s) while removing barriers to goal completion within my team.

      10. Train your people as a team. By developing team spirit, you will be able to employ your organization, department, section, etc. to its fullest capabilities. My favourite analogy is the “engine firing on all cylinders”.

      Here’s a few extras I think help summarize the Ten must have’s above, since everything is a process, here’s the five main steps to achieving great leadership:

      1. Inspire a shared vision – use words that matter to your team, not generic terms such as: “We will provide world-class customer service in an effective and efficient manner for our clients.”… I can apply that statement to any organization on earth.

      2. Challenge the process – First, find a process you believe needs to be improved the most, then work your way through each process until you’ve improved them all. Then start again at the first process, never stop reaching for full entitlement in a process.

      3. Enable others to act - Give people the tools, authority and methods to solve problems themselves. Removing red-tape and reaching the teams goals are priority one for any leader.

      4. Model the way – When the things get tough, get your hands dirty. A boss tells others what to do; a leader shows it can be done. (i.e. I recently had to become a “junior graphic designer” to help the design team break through a creative mental barrier, instead of waiting for them to break through the wall, I got in there with them and started chipping away on the front lines until they were able to break through. It’s important to note that I did not do the work for them I just set them up for the goal, they were the one’s that deserve all the credit for their outstanding work. Check it out at, be sure to “Explore Wildwood” to see their work in action.)

      5. Encouragement for the Team – Share the glory with your team, keep the pains to yourself. These phrases may sound basic, well they are, and they work:

      • “I admit I made a mistake.” – I am an expert on this one, however as long as it’s not a repeat offense you’re usually good to go.
      • “You did a good job.” – his one only works if they actually did a good job.
      • “What is your opinion?” – I like “What do you think?”
      • “If you please.” – “Please” works as well.
      • “Thank you,” – “Thanks” is a great substitute for this one.
      • “We” – stay away from “I”.
    • Developing Software as a Project Manager

      Posted on May 28th, 2010 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

      Software development is all about balance, between resources and conflicting requirements. The PM must deliver the software for the deadline and also design for unknown future requirements. It’s almost like you’re trying to hit a moving target with a blind fold on, but like anything, if you practice you get good at it.

      The best way to tackle a problem and solve it efficiently and effectively is to apply a systematic process to it. When I was completing my first Six Sigma Black Belt project I heard allot of talk about how Six Sigma was more like Sick Sigma as the projects were always long, drawn out and painful. That’s probably why Lean Six Sigma is what stuck with companies more, over the last decade, because of the ability to only use what is required to get the job done. However, I do believe that the Six Sigma methodology will deliver results when applied properly to a project.

      In the software development field a good 40-60 % of projects fail, this is usually due to poor requirements definition and larger scale software projects require something more than an ad-hock “here’s what we’re going to accomplish until the next set of, wouldn’t this be cool“, requirements from the marketing team, or worse, the customer.

      So how do you complete these projects on-time, on-budget and on-scope? For most PM’s it’s a word, sacrifice. Usually it’s the time and budget that are fixed and the scope ends up being modified to allow for a “successful” completion of a project. However, I would argue that if I was asked to build a house with only $10,000 and eight weeks I may only be able to dig a hole and pour a foundation, if that.

      So how do you solve the problem of scope creep? My solution is to scope out what the customer wants before any deadlines are set or any money is requested to be approved, with a clear view of what is to be accomplished the budget and time frame can be set around that. Now there are exceptions to the rule, as in everything in life, the key is to know the rules so well that you know when it’s appropriate to break them to deliver the product to the customer on-time, on-budget and on-spec.

      Here’s a great article on Wikipedia titled the PM Declaration of interdependence, it discusses six management principles that were initially intended for project managers of Agile Software Development projects, however these principles were re-branded as the “The declaration of interdependence for modern management” because of their applicability to other management situations.

      I like the principles so much so that I posted them here as well:

      • increase return on investment by — making continuous flow of value our focus.
      • deliver reliable results by — engaging customers in frequent interactions and shared ownership.
      • expect uncertainty and manage for it through — iterations, anticipation and adaptation.
      • unleash creativity and innovation by — recognizing that individuals are the ultimate source of value, and creating an environment where they can make a difference.
      • boost performance through — group accountability for results and shared responsibility for team effectiveness.
      • improve effectiveness and reliability through — situationally specific strategies, processes and practices.”

      If you’re familiar with Six Sigma, or Lean manufacturing, you’ll see the overlap with the methodologies goals, and it all comes back to that fundamental skill in not only project management, but in life as well….Balance.

    • Grow Your Business Using Word of Mouth

      Posted on March 26th, 2010 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

      As a business owner, you probably enjoy what you do, or you probably wouldn’t have been crazy enough to start your venture in the first place. Like me you probably don’t enjoy the constant chasing after the next customer, the time, effort and money you put into advertising and marketing with no guarantee that it will grow our sales is most likely one of the most frustrating thing you do. I heard somewhere once is half the money you spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is you don’t know which half. Wouldn’t it be great if new customers could see for themselves the value in what you do and find you, instead of you having to go find them?

      What if your existing customers were so happy with your products or services that they went out of their way to tell the people how great you are and that they should call you right away? Then the only marketing investment you would need would be in getting referrals, making your existing customers your sales team.

      A referral strategy shouldn’t be your only strategy for bringing in new customers, especially if you have high growth plans, but for some businesses it could be a far more effective strategy than it currently is. The great thing about a referral strategy is that it is a low-cost way of buying new customers.

      Step one of your referrals strategy is to turn your customers into “Raving Fans”. Nobody is going to refer you if your service is just satisfactory – you only get raving fans when you go beyond satisfied customers. Think about what you can do that will make their experience with you memorable – perhaps a small gift, a card on their birthday, or perhaps just the fact that your staff are so friendly and helpful that they make the buying process a pleasure. Remember: Customer Satisfaction is Worthless while Customer Loyalty is Priceless.

      Step two is finding out who your loyal customers are, so make sure you have a good record system for your customers’ contact details and then categorize them. Try the ABC system – Awesome, Basic, Can’t Deal with. Then spend more time with the A’s and B’s than you do with the C’s. In fact why not get rid of the C’s all-together?

      If you are not really sure who your ABC clients are then one way to find out is to ask them. There are two simple ways to do this:

      • Testimonials, ask them to write you a short testimonial to find out what they like about you.
      • Customer surveys, ask them some questions and rate the responses. (you can do this with programs like Suurvey Monkey, or via snail mail.

      Once you identify your raving fans, be sure to keep in contact with them on a regular basis. The average business spends five times as much on buying new customers as it does on keeping existing ones, that’s more crazy than starting your own business. Set aside a portion of your marketing budget towards keeping in contact and building loyalty with your existing clients, even when they are not buying. A simple method for this is to send out a newsletter, with details of special offers or new products. You can use Mad Mimi or My Emma, and there are probably a handful more that I’m not familiar with.

      The next step is to physically ask for a referral, don’t back down on this one, there’s no need to start feeling awkward, you’re asking for something you deserve. Ways to make this easier are to put a referral card in with the purchase, and ask your customer to fill it in later, or get them to invite people to a free event so they can sample your product/service without risk, or give them an information pack to pass on to people they know who might be interested, or even a special offer voucher. There are many more ways to do this just get creative.

      Always remember to thank the referrer in a way that will ensure that they like it so much they will do it again and again, and whatever you do, systematize it so that it happens automatically and can be easily delegated to somebody else.

      The final step is to think about who you really want as your clients, be genuine and honest. Henry Ford once said “obstacles are those annoying little things that get in your way when you take your eyes off of your goal.”

    • Warren Buffet’s Management Secrets

      Posted on February 25th, 2010 Nelson Bodnarchuk No comments

      Article from

      How did Warren Buffett become not only the manager whom other managers want to emulate, but the second-richest man in the world? By following some simple yet highly effective management principles that any leader can use. Here are a few, as outlined in Warren Buffett’s Management Secrets: Proven Tools for Personal and Business Success, a new book by Mary Buffett and Nebraska entrepreneur and author David Clark.

      • Encourage others to come up with the right ideas. Buffett is famous for hiring people and then not telling them what to do. Instead, he lets them set their own goals and standards. Invariably, they set the bar higher than he would have. Buffett’s silence induces his managers to imagine that he expects a lot, and this becomes the reality that drives performance.
      • Admit mistakes quickly and emphatically. Buffett believes that when people are wrong — including himself — they should be up-front about it. To do otherwise would give the impression that we are trying hide something, or that we have neither the courage nor the integrity to admit our mistake. Managers who don’t admit when they are wrong slowly cause a festering distrust among employees, who then become less respectful, less willing to follow and more suspicious of management’s recommendations and guidance.
      • Avoid surrounding yourself with “yes people.” Leaders love to be loved, and therefore sometimes surround themselves with “yes people.” Every business has sycophants, creeping around the corners, sucking up to the boss and reinventing the truth. Currently, Wall Street is littered with the remains of CEOs who let their yes men convince them that their companies could manage the risk of derivatives. Buffett’s solution to this issue is to surround himself with as few people as possible; he often has said that his idea of a group decision is to look in the mirror.
      • Bank on the tried and true. Innovation is great, but Buffett has learned that the best business ideas are the ones that are tried and true. By studying successful businesses, we can get dozens of great ideas about how to do something right, and by studying unsuccessful businesses, we learn how easy it is to do something wrong. Miles Davis, the great jazz musician, once remarked, “Lesser artists borrow, great artists steal.” In some ways, the same can be said of great business managers.