Category Archives: Uncategorized

How to reduce risks on important projects.

Background on Managing Risk on Important Projects

Reduce Risk on Important ProjectsIn the context of any strategic initiative involving a significant evolution in systems, process, or organization, risk is the chance that the effort will be less than a complete success … that it will be late, over budget, perform unacceptably when completed, fail to realize the expected business benefits, or even never be completed.

There are so many factors that can contribute to a less-than-successful project.  How is a project manager to decide which to focus on and how to address them?


Milt Hess, in his paper Reducing Risk on Projects, presents a strategy for deciding which risk factors deserve attention and for integrating risk reduction into the project holistically instead of treating it as a separate activity.  This strategy turns the traditional approach to risk management on its head.  Instead of thinking about all the things that can wrong, it focuses on what has to go right.

The strategy requires that a project first establish a clear definition of success – its success targets.  The paper describes concrete steps that the project can take to increase the likelihood of meeting the targets and the questions that senior management and sponsors should ask to ensure that the project stays on track.

Here are a few of the key elements of the approach:

  • Periodically develop a forecast of the expected outcomes for the success targets. If the forecast for a target is ‘I don’t know’, the project is at risk.  Include resources in the project plan to reduce uncertainty about the outcome.
  • Dependency on external events and agents introduces risk. Explicitly identify dependencies during the planning process, document assumptions, and monitor them regularly.  Include resources in the project plan to reduce uncertainty about the dependencies.

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How a top team spent a little time and took a big step to the next stage of growth.

Skills by stageBackground

Leaders of fast growing, early-stage organizations operate at a fast pace. Often the last thing there is time to do is assess the top team’s performance to determine how to prepare them for the next stage of growth.

Most team members know each other pretty well. They have a good idea what each other is good at, has contributed, how they have grown, and what each should focus on next for success. However, team members rarely have the time, energy, training, or nerve to share what they know in a forthright, supportive conversation with one another.

Yet there are serious consequences to not providing feedback when it is needed most. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How To Tell If You Are a Jerk in the Office” (C-Suite Strategies, Journal Report, Feb 23, 2015), for example, highlights the importance of confidential feedback for executives. Not only are leaders and co-workers affected adversely by dysfunctional behavior but business performance and customer service can be damaged, often permanently, if poor behavior continues.

IntelliVen, a San Francisco-based organization improvement firm, uses a proprietary approach to help leaders and their top teams address top executive feedback head-on. Early this year, for example, IntelliVen worked with a rapidly evolving, $10M financial analytics firm serving Freddie Mac, US Treasury, and Capital One among other leading US financial institutions. The IntelliVen approach was used to assess the top team of senior executives relative to norms for successful organizations at a similar stage of evolution and to identify individual and team opportunities for learning.

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How an Executive Performance Assessment Process helped a COO become a CEO.

Self Knowledge - Populating Your Johari WindowLeaders of fast growing, early stage organizations operate at such a fast pace that often the last thing there is time to do is assess each member of the top team’s performance to determine how to prepare them for the next stage of evolution.

Most team members know each other pretty well. They have a good idea what each other is good at, has contributed, how they have grown, and what they should focus on next for success. However, team members rarely have the time, energy, training, or nerve to share what they know in a forthright, supportive conversation with one another. Continue reading


Bob Morris Interview Part 2 ScreenshotTop-100, Hall-of-Fame Amazon Business Book Reviewer, Bob Morris, recently conducted a two-part interview with IntelliVen CEO, PeterD. Click the image at left to see Part 2.  Click here to see Part 1.

Excerpts from Part 2 follow:

Morris: In your opinion, what are the most significant differences between great leadership and great management?

DiGiammarino: I agree with those that say you manage things and lead people but you also manage things in order to lead people so the two are not so much different when intertwined in great leaders. That ties in with the double meaning of the title of my book. Manage to Lead helps you to

  • Manage yourself to do things that every leader ought to do and when you do them you are de facto leading.
  • Squeak by in the role of leader even when you do not happen to be a born leader but you are a good manager!

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Introducing BusinessBecause

BusinessBecauseOne of the top-5 most popular IntelliVen posts ever published (based on number of views) is on why top MBA students should consider a career in operations instead of in finance.

The post includes a video interview on how operating leaders participate in venture success which was suggested, filmed, and first published by BusinessBecause. BusinessBecaue launched in late-2009 as the first “niche network” connecting business students, employers, business school applicants and business schools around the world.

BusinessBecause publishes fascinating, people-focused stories and provides useful information on choosing a b-school (e.g. Why MBAMBA rankings) and finding a job.  BusinessBecause now has more than 100,000 monthly visitors and a vibrant 20,000-member worldwide community that shares information with each other and that use the network to build valuable career connections internationally.

BusinessBecause also runs EngineeringBecause, for the world’s top engineering students, and a technology business, NetworkBecause, building alumni platforms for organizations.  This IntelliVen post is to announce that IntelliVen subscribers that sign up before October 6, 2013 with the following code receive a free, one-month premium membership to

Premium code: HO7R85RY. 

Expires on October 6, 2013. 


Manage to Lead now available as interactive, digital content powered by the leading provider for higher education textbooks.

MtL_Cover_optManage to Lead: Seven Truths to Help You Change the World is now available as an interactive digital workbook at

Click on the book cover icon to access its catalog entry on  Download the free chapter to try it out on any iPad, any iPhone, or on any Mac or PC using the Chrome browser.

Manage to Lead will soon also be available in print and as an e-book at Amazon.  Access from Android devices is slated for later in 2013

The interactive, digital workbook has:

  • Work problems,
  • Templates,
  • Animations,
  • Assessments,
  • Videos,
  • Graphics, and
  • Executive team exercises and meeting agendas.

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Welcome new subscribers, feedback request, and mechanics.


IntelliVen is a site for students of organization and leader development and for IntelliVen clients, subscribers, and followers who seek to help leaders and organizations get on track to long-term growth and performance. Think of the site as a workbook of constantly expanding and improving content and resources related to growing leaders and organizations.


  • If you are a veteran intelliven subscriber please complete a short survey to let us know how we are doing and to help us improve.

  • Welcome new subscribers; especially those referred by Jose Luis Romero at  We hope you find IntelliVen content as interesting and useful.

The remainder of this post is an update on how to use the site. Continue reading

How emerging executives can achieve high-impact with key players more senior than themselves.

An up-and-coming executive engages with an important sales prospect, client, supplier, partner, or colleague on par with his or her degree of comfort and security with the other party.  The more seniority the other is perceived to have relative to his/her own, the more anxiety and insecurity is induced, the less is said, and the less impact results from the interaction.  Pushing to the highest possible level of engagement drives the best results and accelerates career progression.

It makes sense for the up-and-coming executive to think of it as climbing a staircase. Levels of Executive Engagement - IntelliVenThe first step is the most basic level of engagement, is easy enough to do, but adds little-to-no value.  Each step is easier than otherwise when it builds off of the last but is progressively more difficult and riskier to take.   Continue reading

How to talk about leaders and organizations for success.

Those in charge of any organization — no matter how large or small — and those who aspire to hold leadership roles, are wise to use terms and phrases in precise ways in order to be clear about what they think, say, and do.  This post compiles a number of such terms in one place for easy reference by IntelliVen readers, clients, and students.

Term Definition
Core Leadership Team No one leader, and not even any two, has the breadth of competence and depth of capacity to do anything of much significance alone. Successful organizations often have a Core Leadership Team of three to seven top executives who are aligned to accomplish specific goals as a cohesive unit.The executives in a successful organization’s Core Leadership Team are very good at different important things; they enjoy working together; they all want to accomplish the same thing and give credit for any success to everyone else.
Term Definition
How initiative is performing Continue reading