Tag Archives: microsoft

Leadership in IT

In this brief article I will have a look at the types of leadership found in some major information technology companies and what impact it has had.

Transformational leadership and its impact on organisations has been studied in depth and has been found to be a key driver behind innovation with leaders of large IT companies such as Lou Gerstner of IBM cited as examples (Jung, Wu, & Chow, 2008, p. 582). The hands-on direct connection of leaders within IT companies, such as Bill Gates of Microsoft and Michael Dell of Dell Computers has resulted in employees in the 21st century wanting an immediate relationship with their leader before giving their full commitment to their work (George, 2004, p. 34). George has defined this as being an authentic leader, a leader who is able to build a trust-based relationship with people in their organisation. It’s suggested that this relationship with followers garners from them a “deeper commitment to their work and greater loyalty to the company” (George, 2004, p. 34). Hartley has described the leadership style of Microsoft’s incumbent CEO, Steve Ballmer, and Dell’s Michael Dell; which, as a result of their organisational strategies, fits in closely with the definition of transactional leaders (2006, p. 283). Michael Dell has further been described as one willing to “sacrifice his own interests for the good of the organisation” (Hartley, 2006, p.283) also puts him into the transformational category. These leaders have been described as able to separate their managerial ability from their technical knowledge so that they can allow their followers to effectively join in the leadership role as appropriate and participate. In doing this, these leaders have enabled their followers to take ownership of their roles and generate positive outcomes.

Photo by Greenbay
Photo by Greenbay

Utilising a completely different leadership style, Steven Jobs of Apple Computers prior to his removal and reinstatement at the company, has been described as a visionary and proselytizer (Westley & Mintzberg, 1989, p. 23) who pushed the design of computers to be light and trim so they would not scare the infant market. Steven Jobs is referred to as an evangelist for the future potential of his products with an uncompromising idea about what his company should be (p. 25). Westley & Mintzberg have shared the suggestion that this unwavering stance not only built the company but also led to his removal from it. This is a clear example of the organisational lifecycle that was described by Ogbonna and Harris (2000, p. 771) where the leadership style has influenced the organisational culture but when the lifecycle has reached the point where the culture has come back to influence the leadership style, it would not be redefined. This idealism and perfectionism contributed to the culture, but limited his leadership and caused low morale among employees (Westley & Mintzberg, 1989, p. 25). Ahmed suggests that the leadership failed prior to Steven Jobs removal from the company, as it was not focused on creating an environment that could innovate (1998, p. 42), in other words, it was not a transformational style of leadership. Rather it could be described as an outcome oriented directive leadership style that manifested negatively in this IT company.

References

Ahmed P. K. (1998). Culture and climate for innovation. European Journal of Innovation Management, 1(1), 30-43. doi: 10.1108/14601069810199131

George, B. (2004). The journey to authenticity. Leader to Leader, 2004(31), 29-35. Retrieved from http://www.leadertoleaderjournal.com/

Hartley N. T. (2006). Management history: An umbrella model. Journal of Management History 12(3), 278-292. doi: 10.1108/17511340610670188

Jung D., Wu A., & Chow C. W. (2008). Towards understanding the direct and indirect effects of CEOs’ transformational leadership on firm innovation. The Leadership Quarterly, 19(5), 582-594. Retrieved from http://www.journals.elsevier.com/the-leadership-quarterly/

Ogbonna, E., & Harris L. C. (2000). Leadership style, organizational culture and performance: empirical evidence from UK companies. International Journal of Human Resource Management, 11(4), 766-788. doi: 10.1080/09585190050075114

Westley F., & Mintzberg H. (1989). Visionary leadership and strategic management. Strategic Management Journal, 10(1), 17-32. Retrieved from http://smj.strategicmanagement.net/

Installing Drupal on Windows Server 2003 – Relevant Links

Recently I have needed to setup a Windows 2003 IIS server to run Drupal, the catch though is that it already runs an ASP.NET website and does not have MySQL, PHP, or even FastCGI installed. So, it must not affect the existing website at all. Working on a development server, I’ve been trying to get this to behave correctly. It is out of my area of expertise, so I’ve been doing a lot of reading up on it. The links I’ve used are mostly all below, mainly for my future reference and for anyone else that may need to do the same:

The easiest way to set Drupal up on Windows should be with Microsoft’s installer. It uses their WebMatrix with the Web Platform Installer and looks like it should automate the process and configure everything that needs to be configured. The problem with it though is that it uses IIS Express, which can’t run alongside IIS, and the installer cannot run with IIS, which means I can’t use it for this situation.

So far, I’ve tried the IIS Aid PHP installer, which seems to work for the most part, however, I’m having FastCGI errors left right and centre with it crashing constantly. Unfortunately the IIS Aid installer doesn’t seem to work when using ISAPI instead of FastCGI, so I’m not up to installing and configuring PHP manually using FastCGI, and if it’s still unstable, ISAPI.

Another option is to look at running Apache on a different port to IIS, but I would rather not go down this route if I can avoid it.

It’s a real pain. If you have any experience with this, tips or advice would be appreciated!

Triplify – Search Google, Yahoo and Bing all at once!

The Triplify search box
The Triplify search box

Triplify is a mashup that is highly useful to me as a web site designer, especially when looking at search engine optimisation.

What does it do?

Triplify is a search engine front end that takes your search query and then passes it on to Google, Yahoo and Bing. Those 3 search engines return the search results to Triplify, and it collates and displays them to the user.

By default it sorts the results based on their position in the results of each search engine which is great for quickly seeing where a web site is ranked in each search engine without having to go hunt through them all separately. If you aren’t in the first 16 results though then you are out of luck as Triplify does not currently appear to have paged results available and so only 16 results for each search engine are given. So what you get is something like this:

The first 6 results in a Triplify search for "brisbane web designer"
The first 6 results in a Triplify search for "brisbane web designer"

What do the colours mean?

Google is shown in blue, Yahoo in Red and Bing in that yellow/green colour. I’m not sure that these are the best colours as they don’t really symbolise those search engines. I was thinking while I was using it that the colours aren’t the best choices, in my opinion, Yahoo should be yellow and Bing should be blue and Google red. I’m not entirely sure why though, after all, the Yahoo logo is Red and Google uses blues as well as reds. Blue seems to better suit Bing, after all, blue is very much a Microsoft and Live colour, and Bing is related to both of them. The others I’m really not 100% sure about though. I associate yellow with Yahoo, and I’ve been trying to figure out why for a while now. I think it’s because of the smileys that used to be on their home page in that strong yellow colour that were part of the Yahoo Instant Messenger branding. I used to use YIM quite regularly, so that may be it. Upon thinking about it further, the colour choices are good, they are just not the colours that I associate with each of those search engines.

What else can it do?

If you only want to show the results from two of the search engines, or even only one, just uncheck the boxes below the search box of the ones you don’t want and voila, they are gone! Need them back? Just check the box again and they will reappear.

If you want to sort the results by search engine, or any of the other column headings (though search engine seems to be the only other particularly useful one to me), just click the column heading, for example, click “Title” and the search results will be shuffled into alphabetical order. Click “Engine” and the results will be grouped by search engine.

There is also a handy “Add Triplify to your browser” link at the top of the page which, if your browser supports this feature, will add Triplify as a search option to your browsers search box.

Quirks and nuisances

Unfortunately at the moment, there doesn’t seem to be any way to sort in descending order rather than ascending, this isn’t a big thing, but it would be nice!

The main issue I have is that the sorting is affected by whichever sort you used previously. This can be a handy feature, but it can result in unexpected behaviour. For example, if you are viewing with a position sort, then you sort by search engine. The results will be shown in order of their search engine ranking. Now sort by title, then sort by search engine again. They are now sorted by search engine, but in alphabetical order instead.

Perhaps some explanation of how this works would make it clearer to understand to the new user, it took me playing with it for about half an hour before I realised that it sorted by both the current and previous sort option. My initial assumption was that it should sort Title, Description and URL alphabetically, then search engine should show pages in their ranked order, not in Title, Description or URL order. I do admit, it is useful, but unexpected.

In hindsight, the motto “Search, compare and sort!” does actual indicate that you should be able to do some sort of advanced sorting such as what is available, and if you go to the about page it does explain how the search sorting works, but the about page is hidden in tiny text down the bottom of the page and isn’t exactly the first thing you think of when trying to figure out how to use it. Maybe a more prominent link at the top of the page, such as “Help” on the right hand side underneath the existing tools navigation box that is there.

Final thoughts

I think Triplify is something that is going to play a very important part in my future search engine optimisation efforts. I don’t see any particular appeal in it from a general search point of view because the search results are not as easy to understand as they are in any of the search engine interfaces, but it will save a lot of time determining if a web site is ranked in the top 16 results or not and checking on it’s progress.

It is only in beta, so no doubt the things that are unclear may be cleared up once a 1.0 version is released.

Have you found an interesting use for Triplify? Share it in the comments!