Links for Sunday Feb 23 2014

  • What’s Your Story?

    Quote: Taking our corporate strategy, translating it into traceable, optimizable metrics, and using our data and models in a disciplined and iterative manner will allow us to be the best possible company we can be

  • IT Language Lessons « The Dark Side Geek

    Quote: So what is the “common language”? The answer was already there. In an IT organization properly aligned to business objectives, it is the business objectives themselves that provide the common language. Don’t think in terms of us vs. them trying to find some middle ground via Finance. Instead, IT needs to learn to speak in terms of “opportunity management”. What better way to be on the same page with your partners than using the most direct language possible?

  • How To Think

    Quote: If you believe that your school’s mission or your job as a teacher is simply to convey information, then it probably doesn’t seem necessary to subject your students to that kind of rigorous self-analysis. But if you’re trying to help them change their character, then conveying information isn’t enough. And while Spiegel didn’t use the word character to describe what she was teaching, there was a remarkable amount of overlap between the strengths David Levin and Dominic Randolph emphasized and the skills that Spiegel tried to inculcate in her students. Every day, in the classroom and at tournaments, I saw Spiegel trying to teach her students grit, curiosity, self-control, and optimism.

  • The Key For Hadoop Adoption: Learning How To Make Big Data Small – ReadWrite

    Quote: While it remains true that far more people are talking about big data than actually rolling out significant big data projects—Gartner highlights that only 8% of enterprises have actually deployed big data projects despite 64% declaring their intention to do so—the percentage of companies engaging in Hadoop-based big data projects should grow now that its primary proponents are selling substantive, achievable business value rather than Hadoop hype.

  • Do You Really Understand Your Numbers? | Partners in EXCELLENCE Blog — Making A Difference

    Quote: Know the critical numbers for each week. Know the numbers that lead you to achieving your goals. Know the numbers that look at overall organizational performance, effectiveness and efficiency. Look at longer term trends. Slice and dice the numbers across a number of dimensions–you’ll be amazed at what you discover.

  • MIT study says Twitter can predict major public events like protests — Tech News and Analysis

    Quote: An MIT study claims that Twitter can be used to predict major social events, thanks to heavy activity from specific communities.

  • Content Matters When Going Mobile A Smarter Planet Blog

    Quote: In terms of behavior, you need to know when your audience is checking their devices and what kind of information they are looking for when they do. Once you understand your consumer’s behavior, you must then think about your distribution channels.

  • The real promise of big data: It’s changing the whole way humans will solve problems | VentureBeat | Big Data | by Zavain Dar, Innovation Endeavors

    Quote: We’re seeing great emphasis not only in collecting new data, but also in storing and automating the actionability of this data. In the Valley we joke about how the term “big data” is loosely thrown around. It may make more sense to view “big data” not in terms of data size or database type, but rather as a necessary infrastructural evolution as we shift from analytic to synthetic problem solving.

  • How to deal with a Zombie product | On Product Management

    Quote: A zombie product is a product that is not successful by any measure (very few customers, little market share, lacking needed functionality, buggy etc.) but also cannot be “killed” or removed from the market because of some reason or another. Usually the reason for keeping an otherwise failing product on the shelf is that it is viewed as “strategic” or “important” in some way to those higher up in the company.

  • How Good is Your Data? | Big Data Forum

    Quote: Organizations are excited about big data and are looking for ways to incorporate the use of data and analytics, but I rarely hear anyone talking about data management, quality management and lifecycle management of data.

Replaceable You

Replaceable By steve heath on flickrWe all like to think that we are that one person in our family, team or company that is irreplaceable.

The bad thing…most of us are replaceable.

Sure…you can try to be the best at what you do…but unless you ARE the BEST at what you do, you are replaceable.

Very few people can be the best…so…by elimination, very few people are irreplaceable.

Seth Godin states it well in his book Lynchpin (amazon affiliate link):

“If all you can do is the task and you’re not in a league of your own at doing the task, you’re not indispensable.”

Let’s take a tour of the world of IT for a minute and think about the people within most IT groups.

You’ve got System Administrators. Developers. Project Managers. Testers. System Analysts. Business Analysts, Managers, etc etc.  The list goes on and on…

Out of this group of people how many are irreplaceable?

Each of these positions are necessary in the modern day IT group. That said, each is replaceable…but each is replaceable via internal or external means…via fireing/ hiring or via outsourcing.

Every single IT professional in every role has some chance of being replaced. From the CIO down the ladder to the most junior level IT grunt…everyone’s replaceable…unless they aren’t.

Think about your team.  How many on your team could be replaced (with someone of equal experience) and not have much of a hiccup?  Sure there’s some knowledge transfer that has to happen, but for the most part things would operate smoothly.

Out of a group of 100 IT professionals, are 10 irreplaceable?  How about 5? How about 1?

What makes an IT professional (or anyone) irreplaceable isn’t that they do a job or that they know something that others may not know…its how they do their job and how they apply their knowledge.

No longer can you lean on your years of service, expertise or ‘what you know’ to be successful and/or to remain employed.  To be irreplaceable, you’ve got to be irreplaceable.

You’ve got to be the person that everyone in your team / organization looks to for answers. You’ve got to be the person that everyone knows is irreplaceable.

Are you truly irreplaceable? Are you the person who gets the phone call when something ‘must get done’?  If not…you should be.

Image Credit: Replaceable By steve heath on flickr

To manage it, measure it…but don’t destroy it in the process

Tape Measure By dirkjankraan on flickrI’m a big believer in the mindset that you’ve got to measure it to manage it.

If you can’t measure something, its very difficult to manage that ‘something’.  If you want your websites to load faster, you need to know what ‘fast’ means and have something to compare past, present and future measurements too.

You must measure to manage…but I”m not a proponent of measuring every little detail.  I only want to measure what i need to measure (there’s a catch-22 here…do you know what you need to measure?).

I’ve known people / companies to go overboard on their measurements.

Some believe they need to measure their employees time in order to manage their workload properly.  I’ve known companies that have implemented time-tracking projects that require every employee to input their time in 5 minute increments and assign each 5 minute segment to a project cost center.  Those same companies have a hard time getting anything done too.Now…I’m not saying every company that tracks time like this cannot accomplish anything, but i can tell you the ones I worked with didn’t accomplish much.

A recent example

This past week, I went in for a sleep study. My doctor told me that he thought I had sleep apnea due to the way my throat looked.  He said my Uvula looked like it had taken quite the beating…I believe his exact words were “your throat looks like someone uses your uvula for a punching bag”.    So…he setup a sleep study for me.

During one of these sleep studies, a contraption (that’s the scientific word for it I think) is placed on that measures all sorts of things. Heart rate, eye movement, breathing, leg movement, chin movement, etc etc.  Go read more about it here and see what the contraption looks like here after its been placed on you (note: if you can’t tell, that is not me in the photo!).

My sleep study appointment day arrives off I go the sleep center at the appointed time. When I arrive, I’m shown my room and told that the technician will be in shortly to get me all ready for the study.  After a few minutes, a nice tech walks in and begins hooking me up. This process takes about 30 minutes and I end up with wires connected all over my body.

I immediately realize that I’m going to have a tough time sleeping this contraption.  I’m told that I can sleep in whatever position I choose, but they need me to sleep part of the night on my back…which is good because once I got into bed i couldn’t move into any position except for laying flat on my back.

Now…I’m sure I got some sleep that night, but I don’t really feel like I did. I was uncomfortable with all the wires, I was in a strange room and I was being watched via video camera.  Not exactly the most fun I’ve ever had, especially when you have to get up in the middle of the night to go the bathroom (because you are an idiot and drank a bottle of water before bed).  Did I mention that in order to get out of bed you have to call for the tech to come unhook you from the machine and re-hook you when done?  fun times.

My point of all this?  This sleep study was intrusive.  I’m sure there is useful data gathered this way but is it truly the best way to measure the things that need to be measured while a person sleeps?  Perhaps with current technology it is.

But in my case, and in many other people’s cases, the very thing that this sleep study was attempting to measure (sleep) was disrupted.  Was the data gathered that night in the sleep study true data? Is it really an accurate picture of how I sleep?  I don’t know.

But…what I do know is that the process of gathering the data just about destroyed the data.  I barely slept. It took me two days to recover from that night.

Measure it, but don’t destroy it

So my story is just a simple word of caution to everyone.

Sure…measure what you need to measure (again…do you know what you need to measure?).  But don’t destroy what you are measuring by the process of measuring it.

Find the simplest, least intrusive method of measuring what you need and use it.

Do you think the employees entering their time in 5 minute increments like their work? If you need to track their time in five minute increments…perhaps something is wrong with the culture of the organization. If you need to know what your employees are doing all day, ask them.

To manage it, you do need to measure it…but don’t destroy it in the process.

Image Credit: Tape Measure By dirkjankraan on flickr

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