Week 26, 2017, “Vision”

We are coming up on the 60d mark at LANVERA and wanted talk about information technology’s vision for 2017.   In the first 30d, Steve and I had multiple conversations with various leaders throughout the organization about priorities, needs, and vision.  A central theme emerged. How can we take IT to the next level, enabling our software development teams to build and test quicker without encumberance? How do we monitor key pieces of the technologies faster and leverage automation? How do we give more traditional IT functions to business units so we can more efficiently support our customers? How do we do knowledge management protecting intellectual property? And how can IT help infuse a positive values culture?

My recommendation to Steve is what I’ve expoused for over a decade: A culture of enablement, services, and transparency.  Let’s unpack these three areas.

IT Enablement.

Giving our people the freedom and resources they say they need to do their job. Traditional IT is the top-down command and control approach that is arguably out dated and killing organizations abilities to be agile. Traditional IT’s leaders have the ability to control, but that is not where innovation comes from, is it? If we want LANVERA to feel like owners, what must give our people exactly that: ownership. This includes access rights, privledges, and determination of their tools. IT’s role will be to give them the framework, healthy auditing, and constant oversight. This will let teams do what they need to do: Be awesome. And not just our development teams. All teams.

IT Services.

IT as a utility is not a new concept and dominates the cloud model. It’s successful because it’s utilitarian approach. However, what if IT’s role is that of consultants leveraging our resources? Traditional IT’s reactive approaches are usually the result of poor IT to business engagement. Or worse, poor strategic planning with the business and IT alike. This divides and compounds. IT will offer menus of services and cost, including professional services. Teams will choose what they need, when they need it, and the resource cost of that service delivery. IT is the consultancy to the business that encorporates not just core IT functions, but how we can partner with teams to do more leveraging IT. To achieve, we crank up IT’s role as educator and communicate far far more.

IT Transparency.

Technical people not given good intel or access to actionable information will make assumptions about your network. This silo’ing of information breeds fear, uncertainty, and doubt across teams. Once made, hard to reverse perceptions, especially if baked over time. If we are going to embrace DevOps, we have to show a commitment to CAMS: Culture, Automation, Measurement, and Sharing. I’ve tested this theory over my career and have been surprised every time: the more information you give, the better the decisions are made, especially during crisis. As we monitor and measure, we’ll ensure all teams have access to these systems. All teams will see how resources are utilized, changed, and managed. We’ll also include audit data like who, when, what, how. Working as a team means establishing trust and accountability as a part of the culture. We start with ourselves.

The Direction.

Transform IT from a top-down production support focused team stuck in reactive and manual states to a infrastrucutre services based team focusing on network health, security, and reliability.  Key strategic initiatives include focusing on security postures, auditing, monitoring, and automating core functions. Others include technology refreshes, examining our strategic partner relationships, and working towards vision through the three IT culture pillars.

“You know, Jonathan, that all sounds great, but you really haven’t said how your going to do all that.”

Your right.  And if your reading this, your on this journey with me.  More to come.

\\ JMM

Week 24, 2017, “Splunk”

“Splunk is an established tool to measure anything in all areas of the business. NOT just IT.  We must consider it as we look at the need for business intelligence measuring across the business.” – Jonathan Merrill @ LANVERA, June 16, 2017

Splunk was born in 2003 being a disrupting tool set for measuring machine data, easily and accessible.  My colleagues ysed to call it the Google of log data.  At first, it’s focus was the easy target, IT.  Today, it’targeting all areas of the business with demos showing sales & marketing measuring, facilities, business operations, even finance.  Indeed, it’s come along way.

Sitting in our product demo, it’s clear this tool has surpassed IT.  Dashboards, reporting, alerting.  How many times this tool could have redefined the war room experience versus the man hours waste of silo’d IT?

My last thought goes to the hundreds of hours spent data gathering for reporting KPI.  Tirelessly pulling manual data from multiple sources for TPS purposes.  This tool could have replaced all those spreadsheets for all those powerpoints in minutes.

The power of BI.

PS.  Yes, I use Splunk.  I dump my Unifi network syslogs into Splunk using the free version.  I track firewall threats geographically and email reports weekly.  Now if I could just figure how to track my kids usage…

\\ JMM

Week 23, 2017, “Find Your Team”

“The best prize life has to offer is a chance to work hard at work worth doing. And I would add that what makes work worth doing is getting to do it with people you love. Find your team.” – Leslie Knope, Season 7, Ep13, One Last Ride: Part 2

I will admit, I’ve never watched one episode of Parks and Recreation.  My wife asked if we could watch the last episode and, agreeing apprehensively, off we go.  Although I didn’t get much context to characters, this line caught me towards the end of the show:  Find your team.

So true.  So hard to do.  And blessed when we can.

Find your team and do great work.  Yes, I will.

\\ JMM

Week 22, 2017, “First 30 Days”

“First 90 days are important.  Sets the pace.  First 30 days are critical.  Sets the tone.” – Jonathan Merrill

June 2nd marks my first 30 days.  So far, so great.  The adjectives that describe this position are:  exciting, daunting, encouraging, challenging, interesting, and exhilirating.  You know it’s good when you wake up and are motivated to go.  Can’t wait to get there and get engaged.

My to do list for the first 30 was:

  • Observe and Ask Questions.  The business.  The leaders.  The goals.
  • Identify gaps in infrastructure, collaboration, documentation, and process.
  • Assess my team’s capabilities, strengths, and growth opportunities.  Listen.
  • Introduce the knowledge culture to the team.  Begin the building of process and values into the DNA.

May was introduction of team rules, discovering the infrastructure, reading the documentation, hiring our architect, and putting together the to do list.  Cross training culture, DevOps, subject matter experts, CAMS, and working on KRAs and KPIs.  Lots of reading, listening, and absorbing.  And writing.

The tone is set!  Go! Go! Go!

\\ JMM