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

Quote of Week 21, 2017, The “ORC”.

“Our foundation of systems documentation will begin with the ‘ORC’, the Operations Readiness Checklist.” – Jonathan Merrill @ LANVERA

How are we doing systems documentation? Today, its spreadsheets by system, contained in a knowledgebase article, updated by the knowledge champion for that system. This is a fairly antiquated yet reliable way to manage this type of documentation. The ORC has an interesting history and has evolved for the years. Here is an abbreviated account.

The birth of the original ORC came from former Santander Consumer USA VP, IT Operations and Engineering, James Brewster in 2013. “I want a checklist that every system must have completed before it goes into support.”

The original ORC was a simple checklist of questions to answer:  Name of servers, did we back it up, was it security vuln scanned, etc.. This Q&A went through three iterations as different groups asked for information to be added. The simple checklist turned into a seven tab spreadsheet. The reception by engineers and customers alike in the end was… “awful.”

The next major iteration of the ORC, dubbed ORC-lite, had it’s most influence by former Santander Consumer USA Director of Datacenter Architecture, John Thomas. Feedback took the ORC in a different direction and focused on systems configuration documentation and support capability.  In other words, an engineer-friendly quick to fill out document focusing on support.  That change exploded it’s adoption and was embraced meaningfully across all IT Operations’ leaders.

Victim of it’s success, the ORC came onto audit’s radar when systems documentation became an IT control item, requesting specific system configuration data.  ORC-lite once again became a 7-tab worksheet through the many discussions with these teams.

Today’s ORC is the end result of those deliberations.  John Thomas commented this was some of our best work.  A lot of hard work did go in, but the goal was never a spreadsheet.  Our search for an automated system documentation was the vision.  Could ServiceNow’s discovery engine and business service mapping serve?  I won’t be there to find out.

Nevertheless, the ORC is a great tool for organizations needing a starting point for system documentation.  The ORC lives on!

Link:  ORC 1.0 “template”.

\\ JMM

Quote of Week 20, 2017

“Life is about risk.  It’s important to take risks.  Just don’t be reckless.” – Richard Holbrooke, HBO Documentary, The Diplomat

I grabbed this gem as my last four years in banking could easily be summarized by saying, “We didn’t take a lot of risks.  In fact, they beat the risk out of us.”  How do you run an innovative and agile organization without risk?  Not easily.

Some organizations get this.  Many do not.  It’s an important to be risk adverse, but not risk intolerant. Just don’t be reckless.

\\ JMM

Quote of Week 19, 2017

“Technology is not a panacea for whatever ills.  Technology is only an enabler and needs to support people, process, content and connectivity needs.  Starting with technology has proven disastrous for many companies…” – Deloitte Development, Knowledge Management 2016

Is it possible for companies to have too much technology?  Is the knee jerk reaction to behavior to deploy a technology versus a people solution?  Take employee wasting time on social media.  Line managers know it exists, but do they confront their people to set behaviorial expectations?  Far easier to avoid those conversations and let IT handle.  Technology is the enabler — for good and bad.

Although this quote was in the context of managing knowledge, it’s just as true for every aspect of the business of managing people.  Start with people first.

\\JMM

Quote of Week 18, 2017

“‘Reinventing the wheel’ sounds pretty benign but ‘failing to learn’ and ‘reinventing failure’ are actually what many organizations are facing today… especially troubling given the pace of change…” – Deloitte Development, LLC on Knowledge Managemennt 2016

What a great insight.  So many companies who don’t have a knowledge management strategy with staffing turn.  The fundamental problem of “teaching smart people to learn” and the invisible costs this comes with.

This quote came from DFW’s Knowledge Management interest group.  I highly encourage your participation.  A place where ideas go to be captured and shared.  Next one is May 24.  Hope to see you there.

\\ JMM

Quote of Week 17, 2017

“I would recommend looking at toxic culture through the glass of Deming’s 14 Points on Quality Management.” – Jonathan Merrill – From:  Deming’s 14 Points

  1. Create constancy of purpose for improving products and services.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy.
  3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on price alone; instead, minimize total cost by working with a single supplier.
  5. Improve constantly and forever every process for planning, production and service.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Adopt and institute leadership.
  8. Drive out fear.
  9. Break down barriers between staff areas.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations and targets for the workforce.
  11. Eliminate numerical quotas for the workforce and numerical goals for management.
  12. Remove barriers that rob people of pride of workmanship, and eliminate the annual rating or merit system.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement for everyone.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work accomplishing the transformation.

\\ JMM

Quote of Week 16, 2017

“Thank you for being an agent of change. Continue to be a voice for ideas for empowering our department to the next level. We don’t always express appreciation for the people who care about us.” – A Manager in Accounting

Agent of change.  What a great way to describe a person.  Please read “5 Characteristics of a Change Agent”.  This picture from the website describes it perfectly:

5 Characteristics of a Change Agent
5 Characteristics of a Change Agent

\\ JMM

Quote of Week 15, 2017

“Unless you are an OS vendor or tools company, If your business has to care about operating system end-of-life announcements, IT has failed.  If your business has to care about audit/compliance exposure due to old operating systems, IT has failed.  If, as a business what operating system you run is a point of contention, IT has abdicated its responsibility.” – From Can You DevOps from Windows, Steven Murawski (Blogger)

Heavy conversation this week around engineering technology infrastructure, cloud, DevOps, and why companies are struggling with this shift.  This article popped into view and perfectly explains the problematic nature of IT at large organizations.  Steven describes it as “The Passivity of Enterprise IT”, liking IT leadership as order takers and janitors of the software world.

DevOps core values are described by the acronym CAMS:  Culture, Automation, Measurement, and Sharing.  DFW hosts an DevOps user group and the re-occurring theme is not the A-M-S, although there are legacy challenges there too.  In my experience, start with C, Culture.

What’s the point?  This week’s quote is about IT’s real role:  providing business value.  Steven goes on to say, “IT is not just responsible for executing projects. IT is responsible for making sure the project will return business value.  IT is responsible for making sure projects are done in a supportable manner.”

What’s your IT look like?  Are you an order taker or doing what information technology’s real role is:  provide business value.  And please read Steve’s post.  How Microsoft does DevOps will continue to garner large interest.  How that’s done will get you a hundred different answers.

\\ JMM

Quote of Week 14, 2017

“Some animals were meant to carry each other, to live symbiotically for a lifetime – star crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not those animals. The slower we move, the faster we die. We are not swans. We’re sharks.”
– Ryan Bingham, Up in the Air (2009)

I was sitting at a table with a collection of other IT professionals this past week at a local networking event, when the conversation turned to turning forty. And, while I expected the usual aches and pains conversation, the informal comments and questions were on assessing careers at that milestone. Are you making and meeting your goals? Are you staying engaged or keeping the status quo? Are you slowing down as time goes on or keeping pace with the competition?

This quote popped into my mind during the event. We are sharks. We stay engaged. We practice life long learning. We improve and grow. And we teach. Because we are sharks.

\\ JMM