When to Cut Partners Not Meeting Expectations…

“What got you here, won’t get you there” – Dr. Marshall Goldsmith

This post isn’t about leadership, coaching, or ways to win.  It’s in the context of when you have to make the hard decision and cut a partner or vendor that has been in your service for many years.   Why?  I’ve done it wrong many a time.  It wasn’t good.

Any sales guy worth their salt will tell you it’s all about the relationship and, in my time, that advice is right.  I’ve gotten more done on the backs of relationships than not.  I’d even bet that I was more successful with the relationship than without.   That kind of deep partner.  The kind that involve knowing each others’ spouses, kids names, where they go to school, sharing the good times and the bad.

So, what to do when the partnership no longer performs to standard?  When should you cut bait and move onward?  Here is some of my practical advice having been through those scenarios.

#5.  Measure against Expectations.  I am one of those guys who preach, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”  If partners aren’t performing, can you quantify your unhappiness?  Are you able to explain the failure against what is contracted?  Even if it’s outlined in a statement of work, the key is “outcomes” and ensuring expectations are laid.  The more nebulous or gray it’s kept, the harder this will be to enforce.

#4.  Give Feedback Often I sometimes include contractors in my quarterly  evaluation.  I mandate minimum annual review of yearly contracts against our organizations’ outcomes.  This is the administrata.  However, what I am referring to is getting on the phone at least quarterly and letting your partners know how they are doing is good business.  Even if it’s a difficult conversation.  Let them know what the issues are as they happen.  Let partners attempt to fix.  This goes to the root of a good relationship.

#3.  Have a Plan.  After multiple conversations and no progress made, it’s time to formulate an exit strategy from your partner.  Examine contracts, look at work product, what is your obligations, how did they violate, was it reasonable effort to resolve?  Look at replacements, can you transition easily, what is necessary to transition?  Cost deltas?  Time impacts?  Have a plan to move.

#2.  Warn Before You Cut.  Plan in place, I’d give it one more opportunity to fix.  Relationships are hard to build and long to cultivate.  Give them the final meeting where it’s on the line:  change or we move on.  If hands are tied and your partner isn’t responding fairly, then you know what you need to do.

#1.  Always Treat With Respect.  As much as our instinct is to light a fire and watch it burn, how you leave the relationship speaks volumes about your character an professionalism.  Not to mention reflective of your company.  Send the letter formally terminating the relationship and stop paying the bill.  Then walk away and don’t look back.  Move on with respectfulness.

Food for thought.

\\ JMM

DrawToast – A simple and fun introduction to Systems Thinking…

DrawToast workshops are a great way to get groups to think freshly about mental models. In just 3 minutes, each person sketches a diagram of how to make toast. When comparing diagrams, people are shocked at how diverse the diagrams are, revealing a wide range of models of what’s important in making toast. It’s a great launch pad for  drawing out what’s really important to the group.

Link:  www.drawtoast.com

A+

\\ JMM

Cautionary Tale: Not all security vendors are above board…

The pen test we do through Nessus is passive, our goal is to identify and report the vulnerabilities we find and allow you to close the holes and harden your systems. A majority of vendors find passive pen test results sufficient but some require active pen test results. We don’t do active pen testing because of the risk and liabilities involved. – Recent Communication From A  Security Vendor

Who shall remain nameless.  There is a difference between penetration tests and security vulnerability scans.  The two do not meet.  Neither does an admission of a passive pen test or an annual security vulnerability scan being acceptable to the majority.  I’ve never heard those words in the same sentence.

This kind of misinformation to score the deal is ugly.  Not only is it a risk to the organization writing the check, but it’s your reputation on the line for signing the deal.  Only good security people will see through this…

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137 Security Questions …

“As Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying, ‘If I had 20 days to solve a problem, I would spend 19 days to define it.’  So the first question you need to be asking is, ‘are you asking the right questions’? – 137 Security Questions Every Leader Should Ask. (2013, September 9). In SecurityIntelligence

As we finish up our SOC2 audit, these security questions run concurrent with everything we do as a security practice and a security leader.  This is one of those articles I refresh upon every now again because it’s exactly on message.

Check the link:  https://securityintelligence.com/137-security-questions-every-leader-should-ask/

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Using Social Security Number as a Bank ID…

SSN is not for IDThere are no laws preventing a bank or credit union of using the SS# as a bank ID. (The government remved the verbiage indicating that the SS# cannot be used as identification sometime in the 70’s.) It is just a bad idea… for a few reasons, based on a conversation I was in with legal experts.  Here are those notes:

1) It is considered personal identifiable information (PII).  PII could include:

  • Name: full name, maiden name, mother’s maiden name or alias
  • Personal identification numbers: social security number (SSN), passport number, driver’s license number, taxpayer identification number, patient identification number, financial account number or credit card number
  • Personal address information: street address or email address
  • Personal telephone numbers
  • Personal characteristics: photographic images (particularly of face or other identifying characteristics), fingerprints, or handwriting
  • Biometric data: retina scans, voice signatures, or facial geometry
  • Information identifying personally owned property: VIN number or title number
  • Asset information: Internet Protocol (IP) or Media Access Control (MAC) addresses that consistently link to a particular person

Using the SS# as the customer identifier makes this information more accessible to contractors, vendors, and others that require access to the account but not the PII. (Thin about how you are accessing your bill payment vendor. You will be passing the customer identification number. Hence you are now providing a SS# to a third party vendor.)

2) Speaking of third party vendors…you must consider how they use the customer identification number. Fiserv sometimes embeds the ID in the transaction number. Now the SS# is exposed elsewhere. I have seen other payments transfer vendors do similar things. Customers get a little sensitive about this sort of thing.

3) You now have the SS# is two places on your system. While you may contain your PII differently, the customer number is generally not considered PII. You will be forced to consider this with every interaction – printed reports, statements, etc.

4) It’s not unique, and its not even a very good identifier. The most infamous case of that was 078-05-1120, which was used on a sample Social Security card by a wallet manufacturer. At one point, more than 5,700 people were using that number as their SSN.

Fascinating.

\\ JMM

Bringing Us Together…

This is an excerpt of an email I sent to our employees.  I am proud to be a part of this organization change and milestone with Lanvera’s IT department.


We Are All ITO

Historically, “IT Operations” was one department, one team, all functions.  This model hasn’t made sense and wasn’t positioning this department to scale to the next level.  Since May 2017, we’ve seen more than a few organizational changes, restructuring functions, and changing of personnel roles.  Now the dust has settled, it’s a good time to mention our brand and mission for this year.

My team’s theme for 2018 is NIHIL SINE MAGNO LABORE.  Latin translation is “Nothing Without Great Effort”.  Steve talks a lot about our IT transformation, having achieved much, but have more ground to go.  The phoenix seen here is representative of our transformational journey.  I would like to extend this theme to all IT teams as we pull together.

To this aim, all teams fall under the department “ITO” and break out into three separate teams:  Infrastructure, DevOps, and QA.  Moving forward, teams will be identified as “ITO – Infrastructure”, “ITO – DevOps”, and “ITO – Quality Assurance”, respectively.  The goal is unification of technology services and support.

Bringing us together.

\\ JMM

Cross Training Teams in a Knowledge Culture

“Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.”
— Chinese Proverb

There is so many things IT people need to know these days.  Gone are specializations in many organizations.  Yep, IT pros must know 20 to 30 different types of technologies to remain relevant and competitive.  In fact, as I interview younger candidates, there is evidence the new generation of IT people already have these skills and more.

And that’s just infrastructure.  All organizations expect IT people to know core business applications.  Specifically, how they relate to the organization and customer, technical work flows, monitoring, and on and on.  How does an organization tackle it all while keeping IT pros at least tuned into the periphery?

How I’ve done this historically is this idea of knowledge culture and DevOps’ “Sharing” idea, where team members present material via a TED talk.  Below is my deck on peer learning.  I hope you find it applicable.

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Lanvera Update: January 2018

“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” – Benjamin Franklin

January marks the six months and our progress is moving rapidly on multiple fronts.

1. Developed and publicize IT’s strategic plan for 2018. This is our road map for the year, developed in December and approved by senior leadership.

2. Workstation Technology Refresh is in full swing. Moving to Windows 10 has been fairly uneventful and user satisfaction is high with the hardware decision. Although we’ve made a conscious decision to stay with legacy software productivity platforms so we can have more time considering Office 365.

3. VMWARE NSX progessing slowly. Primarily, due to difficulties with our network provider, a subject for a future blog. Mobius has been fantastic and working with my local team. Concurrently, team members are spinning up on NSX via VMWARE’s training classes.

4. SOC2: AICPA’s Service Organization Control 2. SOC 2 is considered a technical audit, but goes beyond that. SOC 2 requires companies to establish and follow strict information security policies and procedures, encompassing the security, availability, processing, integrity, and confidentiality of customer data.

5. Knowledge Management and ORC. Hard push getting Operations Readiness Checklists for all production systems to serve as the foundation of our KM system.

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+++ If you read this far, you may be wondering if this is an old post. Yes. It was never published, along with the other 30+ posts in various stages.

Why We Need and How We Execute Strategic Meetings

Speaking strictly of Patrick Lencioni’s vision of Death By Meeting, the strategic meeting is the hardest meeting to get off the ground.  Although, I argue it’s the most critical.  At LANVERA, we’ve succeeded at stand up and tactical.  Easy parts.  Now, onto strategic…

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