A hard fought personal lesson learned…

Do you fit the mold? I once interviewed for a job that I proved the need for, designed the team for and ultimately delivered already in the field. After the interviews they selected someone else and told me “I wasn’t strategic.” My confidence personally and professional dropped through the floor. I later joined the team because frankly it was the best place for my skills. While on the team I built everything I had laid out in my less than strategic interview.

I found out from other people that the role I was interviewing for had been selected before the Interviews even started and they had given me an interview because I had built the framework on which the team would exist.

It has however for the past 5 years been a motivator for me. You cannot in the end be strategic when the deck is stacked against you. But you can learn from the what and how of the deck being stacked. In the end I was right. There was a huge need for the team I designed. But that team isn’t there anymore. I had built it into a 3 year window. I knew that was all they would need. Because frankly three years before that a bunch of us had created the market. In the end strategy is seeing the big picture.

The big picture in the end is never today.

Its about the messaging delivered yesterday and the messaging delivered today resulting in the customer feeling like they have to move forward with that messaging tomorrow.

What I learned and it was hard won, was that strategy means what the person talking to you thinks it means not what it may or may not mean to everyone else. When the goal is changing things around, then coming in as the existing system won’t get you a strategic vote.

Like I said it shook my confidence but in the end I moved on (literally as I no longer work for that company).

You have to in the end move on. It can be really hard to move on but in the end it is the best thing you can do. So I share this today not as a bitter reminder of getting kicked in the teeth but rather as a lesson learned about hob nailed boots. There is in the end a reason why people aren’t liked. There is a reason why people have agendas.

Do the best you can. And let the rest fall away from you.

My grandfather always told me to look before I leaped. I always remember that but I don’t always do that. This is a great example of my leaping before looking. In the end I should have paid attention to those around me telling me the fix was in.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Why do negative starts derail meetings?

A negative start to a meeting has such an impact not only on the meeting but on the rest of the day. I have come recently to realize that its important to keep meetings moving forward without the negative. Not in the end that it is easy to shift negative meetings to the right but it is important to try.

In my book Transitional Services I published a number of patterns and anti-patterns for both communication and meetings. I’ve been sharing those on Linkedin as well (one at a time). I’ve posted the builder which is a pattern and an anti-pattern and the project pirate that can in the end be both a pattern and an anti-pattern but is most likely to be an anti-pattern. I have also posted one of my personal favorites the dancing bears anti-pattern. There are many more to come on linked in.

The problem as discussed in my book is that each of these types of personalities change the system that is your meeting. The inputs from the various types of patterns and anti-patterns you have in your meeting effectively can create the best meeting ever or one where everyone sits in the room wondering why am I here?

There in lies the problem. Why am I here is a bad question to be asked in a meeting. First off the meeting has really gone off the rails if someone says it out loud. Its bad if people are thinking it as well. Over the course of my career I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in that I’ve felt that way. Years ago I had a boss that had team meetings that by the end of the meeting every time I was counting how many hours were wasted and how much that time actually cost.

Cost implies loss and that is the intent. If you have a meeting where nothing comes of it, or worse people walk out with the why was I there attitude in the end the meeting is a loss. The definition of a meeting is where people come together. In the modern world we’ve expanded this to include remote professionals via web meetings and telephone.

Two quick things on the modern meeting:

  1. You have to run a telephone meeting differently than an in-person meeting. I am sure there is another pattern and anti-pattern in here. A meeting facilitator that doesn’t in the end facilitate the meeting.
  2. Meetings must begin and end on time.

Most meetings have soft beginnings. They start roughly 2-3 minutes after the appointed time. That’s acceptable only because if you include people on the phone there is that period of people connecting to the meeting and announcing themselves.

If however you aren’t done at the appointed time you have to ask people – can we continue? It’s the most critical part of meetings to consider the value of the time of all people involved. Beyond the consideration of ending on time is showing up on time. As a participant if you arrive late, you need to blend into the existing meeting and catch up on what was missed via notes or some other form of communication. If you force the meeting to reset or attempt to seize control of the meeting after arriving late you are in effect a project pirate.

Running an effective meeting means that there is consensus, output and notes that everyone can review. If you run effective meetings, people are less likely to show up late, Project Pirates, Dancing Bears and other bad meeting behaviors tend to fade away.

It is in the end easier said than done.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

A few random thoughts, ideas and well random…

For some reason this morning I am staring at the flashing cursor and my mind is a complete blank. There are thoughts running through my head but none of them are strong enough for a blog. Perhaps it’s a random thought day.

Random things popping into my head…

  • I saw a post yesterday saying I am over the Internet of things. My response to that was: It really isn’t the Internet of things it’s the Internet of connections.
  • I was reading the State of Maryland aggressive driving sign. Then I had to stop reading because four people cut me off.
  • Why is HOV enforcement random? Just sit there every day for a month and people will stop using the HOV lane that shouldn’t use the HOV lane. Seriously. Do something 27 times and event he most aggressive adults will learn not to do that.
  • I love Thai Food.
  • My new car glows when you get home at night and put it into the garage. My sons say it doesn’t and that my thinking it does is an LSD Flashback.
  • My dog hates laser pointers. He will chase the dot for hours. Then he glares at me when it stops. I wish I could have that level of innocent fun.
  • Weather forecasters in the DC are are 1 for their last 3 winter storms. Perhaps we should merge Major League Baseball and weather prognostication into a single thing. Batting .330 is a pretty good average against big league pitchers.
  • Coffee like water takes the path of least resistance. Why is that always the front of my shirt?
  • I read recently that a person plays chess with their kids and asks up front do you want to play the teaching way or straight. With the teaching way the person helps them with each move. Seriously? Why would you do that? Tell your children up front that you won’t play down to them. Teach them that competition is honorable. That you compete within the rules to the best of your ability. That way when you win, you earned it. Playing down to children teaches them that competition is a calculated effort.
  • I find it very hard to watch IU Basketball live now. I don’t like the inconsistency with which the team has played the past two years. Even when the talent wasn’t there in the past, the team still played consistently.
  • I love Mike and Mike on ESPN radio. It’s a great way to start every day.
  • I still want to start a 3d parts store. I think the ones that have been started so far are charging too much. I just can’t seem to finish the business plan.
  • For most of the past 25 years I’ve been involved in IT. I find myself interested in talking to people that are just starting out. I love mentoring and guiding people. I get so much energy from the fresh way younger people look at the IT infrastructure around us.
  • For Stop and Go traffic to be real there has to be the occasional go.
  • In the DC area most of the cars seem to go 0-60 in less than 5 seconds. It makes driving a smart car a little harder. I can stay at 60 no problem, but getting there takes me a little longer.
  • What happened to the rule 10 miles per hour = one car length. When I have one or two car lengths between me and the car in front of me (driving safely) I have five people cut into that space. The space isn’t for people to cut in, its to prevent an accident.

Like I said a massive amount of random today. I guess sometimes if the path out of my brain is clogged I end up with lots of bits and pieces of thoughts that aren’t in the end fully baked.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

People have often asked me how I felt about LOTR and The Hobbit movies so…

The magic of cinema is creating what isn’t there. I’ve had a number of conversations recently about the Lord of The Rings and Hobbit movies and thought I would move them to a more permanent location.

First off I read the Lord of the Rings first in 1972. I had read all the science fiction books in the Bangkok Patana School library and the library recommended I try the books by JRR Tolkien. I was skeptical  at first being that to that point I had always been a Sci-FI reader and not a fantasy reader. But I took the original English version (that published all three of the Lord of the Rings together as one large book) and started reading it. Within a day I was hooked and finished all three books within two weeks. I look for another book by the same author and got to read the Red Book of Westmarch (There and back again, a Hobbits tale). I loved those books. They to this day remain my favorite books and Tolkien my very all time favorite writer.

Returning to the US I found a great desire to read the books again and in visiting my local library was sadly disappointed to find out they had not made their way across the pond yet. I had to wait two more years before they would be available again in the US. Then they were released as four books, and edited in such a way that they were very different than the books I had read in Bangkok.

I watched every single variation of the books that were turned into movies over the years. I owned the games (what a great map of middle earth they were) and I read all of the follow on books that were slowly released after Tolkien’s death.

People tell me that Peter Jackson’s vision for both the LOTR and Hobbit movies was off. Frankly I would argue first they should look at see all the horrible movies that had been produced. Second Peter Jackson, like myself read a different version of the books than most American’s did. It wasn’t until nearly 1995 that the English published versions started appearing in the US (Penguin books destroyed the Hobbit frankly).

Peter Jackson’s vision is different than mine. But it is fun to see the what and how of Middle Earth as Mr. Jackson saw it. Certainly there are things that I would have less Hollywoodized, but the other side of his vision is he had to produce films that the mass market would go to. LOTR was really close to the books. As close in fairness I think he could go without having a billion dollar budget for special effects.

The Hobbit was something I was used to having serialized so it didn’t both me to have it broken into three parts. I would have liked the Hollywood romance part to not be included but I do understand that there was a likeability needed for the characters. Based on the Smaug actor Benedict Cumberbatch I would have liked to have more of the conversations of Bilbo and Smaug I the movie. To me those are the conversations that made the book. Innocence talking to malevolence. Bilbo’s eyes suddenly opening about Thorin Oakenshield. Certainly the hero’s tale was not complete without the tension created by Smaug. Dragons do have silver tongues and they picked the perfect actor to play the role.

Still I love the world created by Tolkien and I applaud Mr. Jackson for his vision. Would I have made the films the way he did? No. But Hollywood studios don’t often call me and say “here is 200 million dollars for your vision of The Hobbit.” It is a movie that creates conversations and gets people to read the phenomenal books. So that in the end is the best possible answer.

PS if you do watch the movies and read the books, make sure you get the English version not the imported US version of the 1970’s/ The original publication of the books was as a two volume set. Volume 1 was “There and back again, A hobbits Journey” and the LOTR trilogy published as 3 books within Volume 2.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

An upcoming IoT conversation I will be having–looking for input!!!!

I’ve been asked to do a series of the IoT and you presentations. I have been thinking about this since I was asked. First off I love giving talks.  In particular with the IoT theme requested I can dive fully into my CSTEAM presentation concept.

For this series I think I am going to head down the path I started here on this blog. The concept of wearable, stayable and portable IoT. What can I tell y0u about the world around us? Is the overall theme I am thinking about using. (testing it here to see if it resonates).

I have about five weeks to flesh out what I am going to present but the concept is there. I suspect I will probably do a little of the “magic” of technology as my father used to present the “magic” of science. Things that appear to be magical but in reality are simply the application of physics, chemistry and air pressure. I wonder if Vernier makes an air pressure gauge. That might be a fun addition. How much is the world pressing down on you?

There will not be an Internet of Bling conversation. That much I can guarantee you. Flashy jewelry and blinking lights in the end don’t work on me. I look like a fat billboard. So there won’t be a blinged out conversation.

I may wander around the desert of what you can connect today. I am sure I can dig up a number of interesting devices to be connected to an iPhone for this talk. But there also needs to be a theme based on learning/education/teaching in this presentation. The goal is not to dazzle but instead to inform.

A friend suggested I focus on security and the IoT, it is a very good suggestion and I suspect I will talk about security a bit. Security is an interesting problem that IoT based on becoming the something you know and something about you components could increase security radically. Imagine a secure chip embedded in your cell phone that requires both a passcode, finger print and a password in generating that secure code for you. That would be three layers of security to get to the second layer of security in another system.

But I think for high school students I will keep this more to the information you can gather. If in the broader audience anyone has any suggested types of information easily gathered by a phone or tablet please let me know. To start I will demonstrate the list below:

  • Wind speed and direction (connected directly to an iPhone)
  • Temperature and the UV radiation in the room…
  • Radiation in the atmosphere around us (again connect to an iPhone)
  • Infrared camera (still connected)
  • remote MIDI device connected wirelessly to a phone
  • Remote weather station connected to a phone
  • Connecting via the phone to a remote automation system

I am sure there are many more connections I can show. I do only have an hour (actually 45 minutes) so I can’t show everything but at least above we have a starting point. I haven’t done one of these talks in almost a year so this will be fun. I was doing these almost every single month for a long time. I kind of miss that.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Do not go gentle into that good VR. Rage, Rage against the passing of reality…

I was thinking last night, watching the Oscar extravaganza that media has come a long way. I started watching TV when I was little, although at the time it was a black and white TV. Things have changed so much. They are about to change as much in the next five years as they have to date total.

360 degree cameras are soon to hit the mass market. Devices that can see all around and create images of that. From there it is a simple addition of a filter and a viewpoint to have an instant VR scanner. But the 360 camera in the center of the room and let it create the virtual reality room.

I see a VR desk, stacked with the various papers you need to work on – the many things you need to read or comment on. Who needs an office with a window – just pull the window video feed from your favorite view anywhere in the world to the wall of your VR office. Now you can sit happily reading architectural documents and reports on why the company is losing money while relaxing on your favorite beach. Tuesday in Hawaii. Wednesday in Thailand and finally end up Friday back in your driveway shoveling snow.

People have sometimes called it the immersive experience. Science fiction authors have argued for years that some will get lost in the experience. Never returning to this world because the virtual world is so much better.

The Holocam from Microsoft makes things interesting. Its probably 12 months away from release, maybe a little less but it opens the door. Once the door is open the experience is just moments away.

Reality becoming just another phase within the existence of us. Like the joke now “do you remember when you were the remote control for your family television.” Dad sitting in his chair and saying “change the channel. Where channel surfing meant you standing there changing the channel until dad found what he wanted to watch. Thank goodness in those days it was only 12 channels at most. Not the 100’s of channels that would explode today with cable or satellite TV.

An immersive world where the IoT can provide you with information about the real world and you can navigate the immersive virtual world.  It makes me wonder if the next generation of humans will turn off the IoT devices. No longer caring about the physical universe around them. The 4 minute mile becoming a story told about when people had to walk and run places. Where they got into airplanes and flew 1/2 way across the world. Not like today son where you can be anywhere you want to be, right now.

Plato spoke of the union of the body and the mind. Hopefully people won’t run with their VR helmets on. Running through the streets of Pamplona chased by virtual bulls. Hemingway sitting on a veranda overlooking where we are running cheering us on. Run he shouts in his gruff writers voice, Run. Then shutting off the treadmill we look around, no Hemingway, no bulls, just the person we are running next to in the gym.

A change is coming soon. A separation of the physical and the virtual world. Yea though we go bravely into that good night let us not loose our grip on this mortal coil. Hold tight against the passing of reality. Do not gentle in that good VR.

My apologies to Dylan Thomas for modifying the line of his poem. But it fits in the end that reality would be the thing we were striving to keep. Fighting against the alluring sirens call of VR. Pulling further and further away from what was real to what was perfect and simple.

Do not go gentle into that good VR.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Its hard sometimes to make things simple. Sometimes you have to start with complexity to finish with simplicity!

To each his or her own.

Of course, if you are a consultant you should add 30 pages to that.

The measure of a solution isn’t in the end the cost to build and deploy it. The value and measure of a solution is the benefit it brings to the organization. Now this can be process improvement, income generation, mission delivery or income recovery. I am sure there are even more ways one application can make a different for an organization.

It is an interesting dance in the end. I argued for many years that in building out a solution map with a customer you should help them move towards application portfolio management. The problem with APM is that it is complex. You can gather the information but without the right analysis tool that information is effectively just well data.

Step’s to an APM portfolio:

  1. Capture all .exe’s and DLL’s in your organization both on servers and on desktops
  2. Use or leverage an application that sorts exe’s and dll’s into the I am part of this application
  3. Get rid of DLL’s that don’t have enterprise or operating/server OS application. This can be old and frankly stuff you don’t want.
  4. Take a look at your new master list of applications.

What applications do we have deployed today.

What do those applications do (primary function)

Are there sub functions in any application that are duplicated

If possible begin removing duplication

Publish a new standard application list

First off, if you know what the functionality and capabilities of the applications you have deployed are, you can more effectively consider what it is you are trying to do. The complexity of an organization is frankly what you have deployed today. If you can get to the base functions your IT world becomes easier. Once you know exactly what is out there, you don’t have to stress about deploying new solutions. You can simply do a functionality roadmap.

Building a Functionality roadmap from your APM output:

  1. We have the following X applications deployed
  2. They have the following Y features
  3. They have announced in the next version they will add z features.
  4. Let’s call this – the baseline.
  5. What deviates from our baseline

one-off applications approved for deployment

mobile applications that require unique application of functionality

duplication within security applications

Based on this roadmap you begin to see what you have, what you will have and what you need to remove. Effectively yes this is in the end a more complex process than the simplicity movement would call for. But its ok to implement a complex process (APM) that in the end results in a streamlined enterprise.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.