Talking self-promotion, career protection and the simple architecture movement…

As I’ve noted a few times on my blog I seek the simple architectural answer when designing solutions. I try to avoid overly complicated designs and solutions in the end. It is part of what I have dubbed the Simple Architecture movement.

That said there is a place for complexity in the universe beyond Rube Goldberg devices. But the complexity of the view doesn’t always mean the solution that drove the view was complex.

For example, I was reviewing some old pictures and realized there are some very complex and intricate systems created by nature. The process of creation is simple, erosion or freezing but the result is complex.

Beyond that IT solutions that start complex and then well in the end if they start complex they run into two problems.

  1. Hit by the bus
  2. Cannot easily patch or manage

Hit by the bus is the bane of IT projects. It means that one person is a driver or so integral to the overall project that if they aren’t there the project will have issues or fail. We hear people say the phrase all the time but in the end Hit by the Bus is not part of the simple architecture movement. It is in fact a form of complexity.

The other side of complexity is the reality of patching and managing the environment. The harder it is to patch an environment the more over time you run into the complexity issues of solution drift and security risk. Solution drift is the Delta between the baseline (what we believed is deployed) and reality (what is actually deployed). The more complex the patching process the greater in the end the risk created.

Why is it then that sometimes software and solution architects seek complexity? Over documenting or under documenting a solution to the point of creating the hit by a bus issue? Job security.

I started the simple architecture movement with a posting nearly ten years ago (Difference Architectures) on MSDN. The reason for the original post was an internal argument about the size of architecture documents given to the customer and complexity. I broke up the various deliverables I thought ought to be included with an architecture. I struggled to convince my team members that they didn’t need to include every single mouse click in the overall architecture document – that was best included in configuration and operations guides.

Over time the customer started to agree with me which was the only thing that changed the teams mind. The risk of producing a smaller less “Thud-able” architecture and therefore jeopardize their careers was too much for them. There is a negative perception of self-promotion that I personally think is stupid. The only reason I think its stupid has to do with the fact that there are people that don’t do self-promotion but in the end don’t do anything that will jeopardize their careers. They belittle people that self-promote but then in the end they are risk free since whenever their career started.

Effectively my career protection is a pattern that isn’t communications but is actually personal style. So what you end up with is people so motivated to protect their careers that in the end they are paralyzed.

They create massive Thud Factor architectures not because it is the right thing to do for the customer but rather it is the right thing for them to do for their careers. They stand in front of you decrying the foul nature of self-promotion but in the end they seldom venture outside the safety of career protection zone.

Oh well. If you ring fence cow manure its still manure.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

The world is flat, but our lens’ should be curved…

“If we take but one view of everything in the end all we see is what we have chosen to see.” Sandler Boggs

In the exceptional book The World is Flat, the concept of the speed of transportation flattening the globe is presented. I’ve listened to that book three times and continue to find new information each time.

Globalization introduces new cultural variances and speeds up the world economy. Of course the reality of that speeding is that things that once would created a ripple in the world economic pool may now create many impacts rather than one. A flat economy throughout the world creates interdependence.

What worries me however is the opening statement Sandler made in a poem many years ago. Well it was during a poetry reading in describing a specific poem but still part of that poem was thinking about the concept of viewpoints.

Software Architects talk about views and viewpoints. What you see and you see it from. But at times if we aren’t careful we run afoul of the concept of only seeing what we wanted to see or choose to see.

Truly the world is flat. Truly we are one collective group “human.” I have been fortunate enough to travel throughout the world and I am happy to report that smiles are the same everywhere. From child to adult, a smile means a smile. Everything else is different but a smile is still a smile.

Our technology makes reaching people easier. Many years ago my father traveled for business. He was able to call home on rare occasions and would write us letters. He would be gone for one or two months at a time and we missed him. Later in life I also traveled for business but I was able to call home once a day in Europe and twice a day in Asia. The difference is immeasurable.

But we remain a world filled with strife and anger. As if the founding fathers of this country wrote a different paragraph. We hold these truths to be self evident. As long as you are like us. Was that the intended lens of the dream? That all be equal that are like us?

I hear people say they are in technology to change the world. It is in the end an interesting application of service. I wonder however, do they truly mean that? There are crowd funding campaigns that are working diligently to change the world. To create clean water around the world. To create new ways of capturing energy to reduce the dependence on fossil fuels. To make the world a better place. Technology is changing the world all around us. Go to a hospital and watch technology save someone’s life.

Yet we still have the lens of here and now. We publish data not always to inform but sometimes to manipulate. For example when you compare test scores across 100 million people you tend to move towards the lower side of the mean as the overall average. If you compare that to a nation with 10 million people they would normally tend towards the higher side of the mean. To raise or impact 10 million it costs significantly (1/10th) of what it costs to raise the 100 million.

Don’t like American schools – then raise your property taxes and pay more. US schools that have strong tax bases score higher on tests – those that don’t have strong tax bases don’t. Follow the money – its how you impact test scores. You see in the end the world is flat – which means AMERICA is flat as well. We are a nation with potential.

That is the lens. Problems that are local are seen as systemic. Problems that are systemic are seen as regional (multi-nation) and so on. Flat doesn’t mean the same it simply means that you can effectively get from Washington DC to Washington DC flying continuously in less than a day. It took 3 months in a ship that leaked to get from Europe to America and even longer to Australia in the early 1800’s.

Yes the world is flat, but our lens should be curved.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

My nearly monthly Indiegogo and Kickstarter project post…

I haven’t done my Kickstarter and Indiegogo projects I think are cool for awhile so here goes.

Kickstarter

The first is ODIN the first virtual mouse. Campaign link here. The interesting thing about this is like the laser keyboards that have been around for the past 3 or so years, this creates a laser mouse. I suspect it will, like the keyboards take some initial adjustment. I use the keyboard on the go with my iPad all the time. I don’t use the keyboard with my laptop but perhaps with this project I may start doing that.

This is my second time backing a Pebble project. My first Pebble Watch was damaged in an accident. My second watch became my daughters somehow. So this is a Pebble watch for me. I’ve looked at the Apple Watch (interesting but expensive) and frankly the Pebble remains the best smart watch I’ve seen. Yes I know I do post on Twitter and Facebook about things my smart watch does, those are jokes. So far this new campaign has taken off well.

Indiegogo

I considered buying an induction cooktop a few months ago. By the time you got everything needed in the end it was rather expensive. Along come Paragon. First I like this campaign because it is a large company embracing the new world of crowd funding – kind of lends credibility to the crowd-funding movement in a big way. Second this whole set-up gives you and induction cooktop at a considerably less $$$ point. Cheap is good, right?

This next project is the first of many in this area I suspect. OVRVision Pro is a VR camera. USB 3.0 connection VR camera that offerings an interesting starting point for Virtual reality. 3d cameras have been out for awhile (I love my Sony Bloggie). VR camera’s are the new it thing (the Microsoft Hololens making a huge splash). To me VR is the next phase of the IoT explosion in that the IoT expressed in a VR environment would make the information presented that much more valuable. Imagine being able to connect to your home automation system and see everything in your home, not just video feeds but temperature, environmental variables, sound/noise and security. It would change the world of baby monitors!

Notes:

When I first started backing and helping campaigns about three years ago there were a number of campaigns that were truly future looking. If you by the way want advice about your potential market and stumbling blocks from an experienced IoT and other new technology person please go here. I’ve noticed the explosion not only of new cutting edge technologies but also that each one is just a little bit more advanced. Very cool!

On the other side, I see a lot more “help me buy an iPhone, help me start college with a new computer. My X broke, I need a new one. So on and so forth, in the end if you want me to help – don’t post it without a really good story. I don’t back projects with sad looking teenagers asking for a car. I have those at home – thanks anyway.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Wandering the vast wasteland of employers that were…

I find the concept of compete or non-compete agreements to be interesting. First off because a company thinks one employee can tip the scale so far against them that they have no chance. Plus the reality is they aren’t where they were so the specialized knowledge while interesting isn’t as viable as when they were with the first company.

In the end you have to balance what you are trying to protect against in the end creating a worse problem for yourself later. Personally there are reasons I left. Those reasons would almost guarantee that other than writing against those solutions from the previous company because I know what they are writing I wouldn’t consider the solutions an advantage.

The advantage any one company has is not the people they lose but the good people they are able to keep. If they keep good people than the good people that leave won’t have as much of an impact. If they don’t keep the good people, then they are going to struggle anyway.

What I find interesting is that companies often don’t fully understand the value of their people. That is often why they have to have non-competes. You don’t want your best people doubling their salary and moving to a new place.

So you create non-compete and OCI scenarios. In the end is that the right direction? Probably not, in fact let’s go all the way it isn’t. All you do in the end is create more tension.

Ask yourself why do people leave my organization. It is in the end a hard question. One that you have to ask yourself. There is a need to protect the IP of a company. The reality is however if you are worried about someone they probably impacted that IP in some way so no matter what you’ve already lost. If you go after them more then now you risk losing more.

I think it is a balancing act that many HR and Legal departments do well and some do poorly. It goes the same by the way for make the last review of a person low. If they someday decide to return they can’t because you created an artificially low review. Guaranteed that will annoy the former employee considerably.

A wise man once said to me “remember you may go back.” I think all HR, managers and legal professionals should act as if the person may someday return. If you poison the well with an artificial low review, or dump OCI and non-compete on the person they will in the end bear a grudge. It is after all only human. Ask yourself what are you trying to do.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!

Leadership isn’t just being part of the team…

Full disclosure I am a leadership junkie. It gets me into trouble at leader.bosstimes because I don’t always agree with what is considered the best of thoughts today.

For example this image floats around all the time as an example of leader versus boss mentality.

I find it disturbing.

It is very one sided and shows only the argument that a leader gets into the mix and works alongside the team – which is a very good thing. It does however paint a picture that may be a bit misguided.

Leaders are engaged and involved. Boss’s are away and distant. That is true at times and can have a huge impact on what is happening. Now that said what if the boss, is a leader? What if they are physically unable to perform at the level of the team but are smart and able to avoid say the cliff that is just to the right edge of this picture. Where the leader in front will be the first one falling over the cliff, because they don’t have the vision.

Leadership isn’t just being part of the team. Leadership is having a vision of what has to happen to working to get there. Leading the entire team over the cliff isn’t leadership its “Lemmingology” the practice of being a Lemming.

The difference between a boss and a leader is the leader can imbibe the sense in the team that they need that person watching over them. Ultimately a leader takes responsibility for the care and security of the overall team. Great leaders worry about the team not themselves.

So the graphic isn’t right.

That could be a leader sitting on top making sure the team isn’t turning a little right and ending up going up a hill making the process harder or going over a cliff ending the process unsuccessfully.

The better picture would be the leader willing to pull the large object the team has to move, but the team choosing to have the leader watch over them to make sure everything goes according to plan. Or the leader pitching in to move the large object. Both views are in the end as much examples of leadership as they are anything.

A better example of leadership vs a boss is the team willing to pull that rock and the leader without being asked. Leaders imbibe a sense of team. Teams work together according to the strengths of each team member. Perhaps the better image would be the team rotating who got to ride along if the team was able to move the rock with three people, perhaps the leader allows one of the 4 to rest alternatively.

In the end the image isn’t leader vs boss. Its simply a potential view of the multiple facets of leadership. From each according to their abilities to each according to their need.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow?

The world is hollow and my drone has touched the sky…

As part of the IoT craze the new reality of ROV’s intrigues me. ROV’s aren’t part of the Internet of things, but they extend the edges of where your world is.

ROV stands for Remotely Operated Vehicle.

You can start with the Parrott AR Drone for aerial video as a great starting point. Frankly while you can record the video the controls on the smart device screen are far to sensitive and if your fingers slide off there is no automated hover function. We crashed our first one so hard it cracked the mother board. As much to fix that as it was to get a new one so into the trash it went.

There are also ROV’s that take video underwater. A good underwater and a good aerial drone today run about 1000 dollars. The difference between the two is that the underwater ROV’s is normally tethered. It is really hard to send any signal reliably through the water so you need the tether.

Eventually as the specialized drones are available they will include some of the new laser measuring solutions. Combining an aerial video drone with the Spike product would be a nice touch. You can take aerial photos that include measurements.

The interesting thing about aerial drones today is the reality of airspace. As the FAA begins to regulate drones they will lock out many more areas from drone flying (which is as it should be).

Also as you move away from the entry drones you will find the controls get better and better. Having a drone with the hover command makes your imaging much better. Separate controls and Wi-FI connections (for video/stills) also makes a difference.

I suspect realtors will hop on the aerial drone technology fairly quickly. You can create a virtual tour of the house and with the drone a virtual tour of the neighborhood. The United States Geological Survey organization would probably love the laser measurement video drones.

The police use drones heavily today – disarming that backpack someone left on a square that isn’t a backpack but a bomb. Fire department use drones to probe areas of buildings that are too dangerous for humans to enter. The military uses drones for a number of activities as well. While I have spent the majority of my blog talking about aerial and underwater drones there is a whole world of land drones as well.

Connectivity drives what we can see and do. With the various drones available you can extend your see and do into areas that you probably wouldn’t want to go, but are curious what is actually there. Of course you shouldn’t fly your drone over your neighbors houses that isn’t very nice. An ROV in the pool to capture bottoms up video of people jumping in is ok.

In the end this ROV technology also extends to the concepts of personal presence devices. The ability to in the end be two places at once.

For the world is hollow and my drone has touched the sky.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

About career progression…

A career. The career. My career.

Three questions in the end. The first being what career do I want. What is important to me and how will I in the end get to where I think I can do what I want to do? A career. That initial step from being someone to being someone in a profession. It doesn’t matter if it is blue collar, white collar or for that matter no collar that your profession chooses, it is your profession. A career.

The career is what happens after you have a few years of experience and find that part of a career that you are good at. Then that become the career. The path you’ve taken and made your own. It can be many different professions leading to one final goal. The career you master. The career.

Finally it is my career, shaped and molded into what I think is important. I being the interchangeable piece here the part that could be you, or the guy next to you or the young lady sitting behind both of you or the girl over in the corner. All of us have my career. Beyond the path chosen and the skills master my career represents what I talk I talk about. What I share. My career.

The stages that we have in our careers can be interesting. My father went through all three of these stages in two jobs. One as a high school teacher and one as a University Professor. It has in the end taken me three distinctly different jobs to even be near the last part of the process. School teacher to helpdesk professional and then finally IT consultant. A held desk person and an IT consultant have very different views of the world.

Evolution within yourself is what produces the change. You begin to see that this crisis is no worse than the last crisis and so in the end you don’t panic. I remember the first time a company I worked for reorganized. I was devastated as I watched people lose their jobs. I was also terrified that I would lose my job. The next time was bad but I was panicked. The most recent time I just kept working. If the organization wants me they will put me somewhere my skills are useful. If they don’t want me, then I will find another job.

That in the end is the maturation process that occurs between the career and my career. It is sometimes the hardest step to take. Knowing in the end that what you seek is more than a job. But sometimes all that is offered is a job. You have to make it a career.

Not mind you that I am advocating that you sit back and let things roll around you. Rather you should keep doing your job. If the company reorganizes and they don’t need your skills another company will. It is after all your career not the companies career. They will exist or cease exist without your presence regardless of what you do. Companies are born and die on an interesting cycle that often in the end has as much to do with the leadership of the company as it does what the company can build and sell.

So make it your career and keep on plugging.

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Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow