Getting Better at Getting Better

Wonderful article over in the New Yorker called, Better All The Time. I saw it in the context of getting better at running which someone had referenced in that regard. However, it applies to work, to running, to most things. We need to think about getting better at getting better.

I’ve started running and I’m planning to run a marathon in a few months which is something inconceivable to me just a few years or even months ago. Now I’m running several times a week and recently did a 15 mile run with my running partner which is the longest run I’ve ever done. Now I’m running half marathon lengths just to train for the marathon!

All of this running has started me thinking about how do I become a better runner who can not just complete a marathon, but actually enjoy it and finish it in a strong, heads up fashion? There are lots of web sites and training plans and tools to help one prepare for this, but what is interesting to me is the idea of deciding to get better and then doing the research and taking the steps to get better. When exactly should I drink water, or consume some energy (Gu)?

We need to do the same in our IT shops and in all our organizations.

  1. We need to measure results, times, costs, efforts, etc. in our processes. Not in a needless fashion or dumb fashion, but measure the right things.
  2. Ask the people who are doing the work how to do things better. They are doing the work so ask them what are their obstacles and what is slowing them down. Likely they know how to help get things done better and faster.
  3. Don’t be arrogant and assume the way you are doing is the right way. Keep asking questions. Ask your vendors what ways they’ve seen things done better? Be open to all good ideas.
  4. Keep looking, even when you do find an improvement because there is another one behind it.

I’ve been learning when to hydrate, when to consume Gu, when to drink Powerade and I’ve discovered I’ve been taking these things in the wrong order and not enough. I’ve also learned different training methods than I had not heard of before. I think these things will help me get better and improve my ability to be successful at the marathon.

We need to be thinking this way in our IT shops.

Celebrate Those Who Get Things Done

Read something a few days ago that I can no longer find to reference. It got me thinking that we should celebrate those who get things done, not the ones who cast a vision or who are the appointed leaders. The ones who get things done are the ones we go to when we need help, when we have problems, when there are hard problems to solve. We don’t need a vision in those situations, we just need to get something done.

We need to be better at identifying these people in our organizations and honoring them in whatever fashion is appropriate. And we need to develop a sense of think about them, looking out for them and helping them get things done faster.

Maybe leaders should focus on getting obstacles out of the way of those who are getting things done?

Been gone for a while. Been busy, but aren’t we all? Wrote a bit about it over here.

Collaboration Thinking

I’ve recently being doing some work with friends on a personal project and during the course of our work, notes were shared via mailing a ms word file to all the team members asking for input and additional ideas.

I have to say that I can’t work this way anymore. I don’t think this way anymore.

I’ve become used to working collaboratively on the same document at the same time. Mailing around files to share is the past. Sharing a link and jointly and simultaneously working on the same document is the present.

I’ve also noticed that this is hard to explain to someone who has not worked this way. If someone challenges you to work with some of the new tools like Google Apps, you need to give it a try.

 

An Integrated Health Database

It is interesting to note that the Apple Health application isn’t taking off very quickly. Several of the related apps that I use do not share data with the Health database, but they are willing to take data from the database. The program Lose It! connects but only draw nutrient data from the database and doesn’t share its own data. Fitbit has not expressed much interest and is not sharing. It is even surprising that Nike doesn’t share data yet, but I suspect they will soon.

This database will not be valuable unless various apps are willing to share their data which many likely won’t do. These sites would prefer that users have to visit their applications or web site (to see ads) and they don’t want it consolidated elsewhere.

Several possible scenarios might unfold:

  1. Applications vendors will choose not to take part (share) and the database will never reach a level where it has a complete picture of one’s health. At some point in the future it will quietly disappear.
  2. New vendors and applications will arise who want to play in this space and they will supplant the incumbents by providing this connectivity and this integration and users will shift away from the leading apps today to these new ones. In short, this is a time of disruption. Or
  3. Apple will be the main user of the database and a few other parties and it will never go very far beyond where Apple invests.

All of his ignores legal and privacy questions or challenges which might affect it too.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if Google and Apple got together and used the same integrated database so applications built on either platform could share in the same format? Oh, sorry, I was just thinking…

Cloud Platforms and M&A Work

So I’ve been wondering if having a system in a cloud platform makes it easier to do M&A work, i.e. integrate an acquisition into your company’s environment. Is it easier to merge them into a cloud platform than to an on premise platform?

I know of what case where an acquired company and the acquiring company were both using the same cloud service. One might think it would be easy to merge them together, i.e. the provide could flip a switch or run a script or press a button and the domains would be merged. Not so fast, doesn’t work that way, actually very hard to do. In fact, a 3rd party is needed to merge the domains. Weird, strange and dumb.

In another case, three different companies that were merging used the same cloud service. In this case, it was easier, not because they could easily merge domains, but because all three companies had the same skills and knew how to use the systems and thus merge the systems. In this case, the new combined organization had lots of expertise that could be applied to consolidate the systems. However, one might argue that this would be true even if they were not a cloud platform, i.e. a on premise platform.

It seems to me that the advantage of having a cloud platform like Salesforce.com is that all the companies are on the exact same version. The cloud integration completely avoids the problem of being on the same software but different versions. That would seem to be the key advantage. Less variables to control.

What other advantages can you see? Is it an advantage at all? What do you think?