How long till I get it right? A Time Traveller’s Lament

I could have titled this entry “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good”, but that’s too boring. I’ve written before about serendipity and hit it again in the past week. At work, I’m looking at modeling and enhancing our processes in the large. By this I mean that as part of getting a handle on the organization, I’m putting together a diagram and description of our core process from acquiring prospects, through turning those prospects into customers, through starting and completing the project and billing those customers. Basically, the lifeblood of the consulting firm.

As I’m doing so, I’m looking at ways to optimize different parts of the process, and coming across a typical issue: that of building a plane while it’s in the air. <g> My default approach is to put together a team of people from across the company and work with them to put together any changes, and then roll it out across the company. However, we have a number of projects (thankfully) that are in flight and finding people with the time right now is hard. That leaves me with two choices – wait till some people can be freed up, or write up the new approach myself, set up the templates, systems, etc., and then have some people review it and roll it out knowing that it won’t benefit from the buy-in and extra eyes that doing it my preferred way would bring, but that it will provide some real benefits at the same time.

On the serendipity front, I went to the Seattle Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival this weekend. My favorite film (and the one that won the audience favorite award) was called Time Freak. It was about a guy who was so caught up in making the day before he invented his time machine perfect, that he’s been reliving that day over and over for weeks, just trying to get everything right.

At the same time, I finally got around to reading and finishing Stephen King’s latest book: 11/22/63 on my Kindle. In the book, a person is given a way to go back in time to the same moment in the late 50s. He can change history, but if he goes back in time again, it all resets. He decides to try to change the Kennedy assassination (among other things), but each time he goes back, it will cost him at least 5 years. He is continuously wrestling with the same issue – get it perfect, or good enough? And what, exactly, is “good enough”?

Anyway, as you can probably tell, working with some of the folks at ECWise, I’ve put together a set of strawman documents, and we’ll be getting the leadership together to look at them and make changes before presenting them to the larger company. As part of it, I’m going to make a commitment that as certain things happen, we’ll move to a more inclusive design process for these things across the company.

My basic belief is that while I’m a fairly smart guy, the massed brain power at ECWise is so much smarter than I am, that the goal is to unleash it not just for our customers, but continuously for ourselves as well.

Anyway, just a quick “lift my head up and tell you what’s going on” type of post…

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NY Times discusses Big Data and Analytics

Now when someone asks what ECWise does, I can point them to this NY Times article for a quick overview.

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Freaky Friday Management Technique

I love this blog post by Ben Horowitz. Like all great things, it is simple, understandable, and pushes the solution to those that are most affected by it. I’m a big believer in standing in someone else’s shoes – but hadn’t thought of doing it so literally.

I remember working on a cross-division initiative at Microsoft. The divisions had not been happy with each other for a while. Being new to the role, I went over to my counterpart and said “I hear that you feel we haven’t been working well with you. Tell me about it.” He vented for a while, then ran down. I then described my work history, and how I understood where they were coming from. I explained what I understood the problem was from our division’s side and how we could work together to fix both. When he saw that I was able to stand in his shoes, and I helped him stand in mine, we came to an agreement fairly quickly on a path forward, and worked together to push things through with our various VPs.

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Sometimes a bag is not just a bag

I believe that things happen for a reason – and if you are able to actually notice them, you can learn something. I also believe that when serendipity hits, it’s like being hit by a 2×4 that is urging you to PAY ATTENTION!

So today, I’m looking at my RSS feeds and see these two articles:

  1. Rands in Repose: A Bag of Holding
  2. Sara Ford: What a backpack can teach us about software design and usability

Great examples of how you can take an everyday thing or occurrence and really use it to understand something about a greater picture. The fact that they’re both talking about bags just makes it sweeter, IMO.

Thoughts?

 

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Annual Thanksgiving post…

Somehow, I got in the habit of linking to a very special video every Thanksgiving. I thought that instead of only doing it on Facebook, I’d do it here as well. I’ll be visiting with family and friends over the weekend – I hope that all my US friends have a wonderful holiday, and to those of you outside of the US, I hope you have a wonderful weekend! <g>

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Time for a reboot!

I’ve decided to take this blog and turn it into a mix of my business and personal thoughts. Here’s an email I just sent out announcing my departure from Microsoft and what I plan to be doing. More thoughts to come on the switch, but I did want to get the announcement online:

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In keeping with Microsoft tradition, I’m writing to all of you to let you know that December 2nd is my last day at the company.

I’m going to be taking a COO position at EC:Wise, a 100+ person consulting company that specializes in business intelligence, analysis and data services as well as a position in an associated startup that is providing automation, analytics and social networking for the casino industry. As most of you know, I’ve always been interested in helping companies attain their goals and enable better focus on their customers – whether thru transactional systems, data analysis or social networking. This allows me to hit many of these things at once. Additionally, it has the added bonus of working with some people that I’ve known for over 20 years, including someone that I used to work with in my own company back in my New Jersey days. Finally, I get to spend some time working not only in the .NET world, but the open source world as well.

My nearly 10 years at Microsoft have been an incredible learning experience – you’ve all been part of that. I’ve been involved in the creation of some amazing software, some incredible teams, and I respect the fact that this has been one of the few large companies that encourages you to speak your mind. If I can leave anything with y’all it’s to keep fighting to do the right thing by customers – both internal and external – even if you have to be creative to get there.

I’ll be staying in the Seattle area – and can be reached via my personal email at yalangriver@hotmail.com, and of course on Facebook at www.facebook.com/yalangriver.

Please keep in touch.

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More insanity from Improv Everywhere

Can I get a napkin, please!

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