Showing posts with label Planning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Planning. Show all posts

April 22, 2019

You Ended Up In Hell City

So a friend told me something funny.

It was about being given what appears to be a wonderful opportunity, but in reality it's not all roses. 

In short, it went something like this:
There was an exciting competition and a prize at the end. 
Everyone prepared and worked hard to win it. 
But when the competition was over, what was the prize?
The 2nd place was two weeks in Philadelphia. 
The 1st place was one week in Philadelphia. 

I had to think about that for a second, but that is really pretty funny and true. 

No not about Philadelphia, but about life--that what we often mistakenly want so badly and strive for with all our energies, and then only to find out that it really wasn't as good or amazing for us and our families as we imagined. 

Yes, very often you set your sights on certain goals to win the competition, but then you find out that the BIG prize ("first place") is really not something to get excited about, because it's in Philadelphia!  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 25, 2019

An Early Death

So I received an email last night from the teacher of my Ulpan class. 

She was passing along a message from a wonderful man in class letting her and us know some terrible news.

His son suddenly and unexpectedly died at just 28-years old this past week. 

He wrote about how tragedy like this impacts a person and family, and that obviously he didn't know when he would be coming back to class. 

The message from this man who had just prematurely lost his son in the prime of his life really hit me. 

Life is so tenuous--where everything truly hangs in the balance by a thin thread. 

You can think you are building a fortress of success where no one and nothing can touch you, hurt you.

But life has its own catapults, battering rams, siege towers, and explosive moments in store.

You can't really plan for these things, and you are never ready when they happen. 

Having to bury a child is not the normal way of the wold, and the pain of this is unimaginable. 

A child is the culmination of all our efforts and represents the future, even while we are the past. 

I am so sorry for what happened to my friend from class and I wish him my sincerest condolences and that no one should have to go through such tragedy any more. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 26, 2019

From Chaos to Order

The world challenges us all the time. 

Yes, the world functions based on the "laws of nature," scientific facts, and mathematical formulas, and so you'd think everything in our lives would be orderly and work like clockwork.

But, as human beings, our lives are too a great extend a function of what gets thrown at us and how we react to them, and not the constancy of the world context that these things are happening in. 

It's easy to be surprised, become overwhelmed, or even be stumped by the daily barrage of things that we are new to us or we simply don't know how to handle.

A world governed by Mother Nature thus, often seems more like a world ruled by Murphy's Law. 

In a world that we can often experience as chaotic and disorderly, the answer is not to break down and cry or run and hide, but rather to create our own sense of order. 

Thus, the antagonist of chaos and disorder is consequence and order. 

The way to get to order in your life is through planning and preparation. 

The more you plan and prepare, the better you are able to deal with the challenges you are dealt. 

I believe this is the cornerstone of what a good education and training is--preparing you for real life!

Generally, if you plan and prepare for a broad spectrum of scenarios (especially the worst cast scenarios), you won't be left sitting out there scratching your head when the proverbial "sh*t hits the fan."

Thinking out of the box and ahead of the curve, and using scenario-based planning and preparation can give you the tools and confidence to leave the anxiety behind and move more swiftly to confront challenges head-on. 

Of course, we'll never be able to imagine or be prepared for everything that can happen--but the more you can free your mind to think about the "what if's" and how to mitigate the risks, the better shape you are in to act with determination and decisively when you really need to.  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Elisa Riva)
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November 30, 2018

Life Is Like A Sailboat

Planning is a critical aspect of making progress toward your goals.

As they say;
If you fail to plan, plan to fail. 

However, planning is subject to life--and life happens!

One colleague of mine compared it to a sailboat, and our dialogue went something like this:

You set out on a course. But the wind and ocean current takes you here and there. Even as you try to steer the boat with the sails and rudder, sometimes you land on Gilligan's Island!


Hence, life is like a sailboat.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 14, 2018

Winding Path Of Life

Thought this was an interesting commentary on life. 

Perhaps, we seek a straight line--with no bumps or bruises--to go from where we are to where we want to be. 

But life has others plans for us. 

The road ahead is often winding and where we truly end up is often unknown. 

Certainly, staying frozen in place and doing nothing with our lives is not an option. 

So we move forward, one step at a time, and occasionally taking a leap forward. 

Also, sometimes, we have to take a few steps backward before we can advance again. 

Other times, we may even stumble and fall. 

Whatever happens, we continue to work our way towards the landing at the top to see what we shall see. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 11, 2018

Stretch Goals That Break The Band

So I learned some important lesson about stretch goals. 

You want to have stretch goals because they make your strive to do and be your best. 

When you have to stretch yourself above your normal then you can take yourself to whole new levels of performance and achievement. 

However, if the stretch goals are ridiculously unachievable than you simply set yourself up for frustration and failure. 

Goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. 

But too often they are DUMB goals: Directed by others, Unachievable, Made to fail, and Based on false assumptions. 

For example, if someone tells you to jump off that bridge into the whitewater beneath because they assume that somehow you can spread you bare arms and fly--guess what is going to happen to you?

Goals can help you get to new heights of accomplishment in life or they can pull you down in false condemnation and despair. 

Like in fighting the good fight...be careful when you are sent to the front lines in trench warfare with heavily dug fortifications, machine guns and artillery placements aimed your way and yelled at with no rational strategy to "Advance!"

The only place that is going to take you is to an early grave. 

Instead, fight smart and take the hill when the hill is takable--you save a lot more lives that way and you actually take that hill! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 4, 2018

Things Look Different Up Close



So this was interesting. 

I was coming up the highway. 

In the distance, there looked like there was a large tractor-trailer heading towards me.

I had to take a double take, because this truck was on my side of the divider...Oh shit!

It was only as I got closer that I could see that the truck was really being towed in reverse by a tow truck. 

Yes, "seeing is believing!"

This is a lesson in life:

Things may look one way from a distance, and very different up close. 

Sometimes, my wife tells me:

"Andy, don't look too close!" lol

But the truth is that you may not really see what you heading towards until it's right in front of your eyes.

So it's important to look out over the horizon and study what is coming your way. 

But don't take your eye off the ball (or Mack Truck as it may be). 

Things can change your perspective the closer you get to it. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 30, 2018

DMAIC Reengineering

A colleague gave a wonderful talk the other day on process engineering.

The key steps to reduce waste (Lean) or variation/defects (Six Sigma) are as follows:

Define - Scope the project.

Measure - Benchmark current processes.

Analyze - Develop to-be processes (with a prioritized list of improvements) and plan for implementation.

Improve - Executive process improvements.

Control - Monitor/refine new processes.

It was amazing to me how similar to enterprise architecture this is in terms of: defining your "current" and "future" states and creating a transition plan and executing it.

Also, really liked the Project Scoping questions:

- What problem do you want to solve/what process do you want to improve?
- Why do you need this?
- What is the benefit?  And to whom?
- What are your objectives for this effort?
- Who are the key stakeholders?
- When is this needed and why?

I think process improvement/engineering methodologies like this can be a huge benefit to our organizations, especially where the tagline is "Why should we change--we've always done it this way!" ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 13, 2018

Why Worry?

So I had an interesting conversation with a colleague, and they tell me their philosophy about worry, as follows:
Worrying is suffering twice!

I thought this was pretty smart. 

With worry, we suffer when we worry and then we suffer again if the thing we are worrying about actually comes to fruition. 

So in essence, we are doubling up on the suffering.

Yet, worry can be constructive if we use it to spur us to positive action such as in confronting and dealing with challenging situations. 

But when we worry just for the sake of worry because we can't control our anxiety and moreover, it actually may paralyze us with fear, then this is obviously a bad thing. 

Do I worry?

Sure do, but like my dad, I use worry to try and think out-of-the-box, to plan, to problem-solve, to figure out coping mechanisms etc. 

Worry is suffering for sure. 

However, if we can channel the worry to positive impact, then the worry can be worth the pain it inflicts on us. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 2, 2017

Our Forefathers Were Planners And So Are We

Thank you to Rabbi Haim Ovadia for his speech today at Magen David Synagogue on the topic of how our forefathers in the Bible were planners and so are we today. (Note: some of the thoughts below are directly from Rabbi Ovadia and others are added by me.)

In the Biblical story of Jacob, there are numerous examples teaching us the importance of planning.

1) Shepherds vs Hunters:  Jacob was a shepherd versus his brother Esau who was a hunter.  Shepherds have a long-term outlook with their animals, tending to them and caring for them over the long-term, while hunters go out for the kills to eat for that day. 

2) Working for Rachel and Leah vs. Selling the Pottage:  Jacob worked for 7 years for Rachel and another 7 for Leah--this was the long-term view and commitment to work for Lavan in order to marry his daughters. In comparison, Esau came in hungry from the field and sold his birthright for the immediate gratification of a bowl of pottage.

3) The Plan to Take Esau's Blessing: Rebekah worked with Jacob to prepare meat for Isaac and put hair and clothes on Jacob that made him look and seem like Esau, so Jacob could get the blessing from Isaac, while Esau was still out hunting in the field. 

4) Dividing his Camp in Two: Jacob sent messengers (i.e. reconnaissance) to see and plan for what Esau was doing in coming to meet him. When the messengers returned with word that Esau was coming with 400 men, Jacob planned for the worst, dividing his camp in two, so should one peril the other could survive. Additionally, Jacob prayed and sent rounds of gifts to Esau and also presented himself to Esau before his beloved wife Rachel and son Joseph in the safety of the rear. 

Long-term planning has been fundamental to the Jewish people throughout history and to modern times:

1) "People of the Book" - The Jewish people are known as "the people off the book" for the devotion to Torah study, learning, and continually investing in education, which is a view for long-term investment and success.   

2) Good Deeds to Inherit The World To Come - Fundamental to Jewish belief is that this earthly world is just a "corridor" to the World to Come.  We do charity and good deeds, not only because it's the right thing to do (certainly!), but also because we believe that these merits will help us long-term when we pass, and go to the spiritual next world, Heaven. 

3) Believing and Praying for the Return to The Promised Land - For 2,000, the Jewish people never gave up hoping and praying on the deliverance of G-d's promise to return them from exile to the Promised Land.  This was a long-term view that helped sustain the Jewish people throughout their far-flung exile and through millennium of persecution and genocide.
Ezekiel 11:17: "Thus says the Lord God: I will gather you from the peoples, and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel."
4) Waiting 6,000 years for the Messiah: For 6,000 years, the Jews have maintain faith and plan for the coming of the Messiah, the rebuilding of the Temple and the ultimate redemption of the world.  
"(Ani Ma'amin) I believe in complete faith in the coming of the Messiah...Even tough he may tarry, none-the-less, I will wait for him."
Like our forefathers, it is critical to maintain faith in the Almighty and practice long-term planning as keys to success in life. 

If we take the long-view, we can overcome so many short-term challenges, obstacles and even suffering--believing, praying planning, and doing for a better, brighter future. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 7, 2017

Sometimes We Get Surprised

Sometimes we get surprised in life. 

Now of course, the surprise can be good or not so good. 

One person told me this funny story about how they were in the bathroom and they reached for the toothpaste.

They put it on their toothbrush and proceeded to brush their teeth.

All of a sudden though, they realized that something didn't taste quite right.

Lo and behold, they see that they had accidentally put Desitin (diaper rash ointment) on their toothbrush.

Yikes, that was nasty indeed (at least no mouth sores after that)!

But surprises, even when not so good, can be a wake up call. 

In this case, you better be more careful what the heck in put in your mouth.

And more generally-speaking, we need to pay attention to what we're doing--be deliberate, plan, and adjust accordingly. 

I remember early in my career, one supervisor telling me, "I don't like surprises!"

Yeah, unless it's winning the Powerball lottery jackpot or something like that, what surprises are usually all that great anyway? 

Sure, I like a my share of adventure, novelty, fun, and challenge in life, but also I'll take a mouthful of tranquility mixed with some incremental progressive learning and growth over Desitin on my toothbrush any day of the week. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 26, 2017

Supervisors vs. Team Leaders

Here is a comparison of the roles and responsibilities of supervisors and team leaders. 

Often there can be confusion over who is supposed to do what. 

This table should help clarify what supervisors and team leaders do in terms of strategic planning, work assignments, resource management, employee training, and performance management. 

I hope you find this a helpful resource, and that you can organize your staff more efficiently and productively ;-)

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 25, 2017

Falling On The Sword

Sometimes things happen that we don't agree with or like. 

We may even get blamed for them when we didn't do anything wrong. 

At times like these, there comes up inside of us a strong visceral feeling to speak up and out--to right the wrongs!

There are times when we can, but there are also times when it may be better to hold our tongue for another day. 

In the olden times, people that spoke out, often had their tongue cut right out in front of them--no questions asked.

These days, thank G-d, most people may not be that cruel, but still people get punished for speaking truth to power--when the power is tone deaf or possibly even behaving more as brutal dictators than as benevolent leaders. 

The problem for the average Joe is that there is no point in losing your tongue or even your head by acting rashly or imprudently.

Better to wait and plan for the right moment to be effective and stand with integrity for your ideals and what you know in your heart is right. 

Maybe even at times, we have to fall on our swords until we can make a strong and convincing case and change both hearts and minds to betterment. 

The point is not only to do what's right, but to make things right in the world around us.

Swords too often can come out swinging wildly, unless we carefully sharpen them and practice our lunges and cuts, and work to repair the wrongs in the world as soldiers of righteousness. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 30, 2017

Strategy, Strategery, Stratego

Like the all knowing eye...

Strategy is our way of trying to forge a coherent path ahead. 

Of course, as humans, we are imperfect and don't know what we don't know. 

But whether we call it strategy, strategery, or stratego, the goal is to have a method to our madness. 

We can't just rely on luck, gut, intuition, or subjective whim to get us wherever. 

Having no strategy is brainless following or aimless wandering. 

Strategy means your thinking ahead what you want to achieve and then at least trying your best to accomplish something. 

Ample course corrections allowed and encouraged, as needed. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 7, 2017

Managing for Humpty Dumpty Risk

So this was interesting...

I was in a meeting and someone was discussing the risks involved in a project.

And they mentioned the Humpty Dumpty Effect.

A bunch of people looked at them like what's that. 

Then they explained that it's the risk of breaking something during the project. 

Sort of like the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take to, "first, do no harm."

When we are planning, designing, building or implementing a project--be it information technology or something else--we don't want to break something in the process. 

That's the Humpty Dumpty Risk to beware of and it's an egg-celent point! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 2, 2017

Culture Intersects With Preparedness

Just really loved this emergency preparedness poster by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

It builds off of the #1, hit TV show, The Walking Dead that films in Atlanta where the CDC is. 

The show is about a zombie apocalypse and the story of how people survive (or not) amidst a global pandemic and the murderous awakened dead that feast off of the living. 

Here's a link with what the CDC recommends you have in an emergency preparedness kit. 

The CDC also has a comic book with a zombie outbreak theme that further drives home the importance of a preparedness kit and what to have in it. 

I think it's great when government thinks outside-the-box in ways that appeal to everyday citizens to serve them, help them, and especially keep them safe from disasters. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to CDC)
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November 22, 2016

Good IT Gone Bad

So over and over again, good IT goes bad in a flawed decision-making process. 

Even with the best laid plans and governance processes in place, somehow decisions get politicized, go bad, and projects fail. 

Here are some of the popular reasons why this happens:

1) Someone has something to prove - Often their is a person incoming to power who wants to show off what they can do. Instead of focusing on what is best for the organization's mission and people, they put themselves first. IT becomes not a tool for efficiency and effectiveness, but rather as some project rushed through for someone's resume and narcissist career progression. Time to add another notch on your IT belt!

2) Someone used it, saw it, or heard of it someplace else - So why follow a structured decision-making and vetting process for new technology, when Joe Schmoe already has the answer of what we can use and what we should do. Perhaps, Joe Schmoe used the technology in another place and for another reason, but that's what he knows and instantaneously, he's the maven, subject matter expert. Or maybe, Joe Schmoe attended a vendor conference or read a trade mag on the airplane and now he is guess what, the all-knowing on the topic. Get ready to pull out your wallets to pay for the wrong thing for your needs and organization, but it's okay becuase Joe Schmoe assured you it's great!

3) Someone wants to use technology like a Swiss army utility knife - Let's just buy this amazing tool; it can slice, dice, chop, mince, or Julienne; actually there is nothing this IT tool can't do. Buy it and use it for all your technology projects and needs. Why buy specialized tools, when you can have one that does everything--it will be your data warehouse, cloud provider, handle all your transactions, and be your artificial intelligence all in one.  Don't worry about the complexity, integration, training, support or how good it does any specific thing--just trust us!

In general, it shouldn't be so easy for leadership to get sold and fooled by the wrong people with the wrong agendas. Yet, these things seem to take off like a speeding locomotive, and if anyone tries to step in front of it, career splat for some unfortunate well-meaning character!

Some leaders and organizations only seem to learn by making the same IT mistakes again and again--it's costly to their mission and to their stakeholders, but someone is making out like a bandit and it's on their dime. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 11, 2016

On the Lookout To Managing Risk

So risk management is one of the most important skills for leadership. 

Risk is a function of threats, vulnerabilities, probabilities, and countermeasures. 

If we don't manage risk by mitigating it, avoiding it, accepting it, or transferring it, we "risk" being overcome by the potentially catastrophic losses from it.

My father used to teach me when it comes to managing the risks in this world that "You can't have enough eyes!"

And that, "If you don't open your eyes, you open your wallet."

This is a truly good sound advice when it comes to risk management and I still follow it today. 

Essentially, it is always critical to have a backup or backout plan for contingencies.

Plan A, B, and C keeps us from being left in the proverbial dark when faced with challenge and crisis. 

In enterprise architecture, I often teach of how if you fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail. 

This is truth--so keep your eyes wide open and manage risks and not just hide your head in the sand of endless and foolhardy optimism for dummies. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 24, 2016

Crazy World Of Work

This was a funny sign. 

"You don't have to be crazy to work here.
We'll train you."

Isn't that the truth too often. 

Work can frequently be like "Crazy World!" 

This is a place where there is a convergence of dysfunctional organizational culture, poor leadership, a lack of solid processes and sound planning, and plenty of wacky naysayers and obstructionists who together can bring the workplace to a virtual standstill or even a bitter downfall. 

Yeah, we will train you to do what?

- Follow some dusty and archaic, nonsensical policies that haven't been updated in 20 years.

- Force you into a mold of robotic groupthinkers who have abandoned any notion of exploration, discovery, innovation, and constructive change. 

- Do the minimum to get their paychecks, while staying off the grid and out of trouble, rather than satisfy in serving the mission and delighting their customers. 

This is perhaps why leaders frequently tout their credentials in transforming organizations, yet we still see endless legacies mired in status quo and a lack of any real results and progress. 

Lots of people talk the talk, but very few walk the walk, and that's because we've trained them so well to work here. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 31, 2016

What Is The Creative Process and Success?


One of my colleagues at work had this hanging on his wall. 

It caught my eye and I thought it was worth sharing.

The creative process (ah, not my style of working, however--I am too much of a planner and worrier): 

1) Work Begins - It starts with, "I have a bright idea" or a "go do" from some other genius. 

2) F*ck Off - Then comes some procrastination and maybe thought process about what you are going to do, but in the meantime, everyone leave me alone to percolate and brew. 

3) Panic - Of sh*t, time is running out, and where the h*ck am I on this project, better get my a*s in gear. 

4) All the work while crying - Hurry, hurry, hurry and get it done. Wa, I feel like such a crybaby and wreck, but I'm going to finish it, I am. 

5) Deadline - Made it by a hair...uh, the whole thing was easy, for me, as pie!

Another thing that I heard this week is that "success is failing to fail."  

Think about that a minute.  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Toothpaste for Dinner)
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