Showing posts with label Failures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Failures. Show all posts

August 7, 2018

Feeling Blue, Feel Better

Life is filled with so many wonderful marvels and joys--thank you G-d!

Yet interspersed is what feels like a series of non-ending life challenges. 

Yes, of course we wouldn't recognize or appreciate the good, if we didn't have the bad to compare it to. 

But just when you think you've gotten through one obstacle and are cruising nicely down Life Lane, then it seems like it's time for the next speed bump.

I know that having faith through thick and thin is a huge part of it. 

Also, challenging oneself to be strong and work through the next life dilemma. 

Sure, not everything is life and death, thank G-d.  

But even daily upsets can be frustrating.

I know inside though that in a weird sense, this is really what life is all about. 

It's not paradise we are living in--that comes later when we get our angel wings!

This is a world that challenges, teaches, and grows us. 

We are not here just to have a merry 'ol good time day in and day out. 

While that may be nice for a while, it would get pretty tiresome and pointless. 

Life is like a puzzle--a very big puzzle--and we are here to help solve it and in the process, we have the opportunity to become better souls for it.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 20, 2017

Nuttiest Duck In DC

Just when I thought I'd met all the nuts in this town (Washington, D.C.)...

I ran into this one in the Capitol Reflecting Pool on the Mall. 

Check this out!

The duck is head first waddling away it's feet in the air like a lost puppy.

Reminds me of too many folks who don't want to deal with the many consequential problems that our nation faces (fortunately, there are also many good folks that do!).

From the imminent dangers of North Korea, Iran, and ISIS to our staggering national debt (all of which I wrote about yesterday) along with other critical issues such as healthcare, immigration, and jobs, jobs, jobs. 

Then there are the all too frequent projects that are out of control and funding that is flushed down the proverbial $4,000 toilet. 

A history of dysfunction, fraud, waste, abuse (along with an assortment of personality disorders) have ripened for the picking in the election famous "Swamp"--that we've been promised will be drained!

Maybe that's what this duck is wading into...and what do you think he will find? 

This nation can no longer afford to go head in the sand unless we are looking to be a good-for-nothing dead duck rather than a thriving democracy and beacon of freedom to the world. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal
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February 17, 2017

The Success Iceberg

Thought this was really so true.

Under the tip of the iceberg of success lay all the factors that most people don't see.

The vast mass of persistence, failures, sacrifices, disappointments, good habits, hard work, and dedication. 

Success really is an iceberg!

Don't be jealous of the success at the tip of the iceberg of others unless you put in all the ingredients beneath--plus a prayer to the Almighty Above for his blessings.

Have a Shabbat Shalom!

(Source Photo: Michelle Blumenthal)
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December 30, 2016

On The Train Of Life

My beautiful daughter, Michelle, forwarded this wonderful message to me about our journey through life, and I wanted to share it with everyone.

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹
Life is like a journey on a train...
with its stations...
with changes of routes...
and with accidents !

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

We board this train when we are born and our parents are the ones who get our ticket.

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

We believe they will always travel on this train with us.

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

However, at some station our parents will get off the train, leaving us alone on this journey.

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

As time goes by, other passengers will board the train, many of whom will be significant - our siblings, friends, children, and even the love of our life.

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

Many will get off during the journey and leave a permanent vacuum in our lives.

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

Many will go so unnoticed that we won't even know when they vacated their seats and got off the train!

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, good-byes, and farewells.

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

A good journey is helping, loving, having a good relationship with all co passengers...and making sure that we give our best to make their journey comfortable.

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

The mystery of this fabulous journey is:
We do not know at which station we ourselves are going to get off.

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

So, we must live in the best way - adjust, forget, forgive and offer the best of what we have.

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to leave our seat... we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life."

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

Thank you for being one of the important passengers on my train... don't know when my station will come... don't want 2 miss saying: "Thank you."

πŸš‚πŸš‹πŸš‹πŸš‹

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September 17, 2016

Body of Armor

So had some disappointments recently.

Nothing terrible (and for that I am so grateful). 

Just life happening. 

Have to fail and fail and fail {more}...in order to get to that single success. 

Along the way, sometimes it feels like arrows going through your body.

Or as someone said to Tina Fey in a movie we watched yesterday:
"Hearts and minds, the two best places to shoot someone."

Is that funny? 

Ok, now I know that I am feeling a little down, because even that made me smirk but not fully smile. 

It's okay.

Life is a series of peaks and valleys. 

Time to climb that next peak. 

I will do it with body armor on and solid. 

Won't let those arrows pierce me, while I ascend.

I am trying, and learning and growing along the way.

If I am to fall, Hashem, in mercy, pick me up that I may keep doing my mission you have for me in life, so that I may ultimately prevail toward the destiny only that You know and have planned for me, for the good. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 3, 2014

Metro Opens (Wrong) Doors

MetroOpensDoors.com is a website name for WMATA trains in/around Washington, D.C. 

So this was Metro opening the train doors today.

Unfortunatey, it was the wrong doors--the ones facing the tracks, and not the side with the platform.

I took this photo with the doors open on the wrong side. 

I wondered what would have happened if the trains had been full and someone was leaning up or against the doors--they could've actually fallen off/out of the train. 

Where exactly are the safety features so this doesn't happen? 

Anyway, we ended up being offloaded from the train, but at least no one that I know of ended up as train kill. :-(
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January 23, 2010

Strategic Decision Making Trumps The Alternative

A strategist frequently has to temper the desire for structured planning and strategic decision making with the reality of organizational life, which includes:

· Organizational politics (who has the power today to get their way).

· Subjective management whims (I think, I believe, I feel, but mainly I want—regardless of objective facts).

· Situational knee-jerk reactions (due to something that broke, a mandate that came down, an audit that was failed, and so on)

· People with some cash to throw around (they have $ and “its burning a hole in their pockets” or can anyone say “spend-down”?).

The result though of abandoning strategic decision-making is that IT investment decisions will be sub-optimal and maybe even big losers—some examples includes:

· Investment “shelfware” (the seals on the packages of the software or hardware may never even get broken)

· Redundant technologies (that drain limited resources to operate and maintain them)

· Systems that are obsolete by the time they make it into production (because they were a bad idea to begin with)

· Failed IT projects galore (because they never had true organizational commitment and for the right reasons)

Why does strategic decision-making help avoid bad organizational investments?

1) Having a vision, a plan, and an enterprise architecture trumps ping-pong balling around in the firefight of the day, because the first is goal-oriented—linear and directed, and the second is issue-oriented—dictated by the problem du-jour, and generally leads to nowhere in particular.

2) Having a structured governance process with analysis of alternatives and well-thought out and transparent criteria, weightings, and rankings trumps throwing an investment dart into the dark and hoping that it hits a project with a real payoff.

3) Taking a strategic view driven by positive long-term outcomes for the organization trumps an operational view driven by short-term results for the individual.

4) Taking an enterprise solutions view that seeks sharing and economies of scale trumps an instance-by-instance approach, which results in gaps, redundancies, inefficiencies, and systems that can’t talk with each other.

5) Taking an organization view where information sharing and horizontal collaboration result in people working together for the greater organizational good, trumps functional views (vertical silos) where information is hoarded and the “us versus them attitude,” results in continuous power struggles over scare resources and decisions that benefits individuals or groups at the expense of the organization as a whole.

Certainly, we cannot expect that all decisions will be made under optimal conditions and follow “all the rules.” However, as leaders we must create the organizational structures, policies, processes, and clear roles and responsibilities to foster strategic decision-making versus a continued firefighting approach.

Understanding that organizations and people are imperfect and that we need to balance many competing interests from many stakeholders does not obviate the need to create the conditions for sounder decision-making and better organizational results. This is an IT leader's mandate for driving organizational excellence.

While we will never completely get rid of the politics and other sideline influences on how we make our investments, we can mitigate them through a process-driven organization approach that is based on a healthy dose of planning and governance. The pressure to give in to the daily crisis and catfight can be great that is why we need organizational structures to hold the line.

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January 1, 2010

The Forgotten 60%

IT Leaders are often worried (almost exclusively) about the technology—Is it reliable? Is it robust? Is secure? Is it state-of-the-art? Is it cost-effective? And more.

This is what typically keeps IT management up at night—a server outage, the network being down, an application not available, a project off track, or a security issue such as a virus or worm.

While much lip service has been paid to the statement that “people are our most important asset;” in reality, too little emphasis is generally placed here—i.e. people are not kept high on the IT leadership agenda (for long, if at all), technology is.

Hence, we have seen the negative effects of outsourcing, layoffs, cut training budgets, pay and incentive stagnation, and other morale busting actions on our workforce, along with customers who have been disappointed by magnificent IT project failure rates—with projects over cost, behind schedule, and not meeting customer spec.

Our people—employees and customers—are not being properly cared for and the result is IT projects failure all around us (the stats speak for themselves!).

In essence, we have lost the connection between the technology outcomes we desire and the people who make it happen. Because what drives successful technology solutions are people—knowledgeable, skilled, well trained, and passionate people—working collaboratively together on behalf the mission of the organization.

A book review in ComputerWorld (21 December 2009) on World Class IT by Peter A. High identifies the 5 elements of IT leadership, as follows:

1. Recruit, train, and retain world-class IT people.

2. Build and maintain a robust IT infrastructure.

3. Mange projects and portfolios effectively.

4. Ensure partnerships within the IT department and with the business.

5. Develop a collaborative relationship with external partners.

Interestingly enough, while IT leaders generally are focused on the technology, information technology is not #1 of the 5 elements of IT leadership, but rather employees are—they are identified at the top of the list—and the author states that CIO's should tackle these issues in the order presented.

Further, of the 5 key IT leadership elements, fully 3—or 60% are all about people and relationships, not technology. #1 are employees, #4 is business-IT partnership (customers), and #5 is external collaboration or outreach.

So unfortunately for our organizations, people are the all too forgotten (or neglected) 60%.

I do want to note that I do not fully agree on the order presented by Mr. High; in particular I do not think the customer should be 4th on the list, but rather as the customer represents the mission and the requirements to carry it out, the customer should be unquestionably to me at the very top of the list of IT leadership focus—always. We are here to serve them, period.

Overall though, the key point is that IT leaders need to reorient themselves to people and not overemphasize the technology itself, because if they generally respect and take care of the people and the relationships, the technology will follow and be more successful then ever.


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November 22, 2009

Personal Technology Trumps Work IT

The pendulum has definitely swung—our personal and home technology is now often better than what we are using in the office.

It wasn’t always that way. Early on, technology was mysterious to those not professionally engaged as system engineers or IT professionals. Technology was expensive and made sense for business purposes, but not for home use. IT was a professional enabler to get the job done, but consumer applications were scarce and not intuitive for anything but the office.

The world has turned upside down. Now as consumers, we are using the latest and greatest computers, smart phones, gaming devices, and software applications, including everything social media and e-Commerce, while in the office, we are running old operating systems, have nerdy phones, locked down computers, applications that aren’t web-enabled, and social media that is often blocked.

The Wall Street Journal (16 November 2009) summed up the situation this way:

“At the office, you’ve got a sluggish computer running aging software, and the email system routinely badgers you to delete message after you blow through the storage limits set by your IT department. Searching your company’s internal website feels like being transported back to the pre-Google era of irrelevant results…This is the double life many people lead: yesterday’s technology for work, today’s technology for everything else…The past decade has brought awesome innovations to the marketplace--Internet search, the iPhone, Twitter, and so on, but consumers, not companies, embrace them first and with the most gusto.”

What gives and why are we somehow loosing our technical edge in the workplace?

Rapid Pace of Change—We have been on technological tear for the last 20 years now; virtually nothing is the same—from the Internet to cloud computing, from cell phones and pagers to smart phones and iPhones, from email to social media, and so much more. From a consumer perspective, we are enamored with the latest gadgets and capabilities to make our life easier and more enjoyable though technology. But at work, executives are tiring from the pace of technological change and the large IT budgets that are needed to keep up with the Jones. This is especially the case, as financial markets have seized in the last few years, credit has tightened, revenue and profitability has been under extreme pressure, and many companies have laid off employees and others have even gone kaput.

Magnificent Technology Failures—Along with the rapid pace of change, has come huge IT project failure rates. The Standish group reported this year that 82% of IT projects are failing or seriously challenged. Why in the world would corporate executives want to invest more money, when their past and present IT investments have been flushed down the toilet? Executives have lost faith in IT’s ability to upgrade their legacy systems and fulfill the promises behind the slew of IT investments already made. Related to this is the question of true cost-benefit and total cost of ownership of all the new technologies and their associated investments—if we haven’t been able to achieve or show the return on investment on all the prior investments, why should we continue investing and investing? Is the payoff really there? Perhaps, we are better off putting the dollars into meeting core mission requirements and not overhead, like IT?

Security Risks Abound—With all the technology has come a whole new organizational risk set in terms of IT security. Organizations are hostage to cyber criminals, terrorists, and hostile nation states who can with a few keyboard strokes or mouse clicks disable the company transaction capability, wipe out its memory, steal its information, or otherwise neutralize it from functioning. And the more technology we add, the more the risk level seems to increase. For example, the thinking goes that we were safer when we ran everything in a locked down, tightly controlled, mainframe environment. The more we push the envelope on this and have moved to client server, the web, and now to even more transparency, information sharing, and collaboration—through social media, cloud computing, and World 2.0—the thinking is that we are potentially more open to local and global threats than ever before. Further, with the nation under virtually constant cyberattack and our capabilities to slow or stop these attacks seemingly not existent at this time, executives are reluctant to open up the technology vulnerability spigot any further.

While there are many other reasons slowing or impeding our technology adoption at work, we cannot stop our march of IT advancement and progress.

We are in a global competitive marketplace and the world waits for no one. The problems resulting from the speed and cost of change, the high IT project failure-rate, and the cybersecurity danger/challenges cannot be allowed to inhibit us from progress. We must address these issues head on: We have got to achieve efficiencies from technological advancement and plow the cost-savings into next generation technologies. We have got to drastically improve our IT project success rate though mature implementations of enterprise architecture, IT governance, project management, customer relationship management, and performance measurement (Reference: The CIO Support Services Framework). And we must invest heavily in IT security—with money, people, policy, training, new technology safeguards, and more.

Innovation, technological prowess, and information superiority is what gives us our edge—it is tip of our spear. So yes, we must carefully plan/architect, wisely invest, execute well, and secure our IT. But no, we cannot dismiss the evolving technologies outright nor jump in without proper controls. We must move rationally, but determined into the future.


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July 14, 2009

A Call to IT Arms

Recently, I heard a colleague say that we should view IT not as a cost center, but as a resource center—and I really liked that.

In fact, IT is a cost center and a resource center, but these days there is an overemphasis on it being a cost center.

On the negative side, people seem to like to criticize IT and point out the spectacular failures there have been, and in fact, according to Public CIO “a recent study by the Standish Group showed that 82% of all IT project were either failures or were considered challenged.”

This is the dark side of IT that many would like to dwell on.

However, I would argue that while we must constantly improve on IT project delivery, IT failures can be just a point in time on the way to tremendous success and there are many of these IT successes that we benefit from in big and small ways every day.

Moreover, it may take 1000 failures to achieve that one great breakthrough success. That is the nature of innovation and experimentation.

Of course, that does not mean we should do stupid or negligent things that results in failed IT projects—we must do our best to be responsible and professional stewards. But, we should not be afraid to experiment and fail as a healthy part of the creative process.

Thomas Edison said: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

So why are we obsessed with IT failures these days?

Before the dot com bust, when technology was all the rave, and we enjoyed the bounty of new technologies like the computer, cell phones, handhelds, electronics galore, the Internet and all the email, productivity software and e-commerce and business applications you could ask for, the mindset was “technology is the engine that drives business.” And in fact, many companies were even changing their names to have “.com” in them to reflect this. The thinking was that if you didn’t realize the power and game-changing nature of technology, you could just as well plan to be out of business in the near future. The technologies that came out of those years were amazing and you and I rely on these every day.

Then after the dot-com burst, the pendulum swung the other way—big time! IT became an over zealous function, that was viewed as unstructured and rampant, with runaway costs that had to be contained. People were disappointed with the perceived broken promises and failed projects that IT caused, and IT people were pejoratively labeled geeks or techies and viewed as being outside the norm—sort of the societal flunkies who started businesses out of home garages. People found IT projects failures were everywhere. The corporate mindset changed to “business drives technology.”

Now, I agree that business drives technology in terms of requirements coming from the business and technology providing solutions to it and enabling it. But technology is also an engine for growth, a value creator, and a competitive advantage!

Further, while some would argue these days that IT is “just a tool”, I would counter that IT is a true strategic asset to those who understand its role in the enterprise. I love IT and I believe we all do and this is supported by the fact that we have become basically insatiable for IT. Forrester predicts U.S. IT budgets in 2009 will be in the vicinity of $750 billion. (http://it.tmcnet.com/topics/it/articles/59200-it-market-us-decline-51-percent-2009-researchers.htm) Think about what you want for the holidays—does it have IT in it?

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal was about how the homeless are so tied to technology that many have a computer with Internet access, even when they don’t have three square meals a day or a proper home to live in.

Another sign of how critical IT has become is that we recently stood up a new Cyber Command to protect our defense IT establishment. We are reliant indeed on our information technology and we had better be prepared to protect and defend it.

The recent White House 2009 Cyberspace Policy Review states: “The globally-interconnected digital information and communications infrastructure known as “cyberspace” underpins almost every facet of modern society and provides critical support for the U.S. economy, civil infrastructure, public safety, and national security.”

It's time for the pendulum to swing back in the other direction and to view IT as the true strategic asset that it is.


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