Saturday, August 21, 2010

Quantum leaps

Technology at the hardware level is moving at amazing speeds.. 2 TB disks are now at the 100 USD price level. Smartphones have more power and capability than desktop PCs of only a few years ago. If only industry could make the same quantum improvements in our business processes then the financial/business crisis would be truly solved, not just declared as solved via Powerpoint. We look to pretty powerpoint charts and written standards to show that we are doing good things. That just gets us stuck in a false belief that we are good.

The big question is "why is this not possible". There are 2 reasons. First, hardware has no feelings (yet). The 1 TB disk that was 100 USD last year doesn't know that it is replaced by a 2 TB disk. The 500 Mhz mobile processor replaced by a 1 Ghz Snapdragon in new phones will continue to faithfully do its job in its phone for many years until the phone isn't used anymore. We humans on the other hand are very sensitive to being replaced. In general we are very insecure about change, doing new things, experimenting, and most of all failure.

"Failure is not an option" was the mantra of Apollo 13 but it should not be the mantra of people who are tasked with the success of businesses. Only by stepping beyond what we know today and by trying new methods and processes and sometimes experiencing failure will we know that we've truly will take us to make our businesses truly world class and industry leaders.

Fear of new things or the unknown is nothing new. is a YouTube video of portion of a 60 Minutes 1982 interview with RAdm Grace Hopper (then Capt.) regarding change. It's worth a few minutes to watch.

Don't forget about the past but look forward to what could be and don't look for reasons NOT to change but rather never stop looking for reasons and opportunities to improve.

Very few companies are innovating at the speed of hardware. The company that can do that will DEFINE "World Class" and be an industry leader. The others are followers and copiers.

Monday, May 10, 2010

True Teamwork - The best ROI this country has ever had

On May 19th I will join approximately 100 other folks at NASA's Johnson Space Center for an educational day and behind the scenes view of Mission Control during the STS-132 mission. Since it's inception the Space Program has set the example of innovation, decision making, teamwork and leadership. One of my focuses (but not the only) during this day of opportunity will be to explore how NASA achieves such selfless teamwork where leaders and team members are so interchangeable.

Understanding and having these skills in the workforce will help companies become agile and able to respond to such issues as the economic crisis.

Follow this blog, or links at as I prepare and participate in the STS-132 JSC TweetUp

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Alternative Planning

The events of the past days in Iceland shows us how fragile our infrastructure really is and how powerful "Mother Nature" can be. We grow to depend on our technology but few ever think about a disaster from the point of view that the technology no longer works. Sure we have disaster plans for:
- IT systems failing: we get new hardware and restore the backup
- fire or natural disaster: move to a new building/location, get new equipment.
But what happens when the technology can no longer be used:
- a nuclear blast generates EMP and fries the electronics in our computers, cars, radios, hospital equipment, electrical grid
- the atmosphere is filled with particles and planes can no longer fly through it
- a LARGE asteroid impacts the Earth changes the dynamics of rotation.

Yes, at least some of these are improbably scenarios but at the beginning of last week the 10 Europeans sitting in meetings with me in Chicago weren't the least bit worried about going home on Thursday and coming back in 2 weeks for a SAP GoLive. As of Saturday only one that I know of got a flight to Rome, many hours by train from his original destination. The rest were wondering if they would be at their meetings on Monday or still here in the USA. Some of us are starting to think about an alternative GoLive support plan.

I am sure that companies that depend on air freight for keeping their production lines running are now scrambling to find alternative shipping methods to get material to open airports. This impacts costs in a very real way and may even push some companies into situations from which they can not recover.

How long will it last. We all hope that flights resume on Sunday/Monday but this is not something we can control, not something that Congress can pass laws to fix or have hearings to "Punish the guilty" (though I am sure that they will). Nature has reminded us that we need to be flexible and to never depend on anything so much that we can't do without it.

Robert Paterson has a good article on this topic at:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Thoughts on iPad Day One

Much has been said in various blogs about why to get an iPad or why to wait. There is no need to rehash that. There are good points for either decision. As a geek, today was tough to watch the unboxing of 2 iPads on the TWiT Network and not have one myself. I will wait a while. Clearly Apple has hit another "long drive" and scored multiple runs with the iPad just as they did with the iPod and iPhone.

These are paradigm changing devices and move us toward a future that we saw only in Star Trek and other SciFi movies not so many years ago. Some look at these devices and wonder "why do I need it". The real benefits become apparent only after obtaining one and discovering new ways of doing things. Books don't go away, they just become more accessible. Radio and TV becomes audio/video podcasts or streaming networks such as TWiT. Real time interactivity between show hosts and the audience, only a dream for the big networks, is already a reality for shows that are "connected". This is enhanced by these devices for those who embrace them.

There is a healthy competition between between the iDevices and Android devices. Apple has again set a high bar for tablets in both hardware and software. I expect that in the coming months we'll see other hardware for Android. There is room for both and having both will ensure that companies as well as developers continue to innovate and improve.

Thank you Apple and Steve Jobs for moving the bar up a notch or 2. The challenge will be met.