Saturday, March 31, 2007
Is Tim O'Reilly profiting from Kathy Sierra and her pain?
The outreach to Kathy Sierra has been tremendous but sooner or later sound reasoning will take over and realize that while Kathy may have been a victim, she also victimized others by getting them convicted in the court of public opinion. Tim O'Reilly has called for a Blogger's Code of Conduct which conveniently left off convicting others in the blogosphere and only responding in ways that on the surface diffuse the issue but in all reality is really a sustainable marketing tactic.
If he really cared about the well-being and felt it was unethical to profit off the pain of others, do you think he would have made a sizable donation (say $5,000) to a worthy charity that helps women become empowered. If he doesn't know of any, may I suggest: CARE or Women for Women?
While Kathy is a victim, we shouldn't focus on her alone when reality states that millions of women are abused worldwide on a daily basis. Hopefully she will stop playing victim and Stand to Reason by helping others pursue worthy charities in the help of others. I really hope that neither Kathy nor Tim exercise their right to remain silent on this important issue...
Links for 2007-03-31
I couldn't have said it better myself.
Todd Biske discusses a problem that many enterprises don't realize they have...
I wonder if Tim O'Reilly will publicly conclude it is wrong to profit from harm done to others and become charitable?
My own thoughts on this issue...
Will OpenID fail?
Absolutely brilliant thoughts by Shekhar Jha. Folks such as Pat Patterson, Mark Dixon and others at Sun need to read and amplify...
User-Centric Identity and Enterprises...
Friday, March 30, 2007
User-Centric Identity and stuff I can't seem to find...
- 100% unrestricted Java-Based Open Source CardSpace Relying Party
- A listing of all cardspace-enabled sites that real commerce occurs (no software demo ones, blog sites, etc)
- An industry analyst comparison of Microsoft's approach to OpenID
- Any case studies where an enterprise had rolled out PKI Client Certificates and has plans to uninstall and instead use Cardspace
- Any thoughts on how Identity Selectors other than Microsoft will make money?
- There are vendors who will sell enterprises toolkits but I would like to know who is (if anyone) preaching to software vendors in th ECM, BPM, ERP, CRM and VRM space as to how to incorporate CardSpace into their product offerings?
- Has anyone used software from Fortify, Ouncelabs or other vendors to certify that Identity Selectors were coded securely?
- Plans for vendors such as Zimbra to support?
- Thoughts on how user-centric approaches could converge with identity-based encryption (e.g. Voltage)
- Which large vendor will be first to pervasively put user-centric support (technical leadership) into their applications? a) Oracle, b) BEA c) CA d) HP e) sun f) none of the above?
- Do you think Kim cameron in the next release should add support for relationships, authorization and attestation?
- As a user, do you think personal cards should support extension?
- Does Cardspace prevent forensics if using tools such as encase or LogLogic?
Thoughts on Bad Management...
Are you one of those who are erroneously convinced that some desirable result is caused by taking some particular kind of action. Subsequent failure of the desirable result to occur is not used as disconfirming evidence that you're wrong to be convinced that way, but is instead used as evidence of a need for more of that action.
Have you ever heard of the Hawthorne Effect which expresses the tendency of humans to temporarily improve their performance when they are aware it is being studied? During a study on the effect of different lighting levels on productivity, researchers first lowered the lights. Productivity improved. Raised the lights. Productivity was still improved. They returned to the original lighting levels. Productivity was still improved. One can conclude that productivity is increased when management flickers the lights periodically.
None of the management studies however have acknowledged the simple fact that folks like having non-intrusive attention paid to them. If you're taking an interest in what they're doing, motivation and productivity are likely to rise. I wonder if I can consider myself a bad manager when I scream the very next time someone is complaining about complaining and/or discussing the notion of performance-based compensation where you are paid according to someone else's perception of what your performance should be...
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Kathy Sierra and Ethics
Originally, I came out in support but this was an emotional reaction. Over time, when applying logic, I realized that the tactic of convicting folks in the court of public opinion is simply evil. If someone broke the law, then she had every opportunity to have evidence presented to law enforcement and allow them to do a proper investigation but instead she chose to not exercise her right to remain silent and turned it into an opportunity for self-promotion.
Several years ago, I was accused of something that I didn't do. At the time, I felt that remaining silent was the best option as I felt the issue would quickly blow over. Of course, the lunatic fringe told others that my lack of response was an admission of guilt. When I did comment, it then morphed into a psychotic response from others which only fueled the flame. When I took steps to make sure that the right thing happened, the court of public opinion then pontificated like wild savages that I was attempting to cover my tracks. In these situations, one can never win even if they aren't guilty.
There are hundreds of IT security professionals who have knowledge in terms of forensics. Would all parties agree to having them look and posting the results publicly? Tracing via IP address as I hope Kathy knows isn't accurate as folks could communicate through anonymous services such as Anonymizer. In terms of email, you could use services that are mixmasters to be anonymous or to even forge headers. In cyberspace it is very easy to become someone else and very difficult at times to prove that you aren't really you.
Anyway, in terms of my own experience, the one observation though is that I did notice increased traffic for my book and sales increased which does prove out the theory that all publicity is good publicity. It would not surprise me to see Kathy Sierra's book sales increase by her actions and that this is just one form of publicity. For me, so as to not be accused of the same thing, I made it public that I would donate 100% of all future royalties on the affected book to worthy charities. Besides, my ethics said that the merits of the book itself should stand on its own and that I shouldn't benefit from outside forces.
I suspect though that Kathy will not consider an equivalent noble act and will milk this event for what it is worth. Honestly, maybe my own opinion is yet another example of me accusing her of something that I am practicing but I am willing to eat my words if she publicly donates all future royalties to a worthy charity and I will even match it dollar for dollar...
Second Class IT Professionals who write Business Applications
A general observation amongst many of my peers is that when they get home and start tickering with open source projects, they almost always gravitate towards infrastructure software whether it be operating systems, BPM engines, ESBs or ECM platforms. I have asked many of them why aren't they even noodling the creation of business applications in the open source space and receive lots of laughs.
Studying my own behavior, I think it is do to lack of interest in terms of wanting to capture domain-specific rules formed by others (aka the business community) where all the technical domains that open source has been wildly successful doesn't really require one to collaborate with non-technical folks like we do in an enterprise environment. Other reasons that I have ran across in my travels is that business applications while volumous in terms of lines of code and the need for structure tend to not be as intelectually challenging from an algorithmic perspective.
Open source could be wildly successful if it were to attack industry vertical challenges but could do so only when solutions to given problems are crystal clear. Business applications tend to have as a characteristic that there is no easy way to tell if your code is right without having to interact with lots of end users first.
Sometimes software developers have sufficient expertise and influence to suggest changes in business processes to make them more logical or efficient. Presenting ideas to a business domain expert requires skilful sales technique. Otherwise, you risk coming across as arrogant or pushy. In the business world being liked is often more important than being right, but techies often see the reverse, creating a culture clash of sorts.
Good solutions to tough change management problems are difficult to discover. It is hard to find stable abstractions when the people who dictate requirements come and go in the organization or act seemingly capriciously. Applying abstractions from math and geometry is much easier because God does not change the rules. However, the Gods of Business flip all over the deck. Business culture is shaped by sales, and selling is generally an "intuitive" discipline. Thus, explicitness is often not expected and not honed by management.
Business applications build up "cruft" over time. Business rules tend to keep collecting and collecting until the behavior of the system becomes unpredictable. Nobody wants to risk cleaning it because they are afraid something might break. Or, there may be a business rule in there that solves a problem that the current staff did not know existed. The knowledge of why specific code exists might be lost. Users expect the behavior to be there, and are surprised if it disappears. A programmer might remove something that looked like a bug, to later find out that it actually served an important but undocumented purpose.
The challenge of programming in a business domain (enterprise) is mostly dealing with the interaction and expectations of humans as they relate to the machines. Whether one finds this boring or not probably depends on the person. Sometimes it is rewarding and sometimes it is boring, tedious, and frustrating as with most any jobs. Even rock stars get tired of drugs and all those gorgeous groupie babes...
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Enterprise Architecture and Boredom Automation
I have drunk the Kool-aid and get that everything should be business-driven and have a positive ROI. What if though we asked ourselves if it makes good business sense to automate not just tasks that are repetitive but those tasks which are boring? For example, I have been noodling the notion of coding standards that are more rigorous but it would be wildly boring to actually go and reformat an entire code base to conform.
Likewise planning is always something that I have enjoyed but collecting metrics and other clerical activities after the fact is something I eschew. Some folks make fun of architects who don't code which at some level should occur but in all reality it is not boring determining how software should be built while it can be boring actually building software. Actually, let me say that building software in of itself is never boring as I write tons of it at home. I can say that building software within an enterprise environment can be boring because of all the process that is attached to it.
Its kinda interesting at all the folks one can meet that are employed by a Fortune enterprise and how the constantly rant outside of work about how quality is going downhill after the advent of outsourcing and how they are glad that they don't have to write code anymore as part of their day job yet they run home and play with portal software, AI, rules engines, etc and write their own applications. Coding seems to be more fun outside of work than at work, hence an opportunity for automation.
I have asked Gene laganza a very difficult question. I want to know how one can collect metrics to determine whether a process is too-heavyweight? What occurs today is that most metrics uncover value or lack of, but none of them get at whether a process could become more optimized. Likewise, I would love to have metrics that compare/contrast IT
JT showed me a wonderful AI demo on something he is working on from home. I was thinking about suggesting to him some ideas along with code of my own. My current thinking says that we could automate the boredom induced by process-weenies into a nicely packaged AI module. Every thirty minutes the module would choose words/phrases such as: best practices, ROI, TCO, process, synergy, leadership, innovation, governance and inject it into a sentence. Maybe JT could take his codebase and inject it into secondlife and attach it to an avatar. Of course, this avatar would need to do lots of hand-waving which would be a best practice and have a positive ROI and TCO for automating the boredom within the enterprise and innovating the next generation of outsourcing...
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Why Innovation will never really happen in large enterprises...
- Every company innovates until it finds a cash cow. At that point only innovation that supports the cash cow is promoted. Further, any innovation that threatens or does not support the cash cow languishes or is actively killed. Eventually, most of the true innovation ceases as the innovators leave and start new companies and the cycle repeats.
Enterprise Architecture and Paradigm Shifting...
A radical or abrupt change in the way things are done has been described as a paradigm shift. The shift is usually the result of a pivotal event. It is followed by a period of intensive activity and development. It comes about when new methods or devices are discovered and implemented to enhance or replace those existing, or when no existing method or device exists to accomplish a desired end result. It is sometimes a radical departure from rather than just a modification of the status quo. It includes a change of perspective and state of mind and introduces approaches that may or may not be mutually exclusive of existing approaches.
If the present state does not address problems that invite solutions, can we and should we create environments and attitudes that will make a paradigm shift possible? One way may be to discuss the notion of innovation but only not in the usual four-color chock-a-block eye candy substance lacking repeat-after-me corporate monotone that you can find pretty much anywhere. Why can't innovation be focused on the inner-self? Why can't folks acknowledge people, then process, then tools - in that order?
Paradigm shifts may only occur when the old paradigm produces a critical mass of hard problems that forces a new whole new technique to be created. Maybe we aren't trying hard enough to find problems? What if we moved away from boring vendor-oriented discussions on things like metrics, SOA, BPM, open source, user-centric identity, OpenID and other second class topics and started to calculate the ROI of getting rid of process-oriented weenies in management and started replacing them with strong technical leadership? Processes sometimes blind us from seeing the root cause. Kinda like not seeing the forest for all those freakin trees.
Thoughts on Threats against Kathy Sierra...
No individual on this planet should live their life in fear. The pursuit of freedom is not just something Americans should aspire to give to foreigners but must actively practice liberation at home. Women in society are especially vulnerable in that they must mount a facade of strength in an otherwise male dominated world where femininity is discouraged by women but somehow men themselves have started to adopt.
My heart is filled with joy in terms of all of the bloggers who have provided her with comfort in these troubling times. Likewise, I am equally disappointed in the blogosphere in that none of us have stepped up and provided her with physical protection. The IT profession tends to attract those who were softies in school but every once in awhile, a hardrock or two makes it into our profession.
Kathy, while I can't personally help you being that I am on the East Coast, if any of your speaking engagements ever end up in Boston, Hartford or NYC, drop me a note and I will personally escort you. Of course, behind me will be other IT professionals who back in the days were known for catching a case. Do not feel threatened as you have a nation of bloggers who have your back. If someone decides to set-trip, don't worry as they will need to duckdown...
Monday, March 26, 2007
India, Outsourcing and Morality
If you aren't familiar with Vandana Shiva, you need to be. She has devoted her life to fighting for the rights of ordinary people in India. She argues with clarity and commitment - defending her views with an array of well-marshaled statistics and examples. Vandana believes that Western society is mesmerized by a dangerous and pervasive myth: the belief that economic growth and the power of technology will inevitably combine to relieve mass poverty.
She has statistics that support that India based outsourcing firms actually harm the masses of folks in India with the benefit going only to a handful. I wonder what it would take for folks that work for Wipro, TCS, Infosys and others in India to put her on blast.
People are poor if they have to purchase their basic needs at high prices no matter how much income they make. Take the case of India. Because of cheap food and fibre being dumped by developed nations and lessened trade protections enacted by the government, farm prices in India are tumbling, which means that the country’s peasants are losing $26 billion U.S. each year. Unable to survive under these new economic conditions, many peasants are now poverty-stricken and thousands commit suicide each year. Elsewhere in the world, drinking water is privatised so that corporations can now profit to the tune of $1 trillion U.S. a year by selling an essential resource to the poor that was once free.
To put my money where my mouth is, I will donate $5 to the Global Fund for Children for each unique trackback to this blog entry received within the next week that originates from a blogger based in India. Additionally, I will contribute $20 for each blogger that is ranked by technorati that does the same. I will throw in an additional $50 if James Robertson, Michelle Malkin, Arianna Huffington, Beppe Grillo or Guy Kawasaki provide amplification!
In the meantime, please check out this article and this one and let me know what you think...
Links for 2007-03-26
- Elements of a roadmap
Brought to you by none other than Nick Malik
- The Biggest Myth in Project Management
Maybe the biggest myth is that project management actually exists
- Transducers and Delegation
I encourage enterprise architects to start paying more attention to user-centric approaches
- Research on Enterprise Social Software
Seems like analysts are getting it twisted. If I express an interest in buying something, wouldn't that hint that I haven't actually used it yet?
- Six Questions to ask Outsourcing Firms
I suspect many folks in the blogosphere could expand this list
- Being the Choice Leader
Other blog with non-enterprise folks expressing an flawed opinion on flawed research about enterprises
Finally, someone acknowledging that not every solution from a vendor has a ROI
- Agility in the Enterprise
Is this the innovators dilemma?
- Diversity in India
Is this an oxymoron?
Consumers who shop at DirectBuy
The ad says you can purchase from these manufacturers “without having to pay hidden store markups and unnecessary middleman costs.” The company, billing itself as “The #1 way to buy direct for your home,” invites you to call a telephone number or go to a Website to retrieve “Your Complimentary Visitor’s Pass Now!”
Membership at DirectBuy lasts for ten years and costs $4425 which works out to four hundred plus bucks a year. The trick is the dues are front-loaded in the first three years. You pay $3200 now—in installments—and from years four through ten, you pay only $175 a year. That took us by surprise. Thirty two hundred bucks is a lot of money to part with—even in four installments of eight hundred dollars.
Be especially forewarned of sales tactics that require you to close that same day. If you decide not to join, we would not be asked back for another seven years. Of course they also won't let you look through the catalogs because you might see wholesale prices and want to shop them at another store. Based on the local store, there are still idiots in Connecticut (20 to 30 a month) that are stupid enough to pay large fees upfront. Ignoring the fact as to how long some entity has been in business, what happens if they decide to close? I wonder if these folks have ever considered what happens to their investment if they decide to go out of business next year or even tomorrow.
The biggest question on my mind is why should I trust anyone who wouldn't tell me everything I need to know upfront?
Enterprise Architecture Collaboration Patterns
Decision makers can become inundated with options and thus employ filters to help narrow the solution space. This can be dangerous because current technology makes it nearly impossible to define a filter sophisticated to appropriately sift through the solutions. Consequently, any useful filter will eliminate high quality candidate solutions from the resulting pool of options.
I pray for the poor soul who constantly watches good decisions getting filtered as this will cause folks to become discouraged. Over time when individuals become discouraged, they can question their abilities. Discouragement leads to despair. Anyway, if enterprise architecture brings clarity to decision making process by optimizing the filters, what discipline within the enterprise is responsible for eliminating the pipe...
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Advice I give to those I mentor...
The job that looks best in terms of salary and benefits right now may not be the best one for your career in the long term. You may get paid more today for using a mature technology that you're experienced in, but if as that technology reaches the end of its lifecycle, you may find your career options limited. It might make sense to take a more junior position in order to work on a buzzword compliant technology that you expect to be in high demand in the future. For example, Java, Ruby on Rails, Identity Management, ITIL, ERP4IT and so on.
Always think in terms of your long-term career goals. If you someday you make up your mind to abandon the corporate world and all of the Your Call is Important to Us, repeat after me monotone phrases and hope to be CTO of a hot startup, what skills do you need to add to your resume today to further that goal?
Thinking two jobs ahead is not the same as committing to two jobs ahead. If you're thinking about all the variability that exists two whole jobs ahead, you're already following the advice. The alternative is to believe that this is the last job you'll ever have or simple oblivion about future jobs which is what many folks have done who have gotten outsourced...
Bringing in Consultants to enable cultural change...
If you want to enable change throughout your enterprise, you need to consider bringing in a consultant who can run around asking every employee what should be done to fix things around this place. This consultant will distill all collected responses and present them to upper management and will give praises to the consulting firm for enabling positive change. Management will also respond as if they haven't ever heard those ideas before.
Do you remember the old TV show Dragnet. There was a phrase that applies in terms of gathering feedback: The story you are about to see is true, the names have been changed to protect the innocent. The funny thing when you apply this to corporate culture, feedback collected in an anonymous manner is used to protect the guilty.
In any situation of authority and submission, the superior is in a position to punish or ignore subordinates who report information that does not fit their preconceived notions and reward those who report information which does. As a result, those in the subordinate position are discouraged from accurate representation of awkward facts to avoid punishment and encouraged to report only those facts for which they will be rewarded.
I wonder if
Thoughts on InfoWorld
As they transition from a traditional print format to an online format, they may need to reconsider the content and get more perspectives from end-user purchasers of technology. How about including every single week a thoughtful interview of enterprise architects who are employed by Fortune 200 enterprises and understanding whats on their radar? Enterprises really would like to see more coverage of open source in that many of them would like to figure out ways to reduce their IT budgets and this is one approach.
If they were really, really, really smart they would introduce several guest columnists. If I were king of Infoworld, I would ask noted industry analyst James Governor to write a column every single week on declarative living and the participation age. Likewise, I would enlist Brenda Michelson to write a column on business-driven architecture along with Bob Blakely to cover emerging enterprise security trends.
While I am on the borderline of insanity, I may even consider periodic articles on how folks are constructing IT systems and figure case studies on mashups, SOA, ITIL and the corporate perspective on innovation. What if readers could also send in questions that folks could ponder such as: Is Sun Microsystems the only Fortune 500 enterprise that doesn't have Active Directory installed in production or is Smalltalk as a language still relevant?
The one thing that they did get right is to make admission to their upcoming Infoworld SOA conference in New York City 100% free to those who work for Fortune 500 enterprises whose primary business model is something other than technology. By providing eyeballs, the vendors who pay tons of money to get booths can actually justify the high expense. This is a model that folks who run conferences such as: OSCon, OSBC, Sys-Con and Software Development Expo should seriously noodle...
Links for 2007-03-25
I wonder if Gunnar Peterson has any thoughts on this one?
I noticed that the last time I mentioned them, I got an automated trackback. The keyword leadership also seems to have the same behavior.
A must read for enterprise architects
Leadership after the fall of outsourcing
I wonder how many industry analysts have a clue as to which open source vendors encourage participation?
For all you ITIL heads
More folks in large enterprises only understand what to protect but are clueless in figuring out what to give away
Acknowledgement to a fallen soldier who defended our freedom
Can agilists drive organizational change?
Many will attack the question but none will provide the answer
Many enterprises haven't realized the power of Business Rules Engines. Maybe it is because industry analysts haven't been doing a good job in spoonfeeding clueless enterprise architects?
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Enterprise Perspectives on User-Centric Identity
Last week, I asked Kim Cameron talk about Cardspace vs. PKI. The conversation to date has been all about how the two technologies are complementary without an equivalent discussion on how one could replace another. If your industry vertical is pharmaceuticals, you are probably familiar with the SAFE initiative which is based on rolling out PKI client certificates. Nowadays, it feels like an opportunity to avoid the desktop management support headaches that client certificates provide and the expense that is associated with it. Anyway, I hope that Kim will expand upon these thoughts in the near future in a compare/contrast vs the complimentary discussion to date.
It seems to me that the need to extend a card that isn't managed would be of value. For example, if my parents have high-blood pressure, wouldn't it be interesting if they could take the card to Walmart, drugstore.com and other online retailers to get a quote without having to specify the same information over and over? This of course would require the adoption of something similar to microformats for cardspace.
Also missing from the discussion in the blogosphere is any hint as to how traditional web access management products such as those provide by Tivoli, Oracle CoreID and others can participate in a user-centric world. Of course, I expect the folks over at the Burton Group to produce detailed research in this space shortly and ahead of the other analyst firms.
Maybe someone could tell me what mainframes are treated as second-class citizens in the security world? Imagine Microsoft figuring out a way to user-centric enable RACF? I wonder if anyone at Microsoft has discussed this notion with folks at IBM?
Have you ever visited the Microsoft Live site? Where they make you register over and over and over? This feels like a missed opportunity for Kim, in that he needs to spend some time doing internal evangelization. At least the folks over at Liferay have on their radar, support for user-centric approaches. It is good to see open source projects innovate faster that large monolithic proprietary closed source vendors especially in the portal space.
In the next couple of weeks, I will be having briefings with analysts at both Gartner and Forrester regarding user-centric approaches within an enterprise context. I will be asking them directly whether enterprises should consider OpenID or stick with 100% Microsoft approaches. The answer will be intriguing. While I already know the opinions of Johannes Ernst, Dick Hardt and others in this regard, I wonder what they believe analysts will say...
Friday, March 23, 2007
SOA and ECM Vendors
I tend to be equal opportunity in terms of critiquing vendors in all categories but generally speaking, it is the ECM vendors that tend to be most behind the times. Many of the ECM vendors still haven't acknowledged that SOA even exists. Many of the implementations simply delegate themselves to component status and expect each and every enterprise to
I wonder if Alan Pelz-Sharpe has thoughts on what is the mental and/or technological impediment to getting ECM vendors to eliminate their own identity stores and to leverage existing ones such as Active Directory which upon checking 100% of the Fortune 500 enterprises all have up and running...
Diversity in India?
The word diversity nowadays has been twisted into a meaningless cliche phrase. If we choose to use the definition as defined by EEOC, I wonder how India would fair? I wonder if anyone from India could provide insight into the following questions?
1. Any statistics on folks in India that are from Hispanic or African origin?
2. As I understand, there is a portion of the Indian population that practices Judaism. Could anyone provide me with a name and contact information of someone of this demographic that works for an IT outsourcing firm? I would love to have a dialog with them on a couple of topics.
3. Folks who practice Islam make up about 15% of India's population yet they don't seem to make up 15% of the folks who are employed by outsourcing firms. While it is easy to respond back with a name or two, how come hiring of this demographic is so out of balance?
4. Do employees of India based outsourcing firms ever ask for more diversity in terms of hiring using EEOC-like definitions?
Responding to Bill Barr and his thoughts on Industry Analysts
In thinking about it, I am not sure that influence is all that important anymore to me. I think I could afford to give up a little bit in exchange for having more time to spend with my family. Every morning, the joy I receive from being able to put my son on the school bus is beyond description. If I could also be there when he gets home, that would be even better. Being in Kindergarten is a magical time in life and to see his face light up when he describes how he got Super Green and went to Treasure Chest is the type of influence we should all focus on. I think our perspectives on work/life balance are somewhat distorted.
My understanding of the industry analyst profession is that travel is somewhat limited. Of course they travel to conferences, probably more than I ever would get to do in my day job. Conferences happen to be in pretty nice locations such as Florida and California and when it is cold, I can appreciate being inconvienced in this regard. Analysts do also take on consulting assignments, but unlike an industry consulting such as Accenture, McKinsey or DiamondCluster, travelling is not really about commuting as your gig lasts for a week and then you get to see new places. Imagine if you lived in a really cool city such as Miami and you got a traditional consulting assignment where you had to fly every single week to some boring place such as Denver or Maine, it would get pretty tiring. As desperation sets in, you start to crave the mediocrity of having a fulltime corporate job so as to feel normal. If I had to hop a plane say once every other month with the acknowledgement that I probably would see different cities each job, I think that would be cool.
I still have a little bit of personal development before I even consider becoming an industry analyst. I am great at understanding both at a high-level and detail pretty much any technology in existence. I could do a great job of doing 1/2 hour briefings with any Fortune enterprise client where I get them to consume 20 minutes of time just talking about themselves and close out the remaining 10 minutes with cliche phrases emphasizing the importance of having a strong ROI, gaining business buy-in, start of small and being incremental, etc.
I still though have to figure out how to distill things down to ordinary understanding. The essence of an issue in that I probably would stuggle attempting to explain why every enterprise needs to embrace SOA in thirty seconds to an non-technical IT executive (Is this an oxymoron?) or other hype of the minute fill in the blank technology is still elusive. One of the traps that I always fall into is going down and not coming up for air. In terms of personal development, I was thinking about visiting Pratt & Whitney and finding someone there to allow me to moderate a conversation with someone equally clueless at Boeing. I could talk about why Boeing should only consider Pratt & Whitney engines, do lots of hand waving and talk about my experiences in the airline industry. After all, I have been a frequent flyer on many occasions. Hopefully this employee of Boeing could also tell me that he understands the corporate culture even though he has never been on an airplane in their lifetime. I guess it would be sufficient though if this individual did live in Seattle and Chicago and had a couple of Boeing employees as friends.
I haven't had the joy of having a conversation on something where I was utterly clueless with another individual who was equally clueless as I. Once I get this type of experience under my belt, I will be prepared for being an industry analyst...
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Why Outsourcing is doomed to mediocrity...
Awhile back, I shared a story about a startup idea being executed by my significant other. Since the idea required more time than I could afford to throw at it, she went on a quest to find help. Of course she was cognizant of all of the failures that large enterprises have experienced, she felt she had a better answer.
Essentially, she was interested in moving the needle away from simply paying for effort towards preferring paying for result. In her search, she couldn't identify a single Indian based outsourcing firm who would do work fixed-bid and therefore one of decision criteria was to send work to China.
Having a husband that is an agilist and otherwise a pain in the bleep, I asked for her to consider introducing into the agreement notions such as requiring daily builds and unit tests but this advice was ignored and they did the massive big design upfront. The one thing that I did win on which resulted in her not wasting monies was to not only specify functionality but in painful detail also specify system qualities. Having criteria in terms of number of concurrent transactions, response times and clean error logs was a savior. She also took my advice in terms of specifying qualities around the source code itself, not only in terms of style and other beautification things but measuring notions such as cohesion and coupling and put a target score into the equation.
The other night, I got to see the resulting effort and from a functionality perspective, I was definetely impressed. However, my own opinion went down from there. I fired up JMeter and WebArt to throw some load at it and it failed horribly. I also looked at the source code which was well formatted but otherwise the work of folks who learn programming in universities or those Head First books but didn't really get the concept of thinking in Java.
She is now having the painful conversation that any client of an outsourcing firm hates to have. In one sense, outsourcing firms have the advantage in that they can deliver suboptimal mediocre work because the client may be faced with pressures in terms of deadlines. They also know it is a lot of work to find another replacement firm that may in the end not be any better.
The one tactic that I haven't ran across is the outsourcing firm themselves walking away from the table. With small startups, there is less loyalty as the work is pretty much a one-off and therefore they have less skin in the game. My perspective is that she should have avoided outsourcing in the first place and been more patriotic but of course if she did, that would have meant that she would have outsourced the work to me and I would have a bigger headache than I do already.
Anyway, I suspect that after I retire from the blogosphere, I will end up spending the next nine months writing from scratch her business idea...
Enterprise Architecture and Apathy
Apathy is a defense mechanism that enables you to live and work in a society that is hopelessly dysfunctional. We are in situations where we simply can't do anything about it and your only option is to just stop caring. The key thing not ever discussed is that apathy also has a positive effect.
Apathy is a powerful anaesthetic. Medical personnel in battlefields deliberately adopt an uncaring attitude to avoid burnout. This way, they can continue to function and end up saving more people than people who behaved otherwise. The key thing in this example is that they didn't ignore what motivates them.
Some will ask what is the difference between ignorance and apathy and the answer is I don't know and I don't care. Sometimes we get frustrated in the work world when we see a lack of action and we jump to the conclusion that folks just don't care. Enterprise Architects who do more than just rally and seek to practice a disciplined way of thinking understand that caring doesn't solve the problem and therefore we shouldn't focus on the need for caring.
In all reality, everybody cares; it's just that the tangible costs and benefits for each individual are skewed in the favor of inaction. In the past, I have commented on folks and their coffee clutch behaviors when it all reality this may be a method of defense that I should incorporate into my own daily life.
One of the more famous quotes on apathy is listed below:
- First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I said nothing. Then they came for the Social Democrats, but I was not a Social Democrat, so I did nothing. Then came the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist. And then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did little. Then when they came for me, there was no one left to stand up for me.
So, should enterprise architects seek to eliminate apathy, encourage it, or become apathetic towards apathy in others...
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Why Engineering Practices may never be respected in Large Enterprises...
Are you employed by an enterprise whose management team recognizes no shades of gray in talent or experience for non-managers? The funny thing is that engineering practices if anything require the creation of even more shades of gray, well beyond the comfort zone of making folks pluggable programmer units (aka FTEs).
Is it possible to be a strategic leader in a company setting without having managerial aspirations or talents? I wonder if there is a correlation, but lately, I have heard of a lot of companies and even read some articles that seem to religiously embrace the idea of eliminating the role and responsibilites of technologists and instead just assign a business type in the spirit of alignment. I believe a better approach would be to create an environment that encourages workers to appreciate diversity in talent instead of twisting the meaning of diversity to fit any situation.
Are modern enterprises transforming themselves back to the past almost like the feudal system where everyone below management is regarded equally? Do seasoned IT professionals in your shop have the same authority when compared to a brand new programmer?
What kind of leadership does your enterprise practice?
Five Things I would like to see Industry Analysts do in 2007...
- Open Source: You know that open source doesn't have to be all about software vendors. How come you aren't doing more to encourage folks who work in large enterprises to not only consider open source as a viable alternative to commercial proprietary software but to take an even bigger leap and figure out what it is like to contribute? The best support one could ever get is if they learn how to support themselves. Ever heard the analogy about teaching a man to fish?
- Identity: Many analysts have blogged on user-centric identity yet haven't connected the dots to how it should work with applications. What would it take for Alan Pelz-Sharpe of CMS Watch, Nick Patience and Raven Zachary of the 451 Group, James Governor of Redmonk and Dan Blum and his peers at Burton Group for the next thirty days when receiving briefings from software vendors to ask a single question as to whether their product is capable of taking any form of credential other than username/password. You may learn something but more importantly if you share this with end-customers, they may learn something even bigger.
- Evaluating Software: Bill Barr commented that industry analysts need to do more than comparative literature review and should focus instead of comparing the products in a lab setting. While I know of thousands of folks that would love to see this as well, I understand that there may be economic factors at play preventing this. What I do think is reasonable is for analysts to disclose the software they use in-house. By reading Stephen O'Grady of Redmonk, they have been pretty transparent in terms of the products they use and what it takes to use them in the real world. Wouldn't it be intriguing if Gartner, Forrester and the Burton Group were to openly disclose what software they use in terms of application servers, CRM and of course content management?
- Case Studies: Don't cover just products and consider some diversification in terms of research. Instead of talking about SAML and all the wonderful stuff that Pat Patterson employer can do, why not talk about case studies on how industry verticals approach the notion of community formation. Consider what did it take for all the pharmaceutical companies to want to work together to create the SAFE initiative or the folks on Wall Street that formed SecuritiesHub. I know that James Governor is into not only security but declarative living. His insights into community formation without all the vendor hype would be enlightening.
- Open Source: Everytime you mention a closed source product, I would love to see you mention whether an open source equivalent is available. I know this is asking a lot since the open source community hasn't yet learned to
spoonfeedbrief industry analysts on all the stuff they are working on. At least, you could do your own homework here? Minimally, I have asked all of my industry peers to start asking this question in future discussions with industry analysts. So, as to avoid repeated embarassment, you may want to exhibit some proactive behavior...
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Thoughts on Enterprisey Architects...
You need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it sometimes take two weeks to plan for a one-hour task?
- It isn't too difficult to think of one very senior manager who is universally acknowledged to be completely incapable of doing his job but for political considerations will still remain in position after multiple reorganizations
- The word enterprise itself doesn't have a strong meaning in that it can refer to a variety of levels within the corporate structure
- Your boss has more people over him (e.g. his boss, his boss's boss,etc) than under him
- You are periodically called away from actual work to have a meeting about when you should next have a meeting about "the Schedule."
- You politely decline an invitation to attend an all-employee "we love you and want to make you feel included" shindig, at which some IT executive will be presenting, and your boss's boss has a talk with your boss, who then explains to you that having real work to do is not a good enough reason not to go
- You must attend meetings in order to find out what you are quite capable of reading via email.
- Before you schedule a meeting, you have to figure out challenging logistical considerations such as which building
- Getting approval to purchase a $3,000 laptop is no more difficult than getting approval to buy a $10 stapler
- Your executives have drank the kool-aid pushed by large enterprise vendor X and is brought in to make everything more efficient and everything becomes more difficult
- You spend 90% of your time navigating or working around bureaucracy and 10% doing real work.
- You stamp everything "DRAFT" to cover your butt...
- There are employees whose sole purpose is to type information from one system to another
- You suddenly realize you are posting Dilbert cartoons not because you think they're funny, but because you identify with them.
- Every time you have a meeting with someone from another "department," your manager feels he needs to attend.
- Project managers maintains two schedules, one to keep track of what the developers are working on, and the other to show to management.
What kind of leadership does your enterprise practice?
Enterprise Architecture and Avoiding Blame...
Organizational practices encourage folks to look for someone to blame when something goes wrong, rather than looking for things to change to prevent the error in future. The best way to to recognize yourself as a guilty participant is to ask yourself whether you have started to spend more time on impression management.
Successful enterprises manage the physical, sociological, spiritual, and perceptual. However, many managers spend nearly all of their time managing only the perceptual aka impression management. Companies that practice this look quite good, but rot away internally. Enron and Worldcom are great examples...
The notion of piercing the veil has to be championed by those within large enterprises at all levels and internalized. To do so means that having a healthy cynical attitude, listening for intentions, and avoiding being conned, manipulated, or exploited becomes crucial for success.
Enterprises also need to not communicate with employees in the same manner as they would communicate in an annual report. Communications need to become personal and not sanitized by communications professionals. Agilists understand that the best architectures are realized via face-to-face conversations and that the notion of organizational architecture is just as important as software architecture...