Management nugget number 3

Nugget 3: Office working is far more productive than remote working when dealing with human interaction, but its a mistake to assume it can be maintained at that level forever.

Explanation:

Even before the pandemic, there was a debate over office working vs. remote working and the thing is that both of them are productive in their own way, but after 5+ years of hard remote working and learning to deal with it on a large team scale I think I’ve reached an epiphany.

Day to day working is more efficient from home, you can actually get on with working, you  are actually more productive in completing tasks (providing you actually spend the hours working that you would in an office) as there are far less distractions, Plus there is the absence of Lost time from travelling, but that doesn’t mean that home working is always more productive. For example workshops or large meetings particularly those that involve forms of conflict are far far more productive in person, as sales people have known forever.

But one thing that seems to have been forgotten, particularly by older generations of senior managers is it this kind of productivity cannot be sustained day after day after day, so in my opinion the new hybrid working model is the best, I personally go in for one day a week on a Monday to kickstart me into the work mentality.

But also I have seen the one week workshop where everyone comes together to solve a major goal, get tons done and deliver massively finish with a senior manager saying that we should work like this all the time and this is why being in an office is better,

NO! it’s not, everybody is mentally shattered, such work should be consider a sprint, and while its attractive to think such a pace can be kept up, it cant and should be used now as a usefully times tool to resolve issues or reconnect humans with each other

Sorry if this nugget got turned into more of a rant but it’s something I feel quite strongly about at the moment.

Disclaimer: As always these posts are not aimed at anyone client or employer and are I just my personal observations over a lifetime of dealing with both management and frontline associates.

 

Management Nugget: Number 1

Recently I rebuilt this blog and noticed many things that I had learnt in the past and had since forgotten and as I am in a new type of role at my new client  I thought I would start writing down all the bits and bobs that I am seeing and dealing with from a senior management point of view while I still retain the twin view points of “doer” / Tech and Manager  

All of these nuggets have been thought of many times by many people and no doubt they exist in a thousand books on the subjects of project and man management but they are new to me and I’m finding them by trial and error as I interact with two worlds

I would like to make massively clear that these are not from any one company or any one industry, it is accumulated stuff I have picked up working with clients big and small, people good and bad over the last three decades of corporate life.

Nugget 1: you can’t run teams at 100% and then ask “surges” of them

Explanation:

If you have a set of teams that you’re constantly pushing to “go go go” “now now now” and running them at full speed you CANNOT then on top of that add things that have to be done TODAY, what you’re doing is giving them impossible goals (which produces a constant feeling of failure in the people under your care), burning them out and damaging their opinion of you as handling or “Managing” these situations IS YOUR JOB.

If you cannot control the surges (say its part of your industry that they happen e.g. retail at xmas) then you have to run at a lower % utilisation for the none crisis times.

Engage 2017 From A Distance

Watching Engage from a distance a few weeks ago was an exercise in misery, far more than even IBM Connect, Theo Heselmans had put on an extra special show and I was gutted to be missing it.

The conference looked like its exceptional mix of excellent content plus good socializing and in my personal opinion is the best of the ICS related conferences.

An extra wince for me this year is letting Theo down on the presentation of my session, thankfully Matt White stepped in and gave my session for me so a huge apology and much gratitude to him

 

Engage is always important to [LDC Via](http://ldcvia.com/) as is our anniversary time, this time everybody else had to pick up the slack ([Ben](https://twitter.com/benpoole) had to do the speed sponsoring I normally do) so I am in the team dog house.

I was sent freebies back from the various vendors, but freebie of the conference goes to [Teamstudio](https://twitter.com/teamstudio) with their [Tile](https://www.thetileapp.com/) which according to my wife will save me about 15 years of my life

That’s it just a Slide Deck Post and a groveling apology

 

P.S. Many thanks to [Amanda Bauman](https://www.linkedin.com/in/amandabauman) IBMs token sane person, for sending over some IBM swag (which I had completely failed to order) as well as the Champion Connect Tshirt

Free beer and disreputable company

Due a huge number of unfortunate events LDC Via are not at connect this year (though we will be at other IBM conferences), refusing to give up on the core tenant of such conferences we will be getting pissed and watching the OGS.

Come join us and let us buy you drinks Register Here, it will be upstairs at the Castle pub next to Farringdon tube station (London) On Tuesday 21st from 5:30pm

IBM Champion for 2017

So IBM has renewed my IBM champion status for a third year.

Now according to standard corporate logic I should have lost my champion status because in the last year I have done more than just IBM stuff, I have worked with other technologies, promoted them and worst of all the product I have co-created can be used to migrate application data away IBM Domino and I bet that with most evangelist programs that would have meant expulsion, how ever IBM grew up years ago and are in this for the long hall, the best example of this is that Rene Winkelmeyer is still a champion and he bleeding works for Salesforce!!

What does this prove?? well to me it proves that IBM champions are not little “Yes” drones, they are people with a ton of expertise in IBM technology’s and will be honest about them and know how to get them to work as the client wants.

So thank you IBM for the vote of confidence… As an immediate return I can tell you that I am currently helping a large client implement AngularJS applications via REST services all running natively on an Iseries, again making sure that IBM stays up to date and relevant.

The Perfect IBM Champion

I’m writing this post before the IBM champion decisions come out this year and you get a glut of “I’m so grateful for the honour” blog posts..

What I want to talk about is one of the current IBM Champions in fact one of only 2 IBM Lifetime Champions: Gabriella Davis [1]Disclaimer: I am a long time friend of both Gab and her husband Tim the Geekmeister, I have both worked for/with/employed her for years and wont get anything from this blog post other than a savage … Continue reading

Now Gabriella was a IBM champion long before the term existed

Let me explain. In a rough and ready sort of way an IBM Champion is supposed to act as an evangelist to the IBM brand and provide the following informal services.

  1. Be active in the community: speak at conferences, write blogs etc
  2. Be a source for other peoples solutions to issues with IBM software and platforms: write technical articles and fixes etc etc
  3. Be an expert where clients can go to update,install,advise on or adapt IBM solutions when frankly they don’t want IBM to do it.

Gab excels at all of these, Lets take an example of contact between myself and Gab to see what I mean.

In the middle of the week I had a problem I was REALLY stuck on with Sametime and so I howled on the champions chat, I was greeted with helpful suggestions by those awake at that time, but from Gab I got the following (which I will take apart)

“OK, I have a client deliverable that I am on, but that should be done in 2 hours can you hold on until then”

⇑ Her clients came first, that is explained to me and expectations are set so I know where I am but help is on the way.

(2 Hours 15 mins later) “OK I read the chat.. I think it is XXXXX and we need to check the following, do XXX && YYY and tell me what it says”

⇑ she has followed through on a promise, has given me an opinion and a number of things to veryify this, so I’m learning the deduction process.

“OK on the basis of that, it confirms that it is indeed XXXXX, to fix it we need to do ZZZZ, you can see that at this URL, and can double check by looking at the following files”

⇑ A solution, with official backup and a way of checking to confirm the suggestion has taken effect.

and Bugger me if that did not fix it….

Now that does not make Gab a “free support desk”, it makes her someone I can turn to when I have tried everything I and mr Google can think off (and personally it makes me want to get better so I can reply her in kind some day).. it makes her a CHAMPION.

Now lets look at her broader input into the community…

How many of you would not consider an IBM conference or LUG complete without Gab taking apart one of the more horrible parts of the administration process, be it Authentication between cloud service providers or simplifying massively complex installations she provides a unique and constantly relevant voice at conferences.

And finally there is her efforts to help IBM expand their position in the changing world of IT with such things as the CSC events, showing people how to integrate existing IBM offerings with internet darling technologies,

So for you new IBM champions (and existing ones) this year there is a life time standard for you to be aiming for and Gab is it…. She is in my opinion and as I have public stated multiple times The Best IBM stack administrator in the world.

now if you will just excuse me I need to go and find a pit to hide in in case gab reads this post and pulls my lungs out.

References

References
1 Disclaimer: I am a long time friend of both Gab and her husband Tim the Geekmeister, I have both worked for/with/employed her for years and wont get anything from this blog post other than a savage telling off for embarrassing her

MWLUG 2016 round up

So I’m back from my first mwlug jetlagged to hell and shattered, trying to answer the question that LDC Via always does after a paid conference “was it worth it”

For me the big revelation was the PSC presentation on migration strategy, not for the strategic partnership announcement with LDC Via which I of course knew about as I was there as LDC Via’s representative but for the “this is the truth of the world we live in, it is time to accept it” statement which has been an undercurrent of our yellow world for so long. This has lacked someone articulate enough to say it in a non IBM bashing way also Mr Head in one slide managed to sum up LDC Via’s position in the application structure better than the 4 tech that wrote it had managed in 2 years….

The Conference its self was excellent with some stunning content and very enjoyable from both a learning and a social angle, I could have done without the heat of Austin but the city its self is amazing and I can see why the residents are so proud of it.

The Session with Gab went well with a good attendance and no hecklers (security people can be weird), my individual session was the last of the day and thanks to the conference running a bit on the late side was not well attended (I went and checked if the attendance was as bad in the other sessions and it was), but EVERYBODY in the session ask questions and multiple people came up and thanked me again latter .. Weeeeeee

LDC Via was well received and people are starting to see what it can do and that is is not a threat either to IBM or to their jobs and ecosystem, more of a evolution of storage but I really should have brought more marketing stuff to give away 🙁

I also attended my first Penumbra meeting and ended up not doing hardly any of the full days work I had brought with me (I hate meetings) because the conversation was so interesting and engaging, I now understand why people join.

And thus the answer to the question at the beginning of the post is: “Yes, it was very much worth it”

To Find The Perfect Office

I find with offices that I am more than a little picky, you think that all you want are a few simple basics but it turns out that none of the shared or small office providers want to provide what you want in the way you want it

I tried most of the leading communal office companies as a truly private office would be too expensive, and I would go stir-crazy, but every time there would be something fundamentally wrong with them. Faults ranged from one office advertising itself as a “dynamic shared environment” which turned out to be a lobby coffee shop >:( [1]Meaning I couldn’t leave my laptop unattended therefore had to take it with me every time I went to the toilet through to places that were so keen to get you in that it felt like you had hired yet another project manager to be on your case. This happened four or five times, but I was determined to find a good work base [2]I could not really use home as my work place as I need to meet with clients and clients of companies I am sub-contracting for. LDC Via work together a lot as well and frankly I start to lose … Continue reading, and my perfect office turned out to be a place called Purple Patch.

Within a day of trailing in to the building fresh from an outrage at a previous office provider, I determined to settle there like an ugly toad under a rock. If you want the low-down I recommend you go and look at their web site

Let’s walk through my must-haves:

24-hour access: This is a big thing for me, in fact THE big thing. Most shared offices close at 6pm, and you’re waiting at the door at 8am to be let in. However Purple Patch is really 24 hour access. They give you a bunch of keys and security fobs after checking your background, and then you can come in at any time, day or night. Perfect for those late night deadlines.

Impresses Clients: The place must look and feel good: a lot of shared offices have a slightly tired feel about them, a bit like airport lounges. At Purple Patch everything is bright and clean, and I thought at first it was because the place was new—but no, it’s been there for 15 years and simply has regular revamps. This means that you can bring clients on-site with a sense of pride, and its excellent location means that there are tons of great places to eat and drink within idle wandering distance.

Hard Lines: I know that everyone just lives on wifi, but not me. Wifi is fine and everything but I want a good speed, I want to go like the clappers, and so each desk has a network port in it that gives you 100Meg down, and the same up. This means that only individual clients’ VPN speeds slow me down.

Layout: I like open-plan, but not OPEN PLAN. Again, Purple Patch scores: the building itself is like a cheerful Gormenghast (or as Ben Poole said, “an eclectic second hand book shop”). Desks are grouped into bays and natural nooks, you don’t feel isolated, but similarly you are not forced to endure every word of a nearby loudmouth’s day.

Humanity: My office provider must be human. One of the Purple Patch clients has a small dog she sometimes brings in, and no-one howls (sorry) about rules. Parents bring in kids and I have never been disturbed by them (the layout helps with this and the fact there is a chill-out area with table-top football that gives kids something to do). No-one brings in jaguars and what can and can’t be done is decided on a case-by-case bases to keep everyone happy, rather than by following a soulless set of rules.

Now the little things:

Nice toilet roll holders: Don’t look at me like that. How many times have you been at a clients or any kind of office and had to deal with a toilet roll holder that looks straight out of Parkhurst prison? Something that does not allow more than 2 sheets to be pulled off before it jams and rips and you end up having a little tantrum, reaching in and ripping the offending roll out which is less than professional. It turns out that Purple Patch agrees and has proper toilet roll holders that hold multiple roles and that don’t damn well jam.

Proper coffee in proper places Purple Patch have different coffee in different places in the building (yes, yes tea as well!) If you want to wait at a machine while it goes “pluck pluck pluck” then fine there’s one of those. Personally I like the old style filter coffee pots and they are always kept topped-up to ensure optimal coding hyperactivity. I have watched Ben Poole consume his entire body weight in coffee within approximately ten minutes of arriving at the office.

… and that’s it. Really I am just relieved to have found an office I like and can do business in 🙂

(BTW: I’m not getting paid or anything for this review!)

This is where I skulk. Your desk is static and you get a locking cupboard (there are personal lockers as well)


Lots of little drop-in meeting nooks


Coffee, COFFEE!!! (kept topped-up by the lovely lovely staff)


You would not believe that the meeting rooms are actually cheaper than horrible scabby chain franchise ones


A nice shower at an office, there’s an idea


Even LDC Via can enjoy a meeting there (and maybe the pub afterwards)

References

References
1 Meaning I couldn’t leave my laptop unattended therefore had to take it with me every time I went to the toilet
2 I could not really use home as my work place as I need to meet with clients and clients of companies I am sub-contracting for. LDC Via work together a lot as well and frankly I start to lose productivity if I work from home more than around one day every two weeks.

A Little Thing Done Right

Last week the ‘swag’ from being an IBM champion arrived and to my utter surprise it was just perfect, yes I had picked it from a catalogue and knew at least one of the items was from a brand I knew but that did not detract from the fact it represents something to me a bit deeper than just a give away to keep some evangelists sweet.

Branded stuff like this is really supposed to be used where clients can see it (on site idealy) but recent IBM marketing stuff has been of very poor quality, just somewhere to slap the logo on and hope for the best, the best example of this is the backpacks that were given away at recent IBM Connect events, they were not even worth taking home where as the 2005 and 2003 editions were still in use and treated as a fine vintage, who ever looked at the bags and decided to skip them for this year’s event was a wise person. Anyway the swag that just arrived represents in my opinion just what IBM is aiming at with their champions

  • High quality outsourcing: IBM obviously did not do it them selves but the picking and delivery for me was a simple and flawless exercise.
  • Best of breed: The backpack is Wenger, the notebooks were Moleskin, the t-shirt was Nike. Good competent brands, not too flash, but not some no name knock off that falls to bits.
  • To be seen in public: I am already using my stuff on site and with the same pride I would a MongoDB t-shirt or a LDCVia power pack.

I expect I am reading too much into this and it’s simply the result of a single individual doing their job very well, but even if that’s the case it’s a good example of a rejuvenating IBM






Presenting at MWLUG

Hooray!!!, I have been accepted to speak at mwlug this year

I will presenting 2 sessions

1) “The SSL Problem And How To Deploy SHA2 Certificates” with Gabriella Davis

This session went down well at connect and we are hoping that Austin will love this changed and updated version, Gab is awesome to present with.

2) “Salesforce for Domino Dogs”

Now If you saw this at Engage I urge you to come again as this is an evolving presentation that changes dramatically with each iteration (depending on presenters and the ever changing world of Salesforce)

  • Version 1: Balanced Architect (Engage 2016)
  • Version 2: Happy Evangelist (DNUG 2016)
  • Version 3: Rabid Developer <– This is the one I will be presenting

It will be my first trip out there and beside from presenting I will be manning the stand (The rest of the team are insisting I wear a shirt and everything).

P.S.

I’m looking for someone to room share/split cost with ( I sleep on the floor so there never seems to be a point to getting a room for myself ) …. I can provide references…