What Are The Chances for IT Project Success?

So I was teaching a class in Enterprise Architecture and IT Governance this week. 


In one of the class exercises, one of the students presented something like this bell-shaped distribution curve in explaining a business case for an IT Project. 


The student took a nice business approach and utilized a bell-shaped curve distribution to explain to his executives the pros and cons of a project. 


Basically, depending on the projects success, the middle (1-2 standard deviations, between 68-95% chance), the project will yield a moderate level of efficiencies and cost-savings or not. 


Beyond that:


– To the left are the downside risks for significant losses–project failure, creating dysfunction, increased costs, and operational risks to the mission/business. 


– To the right is the upside potential for big gains–innovations, major process reengineering, automation gains, and competitive advantages. 


This curve is probably a fairly accurate representation based on the high IT project failure rate in most organizations (whether they want to admit it or not). 


I believe that with:

– More user-centric enterprise architecture planning on the front-end

– Better IT governance throughout

– Agile development and scrum management in execution 

that we can achieve ever higher project success rates along the big upside potential that comes with it!  


We still have a way to go to improve, but the bell-curve helps explains what organizations are most of the time getting from their investments. 😉


(Source Graphic: Adapted by Andy Blumenthal from here)

The Cloud Pays Off

Cloud Bus.jpeg

So for those of you who thought the cloud only pays if your a consumer of technology who is looking for scalability and flexible pricing models, think again. 


Bloomberg has an interesting article on how Adobe is growing their revenue by billions switching their apps to to the cloud. 


Instead of customers paying a one time purchase price for Creative Suite or Acrobat, now customers must pay for Creative Cloud or Document Cloud subscription fees that may sound small in the beginning, but really add up over time. 


And more than that, Adobe doesn’t have to worry about wowing customers with the next upgrade in order to get them to make another purchase, because as long as their products are competitive, the customers will keep paying their subscriptions fees money month after money month.


What’s better than making a sale to a customer?  Selling to them in a cloud subscription model that keeps paying and paying and paying. 


No wonder it’s better to have your head and technology in the cloud–it’s a true rainmaker! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Left or Right?

left-or-right-jpeg

This sign from yesterday reminded me of the debates last night. 


Arguments, attacks, and counterpunchs between the candidates (and the parties they represent).


But in the end, the sign is pointing us in the wrong direction anyway. 


While we keep hitting each other up for getting and maintaining the awesome scepter of American power, our competitors on the international stage are moving on with their personal and national agendas, and we are in seemingly perpetual gridlock. 


The big problems that we face are not going away, and declaring who is the winner of the showtime debates, daily rallies, and witty sound bites, may feel good from the standpoint of whether our candidate is winning or not, but frankly is not solving any of our problems either.


A good fight is spectacular to watch, but we can be our own worst enemies as we are lost in shallow policy and rhetoric debates amidst leadership confusion, indecision, and (un)popularity contests, and even the winner may take home nothing but the rights to hoist another upside down sign.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Big Government Turnaround

Big Gov.JPEG

So I took this photo of a handout being distributed at a major local university here in Washington, DC.


Sort of ironic for this sign that says:

“Big Government Sucks”


…to be handed out in the capital of the United States of America!


It would make sense that this negative notion of big government is connected to the low approval ratings of Congress (17%) and government services (64.4) provided.


People are seeing and sensing that big government is bad government when it is:


– Dictatorial, corrupt, and discriminatory. 


– Mired in fraud, waste, abuse, and coverups. 


– Self-serving for the politicians that are elected to serve the people. 


– When it is bureaucratic and ineffective. 


– When it is confused and without vision or plan for the country. 


– When it’s indecisive, makes bad decisions, or can’t successfully execute short- and long-term on it’s mission. 


– When it is lacking in basic values of democracy, freedom, and human rights for all. 


At the same time, big government can be great government, when it is a beacon of light for its citizens and for the nations of the earth. 


– When it protects us from dictators, demagogues, terrorists, weapons of mass destruction, criminals, and all sorts of disasters.


– When it holds strong and cutting-edge the economy, prosperity, innovation, education, and competitive advantage of the nation. 


– When it safeguards and keeps sustainable the environment for future generations. 


– When it preserves and fortifies freedom, human rights, social equity, equality, and justice. 


– When it looks after the needy and less fortunate.


– When it lead the world in exploration, discovery, partnerships, and ultimately doing good for the people, the planet, and our future. 


Big government sucks when it goes wrong and then they start handing out these sad signs on our nation’s premier college campuses. 


This is a big problem to turnaround?  


But with smart, committed, and moral leadership it can be done! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When You Gotta Go

Toilet.jpeg.jpg

We went hiking the trails yesterday in Maryland along Rock Creek.

And we came across this makeshift toilet in the woods. 

Surprised at all by what you see? 

Apparently, the hole in the tree wasn’t enough for someone.

They took the liberty of literally hauling a toilet seat out to the middle of the woods here and adding it to nature’s wonders. 

I suppose they must’ve really wanted that homey feeling when they take care of their business. 

Who says America’s has lost it’s creative talent?

From the big cities to the wooded suburbs, we are a nation that does our business and does it extremely well. 

Especially during election time when some politicians can be so very full of it and of themselves. 

Can anyone see why we need to reestablish leadership and competitive advantage in this country? 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

When It Comes To Education, We’re Just Playing Around

Education Playtime.jpeg

So I overhead a conversation of 2 young women in Starbucks talking about their college education. 

One of them while acknowledging that she enjoys her classes, says, “But I still don’t feel that I am learning anything practical!”

He friends responds saying, “Yeah, all we learn is X+Y, but what does that do for us in real life?”

The first young women says, “They need to emphasize the practical things and teach us personal finances, fitness, healthy cooking, and so on.”

The second young women starts repeating, “X+Y, X+Y, that’s all they teach us!”

I couldn’t help but chuckle at this point, even though it was sort of sad. 

The education system is known to be so bad in this country, especially until you get to college. 


We’ve gone from No Child Left Behind to Every Student Succeeds, but no matter what you call it–it’s still a big C-R-I-S-I-S. 

According to Ranking America, the US ranks 14 out of 40 countries in education–behind Netherlands and Poland.

Moreover, we rank 2nd in ignorance about social statistics like teen pregnancy, unemployment rates, and voting patterns. 

Moreover, we are falling behind in our competitiveness ranking in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and are now 27th in math and 20th in science out of 34 countries.

We can’t innovate, improve productivity, and effectively compete if we are just playing around with our education system. 

If we don’t change, X+Y may soon equal the bottom of the education barrel. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Losing Our Tech-osterone

Plug

So a vendor comes in and does a pitch and demo for a product we were interested in. 


But this technology vendor, a Fortune 100 company, couldn’t figure out how to plug in their laptop for the demonstration. 


The presenter is holding his plug from the computer and comparing it to the ports on the monitor and going, “Is it a male or is it a female?”


It’s almost like he’s going innie or outtie…


And he’s repeating this over and over again as he keeps trying to plug in his cord to the various openings. 


Everyone is sitting sort of uncomfortably at this point, and so I try to break the tension and say, “I didn’t know we were going to be getting an anatomy lesson today.”


Well, we got the guy some technical help–the government to the rescue–and before long, he figured out the males and the females and the presentation was on the screen. 


The only problem, the title slide for his presentation had a misspelling for the product they were selling. 


At this point, all I can say is, this is why American business is getting soft!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

To Little Jonah

Butterfly

So swimming in the pool, I meet little 7-year old Jonah. 


He sort of made himself known to me when he decided he wanted to race me on the swim board.


I was going just a little faster–and I reminded him that I had a key competitive advantage, fins. 


He said, “Darn I should have brought mine!’


He asked how old I was, and I said a little older than you. 


Not satisfied, he pressed the question, saying “I can tell you are an adult.”


So I had to cave and admit that, and pointing to my heart, added that “I am young at heart.”


Jonah’s in 1st grade, and wanted to know what grade I was in. 


His guess was 4th grade, and I said “That’s about right.”


Jonah is from New Orleans visiting his grandmother for Passover. 


She was watching him in the pool and smiling with grandmotherly nachos, ear-to-ear.


I told Jonah to make sure to treat his grandmother nicely. 


But Jonah at this point had jumped into my swim lane and was in mock superhero fighting mode, and said “I want to punch you.”


I thought to myself, hmm it’s not only my wife that feels that way (LOL).


Anyway, it was clear that I had made a new friend with Jonah, who was off bobbing up and down in the water well over his head. 


Bye Jonah–have a good time visiting for Passover. 


(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

We Just Keep Giving It All Away

Missiles

How do these things keep happening to us?


We lost a high-tech Hellfire air-to- ground missile, accidentally sending it to Cuba, likely compromising critical sensor and GPS targeting technology to China, Russia, and/or North Korea. 


But it’s not all that different from how many other examples, such as: 


– Chinese cyber espionage snared critical design secrets to the 5th generation F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.


– Iran captured and purportedly decoded an RQ-170 Sentinel high-altitude reconnaissance drone.


– Russian spies stole U.S. nuclear secrets helping them to build their first atomic bomb.


We are the innovator for high-tech bar none, which is beautiful and a huge competitive advantage. 


But what good is it when we can’t protect our intellectual property and national security secrets. 


The U.S. feeds the world not only with our agricultural, but with our knowledge.


Knowledge Management should be a mindful exercise that rewards our allies and friends and protects us from our enemies–and not a free-for-all where we we can’t responsibly control our information. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to James Emery)

Blame The SLOW Trains

Train
So another tragic major train derailment in Philadelphia this week. 



Already 8 people killed and over 200 injured. 



All over the news, we see that the train was speeding by going just over 100 mph.



Yes, it was a curve, and maybe we need to build some straighter more stable lines (I believe that is partly what eminent domain used properly is for) and with the latest safety features. 



But does anyone ask how can other countries safely implement their trains at far faster speeds–that makes 106 mph look virtually like a mere snails pace in comparison.



Just last month, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about the U.S. potentially upgrading to bullet trains that rountinely and safely go at far higher speeds:



Japan: 375 mph!



France: 199 mph.



China: 186 mph.



U.S.: 149 mph (even the Acela train has the potential to do at least this much, but for the most part they don’t due to shared lines with commuter and freight trains and an aging infrastructure–uh, so where did all that money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act go exactly?)



In what now seems retrospectively almost mocking, Japan Railways, International Division Chief stated: “We have a track record of transporting a huge volume of passenger traffic with very few delays or accidents…Because the trains operate so accurately, travel can be made very efficiently [and safetly].” 



Do you think we the U.S. can catch up with our 21st century peers here?



(Source Photo: here with attribution to Toshy Island Paddy)