A Mountain Of Data

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So I heard this interesting perspective on information and data analytics…


Basically, it comes down to this: 

“Most organizations are data rich, but information/insight poor.”


Or put another way:

“Data is collected, but not used.”


Hence we don’t know what we don’t know and we end up making bad decisions based on poor information. 


Just imagine if we could actually make sense of all the data points, connect them, visualize them, and get good information from them.


How much better than a pile of rocks is that? 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Escalator Pile-Up

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So this was really funny at the Metro escalator. 


There was a huge double line of people coming down the escalator heading to the trains.


Everything is moving swiftly like clockwork.


Decend, decend, decend…step off and move to the right or left track for the next train. 


But then…


One person, steps off and instead of moving left or right, they stop to try and figure out which side their train is coming from. 


So all the people behind them coming down and off the escalator are blocked by the one “bumbling idiot” and they start stumbling into him with no place to go, and more and more people coming down end up in the human pile. 


You could almost hear the people getting to the end of the escalator yelling: “Get out of the way!”


It was crazy and sort of hilarious–as no one was hurt, but the system isn’t built to give a person pause at the bottom.


The people just keep coming and coming–where’s the emergency break? 🙂


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

BIG Difference Between Private and Public Sectors

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So I thought this was very telling today about the difference between the public and private sectors…


I was teaching a class and gave the students a challenging scenario and problem and asked how they would solve it.


The class was a mix of leaders and managers from the public and private sectors–this time weighted mostly on the commercial side. 


Typically, the students from the government usually provide answers in terms of lengthy analysis processes, negotiations, vetting and getting buy-in and approvals through many layers of bureaucracy and red tape, as well as getting people to understand the what’s in it for me (WIIFM) value proposition.


However, this time, one the students from the private sector said bluntly, the following:

We can either do it the easy way or the hard way!


So I asked, “What do you mean the easy and hard ways?”


And he answered:

The easy way is that we can try at first to appeal to people, but if that doesn’t work then the hard way is we just do what needs get done.


Again with great interest and curiosity, I inquire, “And how do you that?”


This time someone else answers, and says:

We do “rip and replace”–we pull up the truck in the middle of the night and we rip out the things we don’t like and replace it with what we do, period.


Then I ask innocently again, “So what happens the next morning?”


And the 2nd person answers again, and says:

Who cares, the job is done!


This reminded me a little of the old images of the mob gangster pulling up in the shadows of the night to someone’s door that wasn’t cooperating and applying the baseball bat to the knees!


Yes, it’s a very different and extreme way of getting what you want and when you want it, done. 


Quite a BIG difference between the private and public sector approach to getting thing done!


One one hand, we have the speed and execution of the marketplace versus the more lengthly thoughtfulness and inherent compromises of government and politics. 


What’s it gonna be–some bureaucracy, seemingly endless red tape, and horse-trading or the good ol’ baseball bat to the knees? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Settle Down or Trade Up

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So I always hear this question from people…

 

Should I be happy with what I have or should I seek out something better?

It’s the age old question of whether to settle down or trade up.


When it comes to any decision in life…choosing a school, degree, career, place to live, an investment decision, or even your spouse and life partner–how do you know when you are making the right decision?


Maybe you like or love what’s in front of your eyes, but you still don’t know 100% if there’s something better out there for you.


Every choice means you are settling in some way, because let’s face it, nothing is perfect in life!

When is good, good enough for you?


There are trade-offs with every decision.


And it’s a matter of what YOU can live with!


A guy may say, “I like this girl, but I’m not sure whether she’s the one for me or that I really want to settle down with long-term.”


Someone else says, “I’m studying to be an accountant, but you know I really always liked psychology.”


And yet a third person says, “I like working at company ABC, but maybe I can learn something new or do better financially for myself and family if I go somewhere else.”


So when do you settle down and when do you try to trade-up?


The dilemma is fateful because you don’t want to lose what you have, but you also don’t want to potentially miss out on something even better for you.


Listen, we’re not prophets!


No one knows whether your investment in something is going to pay off in spades or land you flat on your butt. 


All you can do is try to weight the pros and cons of every decision. 


If you treat life like a roulette game in Las  Vegas, the one thing that is pretty sure is that at some point, you will lose it all to the house. 


So choose wisely and make sure you are passionate about your choice and that can live with it over time. 


Know that you made the best decision you could by looking at it from all angles. 


And most important of all, be grateful for everything you have–these are blessings from the Almighty Above and you need to have faith that He/She is guiding and helping you all along the way. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Whose Throat Do You Choke

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So this was an interesting term that I heard about getting people to take responsibility for their actions.


“Whose throat do I choke for this?”


Sounds a little severe, no?


I think this is partially an adverse reaction to “analysis paralysis” and “death by committee” — where no decisions can ever get made. 


And organizations where lack of accountability runs rampant and it’s more about finger pointing at each other, rather than owning up to your responsibilities, decisions, and actions.


So with dysfunctional  organizations, the pendulum swings aimlessly being no accountability and the ultimate chopping block. 


But choking off the life blood of our human capital certainly isn’t conducive to innovation, exploration, and discovery or to productivity, employee morale and retention.


So when it’s simple human error with our best effort and no bad intentions, how about we say a simple “Who done it this time,” do a post-action, figure out the valuable lessons learned, and resolve how we do better going forward. 


No throats or heads necessary (most of time). 🙂


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The Most Important Word Is AND

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So as divisiveness continues to plague us. the option for acceptance, love, and coexistence is falling out of the favor and by the wayside. 

Division and conflict has been accentuated by the ugliness of the most recent election and representative political divide, economic and gender inequality, inner city violence, racial and religious tensions, worldwide terrorism, and global conflict from Syria to the South China Sea. 

This has even infiltrated the functioning of our government, social institutions, and free media big time, where vetting, negotiation and compromise, critical thinking, and fair, balanced, and investigative journalism have been largely jettisoned. 

There is no place anymore to go hide from bias, bigotry, and hate. 

But as the wise proverb goes things truly are not just black and white, but there are loads of grey everywhere

Many people are not good or evil, left or right, blessed or cursed.

Instead, most people are a mixture of this AND that. 

How much of the complex mix of different elements is what makes up the integrity and life of the individual, group, and organization we are dealing with.

But what’s important is that you really can’t just stereotype people, ideas, or actions as simply good or bad because in reality, they aren’t.  

Each person and position has elements of good and bad in them…nothing and nobody in life is perfect. 

You take the good and the bad in everything from relationships to policy decisions. 

So it is certainly possible and even probable to be conflicted and confused about what we see and hear–and not only because of the bias and prejudice in how it is presented or portrayed, but rather because things are not just simple, one or the other propositions, but rather a combination of things we approve of and disapprove of. 

Our brains can have lots of trouble dealing with this complexity, because we are wired in terms of survival of the fittest, and that often means choosing a action based on split-second categorizing of people and things as friend or foe. 

As the mere shadow of the person or idea is upon us, we are asked to respond–do we run or fight it or do we lovingly embrace it as it overtakes us. 

Choose wrong and you can be badly hurt or even dead. 

But we are forced to make these quick and bold choices without always having the luxury of time, the patience, or wherewithal to stop and recognize that things and people are a combination of things we like and agree with and others that we dislike and vehemently oppose. 

If we could just keep in mind that most things are not just good or bad, right or wrong, but good AND bad, right AND wrong, then we can make more astute and fine-tuned designations of what we think something really is and isn’t and how to handle it, live with it, and faithfully coexist with it. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Good IT Gone Bad

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So over and over again, good IT goes bad in a flawed decision-making process. 


Even with the best laid plans and governance processes in place, somehow decisions get politicized, go bad, and projects fail. 


Here are some of the popular reasons why this happens:


1) Someone has something to prove – Often their is a person incoming to power who wants to show off what they can do. Instead of focusing on what is best for the organization’s mission and people, they put themselves first. IT becomes not a tool for efficiency and effectiveness, but rather as some project rushed through for someone’s resume and narcissist career progression. Time to add another notch on your IT belt!


2) Someone used it, saw it, or heard of it someplace else – So why follow a structured decision-making and vetting process for new technology, when Joe Schmoe already has the answer of what we can use and what we should do. Perhaps, Joe Schmoe used the technology in another place and for another reason, but that’s what he knows and instantaneously, he’s the maven, subject matter expert. Or maybe, Joe Schmoe attended a vendor conference or read a trade mag on the airplane and now he is guess what, the all-knowing on the topic. Get ready to pull out your wallets to pay for the wrong thing for your needs and organization, but it’s okay becuase Joe Schmoe assured you it’s great!


3) Someone wants to use technology like a Swiss army utility knife – Let’s just buy this amazing tool; it can slice, dice, chop, mince, or Julienne; actually there is nothing this IT tool can’t do. Buy it and use it for all your technology projects and needs. Why buy specialized tools, when you can have one that does everything–it will be your data warehouse, cloud provider, handle all your transactions, and be your artificial intelligence all in one.  Don’t worry about the complexity, integration, training, support or how good it does any specific thing–just trust us!


In general, it shouldn’t be so easy for leadership to get sold and fooled by the wrong people with the wrong agendas. Yet, these things seem to take off like a speeding locomotive, and if anyone tries to step in front of it, career splat for some unfortunate well-meaning character!


Some leaders and organizations only seem to learn by making the same IT mistakes again and again–it’s costly to their mission and to their stakeholders, but someone is making out like a bandit and it’s on their dime. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)