The Commandments are for All of Us

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “The Commandments are for All of Us.”

While some Jews certainly thrive in Yeshiva delving into the Talmudic understanding of the laws for long hours every day, and they serve an important role in understanding and transmitting the laws from generation to generation, others may be more interested in the fundamental philosophy of Judaism and in “doing what’s right” by applying the core teachings of the Torah at their own levels every day. Maybe this is one reason that the Ten Commandments are presented separately from the “mishpatim” that follow. Not that they aren’t both important and necessary, but that the Torah is for all of us in the ways that each of us can appreciate, learn, and apply them within the overall framework of the Torah.


Of course, all the commandments are important between G-d and man and between man and man, as well as the conceptual framework of the Ten Commandments and the details embedded in the rest of the 613 commandments. Yet certainly, all of us in one way or another struggle with some commandments more than others or with losing sight of either the high-level essence of the Torah or important details of implementation. Nevertheless, we must strive to not only appreciate that all the Torah comes from Hashem, but also that we each must work as best as we can, in our own capacities, to learn and fulfill G-d’s laws and to be a good example and “light unto the nations,” which is what being “the chosen people” is really all about.

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal of Chagall Tapestry in Knesset, Israel)

Types of Project Management Office

This is a quick breakdown of the 3 types of Project Management Offices (PMOs).

  • Enabling (Supportive) — Provides best practices, templates, and tools “as needed,” and compliance is voluntary.
  • Delivery (Controlling) — Adopts framework or methodology, policy, and repeatable procedures, and a certain level of the standards are enforced.
  • Compliance (Directive) — Establishes strict standards, measures, and control over projects, and these are highly regulated.

A good place to start is with an enabling/supportive PMO and then progress to a more delivery/controlling model. Generally, a compliance/directive PMO is for more highly regulated organizations.


(Credit Graphic: Andy Blumenthal and concept via CIO Magazine and Gartner)

Avraham, The Ultimate Mensch

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel, “Avraham, The Ultimate Mensch.”

The Rabbi asked why did Hashem who is omnipotent even need to create us? And he answered because in G-d being the ultimate good, He “had to create us”—this in essence being the ultimate expression of good by sharing that goodness with us to learn and be good as well. In short, what could be a greater good than extending that opportunity to be be good to others.


Like our forefather, my Hebrew name is Avraham, and for me personally, this has been a critical life lesson: learning to see challenges as opportunities to learn, grow, and consistently be a person that tries to do what is right even when it is hard or the lines seem to be grey. In the end, I believe that G-d put us in this world in order for us to choose good over evil and demonstrate kindness to others. With the Torah as our blueprint, and Avraham, our forefather, as our role model, we must apply the great teachings of the Torah and always strive to act as a proper mensch!

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Beautiful Measurements

This is a beautiful set of nested brass weights from France. 


It dates back to 1852!


The weights range from 1 gram to 500 grams. 


These are weights, but also a form of art. 


It is located at the NIST Museum.


There is something comforting about weights, measures, and standards.

 

It puts an organized construct unto our universe and creates some objective scientific reality to our world. 


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

OFNR Communications Model

This is a useful 4-part communications process (developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg):


1. Observations:  Tell the other person the behavior you observe from them that is making you uncomfortable. 

When I Observe…


2. Feelings:  Explain how the person’s behavior makes you feel (happy, sad, angry, annoyed, excited, worried, scared, hurt, embarrassed, confused)

I feel…


3. Needs: Describe what you need from the other person (physiological, safety, social, esteem, self-actualization)

Because I need…


4. Requests: Ask them specifically what you’d like them to do.

Would you be willing to… 

It’s a way to make your feelings and needs known and ask nicely what you’d like from others. 


This provides a mechanism to give feedback and work with other people without being confrontational, threatening, dictatorial, or nasty. 


When I see you reading my blog, I feel happy, because I need to try to be a good person and good influence in this world. Would you be willing to share my blog with others? 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal and Colleague from Work)

Hierarchy of Computing

Blumenthals_hierarchy_of_compu

One fundamental framework that I was always really impressed with and found basically true to life was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs describes the stages of growth in human beings, and it portray’s people focusing on their more primitive needs first and then progressing on to fulfilling higher order needs, as the lower ones are satisfied.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs–starts with addressing our basic Physiological needs for food, water, shelter, clothing and so on; then Safety covers our needs for safety and security; followed by social needs for love and companionship; next is Self-esteem which is our need for respect and value; and finally is Self-actualization where we actually fulfill our potential.

What occurred to me is that computing is an aid for us to fulfill our human needs, and as such we can map a Hierarchy of Computing to the Hierarchy of Needs.

The result is a “Hierarchy of Computing,” as follows:

Automation–helps us produce the sustenance items that we need for our physiological needs and includes everything from agricultural plows and harvesters to production line automation and systems.

Weaponization–this is the systemization of everything supporting our homeland security, military, and intelligence apparatus from nukes to drones, satellites, missile shields, cyber and bioweapons, and more.

Social/Mobile–these are technologies and apps that help us communicate and interact with one another, whenever and wherever we are.

Business Intelligence–addressing Big Data, this is the capability to capture, catalog, analyze, locate, and report information to drive value, power, and respect.

Ethical–the use of technology to aid timely decision-making and meaningful, value-driven action–helps us choose and execute right from wrong and is the ultimate in progressing toward our self-actualization.

I struggled with where Robotics fits in this hierarchy and I decided that robotics is not a specific layer in the hierarchy of computing itself, but rather is a application of the technology that can be applied at every level. For example, robotics can aid automation on the assembly line or it can be used for safety to defuse roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan or they can be applied to social needs as nursing and home aids for the elderly and handicapped and so on.

I am excited by this alignment of the Computing Hierarchy to the Needs Hierarchy in that it provides a framework for advances and application of technology to supporting our very humanity.

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

SDLC On Target

Sdlc

I found this great white paper by PM Solutions (2003) called “Selecting a Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) Methodology.”

The paper describes and nicely diagrams out the various SDLC frameworks:

– Waterfall
– Incremental
– Iterative
– Spiral
– RAD
– Agile

It also provides a chart of the advantages and disadvantages of each framework.

Finally, there is a simple decision cube (D3) based on time horizon, budget, and functionality for selecting an SDLC framework.

This is a very useful and practical analysis for implementing SDLC, and it aligns closely with the guidance from the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-64, “Security Considerations in the Systems Development Life Cycle” Appendix E that states:

“The expected size and complexity of the system, the development schedule, and the anticipated length of a system’s life may affect the choice of which SDLC model to use.”

While NIST focuses on the time horizon and complexity versus the PM Solutions Decision Cube that uses time horizon, budget, and functionality, the notion of tailoringSDLC to the project is both consistent and valuable.

Just one more resource that I found particularly good is the Department of Labor IT Project Management guidance (2002)–it is a best practice from the Federal CIO website.

I like how it integrates SDLC, IT Project Management, IT Capital Planning and Investment Control (CPIC), and security and privacy into a cohesive guide

It also establishes project “thresholds” to differentiate larger or more significant projects with greater impact from others and calls these out for “more intensive review.”

Even though these these resources are around a decade old, to me they are classic (in a good sense) and remain relevant and useful to developing systems that are on target.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)