Solving Computer Problems

Funny T-Shirt on solving computer problems:


Does it work?


Did you screw with it?


Does anyone know?


Can you blame anyone else?


This little flowchart seems to capture so many issues in the office like:


– Accountability


– Problem-solving


– Doing the right thing


Oh, maybe that’s a different flowchart. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Having Those Difficult Conversations

Took an interesting class recently in having difficult conversations.


These are the conversations you need to have about performance, accountability, expectations, bad news, conflict, and so on. 


Often these are the conversations we tend to avoid, because we don’t know how to have them without making things worse where things get emotionally charged, people become defensive, things gets misinterpreted, and they get escalated. 


And it’s even more difficult when there is a discrepancy in power between the people having the dialogue. 


But it is important to have the critical conversations in order to solve the underlying problems!


Often problems are rooted in that we judge others too quickly and erroneously, or we just don’t have all the facts. 


The data points we do have get filtered, interpreted, assumptions are made, conclusions are drawn, beliefs are adopted, and actions are taken that may be wrong (reference: The Ladder of Inference by Chris Argyris).


The key to having a productive conversation is to explain the issue and the impact, acknowledge your part in the problem, describe the desired outcome for the relationship and the work, and most importantly, give space for the other person to respond.


We need to get the other person’s point of view, including the data points that we may have missed or misunderstood, generate options, and agree how to solve the issue.


Unfortunately, there are times when the other person digs in and isn’t open to working on or resolving the problem, in which case you may need to decide whether to grin and bear it (i.e. live with it) or leave the relationship, because it has become too unproductive and toxic. 


The instructor said it well: This is about problem-solving. But life is too short to deal with jerks!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

The New Faces Of Hate

Representative Illhan Omar claims Congressional lawmakers are bribed to support U.S. friend and ally, Israel:

“It’s all about the Benjamins baby”.

Representative Rashida Tlaib said about congressional representatives supporting Israel in a bill  that would punish companies that participate in Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) to further Israel’s destruction. 

“They forget what country they represent.”

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated about Israel’s defending their sovereign border with Gaza amidst terrorist organization, Hamas-led violent protests, terror attacks, and infiltrations into Israel:

“This is a massacre. I hope my peers have the moral courage to call it such. No state is absolved of the mass shooting of protesters.”

“Silence” around the Palestinian cause “has been a little interesting to me.” 


Perhaps, the most concerning thing is where is the Democratic Party leadership in calling out these anti-Semitic hate-mongers in their ranks?

The Not So Civil Service

At one time, it was considered a great honor to work for the Federal government, and people fought for the jobs and to take the civil service exam. 


The Civil Service was not only a term, but also a reality filled with honor, dedication, and devotion to one’s country. 


Working for the Federal government meant interesting and exciting work opportunities not only defending our great nation, but in making it just and prosperous, and literally a beacon of freedom for the world. 


While no one became rich working for the government, you could make a stable living, build tenure over your service, and finally receive a pension upon retirement. 


Over the course of almost 20-years of my federal career, I have had the opportunity to serve in positions that I only could have dreamed about as a child, and to feel such pride in serving. 


But it seems like times have taken a turn for the worse either willfully or through neglect:


– From Capitol Hill to the Executive Department, we see the extremus of polarization and endless obstacles to getting anything done.  


– With each change in administration, aside from a change of leadership and direction at the top of each Department, the workforce is seemingly accused of subversion for the other side and turned on itself. 


– Just recently, we’ve seen the longest federal government shutdown lasting 35 days and with hundreds of thousands of Federal workers required to work without pay at the time. 


– We have also seen many years of pay freezes–with not even a meager cost of living adjustment (COLA), while the overall economy is booming!


– The pay for grades at the upper levels are hitting up against the Congressional limits with multiple pay steps being the same pay and no increase for career advancement or growth of responsibilities. 


– Employees have been forced to endure the A-76 outsourcings, threats of disbanding entire agencies, demands to reduce the size of government, and hiring freezes even while serving a larger population requiring ever more services. 


– There have been limitations on the power of employee unions, and an ongoing series of tightening of benefits from CERS to FERS and continuing thereafter requiring greater employee contributions and what feels like ever less benefit payouts. 


– Staff are threatened with firing in a short(er) period of time for making a small number of mistakes to a host of “conduct” issues that may or may not be true, and may at times be the outcome of poor leadership rather than problematic employees.


– The system for employment grievances and judging these has gone without a quorum for the longest period on the books and the backlog of cases continues to build. 


While no system is perfect, and there are bad apples on every side, there clearly seems to be a devolution of the federal service, and what this means for governing and for our defense and prosperity is yet to be fully felt. 


For me, serving the Federal government has been one of the greatest honors and has been many of the best years of my life. My wish is for others going forward to have a positive and productive experience as well. 


Perhaps with an appreciation and true respect for the millions of good men and women that serve our country–from the front lines to the back offices–we can once again create a system that is equitable, fair, and just and that inspires the world-class results we needs for our nation and our people. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Birthing An IT System

Managing IT projects is no easy task.


You’ve got to get the requirements right. 


Technical issues need to be resolved. 


Dependencies have to be lined up. 


Integrations need to work. 


Design should be user-friendly and intuitive. 


Change management takes real leadership. 


And so much more. 


A lot needs to go right for the project to be a success. 


While of course, just one or two bad apples in the project equation can quickly make for a failure if not controlled for. 


But you can’t let it…the show must go on, progress is waiting to be made, and the systems need to be delivered for the benefit of the organization. 


This is where real strength and determination by so many good people come in. 


Keep moving things forward–one step at a time–don’t stop!!!—another step and another–heave ho, heave, ho–until one day soon a beautiful and efficient IT system is born. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

State Of Our Politicians

Last night was the State of the Union…


But this morning, I still can’t help thinking about the State of our Politicians. 


The picture from Virginia governor, Ralph Northam medical school yearbook is outrageous, and yet he refuses to step down.


This didn’t happen when he was kid, but as a responsible adult. 


And even for those of us who believe in personnel change and forgiveness, there has to be accountability for something this callous, hurtful, bigoted and offensive. 


What happened to our politicians being true patriots, looking out for our good and the best interests of our nation?


One lady said to a group of us last evening:

I know who I am going to vote for in the next elections, and it’s NO ONE currently in political office!


To which another gentleman replied:

It doesn’t matter who you vote for, a politician always wins.


Somehow, I still have faith that there are people who can rise to the occasion and be the leaders that they must be. 😉

Moses’ Handicap

Please see new my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Moses’s Handicap.”

In truth, we are all handicapped in one way or another. One person comes from a meager financial background, another has no education, and yet another has any of a host of physical, mental, or emotional challenges. Essentially, we all have something that rightfully can hold us back. But still G-d chooses us to do His bidding. Whether it’s leading the Jews out of Egypt or standing up and doing what’s right in situations that we are confronted with every day, we are asked to go beyond our handicap.


We can’t let our handicaps prevent us from fulfilling our purpose in life–we need to meet the challenges head on with G-d’s help.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)