Friday, April 18, 2014

The Value of Charts

I'm a visual/kinetic learner. I, at a minimum, have to see something to understand how it works. I've been to training someone to do the job that I've been doing by myself for more than 10 years. This of course means explaining processes that I designed, and only live in my brain.

To do this I've been creating diagrams as I explain a  process. In addition to allowing me to organize my thoughts, and clearly explain the process, there's been an interesting side effect --  it becomes obvious what parts of the process are overly complicated.

You see, each diagram starts with a neat box, label, and line, and then another, then there is section that looks like spaghetti with square meatballs.  The spaghetti, of course, is the overly complex part of the process, a part that should probably be targeted for some improvement.  The key is to create the chart on the fly not plan it. Once you start planning it out you can make everything neat and miss the point of the exercise.

This looks like great way to analyze and improve processes. Try it and let me know how it goes. If you know of a formalized process that does something like this, I'd like to hear about it.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

What You Say IS What You Mean.

When you have a conversation in person you provide three communication cues: Words, tone, and body language.  When you have a conversation on the phone you provide two communication cues: Words and tone. When you have a conversation in writing you provide a single communication cue: Words.

The common element is the word. In fact when someone describes your conversation they will, either consciously or unconsciously, convert you body language and tone into words. Your words are very important, body language and tone can only negate or emphasize them.

Think about the words you use. No matter who you are talking to, no matter how well they know you, your words are going to provide the basis of your message. Don't assume that they know what you mean. They can't read your mind.

Make sure you what you mean IS what you say.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why Managing IT Is So Challenging

In most (but not all) professional environments managers move up from the ranks of workers. Managers are familiar with with the jobs of the people they are managing. In IT, while a manager may have come up through the ranks, the technology and issues that their employees are dealing with  change radically in a short period of time so the manger is no longer in touch. Furthermore, systems are now so complex, that its not possible for a manager of multiple applications and functions to be able to even partially understand their operations.

So based on this assertion, one of the major roles of the IT manager is to be a central point for the business to make requests, and the technologists who are going to do the work to evaluate those requests.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Its always the cover-up not the crime that gets you

I frequently use this saying when watching public figures get in trouble. And, given the number of scandals that have been elevated to '-gate' status because of it, you'd think that people would learn by now to just "fess up".  Unfortunately in our jobs this is just as true in the public arena. How many times have you 'swept a problem under the rug', spent as much time covering up an issue as it would to just admit it and fix it.

If you are an employee -- admit it, fix-it, make changes to prevent it, and move on.  If you keep messing it up, no matter how well you cover it up, it will get out anyway.

If you are an employer --create an environment when your employees can do as I suggested.

Both employees and employers -- This does not mean that if there are perpetual issues they shouldn't be dealt with, everyone needs improve. Organizations don't stay in business if everyone isn't doing the their job.