The Message and the Medium

edit: updated video link
edit: H/T to my brother, Paul Kraatz, for pointing to the one episode of The Office I had not seen for the video below.

I’ve been meaning to write this post for years now but it took the combined efforts of a thousand-person bureaucracy to shake it loose. That bureaucracy is the Oceanside Unified School District.

Now this isn’t a rant about the awful OUSD. On the contrary, they’re mostly nice folks who do a pretty decent job but they, like many other districts, are a horror show when it comes to communication media. So are you. This is why they’re the perfect example to trot out in the hope that you embrace a little self-improvement.

As parents of schoolchildren, the district needs to notify Mrs. Kid and me of many different goings on in the schools. For a time it was restricted to snail mail and phone calls home. The district soon discovered cell phones which led to calls and text messages, followed by e-mail, then Facebook, Twitter, and I think the last few bricks thrown through my window came from them. It’s hard to say with all the spelling errors on the threatening note but that was either the local gang or my son’s English teacher, probably the latter. Their motto: “if one communication channel is good, all of them are even better!”

They’re “Wuphfing” me.

Continue reading

Share
Posted in Communication, This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Three Shut Up

shut UpAnother year, another new crop of Analysts has suffered through my Speech Communication bootcamp. We ran out of time for one of my favorite sidebars, though, so I’m bringing it to you now, here: the “Three Shut Up” rule.

The origins of the Three Shut Up rule are mysterious and clouded in apocrypha. The only thing we know for sure is that it works and a whole mess of you folks need to start using it.

Right off the bat I need to credit my colleagues Julie Goldklang, Sunil Ahuja, Bryan Delorme, John Mulach, and Ed Crowthers. They’re the ones who have held the torch on Three Shut Up for the last decade or two and as far as I know, this is their creation. I’m just instructing you on its use and abuse. I’m sure I’ve missed someone who will naturally get all butthurt over that and if that’s you, use one of your shut ups at this time. Continue reading

Share
Posted in Communication | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Rule of 7…

…thousand

You Don’t Have to Be Lonely

When I roll out a new sales campaign, delivery toolkit, or training of any kind I am gently reminded by well-meaning colleagues about the “rule of 7.” You marketing wonks will be very familiar with this concept but for the rest of us the premise is this:

If you’re trying to sell a product the audience needs to hear your message up to 7 times before they will make a purchase. The “rule” breaks down a bit in the online economy but the reasons boil down to some basic elements of communication theory. Simply put: you don’t want to hear advertising, so to get you to hum the Farmers Only jingle we’re going to hammer you with it during every commercial break until your head explodes.

Or, preferably, until you visit the Farmers Only website “as a joke” and browse the farmgirls and cowboys. Even if you don’t subscribe and pay, the Internet advertising revenue still has the potential for healthy returns. They call it a rule because it works.

Good Rule, Bad Application

Good intentions nonetheless misapply this rule for use with an internal audience. Continue reading

Share
Posted in Communication | 1 Comment

Old Business: The Cue Ball Speaks

I participated in a panel event in April, 2016 and completely forgot about it. The Dallas CIO Forum “2016 Future Trends” panel had a couple good moments. The ugly mug flaps his gums starting at 10:58.

Update: I found another, more permanent link, here: http://www.hmgstrategy.com/rrc/video-grid-cat.asp?CatID=24

…problem is you’ll have to search for it a bit.

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Almost as awesome as Brexit

http://www.zdnet.com/article/snoopers-charter-expansive-new-spying-powers-becomes-law/?utm_source=fark&utm_medium=website&utm_content=link&ICID=ref_fark

This is why we can’t have nice things. On the brighter side, I predict a LOT more Tor relays and exit nodes will be popping up in the UK soon.

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Values Mismatch

http://www.crn.com/news/networking/300082418/cisco-president-aws-model-is-a-gamble-and-a-hiccup-away-from-bankruptcy.htm?cid=nl_alert&utm_content=edit-alert-101316#li=MA1-fd5164b0d89cf7d5&cs=MA1-4162e50ec8b9f4d999a7591d5b834977

Article: “OMG AWS partner model is the suxx0rs and AWS is going to go bankrupt”
The Channel: We’re pretty sure their partner model sucks by design, so they don’t go bankrupt. That’s why we don’t partner with them.

Who the hell want’s to partner with AWS, anyway?

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why yes, race to the bottom seems like a perfect description

http://www.itworld.com/article/3118815/cloud-computing/has-your-cloud-consultant-gone-crazy.html

It’s hard to argue with much of what the author says.

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Viva la Shadow IT

The Register almost gets it.  I don’t blame them, really.  You can’t change the world overnight and articles about IT engaging the business mostly reflect the IT world as it is.  It’s no surprise they fall short when it comes to the part about how things ought to be.  I do like the article because it does actually give the users some credit where due but it suffers from “IT is Important-itis”. To wit, in an expository on Infrastructure as Code:

“It’s a lovely idea, but only if you have guidelines in place to stop devs littering your infrastructure with zombie VMs and chewing their way through your storage capacity with poorly-thought-out API calls.”

Um, it’s not your storage capacity. It’s the Business’ storage, you’re just administering it, jackass.  Those littering devs are increasingly hired by the business directly.

“If you’re an Amazon Web Services house, you don’t necessarily want your developers spinning up services on the competing Microsoft Azure just because they have a preference for, or more experience with, that particular technology stack or service…”

Sure.  For example, we wouldn’t want our Marketing team to work in InDesign or Illustrator when MS Paint is so much cheaper for our shop. Some of the users prefer to have an Android phone; that makes no sense when we have so many flip phones lying around to distribute. And another thing…we just replaced all those expensive laptops with Chromebooks. The CEO’s assistant had the nerve to complain about it…can you believe that?

The sad part is that they get so much right with this gem of an article, especially early on in the setup:

Discipline in cloud-based resource procurement breaks down into three broad areas:

  • Making sure your users aren’t buying the wrong stuff

  • Making sure that you’re buying the right stuff

  • Giving people what they need in a controlled way (which may not mean giving them what they want).

As usual, it starts out great and tails off with another root cause fail.  It sounds roughly good without context but it’s a dishonest progression.  The whole point of shadow IT is that the business is finding solutions to problems IT is incapable of helping them resolve.  So by definition your users have already found the right stuff without you.  Now you get to play catch-up.  That second bullet should really be front and center because “making sure that you’re buying the right stuff” means requirements gathering and matching solutions to the actual needs.  Since we didn’t do that in the first place, the business went the shadow IT route.  Finally, isn’t “not giving them what they want” kind of the point the users were making?

The whole thing strikes me as another example of “oh no, we’re losing our historically total control over IT decisions because the users are getting smarter, how can we keep the Iron Throne” whinge.  At least there’s still some self awareness to be found:

“Discovering and understanding some of the unmet employee needs can help to reduce the risks associated with unsanctioned filesharing,” he said.

IT guys: that means talking to your users, or getting someone else more tolerant to do it, so that the IT department can understand why they are fleeing to third parties, and then give them something better.

When we can safely presume the folks in IT are incapable of having the most important conversations with the business, there’s not much hope for changing the state of affairs.  Viva la Shadow IT!

 

Share
Posted in Future of IT, Public Cloud | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Road Trip

Denver Comic Con is this weekend.  The younglings were unable to convince me to grow out the beard enough to cosplay as Heisenberg (the boy’s preference) or Gordon Freeman (the girl’s preference) but I can play a mean dork.

And by “mean dork” I’m talking about being a socially awkward asshole.  It comes naturally.

I like this event for a couple of reasons and have mentioned them in the past Continue reading

Share
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

4 Steps to Curing IT’s Woes

Occasionally, I write something that’s not published here first.  This is one of those times…

http://www.itbriefcase.net/4-steps-to-curing-its-woes

I have to admit, the first time I copped to putting someone from Marketing in an IT role it drew gasps from the CIOs in the audience.  Sleeping with the enemy and all that…but it did benefit from the fact that the experiment worked.

 

Share
Posted in Future of IT | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment