Identifying Problems

Problems, like the poor, are with us always.  The trick is what to do about them.  I recently told my boss about a previous job where someone had resigned and during the exit interview, they cited a particular problem as the reason for leaving. Had I known about the problem, I would have happily addressed it but I didn’t know about it until the person was leaving the company.  The lesson is:

People can only solve the problems they know about.

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On Heroes

Technology heroes are always difficult subject.  As an engineering manager, I remember the first time I participated in a “life boat” drill where you have to produce a stack rank of your engineers.  Someone explained the process saying, “The task is to figure out if you had to throw out one person from a lifeboat, who it would be?  After you figure that out, then you decide who would the next one be, etc. until you have a fully ordered list.”  I chewed on that a bit and asked, “How many people are going to be left in the lifeboat?”  When they asked me why, I replied “Because if there is only one person left in the lifeboat, it would be Mark but if there was more than one person left, Mark would be the first one I’d throw out.”  Mark was a technical hero.  Able to accomplish a great deal but at a great cost to the the organization. Continue reading

Changing Datacenters, Changing IT

I just finished giving a keynote talk at the Windows Connection conference here in Las Vegas (I’m writing this while waiting to board my plane back home).  My topic is one that I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about – how datacenters going to change and what that means to IT Pros.  I’m passionate about the success of IT Pros and want to give them the tools they need to succeed.  In this case, the tool that they need to succeed is perspective.  The Readers Digest of my talk is: Continue reading

On Becoming a Senior Technical Individual Contributor

I’ve done quite a bit of mentoring.  I enjoy it because actually “saying it” forces you to transform your vague ideas into crisp ones.  One of the most frequent issues people want to work through is how to become a senior technical individual contributor (IC).  We all have lots of examples of technical people that go into management and advance their careers.  That model of career advancement is as universal as it is straightforward:  Manage a bunch of people, don’t screw up, ship on time and then do it again at a bigger scope until you stumble and get fired. Continue reading