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#SoC – Full Circle

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African proverb

“You’re a people person, who knew?” – Global 10 client

This morning I went to my latest and greatest favorite greasy spoon, sat down, ordered my regular Saturday morning special – huevos rancheros, $8.99 – a cup of coffee, glass of water and read my paper. I’ve had a lot of those over the years – favorite greasy spoons – at home and on the road. They, like many other things, are my routine. I am a creature of habit for all my love of continuing education and challenge, the latter not always by choice.20161231_083537

A solitary sole [sic], I’ve never been averse to eating, traveling, working alone, by myself. It’s not that I’m anti-social, I simply don’t, never have had, the same quotient for human interaction  that others do. There’s a reason for that, I still remember. In fact, with all the past quarter century’s road-warring I’ve met and worked with many, many people, but in my head usually it’s just me. And I’m good with that. Never been one for venturing out of the hotel room at the end of the day, hitting the bar, whooping it up. Just the workout room, the TV, a laptop or notebook and the day’s end’s work. That be me.

In that quarter century first it was a CGI monitor on a humongous computer arm attached to an equally huge (and heavy) solid oak hutch and an old white worktable I’d had for years, both courtesy of Al the Pal and my first failed endeavor at entrepreneurship, a little tower and a home-based office. Then it was employees and dedicated office space, then more employees, more office space, sub-contractors, partners, clients and the road.

Then there was an implosion, a reset, years of re-building, even more years of stasis, stability, more or less. There’s still the occasional punch to the head to remind me who’s in charge, but now no more.  All – employees, contractors, partners, office space, equipment (most of it) – are gone. Today and tomorrow I’ll clean the remaining detritus from this past year off of the desk in my home office and Monday morning it… will… be… just… me. This was, is, deliberate. It’s not good, not bad, “it is what is is.” That last became more than just a saying years ago. It’s the next step. Me. Just me. The kids will be fine, I’ve shown them the way and some have already spread their wings and set aloft.

20161231_084859Some football today, some more tomorrow, the requisite menudo tomorrow for New Year’s good luck (it’s a Mexican thing) and then back into the fray for one last run.

What’s next?

What’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  • The destination may remain the same, but the path is ever-changing. In this instance though, the destination  has changed as well. I have a target, a timeline and I will get there faster on my own.
  • I’ll still walk across the side of mountains, but now I have help to get me there sooner. And so it goes.20161230_145834
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karma

<begin rant>

  • When not a single team member of the infrastructure team has any training of any nature on the platform they’re supporting, you might have a problem.
  • When the SI’s solutions architect pulls you to the side your first day on the project and tells you quietly “don’t put your heart into this one,” you might have a problem.
  • When said same solutions architect tells you “We’ve told them the same things you’re saying, they haven’t and won’t listen. It will eventually fail,” concurrent with “We don’t care, we’re not here as the SI, we’re here as SMEs,” you definitely have a problem.
  • When the newly minted Scrum Master is also the Release Train Engineer (after one class) and is a 1099 contractor from a nearby manpower agency, AND is way more interested in the contents of the team area’s mini-fridges and what will be provided during planning session breaks, you have a problem.
  • When the client-designated product owner is also a 1099 contractor who is actually a business analyst by trade, you have a problem.
  • When the portfolio manager is more interested in showing everyone they’re the HNIC rather than the project’s success, you have a problem. (Yeah, I said it)
  • When the same portfolio manager won’t spring $10K for a critical piece of software from one of the platform vendors on a project that’s seven figures because they’re irked with the vendor, despite the SI’s people repeatedly stating the criticality/necessity of the software, you have a problem.
  • When the portfolio manager demands ‘a, b, c, d and e’ prior to even discoursing with the vendor who has the critical piece of software, ‘a, b, c, d and e’ are provided and the portfolio manager still refuses to procure the software even just for a POC, it’s time to leave. Do not check your rear-view mirror. It’s like Vivica A. Fox in “Independence Day” fleeing the city and seeing the on-coming conflagration. Just run. Fast.
  • When you hear about the project falling down and going <splat> later from afar, you just go “That’s a shame” and smile.

</end rant>

So what’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  • Assuming that all sponsors and stakeholders want a project to succeed is just that, an assumption. This one was yet another where an LOB foisted an initiative onto IT and beyond the normal heartburn, resent IT has when this happens IT went out of their way to sabotage it.
  • Occasionally it’s applying the wrong methodology to the task at hand, far more often it’s a simple case of talent and execution, and this is where methodologies get a bad name.
  • Assholery is a human condition, has nothing to do with skin color, religion or anything else. Some people just… are.

What’s next?

Winter Weather“I can give you subway instructions in Manhattan and the Bay area, I can give you freeway instructions in the Chicagoland and the Southland” – Me

Oh the stories I could tell, the things I have seen. Self-employed or otherwise, there’s not a seasoned consultant I know who can’t do the same. I’ve seen people have heart attacks on the plane with the classic “is there a doctor on-board?” to watching a self-important businessman hauled off the plane for shushing, waving off the flight attendant who’d repeatedly told him the doors were shut, we were getting ready to depart while he held his phone to his ear. He STFU real quick when the marshals came on board and hauled him off the plane. The whole plane cheered.

I’ve seen a gate attendant BEAT.. THE… CRAP out of a guy who was rude enough to hop up by his leveraged arms on a 5′ counter at LaGuardia and spit in her face. We went within a split second from the “Oh no you di’nt” look on her face to her being around the counter, having him on his back and whaling on his face screaming “Don’t… you… ever… put… your… hands… on… me…” between well-placed punches to his head. Most everyone at the gate watched in shock and horror. I was a dog hanging out the truck window with my tongue hanging out of my head. It was oresome, he had it coming. And I wrote a letter for her afterwards saying she didn’t start it, but she certainly finished it.

Ahhhh… good times. Except for the time the rental car shuttle driver at O’Hare mistakenly punched me in the face thinking I was the dude who was ragging on him non-stop for taking so long to pick us up. Mistaken identity aside, suffice to say I had, exercised my own “Oh no you di’nt!” moment. My fellow shuttle passengers later explained at length to local law enforcement that I didn’t start it, but yeah, I finished it.

Sooo many ATC, mechanical and force majeure delays over the years. Sooo many, many, MANY stories. At the airport, on the plane, in hotels from coast to coast. I speak in TLA airport codes and mass transit acronyms, being fond of, partial to the MTA, the MBTA, MARTA and the BART. The METRO, not so much.

But I digress. This series is supposed to be instructional, so here goes:

jfk-636

  1. On air fares, weekly in and out or otherwise, get in three week advance mode as quick as you can. If it’s an extended gig you settle on one, maybe two carriers for the duration (hubs and non-stops are key, two or more legs shoot your day coming and going) with the goal to get to some status level as quickly as possible if you don’t already have it. Primary reason being cost, secondary reason being for when things go wrong. Miss a connection, have a weather delay, you’re talking to the premium support desk on your phone while you’re walking to the customer service counter and getting in line. This is, will always be about whoever solves the problem first, gets you to where you need to go. Sometimes, however, your pooch is gonna get screwed no matter what anyway. Back to the Zen part. I’ve chatted up celebrities and politicians both during many a thunderstorm’s extended delay. Dick Gephardt would have made a good president IMHO.
  2. Same thing with hotel chains. Back in the day it was Expedia, later it was Orbitz. These days it’s Hotwire if you know how to play the game and, of course, the chains’ individual web sites. I myself, once knowing the physical site’s location, wander around on Google Maps a lot, then pick up the phone and call property, sales managers of hotels directly and cut a deal. I’ve stayed in downtown ATL in a very nice hotel for $75/nite for half a year and for two years in the Chicagoland at a Candlewood Suites for $25/nite. Those two deals I’m quite proud of, remember the hotel staff fondly. Then again, I’m no stranger to Super 8 from one end of the country to the other. Clean, quiet and cheap, that’s all I care about.
  3. Rental cars. Do you really need one? With most large airports in most large metropolitan areas having a light rail spur connecting to the local mass transit it’s something to consider, evaluate from both a time and cost perspective. Back in the summer of 2003 I flew one Wednesday afternoon from ORD to CAK, was picked up at the curb by the dealership guy I bought the car from on eBay, drove back to the dealership, handed him a cashier’s check, did the title work, drove the car that evening back to Chi-cah-guh-go. The batmobile was subsequently driven cross-country multiple times and did time in ORD, LGA, MSP, ALB, ATL, BDL, DFW and AUS long term parking lots all. Don’t forget the bus either. The 30x Bradley Flyer from BDL to downtown Hartford and the 85x Antoine in HOU are cheap, convenient and provide good reading time and decompression time both.

So what’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  • Excluding corporate travel policies and per diem limits, corporate grunts don’t care about most of this. They park in short-term parking or have valet parking at SNA, they whoop it it up at conferences. You do care. Travel expense and cost cutting are a key ingredient of your bottom line.
  • You would do well to keep enough points with two carriers and two hotel chains that you can find your way home, spend an unanticipated night stranded on the road when things go arse over teacups. After that, the rest is gravy and you can dream about what your doing to do with all those points later.
  • Laptops, notebooks, tablets and smartphones, you’ll do a lot of work – some of your best maybe even – at the gate, on the plane, in the train.
  • Always stay fully charged when in motion, particularly and especially your phone.
  • Don’t forget to eat right and exercise. Even if it’s just $5 Subway and sit-ups, push-ups in your hotel room.
  • Once you have status, remember you were a prole once yourself. Don’t be a plick.
  • Don’t mess with the dudes with the M16s.
  • To the people who do this on a global, regular basis – and I know several – I bow in humble deference.
  • If you go to, are in the boonies, you’re on your own.

I have a dream. My dream is a gate attendant turning away a self-entitled schmuck with some degree of status bum-rushing the gate too early and the gate attendant saying “Sit your ass down, you now get to go last.” I’d give that person a Benjamin and a big smooch on the cheek both.

What’s next?

antique roll top desk“Call me Bob.” – Mr. P

The interesting thing about being an entrepreneur – road warrioring war stories and engagements aside – is the relationships and friendships you establish along the way. Enter Mr. ‘P.’ We first met after the great implosion (coming soon) and I was downsizing from multiple thousands of square feet of office space to a few hundred. The ‘P’ being the first initial of his last name, it’s been almost two decades since I first leased that small suite on the garden level of the office building he and his fellow law firm partners own.

We occupied that suite from them twice through the late nineties and early oughts, leaving the second time to take advantage of depressed rental rates courtesy of the Great Recession. Not only was he our landlord and property manager (they fresh paint and clean all the suites prior to occupancy by new tenants themselves), he’s been our corporate counsel through dozens of contracts over the years and he’s my hero. Sure, I look(ed) up to my father and grandfather both, but for who and what I am “Mr. P” is the guy. He’s a machine.

Mr. P is one of three partners in his law firm, formed by three friends fresh out of law school sixty years ago. Yes, you read that number right. Asked him about that a couple of years back and he replied “What else would I do?” One of those three partners died in his youth not long after they formed the law firm; they still carry his name as the first of the three on the firm’s name. Mr. P’s son and daughter are both lawyers in his firm with him. His son does real estate law, his daughter’s the litigator. Suffice to say she’s “handy.”

For all of those years, from my vantage out the floor to ceiling windows of that suite, I watched him roll into the parking lot every morning at 7:55 a.m. on the spot. Walking out into the parking lot at lunch to go to the sports bar across the street and have my daily blackened chicken sleazer salad, Arnie Palmer, sports page and “quiet time,” I’d always look up to the third floor corner office window and see him eating his lunch at his desk at 12:00 on the spot. Same thing with watching his car pull out of the parking lot at 5:00 every day. On the spot. If anytime I didn’t see him doing that I knew he was in court or at a meeting somewhere. To this day, pulling into the parking lot to meet him to discuss an engagement, this contract or that, nothing in that regard has changed. Except maybe his knees walking up those three flights are a little crunchier. I know mine are.

To my employees over the years, including my eldest son who interned for me a couple of summers, he always intones “Call me Bob” after initial introductions. To this day I, they, my son still address him on the phone or in person as “Mr. <full last name>.” Mr ‘P.’ We, he and I, have executed dozens of contracts for engagements over the years and though I’ll never get an agreement past him completely unscathed – that would be no billable hours, that’s crazy talk – I do know the things he (and I as well) are going to need to see in a contract and apprise potential partners, clients accordingly when we near that point. And he always sees, finds, points something out in a contract and its implications that I miss, then we adjust accordingly.

What’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  • He’s a machine, and a good guy, and my lawyer. And he’s my entrepreneurial hero. Smart-ass tweets on Twitter aside about “Are you the guy?,” he’s “the guy.” Not the multi-billionaire schmucks out in Silicon Valley and elsewhere, particularly in today’s new “social” world. This guy.

What’s next?

handshakeThe following is true whether it’s just you, yourself and you or you’ve grown to something beyond just you, regardless of size.

It used to be that when an offer was made, a verbal agreement struck, it was a done deal. A fit has been made, party A would forward an agreement to party B, there may be some haggling, but it would be resolved, a start date for the engagement agreed upon and you were good to go. No more.

For my own part it used to be that I wouldn’t start talking about contracts, agreements and expectations until that offer was made, saving myself, our counsel the time, effort and expense until I knew that engagement was going to occur. No more.

As regards this chronology I’ve always had a canned piece of verbiage about “whoever signs on the dotted line first” and for years that was actually just the verbal offer, the agreeing to agree. Alas, this also is no more.

The trend as of late has been, for an unhealthy percentage of the time, an agreement has been made verbally and then people go dark, just wither away. Worse, parties renege on a signed contract. And it isn’t just me, us. I’ve asked around, talked to other small consultancies and independents both. It’s been happening a lot as of late. The most recent example being a large SI making the offer, initial paperwork is exchanged, then went dark. After a few pings the short answer was “rate’s too high.” WHAT?! That’s one of the first things discussed and brought up coming out of the gate. You couldn’t have brought that up sooner if it were a concern, much less provide the courtesy of a reply, ESPECIALLY given the fact that YOU made the offer??! Lesson learned. Resources held in reserve now need to be directed elsewhere.

Consequently, the m.o. has now changed to continue all discussions with all potential partners, clients until such time as there is a real agreement that’s been signed, then go back to any other opportunities in flight (subject to resources) and bow out, albeit now not only at the eleventh hour, but maybe even a minute before the clock strikes twelve. I really hate that. Really.

So what’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  1. There has to be a fit not only on the resources side, but on the business side. As you get closer and closer to an engagement be very cognizant of that and the signs that all may not be right. None of this works if that part doesn’t.
  2. Could be just me, could be I’m naive even after all these years, but I always thought (still do) you’re only as good as your word.
  3. If it doesn’t “feel” right follow your gut.

What’s next?

Start8

This isn’t an exhaustive review by any means, there are TONS of those everywhere. It’s my my experience, my opinion.

I like(d) Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 both. Looking back at the past three years’ usage I can see and empathize with the fact that Metro did not do a very good job of transitioning back and forth between MUI (“Metro UI”) apps and traditional desktop ones. The disconnect was more pronounced on touch enabled machines like the Microsoft Surface, but for me it was a minor inconvenience as I spend most of my time in desktop mode.

Flash forward a couple of years and Microsquish is making a big hubbub about the pending OS and how it will fix that and more besides. At the same time, I have made the deliberate move to a Surface Pro 3 as I try to lighten my load. I love(d) the little beast with the one exclusion that I can’t run multiple monitors at different scales (not resolutions) between the SP3 when it’s in its port replicator and my external ultra-wide, large screen monitor. This drives me, and many others, nuts. It’s actually pretty important.SP3 Win10 Start

Enter Windows 10 Technical Preview build 9926 back in February, the point in time at which I chose to jump in. Windows 10 could do it and that, singularly, was enough for me to take the plunge and tag along with the rest of the motley crue over on @Surfaceforums as successive fbl_impressive (“feature branch level”) builds were released, including the occasional leaked build for those more adventurous (did it twice).

The interesting thing as I tagged along through all three hundred and thirty-some (so far) pages of that thread was the wide disparity in people’s problems with the builds in terms of stability. Some people had tons of problems, some people had very little to none. A lot of people pissed and moaned continuously about the new U/I and still are. Nothing new there when it comes to Windoze. As for myself, I was fortunate to be among the more stable and will only say the following – “The registry is a complex and mercurial thing.” Some day I’ll do a write-up of all the tools and toys I’ve accumulated, and use, to keep your machine running lean and clean.

So as of last night, courtesy of being on the “fast ring” for #WindowsInsiders I’ve upgraded to build 10240, the RTM (“Release to Manufacturing”) build that the world’s going to see at the end of this month on July 29th. Over the last five fbl’s in particular the OS’ “fit and finish” has come together very nicely and a couple of niggling hardware problems I’ve experienced intermittently have been fixed (bluetooth mostly, keyboard and mouse – it takes them a couple of minutes to “wake up” after a clean boot).

Moving on, with most of the corporate world having just upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7 in the last couple of years (because they had to), the question becomes “should I upgrade to Windows 10?” You can go read up about Cortana (Siri for Apple people), Edge (the new browser formerly known as “Project Spartan” which replaces Internet Exploder) and Continuum (moving from device to device) to your heart’s content, but I offer up the following:

  1. It’s free to anybody on Windows 7 or higher.
  2. If you have a touch enabled device, particularly a Microsoft Surface, it’s waaay better than Windows 7 or 8/8.1, particularly transitioning back and forth between MUI apps and standard desktop ones. I myself still run Start8 when in desktop mode and use, run a fairly sparse Windows 10 Start when in touch, MUI mode as I go back and forth. Works for me and my purposes.
  3. Continuum is still in its early, initial stages, but for uniformity of experience and functionality moving between devices it holds great promise.
  4. If Cortana delivers the future is nigh.

A final advisory on the good and the bad of Windows 10 complexity – you can configure from here to sundown, particularly on the U/I, its appearance and functionality. Just remember this – there’s way more stuff in the new Settings app than there ever was in Control Panel, go there first when you can’t get what you want.

So what’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  1. You’re either going to love the new Start menu or you’re going to hate it.
  2. Ibid Cortana.
  3. It’s all about the apps. That will make or break it.

What’s next?

So here’s a BPM capabilities matrix from the not-too-distant past. I won’t say which two BPM platforms were evaluated for the below matrix, much less the client and the effort, but I’m sure many have seen this format before and it’s intended as just a/one starting, jumping off point.

As I work on this BPM/Case Management series in the coming weeks and months (yes, it will take that long) I hope to blow this out, draft multiple use cases for structured and unstructured process both and, ultimately, draft a white paper for the products examined that goes way deeper under the hood than anything Gorrester or Fartner have ever done.

I’m soliciting any and all input to this artifact and the use cases both so I make sure I properly address the platforms’ technologies for how they perform any given functionality, if that’s good or bad, and why. Feel free to comment here or ping me on Twitter with your input.

I have a LOT of resources, references that I’m going to go through, use for this plus, of course, running VMs for all the platforms that will be examined (interrogated? <g>). I want to make sure I get it as comprehensive and unbiased as possible.

Cheers, Pat

Modeling
        Graphical User Interface
        Icons to represent Steps
        Connections between steps
        Drag & Drop
        Reusable Submaps
        Process and Property Inheritance
        Model Management
        Fine grained security
        Public & Private Inbox/Workbasket & Worklist
        Split and Merge steps
        Spawn new workflows
        Deadlines
        Timers
        Notification
        Interfaces – Web Service, Human, Queue
        Import standard Modeling Languages – BPMN, XPDL
        Visio Interface
Simulation
        Parameterization
        Resource Allocation
        Reporting
        Work shift creation and assignment
        Intelligent metadata repository
        Intelligent Recommendations
Automation
        Rules Engine communication
        Dynamic workflow customizations
        Decision making
        Intelligent Routing
        Skill based routing
        Content based routing
        Document Management Functionality
        Load balancing work
        Event Driven
        Scheduling
        Intelligent workflow activity traversals
        Integration with external systems
Monitoring
        DashBoard
        Ad-hoc reporting
        Scheduled reporting

So what’s the moral of your story Mr. Peabody?

  • This is gonna be bigger than a breadbox.

What’s next?