Funny, how techies talk to each other

I'm writing an email to my favorite SQL guru, about a pretty sticky little problem I'm working on, and I found myself making up words ... In the LotesDB, comments / notes are kept in a single field. Each comment is time and date stamped, with a uname, so that's pretty predictable. The data in the field looks like this: 02/15/2002 03:46 PM (Steve Manager): Capital was approved on 2/11. Project Number has been assigned in SAP and server hardware…

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Beware the Self Fulfillling Prophecy

There's a classic story of the project lead who scheduled a Go / No-Go meeting for one of their project's early stages - without sending pre-reading material; no review of project deliverables. The reason given? "The business never takes ownership, they don't want to see the details. They see it all as needless details and IT bureaucracy". The punch line, of course, was that the meeting got delayed a few days when two of the steering committee members asked for…

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A clash of languages over IM (bilingual? trilingual? quadlingual?)

I've been IM'g in a work atmosphere for over a year now, with internal and external folks, and still actively networking for tech info, support, etc. That peer group has a fairly well-defined set of etiquette, jargon, and style. In my new company, we are rolling out enterprise IM, and for most folks (including IT!), this is a "foreign language". (I'm "jpm1234" in the conversations below ...) Challenge #1: I think faster than I type, so I get a bit…

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Answering questions with questions is a quick path towards irrelevance

Why do some folks insist on answering questions with questions? Or, answering questions with roadblocks? It's not surprising when you hear IT complain about their inability to connect with the business, of not being included, etc. - and then demonstrate a style of investigation / requirements gathering / support / feedback that is a bit antagonistic. Business: How long would it take you to do X? IT: Why X? Why not Y? ... or IT: Why X? What are the…

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Of course we can pay for that … if it makes business sense

Had a good conversation with a vendor last week. They were looking to increase their business with us, no surprise there, but the rep was actually a bit cynical (in a nice way), and (probably wisely) asked directly what the chances were that we could actually get Project X off the ground? I've seen these great ideas start, but then some manager complains that they have no budget for this kind of thing. In retrospect, it is almost a rude…

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Making the internal pitch? Learn from the entrepreneurs

This article (see also here) led me to this next one (access limited by subscription, sorry) in Business 2.0, about making an effective pitch for a new business plan. The same tactics can and should be used when moving projects and initiatives forward in an "internal", corporate setting. Bullets from the article ... Elevator Pitch - This is the 30-second project summary that you must be able to deliver flawlessly. It's not good to babble, and it's OK to aggressively…

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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Powerpoint

Author's Note: This is by far the most popular post on my weblog - I've even been cited in Wikipedia! I appreciate all the traffic, and invite you to check out my other posts on presentations - including ... Five Under-Emphasized PowerPoint Best Practices Project Status Dashboards Best Practice (and a PowerPoint trick) Lighten Up, Francis - Loosen Up That PowerPoint Other popular categories on this site include Web 2.0 (wikis, blogs, and other things), the Business Value of IT,…

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Challenges when demoing / training / pitching complex systems

Over the last few days, I've been in a few vendor demos, trading partner reviews, product pitches, and project discussions, all reviewing complex systems or processes, and tools / software / services to help out. Some important, common, and somewhat random issues kept popping into my mind, all about trying to have a discussion about complex systems / interactions ... Always be mindful that if something was easy, we probably would have done it already. Be alert for things that…

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Bug bad, bug good, bug Bug

Rothman suggests we use the term Defect, not Bug - as if Defect is a more honest / real word, and Bug is somehow more evasive, non-descript. Au contraire - my guess is that Ms. Rothman does not have a programming background! When you say to a Programmer that their software has a bug, they typically take great offense; I remember how fast a consultant turned from smooth professional to defensive techno-geek the instant I suggested their work product had…

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Chicken and egg aggravating? Just start somewhere …

Conversations this week with folks in multiple, different organizations I have connections to, about formal change controls. The general rule, especially for the non-public companies, seems to be reasonable levels of process, but not as well documented, automated, and not as rigidly enforced as the more rigorous among us would prefer. It was interesting talking with the groups that were most frustrated; the developers will talk the talk, but find ways to get around the process when crunch time comes…

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