Change and the Crop Duster

Drive south through the state of Indiana on I-65, and before you hit Indianapolis you will come across an impressively large array of wind turbines, the new vertical symbols of energy self-reliance and innovation. I remember not so long ago, when this section of the road was just miles of cornfields, as far as the eye could see. The tallest things out here were telephone poles and the occasional power line - but that was then, and this scene is…

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Design and Change Management

Over my career, I have developed a few strongly-held design beliefs, and one came up in conversation recently, during a spirited discussion on minimal quality requirements for a[ny] data mart. I hold that the data copied from source to destination must be provably correct and complete with little effort. When agile-ly rolling staged deliverables into production, I may not have all the attributes in place for full flexibility of drill down, but if you have [say] 1248 records in the…

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Real Business Users and SharePoint

Introducing buzzword-compliant technology like a wiki, or integrated collaboration spaces like SharePoint, will typically go well with a motivated audience like your internal IT department. But if you really want to understand how this stuff works, try it with "real people" - line employees in sales and marketing, operations, and finance. Sure, you've heard complaints from these folks (they have better PCs at home, the SAP/Oracle UI is brutal compared to Amazon and AT&T U-Verse, and why can't they just…

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Over / Under Communication for Project Managers

It is often said that you can't over-communicate, but I'm willing to bet most folks - and especially your project sponsors - underestimate the cost and effort of this critical component of project management. Consider this fair warning - and a good checklist for folks wanting to get into IT, project, or functional management. Media To achieve any decent amount of success, you have to be a good communicator with both face-to-face and written / published media. And by "good"…

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When is a project a Project? How to prevent the buildup of backlogged requests

I just wrote something up (internal wiki) that I thought was common knowledge, but I think it's one of those soft-skills things that makes total sense once you hear about it - but somebody needs to tell you. I think of one of the reasons that IT (at times) intimidates the business - or why IT gets the cold shoulder when it comes to process improvement efforts - is that we can get a bit too wrapped up in the…

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There ain’t much IT in IT Management

This morning, I caught myself looking back at the last week of meetings, e-mails, and conference calls, and I experienced a minor epiphany. If I published a detailed diary of the ebb & flow of proposals, debates, and commitments from the past few days, I could successfully deflate the management aspirations of 80-90% of the technical folks I know. Contrary to what many might think, there's not much IT in IT Management. Ok, that's a bit of an overstatement; I…

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