The Unification of IT and Physical Security

uni of it and physical security

I think IT security and physical security are converging.  It’s a part of the overall trend towards the integration of technology with our everyday lives. It just shows how separated certain aspects of corporate business have been from the technology that could, or does, underpin them. You see there a separation from the mission, or from the types of activities that you would undertake, that’s emblematic of larger issues within an organization.

When you think about separating the securing of information assets and how you prevent cyber security issues from occurring and then make a distinction between that and how you protect the rest of your physical infrastructure, it highlights this sort of divide between technical skills and business or mission oriented skills that probably shouldn’t be there. Security is security whether you’re protecting information assets as a company or the physical assets of the company. Having a divide there because of the skills required to accomplish the objective doesn’t make a lot of sense. The value gained by intertwining those activities is immense. For example a lot of organizations own data centers and within those data centers there’s security, network firewalls, and information technology approaches that you’re going to use to safeguard that information. Unfortunately, all that is moot if somebody can get physical access to the keyboard or physical access to the facility. You’re going to be hard pressed to prevent them from being able to affect the processes and mission critical applications that your business needs to support its everyday activities. So there really is no reason to have those things split. It’s simply a function of the types of skills used to perform them and so I think it’s natural that the convergence is occurring. I think we’ll see more of that convergence over time in areas where technology and the business have previously been split. You’ll see more embedding of technical skills with mission skills to create the right combination to get the job done.  I’m curious to see what other areas people have noticed where they see an unnatural split between mission and technology.

-Photo by Sudhee

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Keeping up with innovation: The importance of being agile

The impoprtanceo f being agil

The importance of being agile isn’t just for sports

I’ve spent a good amount of time talking about agility as it pertains to the organization, development practices and a whole bunch of different things but I don’t think I’ve talked too much about how important agility is for the individuals you work with and have on your teams.  One of the things that has permanently shifted given all the factors that make businesses need to be more agile, is the pace of innovation. It has led to increased changes in organizations and successful organizations have to adapt to the changing market conditions, changing operational environments, and that change is a constant. People are being pushed to reshape how they do their work and how they think about how they do their work. There’s just a major shift in the amount of time that the average person is going to spend reskilling in order to meet the new requirements for their job. By virtue of that I think organizations are already beginning to and will definitely be shifting even more in the future to recruit people who they believe to be agile and can support multiple roles.

There’s no doubt in our organization, that we put a premium on agility.  We don’t take the perfect resume for a specific job; we really look for people whose meta-model is flexible and who are going to be able to support changing work environments. For us consulting oriented companies, we have had to have this model for a long time just to stay alive, especially if you aren’t IBM scaled.  We really needed to focus on smart people that could solve lots of different problems because every client’s problem is a little bit different. So you almost by virtue of the job that you’re in have got to be a little bit flexible, be able to adapt, and be able to learn some new things quickly. I think organizations as a whole are looking at that and saying we don’t need people that can just crank out more widgets faster, we need people that can crank out tomorrow’s widgets and the widget that is needed the day after that.  It’s really about building in some flexibility into their organization and that starts with the components that make your organization, the people.  I’m curious what other people think about that.  Have they seen that shift in their own workplace? I mean that in the sense that there is an expectation that they’re going to manage change as part of their daily routine or as part of the routine of their teams?  Do they see more of a shift or expectation that people are going to be flexible?

I don’t think that nowadays people expect to have the same job tomorrow that they had today.  I personally find that to be exciting in the sense that it probably empowers more people to stay in jobs longer if they are constantly switching up what they do.  It keeps things exciting, staves off boredom and generally keeps you on your toes. Also if you nurture agility, then when organizational needs change they don’t get rid of the old and fill it with new people who are skilled in the new needs.  I don’t think that worked for a lot of organizations because those organizations end up missing some integral things such as organizational culture and loyalty, which I find to be important puzzle pieces of a successful organization.  So hopefully as we see this premium put on adaptability and agility as people come into the organization, it will create a working environment where people are able to stay in positions longer. The organization will hopefully expect their employees to adapt and reskill to meet new challenges instead of bringing in people every time new challenges are brought in.  This idea is particularly exciting to me as I’m in an organization that does a lot of training but I think it’s also exciting for people that are working, especially in larger organizations, to have the opportunity to learn some new skills and hopefully increase the time that they are considered to be viable within their organizations. By this I mean that when the organizations change a little bit they can assume that they’ll be expected to change with the organization, not that the organization will change and they’ll be left behind.  I’d be really curious to hear people’s thoughts on this.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Recruiting for company culture

Recruiting for company culture

One of the things that we’ve tried really hard to do over the last couple years as a company is to recruit for culture.  When I say that, I mean we’ve spent a lot more time recently talking to people about:

  • who they are
  • what they want to do long term
  • what kind of work environment do they prefer to work in

While this is something we are looking at now more than we ever have previously, we obviously still do a technical interview where we make sure the people can do the job.  The difference is that the technical interview is really considered just a gateway at this point.  We spend a lot more time on fit then we do anything else. The first interview which is to get the person through the technical gate is usually conducted by whoever on staff is going to have them working for them or going to be working closely with them. They conduct the preliminary interview which is probably 60%- 70% can you do the job and even there, there’s a part of it that is seeing how they respond to things and seeing if they send back a thank you afterwards. As I mentioned before we are looking to see if this person will fit into our organization, will they get along with current staff, and for someone who shows basic good people skills. We want people that are considerate, the people that do all of the things that you learned in kindergarten very well. We are also concerned with what you learned in college but if you missed those lessons in kindergarten, we may not hire you just because it’s too hard to work in an environment where it’s all about solely the technical part of things.

I can see maybe in some larger environments where the technical may trump other things because it’s the thing that’s most easily measureable.  Maybe once you hit a certain size of organization some of that corporate culture is diluted. I myself don’t tend to believe that though because I’ve worked in some very large organizations that have very strong corporate cultures but I could see how it could happen. I just know that for us and for ours, one of the most important things that we look for is that ability a person shows that they’re going to be able to fit in and work with us and show that they can be a true teammate. We’re not looking for individual star performers or somebody who is solely focused on their own achievements because that doesn’t work very well in team environments.  So we engage heavily to figure out what types of things are they interested in and what are they interested in most about the types of people that they work with because you can pick up clues there about how and if they value teamwork and collaboration.  I’m very curious to hear about what other people look for as they interview and how they go about maintaining corporate culture in their own organizations.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Yahoo vs. Remote Work

Seeing the recent news about Yahoo moving to reduce or end remote work made me want to revisit the topic.  I know that my last post on remote work got quite a bit of comments, and I’m interested to see what other people think about Marissa Mayer’s decision. I know that I personally believe that people generally get things done better, more efficiently, and teamwork comes easier in face to face settings. I don’t have an enormous amount of empirical proof that that is true, I’m just speaking from my personal experience.  At one point, I worked remotely for a year straight.  I think I personally got a lot done but I think it more had to do with the type of job I was working. I was at the time at a kind of technical coding oriented job where there was not a huge driver there by which I needed to come in and work with other people on a daily basis to make progress.  So I was well situated to succeed just from the fact that the job didn’t require an enormous amount of interaction.  Personally I missed some of the interaction of the office and by the end of the year, I was ready to come back in.  This was just based on the social aspects of being in an office with other people and not just my personal belief that working together in a physical sense is superior to working remotely.

I think that we’ve had 1000’s of years of experience in working together in teams and in person and while technology is incredible, and there’s been a huge amount of firms that have innovated around collaboration and teamwork and bringing remote workers closer together, it’s not 100% the same as working in the same environment. In general, I just don’t think you get as good of results.  With all that said, I realize some of this may be biased because of my own personal tendency towards enjoying that level of interaction and maybe not everyone works better in that situation.  I certainly understand that but I really do believe that for the most part, the in person experience is incredibly hard to replicate. I think you’re going to lose a little bit of the productivity and the spark that comes from working in person but there are certainly lots of tasks that lend themselves to more solitary environments. The bigger issue though is the fact that there are certainly individual situations which mean that while you might not get the same benefit of having them in the office every day, you will at least get something that they would otherwise not be able to perform because of their personal circumstances that make in the office working incredibly hard. For example, people who have kids at home and because of scheduling or the commuting makes it very hard on their family to be in person on the job.  Or maybe due to where they live you wouldn’t be able to add them to your team and relocation would preclude them from working for you if they had to physically relocate.  I think those are the biggest drivers that should be looked at here. I do think that you can work well enough remotely to get a lot of the benefit that a person could bring if that person is committed to it and the organization is committed to it.

I think the thing Yahoo is going to have a problem with is that a lot of the really talented people that just have very specific or very good reason for why they want to work from home; those people are going to leave. They are going to find another situation where they are able to continue down the track that they had and became comfortable with and the folks that are going to be left in the situation aren’t going to be the ones that you really wanted to hang on to.  What you’re going to end up with are the folks that either don’t have other options, or the ones that are waiting for other opportunities to materialize, or simply the ones that aren’t your top performers. I think that’s the biggest issue and not necessarily the remote work vs. the in person work. It’s the way that the change is being implemented that is the problem. It’s very broad and very sudden which is never a good idea with something like this, specifically where you’re talking about something that is not just a work change. You’re going to make a really fundamental shift for people and its going to cause enormous issues for staff that have any of the things that I mentioned previously.  If you have a child care situation which is why you’re working from home, well you know that’s not going to change just because this decree was made. So if that’s a talented person that you wanted to retain, that’s too bad because you’ve probably lost them. Now maybe it’s hard to tell without real insight into it but maybe they’re ok with that. Maybe there’s a reduction in force coming anyway and this is a convenient way to reduce size by making people miserable; but I don’t think that’s a very good approach either. If you’re trying to cut back on the people that work for you period, do that by lay-offs selectively.

I don’t think that this type of a change being implemented like this bodes well for the performance of Yahoo or really any organization. When you look at things where there’s enormous spill over into people’s personal lives in making some sort of change, you have to be very careful about how you approach it.  In this case, maybe a better approach would have been to brief upper management to provide flexibility to managers so that they can pull in people that are truly underperforming, if that was one of the issues that they believed was causing this.  This is something that could easily be transitioned towards over an 18 month period where you start pulling in your top performers and make sure that management has an opportunity to ensure that they can keep the best folks. Then maybe they could work with these people that truly have lifestyle requirements that make work from home a must have and in doing so, make it so that you don’t place so much of your in place staff at risk.  I’m curious to see what other people think about this major decree.  I will definitely be monitoring this to see how this develops and what happens to Yahoo’s workforce over time.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Incentives: Making the world go round

Incentives

I think most managers are familiar with the phrase, “what gets measured gets done,” and I think our  common sense tells us that we ought to be careful about the things that we incentivize because it will affect the types of behavior that occur.  A lot of people will wonder why it doesn’t always work so well, why the performance management structure that they’ve set up isn’t getting them to the results that they want as quickly as they want. I think it’s because while the things I said previously are true to a large degree, people do the things they are incentivized to do and if you measure specific activities you’ll generally end up with better performance. When there are incentives, people are focused on getting them accomplished. On the flip side, I think you have to be careful about the general application of that rule. You have to identify some smaller steps to getting you to that big picture goal.

One of the problems that organizations have is that the goals may be set at such a high level that people don’t have insight into what activities they need to do to help the larger organization get there. Or they may not understand what the connection is between them and that goal so they lose the ability to correlate their day to day activities with advancing the organization towards that goal.  So it’s important for incentive structures and those types of large organizational goals to be decomposed enough so that the people that most effect change are able to do what they are incentivized to do.  An easy example of this is if you look within a sales organization, or if you are a company that incentivize on the biggest corporate wide revenue targets.  Those types of goals are great and most organizations target some amount of growth across the top line, but it may be worth looking at incenting specific behaviors among customers and basic activities that you, as a management team, believe are going to drive that sales team forward to success. A similar approach can be applied to anything, for instance, if you have a help desk, or really any activity that you have in your organization. If you haven’t created a tiered structure, you may be providing all the big picture guidance in the world of what you want to happen and have a line of how you’re measuring the things that you want done in your organization, but if you haven’t decomposed them enough to enable people to see how it applies to them, you probably won’t get the type of performance that you had hoped for.

I’m also aware that on the other side of that is this desire to break things down to such a level that so much time has been spent measuring that there’s no time left to spend performing. So there is a fine line there between breaking it down so much that the measurement activity gets in the way of achieving the measurement, but in general, you need to make sure that your incentive and measurement structure reaches far enough down so people can see how they’re connected to it.  I’m curious to know what other people think about this. If you’ve had experience designing incentive structures or performance management structures, please weigh in.  I want to how people try to make that tie back, or even if they do at all.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

1, 2, 3, BREAK! Go team!

Blog 2-21-13

I think setting the tone on a daily basis is as important to consider as first impressions are lasting and important. How you start the day with people, what people’s first impressions of you are on any given day, particularly if you’re in management, has a profound impact on the day’s productivity.  You have to be able to mask some of the things that are going on outside or in your personal life. When you get into the office it can’t be a situation where you’re first reaction to somebody is a negative reaction or somebody bears the brunt of something that’s a personal issue that you’ve brought into the work place. I think that a lot of the productivity that occurs during any given day with the people that you have is based on how they get that day started.

I know that we start off every day as a company with a morning scrum and there’s a lot of value to it as a manager in terms of understanding what people are doing and being able to allocate resources.  It’s also a great approach for us to better understand how we’re resourcing things to facilitate problem solving in a light way and ensures we are managing things appropriately.  Added bonus is it’s only 15 minutes so there’s not an enormous overhead that’s required.  The other thing that I think it does is it enables us to, as management, capture some of the first interactions that the people have in the day and ensure that it’s positive.  Not to say that we always succeed in that, but that’s one of the goals is to come in and get people started in the right direction.  So it’s a chance to not just make sure somebody’s working the right task, but to maybe provide some positive feedback. Even doing something as simple as a smile when you first come in helps to frame people’s days in a positive way is important.  So that scrum provides us with an opportunity to as a company and management, get things off on the right foot. So I’m curious what other people think about that. Is it something that’s important enough for you to focus on, ensuring that people get off on the right foot with everyone on a day to day basis? Is it something that other people are paying attention to or believe in the validity of?  I’d be really curious to know what other people think about the importance of starting off the day in a positive way with other employees and team members.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Vince Lombardi Blog

I wrote a blog recently about the value of just showing up and I think it’s a very important concept.  So much of what we do, the value of what we get, and how quickly we are able to improve, is just consistency, grinding it out, and making sure that you get your repetitions in.  Whether it’s a new skill you’re learning, a sport, a hobby, or an intellectual pursuit, just showing up is such an integral part of the battle.

The other night I had a really interesting discussion with a couple different people.  We were talking about how two people doing the exact same thing can have vastly different experiences and results.  For example, say these two people are both in a room doing, let’s say 2500 squats.   Why is it that during the last 500 reps each person does, one person seems to get more value than the other person?  I believe it’s the determination to make every single repetition count, especially in the final stretch when fatigue or boredom normally kicks in and decrease the quality in the later reps.  It takes the right mentality to be able to stay in the moment.  It’s important when you’re practicing each repetition of whatever the activity it is that you’re trying to perfect, that you’re solely focused on improving that particular thing. Every time you do a rep of something you need to be completely aware of the physical and mental aspects of each repetition.  As Vince Lombardi said, “Practice does not make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.”  Practice without a constant commitment to perfection in each rep is meaningless in pursuit of mastery over a subject.  This commitment to making the most out of every repetition is the big key if you want to take it up to the next level.  More than just showing up and grinding out the hard work is necessary if you want to reach your goal faster and potentially push even further.  It takes developing the ability to stay in the moment and truly focus on the activity at hand.  I think this is a key ingredient to being able to truly maximize your potential.  I’m curious to what other people think and what their approaches are to developing skills faster whether it’s juggling, learning how to write some type of code, or any other type of activity.  What do you believe to be successful mechanisms for getting the benefit of practice in a shorter period of time?

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.