Troux: The answer to the new budget reality

Troux the answer to the new budget reality

 

I had the very good fortune to be invited to take part in a happy hour with great food and good drinks with Troux after the Enterprise Architecture (EA) conference I attended yesterday. Throughout the last few years where it seems as if every quarter has been their biggest quarter, they’ve also managed to consistently be rated amongst the leaders in EA in periodicals and places such as Gartner. I really believe that this is going to be their year in the Federal space and that everything will start to click for many reasons.

The first reason is the idea of Troux On-Demand. Some things that every customer is faced with when acquiring these types of decisions support tools is the big capital investment needed upfront, the resources required to get things going, and the sense that it’s going to take a long while to get to value. These can all be seen as strong deterrents. What has changed this perception in the Federal space is this idea of Troux On-Demand, a cloud service within the Amazon Gov cloud that can essentially be turned on and combined with the accelerator programs that Troux has developed to allow organizations to get to value quickly, in 90 days, 120 days etc.

The combination of those things is going to create this really unique package for Federal that allows organizations to come in, identify areas where they can save money, root out redundancy, and all the other things that organizations are going to have to do to meet budget requirements. The budget climate has gotten to where there is simply no way to continue on doing things the way they have always been done.  A lot of organizations that we’re talking to are just looking at what they’ve got for funding and trying to figure out how they are going to continue to deliver on the mission.

At last night’s event there was this real sense that the combination of need and the evolution of the technology was going to create this incredible opportunity in the federal space for folks that have cracked the nut on how to deliver answers in that space quickly, relatively painlessly, and of course cost is always a factor. By being able to address something as a service, you’re able to reduce that huge front end expenditure with some of these tools. You can see pretty rapid adoption even in the federal space which is sometimes a little bit more conservative.  So I’ll be interested to see how it all plays out. We’ve developed some federal specific offerings around the idea of coming in and understanding the portfolio quickly so we’re very excited about what they put together. I think there’s going to be a lot of people that see this as how they are going to continue to meet the mission given even the extraordinary challenges that we are facing today.

 

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.

Lessons learned from the shutdown

lessons learned

I have to say it’s really nice to be back at work in Washington, DC. That’s not to say that we weren’t working while the government was shut down but it is nice to have everybody back and know that things are going to be a little bit closer to normal for at least the next few months.  When I was in DC the other day, it was just good to see the streets full again. While I can’t say that I missed the traffic as much as I missed the people, you can’t exactly have one without the other so I guess I’ll take the traffic back as well.

Something I’ve noticed that seems to be unique to DC as opposed to some of the other big and busy  cities where people seem to be go out of their way to avoid eye contact is that DC is a seemingly more friendly place. I think part of this is because there are so many people that aren’t from here, they have a tendency to give you a smile and a hello which gives this big city a smaller town feel and I really appreciate that. For instance, the other day when I was walking down the street in DC and I saw a lady walking into her office and she gave me a big smile and said, “It sure is nice to be back at work.” It just felt really good and brings me to my point.

I really hope that one of the things that comes out of the shutdown, at least in the lower levels of government, is a renewed sense of partnership and renewed sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ sort of feeling. We need to sort things out both from the standpoint of public and private partnerships. We need to figure out how do we work together to achieve the mission of the agency, department, or even the country as a whole.

One of the things that came out of the shutdown was a very distinct sense that everybody is unhappy, no matter your party affiliation, with the way things have played out. There’s a sense that we can’t continue to go down this road. We’ve got to find a way to make intelligent decisions as a country and work together to carry ourselves through or we’ll just cease to be the great country that we’ve been for so many years, and I don’t think anyone wants that. So as you go to work this week or as you sit at home over the weekend, it’s worth taking a few minutes to think a bit about the big picture, learn from what has transpired on the national stage, carry it into our work lives, and focus in on driving value for the organization that you’re working for.

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.

Leadership: the dangers of “yes-men”

Leadership and diversity

Spock – Not a “yes-man”

One thing I have learned unequivocally over the course of my career is the importance of diversity in achieving success. Leaders should be skeptical of too much agreement and actively work to bring in people that complement rather than duplicate their own viewpoints, backgrounds and beliefs. This diversity leads to an organization that is better prepared to handle complex challenges and more likely to develop a diverse set of innovative solutions to challenges. Innovation cannot truly flourish when you are surrounded by “yes-men.”

Of course with this diversity also often comes differences of opinion with regard to decisions making and other aspects of organizational leadership. I have learned over time that in order to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce you must be able to work within your team and organization to ensure that the inevitable conflicts are resolved in a manner that lends itself to the ability to achieve success as an organization.

This can often mean working within your organization and teams to develop the capability to handle this type of tension. The ability to develop others and to mentor and improve those in a manner that enables them to provide better leadership to their own teams and peers is a core building block of developing a high performing organization. It is also a key component of team building as a whole. The ability to develop others and the openness to enable others to facilitate your own development is a core component enabling the team as a whole to accomplish its objectives.

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.

Making DC schools safer: My testimony to the Council of the District of Columbia on Education

Good morning, My name is Joshua Millsapps and I am a Senior Partner at Millsapps, Ballinger & Associates. Over the past several years I have been involved in the safety and security assessment of more than 200 schools in 23 states. Over the course of this time I have become convinced that as a country we are generally missing the opportunity to make data driven decisions about safety and security despite the rise in the use of information to support all most every other aspect of our nation’s education and measure academic performance.

This lack of information persists despite the widely held belief that safer schools are higher performing schools. In the course of my experience over the last several years I have developed a bank of more than 500 questions covering safety and security as it pertains to schools and other facilities. These have been vetted by a diverse set of security experts and informed by best practice, research and concepts like Crime Prevention through Environmental Design or (CPTED).

Our questions cover everything from the general to the very school specific Administrative, Access Control, Lighting, Construction and Renovation, Site Stakeholders, Life and Safety, Power, Emergency Plans, Mail Handling, Parking, Fencing, Standoff, Roadway Control, Visitor Control, Inspection Policies and Procedures, Security Background Checks, Law Enforcement, Facility Security, Locks, Gymnasiums, and Cafeterias

For schools this doesn’t just have to be about security and once in place the assessment capability can be used to support facilities inspections on mobile devices, accident reporting, attendance, or other areas where schools need to regularly handle data in a consistent manner in order to drive repeatable processes and decision making.

We have also developed a technology based on the Salesforce.com platform in order to provide a service that can securely, deliver and manage this assessment that would be capable of scaling to handle every school in the nation. Doing it on this scale has enabled us to offer the base 229 question assessment recently used by Loudoun County Public Schools in Virginia, for somewhere around 36 cents per student per year for Washington, D.C.

The approach we took in Loudoun County illustrates the value of asking standardized questions that reflect security and safety best practices across the entire portfolio of schools. The information we collected enabled us to identify opportunities for improvement, but the technology can do much more including enabling the security and safety organization address issues in real time, collaborate to understand emerging issues, execute workflows and share best practices.

I have brought a sample copy of what an analysis of a fictional school district might look like and I invite anyone interested in understanding the operational aspects of the technology and how it supports safer schools everyday to join me on a webinar this Friday the 25th of October at 2PM, details of which are in the printed copy of the sample analysis provided to this committee, details can also be found at www.exam4schools.com, or by contacting me at 703-OUTCOME or at josh.millsapps@mbaoutcome.com.

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/440150886

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.

Critical leadership skills in uncertain times

6805754462_1a60ab513aThe current environment including the government shutdown, sequestration, and a slow recovery from a long recession have all made the need for real leadership an even more critical resource for organizations than ever.  It’s not just the technical capabilities or their ability to execute that becomes so important, although that is of course critically important because mistakes in this environment are even more punishing; it’s the other factors that become even more important. It’s the ability of leadership to inspire hope and productivity in the work force.  It’s their ability to assure the workforce that the organization will weather the storm, that it’s headed the right direction, and to be able to say that both confidently and honestly.

I believe it’s also important to have transformational leadership in times like these.  People that aren’t afraid to see things form another perspective, that have the courage to think outside the box, and have a willingness to pivot the business in order to ensure continued success.  It is in these times that it’s critically important to have somebody at the helm of your organization or team who is able to inspire confidence, lead change, and manage execution flawlessly; not just at the top but at every level.

As we continue to move thru these uncertain times, I think it’s important for each of those leaders to reach down into their organizations and work to instill real leadership qualities. They need to talk about those things in terms of helping people understand why those qualities are important and how they help the organization build as a whole towards success.

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.

Remember to think about what may happen if your governance works

 

Governance things to keep in mindGovernance has always been sort of a hot button issue. Now more than ever organizations are really trying to figure out how to get the right mix of governance that enables them to have repeatable processes to understand what’s working, what’s not, and drive repeatable performance.  I’ve always believed that good governance starts with an alignment of interests; it’s really important to have not just the stick but a carrot as well.

Sometimes it’s hard to get the appropriate incentives in place to encourage people to do what they’re supposed to do but when you do, it’s really powerful. If you can show people the benefit that’s in it for them, you’ll get much better results than simply telling people, “Thou shalt do x.”  Sometimes even just putting the governance process in the context of the big picture of what you’re trying to achieve can be enough.

Oftentimes you’ll find that governance applied at the lower levels of the organization may make exquisite sense to management but not so much to the folks that are charged with the executing of the environment. There may seemingly be no rhyme or reason why they’re performing these actions in the sequence that they are. So just providing that context, that touchstone to organizational value can be something that drives better data quality, greater willingness to participate in the process, and ultimately lead to a more successful government system as a whole.

As a side note to that, if after explaining the big picture to the folks who are going to be operating in the governance environment there is still pushback, you should immediately explore that pushback. It may be that the executive view of what the governance process is supposed to achieve, and the actual value that is being achieved, or the effort required to achieve the value has been mischaracterized or misunderstood by management.

I think that that final piece is ensuring that there’s an appropriate feedback loop on the governance process. It is something that occasionally gets left off but it’s incredibly important. One of the things that I’ve seen time and time again is as organizations bring in outside executives, consultants and other third parties that are not directly engaged in the value stream, you end up with layers upon layers of governance process and information gathering that is either duplicative or wasteful. So if just a little bit more attention was paid to the people that were required to execute a governance environment and deliver the business value, there would be a more lightweight process in place.

The other thing to be aware of is that governance often works. So you need to be careful not to stifle innovation or agility by virtue of implementing something that does not provide the organization with enough flexibility to respond to evolving requirements.  We all know that the world is changing at a greater rate than it ever has in the past and you can certainly govern yourself to the point of poor performance.  So I think those are some things to be on the alert for with regard to how you set up governance around your processes and around your organization. I’m very curious to know what other folks have thought of or have been using.

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.

3 things to keep in mind during negotiations

Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States

One thing the government shutdown has made me think about is the need for some better core negotiating skills. I know there’s lots of different opinions and many different ways to make things work but I just speak for myself and say that anytime I’m trying to get something accomplished with somebody else and we’re working through how this is going to play out; there needs to be a little give and take. I have three big things that I try to be conscious of. They are as follows:

  1. Big picture.  You need to be able to take a step back from the minutiae of all that you’re working through and understand how those details affect the big picture. That way you can understand if those details are worth scuttling the big picture progress.
  2. You have to be able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. First of all, this helps you to understand how they can make such wildly outrageous demands. If you take a step into their shoes, you can oftentimes understand why they’re asking for such outrageous things and they begin to see just a little less outrageous. It can also help you do some creative deal making. If you can put yourself in the other person’s shoes, you can sometimes come up with something that is maybe not quite so wild and outrageous from your standpoint and something that you can live with that maybe they hadn’t considered before.  It oftentimes opens the door for a creative solution.
  3. The third thing is that you have to be focused on the outcomes.  One of the things that you see all the time when you’re trying to get through a deal or negotiate something out is that as the tenure of the deal making gets to be a little bit more competitive or there gets to be more posturing on the other side, the focus strays from what you’re trying to accomplish into becoming focused on the individual actions that have occurred during the negotiations. That really should have no bearing on the actual negotiating of an outcome. The deal making process itself shouldn’t become a hindrance to the outcome of the negotiation. Unfortunately, a lot of times people let the competitive nature of it carry them away. They become less concerned with am I getting what I need to out of this and more with am I going to win.

So that’s the last piece and the real killer of so many negotiations that could be successfully concluded; the fact that people get carried away in the wind and less focused on the outcome.  I’m curious what other folks think.  I’m sure there are many more things that could be added to this list but those are just my big three.

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.