Tuesday, February 28, 2006
If I reflect on my education in computer science, I might be taken aback by my approach to develop this system somewhat interactively (although iterative design is generally acceptable). The classes that I took would take me to 80% design, 20% implementation. Yet, as I reflect on my experience, developing this system by construction is okay. What ultimately matters are the results -- my improved handling of the information I work with. Initial trend is positive in this direction.
I did an interesting exercise mix tonight. I did half my floor workout, a 45-minute spinning class, then the other half of my floor work. I definitely felt "worked out" tonight. A better outcome would have been to feel energized, or revitalized. It may be getting near time to take a day off.
My piano lesson was moved from Wednesday to Saturday. This is good because I'll get an extra few days to drill on Ravel, and the Saturday lesson will be in the afternoon rather than the evening.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
As the wise one, Sage, proclaims: it's about allowing yourself access to the capability (muscles) you already have. Rebecca has found the way to ask for that capability to be brought forward in the practice. I am the beneficiary of the knowledge proffered in both lessons.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
The breakthrough concept for the week is the realization that there is value in collecting the information and storing it, but no value in manually reformatting it and distributing it. Amazingly enough, there is technology that will search, format, sort, display and much more with the data that we come up with. I'm totally psyched with the collect once, use many times model.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Thinking quickly and realizing the need to stay focused, I must not take the wild pitch, and remember to duck if it's coming for my head! Staying in the moment is critical. It's all too easy to get pulled off course by the emotional behavior of others. (The best idea, which just occured, is to ask those being emotional to best support the mission by NOT being emotional -- that now is the time when it's most critical to be focused and professional.)
If you've read through the vagaries thusfar and this makes no sense, don't worry about it -- and also don't worry about me. If you're this far and you completely understand where I'm coming from, I'd like to talk to you about a job.
Sunday, February 19, 2006
I bypassed senior slack in high school because I realized in December of my senior year that I had achieved all the qualifications required for graduation. When I verified this with the administration and they confirmed, I cordially invited them to mail my diploma to me -- see ya!
Truth be told, I probably wasn't entitled to Senior Slack as I had already excelled in slacking for the previous three and a half years. Seated in the back of class -- the entitled position for those who are tall -- I found many things more interesting than the information emanating from the front of the classroom. You could easily collaborate with others similarly disinterested in the material until the cadence elicited the penalty flag from the front. And, if quiet collaboration wasn't interesting enough, one could contend for the attention of the class through various disruptive means. I learned some social skills in the back of the classroom, but did not develop my political skills until much later.
I did find my way to the front of the classroom in college, and always try to sit in the front to reduce distractions in all educational forums I now attend. I do this without apology to those sitting behind me -- they should arrive early like I do if they want the best seats.
I do strongly relate to the need to get on with things and advance to life after high school. It is wonderful to see Jenn and her friends blossom into young adults, alive with interest and curiosity, and ready to advance into new and exciting adventures. Life, learning, and opportunity await.
I would just suggest one tiny edit to Alena's article. Rather than having Jenn as a "former over-achiever," I would suggest that she is an over-achiever on sabbatical.
Friday, February 17, 2006
"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end -- which you can never afford to lose -- with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current realith, whatever they might be." From Good to Great, by Jim Collins.
This was from an interview with Admiral Jim Stockdale, reflecting on how he survived imprisonment in the Vietnam War.
"The executives who ignited the transformations from good to great did not first figure out where to drive the bus and then get people to take it there. No, they first got the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus) and then figured out where to drive it." from Good to Great, by Jim Collins
This is a fascinating point that really indicates the need to have a team before you set strategy and direction. The research that led to the book Good to Great enabled an examination of the key elements of companies that went from average performance to great (and sustained) performance. What may have made this work -- getting the right people in place first -- is that the right people probably contributed to a strategy that was collectively discovered.
Another great point from this book on people is that the key to sustained success is an outstanding succesorship plan.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
A PM should be tracking the work all along the way, and should never have last-minute surprises. There is always technical risk in projects, but a task not completed on time and only discovered at the last minute shows the PM wasn't paying attention.
This PM has continued to bring to me cases where work that should be tracked by the PM isn't complete as needed, and that somebody has again let him down. It's troubling because the PM needs to have people complete the work as distributed.
I now have the coaching opportunity to 1) get this person to track the work more effectively; 2) highlight earlier that the work is running late; 3) work on how to get the PM to have the work done without escalation.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
I felt really good about being able to do this!
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
There is a need to provide an adequate challenge to people such that they have to stretch. Naturally there should never be the expectation that the laws of physics will be changed, and there will be short term limits to what can be accomplished. But, there should always be the stretch goal. There should always be the added challenge. Simply doing what you've always done leads to a decay in learning. Lack of learning -- lack of growth. Lack of growth -- dead end street.
There is always somewhere to go and a way to get there. It may not be on the road you're currently traveling. There are many, many roads. There is always hope.
Monday, February 13, 2006
One of many highlights today was to attend the meeting of the French club at J's school as one of two judges evaluating homemade French desserts. Talking about tough duty!
I also had the pleasure of returning to the Monday night Yoga class that I've missed for the last several weeks due to business travel.
With time to spare, I'll work on my piano and do some reading on strategic alliances. As dry as the book is, I did find today one practical application of the material (which is why I've persisted) and I was able to identify a potential collaboration/alliance, and quickly think through some of the options that might be created.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
As I've done spinning I've always had ideas about what music and tempo would be good for different paces -- warmup, seated ride, standing climb and something that I normally don't do, which is sprints (not full out, but fast pace).
The fast pace came with a jazz tune by Bruce Barth where the melody was played in a moderate four, but the solo went to double-time, straight four. What was nice was the interlude between solo sections where the opening theme was echoed at the original tempo and this was a short recovery from the sprint.
I was so excited about doing this that I think I ramped up the pace a little quickly, and after the fast wheel work I was just a little cooked. Nevertheless, I got in about 35 minutes and would have continued give more time.
I downloaded Debian, Puppy, SLES10 with KDE and a browser package to play with. It's so easy to start another operating system. Simply start the VMWare player, point to the virtual machine config file, and the o/s boot up.
While you run the virtual machine as packaged, it's an extraordinarily fast path to explore new images and distros. The longest part of the whole process is downloading the VM image.
Friday, February 10, 2006
This weekend, I'm going to try (for the third time) to read the book "Alliance Advantage." I suspect it won't be any easier, though I would like to absorb the perspective and concepts. The subtitle, "The Art of Creating Value through Partnering" exposes the content as well as my business interest. I view the complementary book, "Real Options" as the accompanyment to evalutate and assign value to the options created through collaboration.
I just wish that business books weren't so dry!
Thursday, February 09, 2006
It is easier to see how others use their time than to see how we use our own time. While there is ample opportunity to do nothing (which really could be considered doing something) we should use our time to do whatever it is well, and should look for enjoyment in our activity.
This brings me to a question about aggravation. If what one is doing either is aggravating or causes aggravation (if there is a difference) then why would you continue this activity? Even though hard problems can be tiring and challenging situations (should) take us into deeper thought, aggravation is often a side-effect.
To bridge the thoughts about using time wisely and aggravation, the test becomes the desired outcome -- do you know what it is, and are you working toward it. Engaging in activities with a desired outcome in mind is often easy and natural. I eat because I'm hungry, I sleep because I'm tired. I express anger because somebody made a statement I disagree with. Whoa, that's the odd man out!
I will stop here because even though the thoughts are occuring and I'm writing to help sort them out, it's more like a leaky faucet than a fountain. I must be tired, so I will rest with a purpose -- to recharge so that I might write again soon.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
+ I made it to the airport on time
+ I got onto the plane, although Continental rolled the dice with an oversold flight
- I sat in a narrow seat beside a broad person who fidgeted laterally, and behind a person who fidgeted longitudinally
+ I had lunch with a close colleague
- My colleague told me what's been happening at work
+ Fabulous product announcements today
+ Had coffee with J
+ Went to Yoga
+ Positive feedback on Yoga article
+ Positive feedback on podcast (it's a hit!)
- Sad news from my family
+ Piano lesson
+ Introduced two people who are both close to me to each other
Looks like the pluses have it!
Over the next few days, I realize there are some situations on many fronts that may need special handling. As these events unfold, it will be important to stick to the fundamentals -- the rules of engagement, so to speak.
* expend energy at the point in time where you can positively influence the outcome
* express any emotions such that they may be understood as well as shared
* empower others to lead in solving problems by asking for their help
* breathe, and be
If the water is too rough for swimming, it's okay to take the boat across. You may be more productive in the rescue operation.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
Even though I have to get up at 0:dark_early in morning, I'll be in RTP by lunch -- and I'll get to coffee and Yoga for sure. Also get to go to piano.
The people here are very nice. Houston, at 65 F and low humidity is a nice place to be. I did hear of someone who has a system to chill the pool water in the summer. Talk about conspicuous consumption!
Monday, February 06, 2006
The customer meetings today were very successful and, as always, were a learning experience. It is always enlightening to hear how people seek to get their missions accomplished, and the variance of responses one receives when floating new ideas and technology.
Technology in a business context is special in that it is a race with no finish line. You can lead, follow, get trampled or get out. But, you can't win and you can be sure that any interesting race will attract aggressive competitors. For me, I like leading!
I'm heartened by the existence of a reasonably equipped fitness center in the hotel. Just not sure when I'm going to get to use it!
Sunday, February 05, 2006
The weather is nice and it seems a good day -- as good a day as any -- to travel to Houston for biz. I'll get time to think, read, listen, review, plan and organize on the flight.
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Friday, February 03, 2006
Thursday, February 02, 2006
Given that I believe strongly in reversion to the mean in human behavior (in this case my normal response in this case would be irritation) I had to hold an even temperament. More importantly, I had to maintain my position. Even more importantly, I needed to maintain the enthusiasm for the subject, even though there is a point where you ask yourself "why even bother."
The new view is that responding to this type of questioning could be an educational opportunity for the person doing the (insipid) questioning. Over and over again you get the opportunity to explain and re-explain in terms that ultimately affirm your position many many different ways.
There comes a point in time where the person will either see the light, get tired of asking, or have someone else to bother.
The new view reminds me to take the opportunity to not just be profound, but to be convincing as well.
from "High Flyers -- Developing the Next Generation of Leaders" by Morgan W. McCall, Jr.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
While I miss my routine when I travel, I am glad to have the opportunity to do new things, meet new people, and learn something different. There is something reassuring about a routine, yet the minor disruption that occurs with travel gently nudges us to see things a little differently and to remind ourselves of a/the bigger picture.
On the routine front at home, I was happy to have a very good piano lesson. The work I've been doing on the Ravel -- paying very close attention to the voicing -- is paying off. My teacher would never pull a punch and is a very critical listener. When he's happy with the sound, it's a genuine accomplishment.
What was interesting to me is that I'm intently focused on the mechanical delivery of the music. My teacher asked me if it felt right and sounded right to me. I explained that my playing is very deliberate with a lot of attention to the production of the sound. He suggested I record myself so that I can get the listener's perspective. Sounds like a good idea.
I did finish reading the book on development and growth while on the plane. One very interesting point was made, which I can't quote because the book is not at hand. It basically stated that the goal of an organization is to maximize the growth of the entire organization so that the full potential of each person is realized. Certainly this is much more contemporary than the relatively primitive concepts of measuring worker productivity with a stopwatch and clipboard. The book was well-written structurally with good chapter intros, tables of key points to be made, narrative, and summary. There are some good templates for guidance in the appendices.