Cloud Strategies Miss the Point

I’m asked sometimes about whether an organization should have a cloud strategy and/or plan. My advice is: No. Which, coming from me, may sound like a strange response. Here's why (and what you should have instead).

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The Unthinkable Optimization

The optimal choice is not necessary nor -- and this'll shock a lot of technologists -- even all that desirable as far as the business is concerned (because it'll take too much time, too much work, too much budget, or be too much of a distraction from the core mission or market value adding activity of the business).

Instead hone your skills at being able to drill down into the underlying business drivers and personal motivations for any work or request that comes your way. Then refine your effectiveness at figuring out the best ways to target those drivers / motivations in a meaningful way as quickly as possible (you can always tweak and extend that impact further later on.)

If something is worth optimizing, it's that.

The Problem of "Stealth Work" in Technology Teams

In most organizations technology teams do (or try to do) a lot of "stealth" work. It's the job of these teams to decloak this work, but it's also paramount to the business that they encourage their teams to do so.

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The Biggest Problem Facing Internal IT Teams Isn't What Many People Think

The biggest problem facing most internal information technology teams isn't a poor strategy or incompetency. It isn't even a lack of resources or having too much to do.

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Taking your own advice

Giving advice is generally easier than accepting it. And when you realize you haven't taken your own advice, it can be a bit embarrassing. But it happens to all of us. Here's some advice to assist when we overlook things. It's both for you ...and for me.

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Skills aren't what is valuable

Skills aren't valuable in and of themselves. It's only the application of the skills that has value. And you can't apply skills without an in-depth understanding of the underlying (and surrounding) problem domain... and of the audience that will be judging the value of your involvement.

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You have to start somewhere (inaugural post for new site)

Today is launch today. And there's nothing like it.

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Google's 'Nudge' to Web Site Operators and HTTPS Everywhere

Google's announcement that the presence (or lack thereof) of HTTPS is going to influence site search result rankings is a rare specific announcement on their part regarding their search algorithm. The weight the usage of HTTPS plays will increase over time in SEO. If you run a fairly boring web site that doesn't handle sensitive data and read you may be left confused. This is my take on their announcement.

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A brief conceptual framework for high availability planning

I've put together a brief conceptual framework for high availability planning. That is, what to do when you get the request: ‘We want no downtime.’

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The various stages of IT monitoring maturity (a framework for enterprise IT stakeholders)

I've put together a write-up of the various stages of IT monitoring maturity most organizations go through.

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15 ways to get paid with less hassle as a freelancer (or consultant)

Battle tested techniques you can implement immediately to get paid fast, efficiently, and professionally. These are the techniques I've found most effective to get paid fast when doing technology freelancing.

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Are you making these backup power generator mistakes?

Personal lessons from managing a critical facility.

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The least you need to know to experience the joy of better brewed coffee

I'm into good coffee, but most days I'm too lazy or too busy to wear my aficionado hat. That's why I'm going tell you the least you need to know to experience the joy of better brewed coffee.

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Josh's Monthly Memo - No. 3

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell

This Month's Focus: Every day we are exposed to fresh ideas, challenged to rethink our views on previously settled issues, and presented with opportunities for new growth. We can choose to shun those that don’t immediately resonate with our conventions or we can mull them over non judgmentally. In the former scenario, we don’t grow. In the latter, we grow and sometimes discover something intriguing that we decide fits and works for us (that we may never have imagined in a million years). What are you currently rejecting?

Monthly Perspective: “The things that will destroy America are prosperity at any price, peace at any price, safety first instead of duty first, the love of soft living, and the get rich quick theory of life.” – Theodore Roosevelt

I.T. Leadership Tip: Making technology work/Making it work for the business; Different skill sets. Few technologists possess both. Figure out your area of strength.

Josh's Monthly Memo - No. 2

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important."
-- Bertrand Russell

This Month's Focus: Limited resources are a factor for everyone. It’s what you do with what you've got that ultimately decides whether you’ll get more. Complaining is unlikely to move you forward. You may not love the results that you get from your very limited resources, but if you can’t demonstrate that you used those resources wisely, how can you expect others to trust you to efficiently and effectively use even greater resources?

Monthly Perspective: "The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them." --Sir William Bragg (British physicist 1862 - 1942)

I.T. Leadership Tip: IT departments who "charge" -- allocate costs by user or department -- are not reactionary, simply honest. Expect setup, maintenance, & usage fees. The real problem is that most IT departments don't have their work organized well enough to grasp true resource needs, manage expectations realistically, and make effective priority decisions internally...let alone to move money in from elsewhere.

By the way, there is no "silver bullet." Focus on what moves you forward rapidly, within current parameters, & which can be tweaked as needed.

Josh's Monthly Memo - No. 1

This Month's Focus: All too often, when we are mapping out improvement, we place too much emphasis on “best” when “better” is often the only way to move from talk to action. When we repeatedly aim for bettering ourselves, and we integrate what we learn along the way, we not only create continuous improvement, but also elevate things beyond what we may have ever envisioned as “best.”

Monthly Perspective: “Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal.” - Nietzsche

I.T. Leadership Tip: Maintenance windows are a fact of life in IT. Some organizations “wing it.” Others script every detail. Which do you think gets better results?

An interesting statistic: After six years of independence, 100% of my consulting engagements come to me through people I’ve worked with before. It’s always an honor to work on a new project for an old client (or colleague) or to receive a referral from an existing relationship.

To gain respect, IT departments must mature

Many IT departments are fond of proclaiming a lack of resources. This has only been heightened, in the last couple of years, by economic turmoil. I've also observed that we are quite ignorant of our role in creating this situation. There are some things we might all consider doing more of to remedy this situation.

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Leapfrog ahead by seeking out peers outside your organization

From talking to CIOs, CTOs, and IT directors I've discovered that few of them know their peers at other organizations. And even fewer regularly interact and discuss issues of substance with those same peers, even though they share many similar concerns. One of the benefits of a good consultant is that they can share what has worked elsewhere. But you can do a lot of this on your own. Here is how to do it.

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How to protect your Android smartphone

Here's how to protect yourself. None of these are technical, but more about prudence.

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What every IT professional should be thinking about right now

The IT professional is needed more than ever to offer value added counsel and services to the stakeholders they serve. At the same time, many IT functions are commodities, which means they are subject to all manner of outsourcing and manipulation. Here are some ways to make sure you're not standing in the wrong place.

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First step to dramatically boosting your marketing effectiveness

Too much marketing is impersonal and "me too." Make your marketing personal, emotional, and human.

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Take the time to be specific

It is interesting that a common problematic theme I come across is that of the business strategy being too fast and loose. This happens in large public companies just as often as it happens in small one-person businesses. Sometimes you hear about "needing more focus", "defining your market", "defining your niche", etc.

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Doing less is more

There is a great irony in marketing any product or service. One goes to great lengths to uniquely position their product or service. Then we are careful to convey all the wonderful benefits our product/service will offer the potential buyer if only they'd become an actual buyer. The counter-intuitive thing is that this entire process is a whole lot easier if we promise less to the potential customer.

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