Blogs of some of my colleagues at EMC. This is not a comprehensive list. I'm just experimenting with a merge of several employee blogs.
Created by Peter_Quirk on Sep 5, 2008
Last updated: 10/28/10 at 07:32 AM
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Working at EMC, I often run into highly technical people in management roles. Almost every manager I interact with could tell a story of transition from technical contributor to manager. It’s not unusual to have senior managers directly contributing to a product, and recently my senior director recently called in an individual contributor to discuss coding practices after he stumbled onto some things while reviewing the code quality dashboard.
With this in mind, I am not surprised when I walk into a manager’s office (or cube) and see a bookshelf with books about programming languages, software design, code quality, and so-on. I think it’s healthy, actually. In the role we’re expected to play, it’s important we be able to speak the same language, be able to detect poor practice from early signs, and so on.
What does surprise me sometimes is the scarcity of management and leadership books. I know managers who can point you to a half-dozen software engineering blogs, but would never bother to read one on the subject of management or leadership. People who can tell you obscure facts about how processes interact but have never read anything about how people interact.
There seems to be a belief among highly technical people that management is something you “just do.” After all, everyone’s been managed, and so everyone can manage. (Everyone’s read a book, so we can all write one, right?) This is made worse by the fact that many management books read like self-help books, with most of their lessons seemingly in the domain of common sense. So much of the “leadership” information out there is pandering to the same audience who order empowerment seminars from infomercials. It’s easy to dismiss the entire lot.
But just as skilled software developers know non-obvious methods for increasing a product’s quality, skilled managers know what’s important about increasing a team’s productivity. Just today a colleague sent me a link to an article from the Harvard Business School about employee engagement and its statistical impact on team productivity and turnover. There’s quality research being done out there on organizational practices, team morale, and more. As a manager and leader you owe it to yourself, your team, and your employer to at least know some of it.
Imagine learning a new programming language only by copying and pasting from other people’s code. No web searches for best practices, no articles on common pitfalls, no books. Sure, you’re smart and capable — you’d probably write something passable — but would you claim expertise in that language? Would you want your skill at that language, as compared to other experts, to be the basis for your career?
Of course not. At the very least you’d be searching out other developers, reading forums, making sure you’re aware of the bugs in the latest version of the product, and so on, even if you avoided any formal training.
And yet we see so many managers using a copy and paste methodology for patching together people skills. It’s not a bad place to start, but it’s a scary place to end.
This post is from: Dave Talks ShopManagement as a practice
Last time I wrote on this subject, I covered only a third of the equation of the decision to become a manager. There were still some open questions, including figuring out what skills and talents I could bring to the management table, and how to deal with the vague “ugly stuff” that most technical contributors seem to fear hides behind the manager’s job title.
Let’s work backwards a bit, because that’s how it happened in my book. I’d always hated the idea of office politics, had always been an introvert, had never really liked “dealing with people.” I joked that I got into engineering because I understood computers, but not people.
Of course, if you’ve been in this field for any more than a couple years, you probably realize where this conversation is going. You can’t be an effective member of a team and work in isolation. If you want to influence the direction of a product, even if your interest is solely on influencing the technical direction of its implementation, you need to develop some interpersonal skills. More than that, you need to develop some political skills. For example:
Bob the director of engineering decides whether to buy the software you want, but never seems to spend the dollars until Kumar gives it a green light. Sarah and Kumar don’t get along well, but Sarah is the primary expert on the software you want Bob to buy.
Figuring out how to build enough internal support to get Bob to buy the software … that’s navigating office politics. That’s perception, influence, interpersonal skill, negotiating, and more. And if you think the only people who do this are managers, you are dead wrong.
As a technical contributor, I realized I was involved in these kinds of situations. I was neck deep in what I thought I hated, already. And to be honest, I didn’t like it. But I was operating in a place where I couldn’t survive without it. In other words, whether I was a manger or not, this skill was going to impact my effectiveness. I either had to be good at it, or find trustworthy proxies who could be good at it for me. Either way, I took it out of the equation. It had nothing to do with my decision to get into management. I was satisfied that it was going to be a factor in my career regardless of whether I chose to advance through the technical or management tracks.
What about the other “ugly stuff”? There’s a class of interaction I once heard described to me, rather disparagingly, as “nose-wiping.” I was a bit scared of that. How did I overcome my fear of nose-wiping? That’s a story for another day, and it involves an unusual guest star (yes, I know I’ve told part of that story before, on this very blog…).
This post is from: Dave Talks ShopBecoming a manager – fear of politics
While waiting for a meeting to start yesterday, a colleague and I swapped stories of the perils of presenting. Whether it’s a livemeeting or a projector hooked to your desktop, there’s some loss of privacy that can come with using your PC to host a meeting. For example ….
Everyone was supposed to send their updates prior to the meeting, but there’s always someone who comes unprepared and emails their information to the presenter in the middle of the meeting, forcing the presenter to open their email client in front of the entire audience to retrieve the update. Watch your crowd when this happens … all eyes are on the screen. People could be completely sidetracked, playing Angry Birds or whatever, and suddenly there’s dead silence and all eyes forward, just in case something they aren’t supposed to see appears when you switch to Outlook. This isn’t malicious behavior; we all do it. I’d love to exploit it by hiding important information I need everyone to see. “Confidential: Tests are failing, fix your code!”
Not my email!
This causes, of course, the behavior where a presenter will do anything he or she can to avoid opening up email. “Oh, instead of sending me that, could you put it on a share somewhere? Like, and read me the hyperlink instead of mailing it to me?”
The grooming session
They’re about to present, so they prepare their system. Close that Facebook tab, and replace it with one to the support forums. Close the personal email, open one to the intranet site. Maybe make sure the desktop has an IDE open. Open up some emails that make them look important, leave them sitting in the background. “What, oh, yeah, didn’t mean to leave that up there. Let me close it slowly enough that you can read this….”
Just don’t care
Then again, some people just don’t care. They are confident enough to present from within their browser and show their 15 tabs, to ESPN, Craigslist, LinkedIn, their brokerage, and more. You gonna call them out? When you work for them?
“Just share your desktop!” come the calls, as the paranoid presenter shares one window at a time, to avoid sharing any more information than necessary. Meanwhile, dozens of people across multiple geographies have to remind the presenter every few minutes that the latest application they opened isn’t being shared and nobody can see it.
Any stories to add?
This post is from: Dave Talks ShopCasual Friday: Presenting Perils
I hear it all the time, from technical contributors: “I’d never want to be a manager.“ The reasons are usually straightforward. Some fear losing their technical acumen, others dislike office politics, and many just enjoy feeling in control of their own contribution and don’t want to worry about other people.
Sometimes I’m asked why I made the decision to enter management. I realized today that even though I started this blog to talk about that question, I haven’t spent much time really digging into it.
Fellow EMCer Chris Ferdinandi asked within the firewall recently about fun at work (a subject he has since brought to his external blog). The subject migrated to satisfaction at work, and what makes work satisfying. The short answer then, to the question above, is that I entered management because I felt it could be satisfying.
All through my career, I’d been asked if I wanted to move into management. I kept saying no — after all, I was a software developer. I liked writing code, debugging problems, integrating components, staying on top of technology trends, and so on. I knew I loved those things, and I knew managers didn’t do those things.
But over the years, the kind of work I did kept migrating into a specific area — developing APIs used by others. I met people who got frustrated if they didn’t work on something which easily mapped to an end-user feature, but my own satisfaction wasn’t tied to that. All I cared about was writing quality code, making it easy for others to debug and maintain, and making integration with my APIs as simple as possible.
It took me a few years, but I finally realized what it was about my work I found so satisfying: I was making other people’s jobs easier. My “users” weren’t paying customers, they were my fellow employees — and I was doing good by my users.
It wasn’t until years later that I had the follow-up ah-hah moment, the one where it became clear to me that individual contributors and managers are all cooperating to try and keep an organization successful. They play different roles, but from a corporate level they are all parts of the (hopefully smooth-running) machine. Obviously, then, it should be possible for a manager could get satisfaction out of making everyone’s jobs easier. Heck, it might even be that a manager could play that role on a larger scale than a purely technical leader.
So that left the rest of the equation — discussing with my manager what my skills were, learning what of those might map well into the management role, for example. And then there are the other issues — office politics, lack of control over my own success, and so on.
But the first step, the critical step, was admitting to myself what gave me satisfaction at work. Everything else followed (and will follow, in future posts).
This post is from: Dave Talks ShopWhy did you become a manager?
Readers of this blog know that I recently left my place of work -- after 20 years! How did that happen? Why did that happen?Is this a good thing?The root of this change happened in 2006, four years ago, nearly to the day. I had just returned to work from a 6 month maternity leave. The company was still recovering from the recession of 2002/2003 and things inside were a bit weird. New lines of business, new executives brought on board, and, for me, a new job. The company had asked me to take on a new role, in HR, to help with "Strategy Engagement." The new job was in response to all this change. CONTEXT: So much had changed in the market, and at the company, that the employees (and executives) themselves were often saying they didn't have a strong sense -- or connection with -- the direction of the company. NOTE: we had just acquired 30+ companies, and half of the workforce -- including the executive staff -- was new to the company in the prior 18 months.If I was suddenly put on the sidewalk, "I would be okay, but sad."During the Fall of 2006, I remember thinking that if something out of my control happened to the company (we could be acquired, too), or to me (new executives inevitably come with 're-orgs'), and I found myself on the sidewalk ... I would be okay, but sad. I realized that I had built my entire professional identity as part of EMC. All my networks were either inside of EMC's walls, or were built based on my status as an executive with EMC.What if there was no more EMC? What if?I realized at that moment, that I needed to protect myself from that and start building a Plan B, or simply build more options so that I would be happy, rather than sad, if my time at EMC were to come to an end.What did I do next?I've long had a career goal to sit on a Board of Directors. It is just about the only job at EMC that I did not have a clear view into, yet it involved every aspect of the company that I had been helping others analyze during all the years I spent in investor relations.I began reading up on Boards, and when I saw a program happening at a reputable college titled something like "On becoming a Board Member," I signed up. It was October of 2006.After the program, I went up to the front of the room to introduce myself to the speaker. I handed her my card and before I could even say what was on my mind, she said, "We should have lunch some day." (Think: The Attraction Factor, or The Secret)We got together the following month for lunch. We shared our professional stories and discussed goals, and what it was like being among a very short list of women executives in male-dominated areas of business. (Perspective for another post!). We connected. She then said I might be interested in getting to know a group of successful women, from around the world, mostly in their 40's who share career perspectives, business goals, and drink a fair amount of wine when they get together. ("Where do I sign up?!," I remember thinking.) Soon after, this speaker made a virtual introduction of me, to a member of the "group."Thus began my journey to readiness. This ("by invitation only") group of women would become my "safe" sounding board, a fertile ground for collaboration, and a rich source of professional growth -- and professional opportunities. The local group gets together for dinner every 6 weeks or so. The national organization gets together twice a year, generally in South America, and New York City. Since I joined, I have done countless trust- and friend-based business with other members. Examples: book collaboration, speaker at events, guest blog posts, media quotes, guest teacher to college classes. All of this has built both my brand, and EMC's brand. It has been GREAT for ALL.I Knew The Plan Was Working When ...Over a year ago, the woman who introduced me to the group had a business snag with EMC. When someone asked her, "Why didn't you connect with Polly?," she replied, "Oh! I forgot Polly worked for EMC!"I was very proud of that moment. For me, it was when my brand had become separate or distinct from my employer in the eyes of a professional community.And last Thursday, at a long-scheduled get together with the local group, I was greeted with Champagne and Cheers for my next chapter.
My "What's Next" NET:"How did that happen?": I planned for it."Why did that happen?": I was ready for it."Is this a Good Thing?": Yes. ---------------- Talk Back ------------------Do you plan for a "what could be next?" If so, how?How long have you been thinking along those lines?Are you leveraging networks outside your place of work? There are tons of great ones -- BNI, for example, or, for savvy women, TheDowntownWomen'sClub.com. -- Polly Pearsonhttp://www.pollypearson.com@pollypearson on Twitterpearsonpolly@gmail.com------------- Talk Back ---------------
I’m in the interesting and enviable position of having an open (entry-ish level) position on my team, here at EMC. Over the years I’ve brought a few people into the company, either directly or indirectly. But it’s been a while, and it’s interesting to see the state of the hiring process … and the people trying to get hired.
When I was looking for my first industry job, putting your email address on your resume meant something about how tech-savvy you were (I get it — I’m old). Now, I attach that same significance to a social media link. Not many of my entry-level applicants have those. A few have LinkedIn profiles, but none of them have personal blog URLs, Twitter IDs, or other social networking information. This doesn’t surprise me much … social media is a bit of a polarizing issue. I can certainly imagine some hiring managers seeing a twitter ID and assuming certain unpleasant things about the applicant. I wonder what guidance new graduates are getting these days on the issue beyond the obvious?
I have been surprised to see more resumes having intern or co-op experience, which was rare when I was graduating. I’m pretty sure my first resume had my Kelly Services data entry job on it, so yes, I’m impressed by your stint at the big company down the road … no matter how banal the tasks may have been, I’m sure you learned some lessons that you won’t have to repeat wherever you land your first full-time position.
I still see applicants who list every type of technology under expertise, and then have no way of explaining it in the rest of the resume. I appreciate you listing every microchip whose machine code you’re proficient in, but since none of your listed academic or professional projects have used that, I’m going to assume it’s either a hobby or a class you took and have since forgotten. Other folks seem to just empty the buzzword bingo slide onto their resume — after the first couple programming languages and database vendors you list, they all start to blend together. I assume you can handle an IDE; I don’t need to see a list of seven of them.
I’m sure it’s challenging to write a resume as a new graudate. You have very little with which to differentiate yourself from your peers. I’m always excited to see a good description of a large academic project, especially one where peers cooperated and achieved something beyond any individual’s reach. But if your resume is 5 pages long and you’ve only been out of school a year, we may have different expectations about what this document is supposed to do.
Speaking of which, I am surprised at the number of people who haven’t taken the step of getting some assistance with proof-reading their resumes. I recognize that people have varying degrees of comfort with the written word, and a resume is so unlike “real” writing that it’s hard to infer much from one, but blatant errors still surprise me. I want to remember your resume for the right reasons, not because you’re the only one who didn’t run a spell check.
Overall, I am excited to be seeing so much interest in the position, and looking forward to bringing a new person into the team. Hopefully soon I’ll be writing about how great it is to interview so many bright and passionate applicants who so clearly have the potential to be excellent engineers….
(on a side note, it was difficult to choose how to spell resume. In the end, I went with simplicity. Feel free to review the usage notes on the wiktionary page and then come scold me.)
This post is from: Dave Talks ShopReviewing resumes
If, like me, you skirt around the edges of the fitness blogging scene, you’re probably familiar with the person who starts a fitness blog, writes about their incredible gains (in fitness) and losses (in weight) and then suddenly the blog dries up for six months or a year. You know what happened — the person hit a rough patch with their fitness and didn’t want to write about it.
So when someone who writes about today’s workplace, about corporate culture, about working at EMC, slowly dries up in terms of post count, it might be a good default assumption that they’ve hit a rough patch at work and don’t want to write about it.
In some ways, this is true. I’ve struggled a bit over the past year to balance the different roles I have to play in the office,and I’ve felt like I don’t have anything insightful to say about that struggle. Some of the struggle has been in getting to know and work well with new people, and I’m never comfortable blogging about the specifics of “live” interpersonal relationships.
But there are other factors at work here. I’ve been busy as hell with my day job, trying to figure out how to rebalance my time management mechanisms to keep me from going insane. Entire sections of my day job are getting deprioritized in any given week, so you can assume that blog posting is getting hit, too. And my family life has gotten busy too — for great reasons! Having a two-year old at home is more than enough to keep you occupied and engaged. And when I do get a few free moments, I’m more apt to deal with things that need to be done around the house than writing a post.
The truth is, day by day, I’ve just been doing other “stuff” during the time when I used to blog. I am still active; I monitor twitter and occasionally speak up. I read blog posts, and share them on my Google Reader feed (which gets posted here on the blog and goes out to my Buzz account). But I miss the outlet this blog provides.
From years of blogging for personal and professional reasons, I know better than to promise anything about the future. But don’t unsubscribe yet. Things are about to get really interesting in my office, and odds are I’ll find things to write about. And if not, well, you know where else to find me….
This post is from: Dave Talks ShopWhere has Dave been?
I sat today in a team meeting, where we talked about our long-term goal of delighting our customers. It’s an easy thing to talk about, but it’s very hard to achieve. There’s a reason people always come up with the same holy grails of customer delight (say, the iPad) … there aren’t that many of them!
I ended up speaking some with our senior director about a recent set of experiences I had with Charter Communications. I recently upgraded my services with them, and have had several small nagging issues that I never thought to call them about. Just little things that kept me from being delighted.
Somewhat recently, though, I had a problem where my Internet and phone access went out for an hour or so. I ended up on the phone with customer service, and once my immediate problem was resolved, the technician on the phone asked a key question. “Is everything else working as you’d expect? Have you had any other problems?”
The conversation shifts here. It’s no longer “did we solve your problem?” but becomes “are you happy with us overall?”. So I told him about some intermittent problems I’ve had, and mentioned that though I was paying for 20 megabit speed I was only getting 8 (hey, 8 megabit is still blazing fast for this old school veteran of 300 baud modems, so I wasn’t complaining that loud). So he explained that the only way to get 20 megabit speed was with a modem that supported something newer than DOCSIS 1, which was all my ancient modem could handle. He respected my knowledge of the technical issues here, didn’t push me to lease (or even buy) a modem from them, just gave me some recommended models. He also said that it might or might not address my intermittent issues, but it was the first step.
So I did some independent research and picked a modem, bought it online, and set it up myself (I’ll skip the part of the story where I have problems getting it set up due to neglecting to reset some DNS configuration when I switched back to DHCP…. ). My speed improved drastically (I was getting up to 30 megabit speed — talk about a delighted customer!) but if anything my intermittent failures got worse. Again, afraid of the customer service “phone tree” I just ignored it. But a few weeks later I mentioned it in passing on twitter … and here things got interesting.
I immediately got a non-confrontational and polite inquiry from a Charter rep. He told me he could check the logs on Charter’s side and determine if the intermittent failures were due to my own configuration or due to something on their side. Wow. Less than a minute later, he told me the signal levels looked bad, and that he’d send a tech. Without me ever getting on the phone, he negotiated a time (within 24 hours!) and had a technician on the way.
The technician worked through the issues (my line had too many splits — blame the previous occupants of my home I guess) and got me up and running within an hour.
Am I posting this to say I’m delighted with Charter, no exceptions? Not quite. But I am saying that Charter has figured something out here — clearly the model I took advantage of here doesn’t scale to every single customer. But it scales to the early adopters, the tech-savvy and vocal crowd on twitter. They’ve recognized that while keeping every customer delighted is important, it’s worth spending extra money to hand-hold certain customers into that state.
There’s a lesson here for everyone who aspires to having delighted customers. Sometimes you can’t rip the entire corporation apart to delight every customer. Maybe instead you need to work on the exception cases, figure out how to minimize the damage. And it all really does start with changing your question — “is your problem solved” versus “is there anything else we can help with”. Change the tone of your interaction, and things will shift.
This post is from: Dave Talks ShopDelighting your customers – a Charter experience
If you’re at all active online, you’ve probably seen the recent hubbub about Facebook and privacy. Every time Facebook changes its privacy settings, the articles start floating around, but this time it’s more serious. The NY Times has dedicated space to the story, and Facebook itself has called a meeting of all its employees to discuss the issue. At least one colleague of mine is deactivating his account, and I’ve decided to take an audit on my use of the service and rethink my assumptions around it.
So my first question was what I get out of Facebook. Why do I use it?
Stay in touch with extended family
Stay in touch with geographically dispersed friends
Reconnect with old friends
Share photos with family, friends, and colleagues
Deepen and personalize business relationships
Information from businesses and product brands I have relationships with
Information from local businesses
I can get a lot of those things in other ways, but none of them with the same ease of use that Facebook provides (especially with the awesome mobile interface). It’s a unique collection of services and has a unique penetration into the market. It is, in effect, something worth paying for, but which I am not paying for … in cash.
So what am I paying with?
Information. Facebook derives value from my information. From my network to my location to keywords in my status updates, I’m providing Facebook with a ton of information for them to consume and even repackage and sell. And I’m fine with that. That’s an informed compromise I’ve made and continue to make.
So what concerns me? What’s the other half of the equation?
First, Facebook isn’t just a product, it’s a capital-V Vision. Like Apple’s vision for the iPhone, Facebook has a vision for the social web. And like Apple, they have the power to attract the market and enforce rules which bring that vision about. Their vision is one of public-by-default in every way, of partner messages intermingled with social content, of people discovering the world around them in the context of Facebook. And what they have shown, over the years, is that they are willing to make disruptive changes which bring previously-private data to public light, and ask forgiveness instead of permission. It’s particularly bold of them to take something which used to have a toggle and remove that ability, burying the change deep in your agreement.
Second, while my consent to Facebook is well-informed, my friends’ may not be. Confused by numerous privacy options, most users accept the defaults. I’ve seen people say they’d rather quit than try to understand the privacy options in Facebook. And so while I may build a well-structured safe way to share my information on the site, my friends probably have not done so. When your safety online is predicated on your friends’ understanding the rules, your risk is increased.
So what’s my plan, my strategy for Facebook?
I behave as if it’s public, but still lock it down appropriately. I carefully groom the public aspects of my profile, and review what they look like to someone outside my network. I post status updates to different audiences using friend groups; boring stuff goes to “friends of friends” and more personal stuff goes to a small group called “trusted” which I hand-pick. I think about every piece of information I open up, and think about why I want it public, what value comes from it. And I accept that tomorrow, Facebook may change it all, and I realize I have to be ready for that. That means I pick and choose what I share, because some things which are personal and yet worth sharing to some people never get shared. I’m intentionally getting less out of this service because of my concerns.
Let’s not beat around the bush — Facebook has done some nasty things, and has a vision for the future which many of us don’t like and don’t want to be a part of. But their product is so compelling that I’m willing to accept that compromise. Facebook is a private company and can do whatever the heck they want to in bringing their product to market. Any of us can choose whether to use the service or try and build our own competitor. I feel the same way about Apple and the iPlatform. I, for one, am sticking around.
(For some other views on the subject, check out Scoble’s recent article and this great privacy visualization.)
This post is from: Dave Talks ShopThe Facebook compromise
The buzz at the office is reaching a high as last-second preparations for EMC World compete with people’s “real work” every hour of every day. I am sad to report I won’t be attending EMC World this year; I was really looking forward to the coffee at the Bloggers’ Lounge but I’m needed here in Hopkinton (the same reason my blog posts seem to be drying up of late …). But there are some exciting things happening within my organization that you might want to know about.
Perhaps most exciting, if you’re a ControlCenter customer, is the chance to get an up-close look at our next major release, what we’re calling “SRM 7″ internally. There’s going to be a dedicated system on the show floor manned by some overworked and underpaid colleagues of mine, who will walk you through some simple use cases using our latest build of our in-development product. Please take the opportunity to grill them and provide some feedback. We’re all marching full speed ahead on this product and some real customer feedback at this stage is going to be incredibly useful to us.
There’s also some lecture/demo sessions set up, including “Next Generation Ionix ControlCenter v7 is Here…What’s Next?” and “Achieving Time to Value with Next Generation SRM: An Architectural Perspective.“ Both of these will take you behind the scenes with where ControlCenter is headed. I wish I could see them, and more than that, I wish I could hear what you the customer are saying at them. Feel free to reply to this post or hit up the ControlCenter customer community with feedback; I promise it’ll get seen, and not just by me.
And if you’re more interested in adding value to your current ControlCenter install, don’t forget the always-popular hands-on sessions and a special demo/lecture on “Ionix ControlCenter v6 – Under the Covers.” I imagine that one’s going to be pretty informative.
There’s a ton of other Ionix presence scheduled, including some hands-on work with Storage Configuration Advisor (the “next-gen” compliance product that got some sneak-peaks last year) and a slew of vBlock/Unified Management presentations. It looks like quite a full menu for the Ionix fan.
This post is from: Dave Talks ShopIonix at EMC World
If you know me, you aren’t surprised by my Survivor addiction. From its very first episode I’ve been on board, and every new season I dive in and watch as teams of strangers play in this odd mix of competition and cooperation, as social structures evolve and intermingle and new strategies emerge to conflict with the old.
Recently this season (an “all-star” season with returning contestants), I watched as two competitors vying for control of a team gave us an interesting leadership lesson.
The team in question, at this point in the game, was made up of 8 individuals. Two strong personalities (Rob, Russell) each command two loyal followers, and two people hover in between these groups, unsure of how to best get ahead in the game. The team, having lost the most recent challenge, was preparing to cast votes to eliminate a player.
Rob, worried about Russell’s conniving gameplay, went to his group (and the two “free agents”) with a simple directive: it makes sense, we have to get rid of Russell. No other move makes sense, let’s go with it. His two strong allies were fine with this, but the two others remained unsure. Rob’s answer? They’ll come around; it’s the only right vote to cast.
Russell, taking a different approach, singled out one of Rob’s weaker allies for elimination. But when he pulled his group together, he asked them to approach the other two individually and find out what they wanted. When he learned one of the two actually wanted to see Rob eliminated instead of Rob’s ally, he changed his approach entirely, and put his full weight behind this plan.
In the end, the two free agents split their vote. One of them sided with Russell and targeted Rob. The other targeted a different player; basically “throwing away” his vote since he knew it wouldn’t matter and he was unhappy with both leaders’ options. Neither leader secured both free agents, but where one leader tried to drag them along (and alienated them both), one listened and modified his objective and secured the vote of one.
Rob ended up leaving the game, 4 votes to 3.
The lesson is pretty simple. As a leader you may believe you have the right answer, and in fact your answer may be strategically correct. But those you are leading need to be engaged and feel ownership. When they come to you with a goal which differs from your own, don’t shut it down right away. Listen, and consider. Maybe their path isn’t the one you envisioned, but that doesn’t mean the end result won’t be close enough. In the end, you as a leader are powerless without the team’s support — and it’s better to have a unified team marching towards a slightly suboptimal goal than to have a fractured team giving less than their all in support of what goal you happen to think is best.
There’s a huge difference between “How can I get you on board my train?” and “How can we all end up on the same train?”.
This post is from: Dave Talks ShopLeadership lessons from Survivor
You’ve probably heard a variation on this statement from a software developer, made in jest, but containing a nugget of sincerity:
It was hard to create, it should be hard to use (or maintain).
Basically, we worked hard to get this stuff done and we expect you as a user or future maintainer to put the same effort into it. After all, it took many man-years to write the software, it’s not too much to expect you to spend a few weeks reading manuals and understanding it before you start complaining that it’s hard to use.
As Paul Young recently wrote, though, imagine if wood-chippers took that approach.
Imagine if an author did? “It took me years to write this novel, you should have to do some research before you read it.”
Some do, I guess. I’ve read a few novels that require major work to get through. Sometimes the end result is even worth the work. But as my fiction writing friends tell me, in general you don’t want your readers to be thinking about your writing, you want them thinking about your story. Similarly, you don’t want your users thinking about your software design, you just want them thinking about the task your software enables.
I feel the same way about maintaining and testing software. We want developers thinking about the code, not about the way you wrote it. You don’t want someone looking at your code, peering at it for a few minutes, and then saying, “Oh, I get it. Wow, that’s clever.”
There’s a famous quote attributed to a half-dozen different writers (and perhaps originated by Blaise Pascal), that says, basically, “I am sorry I wrote such a lengthy letter; I did not have time to write a short one.” It takes time to create simple, elegant software. When we force the issue and compress the time spent on a project, you end up with complex code and complex user interactions. We should consider this a problem, not a point of pride.
When we present some difficult software to our users, we should apologize to them. “I’m sorry this UI is so complex. I didn’t have time to make it easier.” Instead, we make them feel guilty. “Ah, perhaps you should have taken the training,” or read the manual more carefully, or attended our seminar.
Think about the people on your team, and ask yourself if they “get” this concept. Realize, that if they don’t, you’re eventually going to lose your market share to a competitor who does.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
(crossposted from a discussion thread at EMC)
My first thoughts on Buzz are that it fails at solving a problem I don’t really even have.
It connects me to people I send GMail to, which is great. My GMail network is a subset of both my personal and professional networks, basically people I trust enough to give my personal address to. So it’s a great selection of people for me to start connecting with. Success.
Then it lets them talk to me/eachother/the world in the same way facebook/twitter does. And frankly if those individuals want to do that, they are doing it already with facebook/twitter. Failure.
Then it lets them aggregate stuff they post in other areas, which is cool. I can see what my GMail network is reading in their Reader accounts (except if I wanted to, I could already follow them in Reader, as I do with many of my friends) and what they are posting to their Flickr and Picasa albums (cool). But…
Then it gets worse. People can bring in their twitter updates. So for the subset of my Gmail Network who are twitter-enabled, I see their stuff twice, once in my twitter client of choice, and once in Buzz. And as people comment on those twitter updates, they do so in a fragmented way, some in Twitter and some in Buzz. So if I want to see the whole conversation I have to monitor my friends twice and spend twice as much time dealing with their twitter updates. Failure.
So for twitter, it’s made my life harder, not easier, and I can’t afford that. It’s why I stopped using FriendFeed.
That’s just my first impression after a few hours with it. Maybe I’ll see more as it grows.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
I’ve been busy lately, here on the SRM team within Ionix. My calendar fills up fast, and I’ve been logging in nights and weekends to sneak in work on my day job, never mind my blog (which explains the real gap in activity here!).
Why the sudden burst in activity? Why am I letting my day job run away with my life?
I’m not, really. The truth is my shift into a more technical role was just the first part of a two-part shift I didn’t see coming. I also inherited a handful of work from another colleague who had recently changed jobs within EMC. I did the best I could playing both roles for the month of January, but I basically spent the entire month stressed out and losing track of everything.
The answer, in true EMC style, was to invest more time into work — but in a smarter way. I set aside chunks of “me” time at home (and at work, to be fair) to organize my tasks, organize my team’s tasks, organize my information. Cleaned my inbox. Set up a system for tracking open issues, for organizing my meeting minutes, all that. I didn’t do a full GTD reset or anything (I keep thinking I should, but …), but I did invest heavily into my work infrastructure.
The end result is that at the end of the day I’m tired and spent, but I’m not lost and overwhelmed. I know where I am, I know what I need to do tomorrow, and I know what my team is doing.
The truth is, how hard you work isn’t really the determining factor in how you feel at the end of the day. It’s how you do that work. For me, the weight of inheriting someone else’s “tracking system” was too much to carry, and I had to do extra work to create my own. It made the past calendar week pretty much unbearable, but now that I’m coming out of the weeds I can see February shaping up to be a pretty good month.
Busy, but good.
That’s how I like it.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
When I saw the emails start floating by about EMC’s ON Magazine’s special issue about 20 years of the web, I flagged them for later attention and promptly moved on. That may have been a mistake. Recently, I cracked open the PDF and paged through it. Something on every page caught my attention. Except for a few times, I forgot I was reading something written by people at EMC. I guiltily asked myself, “are we really this cool?”
So here, as requested by Natalie, is my version of the web at 20…
How has the web changed my life?
It’s a bit of a cheat for me to answer this question, because what truly changed my life were the networks that predated what we think of as the Web. The web made them easier to use and broadened their scope by orders of magnitude, but the damage was already done.
I would not be where I am in life without the Internet. As a teenager, I hungrily sought out information from any source I could. On a TRS-80 Color Computer hooked up to a tiny black&white TV, at 300 baud, I connected to (and eventually ran) bulletin boards, snuck into unprotected university dialins to play MUDs and read Usenet, and connected to individuals and information from a much bigger world. I am still in contact with some of those people, still use the behaviors I learned back then every day.
But it wasn’t until college, in 1993, that I saw those things melded together into The Web. It may have been technically 3 years old by then, but it was just getting its momentum. It became my immediate and constant companion, and has been since. Everything I cherished about the Internet was boiled down into one magical term: Home Page. We didn’t have net connections in our dorms, so all that gweeping was done in the semi-dark basements of the CS building, in labs shared with giant line printers and dozens of black and white monitors.
I can still taste the Mountain Dew … and the freedom.
I created my first web page in those years, when the best web search engine was called WebCrawler and people still coded for users of Lynx. The Internet Archive has a version of that page, from right before I graduated. Most of the links are incredibly broken, but you can still see a snapshot of my personality in the text, personal branding way before the Millennials “discovered” it.
This was the brave new world. And we thought we’d keep it to ourselves forever: nerds arguing over Star Trek and D&D, posting pictures of our cats, and researching new technologies.
And then some damn fool figured out how to make money off it all.
How has the web changed business and society?
I like to say the changes to society and business associated with the web have come (and are coming) in waves. For a long time, businesses saw the web as nothing but a giant Yellow Pages, and society saw the web as a place to argue over Star Trek. I remember a magical period in the Web’s history when business hadn’t caught on yet, but there were enough people for actual connections to be made. You could find people who had been to far away places and talk to them about their experiences. You could bump into groups who were dedicated to obscure programming languages and figure out how to solve bizarre software problems.
And then the marketers took over, clumsily but powerfully. When you tried to find real people, you found storefronts instead. Search engines were new, and SEO technology outpaced the search algorithms. You couldn’t trust the web any more. Communities were buried, hard to find. It was difficult to meet new people and form new interactions.
Eventually the old sense of community emerged from its hibernation. Strong web forums with passionate moderators helped people with similar interests hook up, and some of them lasted long enough to become trusted sources of information. Social media sites formed and helped us track trusted crowds. Web page technology got decent, bandwidth got cheap, blogs became mainstream, and suddenly (if you knew where to look) the web was social again. Now there were two webs, the social web and the static clumsy business web.
Then, most recently, businesses figured out how to leverage the new (old) online world. Instead of trying to take over, they tried to engage. And the business web became social.
And so we’re back where we started, but better. We’re free to argue over Star Trek and post pictures of our cats … and route around government censorship … and collaborate on new technologies … and tallk directly to our government … and order pizza online … and monitor millions of conversations until you find an unhappy customer in Paraguay … and finally engage with that person following the same unwritten rules we geeks help put into place 20 years ago.
It’s a beautiful time to be an information professional.
(What I think is an important followup point here is that there are areas where the web hasn’t changed society. Vast stretches of people are not connected, and the disconnect isn’t shrinking. Let’s not forget this.)
What do I think the web will look like in twenty years?
To answer this I tried to think back on the past twenty years. Many of the technologies existed when the “web” was born, but we found innovative ways of tying them together, made bandwidth cheaper, and exponentially extended its reach. So what do we have the technology to do now, but aren’t doing yet? What will change when (and if) the digital divide narrows?
The easiest answer is that dumb search will disappear. All search will be contextual by default, whether that context is geographical, social, historical, or something else we haven’t thought of yet. Our tools will serve us, help us filter the world automatically in contexts that make sense to us. Based on aggregating data about ourselves, our histories, and our friends, the tools will be highly predictive and accurate. They’ll work on objects other than text (we’re improving image search, but let’s imagine all of youtube indexed not by metadata but by the data itself!).
This will come at the cost of privacy, of course, and the mad scientists of the 2030s will be those who refuse to make that trade. Like a person in today’s world who refuses to have a credit card or a bank account, most of us won’t be able to understand how they can reject all that convenience.
Another easy one is that we’ll take the cloud for granted. If you have data somewhere, you’ll have that data everywhere. The concept of remembering a URL or bookmarking it and losing that bookmark will seem archaic. There’s some fascinating security and usability problems to be solved there, of course. It’ll be fun to see that fall into place.
Fads will come and go faster than they do today. With the ability to spin up a virtual data center and tear it down with no delay, a startup can flare up and disappear within hours. Low-budget clones of such companies will appear worldwide, and the battles over who had an idea first will be epic.
Another trend I think will continue is the shrinking of content. Real writers will be harder to find, as the majority of content providers end up doing nothing but sharing links and snippets. Our attention spans will shrink further. If we can’t read it or watch it in 30 seconds, we won’t care. And the few of us who insist that things used to be better will be laughed at by our juniors.
One thing I can predict is that twenty years from now, my daughter will 21 years old, and she will laugh uproariously at how wrong we all are about where things are headed.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
I’ll ask Jamie Pappas, a colleague at EMC, to continue the discussion next. Jamie?
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
I have a tendency to keep everything.
In real life, this is a problem, and one which is solved by the fact that my wife has no sense of nostalgia and will throw my garbage away behind my back. I pretend not to notice and we move on peacefully.
In the digital world, though, it has amusing results. In a fit of nostalgia, I recently stumbled onto the oldest archived version of my first “web page,” from 1995. In it, I mention someone as a good friend. Fifteen years later, I cannot remember who this person was. There’s something sad about that, don’t you think? The Internet never forgets, though. I’ve found much older stuff out there, archived on weird mailing lists or whatever, stuff I have trouble believing came from my keyboard but obviously did.
I also have carried the same text files from computer to computer since the first PC-compatible machine I ever got, in the late 80s. Since I was an awkward teenager in the late 80s, you know what this means? I still have all the awful stuff I wrote as a misunderstood loner in high school. Lyrics to heavy metal songs that never got set to music. Nasty unsent letters. Poems that would delete themselves if they could, they’re so bad. The beginning of a horror novel which thankfully never got finished.
Yup. It’s all there.
And I back it up nightly on Mozy too.
My name is Dave, and I’m a digital packrat.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
I’ve written before about how we can’t afford to be religious about our science. I’m seeing that situation in a new light based on some experiences while working on our Next Big Thing here in Ionix Storage Resource Management.
We’ve staffed this team with people who have worked on successful, shipping products. Many of them “grew up” in a world where certain things (like, say, continuous integration, or test-driven development) were unheard of. There are inevitable growing pains as we push for certain behaviors and results. Sometimes there’s a failure in the software pipeline and the answer from the responsible party is “This wouldn’t have happened if we had XYZ in place,” where XYZ is a practice from some product they used to work on.
As a technical lead, it’s my responsibility to try and educate people and raise the quality of everyone’s work. I’m supposed to push for the best practices we all need to understand and employ. But I also need to make sure a product goes out the door. So when I’m in a closed-door meeting with senior management and they say, “Do you think we should put XYZ in place?” I have to stop and ponder.
The answer, in my heart, is no. Take away the crutch, make the team fail a few times. People learn from failure. In a few months they will adapt and be better for it (or they will have gotten fed up and left).
The answer, in my brain, is yes. I know that without this crutch, they will be less productive for a few months. And I know where we’re supposed to be in a few months, and I’m not sure we can get there without the crutch.
I tell management both these answers. They ask me what we should do.
And this is why our jobs are hard.
(I usually end up leaning towards the practical side here, and hope that we can educate in parallel. But I’m always left wondering if I should be more extremist….)
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
It’s that time of year again when people begin complaining about how difficult it is for them to write self-appraisals. I wrote some about this subject last year around this time, and it’s since been consistently the most-visited page on my blog. Obviously people feel ill-prepared to write appraisals of their own performance. What I keep hearing from people is that they are uncomfortable making note of their strengths.
The first question I ask is the most obvious. Do you know what your strengths are? If not, you have a bigger problem than your self-appraisal to deal with.
Your successes generally come from doing one of two things: finding circumstances that match your strengths, or adapting yourself to match your circumstances. But without knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you are relying on blind luck to achieve either.
(You may want to read up more on this subject: if so, I recommend understanding the concept of the Johari Window and perhaps looking at some of Marcus Buckingham’s writing)
Most people realize, then, that self-knowledge is important. But sharing that is more challenging.
Some people are simply unused to making rational assessments of personality traits and talents. They become emotionally invested in those traits and have trouble disconnecting. I have little advice here except that practice makes perfect. If you are uncomfortable describing yourself in this way, try starting with others. Write up a “self-appraisal” of your manager, of a peer, or of someone whose work ethic you admire. For added challenge, write one for someone whose work ethic you find fault with — look for overlooked strengths. Just the act of disconnecting emotionally from these personality traits will make writing your own appraisal easier.
More common, I think, is a sense of humility, a desire not to self-promote. Many of us grew up being told it was unseemly to broadcast your own accomplishments. If you take just one thing from this post, take this: you are not bragging when you describe your strengths. You are not saying “I am an excellent coder because I am awesome and I worked so hard and I deserve lots of money.” You are saying “I am an excellent coder.” Your manager may not know you are an excellent coder until you tell him or her. You are not taking credit for your strengths. Maybe you just won the genetic lottery and happened to have a great mentor. Your manager doesn’t care why you possess certain strengths. But it’s crucial that your manager know that you do.
You want to be humble? Recognize that your unique strengths are probably not so outstanding that everyone’s already aware of them. In other words, it’s presumptuous to assume everyone knows what you’re good at.
Not only that, but true humility comes with making the rational assessment of your traits and then being able to discuss it with someone else. You want a lesson in humility? Sit down with your manager and discuss why he or she thinks you aren’t that good of a coder, even though you think you are.
For some people, then, maybe it’s fear, not humility, keeping them from having that conversation.
That is much harder to break through, unfortunately.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
I often hear people talk about not “getting” some aspect of social media, or worse, talking about it like it’s a waste of time, an indulgence, or even a joke. The other day I was struck by how much the rules have changed in terms of communication, and why if you aren’t listening, you’re losing opportunity.
Early this month, I ran in a charity road race along with some family members. I wrote up the experience on my personal blog, and as in any writeup, I included both positive and negative aspects of the day. My intended audience was small — this particular blog is not publicized.
In this particular case, though, a couple hours after my post went up, the director of the race had found it, read it, and posted a follow up. She directly addressed my concerns and invited me to discuss it in more detail via email. We did, and then I posted a final comment explaining how things had progressed.
What happened here?
Within 12 hours of the race, I had written a report and posted it in a public place.
Within 12 hours of that, the race director had found my post and directly engaged me.
Within 12 hours of that, a two-way conversation had taken place and I had posted the results.
Within 36 hours of the event, one participant out of 4,000 had a personal conversation with the person directly responsible for the event about what went well and what didn’t. Do you think perhaps the race director had urgent matters to attend to, and that it might have been hard to find the time to scour the web for mentions of her race? Probably. Clearly this was a priority.
I’m a customer for life now, but honestly one participant more or less out of their race is not a huge deal. What is huge is that the situation played out in a public place and for years to come the evidence of that interaction is preserved for every potential participant in the event.
Not only that, I went from being a participant to an advocate. I’ve spent my personal time talking to others about how great an event it was, and how much the organizers obviously care about the race and the runners in it. You can be sure when the race is run next year, I won’t just be signing up, I’ll be talking about it in public and drumming up more interest on their behalf.
I can’t beat this drum long enough. You cannot measure the Return on Investment in social media using traditional means. But it should be clear to anyone watching these kinds of events unfold that the Risk of Ignoring is huge. Retell this story, but replace the race with a product launch, and my report with a simple installation report written by a low-level employee at a small customer. And remember, in the professional world, we’re not talking about how good the end result feels for everyone involved, but about how you can differentiate the experience of working with your product as compared to your competitors’.
Are you listening? Do the people who are listening have the knowledge and power to engage your customers? Can they escalate and get the right people in conversation in Internet Time? Can you picture a situation where the person directly responsible for your setting the direction of your product is in contact with a single customer within 36 hours of that customer unboxing it?
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
If you look up dogma on wikipedia today, you’ll see this phrase as part of the definition: “It is not to be questioned.” Software developers are at their core scientists, however, and scientists are defined by the fact that they ask questions. So it should be obvious that there’s no room for dogma in your software group. And yet, go down the hall to a few of your more senior developers and ask them about coding standards, development practices, or even IDE preference. Good luck.
My organization made a recent decision to formalize the technical lead role a little bit within their scrum teams. We did it because we felt there was a gap not being filled, and we felt like our ability to execute and ship a product was being impacted. A colleague of mine forwarded me an article about the agile “team lead” role, and I was more interested in the comments than the actual text — people discussing whether the role was strictly agile or not.
I’m sorry, but I could not care less.
I’m reminded of a recent post by Mike Cottmeyer (who, by the way, gets paid to help companies adapt agile) where he argues that adopting agile isn’t the point. The point is to add value to the business.
The point isn’t to play with new technology, to be open-source, to write tests, to measure coverage, or to adhere to standards. We do these things when the time is right because we believe (based on evidence) that doing those things will lead to specific results. Scientists can’t afford to be religious about their science, and computer science is no exception. Don’t stop asking questions. Don’t stop challenging your leaders, your preachers, your prophets. If you feel like your practices are set by robed oracles atop a mountaintop, something is wrong with your organization. Now’s as good a time as any to push back and find out why.
Because in the end, we’re here to sell software that delights our customers and keeps us in business. Everything else is peripheral.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
When did employment branding and employee engagementget so hot?This week Harvard called, again. A business school prof there is about to release a report on the best practices ... and potentially issue some journal cases ... and just started writing a book on the subject -- with enthusiasm for Web 2.0 models.Harvard Business Press is currently in the midst of a global release of a book by Sylvia Ann Hewlett called "Top Talent" where she identifies strategies to engage and retain talent -- again featuring Web 2.0 models. There are Ning and LinkedIn communities dedicated to the subject of Employment Branding, with sub-communities fully dedicated to social media models, and dozens of blogs.And let's not forget the conferences! I get approached to speak at a conference or on a webcast on the subject of social media and employment branding or employee engagement about once a week. Of course, the headhunters are on this too. They are calling as FORTUNE 500 companies increasingly realize they'll be at a competitive disadvantage if they don't spend some attention on both the genuine culture and climate inside their company -- as well as the external perception of their company as a place to work.[All in an economic backdrop mind you where it isn't too hard to find great talent.]Who are the people fanning the flames behind this trend? Not necessarily human resources folks. They are by and large business people first. Former Wall Street folks (I suppose I could put myself into that bucket), former Marketing folks (I could fit that bucket as well), Personal Brand speakers, Career Coaches, Reporters, and yes, some bold and forward-thinking HR people (been there too).The headhunters are actually in a bad way on this one. Companies don't know if they want someone from HR or Marketing to head up this initiative.
HR people don't think, generally, in brand and promotion terms. They also generally like the world of command and control: policies, rules, methods for communicating to employees.
Marketing people have never, in general, given HR the time of day. They've been focused on the outside influencers -- media, analysts, top customers -- and toss table scraps (relatively speaking in resource terms) to the internal audience.
Ad Agencies? Not so much. They're largely still in advertising mode -- reach and frequency buying. Posters and mugs for internal engagement. Most are racing to figure out this web 2.0 thing at the same speed and bewilderment as most companies.
What about the HR firms? The folks who focus on internal training, systems, compensation schemes to align strategies with action? Haven't been impressed yet -- and man, they ask for a lot of money, and even more time, to even make a dent in improving your standing in employee engagement and being a true company of choice.
Oh, and let's not forget the normal Myers-Briggs make up of people in business. Tags such as "Thinking and Judging" come up most often. The "Feelers" are few and far between. And yet, research shows that it is the emotional connection that drives passion, creativity, and over-performance from a workforce and in a company's business results.Who / What Org is best at approaching this subject? I think we at EMC stumbled on a cool formula by luck. Today, we have a collaborative team who comes together in a fabric, cooperative, approach. Among us there is the Office for Talent within HR; executive and internal communication within Marketing; creative services and on-line platform group within Marketing; our global Centers of Excellence who are part of nearly every business org at the company; IT; PR; our organically grown brand ambassadors/bloggers; and my small operation known as the Employment Brand Office which acts as a type of glue, and prompter. From an executive hierarchy standpoint, the initiative was born in HR, got on the CEO's radar when he launched a goal to be a well recognized company of choice and best place to work, hung out in the social media/change agent space in Marketing for a spell, and now reports to the EVP in charge of multiple areas of company inclusive of Total Customer Experience, Quality, Marketing, Manufacturing, and Operations for our largest revenue-producing division. -------------------- Talk Back ------------------------Are you noticing greater interest in this space?Who/which org do you think best drives it?On the vendor side, I've found a few boutique firms and social media-type people that are doing cool things, and I love the insight and energy I get from them. I also enjoy Gallup's work. What experts/vendors have you been impressed with?-- Polly Pearson@PollyPearson on Twitter
As we enter the week of Thanksgiving, and head into the core US holiday season, we’re supposed to be thinking about giving thanks and being generous. Of course, we’re also entering the final stretch of the quarter and the year, so we’re over-committed at work and trying to balance our obligations at home as well. It’s a tricky time to be an effective employee.
It’s worth noting, however, that managers are also soon going to be working on annual performance reviews. And while we all know reviews should cover the entire year’s work, often times a high-impact event at the close of the year gets some extra mental attention during this busy time. So what can you do at work to bring a little bit of what the holidays are supposed to be about into your routine?
A simple “thank you” goes a long way. A more complex “thank you” goes a little further. “Thanks, Bill, I wouldn’t have thought of looking there, you made my day a lot easier.” It takes 15 seconds to type that, and whoever you are thanking probably saved you more than 15 seconds. So send the email. Better yet, drop by their cubicle, or say something when you spot them in the hallway.
Sitting in your inbox is that simple request. It’ll take you a couple minutes to process it, and you have so much else going on, but it’ll really make a difference in that person’s day. So ttop putting it off. Set aside 5 minutes this morning to be helpful, and then go on to your “real” work.
You can also be generous with your praise. Saying “thank you” is great, but copying the boss is generous as well. It wins on so many levels it’s hard to even list them. I’m not suggesting every single “thanks” needs a cc: line, but once in a while it’s a powerful tool.
It doesn’t need to be a “thanks” either. Sometimes you can just directly tell someone about great performance by a team member. I recently sent an email to a senior director letting him know about a great moment with someone in his organization. His response was that he rarely receives that kind of direct feedback. Flood your management with emails and you’ll get ignored. Target a couple moments of high performance, though, and you’re playing with powerful tools.
Balance your life
It’s crucial now to remember your work-life balance, and that of your teammates. Tensions may be high, and small things leap into significance. Don’t forget that for some people, the holidays are a time of joy and pleasure … while others are on an emotional rollercoaster.
As for yourself, be present at your family dinner; put down the Blackberry and enjoy the blackberry pie instead. That email will still be there after the kids are in bed.
The great thing about gestures like this is that they multiply. You are essentially increasing the positive climate, and as a colleague of mine recently put it, when the tide rises all ships rise with it.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
If you’re in the corporate workforce, you’re familiar with Powerpoint, and probably familiar with various controversies around it. People spend a lot of time debating how much or how little to put on slides, they design cool systems for maximizing impact, and they worry endlessly about how to word something on a slide in case it somehow bites them later.
There’s a radical solution here which I like to apply once in a while. Don’t show any slides. Just call your meeting and meet.
You should see people squirm when there’s nothing being projected. You’ve forced them out of their comfort zone, and set the stage for things to get exciting.
Your projector, your screen, your slides … these are crutches. Many times they are doing more harm than good. Why?
Many times, if you’re leading a meeting, you’ll spend all your looking at your slides and not your colleagues. You will miss countless nonverbal cues, but it’s worse than that. You are attaching yourself to your slides, to their wording. You are unable to truly converse, you are instead presenting. You will get uncomfortable as the conversation goes in a way you didn’t predict, and exert subtle (or not-so-subtle!) pressure to drag things back to your nicely prepared bullet points.
And you aren’t the only one staring up at that screen, are you? Your audience is looking at your slides instead of at you. They are reading ahead, and mentally checking out once they’ve read all the bullet points. “Nothing important here, let me go back to my blackberry.”
It gets even better. The projected slides give your audience permission to check out of the conversation. Tell me you haven’t seen this before: ten people in a room, eight of them barely involved, two doing most of the talking. A third person’s name is mentioned, and he or she snaps to attention, not at the people talking but at the projected slide. They’re doing two things here. They are setting their context, “Wait, what are they talking about?” but they are also buying time. “Nobody will ask me a direct question while I’m so obviously involved in reading the slides….”
Clearly this doesn’t apply 100% of the time. Presenting is a valuable mechanism for lots of interactions. But we’ve somehow become so enamored with our hammer that we forget not everything out there is a nail. The true meeting is becoming a lost art form.
Try it sometime. Take the power back — resist the urge to power up that projector. See if you don’t come out feeling more engaged with your co-workers … and with decisions reached in less time!
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
You’ve probably noticed over time that “talks shop” takes on a variety of meanings on this blog. I might talk about EMC, corporate life in general, high tech trends, or management. I occasionally mention software development, but it’s not a big focus here, even though that’s what my team does. Finally, I almost never talk about the products my team works on.
There might be some changes coming on some of those lines.
Today I officially enter a new role at EMC. I still work for the same team, doing Storage Resource Management for Ionix. But I’m stepping “sideways” into a Technical Lead role. The context of my day to day work will not change, but my focus is shifting more to the technical side, putting management of people to the side for now.
My journey from technical contributor to manager was a strange one, and my journey back to the other side of the fence was just as unusual. I won’t go into too many details but I will say this was something I’ve been debating for many long months, and when circumstances aligned and a clear need arose, I spoke with my management chain and we decided together the time was right to explore this path.
I am not walking away from management with any kind of finality. Who can say what will be happening in 3 years, never mind 30? But for now, my focus is going to shift, and you can expect I will be talking about some new topics here.
My focus on thriving in the 21st century workplace will not change, though, unless I find some topics which consistently move me as much as that topic does. But I’m sure the technical side of my life will bleed into here a bit. We’ll see how it goes. I hope you stick around and explore it with me.
Oh, and on a side note, if you’re a current ControlCenter customer and want to be sure your voice is heard in the next generation of EMC’s Storage Resource Management, make sure you’re part of the ControlCenter Online Community. I’d love to make advocating for your wishes part of my job description, and having your voices heard loud and clear makes that job much easier….
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
On my drive into work on Monday, my mind was filled not with thoughts of Storage Resource Management but rather Social Search. Google recently made some inroads into this area, but I feel like we’re on the cusp of something revolutionary and nobody is seizing the opportunity to change the game.
Everything I am about to describe is achievable with today’s technology. And yet it sounds like science fiction. Here’s the world I want to live in.
Somewhere, an agent acting on my behalf understands my networks. My networks overlap, are complex, and come from distinct sources, but I believe this is a solvable problem. Ideally this requires my agent to access my RSS subscriptions, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even my email on my behalf – which means I better have ironclad trust in this agent. With this network aggregation built, it’s easy to locate content which is produced, recommended, or subscribed to by my network. The aggregation of all this content should be the first tier for my search results, and should set the context for resolving any ambiguities in my searching.
This though is a specific instance of a more general problem. The importance of a source in recommending content into my search results is not binary. Within that network I defined earlier, you can imagine a ranking of sources based on frequency of contact, number of networks in which the individual appears, and number of times I follow recommendations from that individual. And once you have that, there’s no reason you can’t extend it beyond my direct network. Even if I don’t subscribe to a specific industry blog, if ten of my work contacts do and that blog has a relevant search result, I want to see that search result before some unknown source.
Suddenly my agent is doing a lot more than compiling my network. You could for example implement this with a Google Page Rank which is unique to each user of the system. Suddenly SEO gets a lot more (and less) interesting, and Google (or Facebook) needs a ton more storage.
Once I have this in place, there’s no reason my agent can’t tell me when my network is too small, or needs pruning. It knows people I should be following, blogs I should be reading, and supposed friends who I probably don’t even really know (and who in fact might be poisoning my search results). It can suggest ways to change all these things, and my responses and actions will help shape its behavior.
We started by talking about social search, but suddenly we’re talking about social management. I don’t want to just search using this information, I want to browse and explore. We’re leaving a ton of data on the table. You have to imagine someone out there is just itching to figure out how to help us use it, and in the process learn some incredibly detailed things about us all (someone has to pay the bills, right? May as well be laser-focused ads….).
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
I’ve been thinking a bit more about the topic of my previous post (deadlines forcing decisions and focus), and comparing it to some other moments of high-energy, high-engagement, high-satisfaction productivity over the years. I realized there was a factor I hadn’t really considered before, and that was the capacity of the task to force all participants to remain in the moment.
For example, contrast these two anecdotes:
Ben knows his daughter is home sick from school today, and he’s worried about her. He keeps getting a weird exception coming from apache and he can’t figure out why. He’s got half the team in his cube, and as soon as they’re done he knows he can go home and check on his daughter. But no matter what, nothing works. It takes him until 9 PM, and it ends up being something really stupid and obvious. He’s mad at himself for missing it, and mad at the team for not finding it. He leaves frustrated and angry.
Jill has no plans tonight, which is good because she keeps running into problems with the local maven repository. She’s got half the team in her office trying to figure out why. 5 PM comes and goes, and the team stays on the task. While they’re swapping stories over cold pizza at 9 PM someone spots a stupid configuration problem. They all laugh about it, promise not to tell anyone how simple it was to solve, and go their separate ways.
Two years from now, both these developers will remember those nights. While the end result was exactly the same in both situations, one team will bond closer through the hardship while the other will not. One developer will think of it somewhat fondly, the other as a time when his work kept him from being where he needed to be.
Jill had the freedom to be in the moment, while Ben’s attention was elsewhere. This isn’t Ben’s fault, or a credit to Jill. It’s just unhappy circumstance. How many of us have been in situations like both those? I remember staying late into the evening trying to fix a configuration problem for a ControlCenter demo at EMC World — it was annoying and frustrating but in total the team that stayed to fix it grew closer and remembers it with a chuckle. Why? We were miles from home, had nowhere else to be, and had the freedom to attack the problem fully in the moment.
I’m not suggesting you hire only mid-20s kids with no families who will lose themselves in their work. But it’s important to recognize the reasons why the same circumstances can either build a team up or tear it down. I’m also not suggesting (by far!) that managers manufacture artificial barriers for teams to overcome together. Software development is full of enough pitfalls that the team will stumble into these situations without your help!
So the question becomes: what can a manager, a technical leader, or a team member do to help the team operate in the moment? How can we capitalize on those moments when they arrive? How much does the attitude of the leaders present (and remember: we expect leadership at all levels here … directors and interns share this responsibility!) shape the way the team perceives a difficult moment?
More than I think people realize.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
A pressing deadline is a powerful thing. Without a deadline, ideas can drown each other competing for supremacy in a sea of data. People use and abuse their own value functions to find fault with any possible approach. But faced with a deadline, thinkers break out of analysis paralysis and become doers. Of course, an unrealistic deadline just causes panic and sloppy work as people scramble to meet impossible goals and push themselves deep into technical debt.
I’ve long felt that iterative development (like Agile/Scrum) is worth exploring for just this reason. By forcing teams to march against regularly placed deadlines while empowering them to self-organize in the context of those deadlines, you harness the deadline’s power repeatedly during a project’s life.
I recently had a chat with a senior developer working on a very difficult task, trying to achieve demonstrable results in a tight time frame. I look at his workload and know he’s walking that fine line between “challenging” and “impossible.” How did he describe its impact on his motivation, his engagement? As the most fun he’d had at work in over 5 years. And what was the last one? Another crazy struggle, when a major scalability issue appeared late in a development cycle and teams were forced to come together and refactor major components with very little time to actually design and lots of pressure to actually produce.
Are software developers inherently broken, looking for painful exercises in futility? I don’t think so. I think if you look the tasks that push people to these heights of motivation you’ll find a few things in common:
Well-defined success criteria
Insufficient time to enter analysis paralysis
Developers empowered to pursue their own ideas
Cooperation of close-knit and competent peers
The question I can’t answer is whether people operating on those projects produce higher quality products. It’s clear to me that they enjoy their work more, but is that enough? Perhaps the ruthless attention to continuous integration you see at the heart of Agile/Scrum is a safety valve for that question.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
Today was EMC’s third annual innovation conference, and as one of over 700 employees who submitted an idea I was invited to attend the proceedings at our local regional leg of the global event.
I won’t give a play-by-play of the event, but I will say it was energizing to see so many people so excited about bringing new ideas to EMC. It’s always humbling and inspiring to sit among intensely intelligent people who speak with confidence, poise, and command about complex ideas. We spend so much time specializing in our day jobs — getting really good at doing the jobs assigned to us — that it’s easy to forget the rich backdrop of brainpower this is all built atop.
I had a chance to catch up a bit with some old colleagues, put faces to some names, and connect with some people I hadn’t met before. The conference took place around the world, with one hour shared at all sites through videoconferencing, when the new class of Distinguished Engineers and Fellows was announced along with the awarding of prizes for top innovation ideas. I was sitting next to one of the submitters of the top prize-winning idea, and it was great to see him receiving accolades and congratulations through the rest of the day.
The conference had a few speakers from outside EMC, including Dave Ritter from Innocentive. They provide a framework for crowd-sourcing problem-solving, and Ritter had some fascinating insights into innovative thinking. The notes I scribbled related to boundary objects and problem statements. He echoed a lot of what I feel about diversity and effectiveness, and I look forward to reading more about what he and Innocentive are doing.
We also heard from a handful of executives during the conference, and it was refreshing to hear some of their no-spin commentary on where EMC is, what the company needs from us, and where it’s headed. As something of a cynic, I expect to be suppressing a bit of eye-rolling during executive presentations, but they avoided the temptation to drown us in Kool-Aid and instead gave us some real insight into the business.
The event was a success on multiple levels, and I’m glad I could make time to attend. The real question is how to make sure the spirit of innovation and engagement I saw everyone displaying gets spread throughout the company the remainder of the year.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
Sorry Napster fans, I’m talking about a different kind of P2P here … career development in a peer-driven context.
In nearly every group I’ve joined, some bright developers eventually banded together and decided they were frustrated at feeling out of touch with the industry. The answer has always been some sort of peer-driven career development effort. For example, back in the late 90s, I remember we set up a regular meeting which the entire Navisphere development organization was invited to. Each week (or was it month?) a speaker would present on something new they had learned. Occasionally, a guest speaker from another organization would present on something they were doing. The speaking responsibility rotated among volunteers until we realized it was basically the same 3 people over and over again, and it fizzled out.
More recently, I’ve been involved in two small-scale groups where advanced topics in programming languages, tools, and methodologies were presented by volunteer “experts” to whoever wanted to attend. These, too, started strong and fizzled out. Managers got all excited about this idea and started pushing their people to attend, which made it worse. Nobody wants to spend their spare time researching a new technology only to present it to a silent group of resentful colleagues.
This past month, two colleagues of mine decided to take this idea in a different direction. Presentations and slides and research are for, well, students and researchers. What if they stopped talking and started doing?
The call went out to a few dozen developers and their managers. Who wants in? The only rule? Everybody codes. Leave your title and your comfort zone at the door and come ready to get your hands dirty.
Only five people signed up, including the two organizers. They scrounged for computing resources, deployed open source software, and got a project started up in their spare time (lunchtimes, evenings, and weekends). The goal? Write a proof-of-concept application using some new technology or methodology. Align it vaguely with the group’s (or at least the company’s) objectives. Upon achieving success, either improve the application or abandon it and start a new one. Every so often, show off the results to the rest of the group.
Maybe it’ll fizzle out in 3 weeks. Or maybe they’ll stumble onto something awesome which will turn into the Next Big Thing.
I’m hoping it lands somewhere in the middle, and a group of passionate engineers remind themselves why they got into this field in the first place, have a little fun, and sharpen their saws on their own. The rest is gravy.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
I’ve been tinkering with twitter for almost two years now, on multiple accounts, trying to find the perfect way to integrate it into my daily life. And while my activity level on twitter has never been consistent, one thing has — the growth in the number of people I’m following. I realized early on that there comes a time when you have to decide whether to be lean in who you follow, or whether you have to start counting on tools to help you organize the data flow.
Never one to turn down a chance to play with tools, I’ve taken the latter approach (though in moderation; I still follow less than a thousand people). My latest twitter client is the Mixero beta, and after talking about it with a friend I decided it was time to do a little writeup. See, Mixero is almost great, but it’s the almost that is nagging at me week after week. I’m hoping that when it goes GA, we’ll see the client I know it can be….
The biggest seller for Mixero off the bat was grouping. I follow nearly 200 EMC accounts (group one), and another 150 or more of competitors, customers, and partners (group two). I also follow people who talk about professional topics that interest me: management, leadership, engagement (a third group). I have other smaller groups — a group for close friends, a group for fitness bloggers, a group for gamers, and so on. The groups overlap at times, and that’s fine. Unlike Tweetdeck, Mixero makes creating and maintaining these groups simple (well, as simple as manually dragging/clicking hundreds of people into groups can be).
Just like Tweetdeck, Mixero lets me create searches and persist them as well. So I can have a search on my name, a search on EMC, a search on Ionix, and so on. They call these channels.
What immediately set Mixero apart was the concept of context. You can combine groups and channels into a persistent context, and assign that context to a window. So, for example, I have a “Work” context which contains the three groups I outlined above, plus some channels for searches relating to my day job. This is the context I want to use to view my tweet stream during the working day. I can set up other contexts for specialized needs, and switch between them. At night, when volume is lower, I can switch my context back to “Everything” and just watch the data roll by.
In fact, if you look at Mixero’s screenshots, you can see how they set up UI layouts with multiple contexts at once. This is the ideal that I’m trying to approach — a big section of the screen for my work context, a smaller section for replies and mentions, one for my hobbies, and a small place to just dip my toes into the overall tweet stream.
But like I said, I almost love Mixero. So where does it fall short?
UI polish. Switching resolutions regularly can make handling complex layouts difficult. I’ve had problems where I can’t see UI controls any more, or where popups from Mixero always pop under something else and are impossible to access. The controls for minimize/maximize/restore are nonstandard and behave unpredictably. Setting up complex layouts is very challenging. Switching contexts is harder than it needs to be. Overall I feel like the UI ease-of-use could be improved by an order of magnitude. They solved the hard problems, but some easy stuff is just messy.
Community. I want a forum, or something, so I can know whether the things I dislike are being actively worked. Their blog is updated far too infrequently for my taste.
Performance. Especially when I have a complex layout on the screen, and it’s been running for 8+ hours straight, things get a bit ugly. Hover controls are delayed, right-click menus might not appear right away, drag-and-drop doesn’t work right, and so on. I think this is a memory management issue but I can’t be sure. A restart will fix the problem.
Settings. Your groups, channels, and contexts are saved at Mixero. You can’t back them up locally, or export them for your own use and analysis. I’d love to be able to share my groups for others to use. I’d love to have some reassurance that if Mixero goes belly-up, I’ll have my groups for my own use in some other client.
Nagging issues. Some stuff is silly. A tweet can appear in your context for a half-dozen different reasons, and when it does, you’ll see it a half-dozen times. My primary context contains a couple groups and a few channels. A tweet could in theory be from someone I’ve grouped (one), be a reply/mention (two), and contain a search string I care about (three) meaning that tweet shows up three times in my window. It’s just one of these areas where I think a little polish would go a long way.
I want to keep using Mixero. I’d be much more comfortable doing so if they would be a bit more open with what they were working on, so I could see whether the Mixero we’ll see in mid-2010 is closer or further away from the ideal. In the meantime, I’ll keep my eyes on other clients. You never know when the next game-changer is going to appear….
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
Watson Wyatt surprised nobody this week when they released results of a new study that showed massive drops in employee engagement and morale of late. Well, that’s not entirely true … some of what they said surprised me. Here’s a quote:
Employee engagement levels for all workers at the companies surveyed have dropped 9 percent since last year, and close to 25 percent for top performers.
If one assumes that in general top performers are more engaged than their peers, this stat suggests maybe the engagement levels, well, leveled. There’s one more ugly stat in there:
Forty-one percent of employees indicate that changes have had an adverse impact on quality and customer service, while only 17 percent of employers believe this is the case.
So let’s get this straight. We’ve got massive disconnect between corporate perception and employee perception, and our most critical people are disengaged and uninspired.
What’s a manager to do?
Well, you could do worse than to model your response after what successful companies do during times like these: invest in the things that matter most, take market share, and be ready to emerge from the rough times stronger than your competitors.
Now more than ever it’s important to get the little things right. You may have zero budget, zero time, and nothing but grim news. But you’ve got to find ways to invest in your relationships with your co-workers.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
Last week, I was part of a conversation with some co-workers who spoke about another employee and his prolific blog and said, “isn’t that a sign that he doesn’t have much to do?”
If only the truth were that simple.
Another co-worker asked me when I usually did my blogging. I told him the truth — I usually get Monday’s blog entry written on Sunday night, unless I’m lucky enough to have had a great idea during the previous week in which case Sunday night is for putting the finishing touches on a post which I started earlier. A productive week is one where another topic pops up during the week and I’m able to get some words down “on paper” on a weeknight.
I very rarely work on this blog during the business day; I just don’t have time.
I know the same holds true for another Ionix blogger I’d like to introduce you to this week: Hiren Doshi, who writes Practice Agile, a brand new blog about agile development seen through the lens of someone working at EMC Ionix. I’ve worked with Hiren for a few years now in various capacities and he “gets it.” I’m glad he’s dipping his toe in the blogging pool and I look forward to reading more from him. He and I are working on projects that interact, so if you pay enough attention to what we both talk about you can get a pretty good idea of what working in this little neighborhood of EMC Ionix is probably like.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
(Those of you old enough to remember Cheers, I’m not talking about that Norm.)
I was paging through my reader this evening and came across an article by the always-wise Jeremiah Owyang about handling your boss’s connecting with you on Facebook. You probably know where I stand on this already, especially if you’ve read my post “Five reasons to ‘friend’ your co-workers (or boss!)“. Basically, you are putting yourself at a disadvantage if you have the opportunity to do this, and don’t.
But one thing Owyang talks about that I failed to, is how to handle being the boss and entering this situation. As a manager I’ve been in this situation a couple times, and chatted about it with co-workers over lunch. The key to avoiding difficulty is knowing (and communicating) your social media norms. For reference, here are mine, as relate to mixing work and online networking:
I will never send a Facebook invite to an employee I currently manage. It’s not fair to ask them to make that decision.
I will send Facebook invites to other co-workers (including managers), and always include a disclaimer about how I don’t mind being rejected because not everyone uses these sites the same way.
I accept any Facebook invite from anyone in my professional network, and count on using the filtering mechanisms if I need to.
I will send LinkedIn invites to anyone in my professional network, and accept all of them as well.
I will not write a LinkedIn recommendation for anyone I currently manage, nor for people in my immediate “family” at work.
If you mention your employment at EMC, I will follow you on twitter, unless your update stream is embarrassingly bad and you clearly aren’t expecting anyone from EMC to have noticed your passing mention of your job.
I’m sure I have more, but these are the ones I rely on day-in and day-out. What are yours? If you don’t know, maybe it’s time you figured them out.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
I didn’t know Dick Egan, never had a conversation with him. I knew him by reputation alone, a larger-than-life legend out of the misty past of EMC’s glory days. It’s not often you hear the words “self-made billionaire.” If you work in high tech, especially in Massachusetts (or in storage), your story and his probably intersect somewhere.
I don’t presume to speak for those who knew him. But when I came back from vacation this past weekend and saw the news of his death, it was those people I thought of, the people who helped build EMC into the place it is today, who bridged the gap between the EMC before 2001 and the EMC of 2009, who were there to see Egan’s vision and adapted it into a vision for the next century. I thought of Polly Pearson’s post about the rise of EMC’s stock during the 90s, and about Egan’s response to the Working Mother’s Experience book. I thought of the many long-tenured employees who would have memories of the early days, and wondered what they would say. I expect the coming week will bring out a lot of personal stories from those people and others.
My heart goes out to all of Egan’s Many Children, and to the large and literal family he also leaves behind.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
The following is inspired by a number of true stories, though it is fiction:
Susan, manager of a development team, receives an email (sent to several dozen people) that the sanity test cycle is being held up because of a problem … a problem she thought had been fixed. She sends a hurried “reply to all” saying as such, asking whether the fix ever made it in. Igor knows his teammate Rosalina was ironing out some last-minute issues with the fix late last night, but doesn’t know what happened. Igor sends a reply-to-all saying “Rosalina was supposed to check in that fix,” prompting Susan to ask, in front of the same 50 people, whether the fix ever made it in, in some rather unhappy language. Rosalina replies a few moments later that the fix was held up, but that a manual workaround has been applied and testing can continue.
On the surface this looks mundane, but if you look a bit deeper it exposes some behaviors which can have a lasting negative effect on the team. It’s bad enough when your teammate throws you under a bus to get ahead … but Igor has thrown Rosalina under a bus and gained nothing out of it. This is a blame-avoidance culture gone too far. Igor is so scared of getting in trouble that his first reaction isn’t to fix the problem, it’s to dodge the incoming blame missiles.
I can’t blame Igor for what he’s done. He’s been trained, either by Susan or by other managers, to do this. But imagine everything else about the story is the same, except Igor takes the time to walk over to Rosalina’s desk, they converse for a moment, and then Rosalina responds to the email, “I was working with Igor on that problem late last night. I applied a workaround while we work out some last-minute details.”
The situation is no different, and nobody is being deceived or misled or any problems buried. It’s just a matter of changing how things get communicated.
Here’s another example.
Roger, Director of Software Engineering, sends an email to his entire management staff asking whether a certain scenario was considered when the product requirements were estimated. Bill, a Senior Manager, replies-to-all, “Li, on my staff ,was supposed to consider that. Did you, Li?”
Ouch! There’s another bus-throwing incident, this time Bill tossing Li under one for no reason. In fact, Bill made himself look worse, like someone who can’t trust his own staff. Imagine Bill instead privately contacted Li and asked about the situation, and then summarized the answer. Here are two possibilities:
“Li, on my staff, started to look at that but got pulled aside for some higher priority work. I can share the details with you if you want, Roger. If we need to go back and invest more into this, let me know and I’ll work with my team on it.”
“Li, on my staff, took a look at this and we’re all set. Feel free to swing by and we can discuss the details.”
Frankly, the reply-to-all blame dodge and/or bus-toss is one of the most distasteful behaviors I encounter from otherwise civilized professionals. We need to drill it into people’s heads that it’s a lose-lose proposal.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
So much has changed about the workplace, so many of our social interactions take place in new ways. Clearly our old communication skills are going to be less important, and we’ve got to learn new ones, right? What’s the most important communication skill you can develop these days?
What if I told you it’s the same one it was a hundred years ago?
Hearing (or reading) comes naturally, but listening requires active investment. Active listening, empathic listening, listening with intent … these do not come naturally.
Recently a colleague and friend of mine, Gina, wrote about her experiences at a conference. She shared a fascinating story about how a group of women self-organized at the conference and had a discussion about the sociological factors which impacted them in the workplace and beyond, and how that connected to so few women deciding to present at the conference (and others like it).
What’s interesting to me is what people heard when they read her post. I had a chat with Gina about the subject, and did my best to really listen and understand what she was trying to say. I then tried my best to listen to what other people were saying about the subject … and there have been no shortage of bloggers offering their opinions. I won’t link them all here, but so much discussion went on that further follow-up posts were needed, and it all led to even more confusion about what was originally being said.
I found something agreeable in every post I read about the subject, but what stood out most to me was that none of them really seemed to be approaching the subject from the same starting point. If I put myself in each of the writers’ shoes, I could understand what they were trying to say — people in general aren’t inherently unreasonable.
It’s not a leap in logic to apply that same principle to the original discussion. Each participant in the conversation was hearing something different, because they began the conversation in a different place.
It’s hard enough to empathize and actively listen when you’re directly present in a conversation, witness to all the body language and able to ask clarifying questions. Imagine how hard it is when all you have to go by is a couple paragraphs of a blog post … or worse, 140 characters on a microblogging site?
If you really want to make the most out of the new technologies and norms that make up the 21st-century workplace, you’ve got to push your listening skills beyond the last century’s limitations. The skills are the same, but the fine details of using them? Lots of changes. We spend so much time talking about how to blog, how to update your twitter feed, how to promote yourself … but at the core there’s something so much more important we should be nurturing.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
Last week I stumbled onto an interesting phrase in a personal finance blog I read occasionally.
…knew to negotiate like an Indian — meaning he recognized that he has more control in his relationships with companies.
On first glance, the phrase “ like an ” seems offensive. Try it yourself, plug a few in there, negative or positive. In general it ends up sounding ignorant, maybe even hateful. The fact that the author is Indian leads me to believe this wasn’t his intent, of course, and when you read a follow-up comment on the blog you get a clearer picture of what is going on here:
Spent some time backpacking in India … I realized I was very undergunned when it came to negotiating with the auto-rickshaw drivers. After six months, I could hold my own.
So one possible meaning here is that there are opportunities for confrontational negotiation in the Indian culture that are not in the US culture. I asked the author of the post for clarification but he didn’t respond, so I can only guess. But for someone in a global corporation, interacting with people from different cultures (even in different cultures) every day, this isn’t just an academic question.
I took the opportunity to discuss this with a few co-workers at EMC. It’s easy to compare this to, say, a class offered internally which helps managers understand the cultural norms and how they differ in some of the countries in which we operate. You might hear a story about how employees in the US and employees in India tend to react differently to authority figures, for example. In fact, if you extrapolate out a bit, you can think of similar examples around personality types — creative people do this, while analytic people do that — or gender, or religion, or … you get the point.
So how do you accumulate knowledge about cultural (or other) differences without resorting to stereotyping? Here’s one metric:
If you’re increasing your toolset and adding new things to think about in your interactions, you’re being inclusive of differences.
If you’re creating mental shortcuts to limit what you think about in an interaction, you’re picking up a stereotype.
Joe manages a multinational team and holds regular staff meetings. At the close of each he invites discussion and sometimes the debates get heated. He expects his team members to question his decisions in these meetings to help make sure the best decision is being made.
Joe does some reading and learns that culturally, it is not common to publicly express disapproval with authority figures in China. Up until now, he had assumed everyone was comfortable with his style. What does he do with this information?
Does he use this as a mental shortcut and assume his Chinese staff members are incompatible with his style, and change nothing except how he interacts with those staff members?
Or does he add the fact that some people aren’t comfortable with this type of debate to his leadership toolbox, and try to be inclusive of other types of group decision-making, not just for those individuals (who may or may not even have a problem with it) but for everyone on the team?
Our first instinct is to stereotype. Don’t be ashamed of that. It got us to where we are today — apes who can’t learn not to eat poison berries won’t survive long enough to reproduce. But we’re not apes any more, and while generalizing is an effective risk avoidance technique it carries a high opportunity cost. Apes who assume all berries are poisonous just because one made them sick are really missing out on some delicious and nutritious foods.
Evolve a bit. When you learn about a new behavior, a new cultural norm, a motivating factor … put it in your toolbox. Use it as a reason to make your style more inclusive of everyone. Don’t take the easy way out and start putting all your co-workers in buckets.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
I often joke with my wife that you shouldn’t ask anyone with an engineering background “what’s the worst that could happen?” We get paid fairly well to come up with really scary answers to that question. She’ll often come up with something bad, only to have me top it in terrible ways. “The worst that happens is we go to the party, don’t have fun, and go home.” “No, the worst that happens is we’re in a car accident on our way home, which can’t happen if we don’t leave the house.”
So it was with some interest that I noted a recent study on anticipating the worst. Timothy Pychyl blogged about it at the Psychology Today website, as it relates to his topic of interest, procrastination. Let me sum it up briefly here:
If you anticipate the worst, you dread the event, “paying” in stress prior to it happening
If something good happens, you are no happier because you were pleasantly surprised
If something bad happens, you are only barely less upset because you expected it
In other words, if stress has a cost and happiness and accomplishment is a benefit, anticipating the worst always costs extra, no matter the outcome.
Building realistic expectations is a vital engineering skill. Turning a shadow into a monster and using that fear as an excuse not to take any risks is a different beast, and a dangerous one. It’s easy to fall into the trap, especially in a corporate setting, where risk-averse decision making may be rewarded in the short term. I know I’ve fallen for it before.
There is an interesting side note to this discussion — visualizing the worst possible outcome does sometimes cause behavioral changes to prevent it. Visualizing how poorly it would reflect on your career if your presentation bombs might trick you into preparing more. But the study shows it has little to no impact on how you feel after you give the presentation, whether you bomb or not.
Finding a middle ground, letting the rational visualization of negative results motivate you without letting irrational fear paralyze you, is the real trick here.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
A few years back, I was trying to improve my poker game (as a real geek if I start doing something I have to research it; I can’t just experience it). I read a few books and one of the pieces of advice I received (probably from author Larry Phillips in his book of Zen advice for poker) has stuck with me well into other areas of my life.
Simply put, it’s this: don’t make yourself into a character in a story.
In the game of poker, this basically means that you shouldn’t let yourself see patterns in the randomness of the game which influence you. After something improbable happens a few times, you might begin thinking “That always happens to me,” and next time there’s a chance of that happening, you back off, frightened. Your ace-high flush bested by a full house twice in one night becomes “I never win with flushes,” and next time you get a flush, you fold the winning hand.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look for situations where you misread the game — perhaps you are “always” losing with the second-best hand because you aren’t evaluating the probability of the winning hand being present accurately. But that’s not what Phillips is talking about.
This advice carries over into the professional world as well. How many times have you encountered people who claim “I just don’t get that kind of stuff,” when faced with a new problem? “Oh, I’m no good at writing,” or “I don’t get all this social media stuff,” or even “I’d never make a good manager.” These individuals have written themselves into a story; instead of seeing all their options, they are living life like a character in a book, their reactions predetermined by the plot they’ve built in their head.
Not only are these people missing out on their own potential, they are advertising their closed-mindedness to their colleagues, customers, and managers.
I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t be self-aware. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, knowing where to invest your energy and where to cut your losses: these are vital skills to acquire. But do it knowingly, by choice, and carefully. Don’t project the “oh well it’s not meant to be” attitude of the two-dimensional character in a pulp novel.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
This morning the news hit the wire — EMC and Data Domain are now one company. It’ll take a few days to cross all the ts and dot all the is but the deal is done.
I didn’t have much to say about the acquisition during the “battle” for the company, because I don’t know much about the business side of the products involved. What I find fascinating is the people side of this. When Data General was acquired a decade back, we in the CLARiiON division had mixed emotions. We were frustrated at being acquired by someone we viewed as a competitor, but were excited knowing our products would have a new channel into the market. We figured EMC’s acquisition of us meant we were right about how important the market was we had been targeting for years.
Data Domain isn’t in that same kind of position. I assume their fears revolve around what EMC will mean to their culture, their history of innovation, the things that got them where they are. Their hopes are probably the same, though — entry into new markets, the EMC brand standing behind your product. Good stuff. Hopefully their fears will be somewhat allayed by the announcement that their CEO Frank Slootman will be heading up an entirely new division which more products will eventually join. I would like to think this means EMC not only values how Data Domain got to where they are, we want to see that “special sauce” applied to other products in the future.
I’m looking forward to seeing an influx of new faces and ideas inside our corporation. What’s exciting about EMC these days is that even though Data Domain will be a separate division, the cultural mingling can begin immediately, as soon as employees “meet up” on our internal web sites. People talk all the time about the social web as a force multiplier — this is a textbook case.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
A couple weeks back, I got quite a surprise when I was informed of a reorganization within my division which was moving me, and my team, out from the senior manager we had reported to and under a new one. You read my post last week about Ionix — it’s worth noting that my team had quite a few more questions about this move than they did about the launch of the Ionix brand. This isn’t to say that Ionix is not a big deal, it’s just that people tend to focus on their immediate surroundings.
You shouldn’t think of that as a negative trait. We spend 8 or more hours a day, 5 days a week, surrounded by the same people. Changes to that environment have a much greater impact than even major changes like, say, your company being acquired. When Data General became part of EMC a decade ago, we didn’t ask “How will they strategically make CLARiiON a part of their offering?” We asked “Will we have to move to Hopkinton?” (We didn’t.)
Here’s an experiment: ask your co-workers about their most memorable project. Was it a major game-changer in the market? Was it something that made the company above-average revenue? Probably not. It’s probably something much closer to home. Maybe it was the project where they first learned a new technology or methodology. Or maybe it was the time the QA department found a showstopper at the 11th hour and they stayed until 10 PM to fix it, only to find out the build machine crashed because of a power outage. Maybe it was that executive demo when they had to pause the executable in the debugger to manually toggle a variable to get around a hardware bug. Or maybe it was the time they worked for a year on a product only to have it canceled without explanation.
These extraordinary events can either build up or tear down a team’s energy, respect and camaraderie. Professionalism, pride, recognition, respect for the company: these things will keep people working. But one experience can be more powerful than the rest of those things put together, for good or ill.
As a leader, think about your team. What experiences that they’ve shared define their time with you? How do you create an environment where those experiences bring the team closer together in alignment with your objectives, as opposed to unifying them in apathy (or even resentment)?
Hey. Nobody said this job was easy.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
For a couple months now we here at EMC have been getting teases of a big announcement in July, but it wasn’t until EMC World that I started to hear the pieces come together. A month ago, I found out the whole story. And now that it’s July 8, I can spill the beans. There is no more Resource Management Software Group at EMC.
Well, that’s not entirely true. The group’s here still, but it’s got a spankin’ new name: Ionix.
And what comes with that name (besides business cards and new splashscreens)? I’m glad you asked.
Ionix is a full family of applications that are designed around the Big Idea for EMC’s IT Management – helping people get from the physical world into the virtual, and beyond into the cloud. Perhaps you’ve heard of some of what makes up Ionix? We’re talking about products and technologies used in Smarts, nLayers, Voyence, Infra, ControlCenter, and ConfigureSoft. What you might not have known is that we haven’t been content to just leave these products alone on little islands in the EMC sea. They’re all part of the same strategic solution which addresses the four major pains your IT management might suffer:
What do I have?
Where are my problems?
What’s changing, and am I still in compliance with internal/external rules?
Am I meeting my service levels?
I won’t sit here and paraphrase the whole press release. You can read it here. You can also check up on the EMC IT Management Blog for their take on the story, and see what our twitter folks are saying.
In addition, we’re taking the integration that’s already present between these products and building on it. There are changes afoot within my immediate organization, as we try and arrange our teams to give us the best possible chance to keep ControlCenter successful while building out the future applications that take Ionix integration to the next level.
I’ll be writing about some of these changes as they come up, but if you want a more unfiltered view at the impact this has on our ControlCenter product family, make sure you join our private user community.
In a recent behind-the-firewall blog post, EMC blogger extraordinaire Chuck Hollis said that the Ionix product family was coming around at exactly the right time. I can’t wait to see where we go with it.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
“We fear change.”
Garth, Wayne’s World, 1992.
You can’t announce a font change on Facebook without the townspeople gathering their torches and pitchforks. Everyone loves Facebook, and wants it to remain exactly as it is today. And that’s been the story for years now. Of course, if Facebook listened to those users, it would be a little website for Harvard students and nobody else would use it. Clearly Facebook needs to know when to ignore their users and press bravely on. They’re doing a good job so far, and they’re about to take another step forward.
If you’re into Facebook at all, you’ve probably seen the announcements of some upcoming changes in the visibility of published information from users. Very soon now, Facebook users will have the option of publishing their shared information to the entire world, not just their friends. This is an evolutionary step … photos and notes, for example, have long had the ability to be shared beyond your immediate friends. I have photo albums set up to allow “friends of friends” to view them. I’ve posted notes which I opened up to “my networks” so my co-workers and geographical neighbors could see them. Obviously you can select bits of your profile to be public as well – to clarify who you are when people are searching for you. And now status updates and shared items will join that list.
You’d think Facebook was tearing down the statue of liberty. In my news feed, I saw a comment from one angry user that this was the “final nail in the coffin,” and that he would delete his account if the change went through. He was worried about a career-limiting-move being documented on Facebook and seen by co-workers. Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d be much more concerned about someone else posting a picture of me that I didn’t approve of, as opposed to my own status update being read by the wrong person. Of course, if you’re a regular reader, you know my stance on co-workers and Facebook.
As always, I suggest looking for the opportunity here, not the danger. Facebook hasn’t taken anything from you, instead they are giving you some new tools. Taking advantage of new tools takes time and effort, but there is possible payoff. By showing one facet of your Facebook personality to the world at large, you will be giving people another avenue to learn about you. Instead of making them dig, give them something easily accessible. There you are, commenting on industry trends, hiking the Appalachian Trail, and sharing anecdotes from your latest tech conference. What a great guy; we should hire him!
Nobody is forcing you to open up your entire life to the rest of the world. You can still talk smack to your friends about their fantasy football scores without your potential employer seeing it. It just takes a bit more work. And for those who are canceling their accounts over this, I echo that overused Internet meme: “You’re doing it wrong.”
(And yes, I know, some of the early furor was over a misunderstanding of what the default setting would be.)
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
photo credit: dcJohn
Every once in a while, life gets busy and I completely neglect any attempt at professional education. The past few months have been like that for me, but I recently had a strong recommendation to attend a specific class here at EMC and did. In the process, I remembered why I enjoy them so much.
The trick is that it has nothing to do with the class. The material in the class is important in its own way, but there’s no shortage of information available to anyone who is looking for it. But these other benefits are much harder to come by:
Take the pulse of the company
By now you probably have figured out that corporate culture and employee engagement have become professional hobbies of mine. You want the pulse of the company? Get in a room with 10-20 other people who work for the same company you do but have no idea who you are. You’ll learn a lot.
Change of perspective
You spend most of your work days with the same group of people, and so view your professional life through the same lens almost every day. Leaving all those people behind for a day (or a few days, or a few hours) while still engaged with fellow professionals from the same company will give you a miniature reset button on your perception of your work life.
Learn about your company
I love it when people mention the product or division they work for and I find I’ve never heard of it. What a great chance to learn about the place you work! That old classroom staple, “Tell us your name and what you do” is a chance to find the one or two people in that classroom who can teach you something new about your employer.
Stretch your comfort zone
I always hate it when the educator rearranges us into new groups and forces us to work together on questions. Well, I always hate it at first. By the end of the day I’m thrilled that I got forced to sit next to those random people I would have shied away from given the choice.
Inject new attitude
It’s hard to get honest feedback on career issues in your day to day life. It can be challenging for example to tell your manager that his or her management style clashes with your own style. Having that same conversation with your co-workers can be tricky too. But telling a stranger about a situation works wonders. Telling it to a stranger in the context of a course which deals with a similar issue? Ideal.
I’ve always shied from intentional networking – it seems tacky and contrived. But depending on what you do, you may not have much opportunity to organically grow your network. Networking with fellow learners in a course is a great way to expand your network without it seeming overly engineered.
Take a class this year, even if you don’t want to learn anything. It’ll help.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
photo credit: freezelight
I saw a couple tweets this morning which brought back to the surface something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. I won’t link the user but here is one line:
“I block most new followers”
Their next tweet was about Twitter’s “block” feature having trouble, and they had this long procedure for getting around the problem. They put a lot of work into just blocking a couple people. I felt bad for this person’s wasted energy.
Let’s go over what Twitter is and how it works, to understand what I’m talking about. I apologize for simplifying things, but this is close enough:
Twitter is a microblogging platform. By default, everyone can see what everyone else writes. Twitter exports a global feed of all updates, as well as RSS feeds for each user. Readers can search these with Twitter’s default search (which only goes back a limited number of days) or other search systems.
In addition, Twitter provides a filtered view of that feed based on a subscription (”follow”) method. Wen you “follow” someone, Twitter notifies the microblogger of your interest in the content and puts all their data into your filtered view. That view is the default way to “read” Twitter.
The notification is important: people look at the identity of followers in case their content is interesting enough to reciprocate the follow action. This gives marketers, spammers, and malware distributors a new vector to your eye — by following you, they are getting you to read their message. It’s much more effective than a blind email which will be deleted before the contents are seen.
The number of people who follow you, as well as their identities, is public information. This count speaks roughly to your potential influence. And, since anybody can subscribe to your feed, having someone as a reader should never count against your reputation.
Of course, you can change these behaviors. One way is by making your updates private, in which case Twitter does not include your updates in the global feed, nor does it export an individual RSS feed for you or publish them in searches. The only way someone can read what you write is by asking for permission.
Twitter also has a feature called “Block.“ By blocking a user, you eliminate the publisher/subscriber relationship between your two Twitter accounts. They do not see their updates in their filtered feed, and they do not contribute to your “follower” count. Basically you undo the action of their following you, notifying them that you did this. Your feed remains public, though. Most people who engage in “Blocking” are doing it to the marketers, spammers, and malware distributors mentioned previously.
What does this accomplish?
In terms of privacy, it accomplishes nothing. The person you blocked still has access to your tweets via the global feed, RSS, and search. It is less convenient, of course.
In terms of your reputation, it has cosmetic impact. Nobody sees that this person had ever followed you.
In terms of communication, it sends a message to the follower and to Twitter. To the follower, it’s a one-way message. You suck, go away, I’m blocking my ears now. Twitter gets the information and stores it somewhere, and it’s possible (as they claim here) they will notice an account who is blocked many times and investigate it.
The next question is, is there sufficient rational reason to take this action? I argue no, there is not.
The incremental privacy gain is actually illusory.
The reputation gain is debatable, and if it is present at all its impact decreases as your net reputation increases (if you have 500 followers, nobody can expect you to be responsible for the actions of all of them).
In terms of communication, the message is likely not even received. Why not?
If you’re blocking a spammer or malware distributor, they aren’t monitoring the account. They created it expressly to deliver a message and a URL to their audience, and abandoned it afterward.
If you’re blocking a marketer, they are so busy trying to reach thousands of people that a couple blocked accounts is meaningless to them. In fact, they probably don’t even read their blocked account notifications.
And while you’ve participated in telling Twitter about this person, they likely already know, because it’s easy to detect the activity profile used by these individuals even if nobody blocks them.
So, what does this leave?
The irrational remains. You exercise some control when you press “Block.” Some people spend time arguing with telemarketers, others just hang up on them. I find the two behaviors similar.
Another reason, I spotted almost immediately in asking about this behavior on Twitter. The vast majority of people expressing concern over their follower lists were women. One female Twitter user explained that women in general tend to be more concerned about feeling stalked, and so may take defensive measures.
Lastly, of course, the “it feels good” reaction shouldn’t be discounted just because I find it irrational. We do “wasteful” things all the time because they make us feel better. Who am I to tell you how to live your life? Some people also like the feeling of sending a message to someone they disagree with, even if nobody reads it.
In any case, my advice would be to just try letting it ride for a few weeks. Don’t block anybody. Don’t talk to telemarketers. Don’t “report spam.” Just hang up on them, ignore them, and move on. It’ll free up some precious energy for dealing with problems you can actually solve.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
Have you read my disclaimer? Over on the side of my page? These are not my employer’s opinions, I don’t speak for EMC, EMC doesn’t speak for me, and so on?
That might protect EMC if I were to go off the deep end legally. They might be able to fire me, disavow all knowledge of my actions, and prevent themselves from getting in too much trouble themselves. But if I were to do something legal but just plain stupid, do you think that disclaimer would prevent the EMC brand from being damaged in your eyes? Of course not.
But that’s old news. Of course your employees represent your company in their actions, even when they’re off the clock. It’s just that the rise of the social web increases the scope and permanence of those actions. When your employee has a lapse of judgment, it’s not forgotten about the next day, it’s immortalized online and your competitors, customers, and employees will be seeing it for years.
Of course, it’s not just interaction with the general public that can turn an employee into a PR nightmare. An entry-level employee can poorly handle one customer encounter and suddenly investors know about it because it’s the top story on The Consumerist.
The obvious move in the face of this is to be terrified, lawyer up constantly, and threaten to fire anyone who speaks out of turn. The harder move is to make sure all your employees understand the new rules, make sure they’re as happy and as well-trained as you can afford, and let them run loose.
I imagine we’ll see which move pays off in the long term. You can guess which one I value more.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
A Story about WondersYears ago, when I was running Investor Relations for EMC, a little voice in my head said, "This is fun and all, and gee, a lot of people are making a lot of money thanks to these efforts ... but one day, it would be nice if I could really and truly feel as though I was also working toward making the world a better place."... and now I see our folks in IR, Marketing (including me!), Human Resources, and every where else here, making differences in ways well beyond commerce. Yes, our technology inventions and services keep the world of on-line everything humming every day ... and we're also helping families. We're helping to save a life. Not in a slogan sort of way. Truly. [About the illustration: This artwork is hung on the walls of our Mothers
These rooms are set up to be Oasis' for our nursing mothers, so that
they can continue to keep their focus on their family, while knowing
that the EMC family supports them doing just that.]Enter the story of Nick Glasgow. Exactly 30 days ago, EMC's EVP, Jack Mollen, heard that Nick, a 28 year-old EMC employee needed a bone marrow donor in order to save his life. His doctors told him there was zero chance of a match due to his Asian/Caucasian mix. In minutes, Mark Fredrickson, VP of EMC in Marketing, was engaged and asked to see what we could do to help. Within an hour, our PR and Marketing Communication/Social Media abilities and practitioners worked to help get the word out to see if we could help Nick find a bone marrow donor that could match his needs ... F-A-S-T! (I think most every EMC blogger, micro-blogger and Facebook user put out the word to their network as soon as they got the news.)The full, and still unfolding, story of this journey is documented on a blog, "The Race to Save Nick Glasgow," Mark and Dave Farmer, our head of Corporate PR, set up to help rally more interest and help while keeping everyone informed of the progress.The most recent chapter can be found here, in an email Mark sent to all 42,000 EMCers tonight. (Shared with permission from Mark.)Hope has been Found: Two Matching Donors Located._____________________________________________
From: Fredrickson, Mark Sent: Thursday, June 18, 2009 4:55
PM To: EMC ALL-EmployeesSubject: Nick Glasgow: Great
news on an employee in need
In the weeks since we first shared Nick
Glasgow's desperate situation with the EMC community, thousands of you have
responded with action, support and kindness in ways that have provided
tremendous hope and encouragement to Nick and his Mom, Carole -- both EMC
colleagues in our Content Management & Archiving business based in
This week, Nick and Carole received the
best news they have heard since his ordeal with Leukemia first began -- the hope
of two potential bone marrow donors who appear to be extremely well-matched and
willing. I am forwarding Carole's message about her son's encouraging news, as
so many of you have asked to be kept informed.
Nick still has a challenging road ahead
of him. What is clear is that the heart of EMC people, which quickly spread
beyond our company and into many other communities and businesses through the
speed and efficiency of social networking, really can make a difference in ways
beyond the work we all have in common.
Nick's story has brought unprecedented
attention to the need for more people to register as potential donors, and the
volume of new registrations has skyrocketed. We truly hope that Nick's life is
the first of many to be saved by this compassionate response -- and that anyone
considering joining the registry will do so.
For those who wish to follow Nick's
progress, this blog will continue to be updated: The Race to Save Nick Glasgow
Best, Mark Nick, we're with you.----------------- Talk Back ------------------What are you thinking right now?A big "thank you" for the efforts to find a match goes to EMC customers, partners, employees, bloggers, Tweeters, and most of the entire tech industry for contributing in ways such as: getting tested personally, setting up and funding testing centers,and getting the word out to others via Facebook,Twitter, phone calls, emails, and personal pleas. http://www.pollypearson.comhttp://twitter.com/pollypearson
I got an interesting email last week from Rita Gildea-Bryant, part of the Thought Leadership Marketing group at EMC, about a series of webcasts they are going to be hosting soon. Traditionally, our webcasts consist of EMC telling potential (or current) customers what they should be doing with our products. This series is a bit different. We’re hosting these webcasts, but we’re not doing the talking.
For example, next week’s webcast will be given by Mark O’Gara (VP at Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield) and Daryl Molitor (senior architect at JCPenney). Both have impressive backgrounds in storage and IT. They’re going to talk about their challenges and experiences in designing and implementing data centers. This is meaty stuff - storage, migration, energy efficiency, interoperability, and more. There are sessions in July and August as well, which will look forward into the future, how these challenges will change over time and what technologies and processes will be necessary to solve them.
You can read more (and sign up) here if you’re interested. The first session is called Technology Convergence: Transforming Data Center Infrastructure. Future sessions will cover new technologies and their business impact. These sessions are being sponsored by EMC’s ON magazine.
I thought this was interesting enough to pass along for two reasons. Obviously this is cool real-world application of the big-idea stuff going on at EMC. But my interest lies in our handing control of our webcast over to current customers to talk to other customers about their problems and solutions. We are hosting the conversation, but not necessarily driving it. It’s an important distinction and I like to do what I can to help recognize this kind of forward momentum when I see it.
I hope these webcasts turn out well. I’d love to see us doing more in this space going forward.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
I sat down this morning to write a response to Scott Waterhouse’s post on the subject of why someone would want to be an EMC employee. I had a few paragraphs written before I scrapped it and started over. It’s not that I couldn’t write a nice lengthy post on the subject … it’s that I already have written several.
Why re-invent the wheel? Just earlier this week I wrote about the 2008 Sustainability Report, and what it meant to me as an employee to read it. Prior to that I had written about the way social media adoption at EMC was helping us all wear more hats. And before that I wrote a series of posts on my experiences at EMC World 2009. And that’s just in the last month.
So rather than try to recapture the moment and sloppily sum up what I felt when I was writing those posts, I’ll just say this. Spend a half-hour here, look at my posts with the heading of “EMC” and see what about working here inspires me to write, usually on my own time and my own dime, about working here. I’m not writing about products, I’m writing about life. So what is it that gets me fired up enough about life at EMC to want to put posts together? Read those posts. That’s my EMC, and that’s why I work here and why I want talented passionate people around the world to join me in making this place continuously better.
I can’t offer more than that.
This post is from: Dave Talks Shop
What is the value of being part of EMC? Soon after EMC added several software companies on the West Coast to its family earlier this decade, EMC's recruiting organization was tasked with attracting and hiring over 300 top-notch software developers into a newly formed software division (now known as the Content Management and Archiving Division).DATELINE: March, 2006: The head of recruiting gave me a call asked for my help in shaping the conversation the recruiters had when presenting the EMC opportunity to the talent market.To tackle the best way to convey EMC as a place to work, we decided to interview software developers to get their view. We interviewed developers who recently accepted a position with EMC's software division; who refused a position with EMC's software division; and who have worked at EMC in software development for some time. We asked them questions such as:- What aspects of EMC did you find appealing?- What aspects of EMC did you find unappealing?- How would you describe the ideal situation/job for a software developer?- How would you describe EMC as a place to work to a peer who worked elsewhere?This ended up being one of my favorite projects. I've worked in high-tech nearly my entire career and still, this little research project taught me so much. I won't say that the research was industrial-grade quality or that
every element stands the test of time. But it did serve to validate
some assumptions and cast new light on a true, compelling value of EMC
as a place to work. So what were the findings? Let me jump to the "unappealing" perceptions before I go to the appealing and the ultimate discussion point when seeking to engage people in the value of being part of EMC.The Unappealing attribute perceptions: There was a fear of the unknown. They were concerned about process at such a big company and the work challenge, in particular.The Appealing attribute perceptions: EMC's company strength, inclusive of management, strategy, finances, viability, benefits, resources, market leadership and people.The Ideal situation: Technical challenge and an environment with technical management, freedom and flexibility, honesty, friendly, high-energy teams, technical resources, celebrations & rewards, visibility for work and a variety of challenges from which to learn and grow.Many described EMC in quotes similar to this: "EMC is a place where
multiple, cutting edge projects are taking place -- all fueling growth and a differentiated strategy," and this: "EMC offers the challenge, career advancement, energy and freedom of a start-up."Netting it all out: "The Start-Up within ... a $10B+ Global Leader.""At EMC, you experience the flexibility, freedom, and energy of a start up, but with the resources and opportunities that a global leader brings."In the subsequent years, we explored more deeply what EMC brings to the table as a place to work -- such as the ability to innovate every day -- you can find out more about that at EMC.com/careers and you can listen to folks, many of whom come from companies once acquired by EMC, on EMC's Career site on YouTube. There, you'll also hear words that get reflected across every product group and organization within the company -- like "passion," "energy" and "drive" in a "dynamic" environment. As one person said, no two days here are ever alike!-------------- Talk Back ---------------What's your ideal situation in a place to work? Polly Pearson18 years with EMC"I signed on intending to stay for one year. It has never stopped being interesting or inspiring. My role here has changed as often as I've wanted. For me, that's fun."http://www.pollypearson.comhttp://twitter.com/pollypearson