Monthly Archives: January 2007

PHLX leadership

The Philadelphia Stock Exchange appears to be in good hands under the leadership of CEO Meyer (Sandy) Frucher. I say this because of reading CIO Magazine’s interview with Mr. Frucher.

When asked what his biggest IT-related lessons learned, Mr. Frucher responded:

The biggest lesson is never to underfund it because it’s much harder to catch up. Number two is do not rely on anything you build to be a long-term solution, because the world will change and there are forces that will make you change your strategies and your technologies to comply on a moment’s notice. The third lesson is what makes the other two lessons so important: The world is changing at speeds much greater than anybody could ever have anticipated, and therefore, you can never rest on your laurels. The expression that people frequently use is, If only I could get there, but “there” just keeps moving, so you need to be prepared.

(Emphasis is mine.)

I also agree with Mr. Frucher’s perspective on failure–as an often necessary prerequisite to success in business (and, I would argue, in life).

From strategy+business

  • From “Corporate Culture in Internet Time” (Q1 2000 issue of strategy+business): “Cultures aren’t designed. They simmer; they fester; they brew continually, evolving their particular temperament as people learn what kind of behavior works or doesn’t work in the particular company. The most critical factor in building a culture is the behavior of corporate leaders, who set examples for everyone else (by what they do, not what they say).” -Art Kleiner
  • They All Laughed at Christopher Columbus” (Q4 2000 issue of strategy+business): “Innovation excites cynicism; obviously, some innovations deserve it. Yet the rewards for invention, allied to persistence (the formula for innovation), may be substantial.” -Harold Evans

Clear leadership

As part of my recent content pile herding I was reminded of “The Clear Leader” from the March 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine. Two quotes by Marcus Buckingham (with Bill Breen) come to mind:

  • “Effective leaders don’t have to be passionate or charming or brilliant. What they must be is clear–clarity is the essence of great leadership.”
  • “Clarity is the antidote to anxiety, and therefore clarity is the preoccupation of the effective leader. If you do nothing else as a leader, be clear.”

(Emphasis is mine.)

Still the content pile herder…

Clearly the following images reveal that I have yet to fundamentally change my behavior when it comes to organizing and retaining content:

 Pile phase 0

Pile phase 1

Pile phase 2

This begs the question, “Why?” Why take the time to keep columns, paragraphs, articles, magazines, etc. in physical form?

The truth is that I prefer softcopy to hardcopy, if for no other reason than it’s much easier to find what I’m looking for…usually. I also prefer organization over clutter; electronic documents take up far less of my physical office desktop, too! :-)

However, I’m also a visual person who thrives on structure. This used to be true of my life in general and is less so, thanks to being married, having kids, and being older (if not wiser). It certainly still applies to knowledge, information, data, content, etc. While you may see a pile of unrelated pages, I see a stack of “thought bookmarks” and “work-in-progress favorites.” 

This bias toward structure can be both strength and weakness. As a source of strength, I’m often called upon to unearth an important decision or discussion from the past that has new found relevance. The opposite side of the same coin rears its ugly head whenever external events render the structure non-optimal or even inaccessible given this new context at hand.

The more detailed the folder hierarchy in question, the more tedious its restructuring becomes–and I’m fairly detailed when it comes to use of my file systems (e.g. I avoid flat lists of documents such as ‘My Documents’ in Windows). Change context enough, and “being structured” becomes more a liability as I have to engage in the tedious exercise of reorganizing folder hierarchies.

Obviously, I have other choices. For example, I could simplify my file system to become (just) date based (e.g. 2007, 2006, …). Above this rather flat hierarchy I could more regularly employ desktop search to realize transcient views above a particular set of content.

So, I return back to the question of “Why?” and wonder what exactly causes me to rely on manual work and essentially distrust more automated techniques.

Perhaps my behavior is predicated on past performance of desktop search. Perhaps I believe that I can drill into a folder hierarchy of my creation and find the document of interest faster than I can launch a desktop search for the same piece of content. Perhaps it’s more a matter of if it’s not broke (most of the time), don’t fix it; however, I sense that my content interests and therefore my content itself is becoming more dynamic like the rest of my life and certainly my work.

I see that Windows Vista promotes the notion of tags on folders and documents now. Perhaps a combination of tags, fewer folders and more frequent searches will become my new approach to content organization and retrieval. Sounds like I need to go on a “diet” here to see what results…

How do you organize your local content? How to you find what you need?

Update 1/24/2007 (via Scott Abel): Looks like I can make my virtual world just as cluttered now with BumpTop. :-)

Annual blog review

While I’ve never been a prolific blogger, I managed to find time to post at least once every month last year. However, total posts this year (64) were down from 2005 (74). I believe this was due to two primary factors: having a family with two kids now and having a high, sustained workload as a software architect.

I started last year off intending to write more from my gut (i.e. what I’m passionate about). I faired decently but not spectacularly in this regard.

Easily the most significant post I made in 2006 was one of my shortest: Beautiful evidence. :-)

Other posting highlights include the following (in chronological order–most recent is last):

Since becoming SOA architect for the Content Management & Archiving business unit within EMC, I’ve been focused on SOA, web services and ECM service standardization. Since I realized this role on 1/1, 2006 has been about services, services, services; so the third to the last post above was made both seriously and as an attempt at humor.

The last two posts above hold perhaps the most promise entering 2007. Ruby is a language on the rise, and I’m interested in seeing how dynamic languages in general and Ruby in particular can well-serve content management needs (among other uses).

Omea is a unique resource aggregator that includes support for feeds, newsgroups, email, bookmarks and files, and is also accessible. It also happens to be my feed reader of choice. Given the business I’m in, I’m anxious to understand Omea at the source level to see how it can become integrated into content management solutions.

Looking back on 2006, I am reminded that the best laid plans can dissolve with little notice. WinFS, for example, was going strong until Microsoft decided (wisely) to remove it from what will publicly launch soon as Windows Vista. I’m also reminded that opportunity can knock without expectation (e.g. becoming a Microsoft MVP as a Solutions Architect).

Looking ahead to 2007… Happy New Year!