Tuesday, May 19, 2009

That’s the Way It’s Always Been Done

Start by trying to open a banana from the stem end. Place banana aside at podium

I guess lunch should probably wait until after I speak, shouldn't it? But the banana does remind me of an experiment that was done with monkeys.

5 Monkeys were placed in a cage. A banana was dangled from the top of the cage and a set of stairs was placed underneath it. As soon as a monkey went to get the banana the other monkeys were all sprayed with cold water. This was done every time a monkey went for a banana, all of the others were sprayed with cold water. It didn't take long for the monkey's to physically restrain any monkey that went for the banana.

Then one of the original monkeys was removed and a new one placed in the cage. The new one, seeing the banana, went after it and was immediately attacked and restrained by the others.

Again, one of the original monkeys was removed and replaced with a new monkey. When it went for the banana all of the monkeys, including the other new one, attacked and restrained the monkey.

This was repeated until all of the original monkeys had been replaced. So now you have 5 monkeys, none of which have ever suffered being sprayed with cold water, all afraid to go get the banana because they know they would be attacked and stopped by the others. Why? Well, because that's the way it's always been done.

Mr. Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters and guests.

We are in a time of constant change. If you are not constantly looking at and modifying and changing your processes and moving them forward, you are falling behind.

General Shinseki , former US Army Chief of Staff said, "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less."

How many of you have heard these phrases:

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Let's stick with what works.

Let's not reinvent the wheel.

It's change for the sake of change.

And, of course,

That's the way it's always been done.

These phrases can kill your organization. Technology is changing. New and better methods are discovered every day. If you are still using the same process you were using 3 years ago, I'm sorry, but it's broke.

If we never invented the wheel our cars would still be rolling around on round rocks.

Am I saying we need to change things for the sake of changing things? You're damn right I am!!

But don't throw everything out. It was the right thing at one point. Look at what works, learn from it, improve other things and evolve your process and do it continually. If you don't, your competitor will. And eventually, you'll become irrelevant.

"That's the way it's always been done."

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That is an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that is the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads. Why did the English build them like that?

Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre railroad tramways, and that is the gauge they used. Why did "they" use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used the same wheel spacing.

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts. So who built those old rutted roads? Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (and England) for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads? Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they all had the same wheel spacing. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot.

Specifications and bureaucracies live forever. So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horses butt came up with it, you may be exactly right. This is because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends of two war-horses.

Now, the twist to the story...

There is an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. "Thiokol" makes the SRBs at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, a major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by a horse's ass.

Just because you learned one way to do something does not mean it's the best way or the only way. If you let go of all of those preconceived notions and keep your eyes open for a better way to do something, you might just find something that works.

Close with how to open a banana from the other end.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lack of End User Training is a Large and Growing Threat to IT Security, CompTIA Study Finds

Too many times have I seen this experience. You can't roll out new tools or new technologies and not show people how to use them, or, how NOT to use them.

Lack of End User Training is a Large and Growing Threat to IT Security, CompTIA Study Finds

People in many manufacturing jobs have to be through training and checked-off on a piece of equipment before using it. Safety comes first. Well, the security of your info is pretty important too, but no one makes sure the users are checked off on that equipment.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Know Your Stuff!

You have to know what you're talking about. Remember, Power Point is a visual aid. Look at your slides and ask yourself, is the slide for me, or is it for my audience? If it's for you, get rid of it.

10 - 20 – 30 Rule. I like it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Herb Kelleher Quotes - Famous-Entrepreneurs - Herb Kelleher

Herb Kelleher Quotes - Famous-Entrepreneurs - Herb Kelleher: "We have a People Dept. That’s what it deals with, so don’t call it Human Resources – that sounds like something from a Stalin five-year plan. You know, how much coal you can mine. We say everybody is a leader, no matter what your job is. We want you to focus on customer service - and not just to the outside world - customer service to the inside world. If [employees] pollute our other people internally and they in turn savage the people who are doing the work outside, the whole company has just rotted."

How many other HR departments out there act this way? A "People Dept." Because it's not about resources. Those are the things that Operations and Engineerning and IT go out and buy. People don't depreciate. Not if they're treated right anyway. Train them, encourage them, give them the ability to grow and enhance themselves, and they will alway appreciate. They will just get better over time.

It's all about service today. What kind of service do you provide?

Speech I’m Delivering Tomorrow

Do Something

Monday, May 04, 2009

7:40 PM

Thomas Edison tried and failed to create a lightbulb some 10,000 times before he got it right. Do you know what he said about that failure? He said, "I didn't fail, I simply found 10,000 ways that don't work." And it's a good thing he kept trying or else you would all be having a much harder time reading at night.

Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and guests…

He kept trying. Because he kept trying, he kept learning. And eventually, he got it right. Imagine if he was working for some Company XYZ today. And time after time he kept coming back saying that the way he just tried didn't work. How long would have taken before his boss completely scrapped that project if not just flat out fired poor Tom?

There are 2 main factors at work here. One, you have to DO Something. At some point you have to take all of the meetings, and all the research, and all the different decisions that have been made and actually try some stuff and see what happens.

I'm not saying you have to go run out and try stuff without thinking. There's definitely a place for planning and strategizing. But you can only research and plan for so long. Eventually you have to just try something and see what happens.

Enlightened trial-and-error outperforms the planning of flawless intellects. The faster you try and fail the faster you learn. The bigger you try and fail the bigger your learning.

At my company right now we're working on completely moving a bunch of our applications from one development platform to another. A daunting task, to say the least. Fortunately, there are several tools on the market that can help us with this migration task. We have one guy who's been running lead on looking into these different tools. The other day, he sent out his recommendation on which tool we should use. Now, there's another guy in our group is fairly familiar with some of the different companies and their tools and he was wondering what led to this decision. So, he decided to ask. That's when I over heard this comment; "Have you actually tried any of these tools out yet?" Each and everyone of them offers a free trial. But a decision was being made on research and speculation. At some point you have to TRY something.

Everyone always wonders about decisions. Did we make the right one? Could we have made better one if we had more information?

A decision doesn't change anything until you implement it!!!!!

Doing= Making Mistakes = Learning.

That leads us to the second factor in our equation. Are you allowed to learn? Are you allowed to screw-up?

Everyone talks about wanting to have a learning organization. But no one wants anyone to actually learn anything. Because that means you have to tolerate failures and inefficiencies.

Organizations focus on accountability. They want to know who does what and if something doesn't work who's at fault.

American Airlines has a system of accountability right down to the individual. If a plane is late they want to know whose fault it was. So, what do AA Employees do? They look at who they can blame. This is the same cover-your-ass culture that exists in far too many organizations.

Southwest Airlines, by contrast, doesn't worry about blame, they worry about getting the plane in the air and making sure it doesn't happen next time.

Southwest's strategic plan: It's called doing things.

Doing= Making Mistakes = Learning.

Steve Mariucci, former NFL head coach said he doesn't wear a watch because he always knows it's now. And now is when you should do it.

Richard Marcinko, the Rogue Warrior, founder of the US's first counter-terrorism unit, SEAL Team 6, sums it up nicely, "Don't be afraid to make mistakes, the path to glory is littered with [screw]-ups." You can't screw up if you don't DO something. Think about that! Go talk about that. I've got stuff to do.