Saturday, February 27, 2016

Great Managers / Great Leaders / Privacy-Apple vs. FBI

More Apple-FBI talk...

Most users cannot even figure out iTunes.  Apple might be too full of themselves.

Fourth Amendment to the Constitution

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Dead People Have No Privacy Rights
The common law of privacy comprises four distinct kinds of invasions of four different interests: (1) Intrusion upon the plaintiff’s seclusion or solitude or into his private affairs; (2) Public disclosure of embarrassing private facts; (3) Publicity which places the plaintiff in a false light in the public eye; and (4) Appropriation for the defendant’s advantage, of the plaintiff’s name and likeness.

GOP Candidates...#appleFBI
The GOP candidates on this week's CNN debate were asked to comment.  I expected at least one to take the Apple position of protection of individual privacy.  Obviously the debate was more of a bar fight that a debate.  As such it appeared that none of them shared Apple's perspective on privacy.  

My Opinion (of which no one cares)
Previously I've shared my perspective on the Apple/FBI/Terrrorist iPhone issue. Attorneys for Apple and the Obama administration have been discussing this for two months.  Numerous bills have been drawn up that would require technology companies to comply with data requests, just as are phone companies. Apple has characterized the FBI/Justice Department request as asking for something that does not exist and also as requiring  a 'back door' that would compromise (potentially) the privacy of all Apple device owners.

As a former executive with about 1000 iPhones and two or three hundred iPads (I should remember exactly) under my direction my corporate reaction is "well of course we should be able to retrieve and provide that information."  Not being able to do such might make us (the organization) liable in all types litigation.  We worked hard to implement tools that allowed us to remotely erase and install software and recover data, software that we licensed and data that we owned.

Personally my first reaction is "this terrorist killed people, innocent people."  Victims had families, lives and rights.  Terrorists certainly lose some rights when they act in conflict with behavior that compromises our constitutional rights and they certainly lose any privacy rights when they are dead.  At this very base level I believe that the data should be accessible under due process.  Insights on terrorist activities might be more important than my text messages.

As it relates to privacy I am of the opinion that once you start using the internet and a cell phone you've coughed up far more than you may know.  Is that OK? At the moment I'm using my iPhone as a hotspot.  Certainly Verizon knows where I am.  Actually most of my iPhone apps know where I am.  Apple, in it's pursuit of end-user privacy, might want to turn off any ability of applications to use location information.  Bad people could figure out your daily schedule, use the aggregate data to know when you are not at your home, break in  and steal all your PopTarts.

Apple's Tim Cook has argued and communicated to the world that the right thing to do is to not comply with the court order and to furthermore take the next steps of creating the mechanisms of encryption to be impossible to decode.

There are several cases pending.  It's not just about the terrorist phone.  Apple is right and the government is right.  Perhaps the solution to encryption and data privacy is to give the end user the option of the level of encryption and privacy.  Apple could also simply charge more for the more difficult encryption.  If I were a corporate administrator of like devices I'd want to ensure the logging and retrieval options that might be required from an organizational perspective.  If I liked to make money as much as Apple does I'd charge for everything.  Let user's pick the kind of encryption and privacy that they want, from whomever they want.  "There's an app for that!"  Encryption Lite, Standard or Deluxe, $1.99, $3.99 and $4.99 respectively.

Plumbing & Management...

At some point your employees struggle, fail and flounder.  You need a backup plan.  It does not need to be elegant.  Faced with schedules and production it might be good to have a backup that meets at least one of your pending goals.  Have something that is absolute.  Test it.  We did that from an IT perspective.  Restore data from a backup.  Test your hot/warm/cold site.  You should check the air in your spare tire.  Have the backup help desk person demonstrate that they can actually help.

Obviously most shutoffs under sinks are rusted/crusted in place and don't work.  Upgrade to the the quarter turn valves before you need them.


It's been dripping for a while.  It's part of the remodeling project.  I could fix it but a new sink and faucet are sitting nearby in boxes.

Great Leaders...I'll get to this later.

Great Managers
I'm simply going to cut and past from this short online article by Bill Murphy, Jr. from Inc. Magazine.  The guy looks pretty young.  Perhaps there was collaboration but this is a good short list for reference.

1. They share their vision.

2. They develop expertise.
3. They respect people's time.

4. They set priorities.

5. They share information.

6. They make decisions.

7. They offer praise.

8. They demonstrate empathy.

9. They offer thanks.

10. They pull everyone together.

11. They ask smart questions.

12. They have respect for people's lives.

13. They hire thoughtfully.

14. They accept blame.

15. They have a sense of humor.

16. They communicate effectively.

17. They model ethical behavior.

18. They celebrate wins.

19. They strive for excellence.

20. They make more leaders.

I liked this list.  In organizational-speak, it 'resonated.'  This is what I did.  I wish I'd written the list and published it.  Of course along with being a boss you have to be a subordinate.  That's also a list that needs to be written, something along the lines of "how to follow."

New book...self-promotion
The outplacement firm that I was assigned to is Lee Hecht Harrison.  The first consultant and I did not click.  Requesting another was a good move.  We had many discussions regarding our futures.  For some reason it ended up being a mutual look to the future.  My better half always asked how they had helped me.  It's difficult to break out of the mentoring roles.  When you spend your career targeting good employees, leveraging their strong skills and nudging them in the direction they should go...for you and them, it's difficult to stop.

The consultant was writing a book on 'tactful self-promotion' in the workplace.  It's a good idea, sort of like having your elevator speech about who you are, what you are working on and what you're excited about.  My contribution to his book was offering the perspective that it's not all about you, especially if you want remain and develop as a manager.  Have an elevator speech about your department's goals, their customer focus, communication and collaboration initiatives, etc.

We went to his book-signing event.  It's great to see someone accomplish a big goal.  Of course I asked when the second book was coming out.  The author indicated that he was too exhausted to think about that.  I'll send him a motivational note soon.  It's possible that he may read this post, but I'll still send him a note.  My books remain outlines and ideas but I spent thirty years focusing on outlines and ideas.  This switch to actually personal production is a challenge.  I have a first draft of his book.  I'm not really in the social/organizational world right now where I'm trying to self-promote (to others), so I'll just offer encouragement and promotion from me to me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Meat Just Falls Off The Bone

Apple Encryption...
There was a day when our documents were paper.  You locked them up if privacy was an issue.  Really important?  Use two locks.  Not that many people owned a bolt cutter.  Those who did liked to take things they could hock.

Apple has chosen to not comply with the government's request to help crack the phone used by one of the San Bernadino terrorists.  Their argument is that privacy is paramount.  They furthermore claim to not be able to crack their own encryption.  The request has been to release a new IOS version with a 'back door' to be utilized under appropriate circumstances.  Certainly most software vendors have such provisions, probably for their own use.

My background includes a fair amount of time in the IBM mid-range systems world including System 36, System 38, AS400 and iSeries.  One of the stories I heard regarding the System 38 was an instance where an organizations IT staff had died or disappeared and the security officer password(s) was also lost.  IBM had a procedure which involved a system engineer or two, no other staff in visual range and some mumbo jumbo and all was retrieved.  Certainly most software, hardware and services companies have this capability.

In this particular circumstance I have to disagree with Tim Cook's stand.  Privacy is critical.  Terrorism puts privacy, security and lives at risk.  Apple's statement in response to the request expresses general criticism and empathy for victims while declining the opportunity.  Frankly I find it in the tradition of Apple, a certain arrogance, an attitude of being better, long commitments to closed systems and yet admittedly responsible for sea changes in technology, leading first in personal systems and setting standards for mobility, but I believe they have taken an incorrect position.

Life at the small business...
  • We've not see Harriet for several weeks.  Normally she stops for soup and salad on Thursdays after visiting her husband who is in long term care.
  • A distraught woman came in after we closed last week.  She needed coffee.  We chatted. Finally it came out that her uncle, Gilbert, had died and she was on her way to his funeral.  Suffering from Alzheimer's, he'd become abusive and foul-mouthed over the past couple of years.  Before that he'd been a nice guy.  We encouraged her to go the nice-guy Gilbert's funeral.  We seem to have a lot of this sort of thing.  We're open when we're closed.
  • Allison is getting married. We're happy for that. 
  • We get many requests for donations from neighboring churches, non-profits and individuals trying to raise money for whatever.  We're amazed at the number of people come in, announce "I've never been here" and then ask for donations.  Often they're driving a Lexus or Escalade. 
  • It's all good.  It's a tough business.  Out of ever five hundred customers one is a rock in your shoe.  That's hard to overlook.  At a point you have to become hardened or a one-legged person.
Remodeling...process improvement
It's a long story but this project has been in the family for a long time.  When I ran the continuous process improvement project I learned a few things.  The 5s approach helped with organization and looking at the efficiency opportunity is part of the reason I now have so many ViceGrip devices.  They're cheaper now (unfortunately from quality and lost jobs to China) and I leave them where they are most likely to be needed.  I also leave a roll of duct tape at each location that I periodically need it (e.g. the the stupid dryer exchaust).

Leftover paint is probably pointless.  I cannot recall a single instance where I 'touched up' something after the project was complete.  While digging in the walk-in closet I found the paint from an earlier project here...2004.  I'd labelled each container with the date and the rooms where applied.  Of course I have absolutely no recollection of doing that project.  I don't know if that's from paint fumes or aging or too many painting projects.

The Meat Just Falls Off The Bone...
The title came first and then some other task or commitment prevailed.  Returning to Blogger I'd lost the idea.  It had something to do with an earlier allusion to organizational character of innovation turning into an over-stewed chicken when burdened with 'process' and 'committee' and 'budget' or it had something to do with motivational speakers.  The title was better than anything else written here today...but the goal is to write everyday, good or bad.  I'll re-use the title. 


Saturday, February 13, 2016

"The Guy Is A Tool"

organizational tools management tools
Convention is like stewed chicken...
Several years ago a person joined the corporate gig.  He was bright, creative, really outspoken, interested in all aspects on the organization, not just his own discipline.  His New York bravado was right there.

After a bit of time I suggested that he might want to tone down just a bit.  I appreciated all his comments.  Perpetually testing the limits of convention is good for us personally and especially for companies which often become an overdone stewed chicken of intellect.  In polite terms he responded that he would not compromise.  While respecting his opinion and style I thought "he won't last," and he did not.  

Over time I learned more.  He was a great father and husband and a talented jazz musician.  Shortly before his tenure burned out he was recognized by his college as an outstanding contributor to his field.  When he left he stopped by to shake hands and say goodbye.  My typically conservative Norwegian gene keep me in my own personal space often but I stood up and said "a handshake is just not enough" and gave him a big frigging hug.

Prior to that he started to call many of the executives "tools."  It's embarrassing but I just did not know exactly what that meant.  His description was that it implied a placeholder, someone who simply lies dormant in an organization, making no contribution unless man-handled by someone else.  He was correct.  Many of the executives were tools.  I've written about the management activity of dividing employees into two groups, 'eagles' and 'ducks.'  Labeling your dormant employees as tools might also be an effective first step in stimulating productivity, innovation and process improvement.

Too Many Tools?
Following the last remodeling project everything ended up in toolboxes and boxes as the work finished up.  When I was a kid there was a shortage of tools.  I'm not exaggerating when I talk about going to a neighbor to borrow a pliers and another to borrow a hammer.  Over time I've filtered through all the inherited tools an acquired as needed.  At a point I attempted to keep things together in ever-larger toolboxes, chest toolboxes on rollers, five gallon buckets, etc.  My work in corporate process improvement clarified this a big and I started to populate and locate toolboxes at the locations where I did work with the items most needed for that work.

Some of these repositories became somewhat legacy repositories with special inherited tools that evoked memories when I pulled them out.  Others were simply a tool.  This distribution approach worked well.  More than once in the middle of the woods I'd need some wire and a clamping tool and a big hammer and the pickup toolbox would reward me.

The remodeling project was intensive and I kept grabbing more containers.  My distribution of tools turned into an aggregation of tools and I'm re-positioning items now.  Yes, I have too many Visegrip devices because I have even more that pictured.  Of course the trivia question in that is that something like 75% of all Visegrip devices are in static applications.  I have a couple holding low volume copper pipes closed and four substitute as a lock on a remote overhead garage door.    If my better half sees this image she'll simply state "when he can't find something, which is often, he just buys another."   Most of the time I can find what I need; they're simply strategically positioned/located. I don't have too many tools; they are innovation supplies.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Motivational Speakers

One of the blogs I follow posted a delightful review, somewhat cynical, but certainly humorous, of a motivational speaker.  It was difficult to resist smiling.  I'm reminded of motivational speakers of the past.

My favorite motivational speaker was Lou Holtz the former Notre Dame football coach. The company I worked for was a big financial supporter of that college.  Mr. Holtz was brought in to help motivate our executives.  I was not invited.  He had a canned presentation, perhaps including a book, in which he pontificated that you needed to separate your people into two groups, eagles and ducks.  Attendees were required to start naming people, not at the meeting, who belonged on one list or another.  My name ended up on the 'duck' list.  Someone also added the office manager, employee #2 in the company, a close confidant of the owner to the duck list.  This caused heated conversation.  The speakers opinion was that everyone could have their own opinion.  The business owner wanted everyone to agree on his allocation of duck and eagle designees.

Paul Wellstone was a former university professor who became a progressive Minnesota U.S. Senator.  Unfortunately he died in a small plane accident.  His campaign was highlighted by his travels around the state in a green school bus, the creative idea of one of our organizations later speakers/advisors.   Attending several of our planning sessions he was noted (and ridiculed) for his mullet haircut.  Nothing of what he said is remembered.  We did have a squishy football or something that we would throw to someone if we wished them to speak or comment.  Throwing accuracy was never a strength for me.  Attempting to get it to a co-worked I whipped it hard, missed my target and smacked someone unintended in the face.  The consultant was later convicted of fraud and spent five or six years in prison.  Now he works in the basement of a restaurant writing Tweets or something.

Steve Covey's "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" was a major best seller.  I bought a copy missing the back cover for $1.  While it's been ten or more years since I read it I recall not of the habits.  It did motivate me to note on my list of books I should write something like "The Seven Habits of Less-Than-Effective People."  The speaker was not Mr. Covey but a gentleman claiming to be part of Covey's speaking bureau and certified to teach the methods.  He never showed up for the second of a multi-day presentation.  Apparently like all good consultants he simply photocopied all the materials, not paying whatever he was supposed to to Mr. Covey.  Thinking hard I guess we may have covered two of the seven habits in that first session but I don't remember them either.

Daytimer's were the key to organization for many people before we became hooked on computers and smart phones.  I remember there was even a Daytimer store at Rosedale, a large Twin Cities regional mall.  You could buy all sorts of covers, inserts, replacement supplies and calendar pages for this paper based system.  The speaker talked for three hours about the effectiveness of the system.  No time for questions.  We were all expected to get on the Daytimer system.  When the office manger, the duck mentioned earlier, came to me and asked what I needed to order I asked if I could have the leather-bound version.  "No."  Pleading that the leather-bound version would make me feel better served no purpose was met with a final "no."  The duck actually became a bit of a friend although I always referred to her as "dragon lady" behind her back.  The conversation was closed when I commented that I did not think the Daytimer system was not going to work for me.  She indicated that I would need to talk to the President.  This was one of many Gilbert moments.

Beck Weathers (sp?), a physician, failed in his attempt on a Mount Everest summit.  I don't remember if it was high-altitude sickness, lack of conditioning or extreme conditions but he was left high on the mountain when he could no longer continue.  That is standard in high-altitude mountaineering.  Everest is one of those ascents that is a high-priced carnival.  Knowing a bit about Everest and mountaineering in general I was pre-disposed to not listen or care about this guy's story.  He spent the night in the "death zone" without oxygen, assumed dead by everyone.  Somehow in daylight he got to his feet and descended unattended.  He did lose most or all of his fingers, perhaps some toes (likely all ) and his nose.  That's tough for a physician.  He became a motivational speaker.  The cynic in me really kicked in on this one.  Mountaineering is tough and I understand people who want to go and those that don't and I understand what preparation is needed and predictable sources of failure.  I don't want to sound like Donald Trump but I just was not interested.  Motivation, encouragement, challenge and reward is simply much different in the office or cubicle than it is on a 6000 meter hill.  Frankly it's a lot different than motivation or discipline on Lou Holtz's astroturf, too.

Over many years our (their's) organization was a big United Way supported.  Each year the campaign began in the same manner.  A United Way loaned executive would compliment the people and discuss the mechanics and schedule of the campaign.  The featured speaker would be someone who faced life challenges and benefited from an agency funded in whole or in part by United Way.  Finally our own employees, on the "United Way Committee", would explain how we were going to "have some fun while doing some good."  I really cannot comment on all of those.  Two stand out.  One was the President of Target talking about his quest to play all the great golf course of the world.  I don't know what that had to do with giving.  The other was a speaker from PPL.  This organization served the inner-city population, focused on teaching people how to work.  Try to wear decent clothes.  Show up on time.  Work when you are supposed to work.  Be polite.  Show up the next day.  Learn to be a decent human being.

PPL essentially said that they were not a big recipient of United Way funds.  They had some businesses that their clients worked at, learning basic work skills.  These businesses made some money and funded the program.

It seems that the skills to success are pretty simple.  Some people don't have those basic skills and need organizations like PPL.   Creating a culture of success certainly involves motivation and continual inward and outward observation and process improvement and correction.  I'd just skip the ducks and eagles and anyone publishing books that no one will remember.  Personally I like organizations that have small celebrations on Friday afternoon and impromptu as appropriate.  Have Joan Jett come and play a set.

This is simply my opinion, but I'm generally self-motivated.

Monday, February 1, 2016

"Catching Up" is this of value

Catching Up...
Today was scheduled for a short meeting with a former co-worker, a peer, someone perhaps better suited for the corporate world.  My strengths included knowing the nooks, crannies and peculiarities of a complex organization and jamming technology into the appropriate crevices.  Japan has mass transit workers who push people into overcrowded 'no more room' trains.  Often that image came to mind as I listened to excuses.

Working together was a good time.  We enjoyed each others strengths.  We both appreciated a good laugh.  We each appreciated a good taco.  The first day he appeared in 2001 I thought that working together would be a good thing.  It was.  We parted ways seven or eight years later.  "Catching up" was to be the topic.  This afternoon we had to re-schedule.  During our conversation I mentioned a single comment about our working time together.  Catching up seems to feel like looking back.  That's something I don't care to do.

The old adage is that those unfamiliar with their history (or the history of anything) run the risk and have the tendency to repeat it.  Most assuredly I am not going to re-live my past.  A re-scheduled time was set.  My closing comment was that our meeting would included only discussion of each of our lives and careers moving ahead.  In corporate "favorite word-speak" that resonated.''

Catching up is probably a bad thing.

The second remodeling project is one of a few things that precluded commentary.  The past week I've been making room to work.  There's not much left in the condo and the strategic decision has been made to recycle the extra twenty large boxes instead of moving them from place to place as reconstruction begins.  Good boxes were such a rarity in the far past that I still want to pile them up, dig out my Boy Scout knife (with spoon and fork) and build a fort, a pre-puberty man cave.

This is a pretty simple project.  Six rooms and enough space to keep four empty at any give time.  First things first so I'm going after the kitchen.  (In the technology world I've always wanted more 'clipboard' functionality, more spaces to put things, sometime permanently,  opportunity to save and reference clipboard history.  For the most part I use my Chromebook, web applications like Google apps.  There are security issues with web pages and clipboards).  Of course four are not empty right now...but two will be tomorrow.  Onward.

Small Business...
The small business is very busy.  Our customer base continues to grow.  It's a lot of work.  During my corporate tenure there were many rules and guidelines.  There are three of us.  Most of the time we get along and get the job done.  Everything we do is unwritten.  We don't want more than one location and we probably don't want any employees.  Those would require rules and guidelines.  Policies destroy innovaiton.

You find yourself at times where you don't want to be.  The location, the surroundings don't predict good outcomes.  You have to work with it.  "Why do you think you have a sinus infection?"  "I don't think I do.  I said I did so I could get an appointment" (for the other thing).  It worked out.  You just have to plug away.