Great Expectations

Great Expectations

In the absence of good information, your customers will create their own narratives, where you may not be the hero.

300 Words, 2 Minutes

Great Expectations

A lesson I’ve learned through long – and often difficult – experience: great project management is actually great expectation management.

Over-promising and under-delivering are the ingredients for disatisfaction.

Similarly, not being transparent about the true state of work is also common among failed projects.

Setting expectations appropriately, and meeting those expectations once set, may not make every stakeholder 100% happy. But they will at least be informed, and rarely surprised.

Look – everyone knows good fences make good neighbors. Clearly spelled out project scopes are the virtual equivalents of good fences. And as I said in yesterday’s ‘cast, a solid look of success let’s everyone know what the successful conclusion of their project is, right from the start.

So:

  • Clearly articulate what will be done on a project, by whom, and by what date,
  • Clearly specify what the successful completion of the project will look like, and
  • Set – and maintain – the appropriate…

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3d printing and education: a workshop report

3d printing and education: a workshop report

Bryan Alexander

NERCOMP 2014Yesterday I and two others hosted a NERCOMP workshop on 3d printing for higher education.  The large audience participated very actively, creating fun conversations and a lot of information-sharing about an emergent field.  In this post I’ll sum up the day, based on our materials, my notes,  and Twitter discussions.  It’s a bit long, given the sheer amount of information covered.  It’s also a snapshot of where 3d printing stands in mid-2015.

We began the day with introductions, discovering a wide variety of academic institutions, from community colleges to research universities, high schools and liberal arts colleges. When it came to individual roles and interests, we learned that many people worked in campus IT-related fields: academic computing, desktop or lab support, A/V services. There were also some with library connections, several faculty, and at least one administrator. Every campus represented was interested in 3d printing (obviously), but had actually…

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The Look of Success

The Look of Success

Lacking a look of success does virtually guarantee one thing: the certainty of failure.

300 Words, 2 Minutes

Look of Success

You might be surprised at the number of projects that get greenlit, without a well-defined scope of work, or anything close to a definition of what a successful completion will look like.

Or, if you’ve lived through one of these nightmares, perhaps this is no surprise at all.

Any sane project manager will insist on a clear scope of work, before signing off on spending time, resources, and capital on a project. A clear and well defined look of success isn’t just nice – it’s required, before doing anything else.

The entire value proposition of a given project is totally dependent upon its look of success; because, it should be the most desired outcome of a project, by which its ultimate success – or failure – can clearly be judged.

For, if you can’t quantitatively – and qualitatively – define when a project is successfully completed, you’ve designed a metaphorical span, that’s firmly anchored at its beginning, but untethered at its destination: effectively, it’s a bridge to…

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Moving On – Redux

Moving On – Redux

I Have a Job

Monday, June 8, I start a new job, and a new chapter in the lives of my family.

I am the new Director of IT at Yeshivah of Flatbush, in Brooklyn, NY.

If I were to choose a “next step” that is as different from where I am today, as could be imagined, I would be hard pressed to do so.

Moving from the South to the North. Moving from a town of 60,000 to a city of 8.4 million (about 4 times the size of the entire state of Arkansas, my current domicile). From the Bible Belt, to the Big Apple.

Transportation. Museums. Dining. Sports. Entertainment. Culture. In many respects, it will be the equivalent to living on an entirely different planet.

Leaving Conway will, however, be extremely bittersweet. The friends and colleagues we leave behind will be missed terribly. I can say without hint of reservation that my time at Hendrix College was – professionally – my most productive. A person could have done much worse. And I’m grateful for the opportunities we had here.

We’re looking forward to our new life, in a new city, with new friends, new colleagues, and many, many, new experiences to come.

The next two weeks will be spent shaking a lot of hands, learning new names and faces, and coordinating a move halfway across the country. Some goodbyes. Some tears. And of course, looking for a great neighborhood, and a new home.

Not farewell. But so long.

Transitions

Transitions

Things are things. They can always be replaced.

300 Words, 2 Minutes

Transitions

If there’s any single event, that has shaped my life, it was the fire that destroyed my childhood home.

Happily, there was no loss of human life – though, we did lose a much beloved family pet.

We were left quite literally with only the clothes on our backs.

Now, at the time, I was a sophomore at Western Kentucky University, and away at school when the fire broke out. Since the fire occurred in the morning, the only one home at the time was my mother, and she was able to safely escape; terribly shaken, but physically unhurt.

My dad called me later that evening to give me the news. I cried, for my pet. And I went home the next day.

Hearing about it over the phone was terrible. Seeing it in person was devastating.

Our house was a complete loss. The fire started in the laundry room, adjacent to my bedroom, and so everything that I had owned, made, or cherished – from earliest…

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Link

Being a Caregiver with an Academic Career

Great post from former colleague (and friend) Tim Lepczyk over at ProfHacker: Being a Caregiver with an Academic Career.

Cost versus Value

Cost versus Value

Image credit: BMC (http://www.bmc.com/it-services/it-transformation-value-realization-management.html)
Image credit: BMC (http://www.bmc.com/it-services/it-transformation-value-realization-management.html)

I love being a programmer. There’s just something about taking an idea, and pulling together a bunch of formless elements into something cogent, useful, and – hopefully – beautiful. It’s the same process of creation that attracts me to writing – though I am a far less talented writer than I am a coder.

But even as much as I love creating software, and working with people on their ideas for applications and products, there is a side to the developer life that I find tedious, and entirely off-putting: having to continually explain cost versus value; usually, winding up on the losing side of the conversation, if only because I’ve thrown up my hands in exasperation, or maybe have just rolled my eyes as far back into my head as they would go.

When we think that paying more than $0.99 for an application because it is too expensive, something is wrong. When we want an enterprise-grade, responsive website, with all the bells and whistles – for $500something is wrong.

As consumers, we’ve been conditioned to conflate cost with value. I blame the Internet, and the tsunami that is the consumerization of technology. Free – and Freemium – applications and services have lulled into a false sense of frictionless commerce, believing that we now live in a time of economic magic, and scale has made everything cost nothing. In fact, all scale has really done is to destroy our conception of value that we should be recognizing, in exchange for making us the actual product being sold. Amazon, Facebook, and Google: I’m looking at you.

It’s not just development that has had cost versus value turned on its head: cab rides, shopping, education, and most notably music, have been and are disrupted to the point of unrecognizability.

It’s incumbent upon us, as consumers, citizens, and as people – to recognize that the creative process has an intrinsic value; that education has an intrinsic value; that our passions have an intrinsic value – that goes beyond a race to the bottom, where the only metric that is important is a price tag.

Where we know the cost of everything.

But the value of nothing.