Monday, February 19, 2007

Race for 2008 Presidency: Spanish Language, does anyone Care?

This is the start of my series of posts on the US Presidential Run for 2008 . For starters I stumbled on the web site on each of the current front runners ( yes, I did my own triage on that aspect). Hillary Clinton , Obama, John McCain and Rudolph W. Giuliani . Yes every one of these web sites must be backed and implemented by some savvy web designers and information architects but the one thing that seemed missing at the first glance was the lack of support for Spanish language. By ignoring the second most common language are these candidates doing the right thing? According to the 2000 United States Census, Spanish is spoken most frequently at home by about 28.1 million people aged 5 or over. Of these, 14.3 million reported that they also spoke English "very well". United States is home to more than 40 million Hispanics; the fifth largest Spanish-speaking community in the world, after Mexico, Colombia, Spain and Argentina. Yes, the experts would say that the Internet users of this Spanish community would not be challenged by English version of these sites but as the presidential candidate they need to make a more personal connection with their base and having a Spanish based language sites would be a good start in my humble opinion. What do you think?

PS. I am not a Spanish so it is not a personal agenda of mine.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Dump the Golden Rule: " Treat people the way you want to be treated"

Well these famous words may actually do more harm than good and hence the statement dump it!!! But why! The genesis of this statement is that two humans are alike and the human community is one homogeneous whole. But this is far from truth. Every individual is unique and has different thinking style, preferences and values. If that is the case, how can I assume what is right for me , correct in my style of thinking, precious in my value system is good for my peers and recognizable by my bosses and considerate for my subordinates ( don't have any :)). I just believe we need to recognize the cognitive differences and appreciate the heterogeneity of the people around us and treat them the way they would recognize, appreciate and acknowledge!!! What do you think ?

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Winter Storm and Remote Working

Today we experienced the first winter storm in Maryland as a result of 8-10 hours of continuous nature blessing of sleet, ice and snow. I managed my way to the office but as expected, the attendance there was thin. I wondered if organizations capable of running operations remotely would have faced the same situation and have an adverse impact on productivity. But organizations that did not embrace openly the remote /working from home policy would have encountered significant productivity losses. An organization having 250+ employees would have lost almost one man year in one business day. Yes, lot of organizations allow remote working but are far from a position where they can avoid loosing significant productivity on such a day. The organizations do not have the processes and the code of conduct for working from home. Not allowing to work remotely/home means loss of employee hours which is a direct measurable cost. However these lost hours can result in significantly more loss in terms of schedule slippages on projects and revenue dollars in lost opportunities.
My organization is slowly getting into the mode of remote operations but it is more in the early stages than otherwise.It is a fundamental cultural shift of being able to collaborate and work as a team without face to face interaction. There is the no organization empathy and alignment and blah and blah. But at the same time we know many organizations are doing this effectively. It is a cultural shift and warrants code of conduct, orientations to enable the mind shift. So before we face the next winter storm ( I hope it is next year, don't want to spend time on road trying to go over snow hurdles, slush piles and the little but extremely dangerous black ice) , I hope my organization is able to embrace the remote model of operations. What do you think? Does your company have the desired code of conduct or it is more adhoc in nature?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Synopsis of a MMIS RFP

I have to admit that the brains behind this is Mike Morgan but I have attempted to tailor his article such that this reads as if a State (referred to as me) is enlisting requirements of an MMIS project in a RFP. The content of the MMIS RFP reads something like this ..

Please design and build me a MMIS system. I am not quite sure what I need, so let’s get started. My system should be aligned with all the MITA business processes even though I am not sure of what they are?. Just make sure the designs are such that the MITA processes can be easily adopted as they mature in their details. When you bring the blueprints to me, I’ll make the final decision about what I want. Also, bring me the cost breakdowns for each configuration so I can arbitrarily pick one at a later time.

The requirements go on..

As you design, also keep in mind that I want to keep yearly maintenance costs as low as possible. This should mean the incorporation of automated workflow like single click magic buttons and autonomic computing using industry intelligence standards (If you choose not to use industry artificial intelligence standards and products, be prepared to explain you decision). Please take care that modern design practices and the latest techniques are used in development of the system, as I want it to be a showplace for the most up-to-date ideas and methods. To assure that you are building the correct system for our entire state, you will need to contact each of our sister agencies and their managers and team leads. My sister agency X has very strong feelings about how the system should be designed, since the agency uses the system once every year for some strange reasons. Make sure you weigh all these options carefully and make recommendations. However, I retain the right to overrule any recommendation you make. Please don’t bother me with small details right now. Your job is to develop the overall plans for the system and get the big picture.
Also, do not worry at this time about time and the resources to build the system itself. Your first priority is to develop detailed plans and specifications. Once I approve these plans, however, I would expect the system to be up and running within 18 months.

And to top it all...
You must be thrilled to be working on such an interesting project! To be able to use the latest techniques and technologies and to be given such freedom in your designs is something that can’t happen very often and its great for your company's future market.

Does that sound familiar to your State MMIS RFP and requirements or a similar state IT project....

Note: Any references are purely coincidental and any resemblance purely unintentional.

Corporate Stress and the Certified Asshole Test!!!

I recently stumbled on an article(click here for the reference) which was on stressful living. Filled with sarcasm, the article divulges on the inclinations of a typical corporate manager (I read the article with my workplace and self context),which all lead to more stress, less productivity and less happiness (as if it counts). One of the most poignant of the five points was our tendency to "attempt to control everything". The reason I could align with this more than any of the other four was that I experience and live that everyday in my workplace. The key is that we really have little control over anything but there is that illusion of control. With the illusion of control comes the weight of acquired responsibility. All being a recipe of daily overdose of stress, pressure and anxiety. Yes, in the world of healthcare business all of these are special conditions of disorder and there are experts trying to solve them. Anyway, back to the stressful living article. We "Try to control other people; both what they do, and also what they think" Does that sound familar? The control phobia is so dominant and embedded in our minds and it is more since we perceive other people to be difficult, incompetent, and unreliable. The author writes that "the stress factor here lies in the fact that trying to control other people is much like herding cats; requires enormous effort, and you know deep down that it’s futile and ridiculous to even attempt. But if you manage to hold onto the illusion that you can actually gain and preserve absolute control over other people, this can be easily integrated into your everyday life as a reliable source of stress." The other four are also interesting and worth a read as well.
Close on the heels to further force the issue on the control phobia and its associated corporate management perils I need to mention the recent book title 'The No Asshole Rule' by Bob-Sutton. I took a small test (ARSE) and came out close to a certified 'asshole'. For example if you answer this question 'True' then you are pretty much certified : Do You feel surrounded by incompetent idiots – and you can’t help letting them know the truth every now and then? ....
Anyway, I hope we become more sane and respectful of our human surroundings. It's a slow transition for me and I do take two steps forward and one back but I guess I am getting there!!! Where do you Stand?