Planning

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Abraham Maslow proposed a theory in A Theory of Human MotivationPsychological Review, motivation works to fulfill baser needs before addressing loftier needs. In a discussion the other day, I mentioned we have to have a rock solid infrastructure and stability of services to the point they are a utility and no users think about them causing them problems before we can focus well on innovation.

It occurred today maybe this would be an information technology equivalent to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The IT Value Hierarchy proposes something that looks like what I was thinking.

    • Paradigm Shift at the top
    • Competitive Differentiation
    • Integrated Information
    • Security and Stability
    • Infrastructure at the base

Once the infrastructure issues are solved such that the foundation is solid, then organizational focus can turn to security and stability. Without a solid infrastructure, security and stability are undermined. People fight fires that distract them from what they should be doing. The investments in equipment and time should be prioritized to ensure these.  The message from leadership should recognize the infrastructure foundation as more of a priority to get right than innovation at the time. Signalling the paradigm shift is most important means we should neglect the foundation. Not that we really can neglect the foundation, it just becomes a constant barrage of emergencies such that the paradigm shift becomes painful.

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A while back, I noticed a Venn diagram for the Project Triangle which added free. The only problem is that it was for graphic design. For what I do, providing services and integrations, I thought only “dipped in ugly sauce with haste and carelessness” needed adjusting. Creately was surprisingly easy to whip together this version of Project Triangle For Systems Administration.

When I first arrived, the focus was on great. We happened to be cheap too, but there was no pressure to be cheaper. Lately the encouragement has been to sacrifice great for fast and cheap to get closer to that impossible utopia. My worry is we will move through a breaks often period before we learn that it really is an impossible utopia. UPDATE 2011-APR-12: We focus on great and cheap right now. So the clients complain about it not being fast. If we shift our focus to fast and great, then they will complain about the cost. If we shift our focus to fast and cheap, then they will complain about it not being great. There is no panacea where everyone is happy. Yet we change in hopes that change makes us look responsive to the complaints.

The problem is the frame, where the clients are focused. Rather than redirecting that attention to where we are providing value, we want to fix it. If we magically could so there were no problems, then we would have….

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At work we are being asked to enter the amount of time we spend on certain activities into an online form. This is ostensibly so some people can get a handle on where people at my level (the bottom) can get better a sense of where we are putting our efforts. Yet, we are not supposed to go to any great effort to track what we do. (I think the assumption is we already know on what we spend our time.)

It makes me wonder though if anyone planning this anticipated the Hawthorne effect? By putting observers in factories, productivity improved. Nothing changed except people being worried about reprisals while anticipating the ramifications of the observers. This means the results are biased and non-reflective of what people actually will do. For this time tracking stuff, the observers are the bosses who have to review the data we record and approve it. Yes, self-reporting information is a horrible way to get at this information accurately, yet that is the method chosen. Combine self-reporting with not spending a lot of time tracking it accurately, I’m going to guess accurate data is not desired so much as anything more than a complete lack of data. Possibly completely wrong data is okay as long as there is something upon which to be able to make decisions.

So… Personally, I am trying out RescueTime to get a better sense of where I spend my time.

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The power going out is something with which I can live. The gas can go out too for all I care. I do not have cable and rarely use the telephone. Yet, the water I need. Hygene and hydration are extremely important to me.

The downward spiral of Israel and Palestine is going to get worse. Anyone who thinks that this is going to be resolved in a few months is delusional. Personally, I’ve been disappointed with coverage of the conflict from American media sources. The BBC World Service comes on the radio after midnight and has had in my opinion a significantly more balanced report of events.


I never thought I would see a Dilbert cartoon come to life.