To cc or to not cc

Standard

I actually think email is amazing, it is actually quite mind-boggling to think that information I type into a message is received by another person within minutes, anywhere in the world…So I don’t have any issues with email as such but it does have its problems.

One of the most annoying things in my view is the use of “cc” ,  It would seem that not everyone uses it in the same way.  My understanding (i could be wrong of course) is that the use of “cc” is to ensure that those people who are included in the “cc” field are included “for information” purposes and are not being asked the questions related in the email.

However with the emergence of social networks and forums etc, is the “cc” field actually still a valid field to use. If you feel someone ought to be made aware of a communication and feel that there is a potential for them to contribute then why don’t we just include them in the main message.

I know it isn’t really a problem and it doesn’t even matter to most people…but on days when you need to prioritise your mailbox, those messages where I am not the primary intended receiver then I will leave them for another day.

I guess just another reason why we ought to rethink our use of communications technologies.

Ok rant over…

Going the extra 102 miles

Standard

When friends suffers a bereavement it is often hard to know what to do to help or even say, that help is often even harder when it is a young child that someone has lost.

So when those friends says they want to raise money in memory of their child, then there is only really one answer

YES

Well a friend of mine (Neil) is raising money for the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths by getting a group of friends, to cycle 102 miles from Bristol to Exmouth overnight on the 13/14th August this year – it’s officially called the Exmouth Exodus.

That Yes to help, is then quickly followed by a serious thought about whether or not you are physically capable of doing such a ride….but it is really the least I can do, although it is quite daunting as the website says:

The ride is unsupported and it’s a condition of participation that you accept responsibility for your own safety and recovery should you be unable to complete the ride. This isn’t a race or sportive, it’s a group ride on public roads. There’s no broom wagon to pick you up, and it’s essential to carry a basic toolkit and familiarise yourself with simple repairs such as mending a puncture. If you break down, you should expect help from fellow riders

I’ve never cycled that far before, nor am I particularly good with mending my bike either, but it is a great opportunity to raise some money for a great cause and challenge myself as well as getting fitter along the way.

I know most of you won’t know my friend but I hope that you could make a donation – it really doesn’t matter how small. It would certainly help keep us all motivated as a group to know that after cycling those 102 miles we raised a good total for a deserving charity.

You can donate via the team’s Just Giving Page here

You can view the route elevation below to give you a sense of how tough and long it will be (remember this is through the night as well)….although I am looking forward to the downhills :) Fingers crossed it is a clear sky with a bright moon?

Phew, I can now stop feeling like a fraud

Standard

Inspired by my colleague and good friend @MartinHowitt ‘s blog post “The discipline that dare not speak its name“. I thought I’d reflect on the Enterprise Architecture Journey here at the council from my perspective.

The role of Enterprise Architect is being deleted here at the council and is being replaced by a new role with a much reduced scope. Firstly I agree with Martin’s assessment on the role and the lessons he learned but would like to share my viewpoint.

My observations on my 2 years in the EA Team:

The first year I felt very much out of my depth and always felt like a fraud when telling others especially Technical Managers in IT that I was an Enterprise Architect (raised eyebrows and all that). An issue for me in not gaining an understanding and more self-confidence quicker was actually down to the team itself – not intentionally of course.

We spent too much time discussing what we thought Enterprise Architecture was and what it meant, instead of actually agreeing on what outcomes we all want to see and allowing individuals to define their own style supported by some broad models and frameworks.

It all changed for me when we defined a set of EA Services and associated processes and standards. This gave me focus on the *how* and also defined the role into meaningful services that were much easier to explain to people when they asked “So, what does an Enterprise Architect do?”.

My second year,  I can honestly say, was the most interesting, not because of the work I did, but because the level and depth of the conversation I had with colleagues in the team (in particular Martin) about how what EA is, how it can be delivered effectively within a Political environment and where we can start to make changes and refocus efforts to reinvigorate the EA effort.

So it was a sad day in February when we were informed that the Enterprise Architect posts were being deleted and we all face the prospect of redundancy….for me I was actually more concerned about the loss of the role than whether or not I had a job or not in a few months time.

In terms of Enterprise Architecture, we achieved quite a lot, but no one cared about the stuff we did, it was all really background and context setting for us to understand how and where we could apply EA in the council. We created strategies, programmes, which no one wanted to accept. But we kept going and simply refocused and re-purposed all of the early work we did in to a manageable piece of work and presented in a context that was actually relevant to the council.

We made mistakes, quite a few of them and we learned, we missed opportunities, quite a few of them but we learned, we made progress but it is only now looking back that I can actually see how much progress we made. I’d like to think that if the right people remain in the council then an element of Enterprise Architecture will continue in a covert way and the council will start to see the benefits of adopting Enterprise Architecture approaches without really knowing. I could live with that.

Martin and myself have already made progress in enabling and equipping others in the council with the skills by adopting a virtualisation of  Enterprise Architecture, you can read the blog posts that Martin and myself put together back in February on this very topic (caution – read only if interested in EA) - Virtualising EA for Sustainability and Virtualising EA – Process.

So one of my reflections is that I always thought that for practically 95% of my time as an EA I was a fraud, incapable of actually doing the role –  But looking back now,  I was more than capable, but I failed to realise what opportunities it presented me.  I was also distracted by my lack of confidence and unnecessary discussions about approaches, I realised that these discussions were driven by the lack of confidence of others and their own insecurities.  We were all learning, but we didn’t have an effective team culture to really be open about those insecurities and lack of confidence.

So as I type this I am in a position where I am looking forward thinking about what my next move will be – continue with the process and apply for one of the new posts or leave the council and find new challenges. Either way I can stop feeling like a fraud as I have now graduated from the DCC School of Enterprise Architecture.

What I do know is that the skills, approaches and general philosophy of Enterprise Architecture will always stay with me – once an EA always an EA, I just won’t tell people. :)

My lessons learned and observations from my time as an Enterprise Architect are as follows and they are applicable to most jobs really:

  • Be pure of vision but pragmatic in delivery.
  • Don’t get distracted by other people’s insecurities.
  • Their simply isn’t any substitute for effective leadership
  • It’s more about who you are, not what you know.
  • Enterprise Architecture is a professional where most people don’t agree on a common definition but come together around outcomes.
  • I believe that Enterprise Architects can come from any part of an organisation and don’t have to understand the deep complexities of IT, Information or Business Process.
  • Enterprise Architects exist already in pretty much every organisation – you must learn to spot them.
  • Use your social and business network to full effect to access knowledge and constructive challenge and feedback.
  • Your ability to communicate to all people at all levels in multiple ways will directly influence how successful you will be.
  • No one really cares what you do, they only want you to help solve their problems.
  • Accept that politics exists at ALL levels of ALL organisations – ignore this at your peril.
  • Never tell anyone you are an Enterprise Architect :) Unless you absolutely have to…

There are plenty more lessons I could share, but they maybe better shared over a beer or two, so if you are interested and you see me around, don’t be afraid to ask.

 

 

 

We all change

Standard

A few things have been on my mind recently – all positive stuff generally, which is good, but a few issues that are neither positive or negative.

One thing that I find quite interesting in my current situation (50% reduction in team) is that there is a huge assumption that as staff we are in a default position in wanting to keep our jobs. Now I don’t disagree with that as such, however the process by which most people need to go through is likely to involve, application form, interview and higher grade includes presentation as well.

Ok fair enough it is a competitive environment, but where in that process is the bit that you normally get in interviews  - the bit that allows you as the candidate – to ask questions of the organisation, whether or not you actually want to continue working for the organisation.

In normal circumstances you would have a reasonably clear picture about the organisation you were applying for, you would have a pretty good idea as to the  focus of the business area you were hoping to work in and you may get some knowledge of the management as well as the strategy and vision.

Now most of this aspect is missing in the current climate, due to the scale and pace of the cuts, your manager and your managers, manager are also subject to change and reduction/consolidation and that has a big influence on the vision and direction of a service as well as whether someone may wish to continue their current employment or not.

So it is likely in most cases that someone would be applying for a job not knowing who will be a direct line manager,section head and in some cases the strategy and direction, as well as the wider team members.

I appreciate lots of scenarios exist like this and many people thrive in them, I am personally not worried by my situation for various reasons, but I am worried about the effectiveness of the service I currently work in and whether or not the change is actually a good one – I’m undecided on this at present.

We all change, as individuals and as organisations and we are in a climate where the organisations around us are changing very fast  - sometimes it would be good to be given time and space to just question the organisation on some of these issues and decide whether it is an organisation you’d like to work for.

Sometimes it just feels like it is all one way…

Fools Gold

Standard

I’ve always liked April Fools, I love what other people do and it makes me smile when people go to a lot of effort just to be good-humoured or tell or share funny jokes, conduct and perform hoaxes, and other practical jokes of varying sophistication.

To do the same any other time of year just doesn’t seem to work or is considered wrong somehow, well i guess that depends on how severe the prank or trick is…

However the key point about today for me is that there is something in simply making people smile and laugh…I think we should do that more often - It really does have a huge impact on your personal well-being.

A favourite of mine today has to be Google Chromercise with its excellent workout video which simply made me laugh out loud.

Google have done some excellent stuff today and you can see some of their other videos on this page here….I also like the idea of being an AutoCompleter.

I do think finger sweat bands look pretty cool as well though…..I really want one, ok maybe ten. :-)