Saturday, January 17, 2009

Measurement, Metrics and iteration

Hello Dashboard.

It is Saturday morning, and my first Rant for the year. I choose MEASUREMENT, METRICS and ITERATION because it kept popping up pretty much every where. These past few days I researched these tags on the internet, talked to folks face to face, via email and IM to generate fodder. My hope is for this RANT to provides some ACTIONABLE direction where ever you might be. Where ever I might be.

We are all in the INFORMATION AVAILABLITY business without calling it that, intuitively we tend to Measure, Analyze and Correct our course as we head down this chosen path. Most of it has to do with our very sustenance and quite often it is isolated from other folks sustenance, we tend to be selfish, because the very essence of sustaining ourselves puts us ahead of everyone else. Through time we developed dashboards to alert us and keep us on track.

What does your dashboard look like? Is it designed to provide your measure of AVAILABILITY?

Are you available? Is something stopping you from being available? will you be available down the stretch?. Is there enough information that you can mine to develop an actionable correction to being available? Is your availablity trivial? We need a dashboard to help us measure, analyze and iterate our NON-TRIVIAL AVAILABILITY perhaps.

If you have the right information at the right time, the quality of your action will improve your availability of the non-trivial kind, it has to. Can a dashboard help with achieving the right information at the right time?. To arrive at the right DASHBOARD, requires us to use the "Sum of human conciousness" not just the "Individual human conciousness". My research on the web, the one on one interviews, the email and IM chatter to build the fodder for this Rant proves that point. I could not have done it alone. So it is all about non-Trivial information availability of the collective kind.

Finally it all boils down to TRANSPARENCY. A trasparent DASHBOARD, one that is shared globally?. The more we share, the more eyes there are to help us iterate. The more we iterate, our actionable reponses get better results.

There is a tremendous amount of CONDITIONING that will work against the urge to build your transparent, globally shared DASHBORD of non-Trivial information availability. As you start building that dashboard make sure to leave your confirmational BIAS as the door.

And make it a point to Share something will ya!! Share something to the point that your information is no longer what separates you from the rest. Break down those BRANDS people!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

66 posts for 2008

Wrapping up for 2008...

Back in March I signed up for a KM class at DePaul. I owe my foray into blogging to that course. For those of you who don't know my story about the Masters program I am doing backwards, I present:

Being a self professed and arrogant "know it all", I expected DePaul to hand me a Graduate diploma because I have 17 years of mileage in information systems which is my second profession, the first one being an Architect which I practiced for about the first 20 years of my professional life. My advisor at DePaul understood where I was coming from but insisted that I have to take the 13 required graduate courses without which there was no go. My company pays DePaul $2400 a class so that works out to about $31 grand. I guess I would do the same if the roles were reversed. Taken that money I mean.

So I started my masters program in dead earnest. From Top - Down!!. Not sure how my choices of classes got by DePaul's admissions team for so long, But I started with the Capstone on down, making sure the only grade I received in each of the classes was an A. I still have  about 4 classes to complete, but it is an interesting perspective doing your Masters programs backwards. As you get to the end, you are doing courses that summarizes what you learned!!

Speaking of backwards, normally kids growup go to college, graduate and get to work. Well not mua!! obviously. Here I am at 54, while most of my collegues are VP's and Directors at various companies, I am wrapping up my masters on my way to doing my PhD program. Strange thing is, I am enjoying it. Speaking of that PhD program, truth be told, that is the reason for my blogging this year. So this backwards thing is a pattern obviously, not sure if it was by design, perhaps by some grand design.

I posted 65 times, my idea was to write a 500 word post each weekend, which evolved into "My weekly Rant", all in preparation for the gruelling writing I forsee during the PhD program. They say you have to write 1000 words a day. My very words back in March.

While I have been doing my Masters backwards, it does not for a moment mean I have not been learning. I have grown leaps and bounds, is the honest truth. The power of knowledge can be and has always shown itself in the work I do, day in and day out. After all way back before Knowledge Management templates were even born, I was thinking Automation of repetition. Honest to God ask folks who have worked with me about my passion for Automating, targetting and triangulated reconciliation and they will point you to one that truly believes in "Real Men dont Click" way before it was fashionable.

The courses that made a significant impact on me so far have to be: Virtual Collaboration, Datamining, Supply Chain management, and User Centered Design. I have to admit I grew a few inches with those bad boys. The most important concept I learned this year has to be: "LISTENING" and The most important toolset: "Listening Tools".

It is going to be a challenging year in more ways than one. But it has the makings of a great year, I can feel it already. if all turns out well, our trip to Kenya will be a blast. If all turns out well, I will complete my graduate program. If all turns out well, next year this time I will have decided on my PhD program. if all turns out well, I will see some of those frequent ideas that turn me on,  through to fruition.

I therefore dedicate 2009 to "Listening", hopefully we all will grow by leaps and bounds. If you had one wish this year, any wish at all what would it be? 

Friday, December 26, 2008

Twitter Brand distribution

Twitter is media's play toy!!

So you want to be an evangelist?

When I was just a wee lad, me mom said, son I would like it if you became a priest some day. So I grew up with the notion that if I did not become a doctor or lawyer or an Engineer perhaps that would be the way to go. That was a profound notion and I did not really realize it, till now.

Fast forward 40 years: I did not become a priest, but I often think of myself as an Evangelist. It is a self endowed title, and I dont even preach all that often. So what makes me think I am an Evangelist? I have this urge to improve the common good, do selfless acts, improve what is around me without profit. Problem is, I get caught up in sustenance, so most times these lofty thoughts and ideas go by the wayside.

So am I an Evangelist for just having these thoughts and urges to do good by my brotha? umm NO. I think it has to go beyond that. What I found through years of having these thoughts and urges is something that the Priests and Nuns and brothers had figured out long time ago. Here it is in a nut shell:

If you want to do good: your basic nessesities have to be taken care of. If you are independantly wealthy, you are well on your way to becoming an evangelist, unless ofcourse you want to multiply what you have. Start a foundation, adopt kids from Africa, Save the homeless are easier to embark on, if you dont have to worry about being laid off, if you dont have to worry about your kids schooling, if you dont have to worry about Christmas gifts, you get the picture. If you want to do good, you have a better chance if you are a Priest or a Nun, where those important selfish things are taken care of, so you can concentrate on doing good by others.

So become a man of the cloth: You can then truly say you are an evangelist. Otherwise you will always be someone else's boy toy, perhaps Seagate or kmart or whoever will pay your rent, or throw you an occasional bone.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What is your pretty face doing on that avatar?.

I recently had this idea: It is about Avatars and what they should really represent.

I have a pretty face and I use it as my avatar, folks look at it and go, there's a pretty face, I like that face. I will listen to what that person says, because it is a trustworthy face. We have come to associate trust with a pretty face/appearance. Does not matter if the substance is poor or divisive or hateful, as long as I have a pretty face, its okay.

So how did we get here? At what point did we make appearance primary to Substance? I believe it goes way back, meaning it was always like that, and we are slowly evolving out of this paradigm of form before substance, substance follows form. Form before Function. Form, Form, Form. Gotta be pretty and so on!!

So I should not put my pretty face on my Avatar anymore?. Dont stop that cold turkey. Do a gradual. Keep this in mind: what if your Avatar, said something profound, something that folks seeing it would benefit, something that added to the sum of human consciousness, something that you share, because you can?.

Lots of possibilities for sure, and you thought avatars were just pretty pictures no?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What I learned this year and What I would have like to.

I will be travelling this weekend, so the Rant is being published a tad earlier. Mostly it is a look back and look forward, but it is all good.

What I would have like to have to learned this Year:

C. Well at least I bought the book and started the exercises. I think I would have been much further along if not for the technical difficulties along the way. The most important one being getting ubuntu running in vmplayer with gcc and base-essentials. Well without that you cant compile the 'hello world' program. So there. This one will carry over to next year.

What I enjoyed learning well this year:
I took my dings on lessons this year, but the most enjoyable as I look back has to be Supply Chain Management and what I learned in that class. The interesting side bar is that, I could not for the life of me understand the Professor. In the end this forced me to learn on my own, which ended up being the best thing that happened this year. So of course I will share and here it is below, all of what I learnt during the Internet Supply Chain Management. Bon appetite!! you can click on the image to zoom in.

There was quite a bit more, but cognition related thoughts surfaced to the top, I wont repeat it here as I blogged about it last week. One recurring theme this past year has been STEALTH KM, I keep seeing this concept surfacing quite often, in pretty much everything. This could possibly be because there has been a renewed emphasis on TRANSPARENCY in my life.

This has also been a year of change professionally. I moved over from IT Operations Line Management to Cross Functional Support. Basically went from Managing System Engineers to mostly Forest view and Project management Stuff. I am still learning to manage Change.

This year brings me closer to finishing my Masters program and the plan is to move on to a PhD program. I have told my family that my epitaph has to say: Here lie the remains of the esteemed Dr. Fernandez!! Morbid If I have to say so myself. It is also a way to lead by example. My kids 12 and 9 are already planning on getting their PhD's done before they are 30. Dad Struggling at 54 is not a pretty picture obviously.

Speaking of Epitaph's: I lost two dear family members this year. Aunty Tressy and Aunty Mattie. My parents generation is currently at the top of the stack, with my siblings and me getting up there. We all have to go sometime, the trick is to go gracefully.

Finally Thanks to those who went above and beyond this year: I got a chance to visit India after 20 years and what struck me most of all is what my Sister Crystal has been been doing and continues to do even today. There is no doubt about the sacrifice she is making for which all my siblings are extremely grateful. My Mom must have done something incredible in her life to have such good care. Next on the list but necessarily in that order: for an incredible amount of patience, day in and day out and 7 days a week, my wife Jen. My kids are the luckiest ones on this whole planet. I truly believe that patience is key to development!!.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Merry/Happy what ever your heart follows!! 2009 Here we come.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Problem Solving Revisited - A story about Cognition

Just because I have not ranted these past weeks does not mean I did not have any thing to say, on the contrary I did have quite a bit, but did not know how to put it in words. So I started drawing and sketching and procrastinating instead. I should really change that order to: Procrastinating, Sketching and Drawing. Eventually I realized that a picture is indeed worth a thousand words, so here are a few sketches involving my thoughts these past few weeks.

Problem solving free hand sketch:
I still love to doodle and sketch, and sometime when faced with a problem, I gravitate toward the pencil and paper and the sharpie. Many iterations later, I arrive at a sketch, I want to show folks, but I think I loose something in translation. Remember when our math teacher would say, "Show how you arrived at solving the problem and you will at least get partial credit", well that is really true. So here is the doodle and the final sketch of my problem solving methodology that I arrived at.
1) the Genesis - A Doodles of fair significance:

2) The final Sketch - born out of refinement and discussion:

Problem solving mind map:
Once I arrived at the freehand sketch, it was easy to use a tool like Mindmap and translate that, but as you will see there is something lost in translation.

I lost two loved ones these past few weeks: Aunty Mattie - My Dad's brothers wife and Aunty Tressy - My mom's sister. Each of them impacted me significantly as I was growing up. Each contributed quite a bit in my cognitive development. I owe my problem solving skills in part to them. Thank you.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Going green

I am on this "less self centered kick" as mentioned in last weeks rant. This week I l am looking at this from a Going Green perspective. Imagine the impact we can make if we could combine three concepts "Less self centered" + "Green" + "Masses". I am sure you want me to to elaborate, so take a seat, put on your listening ears, as I take you through this tour of my going green masses pyramid scheme.

Going Green:
If each household saved just a little bit in electrical energy consumed, the potential Energy savings for the country as a whole has be exponential. I set about trying to find out how to methodically go about saving energy at home, with this intent of publishing a template so others can benefit from my experience. As with any project I started with a baseline of energy consumption in the house. I got that from taking a reading from the Power meter outside. I also walked around the house and documented the devices that was hooked into the electrical circuits int he house. This is a room by room list that includes lights, appliances, and anything can be plugged in to the sockets, even if it currently is not.

Benchmark: Benchmarking power consumption should not last more than a week. A seven day cycle of consumption documented daily should be our goal.

Documentation: Room by Room documentation of light fixtures, appliances, gadgets, computers, monitors, and any device that has the potential to draw current, will be used to tweak our benchmark, and set goals. If our goal translates of 1KWHour per day, it is reasonable to assume that we as a nation have the potential to save 1 Million KWHours per day, by engaging 1 million households in this effort.

Template approach: Any project that involves massive numbers should use templates for consistency, with that in mind, the idea behind this evaluation is to generate those templates and distribute them for others to use.

The Business Model for profiting from this scheme: How does one motivate a million households to save just a fraction of what they use on a daily basis?. How does this project then turn that savings generated by the million households for a larger purpose?.

Answer: Dashboards.
Dashboards provide us view into that what we take for granted. They can help by reminding us that you can tweak this and gain that. The more interactive the Dashboard becomes, the more involved the user becomes. If my dashboard says by turning these 5 lights for 3 hours in a day, I will gain my great grand children a forest, that could be significant motivation?

Calculating costs: Here is a great site on everything Electricity, from average cost of kWh by state to how much does a 100 watt light bulb burn if kept on for a month. Ideally what we need is a gadget that can map our electricity usage, so we can see "real time" how electricity is being used. The idea: if we can see where it is going, we can put in controls needed. I went looking for such a device and found this product by TED that actually has some pretty cool features. The only problem with this solution is that it will cost you around $200 for the gadget + footprint software, then you will have to get an electrician to install it. So lets say around $300 investment. Not many people will go for that is my guess. So what we need is a solution that every household should have, if we we are going to control our spending and making inroads in this area. In fact, I think this should be subsidized so its use becomes ubiquitous.

Collaborative savings
: are nothing new, many business models are built requires a community based business model that can leverage the strength in numbers to advantage. The idea is if a million households saved a million Kilowatt hours, what can they collectively gain from that?

That's my Saturday morning Rant, Next week I might be spewing Usability sensibilities as I will be studying all week for the HCI 440 exam. Wish me luck.