Don’t Neglect Tampons

I visited an AT&T emergency response validation testing session several years ago. After Hurricane Katrina they were able to start restoring service as soon as the area was considered safe enough for their people to enter.

What makes this possible for such teams? Training. Equipment. Food. Water. Most people will flag those.

What about toilet paper? And washing machines for what the teams wear under the protection gear? And sunscreen for when they finally get out from under the protective gear? And tampons? And several hundred other taken-for-granted details that become huge and potentially life threatening in their absence while standing in a toxic soup of stagnant storm water who-knows-what infused trying to restore basic communications for emergency responders.

When working on disaster recovery or an emergency response plan, don’t draft it in isolation. Benefit from other’s learning and iterations (lessons learned). It’s much better to prepare for something with a shopping list than a blank piece of paper. This is not an area where non disclosure is good for anyone.

This is true in the command center as well. How can efficient effective direction & information get communicated when key people don’t have access to their insulin or blood pressure medication? How do you manage your technical expert’s dairy problem while all the food you have access to is a vending machine full of chocolate bars?

Which assumes the machines will be full. What if it’s the day before restock? What if the restocking person broke up with their significant other or was high or was distracted? Are humans part of your calculation?

Granted, squirrelling away prescription medication isn’t easy (& maybe illegal where you are) but knowing the challenge exists before it’s a problem is the first step to solving it. Other things, like stockpiling daily-free & gluten-free food, tampons, tissues, toilet paper, and everything else identified from other’s work and your own tabletop exercises is relatively easy to manage.

And you? What are your thoughts?

The Big Rethink

I am recovering from a bout of illness. I will save you, Dear Reader, the gory details.

The event is causing me to re-evaluate my habits, workflows, automation, and outsourcing. My reluctance to call on my friends and co-workers or my building concierges for help caused me more suffering than I should have endured, would have triggered my recovery sooner, and lessened the impact on others – especially at work.

Part of my rethink is my recovery-mandated sobriety. Focus is always a challenge for me after a few beers. Gaining the increased focus, the additional time, and needing the distraction provided time for reflection.

I made notes, rambling fever dreams and otherwise. I also cranked through a bunch of Mac Power Users and similar podcasts. My plans percolate and bounces around my brain.

Look forward to possible new posts about what I am doing and why.

This is some unicode: & ’ “ ” 👺

[sourcecode language=”emacs-lisp” title=”” ]
(setq this-is-some-setting t)
[/sourcecode]

Axle Wrapped: Performance Review & Stoicism

You may not know I am on a global work assignment in Japan from the United States. I get to have two management teams, one in each country, and two performance reviews! Ain’t I lucky?

My US manager sandbagged me with my review. I woke this morning to a meeting request for my review at 21:00 JST. There was no warning and no notice.

My history with these types of activities is complicated. I won’t go into detail now. Suffice to say I find little value in these lazy “one size fits all” retail approach to HR. A good leader does not require such a complicated artificial construct, nor do truly empowered and well lead employees.

Never the less, I’m shackled with this time consuming obligation. I need to take time and reflect on good old fashioned stoicism to get my head right. It would be great unwrapping myself from around my HR axle as well.

First, it’s important to remember at the moment my career path, goals, and objectives align with my employer. The alignment is temporary.

Second, my employer’s goals and objectives reflect what is right for the company. There is nothing requiring me to like or even agree with the goals and objectives. Gainful employment encourages my active engagement toward them, yet my gainful employment is not the object of my life.

Third, the common theory of “you will get out of the process what you put in” is false. It is not true in physics, engineering, romance, cooking, finance, politics, small appliance repair, Pokemon Go, or much of anything in life.

Fourth, these retail HR systems are more and more geared toward meaningless concepts and platitudes which fail to bolster any concept of anti-fragility or resilience. Anecdotally friends and peers shared ratios of three or more positive comments to every negative comment in reviews. Others shared “the bell curve” – in any team the manager plots the best and worst performers on a chart and scores everyone else somewhere in between because “you can’t have a team of all above average or below average” members. Arbitrary artificial constructs like these try to pave over the world’s variables (I’ve seen plenty of teams with no above average performers, typically in non-critical roles) plus fail to offer employees any tangible constructive feedback (i.e., “You were rated a 2 out of 5 because there are too many 3s and 4s on the team already.“)

Fifth, companies want some degree of fragility in their employees. They cannot rely on loyalty any more, especially in the US and other countries with at-will employment. Employee retention is usually a balancing act between enough training, team building, and encouragement to make employees feel empowered & add value while subtly keeping them just fragile enough to fear change.

Stoicism and Us | New Republic talks about these concepts in other contexts, such as the cancer diagnosis in the opening paragraph.

What matters, in good times or bad, is not whether you have a job, an income, a family, or a home, but whether you have the inner strength to realize how little such things matter.

This quote, Dear Friends, helps me unwrap my mental axle.

Stoicism is having a moment in the robot revolution | The Financial Times talks about a new book by Svend Brinkmann, Stand Firm: Resisting the Self-Improvement Craze – Kindle edition by Svend Br…. Full disclosure: I have not read the book yet. This article however talks about a few of the concerns I laid out above in the context of the current stoicism fad in Silicon Valley. This neo-stoicism smacks of exuberant exceptionalism without embracing the negative things in life. The side bar about this in relation to Ryan Holiday’s writings (which I enjoy) intrigues me.

This idea of embracing the negative leapt to my attention today when I read Feeling bad about feeling bad can make you feel worse | Berkeley News. This study (full disclosure: I have not read it yet) seems to reinforce the concept of the negative things in our lives can make us better at living our lives.

This long, rambling screed flowed fairly quickly. I feel better about my impending US performance review (and the soon-to-follow Japan review). I remain bearish toward the whole process, but at least I can get on with my day. And I hope to learn something more about dealing with things like this in the future.

What do you think? Am I off-base? Do you agree? Have I missed the boat entirely? Add your tempered, well reasoned thoughts in the comments or on the social media.

Date: 2017-08-15 Tue 11:54

Author: Paul Jorgensen

Created: 2017-08-15 Tue 13:55

Validate

The Japan Migration Continues

I got my Japan laptop this week. I did little with it until yesterday with work and home stuff demanding my attention.

I got email and instant messaging and a whack of other apps going. I also converted my US work phone to get my Japan emails and such. Switching the iPhone was not intuitive or brief.

Today I finally made some time to start customizing my laptop.

I don’t think I properly conveyed to management here how important having proper Japan focused tools are to me and my doing well. Lesson learned.

Fun fact: the Japanese keyboard layout is different from the US layout in significant ways. The cool bits are that the changes, for the most part, don’t interfere with US typing habits and when they do – they make sense!

When typing emails, how great would it be if the @ is an unshifted key? SPOILER ALERT – pretty awesome.

How about taking a page from the old Blackberry, where the $ is an unshifted key? Boom! The ¥ key is direct type – no shift required.
and ^ are first key unshifted, too.

Yes. My typing is a bit impaired right now, mostly with the @ and ‘ for contractions (now shift-7).

Letting Go to Go Forward

I’ve always been a self starter. Give me a knotty problem to untie and I’ll dive in. Give me a multitasking tool and I’ll bend it to my will.

I can’t do this any more.

I missed important information while I was tied up troubleshooting access, delayed further by the fact the text was 95% Japanese. Previous tweaks to glean a marginal improvement in process caused problems when I needed to switch accounts and contexts.

Tinkering won’t do. I need to either bullet-proof-ish my work or get an assistant. Or both.

Week ending 092516

Quick hits as I re-ramp up my Week Ending posts.

  • Holidays in Japan while I’m back in the States.
  • Great feedback from the client about our work.
  • Wish I’d attended @Derbycon.
  • I’ve been back in Detroit on my return from Tokyo. Spent time with my kids, fun time talking about Tokyo and getting sushi (their idea) and my impending move.
  • A great guest joined us on @pvcsec – Marcelle Lee.
  • Professionally I connected with some new folk and a bunch of friends & colleagues.

Journalism & Ethics

Note: This is a total knee jerk reaction to the tweets & post from The Verge that Chris Ziegler was simultaneously a new Apple employee and an existing The Verge editor covering Apple.

Working for two employers at once isn’t new. It happens all the time.

But you can’t report about company B for company A while also an employee for company B. It’s Journalism 101, a class I took. I know famous corporate blogs and sites occasionally like to blur journalistic lines. This violation, if true, is clear.

Assuming Tim Cook didn’t appear apropos of nothing on Chris Ziegler’s doorstep the day his dual employment began, and nothing in what I’ve read so far indicates an immaculate hiring, The Verge should at least brand every article Chris wrote for the past 6 months as suspect. His motives aren’t known. We can only speculate when Mr. Ziegler entered into discussion and ultimately received the offer to join Apple.

Apple should dismiss Mr. Ziegler if the accusations are true. If he was duplicitous to The Verge management, co-workers, and readers it stands to reason he will be duplicitous to Apple as well. His ethics, at least, are questionable.

If someone I hired knowingly still worked in such a conflict of interest I would fire them for cause. I’d be curious to learn of environments where such action wouldn’t be the norm.

Again, I don’t know all the details or all the facts. If correct, the course for Apple and The Verge is clear.