Analogue Transformation

I got my old record player down from the attic the other day – and our LPs. Vinyl, you know, which is getting more popular as people (luckily) again start caring about music, quality and ambience. Unfortunately my Goldring Elite’s cantilever had been bent to destruction by some of my daughters school mates years back (I’m still annoyed how some parents don’t teach their kids to be careful with other people’s valuables) so I went out to buy me a new cartridge, and went for an Ortofon – a brand that still is one of the elite brands in this category. I also got my old preamplifier out of the attic – one I build myself back in the day based on articles in the Danish magazine High Fidelity. It was a real pleasure to put on a record and just listen to the musicality. A very different experience from opening the Spotify app on my phone.

A few days later I went with my daughter to an open house at the University, where she is considering taking an engineering degree in “sustainable design”. They talked about how to hack designs to make them more sustainable and repairable, how to reuse more and how to design for repair and durability with the lowest possible environmental footprint.

That made me think. My record player is 40 years old and still plays like it was new. A new cartridge (which still this day is made to the same specifications, mechanical and electrical). My preamplifier to go with it is more than 30 years old, and if if breaks I can repair it cause I build it and you can still get components that match those used then.

And it still works great and IMO the sound beats the digital sound from CDs and especially the lossful compressed Spotify sound. Then I wondered how many of the digital sound technologies developed today will be available in 40 years? Have we forgotten to be sustainable in our eager to achieve convenience?

This is not really an analogue transformation for me as I am still using my digital gear – rather a rediscovery of the analogue media. And don’t get me wrong, I love gadgets and what digital technology can do for us, but to be whole humans we also need the friendly analogue stuff to bring us tranquility in a stressed world. And we need to consider the environment and climate in how we behave as humans and as consumers. 

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Gen Change

There has been, and is still, so much talk about the different generations, Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z (wonder what the next one will be called), and frankly I am a bit fed up with putting people in boxes based on their year of birth. Like I never really believed in age segmentation either. All this talk about how your young employees are, and how they are much different from you.

Stereotyping really has to stop. I believe that the characteristics these Gen-whatever get is that of the time they grew up. So assuming that the Gens are like they are said to be is assuming that they are living in a time warp. Of course there are differences in people based on when they were born, what technology they were brought up with and which political agendas there were at the time, but any person who is following trends and who likes change will most likely NOT resemble the typical Gen definition based on their year of birth.

In short most of us who like change and follow trends are probably behaving more like Gen Z than the Gen we are said to belong to based on the year we were born. Especially when it comes to use of technology.

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Whatever happened to BHAG – or just ambition?

I see a tendency in especially the IT industry (which count more companies by the day as companies realise they are actually IT companies) to come up with great visions with big value propositions. When it comes to make actual strategy, they are more modest. And when it comes to implementation and execution goals, the vision is nowhere to be found.

A goal is only a goal if it is specific, timely and measurable (add your other attributes here which you find important). Thus, a vision cannot be a BHAG, the BHAG is in the strategy and the implementation and execution goals.

Transformations that are supposed to be state-of-the-art becomes yesterday’s standard – often because of complexity organisations cannot agree to solve and advanced tools cannot support and integrate.

I am really missing the BHAGs to transform organisations to become digital – not just talking about it.


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Can we get the corporate anti-bodies to join in on our Journey to Digital?

Change is difficult, it’s about people.

As a technologist I thrive on the journey to digital and cannot wait for clients to get there and see all the great stuff they will be able to do for their customers and them selves. As a CSC employee I am very proud of our vision of the #Journey2Digital.

But I do see a lot of resistance. A lot of non-followers out there. The corporate anti-bodies. They want things as they were as it makes them comfortable. Not that things were good but they were predictable. Sometimes predictably bad.

Before we reach the tipping point of any organisation, where the anti-bodies are outnumbered, we will most likely fight harder against these anti-bodies than with getting the digital enterprise up and running.

We who support the Journey to Digital should all become evangelists and talk to the anti-bodies to make them fully understand this new paradigm and what it can do for them, their company and their clients. And that they do not need to be afraid. Every time we get one over we are two stronger and will get a more focused and more joyful journey. Go and talk to your local anti-bodies today!

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The true source of legacy trouble is Windows

It is a common understanding that Mainframes cause a lot of problems due to it’s legacy status. And true, many Mainframe systems need modernization and some get it. The vast majority of the Mainframe systems, though, are backend server systems that are hidden from the end users behind various user interfaces and adding APIs are often enough to add some years of useful life to the systems.

A lot of end user systems, on the other hand, were build around Windows and especially Internet Explorer specifics a decade or two back. These are the real troublesome legacy programs. They require that organizations keep otherwise outdated windows based client systems alive and they block for the BYOD/BYOT thinking.

It is well known that the Internet Explorer browser is old and does not support modern browser technologies very well if at all – that’s probably also why Microsoft have renamed the browser in Windows 10 to edge. To get rid of that legacy. But the user systems are still out there and us who have moved beyond Windows sit on our Macs and just cannot use these old windows legacy systems.

There is a big job in modernising all those systems (and many organizations even use word documents with macros that are part of the windows legacy as they only run on windows versions of Word).

Let’s start working on solving this legacy issue – and make it part of our journey to the Digital Enterprise.

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The triple-deep project manager

It is generally accepted that to be successful today you need to be double-deep: deep in technology and deep in your business domain.

For project managers (as for all professionals) certifications are important, PRINCE2 or PMP as examples. Sometimes domain knowledge is also required for the project manager as he or she needs to talk business lingo with the steering group and other stakeholders that historically are “the business”, and understand the business priorities.

However, in todays world the project manager need to understand technology and how technology both impacts the business the project manager acts in as well as the development life cycle processes the new agile technologies enable and sometimes demand in DevOps inspired projects.

While it is important to understand classical project management skills such as project planning and risk management, the way we apply these skills and the tools we use to manage these skills have changed dramatically in the agile world. A Microsoft Project plan and risk management in an excel sheet is not how you get success with your agile projects.

To be a successful business we need the triple-deep project managers and as leaders we need to be aware of this need when educating our project managers and when selecting project managers, especially to our important digital transformation projects.

The project manager who does not embrace the DevOps thinking will soon be history.

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Why do pilots need visuals? Are we ready for autonomous flying?

Let me start by saying that I am not an avionics expert – I’m a Technologist who fly a lot and am observant and curious. I hope that people who know more about avionics than me will share some of their knowledge.

The last two times I have flown back from Oslo my planes have been delayed – and both times due to airport conditions and not just “late incoming flights”. The first time the plane to Copenhagen ended up having a 2 hours delay due to snowy weather. You would think they were used to handle winter conditions in Norway and they also did a great job keeping the runway clear of snow, which of course delay flights due to limited availability of the runway. Then there was the aircraft luggage belt that froze (as an engineer I cannot see it as the biggest challenge to make a conveyor belt withstand Oslo weather) and a pull truck that couldn’t get traction as it was too slippery (again something that as an engineer you should be able to make a better solution for).

But really it is the more recent event that bugs me. It was a bit foggy around the airport (a few hundred meter visibility is my guess), which caused the pilots on my incoming flight to land with their radar-guided system that has been around for a long time and that should be able to land the plane smoothly without visibility (“please shut off your phones instead of fly-mode due to regulations”). My outgoing plane came in late as it had to circle to wait for a slot. The airport was not busier than usual but the rate of planes was decreased due to weather conditions.

That made me think. With autonomous cars people agree that they are safer than human-driven cars and some joke that soon it will not be legal to drive yourself. With all the safety equipment around aviation: ground radars, air traffic controllers, aircraft radars, and systems to land with no visibility, etc., why is it that pilots still need visuals to land the aircraft at the rate of normal operation? I would like to see data-driven autonomous (or rather pilot assisted because I feel safer with humans to interact in case of problems) flying to not deliberately introduce delays when the weather is foggy. Is anybody working seriously on that?landing-in-fog

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We expect and demand great UX

I take bus and train to the office and I used to have two apps to check the status of the service, one for the bus and one for the train – and a third app to plan any trips I needed to take. The bus app was very effective and intuitive to use, however the data was not always reliable. But you cannot blame the app for that.

The Copenhagen puplic transportation unit, DOT, made a genius move, they thought. Instead of the individual apps we now have a combined mobile webpage. UX out the door – I find myself not using this status check service any more. I do not bother to open the webpage, select that I want the status, select where I am, scroll down to get a rather confused list of bus and train services – and the data is not any better than before. Before the iPhone app store you would be happy to have any data at all when you were on the move, but today you don’t bother with information (that is not important) if you don’t have easy and user centred access.

I remember the original idea behind mobile apps: the app shall do a simple thing and do it well. Implement the 20% most needed functions and make more apps, each covering the 20% of different use cases.

Most companies have forgotten that today. They often try to implement all use cases they have in their desktop apps – or probably like 80% which gets you annoyed with the functionality you miss. One example is the Outlook app. For one I have never understood why separate functions of mail and calendar need to be combined in one monster app on your desktop as it makes the UX unnecessarily complex. Doing the same on the mobile app breaches the general idea behind mobile apps. But luckily we have BYOT and this is probably why you have so many mail and calendar apps to choose between.

Maybe it is time to get back to the simple effective native apps, where you had a large number of apps that did a simple thing really well?

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The Makers/Doers and the organisational Red Tape

The Makers and the Do’ers of the agile world we live in today where philosophies like DevOps and deliver-fast are more important than ever the old red tape guard is having a tough time.

Most organisational red tape is caused by local kingdoms, sub-optimisation, pulling rank and non-effective bureaucracies that does not add value to the company overall. You cannot stop the doers and makers from doing and making and they are motivated by doing stuff and not by bureaucracy. And they love to add value and learn fast. Red tapers typically resist change by pulling red tape.

Doers and makers don’t want to deal with red tape so they move away from it and the organisations that deploy it. Doers and makers are the next gen value makers so I foresee a collapse of the red tape organisations as they will be left with people who do not deliver value and finally become overtaken by the ones that do.

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“Internal Labor Market” has got a new meaning in the “Internal Job Market”

When I took my MBA we talked about Internal Labor Market (ILM) as the way you recruit people as opposed to from the outside (External Labor Market, ELM). We talked about the Coke-companies vs the Pepsi-companies. Coke uses ILM, Pepsi not so much.

The ILM worked in relation to development of your people and the assumption was that you had career plans and placed the people you want in your organisation in positions where you utilized their potential, gave them stretch positions to the benefit of the employee and the company.

In many organisations today employees work much like free agents within the corporation – responsible for their own development and for their own jobs. Companies still fire people who do not perform or who do not fit (or to match budgets). But more and more you see that if a position in a company is removed because of reorganisations or cost cutting, the employee is set free to find a new position in the company – or outside. The Internal Labor Market suddenly has become an Internal Job Market (IJM). As in the external job market many of the positions in the IJM are not posted anywhere and your network is key. For the corporation this may not give you the best person for the job but it does strengthen networks and be the next step towards community and network based organisations. But it jeopardizes the feeling of belonging in an corporation, and the corporation is not so much in control anymore – and what does it do to employee retention?

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