Anybody in for collective team intelligence?

Insights into what #bigdata is and how to deal with it (by Sogeti’s VINT)

I attended Sogeti's event yesterday and it was a great. Lots of insights. Watch this vid that covers some of the discussed ground. I'd rather name all this "Big Insights" since that's what we are interested in as outcomes. Data is meaningless per se. My body is full of information but I don't need that at all, it handles itself. Maybe that's what we should target. Recorded Future from Sogeti VINT on Vimeo.

Disengaging is a key step when switching gears

Time has come

I am currently finishing an engagement. There, I helped the client in deploying a new way of working, namely a SDLC (Software Development Lifecycle) that was internally defined, with a special focus on system requirements specifications. I have been busy with that for about two years, obviously not full time. Truth be told, I am pretty happy with the results as a number of key analysts are now able to be exemplars of the wanted behavior and will for sure maintain some traction. It is not the same group, they really are now up to something great. We went through an assessment of their capabilities. It was interesting to experience. From both sides. From what I could see, they have a decent mastery of the trade. This needs to solidify somewhat over time, but the basics are in place. Today I discussed the results with the management. So, now comes the time to disengage. That's a great time, filled with a feeling for accomplishment, and a sad time, since it amounts to leaving a group of great people with a little pinch in the heart. Maybe we'll meet again in the future, this would be great.


When we switch gears, there is this in-between moment. A moment that is a great opportunity. The opportunity to switch to another speed, to another world. It is a time where one can escape the "success trap." The "success trap" being that place where you know that you can do it, and are recognized for your ability, and paid accordingly in the process. But it is like golden handcuffs. One day, the floor may well evaporate, or the context change, and you'll end up naked and cold. Better keep moving.


That's a moment where it is important to reflect back on your top 3 outcomes. And get a sense of direction for the next moves. Some questions to get just that:
  • Where do I want to go from here?
  • How can I leverage this without ending up doing the same old again?
  • With which successful people and organizations do I want to hang out?
  • How can I satisfy my key values in the upcoming time frame?
  • What kind of new skills do I want to develop and add to my bank of talents?
Simple questions. Getting answers is harder. Well, there are always the easy, knee-jerk style reactions, like, search for cover, duck, and make no waves in safe nest in a well known place. This is not the answers you are after here. So, "where" may mean going global, "how" can mean how in a fearless way, "with which successful people" may mean insanely successful people. And with a close to perfect match for my values and in a super fast way. And in a way that will make my head spin due to the overload of talent addition. Oh yeah, now there is some drive! Of course, you'd better have some things in progress to avoid the feast and famine syndrome. I always have 2 or 3 projects running in parallel, for clients of for myself, client projects funding my own for the research and development part, until they can fly on their own. Waiting for things to go mainstream is a sure way to miss the train. While we are on the targeting, it is always better to a tad higher that you feel comfortable doing since it will stretch your skills. Remember, one's worst enemy is one's ego. And the ego doesn't like those stretches. The hell with that: stopping getting out of my own way is one of the best lessons I got in life. We are always better than we think. Go for it, don't be afraid to fail, and learn as fast as you can in the process. Staying put will only guarantee immobility!

Going forward

Time to go forward then. Full speed ahead. We are now entering turbulent times, be it economically or socially. But that's a great time since that's when the ones who will survive and prosper are those who will be able to harness talent, skill, and leading technologies to take an edge. That's what is so exciting about life: the future is no written on the wall. And if you are in great company with an insanely great project, I want to hear from you! Until next time, happy switching! Philippe

Is your business side of the equation right?

When talking about a business, it is important to leave the underpinning tech on the side (however great and innovative it is/will be) and switch to the business side of the equation.
If you are talking to me about your black magic, I want to have several things clarified and lined up in front of me:

A clear view of what you have in stock

First, I need to have a clear view on what you guys have in stock in terms of capabilties when it comes to your business offering.
What is/are the problems you do solve? Like in a problem statement "The problem of ... affects ... and results in ... The benefits of the solution are ...".
Then, what are the services I can count on you for?
Products are all nice and fine but a product isn't solving anything by itself.
But the market/channel doesn't latches on those things when it comes to improvement and software.
We need professional services, support etc. What are yours?

Tell me about the money

Next in line is: what is the typical budget you are looking for/need to have to perform an engagement?

What are the rules of engagement?

How can a business call upon you for help? Are there various levels? Like, just act as a soundboard, get involved in advising, sort the whole mess, etc...
Is there a process we can embark the clients on? I hate "selling events", I do love "taking clients to a journey through a definite process". Il allows for a lot of upsell, cross-sell, long term relationship etc. And a ton of added value for the client. Experiencing an event is like taking a shower. The next day, you are as dirty as before. We need to have a cleaning process/solution, not a shower event!
Based upon the answers, I can look to arrange meetings with decision makers on my side. So that you can either visit them, have me do a presales thing, or we can do an event to catch some fish.

Times are good

I think we can get some pretty good business, especially in turbulent times like now. That's because when things go sour that you'd better get them right or else! And that the survivors will be telling the rules afterwards. Survivors and winners usually are very positive about asking for help, support, and services for improvement.
They just realize that they can't breath their own exhaust or they'll die from intoxication.
So, how can we bring in some fresh air together?

First day of #pharoconf in Lille

Today was the first day of the Pharo Conference in Lile. The conference took place at the Inria Research Centre Lille Nord. Just for you to know, Pharo 2.0 is the current development version and works pretty well at this point in time. It sports the Nautilus browser by default. A good move if you ask me. I was able to load some 1.4 code, little adaptations were needed due to the ongoing cleanup of the image. These changes may make some people unhappy but at the end of the day, hard choices have to be made to keep progress marching forward. A perfectly understandable position. I am all for it, even if this bugs me to have to change code to match. The quality of presentations was quite variable. Even if the underlying technology is always great, some presentations are quite lame in how the material got presented. Frankly, I was happy to have some WiFi at those moments. But the best part is the socializing with such interesting, dedicated, and smart people. It just felt great. Putting names on faces and real people is always a plus. On the catering side (an always important aspect), things were good. We got fine coffee and food in the morning. And lunch was good as well, especially in fine company. We also discussed the Pharo Consortium and brainstormed ideas on how to best fund it. I wasn't able to attend the evening event and got a bad surprise when getting back to my car: a flat tire. Well, I had a spare wheel, so it was okay. But travelling back to Belgium with a speed limit of 80 km/h is fast getting on ones nerves. So, I will have to get that fixed tomorrow morning, meaning that I'll be coming late for the second day. Too bad! I hope to get there before noon.  

Having faith goes a long way – especially when things get rough

Faith in yourself that is.
Look, I have been through quite a rollercoaster ride lately: got a cataract surgery that turned into a retinal detachment, leaving me stranded at home for 4 weeks. And three out of which I had to spend the whole day (night included) with the head straight up. No driving of the car allowed, just stay put and wait for it to heal. I know understand a bit how prisoners at home do feel. Yeah, punishment. And this one piled in on another issue of relative exhaustion due to another problem that is now cured. I am glad this is behind me, I can tell you! As an independent professional, this means an income drop, shifted timelines, and too much idle time on my hands. Having a number of proposals open with prospects, this got me nervous obviously.

Choice is yours

There are two choices here. Either enter the realm of the victim and complain on how unfair things are or take it as yet another opportunity to learn. And that's rooted in your faith in yourself. The faith that things are going to be better, that you'll come out of it better in a way or another. As for anything, the first sale is to yourself!

So, what can be learned here?

Here is my take:
  1. Do not expect to kick back on your feet that fast after full anaesthesia, this will help keeping realistic expectations.
  2. Call prospects and clients to tell them about your issue. Most of them will understand. How would you react if they called you with a health problem? If they don't do you really want to work with such people? Thinking about it, I don't.
  3. It is a great idea to have insurance for those cases. I muttered every time I saw the bill but it turned to be a great idea. After talking with a few people, it is astonishing that a lot of them aren't covered. Look, it is not a matter of "if" here, it is a matter of "when"! Get one.
  4. Make sure you have either credit lines, cash in the bank, or any other form of credit secured at all times. It will come handy when you will need it. Bills do not care about your state. And have faith that you'll be able to generate enough new business to come back from the deep. Do not wait to be thirsty to go to the well.
  5. Call upon your support system: loved ones, family, and friends. Don't bury yourself in a hole. It is bad for the mood and bad for the speed of recovery. Ask them to bring you something special, it will lighten the day.
  6. Take care of the quality of your food intake. I am leaning towards organic food and it helps a lot. As a general rule, HiQ nutrients help, especially with brain work. Don't feast on greasy, oily, sugary foods.
  7. Medical care improves by leaps and bounds. Procedures are much improved from 10 years ago. There are new devices to measure, new materials, new lenses. And I met great people: surgeons, assistants, nurses. These are people who care.
  8. Take care of yourself first. If you don't, you can't be fully in the moment when it is needed.
  9. Turn idleness into opportunity. Read (or listen to) new material, focus on something alien to your habits. Open horizons.
So, to reach your top 3 outcomes, even when they just seem to swoosh miles away further, you need to have faith in your ability to resume the quest in a way or another. Yeah, you need to be an optimist! Until next time, keep the faith! --Philippe Back