1-Minute Assessment: Risk Management

Take today’s 1-minute assessment:

  1. Do you have a strategy and procedure to find, analyze, and mitigate risks?
  2. Is your team familiar with industry frameworks, like ISACA Risk IT, or NIST RMF ?
  3. Does the Business acknowledge risk-mitigating projects as important, deserving of IT investment?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you might be lacking a continuous and forward-looking process, at the project, program, portfolio, and enterprise levels, that would enable IT and the Business to effectively manage risk.

Consider sources for risk, internal and external, like staff, contractors, partners, competitors, the market, regulators, the disgruntled ex-employee, the organized and syndicated hacker.  Risk will manifest through acts of omission and commission.  Remember what’s at risk – your people, facilities, information, value, brand, intellectual property, perhaps even your very existence as a practical public or private entity.

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

The Henny Youngman School of Consulting

Henny Youngman, was an American comedian and violinist, the “King of the One-Liners.”  Mr. Youngman passed away in 1998; he would have been 107 years old this March 16th, 2013.

The Urban Dictionary has an entry for what’s known as a Henny Youngman Problem:  A problem that is best solved by avoiding the problematic situation.  Or, as Henny’s one-liner tells it:  Patient says, “Doctor, it hurts when I do this!”  Doctor replies, “Don’t do that.”

The next time you are considering handing over part of your budget to consultants for advice, ask instead: Do I have a Henny Youngman Problem?  You can potentially save yourself some upfront time and money.

  • Hurts when you manage change?  Well, don’t do it that way any more.
  • Operations planning painful?  OK – then stop and adopt a new way.
  • Portfolio reviews ineffective and tedious to prepare for?  Cease and check.
  • You agreed to all that scope and now you can’t deliver?  Well, whose fault is that?

Additional one-liners that might prove useful:

  • My doctor grabbed me by the wallet and said “Cough!” Are you providing IT value?
  • The more I think of you, the less I think of you.  Does your IT brand withstand the scrutiny?  Equally applicable to transparency around IT spend.
  • Nurse: “Doctor, the man you just gave a clean bill of health to dropped dead right as he was leaving the office”. Doctor: “Turn him around, make it look like he was walking in.”  Your own caption here.

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

To Integrity!

This morning a friend of mine awoke and found herself richer, in dollars and in spirit.  A past client had overnight transferred a sum of money her way, a “bonus” for services above and beyond.  Though the contract said it was possible that she could receive such payout, a premium for value received, it was totally at the client’s discretion with absolutely no obligation for them to do so.  They easily could have said, “Out of sight, out of mind,”  and rested on goodwill already attained between them, and left it at that, but didn’t.

I raise my glass to those who do not allow circumstances to offer an excuse for a lapse in integrity.  Gestures like these are palpable demonstrations of ethic and principle, and they kindle the same in those they touch.

Salut! Ade Yamas!

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

5 potentially disruptive, but “out there,” energy innovations


Calling for a revival of the moon shot in America has become something of a trend. The Google (s goog) guys are big fans, particularly with their Google Solve for X project, and the MIT Tech Review has recently been questioning why America can’t solve big problems anymore. But at the ARPA-E Summit this week there were thousands of researchers, inventors, entrepreneurs and investors who are working on “out there” answers to our energy problems, which, if they actually succeed, could be game-changers.

FastCAP1That’s the whole idea of the ARPA-E program — the small grants are given to high-risk early-stage projects that have the potential to make a big impact, but are likely too early for private investors to support. At the end of the day that means that most of the projects won’t succeed, or as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a speech on…

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1-Minute Assessment: Sizing and Estimating

Take today’s 1-minute assessment:

  1. Do you differentiate between Sizing and Estimating?
  2. Do you have a standard bill of components, the quantifiable items that make up your software solutions? e.g. servlets, controllers, reports, tables, classes, queries, screens, the file types output by your development stack – these are ultimately the “things” that are quantifiable, that will drive estimates of effort and cost.
  3. Do you keep up history that correlates what’s built with the effort expended to build it?
  4. If your development team sold its services externally, would you be willing to do fixed-fee engagements based on your estimates?
  5. Do you have a lifecycle for estimating, aligned to your funding process?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you might be seeing some lack of control around project and portfolio delivery, the budget, resource allocation, capacity planning, and the like.  Capability in sizing and estimating is paramount for staffing, cost, and schedule accuracy.  It’s just a SWAG otherwise.  Lack of this ability is a chief cause of diminished IT goodwill in the Business.

Sizing & Estimating, something other than software:  Your partner asks you to redo the kid’s room.  It’s 10 X 16 with 8 foot ceilings; 416 square feet.  You’ll need 13 panels of sheet-rock (14 if you want some leeway) and 52 feet of ceiling molding.  The paint you like covers at a rate of 350 square feet per gallon.  You want 2 coats so you buy 2 gallons plus 2 quarts for the walls, and 1 gallon for the ceiling, giving you about 5% wiggle room for the walls and 9% for the ceiling.  The on-line shopper at your local store makes it easy for you to price the materials.  You let your partner know that it will take 5 days to complete the job, since you’ve experienced redoing a similar room just 2 years earlier.

Need more? If so, feel free to email me or comment below, and I will send another example where we size and estimate what it will take to make lunch for 10 guests – 6 vegetarians (2 of them gluten-free) and 4 carnivores.

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

Room for the heart?

As I host and attend events to support the days’ goals, I am often amazed at how many people – co-workers – are meeting each other physically for the first time, despite being co-located and holding stakes in common interests.  This actually makes it easier in many cases to get juices flowing, to use the freshness of the first encounter, to smash through the predictable, and take a first cut at new points of view.

While we gain goodness like this, in people connecting physically and intellectually, consider that the more compelling wins will come from further connecting at the heart, passion to passion.  Is your culture competent to nurture its mad scientists, artists, and sculptors?  Does it allow time for the creative process to take hold?  Do these ideas jibe with what you consider practical in managing the top and bottom lines?

For more on the topic, and about the love that goes into a mother’s butter cookies, please see:

Creativity: A Dialogue with Oliver Uberti.

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

1-Minute Assessment: Quality Gates

Take today’s 1-minute assessment

  1. Does your IT organization have a standard naming convention for its quality gates? (e.g. DEV, QA, End-2-End, UAT, PRE-PROD, other)
  2. Do the delivery teams abide by those?
  3. Do the various functions who have a stake in the gates, like release managers, testers, and those who provision environments, subscribe to the same standard and coordinate their activities so?

Did you answer NO to any of these questions?  If so, you might be seeing some thrash across a handful of service and process areas that you can fix, relatively quickly, for good return.

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

The year the Valley embraced sustainable food innovation

Richly informative piece on innovation in the food industry


“The food industry is broken,” says Josh Tetrick, a 32-year-old entrepreneur who’s creating plant-based egg replacement products that could one day disrupt the global egg industry. His 11-month-old company, Hampton Creek Foods, is working out of a food lab in the South of Market area of San Francisco, just a few blocks from Internet startups like Twitter, Zynga and Airbnb. During a tour of the lab this week, Tetrick’s lovable golden retriever, and unofficial company mascot, Jake, was parked good-naturedly on a bright red couch in the lobby, underneath a photo of Bill Gates eating a muffin made with Hampton Creek’s egg-free baking product. It’s a feel good sort of place.

In the culinary lab

In Hampton Creek’s lab, Tetrick’s staff of 19 — armed with a combo of science degrees, chef experience and food industry chops — are obsessing over eggs. What gives an egg — the result…

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What would you do with 1000 square feet?

You’re given 1000 square feet of real estate in your business’s headquarters, and have the financial resources to build it out and staff it as you please, as long as it becomes a major hub of activity for IT and the Business.  You need to make it a place that buzzes, where things get done.  What’s the plan?

© Michael C. Simonelli, onthegocio.com, 2013

Slide show from Reid Hoffman: The Start-up of You

I am sharing today a slide show offered by Reid Hoffman to commemorate a year in print for the The Start-up of You.  Consider as you view the show, the potential for extending Hoffman’s ideas beyond the person, to small communities in the organization, to the collective You.  Hoffman says, “The last year has continued to demonstrate how work and careers need a new entrepreneurial mindset for everyone, not just entrepreneurs.”

Pour a beverage – hot or cold – and find some time to enjoy the slide show.