Category Archives: Standards

What Makes for a Good Work Ethic?

WorkEthic3

I’ve several times made the claim that I have an old-fashioned work ethic. Lately, I’ve begun to question what that actually means. I’ve met other people who don’t seem to have a good work ethic, but when asked, they say they do. Hmmm. Is “work ethic” totally subjective? That doesn’t seem likely. So, what does make for a good work ethic?

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Further below, are ideas gathered from various sources and friends, but here’s one thing I’ve noticed over and over. If somebody comes in with a sour attitude, no matter how good they are at what they do, the attitude tarnishes everything. On the other hand, if somebody comes in with enthusiasm and a smile, and again, it may not matter how good they are at the job, they seem to have a good work ethic. So, I don’t want to go so far as to say that enthusiasm and a smile are a measurement, but maybe they are a strong hint!

I’m going to choose to be enthusiastic and smile.

Two other especially strong thoughts for me:
1. Always go beyond the minimum requirement
2. Taken from The Outward Mindset, when there’s a problem, take the attitude of “As far as I am concerned, the problem is me.” At first that one is scary. Then it becomes liberating!

Talking with some retail managers, it’s fun to hear some of the challenges.
1. Get people to just show up!
2. On time
3. Dressed right

More thoughts, “borrowed” from many others:

From QBQ newsletter:
1. HUMBLE: Self-deprecating humor, takes no credit for wins, downplays their strengths. Acknowledges it’s a “team effort.”
2. ACCOUNTABLE: Quick to own mistakes and failures with little to no blame and finger-pointing. And definitely not a whiner! (See the QBQ! book)
3. COLLABORATIVE: Don’t have all the answers, know they can’t do it alone, and open to ideas they did not generate. Shares AND listens.
4. DECISIVE: No “paralysis by analysis” here. Flexible, but not wishy-washy. Possesses opinions that are thought through.
5. ENCOURAGING: Praises people, provides positive feedback, and slow to criticize. Lifts others up with their words.

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  • Showing up to work, on time (preferably before your appointed office hours), appropriately dressed, and ready to take on the day.
  • Being present at work – different than being “on time” being present is the sense that you are doing what you can do for the company first, and for yourself second. You are thinking constantly about how to make the company better – in turn, you will be better at your job.
  • When you are at work, you are giving it your all, 110%, thinking of your colleagues and about advancing the company. Your company and colleagues are part of your extended family and you will do whatever is legal, moral and ethical to advance their careers and the cause of the company.
  • You don’t whine or gripe about tasks that have been assigned to you or ones that you have been volunteered for. You do the work with a sunny, optimistic attitude.
  • You defer to your manager’s decisions, even if in your opinion they are wrong.
  • You understand that you are an employee of the company, 24/7 – you are never really “off” the clock.
  • You are always selling your company’s product or service and you are always looking for a chance to advance your company’s product or service even if it is at a dinner party, a wedding, gas station, etc.

What other thoughts would you add for a good work ethic? Or is smile and be enthusiastic enough? And yes, I’m smiling as I ask that question!

 

Checklists and Scorecards

The Power and Simplicity of Checklists

ChecklistAre you a list person? Simple checklists, and maybe scorecards, can do wonders for an organization. A checklist might even save your life! This is a slightly long article, but you’ll get the idea in the first few paragraphs. Do More of What Already Works.

“Three months after it began, the procedure had cut the infection rate of I.C.U. patients by sixty-six percent. Within 18 months, this one method had saved 75 million dollars in healthcare expenses. Best of all, this single intervention saved the lives of more than 1,500 people in just a year and a half. The strategy was immediately published in a blockbuster paper for the New England Journal of Medicine.”

Millions of dollars! 1,500 lives! Wow! But for the same reason a checklist works, it can also fail. The key is to have somebody else check your checklist. Maintaining a scorecard, that someone else views, can make this work. Simple accountability. Really, it can be that simple. A shared Google spreadsheet can be a key accountability document between two people. It’s worth a try.

As a related item, I was recently with a friend at a wound care clinic. I noticed an item on their bulletin board that surprised me a little. So similar to the article above, the simple idea of hand washing:
Hand Hygene
Two things shock me here. First, the goal is only 90%. Really, if doctors wash their hands 90% of the time before treating a patient, then that’s success. Hmmm, sure hope if I’m ever there I’m in that 90%. But what about the other 10%? This seems like a no-brainer to achieve 90%. but wait, they are falling short of the goal. Oh my!

Maybe they need some assistance with accountability. Hmmm, who do I know who does accountability coaching?

 

The Desired Dropbox Alternative

We want to offer the simplicity of the Dropbox connectivity model to corporate storage. The Dropbox model is so very attractive: it’s moderately affordable, easy, and it works. How do we keep all the great parts of that? Counter-thought: what’s wrong with Dropbox that we all so desperately want an alternative? (possible security issues and challenge of central control are the two major things that come to mind, the lack of extending existing corporate storage might be an issue for some, a benefit for others!)

OwnCloudOwncloud, other than the issues of cost, would seem to be a solution ready for taking.

Thoughts:

  • Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android clients, with the same basic simplicity as Dropbox. Users have the control without having to ask an administrator. (Yes, there are both good and bad points to this)
  • Windows Files services assumed, but if the solution were to require Linux or other backend, shouldn’t matter! (as long as we have full control and backup)
  • Users have the ability to extend sharing of anything they have rights to, to others, on staff or not
  • Ability to administratively set and over-ride any user share settings, internal and external
  • All folders and files must fit within the corporate backup mechanism. The “master copy” is on-site
  • Administrative ability to disconnect (remote wipe) in case of lost device or abuse
  • Reporting capabilities? What files accessed by what user or device? What do we want to know about?
  • Additional thought: some way to tag files such that they cannot be shared outside staff? The “company confidential” attribute. Assumption: people can always work around such things. This is more advisory than control, but at least makes sure people are really intentional about the work around
  • Is there any value in extending the concept for ftp-style access?

Thought: If we had a sufficient solution, we could ask people to quit using Dropbox, and they wouldn’t mind. Thinking about how much people love Dropbox, what would that look like?

Document Collaboration Solutions

DocumentCollaborationDocument Collaboration — is there a solution that really works?

Different organizations certainly have different needs in document collaboration. Here are the requirements that I think I am looking for. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

  1. Truly live updating. More than one person at a time can be editing without conflict
  2. Ability to know who said what
  3. Notification of changes by others
  4. Nice bonus would be routing & workflow, such as a way to approve edits, and just to know when somebody else made a change

Sadly, I do not know of any one product that does all these things well! What have I missed?

Microsoft Word‘s “mark revisions” feature is fantastic for seeing who has made what changes in a document. But two people working on the same document at the same time? Good luck with that!

Evernote is a great shared notepad concept, but again, you don’t want two people trying to make changes at the same time. And when edits are made, it’s not at all easy to see who made what changes.

OneNote may be a good bit better at simultaneous editing AND seeing who has done what. And finally, in recent months, it’s become a good cross-platform solution. Without watching and looking at each note, it’s hard to know that someone else updated something. Of course, for some people, there is also the “I won’t use anything from Microsoft” issue that makes this slightly less desirable.

Google Docs (or Google Drive, depending on your reference) let’s multiple people edit simultaneously and does an excellent job of avoiding conflicting edits. After the fact it’s difficult to know who made what changes, and notifications, although possible, are not obvious. There’s also just this strange thing that a lot of people don’t like Google Docs, and tend to lose them and not know how to find them again. For those who are biased toward the familiarity of Microsoft Office products, the different interface and the fewer features can be a negative

Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and other such technologies all create ways to share,  but don’t much help with the simultaneous editing, and actually tend to cause issues if two people attempt to work simultaneously.

So, what’s a person to do? Google Docs are my current best answer, although I use every one of the above for different situations.

THERE MUST BE A BETTER ANSWER! What am I missing?!

Update, 4:45pm: Thanks @JimMichael for the tinkering with OneDrive.Live.com. Don’t think it’s the answer yet, but like Google Docs, heading in the right direction. We shall see what happens next.

 

Flashback Friday: No More Tape Backups?

FlashbackFriday150The post below was from October 2007. Still using tape? (I am, but much less) Afraid I have lost the bumper sticker from below. Anybody know where I can get another?

No More Tape Backups?

Is it possible to eliminate tape and still have backups, and archives, including off-site, disaster recovery, and business continuity?  I don’t know, but I sure like the idea.  Data Domain was at a seminar I attended recently, hosted by Optimus Solutions.  They gave us each a bumper sticker, that I’m real tempted to actually put on my car!

Tape

Flashback Friday: Four Dreaded Words

FlashbackFriday150Flashback Friday. This post on meetings is from June 19, 2007.

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Four Dreaded Words

“I thought we decided”

FourdreadedwordsIf you’ve visited me in the past few years, you’ve seen this sign on my door.  We’re constantly looking at how to do meetings better, but this was one of our motivators.  We had so many meetings where the first segment of each was a rehash of the previous meting, trying to remember what decisions were made.

What’s the right answer for documenting meeting decisions, action items, information disseminated, etc.?  I don’t know, but we’ve sure found a lot of wrong answers 🙁

Project Management == Communication

NoSurprisesSadly reminded of the importance of communication in project management. Establish written dates and milestones. Communicate them. Get buy-in. Yes, I’ve recently been involved in a project where some of this was missed. Not my project. No even my company’s project. Many people will be negatively impacted.What’s the point of project management? How about “No Negative Surprises?

Passwords or Pass-Phrases?

Revisiting password ideas, there is a lot of suggestion that passwords are dead, old fashioned, going away, or just don’t work. Soon we’ll have bio devices that take their place and are hack proof? OK, let me know when that happens! Especially if they are common-place and affordable (and actually work).

PassPhraseMany people have moved to the idea of pass-phrases. I’m for that! Sort of fits the original ideas. Just don’t forget the basics!

One strong suggestion in pass-phrases: have at least one non-dictionary word. Pass phrases made from a small number of dictionary words are actually slightly more prone to automated attacks than traditional passwords. Or, use our earlier ideas of mixing in a a number that triggers a sequence of special characters. And even though a pass phrase meets the longer is better requirement, you still want to be unique for each site.

Pass-phrases that are mixed case, have numbers, or special characters, are better than the ones that don’t. Arguable: leave the spaces out and use mixed case to make the password better. Example: 9AugustIsMyBirthday (which I still think is better than MyBirthdayIsAugust9 although since I’ve now published my birthday, neither is a good phrase!)

I use passwords AND pass-phrases. Ahead, pass-phrases will become my standard, I do believe, if we don’t find a trustworthy and affordable biometric solution.

Last Updated: 9/30/2014
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All articles in this series on Passwords:

 

 

Network Documentation

NetworkDocOld learning, revisited. Your documentation should be WHERE you need it! Case in point, critical ports on a network switch, critical links in a patch panel, put labels in place so there’s no guesswork, no need to search out documentation. Haven’t done this yet, but really tempted to have a 3×5 card taped near the key area that has “things you really ought to know” written on it.

Does this replace the need to document elsewhere? Well, it is hard to read those labels on the front of the switch when you’re hundreds of miles away remotely connected. 🙁

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