80 Column CardThis will really show my age. And my history!

It’s been a long time since I remember reading a book or article by Edsger Dijkstra, and unfortunately I can’t remember the reference and I can’t find the exact quote. But this is close.

In hiring, I ask the prospect if he knows FORTRAN? If he says ‘yes’ then I don’t hire him!
— Edsger Dijkstra

(Perhaps the reference was to BASIC, or COBOL, instead of FORTRAN, but same idea)

Sadly, despite my own history, I have to think Dijkstra was right. But, fortunately, he has another quote that I was able to find that makes me feel a little better.

Perfecting oneself is as much unlearning as it is learning.”
— Edsger Dijkstra

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?


Harold A. Dye, 1917-2015

At the beginning of November, my dad, Harold A. Dye, celebrated his 98th birthday. Early this morning, he slipped into eternity. Below is a summary biography, which doesn’t even include the time he was president of the United States (it’s a fun and credible story — ask me about it some time).


Several of the care-givers at the assisted living facility where he’s lived the last fifteen years made heart-warming statements along the lines of “It’s been an honor to know your dad.” Thank you for your legacy, dad.


(updated 12/10/2015)
12/12/2015 update: Memorial Service will be JANUARY 16, 2pm, at King’s Bridge Retirement Center


Harold Dye was born in Dothan Alabama in 1917.  He moved to Atlanta, GA when he was three months old. He attended Boys High School and later Georgia Tech, graduating as a Ceramic Engineer.  He died December 9, 2015. He was 98 years old.

Most of his life was spent serving his country. He served as an Artillery Battery Commander in the in Europe during World War II. During the Korean War he served as an Advanced Artillery instructor in the Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma before being assigned as a Lt. Col. to the United Nations Military Armistice Commission, in Korea. This was followed by a three year tour as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa.  He then served with the Department of Army and Secretary of Defense Staffs during the Vietnam War.

He served a three year tour on the Army General Staff in the Pentagon as the Strategic Army Corp Liaison Officer before becoming a Battalion Commander in Aschaffenburg, Germany.  He was Commander of an Artillery Group of five Battalions of Tube and Missile Artillery.  As a Colonel, Dye stated that he had more kilotons of fire-power under his command than the total of all fire-power used by the Allies in World War II. That fire-power was never used but the deployment of the Persian Missile to his Artillery Group in Bavaria brought an end to the “Cold” war.

He was awarded numerous medals including the Legion of Merit but states that his most cherished award was being named by the Chief of Chaplains as “Layman of the Year” for the U.S. Army in Europe.  Even with a very heavy command load as an artillery Group Commander of over 3500 men he still managed to teach Sunday School in the Army Chapels in Aschaffenburg, Kitzengen, and Bamberg, Germany–just as he had done in Korea during and after the Korean war.

General Dye retired from the army in 1967 after 32 years of service.  After two weeks of retirement he was appointed Deputy Commissioner of Industry and Trade for the State of Georgia by Governor Lester Maddox.

As Deputy Commissioner he helped with the great expansion of Georgia Business and Industry. He was instrumental in bring the sluggish per capita income of Georgia to the average per capita income of the United States. He helped change the state from predominantly agricultural to manufacturing and related businesses. He said, “Instead of one man farming 100 acres, 100 men could now be employed in a factory covering only one acre. And, each of the 100 people would have a greater income than the farmer.”

General Dye was instrumental in the development of the World Congress Center which put Atlanta and Georgia on the World map.

General Dye resigned from Industry and Trade in 1973 to run for Mayor of Atlanta, and a year later for Governor of Georgia.  He didn’t win either election, but made a strong showing against some other well-known candidates.

General Dye was instrumental in re-forming the Gate City Guard in 1946 and was its first Commander after WW II. The Gate City Guard was first established in Georgia in 1856 with the express purpose of Defending Georgia against a possible invasion from outside the State or uprising within the State. He joined the Old Guard of the Gate City Guard in 1948 and was its Commander in 1952. He was the senior member.  The Old Guard was established in 1868 by War Between the States veterans who had served in the Gate City Guard, but were too old to bear arms.

He was an Elder at Highlands Presbyterian church where he taught Sunday School since he was 19 years old.

Harold was pre-deceased by his wife of 70 years, Emma Jean Townley Dye.  They were the proud parents of four children, grandparents of eleven, great grandparents of sixteen (and counting) and great, great grandparents of two.  He often said, “Most of the time, the parents have to be around to help me know who’s who“.


Six Second Hugs

As mentioned in The Happiness Project, and elsewhere, the idea that hugs of more than six seconds cause a chemical release that creates some bonding. I happened to have co-read this book with a female, (who by the way is married, and I know her husband, and they live a long way away, just so there’s no confusion), and we each commented on that six-second concept.

Later, unexpectedly, she asked me if she and I had ever hugged for 6 seconds (we had some business/social occasions through the years). I was pretty certain that answer was ‘no.’

A while back, I got a package in the mail. Would you agree this represents “more than six seconds” of hugs?
Hersheys Hugs

Thanks Lisa!

Important vs. Urgent

How do you determine what’s important?

ImportantSo much has been written about how we need to be sure we select what’s important over what’s urgent. What seems to be missing is a way to determine what’s important. Urgent tends to shout at us, while important can be much quieter. That doesn’t seem like a good criteria though.

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
-Dwight Eisenhower

Related article, How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”

Some of us get caught up in the evaluations: important, urgent, efficient, effective. This silly diagram, that I hate, because it so identifies me, summarizes the time was well! Thanks (a little) to my friend Keith Lowe for sending this to me.
Time Cost of Indecision






Two major thoughts on choosing what’s important:

  1. My loose paraphrase of a Roy Disney quote: “Decisions are easy when your values are clear.” My belief, which is yet to be proven, is that when you are extremely clear on values, all else will become easier. With a clear Moral Compass, and absolute adherence to it, all else will fall into place
  2. Rory Vaden’s book, Procrastinate on Purpose, adds the concept of time and Significance to how we determine what’s important. A highly recommended read.

Choosing what’s important, over the urgent, is still a challenge for me. I’m still looking for the book on “the easy way to know what’s important.” Anybody ready to write it? A short book would be preferred!


What Makes Training “Good?”


What is good training? That’s almost a trick question. Which of these are true?

  1. Good training is when somebody actually learns something
  2. Good training is when somebody learns something new
  3. Good training means learning how to do something faster
  4. Good training is when the student can pass a test or certification
  5. Good training provides the student with experience

Those are all probably “true” statements, but are they right? How about this instead:

“Good training is something that makes an employee more productive to the organization”

We might even need to add in that the new productivity has a higher value than the cost of the training. If a training program costs $10,000 and the net result is that one employee saves 5 minutes a day on one task, was that a gain?

Miscellaneous thoughts on training:

  • Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
    –Benjamin Franklin
  • Typical training: If you push this button, X will happen. Better training: if you’re trying to accomplish X, here’s what you need to do
  • The best training is self training (at least for most people)
  • Two typical attitudes about training:
    1. I don’t know how to do that, I need training
    2. I bet there’s a way to do that, let me figure it out
    When a person transitions from #1 to #2, think of the possibilities! (HT to Jim LaBarr)
  • Lengthy (all day, all week) training appears to have great results, but they usually don’t last. Short, even repetitive, topic-focused training has much longer results. Consider TED talks and their 18 minute rule
  • A lot of short, single-topic, “do it yourself” training bits may work better than typical classroom
  • Classroom is still good for the dialog, and to force training to happen for those who wouldn’t otherwise have the discipline
  • Lunch-n-Learn is almost always a good thing. Most people like food
  • Good training is specific to the organization’s culture. And processes. It may focus on those processes!
  • Spend more time on the every day stuff than the once-a-year stuff. [but define the once-a-year stuff in an easy to reference KB]
  • If doing classroom training set the expectation that each person will be called on. After the question is asked, not before!
  • Good training focuses more on why than on how

Where does training end and support start? Or vice versa? Or are they deeply intertwined? What would happen if design, development, implementation, configuration, training, and support where all tightly connected with each other. Would the end-users have a better experience?

Better training reduces friction. Or …

Better training helps things go right which in turn creates better user experiences.”

Is that the same as improved productivity? Probably

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.


  • 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.


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


JST: A Few Guiding Principles

GuidingPrinciplesA few guiding principles

If these things are already obvious to you, great. If they are obvious to you, but you’re not living these principles, well, time for a gut check! Don’t let yourself get stuck being non-productive or doing unwise things.

  1. Accountability – you need it
  2. A job search is hard work
  3. Only employed people can offer you a job. Go where employed people go
  4. Get comfortable meeting people. Learn to introduce yourself
  5. Know what you’re looking for so others can help you. If you are at all confused, others will be more confused
  6. Be professional. In everything
  7. Be approachable (and be findable!)
  8. Drop any hint of pride. Be willing to ask for help


Last updated: 1/13/2015

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.