Friday, November 29, 2013

Technology leadership and innovation at Google - how does this relate to 'normal' organisations?

I came across the following article by Google on 'the 8 pillars of innovation' a few weeks ago and it got me thinking... what is innovation and technology leadership for a 'normal' company?

'Normal' companies are not Google... but there are many companies that would *love* to be 'like Google' (at least in some respects e.g. market cap, revenue streams, etc.) and so do some of the ideas presented in the article apply?

In many ways, companies like Google, and Apple, and others, are synonymous with innovation. The visible innovation occurs in the market, with new products and services that are offered. The less visible innovation is happening on the inside - as illustrated in the article and also in Hollywood films like 'The Internship' ;) lol

Its hard to imagine a 'disconnect' between the internal culture and the external culture. They may not be the same in every respect but there is no doubt IMHO that there is significant congruence between the two.

I think that is one reason why when I see a focus on client-facing-innovation I get excited because it probably means that there is a very innovative company on the 'inside'.  It makes me want to be part of it :)

One of the interesting points made in the article is how Google handles 'failure' - never fail to fail!  That part reminded me a lot of when I first became a consultant, at Simsion Bowles & Associates (good 'ol SBA)... Graeme (Simsion) did not mind failures, they were a chance to learn, the only rule was 'fail fast and learn quickly' ;) SBA was a very innovative company, at least in my own experience to that point, and its was a really fun place to work and to grow.

As an IT guy, one of the 'spin offs' I look for in an innovative company is how innovative they are in their use of technology.  I just hate it when IT is seen as 'pure expense' or a 'necessary evil' that makes it really hard to enjoy my work... in my career I have had a gut full of 'bureaucratic IT departments' pushing their view of how technology can and can't be used... the worst thing is its done from a purely 'selfish' or 'ignorant' 'don't create work for me' point of view :-/

As a disclaimer, let me say that last part is not a criticism, it is more of a challenge!

Every company needs to have some control over their technology, its cost, impact, etc. but I think it sometimes goes too far... people so far removed from the 'customer' think they are in charge and that they can make up the requirements... this is where it all goes pear shaped IMHO.

The 'effect' of client-facing-innovation is a catalyst to putting the focus squarely back on the client and their needs and when this happens it can help 'obliterate' the way companies think about technology (to borrow an expression from Michael Hammer in his famous 'don't automate, obliterate' article in the HBR).

The 'spin off' winners are the internal staff who get to share in the innovations created for clients and, to coin another term, 'the cobblers children will *finally* get new shoes'... because the shoes will have been designed for the client and, as we all know, there is nothing more enlightening than 'walking a mile in another person's (the clients) shoes' ;)

I hope our 'cobblers' in your organisation are up for it, there are a lot of new shoes to make ... welcome to the revolution ;) **1

**1 I had a choice between the song 'Children of the Revolution' by T-Rex or Tommy Lee Jones' quote from 'Under Siege' ... I went with the song :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Agile Data Warehouse development

I am currently 'brushing up' on Agile Data Warehousing approaches to match a need which has arisen in my work.

Being a Scott Ambler fan, I decided to start with Agile Best Practices for Data Warehousing (DW)/Business Intelligence (BI) Projects and also with the TDWI as I recalled that the 2010 conference in San Diego was about agile DW/BI approaches

From the Abler article, I found a link to AgileData methods and also to AgileModelling .  One thought I really liked was the 'Let's keep the modeling baby but throw out the bureaucracy bathwater. ;-)' ... this I *really* like, to me, modelling (and the design aspects that go with it) are key.  If you don't have a 'top down' view of the model and the key design points its very hard to be effective using Agile IMHO... Agile without modelling is a bit like Monty Python's 100 yard dash for people with no sense of direction ;)

 I'd be happy to hear about anyone's experiences with Agile DW/ BI approaches.  I will post more on this as I read more and formulate an overall approach for 'my project'

My new 'project' - Wordpress and GIT

So, my new 'project' is getting Wordpress and GIT working together.

My 'ultimate' goal, at this stage at least, is to have a local install of Wordpress and GIT, running on a Mac Mini on my home network, that 'mirrors' a hosted install of Wordpress (except for some Wordpress settings that need to be changed).

The idea is to be able to make changes to the local development installation, track changes with GIT, and be able to 'push' updates up to the hosted install once I have had a chance to test things out.

Its early days but I have found a few articles on the net that sound promising... here is one that I am studying to learn the basics of what I need to do  Developing on Wordpress using GIT   and here is another Using GIT for Wordpress development  and this Adding GIT to your Wordpress development workflow

Anyone know of any other articles worth reading?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Recommended ebooks on Wordpress Multisite

Check out

There are two ebooks on WP multisite that I have bought and can recommend

The first book is by Andrea Rennick and is a short guide to enabling WP multisite.  Its clear and well written, easy to follow and explains the basics of WP multisite.  I knew most of it but it was a good refresher to check my understanding of the key concepts.

The second book is one that has been co-authored by Mika Epstein and Andrea Rennick and is a more in depth look at WP multiple networks and multisite… I'm only part way through but I like the easy to follow style of the book.  I'm learning heaps about WP multiple networks and multisite and I hope I can learn enough to be confident to manage my WP multiple networks / multisite installation.  You can find more info about the second book here

Both come in Kindle format for use on a Kindle or, as I do, on an iPad with the Kindle app installed.  There are also PDF and ePub formats.

Good work Andrea and Mika I love your work :)

p.s. I came across Mika on some of the support forums… a very knowledgeable and helpful person :)

See for an example