Tag Archives: mike sisco

Assign a paparazzi to your IT team

PhotographerYou should assign a paparazzi to your IT team and start documenting your journey. You may not realize it, but right now may be one of the best work experiences in your entire career.

There are three companies I look back upon in my career and think of them as my best experiences. Much of what made these situations special has to do with the people I worked with, part of it was the type of work we were doing, and some of it was even the client experiences.

There are two things I wish I had done earlier in my career:

  1. Kept a journal
  2. Taken more photos

No excuse for not keeping a journal, , , just didn’t think about it back then. Wish I had because there were many memorable moments that I know would be worth remembering now.

I keep two journals now, , , one for business and one that’s personal. I don’t write in them every day but try to capture important events and a few things I think will be worth remembering when I’m in my 80’s and 90’s. 🙂

On the photos issue, I do have a reason for lacking more photos. Early in my career we had to use film, , , digital cameras were not around yet. So, the hard copy photos I have are far and few between and many have been lost over time. Digital is so much better. Wish we had digital cameras when I was a kid!

When I stumble upon a hard copy photo from my early career, it usually brings back good memories, , , like the one below.

Mike_BryanThis is Bryan Hathcock, my first IBM manager and one of the best managers I’ve ever worked for, awarding me a $20 gold coin for helping sell the most IBM software applications during a contest period. I remember working hard to help my primary Sales Rep, Jim Cockerham, focus on this objective. Jim is also in the photo (far left) and just seeing Jim and Bryan brings back so many great memories of my “IBM days”. Note the wide tie and jet black hair!

I st$20_Gold_Coinill have my $20 gold coin which is now worth more than $1,000.

I talked to Bryan just last week which may have prompted me to think about writing this post. He is in his 80’s now but hasn’t changed a lot. Hoping to stop by and visit him when I’m in Atlanta in April for our niece’s wedding and share some memories.

Back to the paparazzi idea, , , why do I recommend you assign a paparazzi and start taking photos? Well, there are several reasons:

  • Capturing memories at work may be appreciated later in your life. Like I said, these times may be some of the best you will experience in  your career.
  • Develop slideshows with high energy background music for some of your IT staff meetings, , , especially if you do an annual IT Kickoff Meeting. Your employees like to see themselves on “the big screen” in a slide show. Trust me, it’s great motivational material in a staff meeting. How do I know? Simple, I’ve been an employee and liked it and I’ve also seen it work great with employees who have worked for me.
  • It’s fun, , , and having fun at work from time to time is beneficial for both you and your employees.

In each of my IT Manager Institute classes I assign a paparazzi on the first day to take photos during the class. At the end of the class I give students a flash drive that contains IT management resources plus a file of all the class photos taken during the week. Some of them are truly memorable like the ones below:

CoinsDubai Institute managers showing off their MDE/IT Manager Institute coins

Institute-Tanner_Sep2014-2Tanner Medical managers in a fun class photo

IT Manager Institute - DubaiClass photo of one of my favorite Dubai Institute classes – October 2012
I have delivered 16 IT Manager Institutes in Dubai through 2015
I’m standing next to our paparazzi, Mohammed Abu Deeb from Saudi Arabia

kickoff_photosA small class but what a great group!!! I stay in contact with several of them.

kickoff_6Monika really enjoyed this desert!

18bEd presents Heitor a “Dead Chicken Award” – lots of laughs!

21cLjubljana Institute managers in our “Blues Brothers” pose

21bI’m 5’10” tall, , , Matej and Timor are 7′ tall – material for a memorable photo

institute39-bLagos Nigeria class presents me a painting that now hangs in my home office

Call me sentimental or foolish, but I like to reminisce and remember some of the “fun times” in my career. As you get older, you may discover it happens with you as well.

What type of photos do you want your IT paparazzi to capture? Good question, I recommend the following but don’t limit it to just my ideas:

  • Company events
  • Awards
  • IT employees at work
  • IT employees with your clients (Managers and Users)
  • Meetings
  • Off-site events
  • Cameo or ad hoc photos of your employees

Be creative and have some fun with the process, , , it really does not take a lot of time or effort.

photagrapher_2Take advantage of the motivational aspect work photos give you during IT staff meetings; I think you will find it has much more impact than you believe it will. Over time you will amass quite a library of photos that can be special to show your people “scenes of the past”.

SMILE, , , you are on Candid Camera !!

IT managers need a “Swiss Army Knife”

swiss army knifeManaging an IT organization requires many skills to succeed in today’s fast paced and complex world. IT managers are required to juggle several issues at the same time and meet ever-increasing demand from their clients (senior managers, department managers, users) and from their IT staff.

For example, to be effective you need to be able to:

  • coach
  • monitor
  • manage
  • lead
  • council
  • innovatelate
  • strategize
  • communicate
  • investigate
  • sell
  • troubleshoot
  • analyze
  • decide
  • focus
  • prioritize
  • critique
  • persuade
  • research
  • educate
  • budget
  • understand technology of all types
  • , , , and more

Do you still need convincing?

It’s like we need a Swiss army knife to help us handle all the challenges of managing an IT organization. A single function knife blade will no longer do the job, , , we have to become skilled in multiple capabilities.

On top of managing today’s technology support environment and issues, IT manager responsibilities are constantly changing.

  • Client priorities seem to shift like the wind from month to month, maybe even from day to day in your situation.
  • Technology is changing faster than ever, , , and the pace of change will only increase in the future.
    • To stay current with today’s technologies is tough now and will be more difficult in the future.
    • There will be technologies in two years that are not even on the drawing board today and will make some of the technologies we use today obsolete.
    • It is difficult, if not impossible to be a technical expert in today’s environment and also be a strong manager.
  • Client need is evolving and increasing in demand as new technologies emerge.

Sounds like an impossible mission, doesn’t it?

Well, it’s certainly a big challenge. I’ve written many times and explain to IT managers in my classes all over the world that, “IT managers have the toughest management role in a company”. The reasons are what you’ve just read:

  • Technology is changing so fast.
  • Client demand for technology is increasing and changes all the time.
  • The IT manager, especially the CIO must understand the needs and issues of every department in the company, not just the IT Department. No other manager in your company is required to do this to be successful, , , only in IT.
  • IT people are different and can be challenging to manage.

How do you attack these challenges?

  1. yes-noFirst and foremost is that it’s important to realize, “You don’t have to be an expert in everything.” Even if you had the brain power and capacity to learn it all, you won’t have enough time in the day to be the expert in all areas. What this means is that you need to prioritize and focus on what you believe is required in your circumstance. Every situation is different.
  2. Become a prolific reader to learn things and to improve the knowledge and skills needed in your profession.
  3. Augment existing skills with training and education that will add new skills in the areas you need them.
  4. Find mentors who have experience in the area of responsibility you have or that you aspire to.
  5. Identify internal and external resources who can help you “cover all the bases”.
  6. Learn to delegate and rely on these extra resources  to handle issues outside your expertise.

A key to doing these things is that you must spend some time to assess what your organization (company and IT Department) needs from you.

Next, do an objective and honest skills assessment of yourself. What are your current skills, and how strong are each of these skills relative to what is needed?

Finally, create a plan of attack to develop your skills where you see gaps in what is needed versus what you have.

Give this part plenty of thought and prioritize your efforts. IT people have a strong tendency to want to do everything and do them to the “nth degree”. Not necessary, plus it only serves to overwhelm you which will prevent you from accomplishing as much as you could if you keep your list short, focused and reasonable.

Remember, you don’t need to be an expert in all areas, , , just competent in most and expert in a few. Choosing which areas you will become an expert in is subjective and depends upon the situation you have. Making these choices will be a challenge, , , but part of managing well is making decisions and choosing “what not to do” sometimes. Not an easy thing to do but it will help you manage to what is possible and not what our minds tell us is desirable.

Identify where you will develop additional skills and where you will rely on others (either internal or external resources) to provide the organization the complete set of skills needed for success.

Swiss army knives come in all types of configurations. So too do the needs of IT management positions in companies. Not all positions require the same set of skills, , , every situation is somewhat unique, so the skill requirements can and should be different.

Let’s use my personal example to explain. I’m comfortable managing programmers, business analysts, and Help Desk environments, but when it comes to managing some of the infrastructure resources (specifically Network and Systems Engineers), I need help because I don’t have this technical background. So to the points I’ve been making, I find resources who can competently fill the technology expertise needed in these technical areas to compliment the set of skills I have.

I’m not going to become an expert in networks, security, and systems, , , but we have to have experts in these areas to support our business. I’ll either rely on someone internally (hopefully) or will bring in help from the outside to provide the skills we need.

Build the “Swiss army knife” you need for your situation, , , one that gives you the skills and tools to be successful. And don’t forget to also develop resources you can rely on with additional capabilities to handle issues in areas you choose to delegate and rely on others for.

2016 IT Manager Institute training schedule

Hello and Happy New Year. 2016 will be my 14th year delivering the IT Manager Institute to managers all over the world via classroom and self study. We also have open slots to deliver the program in the US and Canada when you confirm 6 or more students. Classroom events can be delivered in 3, 4 or 5 days as desired. Contact me at info@mde.net if you are interested in hosting a class for your company or community in the US or Canada.

This year, we will deliver our open classroom programs in 3-day events. The days will certainly be full in order to cover all the material, but this gives you an opportunity to save in registration fees, time and travel expenses.

Plus, we will deliver two Advanced Institute classes following two of our standard IT Manager Institute programs in Dubai (May 25-26) and the US (September 16-17). These programs are for Institute Graduates ONLY.

CLICK HERE for more information or to download a brochure.

 

1-Day “Achieve More” Seminar held in Dubai

Mike Sisco_DubaiHello from Dubai, , , I’m here to deliver the 69th IT Manager Institute that starts tomorrow. It is the 15th time we have held the program in Dubai,, , , a great venue but the 14-hour flight from Atlanta never gets any shorter.

A couple of days ago I delivered the first 1-day seminar titled, ACHIEVE MORE From Your IT Investment for a small group of managers from Saudi Arabia and UAE. The revenue is not as good as it is for a big group, but I think smaller events may be more fun in that you are able to get to know the participants more.

Below is a photo of this “inaugural event” group. It was the first of many 1-day presentations I hope to make on this topic.

2015_1-Day Achieve More EventFrom left to right:  Awad, Charbel, Khalid, Alaa, “Me”, and Manoj

It was a fun group, , , the day went by so quickly. I met Awad in last October’s IT Manager Institute he attended, , , was good to see him again. Manoj plans to attend next week’s Institute and Charbel plans to take advantage of the Self Study program.

It was a good day!

 

IT Manager Institute – 2015 Training Schedule

mike_promo2014 was a solid year with 9 more IT Manager Institute programs. We expect 2015 will also be a great year. Below is the current schedule for 2015 classes.

_Training schedule

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learn more at http://itmanagerinstitute.com/training/schedule

Preparing for next week’s IT Manager Institute class

Next week I travel to Carrollton, GA to deliver our 65th IT Manager Institute for 18 managers at Tanner Health System.

Even though I have delivered the class 64 times including six times this year, I always use a checklist to prepare for each class to insure all goes as planned.

Tanner_Class_ToDoMy Institute Class Checklist

I’m a big believer in tools and templates for three simple reasons:

  1. Makes it easier
  2. Improves quality
  3. Reduces stress

Makes it easier
Probably my primary reason to develop any tool is to make work easier. I remember the first time I delivered an IT Manager Institute, , , there was a lot of last minute effort to pull it all together. Today, it’s so much simpler and easier with a checklist.

Improves quality
Tools like my IT Manager Institute To Do List shown above help insure everything is done to prepare or complete a project. I never show up at a class and find that I have “missed something we need to deliver the program successfully” if I have checked off each of the items on the list.

Reduces stress
I didn’t realize the benefit tools have in “reducing stress” early in my career, but now I fully understand that making work easier and insuring the work will be complete is a tremendous stress reducer.  As they say in Australia, “No worries!”.

The Institute To Do List above includes anything from insuring I pack my passport and the appropriate electrical adapter for an overseas trip to putting clothes in the cleaners and getting a haircut. I also insure certain things are done with “time to spare” by listing completion time frames weeks ahead of the event.

I print an Institute To Do List and put it in my class folder for every class I schedule. It saves time preparing, , , makes it easier, , , eliminates every bit of stress, , , and guarantees I show up ready to go.

IT Manager ToolKitMy IT Manager ToolKit contains more than 100 tools and templates that were developed to help me manage and monitor IT organizations. Learn more.

IT Manager Institute #63 was in Dubai last week

I returned to Dubai last week to deliver our 63rd IT Manager Institute program. We had 20 managers from 8 countries – UAE, Saudi Arabia, Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Oman, Qatar, and Pakistan. This was an exceptional group of managers.

Dubai_May2014IT Manager Institute #63  –  Dubai, UAE  –  May 2014

History of external data storage

I’ve been in IT for longer than anyone can remember (over 40 years), and I’ve seen some amazing progress in computer technology, especially in offline data storage.

Got my IT start in the US Marine Corps way back in 1969. My first real job was 3rd shift computer operator for Marine Corps Base – Kaneohe, Hawaii.

USMC DPP-10 Kaneohe, HawaiiDPP-10    Marine Corps Base – Kaneohe, Hawaii – 1971
That’s me standing under the sign
We are in front of a “mobile data center” ready to be deployed to the field

Let me describe how far the technology has come in the last 45 years.

My computer operator job was to run daily, weekly and monthly reports for the air wing of MCB-Kaneohe, , , it included all types of reports concerning personnel, aircraft, equipment, parts, etc. , , , normal reports like you would expect.

At this juncture we used 80-column cards to store information about a record. A “record” might be a jet aircraft or helicopter, a Marine pilot or fireman, or a piece of equipment. At the end of the month I had to sort the cards and print several detail reports for Marines to manage the business.

In one application called FSA (Fleet Stock Accounting), the owners of the data brought me some 50,000 cards every month of all the detail records of their equipment and parts inventory. They were stored in some 15-20 metal trays that held approx. 3,000 cards each.

Here is the point to my story – to sort 5 characters of the cards to prepare them to print an Equipment List sorted alphabetically it would take me over ten hours just to sort the card deck so I could then print the report, , , and the computer processing part to print the report took another 2-3 hours, , , that’s 12 to 14 hours just to print a detailed Equipment Report.

How long does it take today? Just a few seconds to initiate the report, maybe a few minutes to produce and print it, , , that is if you actually want the printed version.

Every end of month I would literally spend an entire weekend in our Data Center to create the monthly reports for this application.

External data storage has evolved considerably so I thought it might be fun to take a look at how it took place. I’ve actually worked with everything you will see in the discussion below.

The beginning
Paper is where it all started. Before computers everything was on paper. Do the images below look familiar?

storage_paper

The first computers used punch cards
The first was the 80-column card followed by a smaller 96-column card that allowed for smaller equipment and 20% more storage on a record.

storage_punched cards

At Kaneohe we used IBM equipment – the 1401 Computer System.

storage_IBM 1401 computer system

Punched card processing took lots of equipment to do very specific things like sorting, collating or merging card decks, interpreting and printing newly punched cards, etc. Lots of equipment and a very manual, tedious process, , , but it was light years ahead of pencil and paper.

storage_IBM punch card technology

Along came tape and “magnetic media”
At first, vendors like IBM simply added a tape drive to complement their card system like the 1401 processing environment below.

storage_tape

Do you remember the old tape libraries? Larger organizations literally had dedicated resources just to manage the tapes.

storage_tape library

Disk storage opens up new horizons in storage capacity, speed and reliability.
Initially there were removable disk packs that increased in size over time to hold more data. Then more versatile drives came along with considerable more storage and speed and built to be more sturdy.

storage_disk

The diskette era
Diskettes hit the scene with the IBM System/32 around 1976. This system used an 8-inch “floppy diskette” for backup and software portability. With the introduction of the minicomputer and emphasis on business applications software to run on them small and mid-size businesses could afford to computerize their business.

storage_diskette

You can see the trend – smaller media with more storage capacity plus they  are becoming more damage proof with simpler read mechanisms as the technology evolves.

CD and ZIP drives expand storage
The need for more external storage increases quickly as computing power increases with the PC and more software applications become available. CDs and ZIP drives fill the need for a short time.

storage_CD and zip drives

The race is on
Newer applications include more data, images, video and audio, , , applications that literally devour disk space. The need for more storage space, faster access times, and portable media is the new era of computing storage. As technology improves, the advances in these areas move forward faster.

storage_flash drive and backup drivesFlash drives started out with 16MB, 32MB and 64MB when they were first introduced. Now you see flash drives no bigger than your thumbnail that hold upwards of 512GB and there are plans to put up to 2TB of data onto a flash drive in the near future.

External backup drives like the one shown above are already storing terabyte levels of data with enormous growth expected in this area in the future.

Summary
Let me put some of this into perspective for you. In 1979 I had a tour of IBM’s General Systems Division (GSD) Headquarters and Data Center in Atlanta, GA.

I’ll never forget a sign that was in the front part as you entered the Data Center. Behind the sign were rows upon rows of disk drives followed by rows and rows of tape drives. The floor that housed the Data Center was probably around 30,000 square feet and much of it held disk drives for data storage. The sign said, , ,

storage_16GBYou have to understand, , , 16GB was huge in those days, , , but there was no graphics or video to contend with so a gigabyte of textual data was quite a lot.

Today, I carry a 64GB flash drive the size of my thumbnail with me wherever I go and my laptop has far more computing power and functionality than all of the mainframes in that IBM Data Center. Amazing evolution of computing technology, , , plus it becomes more affordable all the time. A terabyte of data storage in 1979 would have cost you over $1 million, , , today about $75.00.

The next 10 years will be an amazing experience.

IT Manager Training – Overview of the IT Manager Institute Program

it-manager-institute-overview_start

The IT Manager Institute and ITBMC Certification Program is one of the fastest and most effective ways to develop critical IT management skills.

The program follows a simple IT Management Process™ and provides tools and insights that can be used immediately to help IT managers of all levels achieve more™ success.

itbmcOver 1,000 IT managers from all parts of the world have attended the program in either classroom, webinar, or online Self Study with 100% positive feedback. The reason is simple: our processes and tools are practical, easy to implement, and they work in the real world.

Check out the IT Manager Institute at:
http://itmanagerinstitute.com/training/agenda/

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