pilum

2013/07/31

Story 08 | 2013 | Fiction and Reality.

Filed under: story.english. — Tags: , , , — supernova @ 12:03 AM

Do you know Robert Langdon? You don’t? I am not impressed since this man is a respected historian and a Harvard professor.

If I ask the same question about Shakespeare you will feel insulted as you automatically think that I doubt your intelligence. Of course you know that Shakespeare was a great poet and playwright. Maybe you even know his birthplace.

I tell you something: You know Shakespeare as little as you know Robert Langdon. Just in case you – unlike me – are not crazy about these novels; Robert Langdon is a character created by Dan Brown who plays a chief part in four of Brown’s books. The film industry hired Tom Hanks to play this role.

Granted, there is some evidence for Shakespeare’s real existence. The church register in Stratford-upon-Avon mentions a person with this name and its graveyard hosts a tomb by the name of William Shakespeare. Until the present day theatres all over the world play “A midsummer night’s dream” or “Hamlet”. Still, we know nothing about the person William Shakespeare. His biographers are actually struggling to reconstruct his life.

Dan Brown did what most writers do. He equipped his protagonist with a biography and some personal features. At least it is known that Langdon suffers from claustrophobia and wears a Mickey Mouse watch. Do you know if Shakespeare avoided small rooms or if he wore jewelry? I mean straight from the horse’s mouth. Well, I don’t.

To make things worse I have to admit that I am in trouble when it comes to the definition of reality. When I think of Shakespeare or of Langdon the level of their reality appears to be the same. Apparently, even things we cannot see or touch can be genuine. At least I consider my thoughts reality; even if they deal with imaginary professors.

In the course of the following weeks I will claim that reality and fiction seem to overlap or at least that we cannot tell them apart as easily and clearly as one typically thinks. And we will see how much this is a fact in information technology.

Talk to you next Wednesday.

2013/06/26

Story 07 | 2013 | Philosophy 1

Since several weeks ago we have been talking about social media, change management and growth. To give all these business subjects a break we will publish some articles about philosophy.

What Philosophy Is Not

It seems a good idea to start with the explanation of what philosophy is NOT.

Since I hold a university degree in philosophy people often assume that I was a good dialog partner. Maybe I am but this has certainly nothing to do with philosophy.

I am not exactly crazy about this comment as I always hear it as a form of equation which says «Philosophy = making associations». Believe me nothing is farther away from philosophy than that. I will explain this more detailed in a minute.

 

Another thing philosophy can unfortunately not do is giving absolute truths and answers to the great questions concerning the meaning of life or its origin. The ones who are looking for everlasting and absolute answers are better off in the theological faculty.

So What Is Philosophy?

Even the answer to the questions what philosophy can accomplish is not absolute but my personal opinion. Knowing that etymologically philosophy stems from the Greek notion «philosophia» which means love of wisdom is not of much help.

Philosophy is a discipline which tries to find answers to the fundamental problems of mankind concerning life itself, nature, mind etc. Often philosophy refers to other sciences and arts without being a part of them but rather serving as their base. The occidental philosophy alone makes the student read against 2600 years of tradition. Please note that this excludes all the oriental wisdom. This makes it obvious that there are several theories for every question one can think of. And of course nobody – no matter how long they studied philosophy – can give definite answers.

But we can ask better questions!

My answer to the question what philosophy can accomplish is that it teaches us to think. Far be it from me to allege that all the others cannot think straight. What I really want to say is the following: When trying to understand a classical philosopher we have slip into his shoes, considering the time and circumstances and follow his thoughts in order to really grasp his theory. Philosophy is much about logic but not about association.

Within the next weeks you will learn about the link between mathematics and philosophy, the difficulties of the latter and why it is useful for project management and rescue. Talk to you next Wednesday

***

The monthly story is available as a pdf file on our website.

2013/05/29

Story 06 | 2013 | Growth.

Merry month of May represents growth and recommencement; at least in the northern hemisphere. As it seems, all companies defined growth as their motto.

No doubt, growth is good, positive and probably indispensable to avoid stagnation. But one has to take into account that growth goes along with change and risk. Both subjects are not much appreciated by the majority of people.

Growth Defined as a Biological Imperative

Often growth is compared to the course of nature. As such growth would be a law we have to obey. But this glorification has its flaws. Let’s see.

Basically, the biological definition of growth is not good or evil but it simply describes the development of structures by multiplication of cells which is the condition for life itself. An organism starts off very small, grows up and ripens. This definition is as valid for the development of a tree as for the cell proliferation causing a tumour. This would mean that growth is observable but cannot be directed  which is not exactly the answer to an entrepreneur’s prayers.

Since we are discussing the laws of nature and its famous course we must not forget to mention the winter when a tree loses all its leaves and has to wait for spring to wake up to new life and growth. The circle of life – looked at it from this angle – includes growth and decline which makes the balance sheet total being always the same.

That is the exact opposite of what we expect of economic growth. Moreover, nuclear physics knows the decay law. Granted, the decay law describes the atomic nucleus but I would still count it as a facet of nature.

Well, nature is no role model for economic growth. But don’t give up just now. There are other models, which we will talk about next week.

See you again next Wednesday.

2013/04/24

Story 05 | 2013 | Social Media 1 | Facebook. So?

Social Media are trendy but far more than just temporary fashion. The increasing amount of messages wrapped in images, videos, blogs, tweets etc. make a clear statement. And please do not believe that they are only sent by people who have nothing else to because they have no friends in the off-line world and therefore depend on Facebook. This was yesterday.

Today, these platforms make quite an effort to be of service to enterprises and other organisations. If you – just like us – use social media for business, even in several languages, you will probably have recognized the following.

Success

If ever one had any illusions about making their company a star overnight they will have noticed after some weeks that social media is back-breaking work. But it is fun – at least according to the writer.

Several Platforms

Now, that we understood that we will have to work our fingers to the bone we are the proud owners of several accounts and pages on various social media platforms. Viral, really!   With all enthusiasm one has to choose the right platforms that fit their business model and where they meet their audience. Sometimes one platform is enough. Social media emphasizes the value of a virtue that theoretically is also useful for offline relationships but often neglected: Listening! On most social media platforms listening equals reading. And it is truly indispensable if you want to say something meaningful that might attract new customers. In my humble opinion the «listening factor» is good reason for sending the entire marketing and sales department to a social media course.

The System’s Slave

If you are blogging on a regular basis and distribute your postings on different social media platforms you will soon have an international readership (called «Community») and feel you have to be online 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is of course unbearable but you do not want to upset anyone.

From my point of view there is only one way out of this dilemma. The solution comprises two inseparable factors.

Software
One needs an application that allows seeing all accounts and profiles at a glance. And – even more important – that gives you the possibility to schedule your postings in advance. Like this one can plan an entire month, publish according to the local time of the communities and still maintain a normal life.

Concept
A concept is a plan that contains the information, about who should communicate what content to whom, in what frequency. Maybe this reminds you to the communication plan I mentioned when we spoke about project management.

Most probably you will not be surprised to read that the concept is the biggest issue.

Within the next weeks we will discuss why a concept is that important, what that should look like and what all this has to do with project rescue and project management.

***

P.S. If you click on the picture above you will be taken to our Facebook page, which you can see even without a login. If you should have an account, don’t be shy to «like».

 

 

 

 

Please feel free to download this article as a pdf-file.

2013/03/26

Story 04 | 2013: April Weather Or Change Management?

Filed under: change. english.,story.english. — Tags: , , , — supernova @ 7:54 AM

April is well known for its whims and we all know that one can see a dozen of different kinds of weather within a single day.

Mr. Spok from «Startreck» is right when he claims that changes were essential for all existence. Not only is this correct for biological evolutionary theories but also for IT projects. Every project manager is familiar with the latter.

Nevertheless we notice that change management is given far too little attention. A project is a process that in the end is supposed to deliver a solution, which brings some added value to the company. Many eye openers are brought to the team members while establishing this solution. How often the way we have to go is different from the one that has been anticipated.

Theoretically, everybody knows that such a situation requires an official change request. And exactly at this point one will know if the project is an organization or has more resemblance to the April weather.

It is crucial that there is a well-documented and known change process in place. Who is allowed to apply for a change? Who must approve it and within what delay. Still we are not sure if the process really works of if the change request is just another dust collector on someone’s desk.

Moreover, precise estimations of time and resources need for a change help to keep – or at least to control – the project targets regarding time and cost of the project. You know that I will come up with another prerequisite, don’t you? To facilitate this we need an exact description of the project solution, a realistic project plan containing resource assignments and milestones.

It is often faster to just implement the change without all this processes and formalities. True, just not on the long run. The project will not end up with only one change and very soon milestones have to be shifted and budgets must be increased. And after all, who still knows how far the solution is away from the original target? This phenomenon is called «scope creep» and happens frequently. It is after all one of the main reasons why projects get out of kilter.

Our specialization in project rescue supports us to not only solve problems but also to prevent them. Please ask us, we happily support you.

 

 

 

 

 

This posting can be downloaded as a pdf-file.

2013/03/01

Story 03 | 2013: March.

Filed under: story.english. — supernova @ 4:17 PM

For most Europeans March is the month of spring, which means more daylight, daffodils and tulips. Winter lies behind us and life starts again.

Let’s have a look at the name of this month. March derives from Mars, the ancient Roman god of war. This draws ones attention to death and doom rather than to spring.  Mars’ Greek equivalent is Ares. According to the Greek mythology Ares has two fellows called Phobos and Deimos.  The meanings of their names are fear and panic.

Analogically, the planet Mars has two small moons: Phobos and Deimos. While Deimos seems to be fine, NASA predicts Phobos’ demise.

 

To understand the reason we must shortly return to earth. The distance between us and «our» moon is about 400000 kilometres. However, Mars’s satellite is very much attached to its master and orbits at a distance of only 5400 kilometres. According to NASA Phobos is constantly bothered by gravitational tidal forces and will therefore «likely be shattered by stress».

None of us will be able to tell if this is just another – even scientific – legend of doom, NASA did the math; it will happen one hundred Million years from now.

Enjoy spring!

***

This story can be downloaded as a pdf-file from: http://www.pilum.ch/pilum-story-e.html

pilum specializes in IT Project Rescue. If you want to know more about, please click on the picture

2013/01/27

Story 02|2013: What Is Education?

Filed under: story.english. — supernova @ 11:53 AM

Recently I asked the question «What is success»? and tried to convey my definition of it.  Today I will attempt to define my idea of education.

Education can be divided in two parts. The first one consists of the parent’s job teaching their children manners and politeness. In other words: the skills which are indispensable and so often underestimated. The second part comprises the academic and professional education. And this is the difficult part. How can we define education or even expertise? Does it depend on the amount of titles, certificates and PhDs? As it seems it does. A look in many people’s CV says it all. One finds a long list of every course they ever visited, even if it just took a single day. Moreover, the IT industry is not only specialized in data but also in probably many hundreds of well sounding titles and certificates one can achieve.

I am not arguing against PhD’s or any other profound education at all. To me there is no doubt that these titles – in regular cases – demand a lot of work and knowledge in the respective subject.

Not only must a title or a degree be justified by the person holding it, but geniuses often fail in our school system and it is said that even Einstein was not immediately recognized as the bright head he turned out to be. And did you know that one of the greatest scientists and artists did not consider himself educated because he could not visit a renowned university? His name is Leonardo da Vinci.

What is now the conclusion of all this? I only can give you mine.  As it seems to me the definition of education is rather elusive and prone to change. Education is a whole set, comprising knowledge, behaviour, personality and the ability to blend these «components» into something useful.

Actually I use a good part of my «components» to rescue IT projects. (If you would like to know more about it, please click on the picture above.)

But I am still working hard to develop more wisdom out of them and as it looks it will keep me busy for another while ending up with another question: What is wise?

 

P.S. This is the monthly story. It is always edited in English and German. Please feel free to download it as a PDF.

2012/12/27

Story 01|2013: Success and Partnerships.

Filed under: story.english. — supernova @ 12:23 PM

2013 will begin in a few days.  We wish you all the success you desire – whatever your definition of success may be.

A hundred years ago a man was born who’s business partnership with David Packard was not only highly successful but of most importance to the IT industry. We are talking about William Reddington Hewlett. They founded their company in 1939 with the capital of around 500 Dollars. It is said that while Hewlett was the engineer and inventor, Packard was a very talented business man and manager. There lab and office were located in a garage. It is quite impressive what they made of 500 Dollars and a shed, isn’t it?

Let’s go back to 1913. In this very year another genius died. A man who’s invention is – until this day – very influential to the machine industry. His name: Rudolf Diesel. The Diesel engine allowed effective use energy; which made them very economical. Although Diesel was a brilliant engineer he lacked the management and business talent. Apparently the endless fights about patents ruined his health. In 1913 Diesel boarded a ship and disappeared. Only his dead body was found in the water. It could never be clarified what really happened.

 

Let’s summarize. No matter how good your business is or how well you do your job; nobody can do everything on his own. In order to succeed and to profit from our business, sustainable partnerships are essential.

If it comes to IT project rescue and management we are your partner – with experience, energy and (of course!) reliability.  Get in touch with us.

Download the printable edition of this story here.

2012/12/14

Stars.

Filed under: story.english. — supernova @ 12:25 PM

Christmas is the high season of stars. The story of nativity tells us that a star revealed Jesus’ birth and led the Biblical Magi to Bethlehem.

The stars have been serving as natural compasses to navigators and desert people since ancient times. Until now some people desperately try to find hints about their future and seek for orientation in the stars.

These celestial bodies are omnipresent in our daily life and language. If you are looking for a hotel you might choose them by the number of stars as an indicator of quality. As frequently as one finds stars on flags they have been used (or misused) for political propaganda. The big shots in Hollywood are called stars and their names appear in the respective shape on the «Walk of Fame».

Even our blog has the name of a star. As said before, stars are everywhere and the conclusion can only be that a star does not make Christmas and therefore we are unable to deliver a story suitable to this season. The latter I guess this is because our services are made for the whole year.

May your New Year be under a lucky star.

2012/11/28

Dinner with Sabretooth.

Filed under: story.english. — supernova @ 6:56 PM

You will ask why I am telling you about sabre-toothed cats, as they are extinct. Yes they are – thank God. A rendezvous with sabretooth was typically fatal for a human. And if by chance the latter survived, he or she will never be the same as the memory of such an incidence is very sticky and influences ones behaviour. The emotion we are talking about is called fear.

Some weeks ago I attended a very interesting course about emotional leadership. Among other subjects we talked about the only two emotions which make one change their lives within a heartbeat: love and fear. Fear comes along with sabretooth and our memory of it. Remember, a meeting with these creatures was fatal and of course evoked physical symptoms like high blood pressure, tensed muscles, sweating etc. Moreover, it prevents us from thinking rationally, let alone taking sensible decisions.

As unbelievable as it sounds but our fear seems to remain unchanged since the days we lived in caves. Even though most of the things we fear today are not life-threatening we act as if we would look in death’s ugly face. Don’t even ask about our reactions. Bad news, isn’t it?

But here’s the good news: If it comes to projects – even if you fear that they are going badly wrong – a project analysis will clear things up and turn sabretooth into a pussy cat. Not to forget, that we love what we do and can change projects for the better shortly.

Older Posts »