What’s Up At The Garden

CIMG0871.JPGApproximately 45 days ago I accepted an offer from IBM to become a Cloud Advisor. Many people have asked me why would I do this with my consultancy taking off? As a sole practitioner it’s easy to be pigeon-holed into doing the same kind of engagement over and over. IBM software and SaaS products have been a big part of some of the most interesting solutions I’ve designed.  So when the opportunity to become an advocate, evangelist and total fan girl for both cloud computing and the most current business technologies (cognitive, analytics, IoT, DevOps to name a few) that leverage the cloud came along, I jumped.  There are very few times in your life when the opportunity comes along to be paid for doing stuff that you get deep satisfaction from with people you really like for a company with a proud history and great future. (Plus, I work from home.)

So, what’s going to happen to the Garden of The Intellect? Going forward this is where I’ll be writing about non-technology interests and also any technology topics that don’t have a home in other venues. Those other interests include gardens, food, dogs, fancy cocktails, books, and general observations.

Garden of The Intellect Celebrates First Anniversary!

Very happy to celebrate the first anniversary of Garden of the Intellect. It’s a big step to go out on your own and so many people have given encouragement and advice that if I thanked you all by name it would seem like one of those endless Academy Award speeches. Thank you to my customers; working with you to achieve your goals is a joy, your trust and collaboration is a source of inspiration. Thank you to my friends; without your tough love and fellowship none of this would be possible. Thank you to my business connections for your generosity with information and mentoring – you are another source of inspiration and energy. And thanks to everyone who has referred work to me. The positive word of mouth is more valuable than you know. I am honored by your confidence and always appreciative.

The gray cloud for SaaS: Shadow IT

It’s so easy to try out SaaS applications how can you blame your lines of business for trying out and buying the tools that they think (hope?) will get their jobs done better. I spent a few minutes in January talking with IBM’s  Erik Anderson for his video blog series. These 90 seconds are only the first steps in engaging your organization and creating a partnership where IT and the LOBs are in step.


Garden of The Intellect, LLC & Venatures, LTD Enter Strategic Alliance

Cincinnati, Ohio, September 29, 2014 — Garden of The Intellect LLC has entered into a strategic alliance with New York City based advisory board/business strategy firm Venatures LTD. Through this alliance clients of both consultancies will have access to proven technical and business development expertise in support of start-ups, M&A and business reorganization.

Venatures LTD. provides the following services and expertise:

  • Venture Capital Advisor
  • Retained “On Call” CEO/COO
  • Entrepreneurship Mentoring
  • Business Development/Startup Strategist

Garden of The Intellect provides:

  • IT Operations & Organization Review/Roadmap
  • M&A due diligence
  • Retained “On Call” CIO & Interim Executive Management
  • IT/Business Strategy Alignment
  • Cloud/SaaS Guidance

This alliance is the start of a cooperative of boutique consultancies and solo experts that will provide expertise in both consulting and information to support entrepreneurial research and training. Businesses interested in participating in the alliance should contact: info@gardenoftheintellect.com or jackie.nicole@icomtrader.com

About the principals

James A. Vena, founder of Venatures, is a successful international business creator and global development strategist. He is also the creator of iComTrader International Group, the Satcorp International Group of Companies and Thoroughlybred Holdings. Since the inception of his first business in 1986, James’ companies have created nearly USD Billion in sales. Venatures global network of resources extends across 30 countries.

James Vena Bio

James on LinkedIn

Karolyn Schalk, established Garden of The Intellect in April 2014 after a 30 year career that spanned both custom market research and system development during the dot.com boom. Throughout her career she has recognized the need to align technology with people and process for business success. As a business technology architect and IT executive focused on mission critical, high availability systems Karolyn enabled large, multinational companies to leverage information assets to the fullest. An expert on all things cloud she has led the design of process and infrastructure to support global business and collaboration for hundreds of thousands of users and billions of transactions a minute.

Karolyn Schalk Bio

Sharing is caring: Open Patents and Innovation

If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old” pops up everywhere online these days. Appearing without context or introduction the quote floats free of Peter Drucker’s intentions and has the cheery affect of a happy face. Both poster and reader come away assured that by nodding in recognition of common wisdom they have confirmed their status as an innovator.

On June 12, 2014 Elon Musk did something new at Tesla, “All our patents are belong to you” the announcement began and went on to say;

“Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.”

Opening access to patents is not going to keep Tesla (and Musk) from making money, as Venture Beat explains. The patents can be read, to license them will cost. Musk recognizes the difference between information and knowledge – and where the wealth is when it comes to technology. Mere information is static and ages quickly. Knowledge is active, it’s what happens when people share information, build on it, create new information. Knowledge and innovation require interaction and are handcuffed by unnecessary secrecy.

Today Tesla builds the best electric cars in the world in an artificially small market category. The patents are an information catalyst to stimulate the market space. A broader market means a need for more innovations and more engineers.

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old” is about figuring out what doesn’t work so you can do something that does. That figuring out comes from knowledge. Musk’s object lesson on innovation at Tesla is one to keep your eyes on.

Cool Hand Luke’s Management Philosophy

I saw Avanade’s April 2014 Global Survey: What’s creating tension between IT and business leaders? mentioned a lot online. Each post selected a piece of the summary guaranteed to generate the most hype, hyperventilating and FUD for IT professionals. Finally, I got around to reading it myself. Some of the findings stand out more than others:

“79 percent of C-level executives believe they can make technology decisions better and faster than IT staff… fewer than one in four executives say IT staff proactively suggests new technology solutions on a regular basis…” The executive summary goes on “…At the same time, employees are still expecting IT to be responsible for making everything work together — ensuring they can connect seamlessly and securely to the workplace infrastructure. So today, IT has less control over important areas of technology adoption, but is still accountable for the impact these technologies make on a company’s operations. “

Some version of these attitudes (IT doesn’t understand business, business doesn’t understand what IT needs to do their job) served up with the solution du jour (Anyone remember when CMM or ITIL was going to make everything better) were mainstays of the business press and management consulting 15 years ago and still are today. Avanade’s summary is upbeat and suggests that IT can make itself relevant through a ‘people-centric’ and ‘service oriented’ approach – which are the service engagements Avanade would like to sell you since they are in a ‘Thought Leadership’ frame of mine. Of course, I intend this post about their survey to be a springboard to sell you a services engagement too.

The issue, as I see it, is not that IT lacks thought leadership or knowledge of contemporary technology. Nope, what we have is a failure to communicate.

If business thinks that they can make technology decisions better and faster without considering the need to sustain and support those choices their understanding of operational realities is weak. When business doesn’t understand the operational realities IT needs to do a better job explaining. The solution: achieve mutuality. Build respect for each other’s expertise between IT and business. Then agree to do the work that will sustain that mutuality in the face of future change and situation.

When I build high performance teams we always begin with a conversation on how expectations will be set. Improvements to communications do not need to be gauzy or touchy feely – substantive engagements begin with a look at such prosaic items as how to define IT KPIs relevant to business goals, how time is managed, and how work is prioritized. Depending on the organization’s needs the facilitation of a solution can drill down from the high-level to the mentoring of middle managers and executives on how to present a strategy or budget and facilitating dialogue between non-technical C-levels and IT staff.

The story of how you got to where you are today might contain the seeds of the solution to move you where you want to go. I’d like to hear your story and help you write the playbook for the next chapters.

For more management philosophy from Cool Hand Luke visit http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0061512/quotes  Watch a clip of the famous failure to communicate scene http://youtu.be/yBBWUZfgRiw