Sunday, June 19, 2011

Opportunity, Success, and How We Define Them

I've been thinking a lot about opportunity and the community I see around me. There's a lot to love about New Ulm and Southern Minnesota in general. Yeah, I'm biased; its home. Its where I grew up. But its also where I chose to stay after (very brief) time away. Bias aside, it bothers me to see people dismissing this area without taking a thoughtful look around to see what the possibilities are.

As I've been mulling, I opened the Sunday paper (on Monday) and ran into a wonderful story printed from a MN Public Radio report about a doctor in Osakis, MN. Dr. Susan Rutten Wasson is building a practice in this town of about 1,500 people 12 miles from Alexandria, MN. She doesn't take any insurance payments, just cash. Its a great story and I recommend you take a moment to read it or view it.

As I was reading the story about Dr. Wasson, there were three things that made me say "exactly!"

1. She understood she wasn't going to get rich
2. That was ok, because:
3. The lifestyle and quality of life is wonderful

I'll be writing some thoughts on these three points eventually, but the thing I hope the world can learn is this: Money is not the same thing as success. Opportunity is not a chance to grab what you deserve.

I truly believe this. It is why I choose to live and work where I do. Its been the foundation of how I approach my customers and co-workers.

If we choose to redefine success not in monetary terms, but in terms of our community and family, there are a lot of new business possibilities present themselves. As a technologist, I see this part of Minnesota and see a fertile field ready for sowing. Now we just need to find the seed.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sharpening the Focus

Most hours on my timecard, ever. Three weeks jammed into two and there was even a 24-hour straight stretch in there for good measure. Network restructuring is never easy, never quick, and never painless. But we already knew all that.

The reason for the bloated timecard was initially a project to implement dual WAN for our network since we had severely outgrown our two bonded T1's. This effort quickly evolved into a massive overhaul that standardized a number of things in the environment and also corrected a few issues that had been hanging over my head since I came into this job.

So what came out of this?

Well, the project accomplished its intended end result and I'm happier with the way things are structured. There's something more though. When a person labors with that monk-like concentration day and night sometimes things come into focus a little better than they did before.
  • Do decision makers understand the cost of understaffing IT? Its NOT a cost savings. Its gobs of downtime between periods of treading water.
  • Planning is key to success. Seems like such an obvious thing but it isn't when you're in the middle of something. If you don't plan for 5-8 or even 10 years down the road when designing your infrastructure you will be screwed in less than 3 years.
  • Users have no idea what IT does. And it shows about half way through a transition. Right around where people start calling to complain that "such and such isn't working" when it was very clearly established that downtime would be happening. My favorite are the folks who call me, the "network guy", for an Excel problem when they know the network is down and being worked on.
  • Doing something the right way isn't what organizations want if it isn't the cheapest, quickest, and least amount of trouble short term. I see the point, but its a hard sell if I've been working for 30 hours with only 4 hours of sleep in the middle of that.
I'm still mulling over the experience. I'm sure there's more to learn from it.