Obsolescence Happens

Whether planned or not, Obsolescence Happens.

It always seems to sneak up with you, when you least expect it – even when you know it’s coming.

  • That fleet of Smartboards you have dozens of, can suddenly no longer have their firmware updated, because those models are no longer supported by the vendor. And just when you needed the very feature, that the new firmware will allow you to use, too.
  • Your “lifetime warranty” switches, that you bought years ago – now made meaningless – because the vendor no longer makes them. Sure – you can update for a price – but lifetime meant the lifetime of the switch, not yours.
  • You upgrade to the latest and greatest WiFi standard access points, only to find out that your controller needs to have its firmware updated to support them – but by doing so, disables all of your old WiFi standard access points. You can either upgrade your old access points, buy a new, separate controller – or, simply cry into your pillow.

The fact is, any hardware you have in house is going to be obsolete at some point, no matter how well you maintain it, or try to stretch out its lifetime.

Even if it never gives you a minute’s trouble.

Fleet replacement planning is one of the least “sexy” things technology administrators do – but impacts day-to-day sustainability, and success, as much as any other activity.

If you haven’t already put into place a technology / fleet replacement plan for your pcs, infrastructure, and hardware systems, make time to do it now. Or tomorrow. Or, the day after tomorrow.

Because when Obsolescence Happens, it will happen when you can least afford for it to happen. Better to choose your time and place for updating your technology, before the terms are dictated for you.

Remember: need never made a good bargain.

And neither did unexpected outlays of cash, to keep your critical systems running.



Constructs, Culture, and Conversations

Stepping into a new role, in a new place, in a new city, is always a daunting prospect.

Even more so, when one doesn’t have a plan for where to even start.

Fortunately, I’ve bounced around enough, to have crafted a standard approach to getting up to speed quickly and efficiently, and becoming productive immediately upon hitting the ground in a new engagement, project, or position.

My approach centers around three Cs: Constructs, Culture, and Conversations.

The first thing I do in any new engagement is understand all the systems involved, the Constructs, if you will, of the project. This includes everything from understanding accounting systems, the budgeting process, identification of funding sources, and the underlying infrastructure in place to support the enterprise. This is foundational to getting off to a solid, fast start.

Next, I try and suss out the Culture that drives the motivation, purpose, and goals of my new environment. Unless I can understand the ecosystem and attitudes of my colleagues and customers, I stand zero hope of being an effective advocate, or coming remotely close to fulfilling the reason behind me being here. I definitely have ideas behind the type of Culture that I thrive in; but, one must understand where people are, first, if one is ever to move them in a direction other than where they are going. Trust me: operating in a small, liberal arts college in the Southwest is a significantly different prospect that working in a Yeshivah in Brooklyn. Culture eats Strategy’s breakfast, as they say.

Finally, I try to craft processes and strategies to build an ongoing Conversation about the goals and aims that I hope to accomplish. This might take the form of a Scope of Work; perhaps, a Strategic Technology Plan. It might even manifest itself in a series of events, or community building exercises. These narratives become the framework for how we discuss the work, and build toward a sustainable dialogue that informs all stakeholders about the overall goals we are striving toward, so that each and every subsequent decision and conversation is driven by the overarching Conversation we have built.

The Three Cs are simply my fluid approach to engagement management, and are very open to changeable interpretation on the fly, as conditions dictate.

The key to sustainable success is communication, meeting people where they are, and understanding the ground upon which you stand.