Don’t Give the Business What They Ask for, Give Them What They Cannot Imagine

Don’t Give the Business What They Ask for, Give Them What They Cannot Imagine

Henry Ford is famously credited as saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” The attribution may not be accurate, but it’s still stirring. Apple made the iPhone because everyone at Apple universally thought all cell phones sucked. So, they made one that they liked. I gave conference presentations in 2013 and 2015 postulating that when users ask for an iPad for work, they would be better served by a Windows tablet instead….

Read More Read More

How to Survive a Corporate Takeover: All Your Base Are Belong to Us

How to Survive a Corporate Takeover: All Your Base Are Belong to Us

In A.D. 2101 war was beginning. Sure, but about one hundred years prior to that, there was an internet meme that went viral at a time where we didn’t know what the term “internet meme” even meant. This was before YouTube and Facebook. Videos were made from Flash or GIFs, and shared via email. All Your Base Are Belong to Us was the preeminent internet meme of the early 2000’s. Why was it huge? Geek kitsch and nostalgia. About 15…

Read More Read More

Netflix Got It Wrong: Community over Meritocracy

Netflix Got It Wrong: Community over Meritocracy

In many ways I’ve thrived in my career through meritocracy. Competition is one of my top five StrengthsFinder themes. I compete for promotions and new job opportunities. I compete with other companies to get top talent onto my team. I’m intrinsically motivated to be the best performer among my peer group. Sometimes I achieve that and sometimes I don’t, but no one needs to tell me to do it. I naturally pursue high-performance. There are many companies that confidently call…

Read More Read More

Reduce Provisioning from 5 Hours to 5 Minutes: Infrastructure as Code as a Service

Reduce Provisioning from 5 Hours to 5 Minutes: Infrastructure as Code as a Service

I built my career on IT infrastructure. About a year ago, I was given the opportunity to lead software development too. I love infrastructure. I love code. I really love Infrastructure as Code (IaC). IaC is this end-state nirvana where all of your infrastructure can be provisioned, configured, and maintained programmatically, rather than manually through interactive consoles. It’s only been a recent phenomenon that this is even possible. Infrastructure administrators and engineers all learned how to do their jobs via management consoles,…

Read More Read More

Do or Do Not. There Is No Try: Coach Your Team like Yoda

Do or Do Not. There Is No Try: Coach Your Team like Yoda

Coaching means a lot of things to a lot of people. Of course, there are sports coaches. In my personal life, I’m a Lego robotics coach. There are also business coaches and life coaches. I’m not a professional coach, at least not as my primary job function. I’m a technology leader. However, to do that effectively, I often need to play the role of a coach. I’ll get into what that looks like shortly, but first, I’d like to take…

Read More Read More

Live the Adventure: Leadership Lessons from Richard Branson

Live the Adventure: Leadership Lessons from Richard Branson

I recently read the latest autobiography of Richard Branson, Finding My Virginity. For those of you that don’t recognize his name, Richard is best known as the founder of the Virgin Group, a conglomerate of Virgin brands such as Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Mobile, Virgin Galactic, and 400 other companies. Sir Richard Branson is also a knight of the United Kingdom. In addition to being a billionaire entrepreneur, he’s an adventurer, philanthropist, and all-around troublemaker. I’m not as capable…

Read More Read More

You’re Doing It Wrong: What to Do When Incidents Escalate in Reverse

You’re Doing It Wrong: What to Do When Incidents Escalate in Reverse

Enterprise technology groups have a lot of responsibilities, but their primary mission is incident resolution. Incident resolution typically happens through the forward escalation process, but sometimes it is invoked in the reverse order. In this article, I will explore the pitfalls of this predicament, and offer some solutions. Forward Escalation This is the normal mode of incident resolution. The best-case scenario is a user that can achieve incident resolution via a self-service portal or a good knowledge-base. If not, then…

Read More Read More

Uptime and Quota: Exploring Our Love-Hate Relationship with Metrics

Uptime and Quota: Exploring Our Love-Hate Relationship with Metrics

I’m a numbers guy. I like measuring my performance, tracking progress, and holding myself and my team accountable to metric-driven goals… until I don’t. I’m also a people-person. I don’t want my contribution to be defined by a figure. I hate it when metrics drive bad behavior. I care about culture and the health of my team a lot more than next quarter’s target. In one breath, I champion the need for data-driven decision-making, and in the next, I criticize…

Read More Read More

Engineering and Character: Leadership Lessons from Lego Robotics

Engineering and Character: Leadership Lessons from Lego Robotics

This fall, I had the opportunity to coach a Lego robotics team in the FIRST Lego League. There are over 32,000 teams in the First Lego League in 88 countries, and over 600 teams in Minnesota alone. Each season, every team in the league receives the same tournament board. Teams design, build, and program their robots to score points on the tournament board. The robots must be designed to operate autonomously. You can read more about it here. Our team…

Read More Read More

Zach Talks About Leadership Development With Engel Jones on the 12MinuteConvos Podcast

Zach Talks About Leadership Development With Engel Jones on the 12MinuteConvos Podcast

I had a great opportunity to be a guest on the 12MinuteConvos Podcast with Engel Jones.  We talked about my passion around leadership development. We discussed how I benefited early in my career from some great leaders, and how I am driven to pay it forward and pass it on. We also discussed the habits of a good leader including consistent reading and continuous learning. Listen to this episode here: https://twelveminuteconvos.com/zach-hughes/