Sunday, December 31, 2017

What AppsJack Could Be

AppsJack is exploring ways to take the AppsJack Podcast and Share IRL events to the next level.  Simply, both offerings have topics, hosts and guests.  Blog posts get written and tweets get created and released.  People get invited and RSVP to participate in the events.  People take photos, have a good time and learn, they share contact info.

There's a problem in the market now between compliance (companies requiring applicants to have great resumes, educations and experiences) and capability (what a candidate can actually do).   Our employers are screwed up right now with this issue and are mismanaged, too.  There are many talented candidates out there who are finding it hard to win jobs.  And there are many talented consultants who aren't connecting with potential paid clients for a variety of reasons.

Hosts, organizers, writers and guests of the AppsJack Podcast and Share IRLs are good for:

  • Learning from others
  • Showing skills
  • Practicing skills
  • Demonstrating excellence and expertise
  • Growing an audience
  • Make your resume and story more compelling and relevant
  • Promoting ideas and individuals
AppsJack is committed to helping members of the community grow, learn and develop.  AppsJack creates free events and opportunities for ambitious individuals to get out there and change the world.  Join us today.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Cool Event: Culture Counts - Event Recap

I attended an excellent, uplifting event with my friend Hsuan-Hua Chang on Tuesday called "Culture Counts".  It was led by a very fascinating woman, XXX.  The leader was from South Africa originally and has lived in 15 countries.  She has gathered many principles and practices that she now shares with organizations to help them create environments and experiences that help people be their best and perform optimally.  It was an inspirational topic and very professionally led.

When I showed up at the place in Ballard after work, I was amazed by the impressiveness of the facility: it was someone's house that they had rented, but by no means your typical, run of the mill house at all.  The inside of the structure was large and sprawling and open and lovely.  It was in an industrial neighborhood but once you were inside you felt like you were in a womb.  The large, open structure was expertly decorated and arranged with beautiful artwork and laid out in a very interesting and intentional way.  Our hosts were kind and provided us with hot cocoa and warm greetings on entry; it was the week before Christmas indeed and a large Christmas tree greeted us as well. 

About 20 of us arrived and the session began as we sat around a large table called the culture table.  We were led and asked to write down three things on post-it notes with colored Sharpies: 1) the first word that came to our minds when we entered the space 2) the reason we were there 3) three things that spoke most to us when we walked around the room and took in the experiences.  We were asked to share our findings with peers and soon learned that each of our reactions, perceptions and beliefs were quite unique and different from those around us.  For example, Marc shared that he liked the exposed brass pipes which I had looked right past and still didn't mind.  Another person shared that they loved a jellyfish painting that did nothing for me.  I stated that I liked the kitchen, the velvet couches and the open space.  A third person, Russell, explained that he felt dwarfed when we walked into the space but my feeling was the exact opposite: it made me feel great since I am quite tall.  We learned that we were all quite different and experiencing things in very different ways; we were diverse.

The leader explained some of what was happening: she said that the soul of a building is not the artifacts or thing itself but rather what we, the people, bring into it: our senses, observations, selves and stories. 

It was a great event and we had a lot of good nuggets: culture could be the corresponding personality of a place or group.  We read stats about just how important happy workers are and the many negative consequences of unhappy workers.  We learned that culture always has a purpose or goal.  A culture is the soul of an organization or group.  A few questions came up for me: Is culture the sum total of the intangible benefits and beliefs of an org?  Is culture the compensation, benefits and value that people receive from a group that come for free, organically and naturally?  The goal of creating and influencing a good culture is to have people become the best versions of themselves and sustainably do the best work of their lives.  Some degree of bottoms-up, organic, authentic culture is required and we talked about the idea of leading from the edge.  The idea of an organization's edge is important and is a major place from which change can and does happen.  Yes, organizations do indeed have centers and tops and power structures but also, each person, on the edge may be armed with the same tools and power and ability to influence people and shine a light on opportunities and possibilities.  Taking steps can be risky and sometimes we just need to plunge in.  We can take calculated, planned, intentional  steps that have fallback plans, too.  Or we can just say screw it, go for it and see what happens.

We broke out into small groups to discuss ratings we created of the cultures in our organizations.  In my small group, there was one area where we all agreed was weak in each of our areas: managers.  And we talked about the role of managers and the org for creating a space that feels safe and inspiring. 

We watched a video about a non-profit in Seattle that helped the homeless and then met the star of the video, the founder of the non-profit and got to hear more about her story. 

In all, it was a wonderful, well-planned and executed event.  Thanks to Hsuan-Hua and all the others I met.  I look forward to getting to know the speaker more as well.

Monday, December 4, 2017

AppsJack TECH DRIVERS Debate Highlights - November 2017

We had a motley crew of 16 awesome people at the kickoff of AppsJack Season 2, where our topic is causality and business dependency networks (BDNs). 

Image result for the matrix

We were led on Tuesday evening by management consultant David Slight who is basically awesome. David came very well prepared with handouts for the guests and a meetup host sign-up sheet.  David led us in topic 1 of 12: TECH DRIVERS. 

The dialog went far and wide and was fascinating.   The discussion touched on:
  • The 3rd Industrial Revolution wiki
  • 5G mobile networks wiki
  • Humans are Under Rated video
  • GM says it is leaving the automotive industry - Richard Webb statement, needs source
  • Bonini's Paradox - contribution by newcomer Lucas Parker - "explains the difficulty in constructing models or simulations that fully capture the workings of complex systems (such as the human brain)."  wiki
  • "Things don't just happen, they happen for a reason."  ~ David Slight quote.
  • Drivers are things we can't change.
  • Richard spoke about the technology having been ready and done for five years but regulation and its impacts are the things holding its implementation back.
The main lessons that I took away as a facilitator and leader of this group were A) we need to tell people to create a small team of at least one other person so they are engaged and can break out if needed (and not just be quiet or disengaged in the discussion).  Having small groups is one thing that makes us identify as part of the big group.

Join us for our next gathering in a couple of weeks when we'll take the HUMAN side of the DRIVERS debate.  Details and RSVP here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Plan for 2017 and 2018

By David Slight

We'll Talk About Causality and Business Dependency Networks. For a YEAR!

Given our mission to talk about business and technology and learn from diverse perspectives of the group members, we are suggesting and going forth with this self-organizing charter for the coming year. For each of the six BDN perspectives, we will look first at the technology followed by the human perspective. So our calendar for the year looks like the following:


Drivers Tech: what is coming for robotics, automation and futurism

Drivers Humans: how to evangelize the humanist and people perspectives
Drivers explain why an investment is being made. These are the reasons that senior managers believe will have an impact on the business in a given time frame, yet they are outside the direct control of the organization. A driver requires responses from the business. Drivers can be external (listed first), something in the larger market environment, or internal, an improvement initiative or mandate generated within the organization by senior management.

Outcomes Tech: What technology and automation do we want to adopt? How far are we willing to let the robots go?

Outcomes Humans: Define the outcomes we as humans want to achieve.
The outcomes define the end point, or the state at which an investment is aimed.  They are the agreed-upon achievement targets  that help address the drivers. Outcomes are derived from the envisioned changes indicated by the drivers, and help define the benefits that are to be expected.

Benefits Tech: What benefits can automation and technology provide? How do we measure the benefits?

Humans: Benefits: Who should get the benefits? Large tech corporations or everyone? The developer or sales?
Benefits describe what will happen in the business to help achieve the outcomes. These are advantages to an organization’s stakeholders that can be realized by business changes. Every benefit stream must have an owner who is part of the analysis process. The expected benefits types must be determined, along with how they will be measured. The organization’s key performance indicators (KPIs) are a good source of measures. Inclusion of quantitative measures is preferred, if a reliable number can be obtained from the customer.


Changes Tech: Where is the tipping point when AI starts to think for itself?

Changes Humans: Can people change, can culture change?
Business changes are new and permanent ways of working within the organization to realize benefits.  The changes come in three forms: 1) Doing new things, 2) doing things better, and 3) stopping counterproductive things.  These can be shown at a high level in several ways, depending on the organization’s preference: as a business process to be changed, a description of the changes to be made, or as organizational capabilities or functional units.


Capabilities Tech:  What capabilities can we rely on from technology?

Capabilities Humans: What are the essential human capabilities that should be retained and nurtured?
Capabilities are that must be at the required level of maturity in order to support the desired business changes. Multiple capabilities may be required to change an individual process, and some changes may affect more than one process. Training, implementations of new standards, policies, and procedures, or acquisitions and reorganizations are included in this category.

Enablers Tech: Which technologies are ready for prime time?

Enablers Humans: What can technology still not enable?  
Enabling technologies  provide the lowest level answers to the question of how  business changes will be achieved.  The items in this column are the IT systems, projects, or product features that will support needed changes. They can support changes in a business process, as well as the introduction of new technology or the work required in a project .


December: Discuss our charter for 2019

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

AppsJack Group to Change World in 2018

It was a nice Fall day and the biggest and best turnout to date happened for the AppsJack group last night at Big Fish Grill in Kirkland.

Alan Andersen, Andrew Sengul, Berry Zimmerman, Christian Harris, Dominic Wong, Dr. Tom Louwers, Ele Munjeli, Eric Veal, Jean Bishop, Jehan Bharucha, Kifaya Dawud, Mark Mueller-Eberstein, Megan Gaiser, Thomas Mercer, Mike Dodd, Reba Haas, David Slight, Sriram Sabesan, Steve Kubacki, Susan Stringer, Richard Webb
 Here was our agenda for the evening:

  • Retrospective and feedback
    • Success stories and new relationships from the group
    • Best parts
    • Worst parts
    • Things to change
    • Competition - what takes you away from it?
  • Purpose and identity - who are we and why are we here, what's our name?
  • Schedule and frequency, meeting types and formats, size of meetings
  • 2018 Topics
  • Ongoing relationship to APQC?
  • Organizers / board
  • Expansion, scope, milestones, organization
  • Fees
  • Partnerships, sponsorship, affiliations
  • Podcast
  • Subgroups and committees
  • Technology, tools and online presence
  • Venues, Seattle

Here are the main action items and to do's from the meeting:

  • Plan in detail
  • Change name
  • Remove cap of # attendees
  • Postpone start by one hour
  • Change topics from APQC to BDN + Robots + Humans in 2018
  • Get owners/hosts/leads for each 2018 meeting 
  • Look into online tech that would help
  • Book reviews
  • Pre-reading and recommendations
  • More detailed profiles for each member - stickers or badges based on the APQC model
  • Patreon platform for contributions
  • E2B as sponsor?
  • Consider and help each other develop what "product" each of us is creating
  • Opportunities to share stories and successes annually - a gala
  • Leverage what is unique and beneficial about Seattle over other tech hubs like Silicon Valley - be unique, different and stand out.  We are practical and not Hollywood.  We are loggers and fishermen.

And here are detailed notes, outcomes and decisions from the meeting.  Join us at a gathering soon!
  • Retrospective and feedback
    • Lots of good feedback here.  People were here for:
      • "High level thinking"
      • Diversity of opinions and perspectives (learning)
      • Academic, experienced and educated tone
      • Consistent high quality
      • Stimulation
      • Idea sharing
      • Cross-domain thinking and experiences, feedback and ideas
      • Random networking
      • Stories and experiences are illuminating
    • Successes people have had
      • Steve and Andrew met through the group and are collaborating
      • Christian has met a ton of new people through it
      • Thomas met Bruce Follansbee who has opened many doors
  • Purpose and identity - who are we and why are we here, what's our name?
    • Brainstorm on names, taglines and descriptions
      • Descriptions and Taglines
        • Thought provoking
        • "It's all connected"
        • Making Meaning and Money
      • Names
        • Think tank
        • "Talk Tank"
        • "Food for Thought"
        • Talk, Inc.
        • Rethinking business
        • Humanist Technology
        • Making Business Human
        • Saving Business
        • Business Humanity²
        • Human Tank
        • Business Reconnected
        • Business & People Reconnected
        • H2H: Human to Human
        • Unf*ck Business
        • Human-Centered Business
        • Business Renaissance: Unf*cking Business - This was the most popular (or at least the funniest).  We will continue to think about the best name.
  • Schedule and frequency, meeting types and formats, size of meetings
    • 4th Tuesdays will continue
    • 5 PM official start preferred but people welcome to show up earlier
    • No limit on number of guests
    • "Owners" / organizers for each meeting - sign up sheet
  • 2018 Topics and themes
    • Ele: "The automation apocalypse"
    • AI vs. Automation
    • Robot-Human Interface
    • Steve offered this three-pronged approach:
      • Economics
      • Business
      • Praxix / Products (concrete)
    • Zodiac signs - Andrew Sengul
    • The BDN model with David Slight: Drivers, Objectives, Benefits, Changes, Capabilities, Enablers and then switch between the tech/robot perspective and the human perspective.  
  • Ongoing relationship to APQC?
    • Nothing will be overt.  Could come up again here and there but it's over for now.  RIP APQC!
  • Organizers / board
    • Not needed.  Tap individuals as needed.  Build small, focused teams as needed.  Keep organic.
  • Expansion, scope, milestones, organization
    • Happy to keep it as an Eastside only event for now.
    • Eric will talk to Michael Dodd and the Product Camp people about expansion of a group in Seattle.
  • Fees
    • Keep it free / optional.
    • Can charge through meetup.  Runs the risk of turning people away; traction is preferred to profit.
    • Some guests are willing to contribute capital.
  • Partnerships, sponsorship, affiliations
    • Keep this standalone for now to maximize flexibility.
  • Podcast
    • Yes, the podcast is good.  Keep it tied to the meetup on the same schedule.  Add 1:1 podcasting capability through Janis' Machala or Josh Golden's contacts.
  • Subgroups and committees
    • No need for this right now.  Will form as necessary.
    • Technology subgroup: Ele, Andrew, Eric
  • Technology, tools and online presence
    • No agreement here.
    • An online discussion forum could be good.
    • Will talk with Andrew and Ele to decide on a direction.
  • Venues, Seattle
    • Big Fish Grill fine for now.
    • Reba and Berry may have some functional options if we want to switch it up.

Monday, October 23, 2017

AppsJack Capable Communities Podcast Season 1 Completes - Check It Out

We started out with this idea and framework and made it work.  Congrats and thank you to all involved.

It's amazing!  We just finished year one of the AppsJack Podcast: Capable Communities.  How awesome does this feel.  We had this idea a couple of years ago so it's amazing to see it come to frution and be so fun.  

Huge thanks to producer Christian Harris for all of his time and grace, Steve Kubacki for awesome support and content, Ele Munjeli for being so great, Richard Webb and David Slight for their amazing contributions.  We've truly built an amazing community and I am so proud.  

The Season 1 guests are listed below in alphabetical order.  We recorded 30 episodes with 30 guests and published over 16 hours of content, covering each of APQC's 12 areas of business processes.  We ate a lot of breakfasts and brunch, drank a lot of coffee and beer.

Tech Staffing CEO Aftab Farooqi
Leadership Coach Alan Andersen
Lean Agile Fellow Alan Sebring
Smartsheet Developer Andrea Cremese
Developer Andrew Sengul
Executive Andy Scott
Podcast Producer and Real Estate Mogul Christian Harris
Creative Data Genius Dave De Noia
Finance Expert and Restaurateur Dave Niederkrome
Security Expert and All-Around Brain Don Alvarez
The Inspirational and Motivated Ele Munjeli
IT Champ James Murray
Entrepreneur and Sales Professional James Tuff
CEO Joe O'Konek
Startup Attorney and Podcaster Joe Wallin
Patent Attorney Jonathan Olson
Security Expert Josh Barrow
Front-End Developer Josh Bosworth
International Marketing Wiz Kifaya Dawud
Tech Consulting Business Developer Lee Carter
Startup Wonk Leo Lam
Crypto Currency Consultant Mark Mueller-Eberstein
Author and Speaker on Focus and Clarity Michael Cavitt
Author and Conflict Management Specialist Rachel Alexandria
Lean PM and Business Continuity Expert Ralph Kliem
Business Attorney Reuben Ortega
Architect Richard Webb
CEO and Member of the Board Scott Davis
Clinical Psychologist and Very Creative Steve Kubacki

Stay tuned for what will happen in Season 2!

#30 - Modern Business Models - Risk, Compliance, Remediation and Resiliency - Part 4 of 4

Enterprise Architect Richard Webb and the panel discuss modern business models and the potential of thinking outside of the traditional box.

Check out this episode!

#29 - To Comply Or Not To Comply - Risk, Compliance, Remediation and Resiliency - Part 3 of 4

The four-member panel discusses the importance and reality of compliance according the laws of customers, markets and regulatory bodies.

Check out this episode!

#28 - Taking More Risks - Risk, Compliance, Remediation and Resiliency - Part 2 of 4

Eric shares stories about risk taking in snowboarding and business. The group talks talks about ways to encourage more calculated risk taking.

Check out this episode!

#27 - Thinking About Resiliency - Risk, Compliance, Remediation and Resiliency - Part 1 of 4

The panel talks about business resiliency and success as achieved through excellence in risk management, compliance and remediation.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

#26 - Tips & Tricks in Asset Thinking for the CEO - Assets - Part 4 of 4

The group shares ideas, tips and tricks for CEOs and entrepreneurs to think about their businesses from the perspectives of assets, how to protect and grow them.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, October 14, 2017

#25 - Valuation - Assets - Part 3 of 4

Startup law attorney Joe Wallin leads the group through a conversation about asset valuation including perceptual differences between large and small businesses.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

#24 - IP and Trade Secrets - Assets - Part 2 of 4

Seattle-based patent attorney Jonathan Olson leads the guests in an exploratory discussion of intellectual property, trade secrets and the like.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

#23 - Intro to Assets and Liabilities - Assets - Part 1 of 4

Guests, led by finance wiz and serial entrepreneur Dave Niederkrome, introduce methods of thinking about businesses from the frames of assets and liabilities.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Fundraising Complexity - Finance

Eric and guests explore common challenges and pitfalls of raising capital in today's business climate. Part four of a four-part series on Financial Resource Management for businesses.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

A Utopian Vision of the Future - Finance

Eric and guests discuss what an ideal future would look like regarding money, finance, currency and regulation in part three of a four-part series on Financial Resource Management for businesses.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

David and Goliath - Finance

Eric and guests talk about the idea of "David and Goliath" in the context of the little plays and big players in the world of finance. This is part two in a four-part collection on Financial Resource Management for businesses.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

APQC Acquire, Construct and Manage ASSETS and Mega Project Management Meetup Summary

The business group met at its usual place and had a good turnout. The topic was Acquire, Construct and Manage Assets and I wanted us to explore 'mega projects'.  It was summertime and I hadn't promoted the event much but we had some old faces show up and some new blood as well.  In the house for the first time was Sri, a friend of Richard Webb's, and an incredibly sharp and talented management consultant.  Our topic for the evening was 'Mega Project Management Techniques' and it was within the context of APQC PCF's Acquire, Construct and Manage Assets category.  For fun, Richard and I sat on opposing ends of the large table so we could battle.

We had a $150 + tip minimum we had to meet so attendees were encouraged to eat and drink to their heart's content.  I enjoyed two IPAs and even sprung for the Filet Mignon (medium rare, of course), which was served with broccolini and I got fries and there was a slight truffle flavor happening somewhere on the plate, which was good.  Overall the meal was quite good, although the filet did not compare to the quality available at Jak's.

And so our discussion of ASSETS began and Richard, as is somewhat typical, took the lead and shared what he knew and thought about the topic.  Also in attendance were yours truly (Eric Veal), Bruce Follansbee, Thomas Mercer, James Murray (thanks for showing up, James!), Alan Andersen, Steve Kubacki.  Richard's friend Sri arrived toward the end as we were closing up shop.

Thomas offered that assets were rent producing.  We were working on a definition of asset that we could all get behind and I was also preparing for the recording in early September of the AppsJack Capable Communities Podcast on the Asset Management topic.  We wondered if assets were investments and thought they may need to have a positive ROI.  I suggested that assets created passive income.

We discussed the modes of acquiring assets: with cash, by making them, and by financing them through other means.  Richard talked about two main classes of assets: Cost of Doing Business Assets (like printers, for example) and Intellectual Property assets.  We wanted to keep drilling down on the definition of assets and more fully understand their properties and methods. So we did: we wondered if assets had a property of technical debt and we spent quite a bit of time considering if technical debt was an essential property of an asset (since assets, like anything, are probably not perfect).

The conversation shifted from technical debt (bad design and things requiring rework, really anything imperfect) to the role of the architect as the key person who creates and hands over assets.  Richard, who has been an IT architect for years had many things to say about the topic.  Richard shared some stories with us including a multi-million dollar project where he and the team dropped off a very large stack of documents off to the client about how to make a data center.  He described the pile of paper being feet-tall and the 'thud factor' of dropping off all that intellectual property to the client.  Richard pointed out another distinction in that 'only humans create IP'.  He described assets as an object with a unique ID, that they are "sellable" and containerized.  Assets have clear scope and their boundaries (what they are and are not) are well defined.  Richard wondered if there could be an Operating Expense asset and we discussed the new billing models with the cloud where people are renting services.  We also spoke about the cloud as a utility and some issues relating to the regulation of the cloud providers by providing some sort of efficiency index.

Examples of Goldman Sachs' position in the market came up for the second time in as many weeks.  On the last podcast episode, guest Mark Mueller-Eberstein made some guesses about how Goldman could enter into the crypto-currency space. Studying more about Goldman could be a good thing as for innovation.

James pointed out that business brokers use the formula EBITDA x Risk to get the business value.  So risk (in our case technical debt, for example) is a fundamental aspect of reducing the value of a firm.  Getting to a reasonable risk quotient is a trick.

We debated issues of "boutique services" and wondered how one-to-one services like Alexa and Google Home would be regulated in the future.  Richard shared about three key properties of modern software services, a subclass of asset: UX, Adoption, and Consumption.  The consumption part is what is metered in modern systems such as Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Bruce cited the book Fumbling the Future about Xerox's fall from its central role in office automation.  The group also had a long and detailed conversation about practices at Boeing.  Someone in the group stated that, "Boeing doesn't make ariplanes, it moves money."

Join us soon for podcasts on the Managing Assets topic and join us at the meetup in September when we will discuss Risk, Compliance, Remediation and Resiliency.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

FinTech Past and Present - Finance

Eric and guests talk about the history and current state of finance in part one of a four-part series about Financial Resource Management for businesses.

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Security Architecture 2 - Manage Information Technology

Josh Barrow, owner of J-2 LLC, a cyberSecurity firm, shares information and practices that can help businesses prepare for issues.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Role of the CIO - Manage Information Technology

The group talks about the ideal role of the CIO and how they can help an organization be successful through the use of information technology.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sunday, July 16, 2017

IT Management Podcast Guests

Don Alvarez PhD, Kifaya Dawud, Eric Veal and Dave De Noia.  Our distinguished panel for the podcast episodes about Managing Information Technology.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Business Discipline 6: Develop & Manage Human Capital - Conflict (Part 1)

In this episode of the AppsJack Capable Communities podcast, business technologist Eric Veal speaks with a panel of Seattle business leaders and consultants about modern techniques to Develop & Manage Human Capital. The group delves into Conflict at work. They cover ways to avoid, cope and manage through types of conflict as expert and author Rachel Alexandria leads the discussion.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Business Discipline 6: Develop & Manage Human Capital - Organization Health (Part 1)

In this episode of the AppsJack Capable Communities podcast, business technologist Eric Veal speaks with a panel of Seattle business leaders and consultants about modern techniques to Develop & Manage Human Capital. The group delves into Organization Health, how to think about it and methods of studying and improving it.

Check out this episode!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Business Discipline 6: Develop & Manage Human Capital - Managing Through Crisis (Part 1)

In this episode of the AppsJack Capable Communities podcast, business technologist Eric Veal speaks with a panel of Seattle business leaders and consultants about modern techniques to Develop & Manage Human Capital. The group delves into Dealing with Crisis at work, led by Joe OKonek.

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Business Discipline 6: Develop & Manage Human Capital - Taking Risks at Work (Part 1)

In this episode of the AppsJack Capable Communities podcast, business technologist Eric Veal speaks with a panel of Seattle business leaders and consultants about modern techniques to Develop & Manage Human Capital. The group delves into Risk-taking at work and how individuals can take risks without risking getting fired.

Check out this episode!

Managing Information Technology Meetup - Kirkland, WA - 6/20/2017 - Recap Notes and Podcast Prep

In attendance were: Richard Schurman (Attorney), Mark Mitchell (CFO), Eric Veal (Technologist), Richard Webb (Technologist), Dominic Wong (Management Exec), Steve Kubacki (Psychologist and Inventor), Kifaya Dawud (Marketer)

RW talked about “Business Stacks”.

RW talked about how good the Amazon TPM (Technical Program Manager) role is:

They own the architecture, PM role and tech
They have clear scope
They are organized to work together
They are measured objectively and fairly: difference between TPM doing poorly themselves (as a leader/worker) and the thing they are producing failing

Example TPM role: there is a person who is responsible for running “events” for Amazon (like father’s day).  Mark: Walmart did this as well with stores in Texas with stuff like Cinco de Mayo.

Amazon TPM rollup structure:
Regional TPM
Top TPM – meets with Bezos

Same role with widening scope that aggregates

Communication flows up and down this TPM chain

Tools for organizing management:
- Mark: adaQuest has a way to communicate strategy throughout the org
- Also ManageHub - Eric and Mark to further look into ManageHub for organizational uses for process improvement with Doug Hall

CRM Systems
Are they important?  Eric says they are central but there is an issue of adoption and data capture, data quality and people playing games with their data like hiding it strategically.

Examples of modern integration frameworks: Zapier, IFTTT, etc. for integration vs. old tools and people that integrated systems.  "We don't do it like we used to.  It's all as a service now." - EV

RW coined that these types of integration utilities are “(Hardware and Printer) Drivers at a different level”.  Totally agree, very interesting.

Drivers are hard to write because they break if either end changes, which prevent scale.

RW had some funny commentary about SOAP and REST and why one didn't work and other did: "SOAP didn’t work because programmers are dirty.  REST worked because programmers are lazy."  Microservices architecture becoming a big deal.

Eric had a recent VR experience with HTC Valve simulating “in the office” where he made coffee, 3D printed things and ate a donut.  Very amazing stuff.  Changes your mind and belief of what's possible.

Current “dialogs” and programs are too linear in their current form and are too project/product-oriented (developers need to finish and can't guild the lily, just want the basics to get done). 

Eric's vision of the world of the web now (as different from APQC + Process Triggers 10+ years ago):  There are "Listeners" (the people gathering the data with instrumentation and telemetry) + they provide or sell WebHooks to others who + People that write services that hand off of the events.

EV had a question, “Can we teach computers how to HARD SELL and effectively CLOSE a person on a big transaction while the person knows it is happening?”

We seemed to agree that we could and that it was actively happening now.

RS said that it depended on how the information is presented and when.

Richard gave examples of Blue Apron knowing if he read an email from them or not (by tracking a pixel).

Mark said that Google know if you walked into Nordstrom (location services on).  This is clearly very powerful for very many marketing-related things.

Companies every day are designing and running campaigns that work against (with/for) people’s weaknesses, predilections and interests.  Insidious from one perspective, genius, smart, intelligent and useful from another.

Excellent sales processes happen all the time in games (in app purchases), etc.

This can get into some edge / unethical realms if there is blackmail, for example. Open issue/question:  What's a person's recourse against these systems?

Richard talked about how Americans respond best to English and Australian accents, so they are used a lot in advertising to us.

We talked about humans training computers (other-learning) vs. computers training themselves (self-learning).  Humans can also train humans and computers can train humans and humans can train themselves.  Lots of vicious loops and cycles here.

We wondered, "What are the limitations of IT today?"
Richard said, "We have to get rid of the I.T. and make it “we” (make it work for us)

Eric and Richard talked about Enterprise Architecture, strategy and a recent HBR article on data strategy which talked about Offensive and Defensive uses for data.

Steve Kubacki showed up and was entertaining as usual.  Steve, “How many project managers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?  It depends on the location of the lightbulb?”  Har-de-har-har but also fairly insightful and true in my opinion; everyone is or should be a PM.

SK when talking about Virtual Reality applications and Andrew Sengul's work with Scenario Tech, "You want people to come forward with their own imagery."

LISP.  Andrew Sengul and Ben Sidelinger are both working on modern applications using the LISP language now.  What's up with that?  List of JavaScript LISP implementations.

We had a discussion about the design/experience of video games being way too open or way too closed/structured and cited examples.

Eric talked about a future computer design where there is immediate feedback between the writing of code and the existence of the application (run time and design time).  "Real time run time."  You heard it here, folks!

SK had many great quotes:
“The Theory of Totality”.  Everything is incomplete.  Goedel. 
SK: Can a corporation have empathy?
SK: “A corporation “has a” sociopath.” (as a property) pretty funny
SK: “We are fundamentally social creatures.  Self-interest is directed by the social interests.”
SK: “Brownian motion” how things aggregate

Eric made the point to Steve at some point about different types of grouping: Aggregation (requires a common interface of the members) vs. Composition groupings (no commonality required, they are simple assembled and joined...but could be very well designed to work together systematically like a car has many parts).

Steve made some great points about how we need to intentionally design and implement systems that decentralize.  Such a great point and such an interesting area.

Someone said that IT Development has been declining over the last 20.  I guess this was something Eric Schmidt of Google has said.

Steve says that we are seeing an increase of democratization within the workplace which sounds like a really good thing to me.

Eric made the point that "ownership" (of the work ie things were fully delegated) was previously delegated to the VPs (for example, the APQC model would probably recommend that someone owns each area and are responsible for throughput and continuous improvement of it) and is now delegated to actual and real units of business (products and projects).  This is the TPM role and how this power has shifted/is shifting from functions and processes to products, which is generally great for innovation, for example.

Steve shared more ideas about how different the culture will be on Mars: it is an un-earth-based culture.  Totally different than anything we have ever known?

Richard Schurman talked about some book tech and mentioned Scrivner, 

Kifaya showed up, too.  Thanks for coming, Kifaya!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Podcast Recording Summary - June 10th, 2017 - Developing & Managing Human Capital

Last Saturday, June 10th, a group of us gathered to record the Human Capital episodes of Season 1 of the AppsJack podcast.  We were very pleased to be joined by such a large and awesome group.

On the Upcoming Episodes:

Aftab Farooqi

Rachel Alexandria

Lee Carter

Joe OKonek

Steve Kubacki

Andrea Cremese

Eric Veal

Episodes Recorded:

Develop & Manage Human Capital - Taking Risks at Work

The group delves into Risk-taking at work and how individuals can take risks without risking getting fired.

Develop & Manage Human Capital - Managing Through Crisis

The group delves into Dealing with Crisis at work, led by Joe OKonek.

Develop & Manage Human Capital - Organization Health

The group delves into Organization Health, how to think about it and methods of studying and improving it.

Develop & Manage Human Capital - Conflict

The group delves into Conflict at work and covers ways to avoid, cope and manage through conflict, led by expert and author Rachel Alexandria.

AppsJack will release a new episode every Sunday starting in June!  Tune in.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Episode 7 - Business Skill 5 - Customer Service - Chat 3of3

Show Notes - Episode 7 - Managing Customer Service

Recorded: May 13, 2017
Host: Eric Veal
Guests: Ele Munjeli, Michael Cavitt, Andrew Sengul
Legend: Bold = key point


  • AS: Cargo cults further explained.  Tribes would keep hoping for the planes would keep coming.  Doing non-value adding things and hoping.  Opportunity to find low performers and bring them up (low hanging fruit).  Need to set priorities and focus.
  • EM: What and how are you measuring success and failure.  What is a meaningful failure?  Some people rewarding the wrong things and behaviors (like people fixing bad issues) it encourages more bad behavior in the future.
  • MC: Celebrate the architects or the recovery team?  Information overload can be bad.  Not good to just get all the info.  Know the questions.
  • EM: Designing good metrics is a trick.  Need to avoid bias and ask good questions (need good science).  There's a wrong way to ask questions and gather info.  Witch hunts, for examples, not a great way to gather info or do science.
  • AS: Absurd metric examples.  "How slurred is their voice?"
  • EV: Instrumentation and telemetry a big part of this (more is good) but still need filters and need to roll it up, prioritize, control, etc.  But more data generally a good thing.
  • MC: Text-to-speech analysis is important and good feedback source.  Changes many things.
  • EM: The relationship and rapport allows us to get better data.  Have users participate in the process.
  • EV: Cost of getting feedback reducing through better instrumented products.  Doesn't require customers to actively give feedback but do through use instead.  Build the feedback system right into the product like a vacuum could detect it being kicked or sworn at.
  • EM: Want a closed feedback loop where the feedback you gave was finally told to you that your comment mattered, when and how.  
  • AS: Investment and significance.  
  • EV: Investment happens on both sides: the customer and the provider.  Both need to be invested and quid pro quo may be needed.
  • AS: Speculation and investment.  A financial question.
  • EV: Human capital is next.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Developing and Managing Human Capital - Notes from the May 23, 2017 AppsJack Business Services Meetup in Kirkland, WA

"Human Capital" was the topic to be discussed.  It was a sunny late-May afternoon and I headed down to Big Fish Grill to have the discussion with about 10 others who had gathered.  Unlike the normal gathering, we were given a smaller table, which in the end wound up being a little better: cozier and easier to hear people.  We never broke into smaller groups and had a good dialog with a big group.

At first it was just me, leadership coach Alan Andersen and coach Susan Stringer.  I had never met Susan before and was immediately impressed by her grace, experience and knowledge.  She has a great present and is a very fun conversationalist.  Eventually, more arrived and we kicked off the discussion about "Developing and Managing Human Capital", the first support process in APQC's process classification framework.  The first thing that was made clear is we all agreed that the CAPITAL word in human capital is evil, wrong, etc.  Richard Webb suggested that thinking of people as money is no worst than thinking of them as slaves.  There was agreement on this point.

In search of a starting point, I rattled off the APQC's subtopics:

  • Develop and manage HR planning, policies and strategies
  • Recruit, source and select employees
  • Develop and counsel employees
  • Reward and retain employees
  • Redeploy and retire employees
  • Manage employee information
I told people that I was personally most interested in the "Manage Employee Information" area, where I had the most experience.  It's subtopics are as follows: Manage reporting processes (who reports to whom), Manage employee inquiry process (how management gets info from employees), Manage and maintain employee data, Manage human resource information systems (HRIS), Develop and manage employee metrics, Develop and manage time and attendance systems (we agreed this was an optional step for some places), Manage employee communication.

No one seemed to bite on the above high-level concepts so I started rattling off the discussion topics that we'd covered over the last year: good books we'd read about HR and people-management, alternatives to the resume and is the resume dead, how to get a great job, how to get maximum wages sustainably, what are the current trends and issues, problems in HR management, what does the modern worker like, what do they expect and need, what is the future of employment, what will technology do to HR and management with tools like LinkedIn and CrystalKnows?  Before I could get too far down the list, people locked on the resume topic and we were off on our first big topic.

The resume, truth, recruiting and qualification

Susan gave us some great and interesting facts about millennials in the workforce: that 50% of the workforce will be millennials by 2020 and 75% of the workforce by 2025.  Incredible statistics.  Susan is doing a presentation soon on millennials in the workforce that I will plan to attend.  She is a student of the topic.  I raised issues about complexity dealing with individuals vs. working with people in populations.  Working with 'classes' and things in groups is far easier than but as humans we seem very reluctant to exclusively deal with things in groups and need to give the attention that people and organizations need at an individual level.  

Richard said that the age of authenticity is what's next and was seeking a term for millennials.  I suggested that they were Generation M to keep it simple then we laughed about sequence issues.
We talked about predictive analytics and the power of organizations like Facebook and LinkedIn to predict events from data such as divorce with very high confidence.  Data is a very powerful thing.  
I suggested that the resume is just one signal in the collection (stack) of things necessary to understand and work with a person professionally.  Other signals include online profiles like LinkedIn, social media presence, reference checks and the interview.  We didn't believe that the resume would be going away and generrally believed that i was a gateway and door-opener to other aspects of the person.

Susan impressed us with some of her experiences doing hiring at the executive level and gave examples of people she had vetted by requesting 12 references from them: 3 supervisors, 3 peers, 3 suppliers and 3 others.  This sounded very rigorous to me but I could appreciate just how important getting this information really is for some high-risk, high-reward opportunities.

Susan shared that she asks these questions to the candidate, "How would your former managers describe you?" and to the former managers, "How would you describe your former employee?"  They are very open questions and she would listen for incongruity between the stories.  She said she had been referred to by some in the past as "the female version of Columbo", the TV show detective.  What an amazing skill to go this deeply into someone's background not make sure they are who they say they are.


We got off on a discussion about the quality of leaders and the leadership and it was stated that only A players can hire A players.  Richard told us stories about the days (joint-venture between Microsoft, Walmart, and some India companies) and how complex and different those cultures were and how they used a 'bus' to communicate effectively.  Another aspect of that collaboration that worked well was to pass information through a key resource they called the seamstress (it was a man) who would bridge the gap and coordinate between the three different teams.  


We talked a little about books here and there and Andrew Sengul regaled us with stories from Aaron Hurst and The Purpose Economy.  The book says that people can be broken up into three categories: those motivated by money, prestige/fame or a deep personal commitment.  The book suggests to only hire the people with deep personal commitment.  Andrew cited quite a few examples of how it is hard to manage and create organizations of these kinds of individuals.

Alan and Susan both highly recommended the book Leadership and Self-Deception.  Alan believes that everyone is a leader (at least sometimes) and they have to start by leading themselves.  


Richard is obsessed with the idea that things and people are corrupt.  He believes and here was agreement in the group that one thing we are trying to do with all of these systems and controls in businesses is to weed out corruption, corrupt people and takers.  Richard says that there is a worthy goal to "instrument corruption" (develop systems that can measure and detect corruption at all levels).  Andrew jumped in and offered that experts at corruption really are good at it: that low-grade corruption is easy to detect and that some people really are grade A snakes.  

Steve Kubacki showed up a bit late (but I had already referenced a couple of his ideas) and we talked more about his idea of random firings to weed out corruption and sick cultures.  
Steve says that more of this needs to happen at the top of the organization than the bottom.  Susan said that, "A good leader assesses the talent and weeds out the tenured people."  So her theory is that this can be done by good people but I agree with Steve in some ways that this needs to be done by policy and not just by people (heroes).  We went into a discussion about CEO and he Board and how those two things should work together for control and regulation of the organization.  

Richard wanted to know how to test for integrity.  Everyone agreed that business and corporations really was a battle or war and that more people need to understand that situation.  We went into a discussion about the role of the HR department (few liked it) and Susan gave us examples of HR departments that provided coaching through the "HR Business Partner" who coached the manager of the group.  I have personally witnessed limitations of this model, especially when the management is not ready for coaching.  

"Balancing the bottom line and people" is a big topic that Susan thinks is a key challenge for organizations.  

We went off on a long rabbit trail tangent about sociopaths and predators (evil people) who are ladder climbers.  We tried to separate between those who are sick, ambitious and charismatic.  There is a desire by people to detect and weed these people out.

We talked about the authoritarian personality and how many people are okay with it (even seek it out) and like to live inside of authoritarian structures because they are given something from daddy.  

Conclusions and Next Steps

We had a great turnout.  It was me, leadership coach Alan Andersen, executive coach Susan Stringer, technology architect Richard Webb, professional services pro Lee Carter, delivery operations pro Dena Carter, operations manager Dominic Wong, business owner Thomas Mercer, business leader Thomas Mercer, software product developer Andrew Sengul and creative psychologist Steve Kubacki.

Please join us soon for Episode 8 of the AppsJack Capable Communities Podcast on the HR/Human Capital topic which will feature consulting business owner Aftab Farooqi, coach Rachel Alexandria, psychologist Steven Kubacki, executive and consultant Joe OKonek and professional services sales director Lee Carter.  We will record on Saturday 6/10 and the conversations will be dripped to the major podcast outlets each Sunday morning during June and early July. 

Our next topic for the meetup and podcast will be managing information technology, a topic near and dear to my heart and another key enabler to business.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Prepping for the Upcoming HR topic

A year ago, the group met and we had the following things to say about HR:

Books. At least three books were mentioned during the meetup.  Bruce sited “The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains” and “The Glass Cage: Automation and Us”, both by Nicholas Carr.  Richard mentioned "Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers" by Alexander Osterwalder.

What is talent? Richard, a highly entertaining and intelligent man, is known for dropping wonderful, unique, newly-coined quotes and one from the meetup this month was, “Talent is like migrating birds.”

We discussed a variety of topics: “Humans and Machines”, “Is the resume dead?  Hiring for cultural fit.”, “Bad HR policies and practices”, “Social Networks and Personal Profiles”.  

Applications of CyrstalKnows, LinkedIn and other tech. We got into specifics about the recent acquisition of LinkedIn by Microsoft and also the potential applications, scope and scale of Crystal Knows (  Crystal puts people through a simple personality test (DiSC profile) and then provides services to help individuals best connect with and relate to others based upon their assessed types.  Richard also said that CK has algorithms to crawl users’ social medai profiles from Facebook and other sites to determine personality.
We talked about the technology of Human Resources Management and specifics about Learning Management Systems and applications like Enterprise Search.

Cultural differences between USA and India. Jehan led us in a discussion where he shared about differences he has noticed between India and USA.  He sees USA kids as “gullible” and the India kids as more street smart.  India has a bigger focus on STEM and he has seen India transform substantially (from “another planet” to what it is now) over the decades.  He sees India as “dog eat dog” and the USA is as “procured”.  Jehan said, “We [in America] live in a virtual world.”

Classifications of workers, millenials. Richard, always entertaining, talked to us about thinking of people as either A) talent or B) task worker.  Others made us think of the world split between products and services. According to Richard, two properties that he sees defining millennials are that they have A) anger issues and B) a plan.  Richard has millennial children.

1099 vs. W2 models. We talked about 1099 and W2 relationships between employers and workers and were blessed to be led by PJ and Mike Lazer, both experts in the industry.  Solid contributions came from Dominic as well.  Some of the reasons that go into picking one or the other are trade secrets, risk management/mitigation (blame and culpability), as well as changes in business models.

The Seattle market and talent pool. The question was asked if Seattle the hottest market in the USA and many agreed that it may be.  Seattle has “the cloud” here (Microsoft Azure and AWS).  We are the platform.  Compare this to the bay area, for example, that has / makes many of the apps that run on the cloud.  Seattle is infrastructure and the rest of the world is the apps / things.  Where will this place Seattle in 5-10 years?

This year we are going to follow the APQC model at least for starters. Here's the cheat sheet on this area. And their L1 topics are:
  1. Develop and manage HR planning, policies and strategies
  2. Recruit, source and select employees
  3. Develop and counsel employees
  4. Reward and retain employees
  5. Redeploy and retire employees
  6. Manage employee information
Two questions come to my mind that I would like to discuss:
  • What is the modern practice of recruiting?
  • What is the best and worst onboarding experience you have had?
  • What challenges does your company currently have with HR?  Retention?