One million and counting…

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Hi all

I know statistically it’s meaningless and is hugely subjective, but it looks like I have ended this week (and this month), having finally cracked the million hits mark. Of course, the significance is about the same as when you think its cool when your car speedo clocks over from 99,999 miles to 100,000.

But to those of you that visit this site, thanks so much for your patronage and feedback. Hopefully if SharePoint (and IT in general) doesn’t send me completely insane, then some bigger and better things are to come.

Paul Culmsee

 

Summary by Month
Month Daily Avg Monthly Totals
Hits Files Pages Visits Sites KBytes Visits Pages Files Hits
Oct 2008 32804 22784 4059 1770 18169 13426599 54890 125853 706327 1016940
Sep 2008 30585 21225 3903 1838 16944 13072632 55162 117103 636756 917561
Aug 2008 31231 21330 5041 2200 25129 14908050 68204 156288 661245 968178
Jul 2008 30233 20211 3816 1804 16714 12728315 55934 118310 626549 937245
Jun 2008 27384 18909 3595 1684 15712 12717217 50526 107854 567296 821541
May 2008 24881 16445 3938 1323 13118 11355899 41013 122082 509801 771334
Apr 2008 19406 13418 2573 1042 9739 8043759 31279 77216 402540 582194
Mar 2008 15538 11534 1822 877 8595 7014862 27200 56503 357555 481706
Feb 2008 14242 11340 1629 807 8036 6845961 23407 47263 328871 413020
Jan 2008 7946 6095 1355 671 6427 4346557 20808 42035 188955 246341
Dec 2007 5753 4610 999 483 5501 3056605 14981 30978 142928 178354
Nov 2007 4616 3573 690 310 3377 3056584 9306 20729 107216 138503

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Free open source WCM for WSS

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I have to say, Perth is home to some great SharePoint Talent. MVP Sezai is one prime example and Jeremy Thake is another.

But there is also another colleague of mine who you may or may not know – Tommy Segoro, who is one of those mild-mannered guys who simply gets down to it and produces great things.

Tommy has released a free, open source CMS that sits on top of WSS. Publishing pages, page layouts, the page editing toolbar, all on WSS, without having to upgrade to MOSS at great expense to get the publishing feature.

http://www.codeplex.com/completesharepoint

http://www.completesharepoint.net/Home/Pages/Default.aspx

check it out for yourself!

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Is Azure Death Magnetic?

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Microsoft and Metallica have more in common than people realise. Don’t believe me? Then here is my CleverWorkarounds "check the facts"(tm) campaign to prove it!

 

Fact Microsoft Metallica
They were both cool in the 80’s    
They released some groundbreaking stuff in the 80’s DOS 3 Ride The Lightning album
Master of Puppets
In the 90′ they took off big-time and the mainstream really caught on, but they alienated some older fans Windows 95 The Black Album
They released some utter crap trying to please their newfound mainstream fanbase Windows Me
Windows Vista
Load
Reload
St Anger
They both sued people who were illegally copying their stuff    
Everybody loves to hate their figurehead Bill Gates Lars Urlich
They became a dinosaur and admitting you were a fan made you subject to ridicule    
They tried to improve their image by hanging with cool people Jerry Seinfeld The San Francisco Symphony Orchestra
Their competitors started attracting their former fans Apple
Linux
Google
Opeth
Slipnot
Korn
They have both been abused at slashdot    
Both have anger management issues Steve Balmer James Hetfield

 

Now here is the all important question. Does the trend continue?? You tell me? 🙂

 

Both recently released the best thing they have done in years Azure? Death Magnetic

 

Well, at least Metallica has released the best album in 20 years. What about Microsoft with Azure?

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I bet it seemed logical at the time

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Oh how times change! I am reading a good book at the moment called "Competing on Analytics – The New Science of Winning" and I hit one particular quote that I have to share with you. It’s one of those statements that makes perfect sense at the time, but is kind of funny when you look at it in the context of recent world events in the financial markets.

…But in other cases, analytics can permanently transform an industry or process. As Money-ball and Liar’s Poker author Michael Lewis points out in talking about investment banking. "the introduction of derivatives and other new financial instruments brought unprecedented levels of complexity and variation to investment firms. The old-school, instinct guys who knew when to buy and when to sell were watching young MBA’s – or worse, PhD’s from MIT – bring an unprecedented level of analysis and brain power to trading. Within 10 years the old guard was gone".

I love that line "analysis and brain power", given the contribution of derivatives to the prospect of a "teensy weensy" global recession. Mind you, how much ‘analytics’ do you think is going into current decisions and company valuations on the stock market?

Where are those old school guys? I want ’em back!! 🙂

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(ab)using ISO9001 for fun and profit

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I don’t know if you have ever read ISO9001, but it is about as exciting as getting a root canal or trying to listen to a Ricky Martin album with a straight face. But hey, if they were actually interesting, ISO compliance wouldn’t be such a billion dollar industry. Does anybody else use SharePoint for ISO compliance purposes? I’ve done several of them now.

First up, I’ll give you the Cleverworkarounds’ version of ISO9001 and then I’ll teach you how to use it to get your own way 🙂 .

ISO9001 is an internationally recognised standard that provides an organisation with the guiding principles, means and methods to improve their internal quality. If you are wondering what or which quality, then I can’t give you an answer because it depends on your organisation. So for example, Microsoft might use ISO9001 to improve their ability to release a desktop operating system that people actually like. McDonalds may use ISO9001 to ensure that your calorie-laden burger is *consistently* calorie-laden no matter which store you visit.

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Don’t feel bad if you struggle with SharePoint

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This project was not SharePoint, but I have seen some people try and do this with SharePoint. But you can imagine how much stress this project would have caused to participants.

The South Australian government has pulled the plug on its $5 million records management system project, ending a five-year saga plagued by repeated cost blowouts, delays and confusion

http://www.australianit.news.com.au/story/0,24897,24510560-15306,00.html

I can’t help but feel that if this particularly wise and insightful document written by their federal government counterparts had been written a couple of years earlier, some of sting just might have been taken out of this example of expensive project failure.

Many of the most pressing policy challenges for the APS involve dealing with very complex problems. These problems share a range of characteristics—they go beyond the capacity of any one organisation to understand and respond to, and there is often disagreement about the causes of the problems and the best way to tackle them. These complex policy problems are sometimes called ‘wicked’ problems

Critically, tackling wicked problems also calls for high levels of systems thinking. This big picture thinking helps policy makers to make the connections between the multiple causes and interdependencies of wicked problems that are necessary in order to avoid a narrow approach and the artificial taming of wicked problems

Read the full document here:

http://www.apsc.gov.au/publications07/wickedproblems.htm

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Toddler insights into understanding

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My little boy will be turning four this weekend. We are hosting one of those parties with a zillion toddlers, copious amounts of candy and a bouncy castle.

He seems to have gotten through the toddler tantrum stage without causing us too much heartache and is now into the philosophical stage where he asks some surprisingly insightful questions. He asked me "Where did the first baby come from?" and so I messed with his head a little with the chicken and egg paradox :-). Other questions that come to mind include, on being woken up by him one morning, "Why do we have blood in our body?", "When I’m all grown up, who will be your little boy?" and "Will I have a little boy when I’m bigger?"

The other day when we were discussing family relations and related terms, he retorted pretty definitively "You are not my parents. You are my Mummy and Daddy!"

So, you can imagine my surprise and amusement when he recently asked me "Why is there fire on the sun?" I mean he’s turning four – how do you answer that?

Rather than try and water it down, I explained it like a tech-guy would. I casually spent about 3 minutes explaining in detail the process of nuclear fusion in the core of a star and how lighter elements fuse into heavier elements, releasing tremendous amounts of energy in the process. He listened intently, not missing a beat. When I had finished my explanation, I asked him if he understood all that I had told him.

Without even the slightest hesitation he said definitively,

"Yes, Daddy."

.. and then went back to playing Wii Sports.

I then realised that he has all the qualifications needed to have a long and very successful career in IT or finance.

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It’s all Joel’s fault…

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Here we go… another Cleverworkarounds waffle!

Now, we all know that Joel Oleson is the Russell Crowe of the SharePoint world! I mean, he’s multi-skilled, loads of talent, has the respect of his peers and has built a well deserved reputation of being one of the best at what he does. (Although unlike Russell I am fairly sure that he has not thrown a telephone at an annoying IT manager in a fit of rage just yet).

But despite his best intentions and with his heart in the right place, Joel is one of the unwitting architects of a butterfly effect that is now plaguing the SharePoint world. One that is now causing much pain and damage to already beleaguered enterprises.

In short, he set the wheels in motion that helped destroy a word via buzzword abuse 🙂 That word is…

"Governance"

See, way, way back in the bowels of time (okay, around 2006), when the stock market was soaring and therefore SOX compliance was being conveniently ignored by investors in equities, Joel’s blog was one of a couple of blogs of any significance SharePoint-wise. He was out there doing his bit for the common good, stressing the importance of governance in the SharePoint world before the word governance was really used in this context. Joel cited this article by Matthew Cain at Gartner which seems to be the root of it all. Now this is perfectly fine and dandy, but Joel made one fatal mistake that we are still feeling the effects of…

He de-nerdified his blog and made this stuff accessible! Thus, somewhere in the world, a marketing person read it and understood just enough syllables to get a gist of what Joel was talking about. Sensing the opportunity to add a new word to glossy brochureware, from that moment forward the true meaning of "governance" was lost forever as the snowball effect of a new buzzword taking root gained momentum. As the snowball rolls faster, more and more vendors get onto the bandwagon, each skewing the definition to suit their own ends.

So now, I am afraid that governance is now irreversibly sliding down the same slippery slope as such luminaries as "convergence", "portal", "ubiquitous", "social networking" and the current cream of the crop – "web 2.0".

…and it’s all Joel’s fault, right? 🙂

So, how to reclaim this word? I don’t know if you can. I have, however, decided to start a social experiment making my own future buzzword. More on that in a minute.

Governance = systems thinking

Before I present my version of what governance really means, I want to enlighten you to an important philosophical concept that underpins governance called "systems thinking" or "the systems approach". Systems thinking approaches problem solving from the perspective that the problem must be looked at as parts of an overall system, rather than focusing on individual outcomes. Wikipedia has quite a nice quote which captures the philosophy nicely.

Systems thinking attempts to illustrate that events are separated by distance and time and that small catalytic events can cause large changes in complex systems. Acknowledging that an improvement in one area of a system can adversely affect another area of the system, it promotes organizational communication at all levels in order to avoid the silo effect.

Either I have been officially typecast, or many organisations are feeling the same pain. The reason I say this is because I’ve been called in to assist organisations that are suffering a crisis of confidence with the SharePoint platform. In each case there are one or more highly visible and persistent problems that are causing user dissatisfaction. That translates to a stressed and under-confident SharePoint/IT project team who are questioning the validity of the SharePoint platform.

My brief in each was to help them pinpoint the root cause of their immediate pain, but in the context of a more holistic review of the SharePoint service to try and identify the gaps that allowed the situation to arise in the first place. The interesting fact about these sites is that they did have governance plans and on the surface of it all, most of the boxes could be ticked.

So, what went wrong?

It all boiled down to this: Stakeholders had a different interpretation of what governance actually means – the curse of a buzzword!. Most stakeholders in fact were more interested in the fact that they had a thirty page document someone wrote with "Governance plan" in the title and thought "okay that’s done, what’s next?".

This is not a systems thinking approach and therefore, this is not good governance. In fact, it really has missed the point entirely.

"SharePoint Assurance" is the new buzzword :-) 

At the end of the day, there are two immutable facts of working life.

1. We are all accountable to someone. Whether it is the board of directors being accountable to shareholders or the guy on the helpdesk being accountable to his operational manager, the vast majority of us are tasked with various responsibilities that our performance is judged on. If we fail to perform to the expectations, we not only let ourselves down, but we can adversely affect others.

2. We all want to go home from work, secure in the knowledge that we performed what was expected of us and we are still going to have a job tomorrow.

Both of these facts underpin the principle that we are all cogs in a complex organisational machine where our individual (and organisation-wide) fate is reliant on each other in complex, often implicit interdependencies.

Governance therefore is all about providing assurance. If you do not provide assurance, you will have fear, uncertainty and doubt. Take a look at the stock markets crashing around the world. Clearly assurance is in extremely short supply!

A Social Experiment

Now what I want to do twofold. For some strange reason I see the funny side of creating a new buzzword and see how long it takes to get to a brochure. Thus I am officially raising a virtual flag and laying claim to being the first person to use the term "SharePoint assurance" instead of SharePoint governance. (at the time of a writing a google search on this phrase yields only 5 hits).

Once you see the term in a marketing brochure, please let me know 🙂

But on a more serious note, I think that assurance in the SharePoint space can be done a lot better than it is and I have a few ideas on how this can be achieved.

More (hopefully much more) on this topic area soon…

 

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

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A tribute to the humble leave form part 5

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Arno over at Sharepoint Magazine has published part 5 of my "Leave Form Tribute" series of articles. This latest article is a bit of a graduation from the first four, that were pitched squarely at new users. In part 5 we are now getting into the more advanced stuff – like attempting to explain web services to the masses 😉 I have found this to be a very challenging article to write.

Read it now!

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It’s all in the way you ask the question…

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(Nerds are going to find this post dead boring).

Before I start, let me state that I am a believer in the Honey and Mumford theory of learning styles, as well as the Marston DISC assessment. I think both are closely related, and go some way to explaining many mysteries of the world like – "Why are there Metrosexuals?", "Why doesn’t everyone listen to Opeth?" and most importantly of all "What goes on in the strange world that is the engineer mind"?

"Engineer mind"?

Don’t bother googling that term because I made my own definition. I’m really referring to tech nerds generally, but the definition actually extends beyond nerds to a certain type of personality that tends to be a combination of an Activist learning style with a Steady/Conscientious DISC profile.

The point is that engineer minded people live in a factual world. Questions are factual and answers are usually pretty absolute. An engineer’s dogma also has a way to make facts more ‘factual’ in their eyes as well.

For a chunk of the rest of humanity, factual questions are not quite that factual. In many contexts, particularly political ones, a factual question is often open to more liberal interpretation.

This is in essence why engineers dress badly and sales people commonly exhibit metrosexual tendencies. 🙂

 

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