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Ramblings on positive change September 22, 2013

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Behavior, career.
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Since my last post, I have gone through some changes. Changes in employment and changes in location. It came about fairly quickly, now that I have some time to reflect on it. I recently found a position as a project manager and am part of a web development group once again.


I am fortunate to have so many good people in my life. My family has been 100% supportive. I have great friends who wished me well and their help is only a phone call or email away. I have but to ask. That support makes the transition much easier.

Taking this new job required relocating out of state. Not something I had intended initially. For many reasons outside of my control, the job I wanted was not available locally. I have been solicited to work in many areas around the country but held out for an opportunity that was in my home town. Keep the other aspects of my life the same. Did not work out that way this time around. Over the last 5 years, I have had several career changes. Most of those were outside my control in terms of duration.

change_exitAs for the work, it feels good to be back in many ways. Good to be working again. Good to be with an IT team that works closely with Marketing.  Like any new job, it takes some time to get settled. Get up to speed. Learn the ropes. More shop worn cliches. There are some interesting challenges ahead. I firmly expect to have an impact and be able to help my new team. I already know they will listen. That makes things so much easier. In my first week, I have already established my skills and experience. Here the biggest change is people are willing to accept it. That has not always been true in the past.

Going forward, more changes will be dealt with. In both the personal and professional facets, I will have good people to work through any and all changes that come my way.

I am most grateful for that and hope that never changes!

Ruminations on another LinkedIn milestone August 7, 2013

Posted by Edwin Ritter in career, Social Media, Trends.
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Earlier this year, I was surprised by an email that indicated my LinkedIn profile was in the Top 5 % of accounts viewed.   Recently, I achieved another LI milestone as my network  is now 500 strong and growing.  LI_500 Connections

To my network – Many thanks to all who have connected with me. I appreciate the interactions and look forward to continued knowledge share. I must admit that these connections are largely organic and the result of networking. I had not intended to reach this number. While reviewing my connections, many of them also have networks of 500 or more so I am in good company. Glad to be here with you.

Initially, I would connect with any and all on LI. My focus then was on growing the network in the wilderness that once was LI. That changed over time as it increased in popularity. The selection criteria was also a recent discussion topic in another network group I belong to. The most basic way to manage connect requests is to show the value provided in the connection. Don’t assume it is obvious and that I will accept. If I don’t see the value, I won’t accept. As part of the request, where possible, customize the invite message.

I have always been, and continue to be, active with my status and ‘check in’ multiple times each day. One of the features I like best about LI is the status updates. It is very easy to share what your are interested in and a great way to observe what is top of mind within the network  Other useful features include :

  1. potential new connections via the ‘People you may know’  pod,
  2. joining groups of interest,
  3. checking the ‘Who’s viewed your profile’ (c’mon, we are all a bit vain, aren’t we?),
  4. viewing company profiles to research/learn about and
  5. sending/receiving messages.

One change I did not enjoy was getting removed from groups. The message here is if you belong to a group, you should actively participate. If not, LI will remove you due to inactivity. Also, I noticed there is a limit to the number of groups you can belong to. Note – I use the basic ‘free’ account. It may be different with upgraded accounts.

LI_Account_ProfileI have a fairly robust profile that detail my career changes with recommendations from many people I have worked with the past. I  certainly appreciate endorsements (a fairly recent feature) on my skills and expertise and enjoy reciprocating with my connections. I find the profile is better at conveying who a person is and their career achievements and skills. In my opinion, the LI profile is an improvement over the traditional resume. At the risk of repeat, I submit that this profile will have more impact than a traditional career resume. This implies many changes in recruiting need to occur before that is commonplace. It is a direction I encourage as we improve how to digitally communicate.

That’s been my journey on LI so far. Do you have a goal for network connections? What are your favorite features on LI?

Ramblings on robots February 3, 2013

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Cloud Computing, Project Management.
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The topic of robots and automating work via machines has gotten a bit of ink lately. In the last month, I have read several articles on how robots will replace humans. Perhaps you’ve seen them also. The premise, or promise, is that machines will replace many of the tasks currently done by humans. A recent issue of Wired has robots as their cover story titled Better Than Human. The question is not if, but more of when, robots will replace people for many of the jobs that exist today. The major assumption is that it will create new jobs for us carbon-based life forms. The impact with machines used instead of people to perform a task is also connected to big data and cloud computing.

robot work force

Robots will replace humans in many jobs.

The concept is not new, of course. It can be argued that machine automation started with the Industrial Revolution as machines performed what humans did previously. Benefits in use of machines include consistent, repeatable actions, improved forecast of turns (i.e. – throughput), working with known capacity, higher quality, less waste and more accurate delivery. Having the machines in place provide humans to focus on other aspects of running a business.

From an economic and budget perspective, we know that the human element is the highest cost in any process. As Moore’s Law still works, the cost to use machines make more budgetary sense. This type of disruptive change will bring uncertainty, fear and confusion initially. At least, to us humans. To the machines it would be a non event and they might just say “meh”.

Any speculation I have at this point would be just that, speculation on how this will play out. However, I do look forward to what new jobs will be created by robots. Having a bot take over what I do now would be great. When that happens, I will then be able to define a process or sequence of operations for one or more bots, aligning those resources to perform that work I have assigned to them. No feedback, no personal issues, no drama, just predicatbel result. I won’t have to schedule meetings, take and distribute notes or ask them for critique of my performance either. Hmm, this could be a really good thing. My future job description may include more think time to improve/define innovation.

When will this happen again? When it does, will you be ready?

Ruminations on 5 New Management metrics December 14, 2011

Posted by Edwin Ritter in career, Project Management.
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I saw this article today on Forbes.com about new ways to manage. I agree with each and have used several of these metrics with success. To read the full article, use the link provided. My comments on each metric are included below. While it is a catchy title, I don’t think managers need to know these to be successful. You can adapt one or more for your own use easily and look for ways to subtly employ each of the strategies described. These metrics won’t drastically change management styles, but they do provide ways to improve your management ability and help drive your team to be successful.

Metric 1: Flow State Percentage

Basically indicates that people need more think/soak time. When you have time to concentrate (i.e. – no interruptions), you are more productive. Getting to, and staying in, the zone more often makes you a better performer.

Metric 2: The Anxiety-Boredom Continuum

Keep a balance here. Not too easy, not too hard. Stay engaged and tune the level needed as it suites your team.

Metric 3: Meeting Promoter Score

I have used this to great effect. If you rate the meetings, you get instant feedback on what works, what does not and what people are really interested in. I found that once you have a consistent score, you don’t need to track it and your team knows what to expect and is engaged. Bonus – if you end meetings early, expect your score to increase.

Metric 4: Compound Weekly Learning Rate

My Father-in-Law, who came from the old country, always said “Every day you learn.” You do if you are motivated to do so. Even if you just did this for yourself, measuring your progress would change your priorities and how you spend your time in the office.

Metric 5: Positive Feedback Ratio

Catch your team doing things right. Even the mundane tasks. The author mentions the payback is realized that when you have legitimate criticism, your reports will listen.

These strategies are easy to implement. You can try one or more with your team and tune them as needed. With the new year just around the corner, now is a great time to look at ways to improve your management skills. Who knows – you may influence your peers and your boss by doing this.

Good luck and let me know what your metrics look like over time.

Management Types to Avoid March 27, 2011

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Trends.
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Management styles evolve over time yet certain fundamentals remain constant. Planning, communicating and getting commitment from your team are a few of the essential fundamentals.  Good managers also provide clear and actionable deliverables. You recognize those effective managers easily. They have successful teams; people who are motivated. Then, there are those managers who are not so good. You know the type. They don’t know what they want until the last minute, have unrealistic expectations and never acknowledge your efforts. The management types to avoid.

We all have worked for both good and bad managers. I hope you work for more good managers than bad. For those occasions when working for a less than good manager, I offer this adage that helps deal with fear, uncertainty and doubt (aka, fud).
“We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long,with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing at all.”

A coping mechanism for sure and a way to gently express frustration. It also helps rationalize an irrational situation.

What ways do you use to work with good managers and avoid the bad ones?

Peter Principle – Fact or Fiction? October 5, 2009

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Trends.
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This basic management  principle states that people rise in an organization to a level of incompetence. Every working professional can relate to this and may have experienced it already (or, will given time) by working with someone who has been promoted to a position that is beyond their capacity. At which time you ask ‘How did that person get his/her job?’

Whether fact or fiction*, the Peter principle is a fundamental reason why the Dilbert comic strip is so popular.  We all can relate to those situations where incompetence reigns despite our hope that logic and reason will prevail. Many people feel the situations depicted in Dilbert are unique to their company. But, that is why it is universally popular – it happens in lots of companies.

Over the course of my career, I have worked with people who demonstrate the Peter principle quite nicely and even have had a boss or two like that. Thus far, I believe I have avoided being a data point to validate this concept. I’m not sure but there may be some detractors about that.

Competence is also related to my last post on capacity. Possessing the knowledge and skills to do the job required and meet deadlines is a learned skill. Being a consistently solid performer that can also exceed expectations requires focus and dedication. Career advancement is based on past performance and potential to manage more complexity and extend capacity.

Would you admit it if you are an example of the Peter principle? Know someone who is? What signals do you watch for to ensure you are working at a high level of competence?

*Actually, while highly plausible, the Peter Principle is but a work of fiction. See the wikipedia entry which describes the authors and the related book.

Going to the Fair April 22, 2009

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Miscellaneous.
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I had an interesting afternoon while attending a Career Fair here in town. Employers and recruiters were there.  The nursery rhyme pops in my head about the birds and the beasts and baboon combing his hair – but I digress.

To me, this was informal and low key. Many companies had a table staffed with people to talk to.  It had many people attending but you could visit your targeted companies easily.

The routine of what to do at these things is quickly learned. Line up, make your pitch, provide a copy of your resume and business card, Thank them for their time and on to the next. When there is a long line, you ask someone at the end, “Are you waiting to speak with ABC Company?” Spent some time in one of those – even tweeted about it.

You meet some interesting people at these events. That may sound snarky or a back-handed compliment. I don’t mean that in a snobbish type way at all. What is interesting is that instead of reading about the statistics of people attending that are looking for work, I am now one of the statistics.  That changes your perspective to know how many others are in the same situation.

I’m optimistic that I and others, will get a new job. Good skills, perseverance and timing will prevail I’m sure. I have marketable skills combined with knowledge that not may others have. So, I got that going for me, which is nice. Plus, a good network of contacts pulling for me and then there is eternal happiness in the after-life.


Keep moving forward and begin the day with a friendly voice.

Chapter close and new beginning April 1, 2009

Posted by Edwin Ritter in career.
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Some random thoughts as I go through a new phase.

While it is April Fool’s today,  my mood is more on the somber side. I like the  humor, surprise and reaction involved with practical jokes.  But, today I have a different topic to focus on.

I bid Adieu to many colleagues at work today. All were  sad, a few even cried. I didn’t realize I had that kind of impact on people outside my family. But then, we are always our own harshest critics.  I am definitely respected as a good, honest person and I will definitely be missed at my last job. Both by those who explicitly said so and also by those who silently acknowledge my efforts and contributions. For those I talked to directly, I passed out business cards so I can stay in contact (or, they with me) as our paths diverge from this point forward.

So that chapter closes. On to a new start – wide open with possibilities. Again having to answer the proverbial “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer is ‘It Depends’.

For the blue sky vista option, I could do anything – start a consulting business, partner with another entrepreneur.  I could teach – transfer my knowledge and skills to others.  Both involve ‘getting out’ more and that would be a good thing. Brain surgery, base jumping or skydiving instructor is not on part of the vista.

By getting out, I mean interacting more so than in the past.  I’m socially capable and acceptable. It’s just that most of my recent work is cyclical – meet to collect/exchange ideas, use think/soak time to define proposals and then reconvene. Then repeat as needed until fini. That’s OK – with some small scale travel (e.g. – local) for variation.

Other options  are still in process. Staying positive and moving forward in this new phase. The default includes – do things of interest that make a difference and pay well. I’ve heard the saw about Project Management – optimize on any two from good, fast and cheap. Can’t do all three.  I think I can optimize on these 3 – interest, difference and compensation. It is a new possible beginning.     How this begins is in my control and that is exciting – looking forward to meeting those who will begin this chapter with me.