2012 (2011) Data Breach Report

I had a chance over the weekend to finish reading the Verizon 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report. It’s a compilation of data about 2011 data breaches and they try to call out what they see as interesting in addition to showing a few different views of the data. It’s worth reading to get a sense of how complex security is, and how varied the attacks are. It’s also interesting to see that physical attacks are rare, less than 1% (which doesn’t mean we’re over-investing in physical security).

It’s not a bad read, you can skim if you need to and still pick up some good stuff. They have reports going back years if you get interested and want to learn more.

Call for Mentors for The Mentoring Experiment

We’re about to start our second experiment over at The Mentoring Experiment and we need mentors. Last time we picked a handful of people as mentors so that we could control that portion of the experiment. This time we’re just asking people that are interested to apply to be a mentor.

You might notice we’re not putting anything on the survey or the post about qualifications or mentoring experience. That’s by design. In part we don’t know what makes for a qualified mentor, and in part we want to see the range of skills/experience we get if we don’t set any boundaries. If you think you can be a good mentor, then apply!

Im in Houston Today (and this weekend too)

I’ll be spending the day with the 2011 Idera ACE’s (aka the old aces) and the 2012 Idera ACES (the new ones!) as we share lessons learned, work on being better at presenting and networking, and in general talk about ways to have a positive impact. Then tonight I’ll be at the SQLSaturday #107 speaker party, attending the event tomorrow, and then flying home on Sunday. A good weekend!

Book Review: American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company ($18 at Amazon) was a good read, with some good background on the history of Ford making good decisions and bad ones, ultimately leading to Ford truly being in a fight to survive. Bill Ford (of the Ford family of course) understood that Ford had lost focus, had too many brands, and had a culture that was more about turf than anything else. Knowing it didn’t mean he could change it though, and that’s a really interesting lesson – change is hard, sometimes impossible, even when the CEO wants the changes.

Ford did something I admire, something honest but so rare it’s worthy of calling out, he realized he wasn’t getting it done and went looking for someone that could. It probably helped that it was the family business (from his perspective, though it was publicly held) and asking for help was preferable to losing, but it was still a great call,perhaps all the harder because it was a publicly held company.

That brings us eventually to Alan Mulally,who had done great things at Boeing. Tons of experience, used to winning, what interests me is that he applied essentially the same management style at Ford as he did at Boeing – weekly status meetings that were driven by numbers. There’s a lot of common sense in applying a proven strategy, but it doesn’t always cross cultures. In this case it probably didn’t, he made the culture adapt to the meeting. It was interesting to hear about the pushback, the challenges in getting people to report accurate status, and the progress that started once they had a clear and honest view of the business.

They saw the challenges coming and bet big, mortgaging most of what they had to make sure they enough cash. It’s scary to think about a burn rate in the billions. Scary to think about being that leveraged.

Mulally brought a lot to the table. Experience, confidence, political acumen, but in reading the book what comes through is a willingness to build a plan and stick to it. Easy to build a plan, not easy at all to stick with it when things are getting worse. Sticking with it and staying good natured, even harder!

It’s hard to tell reading it how objective it is, if only because it doesn’t mention many bad moves. It’s worth reading, lots of good leadership lessons, lots of good culture lessons – think about the pressure, the fear they had to go through. Recommended.

Three Mistakes Managers Make

I suppose there is an almost limitless number of mistakes that managers can do and do make, it’s the nature of any work by and about people. My list today is from the perspective of someone that often gets to watch teams work – the outside observer.

1. Thinking their team is their focus. Lots of things change when you move into management, and maybe the hardest one is to understand that your peers have changed (to other managers). Managers get paid to drive teams, grow them, protect them, but it’s common to see that carried way too far to the point that they become an org within an org, a team that lives and fights for the good of the team. Without losing sight of the people, managers get paid to deploy resources, and that means understanding and supporting the needs of all the other teams – even if it means using, misusing, or abusing their own team to drive toward the collective goal. Said differently, your team is now the other managers. That means building relationships and understanding their challenges and needs,all without being any less vested in the team you manage.

2. Having their own agenda.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen clear and concise guidance from above ignored by a manager because they thought it was wrong. Not ethically wrong mind you,just a bad decision. The right way to handle this is to hash it out, argue your case, try to get the decision/direction changed. If you cannot win that argument, you have two choices; make the best of it and give it your full support, or leave. There’s no middle ground. Don’t agree? Imagine that you are a manager and you give clear directions that are ignored – why would you keep that person?

3. Failing to stop bad behavior. Every team has at least one, the person who always comes through in the crunch, that knows all the history…and is often a horrible pain in the ass. These are often people that grew up with the company and/or the manager. Fixing that kind of thing is hard, and it doesn’t feel like a win – but it is, for two reasons. The first is that you’re showing the team that you’re willing to hold everyone accountable – fail to do that and it will breed resentment (and copy cats) over time, destroying their trust in you and their sense of being a team. The second is perhaps more interesting – sooner or later the world will change, either with you (the benevolent manager) moving on, or with them moving on. In either case the next manager will not be inclined to tolerate that behavior, and the fix hurts – it’s not uncommon for the offender to be ejected. The worst part is, they usually don’t realize how far they’ve strayed from the middle of the road, asking “why didn’t you tell me this was a problem?”.

Avoiding all of these doesn’t guarantee you’ll be a good or successful manager, but you cannot be good or successful over the long term if you make these mistakes and fail to fix them.

SQLSaturday #151 Announced–Orlando!

Just got the email, Orlando will be having its sixth annual SQLSaturday this year on September 29th, 2012, at Seminole State College. There is no doubt that it’s my favorite event of the year, and it’s now officially on my calendar. Call for speakers is now open, and it my friend Jack Corbett has already submitted (Jack is known to be both nimble and quick!), hoping many more of you will join us in Orlando this year.

SQLRally at Starbucks Networking Event

Craig Purnell and I are hosting an informal networking event at SQLRally this year on Friday May 11th from 7-8:30 am. I’ve done this for the past couple years at the Summit with good results, networking over coffee seems natural and approachable. If you’re attending SQLRally this year I hope you’ll join us! Please RSVP here.

See the After Hours page for info on other networking opportunities at SQLRally.

A Strange Day at McDonalds

A few weeks ago I was running errands on a Saturday, with an almost final stop at Home Depot to pick up some stuff for the garden. I had my daughters with me and they were ready for a break so  we stopped at McDonalds for the dollar sundae for them and iced tea for me. There were only a couple people in line, so we’re waiting, and then as the line moves forward I hear the volume go up some. The guy at the front of the line was asking for replacement food, it seems they had put ketchup on his burger and he didn’t like ketchup.

Easy stuff, right? Give the guy a new burger and move on. Instead, she told him no new food without a receipt from the original purchase…which he didn’t seem to have. She was quietly strong about it, avoided turning it into a confrontation with good use of body positioning, and after a minute the hamburglar gave up. I can only assume this is a common scam in this store and the staff was just tired of it.

We were next and for some reason I was expecting a gruff, brusque reception, in part being post confrontation and in part just thinking she was…tough. Instead she was all smiles again, cheerfully piling on the M&M’s and whipped cream at the kids request,turning a $1 sundae into a $1.50 one,and a good afternoon into a great one. Few things better than treating the family to some ice cream on a Saturday afternoon.


Need a Blogging Nudge? Try Plinky

If you want to blog you need ideas, something to write about, and sometimes that leads to the blank stare as you realize you have no ideas in mind right then. Enter Plinky. It gives you a topic to write about every day (if you need one that often!). I’m not saying you should just live on Plinky alone, but it gives you a starting point, a problem to solve using your writing skills.

Here’s an example from today: