A couple of months ago, I wrote on allowing employees to bring their own computer to work, instead of using company provided hardware, and part of my article was featured on I-CIO.
Recently, I had an interesting chat with a fellow manager about security, which lead me to the conclusion that a proper BYOC policy can actually be a very important part of global security management.
Today was the official launch of Apple’s iPad in Luxembourg. The atHome group of companies, for which I work as head of IT, needed 3 iPads for internal needs, so I drove off to Apple’s main premium reseller Lineheart in Leudelange to get them.
Unfortunately, my mission to give Apple and Lineheart some money, and make the luxembourgish government earn some VAT, came to an abrupt halt when the otherwise friendly sales guy told me “Sorry, today it’s just one device per customer!“.
I explained that this was for atHome group and that they could even write three different invoices on three of the seven companies’ names that atHome Group operates, but to no avail.
WTF!? How business unfriendly is this? It ruined my day because I drove way too many kilometers to their place just to find out that even business customers get treated as everyone else.
It’s noteworthy to say that a couple of months ago, REA Group spent hundred thousands with Apple to equip the whole Australian businesses with hundreds of MacBooks, iPhones, and now also a couple of iPads. Unfortunately, even this is not good enough for us to be able to buy three iPads over here.
Finally, this only confirms my decision of not using Apple as a business IT provider or partner in Luxembourg. They just don’t seem to be up to what I expect.
Now I’m off to find the nearest Apple store in France that will be generous enough to allow me to spend some money with them.
This might sound bizarre at first, if looked at from an employee’s point of view, but is very logical from a manager’s position. Personally, as a manager, I want the value of my team or company to be an available and accessible asset inside the company.
No single item of knowledge or know-how should be limited to a single person, but shared among the group. That gives me a good starting point for business continuity and it makes sure that the business can run without interruption even if one or more people are not available, be it for illness reasons, for holidays, or anything else.
The best situation in my eyes is when the absence of a team members is not noticed. That shows that he has done a professional job and that he has taken all needed actions to make sure the business can run fine whilst he enjoys his holidays.
By well documenting his code, a developer makes sure that another developer can take on the work he might have left unfinished. By applying company coding standards, he makes sure that his team mate doesn’t need hours to decrypt the code before he can fix some bug. And by using an architecture and design that fits the company’s level of knowledge and competence, he can make sure that other developers can actually understand what has been done.
It is not an asset to have a solitaire “rock star programmer” on your team who plays solo, even if he seems to do a great job at first looks. What happens if he leaves the company? Are you comfortable with thousands of lines of code that seem greatly innovative but no one else in your team can understand or re-use ?
Personally, I would trade a bunch of rock star programmers with a well balanced team, that can work as a team and not a set of individuals, any day. Luckily, this is what I have today, and I wouldn’t want to miss a single one of them!
Here’s a very good article about tough business times and candid, transparent management and communication, written by Simon Baker on his blog. Check it out !
I can imagine that it is not always easy to be transparent. If you give direct information, you should be prepared for direct questions and be able to answer them honestly. You’d better not have messed up anything yourself!
This all being said, I like the idea, and I actively apply transparent communication in my web agency company VAlain SA . For instance, the monthly financial reports are published to our team Google Docs account as soon as they’re available, so that the whole team has a very open and clear view about the company’s financial situation. They can even see if and when I take cash out of the company – which I haven’t done so far. Let’s keep the baby growing a bit…
Yesterday, we launched our new corporate identity and rehauled website for my web agency VAlain SA. After 4 years of a relative inactivity in terms of image, this new identity was more than needed. The company, although still pretty small, is continuing to grow and expand. We have hired a second sales person who will start in the middle of march and plan to recruit one or two more people for the production team in the coming months.
Meet my new boss !
Daniel Oertli has been appointed as the new chief information officer (CIO) of the REA Group.
As a manager of a team, you have certainly asked yourself one or more of the following questions :
- “Is my team happy?”
- “Do they have what they need to work correctly?”
- “What does the team think of the company”?
And so on. Some of you might think: “Well, they’d certainly tell me if something wasn’t right.” Don’t be mistaken about this – people often don’t raise word by themselves, even if they feel things are wrong. It is probably a manager’s nightmare to rest in confidence and assume everything is well for everyone, because the manager thinks it is, just to find out that a rebellion has been growing inside your team and notice it when it’s well too late. Unsatisfied employees will be less productive and identify themselves less with the business, which leads to even more lack of satisfaction, as the boat slowly sinks.
My advice is: ask your people regularly about how they go and feel about their work and the business in general. Be candid about it. You don’t have to ask them to run the business for you, and they won’t take decisions for you, but you should carefully try to ask the right questions to find out how “life is within”. Managers often have to take a couple steps back to see the big picture, so you have to rely on what your team tells you from the inside and day-to-day work.
I have recently organized a small team chat on Skype to ask some questions and start a debate about how the company is doing. My people trust me and know that they can be honest and speak freely – they do, as well as I do. We had a very interesting 30 minutes of chattering, that made some interesting points to come up. The team also appreciated this initiative, as they feel looked after, and as they get confirmation for the fact that their wellness is important for the business.
I plan on repeating this every couple of weeks now – just to feel the temperature and make sure everyone is doing fine and we work towards the same goals, as a team.
A couple of days ago, after a tough day, I had a small discussion with one of my developers at work. I asked him to show me some document on his PC, and it took an awful long time for him to open it up because he mapped a network share on his private laptop he brought to work, and his laptop somehow stopped responding. My reaction was to say that this was an unacceptable loss of time and that I would think about no longer allowing people to bring their own gear to work.
Whilst I was driving home, I couldn’t get rid of the feeling that this was an emotional decision and that it felt wrong. Now that I took some time to think it over, I am sure that this is not what I will do in the future, but rather the opposite! I will encourage people to bring their own stuff to work, and even more than that…
In one of my previous posts, I wrote about some key points to make an office move successful. Today I’d like to speak about the importance of adequate office space.
First of all, there is probably no one-fits-all rule for office space. Depending on your business and activity, and on many other factors like will you be receiving customers or not, your ideal office space definition might be different from mine.
This weekend, atHome Group moved to new offices in Luxembourg. Moving a whole company in less than two days takes a good planning and preparation to minimize “downtime” of the systems and especially the team. You don’t want 30 people be unable to work for several hours (or days) because something went wrong or you didn’t think of something important. As I was given the mission to handle this project, here are a couple of do’s and don’ts that I feel are important.