Leadership Development Blog

Today more than ever, we must work hard to satisfy the needs of customers.  The world has become very competitive and it seems that even for small businesses competition is fierce. We are impacted by a global economy gone warp speed. 

In this environment, we must rely on others to get the job done.  Yet sometimes our employees seem to have a mind of their own – they come to work late, they do incomplete follow-up or staff work, they don’t provide exemplary customer service. 

You have probably asked yourself how you can get better performance from your people.  How can you manage, or at least influence their performance?  Researchers have found a four step process that is very effective in influencing how people perform.  Leave out any of these steps and you will probably have an ongoing struggle.


Four Steps to Influencing Performance 

            Step 1.  Setting…

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DoD isn’t ready for Cloud Computing

If you read the Cloud Computing strategy paper there are a lot of great ideas but in our environment today they aren’t realistic.   Without getting into great detail or even attacking the strategy point by point we can totally dismantle the strategy with one concept, THE SLA / OLA.

How will you hold the DISA accountable when cloud services fail?   Where has DISA been successful with Cloud Computing today…? (be honest now).

Who will advocate for customers when DISA fails?  How will IT acquisition practices and programmatics change to accommodate the cloud?   I could really go on and on.

Bottom line is that DISA and the CIO don’t even know where all of the IT services are in the DoD holistically.   In other words, there is no “list” of DoD services.   I have been asking and looking for years for a list of even cloud like capabilities.    It is solving the wrong problems precisely to add cloud services to the mix and assume that you are going to force people to your services.

I would say that it will flat out fail until you start changing behavior not technology.

They talk about fostering adoption with the stick of governance but anyone who understands anything about “The elephant and the rider”  knows that in our world (DoD) we cannot DEMAND AND FORCE CHANGE.

I wasn’t clear.. sorry..  YOU CANNOT FORCE CHANGE IN THE DOD.

You can lead change.  You can inspire change.  There are a lot of things you CAN do but forcing people to go to cloud solutions on DISA isn’t going to be one of them.

Most people who I know have strong feelings about DISA..  I wouldn’t use the word.. LOVE .

The DoD tried to consolidate services and broker services with technology before, anyone heard of SOA?  It failed because they put technology first.

“If I give you this cool THING, you will LOVE me and you WILL give me your DATA.”  That is bologna.    If you put governance in place that will do it? NOPE.   Governance in the DoD from the highest levels is like a big fat tiger with NO TEETH.  It looks scary but the bite just tickles.

SO.. here is my challenge to YOU reader.  Ask everyone you know what cloud services exist in the DoD.   Ask them where they are and how much they cost.   Ask them what the SLA(service level agreement) looks like.  Ask them what the OLA (operational level agreement) looks like.   Ask them who they currently service .   Ask them for a list of technical capabilities.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST.. Ask them to be honest about what they have and who they are serving and the maturity of their environment.

Prove me wrong, but I am willing to bet that you won’t find a list unless you make it yourself.   You will find services all over the place funded in all sorts of ways.   You will find that the CIO doesn’t know what is in her enterprise. **sorry** is that effort underway?  I didn’t see a discovery phase in the strategy but maybe I overlooked it.

Let me know what you come up with…






Dispatches from the Front: 19 August 2012

Today ends Ramadan.  Previously, I experienced this month long Islamic holiday during the two years deployed in Saudi Arabia.  Back then, it was more of an annoyance than an igniter to increase our threat readiness level.   Not only do we have the Taliban to worry about, recently, there is an increase of Green (Afghan soldiers and police who were coalition trained and trusted “good guys”) on Blue (us, the coalition forces) killings.  In order to understand why such a change, I researched the significance of this religious event.  Before now, everything I needed to know about the Islamic faith, I learned on Sept 11, 2001.

The following four points have been synopsized from Wikipedia.  Ramadan:

A.            It is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

B.            Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting.

C.            This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of

Islam.  (If you want to review your knowledge on the Five Pillars, see the attachment page of this Dispatch.)

D. The month lasts 29-30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.  (more on the moon below)

That is enough from Wikipedia.   Now I understand.  The bastards are miserable because they realize they have not done enough for Allah.  They are hungry, thirsty and go without sex from sun up to sun down for a month.   So who do they take out their frustration besides their women who are indentured to a life of servitude?  Us!  Killing an Infidel has got to offset their warped human psyche as dehydration takes its toll in this excessive heat combined with the pains of hunger which only serves to piss them off.   I now see why this religious holiday causes strange things to happen to the people celebrating it.

Note:  I am not including all Muslims as bastards, just the ones who what to kill us; or enslave us by levying a heavy yearly tax of an amount they decide for payment for not accepting their faith.  I for one

will go to my death before I accept Islam.   Statistically, there has got to be a few of the 1.62 billion adherents that make up over 23% of the world population, who actually peacefully practice their militant religion of peace.  Let none misunderstand, Islam can be practiced as peacefully as Christianity and many do but that is not the way I have seen it.  Our Reformation worked, theirs failed.  Even the peaceful ones want all to convert to Islam.

That is enough of one man’s religious philosophy. Back to the subject of Ramadan and why crazy things are happening here.

In my opinion, dehydration coupled with heightened sensitivities, specifically cultural and religious, create conditions for bad decisions.  I’ve been here almost 3 months and I have not seen one drop of rain to reduce the 100+ degree daily temperatures.  Excessive draught as well as misery makes for an extremely combustible environment that takes only a whisper of a spark to ignite.  Those who do not share in a collective misery of a group, the Infidels, whether right or wrong, quickly become the center of the “group’s” frustration.

To counter this madness, we who are on the “inside” of the wire looking “out” and especially our Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and our Coalition Partners who routinely venture and remain in harm’s way; we must remain vigilant and apply special sensory awareness as we protect each other in the accomplishment of our mission.  Our enemy will continue to influence, impersonate, and intimidate the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF) in an effort to create an environment with the intent to discredit the US/Combined Force mission; to turn the security of this Nation over to the Afghan peoples who seek a better future for themselves and their children.

All enemies are opportunistic.  The Taliban are no more or no less than those of our past.  I personally think they continue to miss great strides in subversion and terror due to limited scale of though and ability to execute.  However, he has brutality and technology on his side.  The brutality the world has had to witness for centuries.

Cutting off one villager’s head in front of his family speaks volumes and cancels out the good work or deeds accomplished by the coalition forces.  Why,  because in many districts throughout this miserable land where a trained military or police force does not exist or able to respond;  the coalition forces left behind only  new schools, stocked medical facilities, irrigation ditches, roads, improved farming practices, etc., all which provide hope but not protection.   For centuries, the unprotected are forced to watch their hopes quickly be washed away by the blood of their loved ones.  With the wealth produced from the opium trade that funds our enemy, they are provided unlimited access to “everyman’s” technology.  Although they have the funds and means to purchase multimillion dollar military widgets in small quantities, they are not needed to be successful.  Access to social networks, satellite phones, and basic explosion initiation devices are what they buy and what worries me.  I promise you, the Taliban will use every available means to discredit our efforts, while he attempts to remain relevant in the minds of the very people they desire to control.

Remember, we the coalition partners have to be right 100% of the time.

The Taliban has to be right just once.

So to me, I learned that Ramadan just sucks.  I have the increase in causality reports to prove it.  The Church on March 18, 1314 burned Jacques de Molay wrongly.  It is wise there are no Knights of Templar recruiting stations on Bagram.

My mother taught me to always at least try to look for something nice in things I do not like or approve.  The timing of Ramadan with the alignment of the crescent moon and Venus is spectacular.  One early morning prior to the end of Ramadan, against the foothills of the Himalayas, the crescent moon and Venus were perfectly captured as on the

National flag of Turkey.

Semper Fidelis,


CJTF-1, 1D, CJ Assessments

Task Force Defender

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan

APO AE 09354

Attachment:  The Five Pillars of Islam:

  1. The Shahayda (Islamic creed).

The shahada means “to know and believe without suspicion, as if witnessed, testification”; it is the name of the Islamic creed.  The shahada is the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Muhammad as God’s prophet.  The declaration in its shortest form reads:

There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God.

  1. Daily prayers (salah),

Salah is a ritual worship, having prescribed conditions, a prescribed procedure, and prescribed times. To perform valid Salah, Muslims must be in a state of ritual purity, which is mainly achieved by ritual washing or cleaning of the body, according to prescribed procedures.

For some of the Islamic sects, obligatory salah is prescribed at five periods of the day. These are measured according to the movement of the sun.

(1)    near dawn

(2)     After midday has passed and the sun starts to tilt downwards

(3)     Noon – in the afternoon

(4)    Just after sunset

(5)    Around nightfall

  1. Almsgiving

It is the giving of a fixed portion of one’s wealth to charity, generally to the poor and needy.

  1. Fasting during Ramadan

Ritual fasting is an obligatory act during the month of Ramadan.  Muslims must abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk during this month, and are to be especially mindful of other sins. Fasting is necessary for every Muslim that has reached puberty (unless he/she suffers from a medical condition which prevents him/her from doing so.)

The fast is meant to allow Muslims to seek nearness to Allah, to express their gratitude to and dependence on him, atone for their past sins, and to remind them of the needy.During Ramadan, Muslims are also expected to put more effort into following the teachings of Islam by refraining from violence, anger, envy, greed, lust, profane language, gossip and to try to get along with fellow Muslims better. In addition, all obscene and irreligious sights and sounds are to be avoided.

Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory, but is forbidden for several groups for whom it would be very dangerous and excessively problematic. These include pre-pubescent children, those with a medical condition such as diabetes, elderly people, and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Observing fasts is not permitted for menstruating women. Other individuals for whom it is considered acceptable not to fast are those who are ill or traveling. Missing fasts usually must be made up for soon afterward, although the exact requirements vary according to circumstance

  1. The pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime.

Again, this information was synopsized from Wikipedia.  I highlighted and underlined “fellow Muslims”.  The rest of the world is damned in their eyes.


“All lives end in suffering and tragedy” says the ferryman (1:24)

This isn’t a movie review.  I was watching Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief with my children last week and heard the ferryman say this as they traveled into what equates to hell.   Unfortunately,  this one line struck a chord with me.

Ferryman on the river to the underworld

We all experience some form of suffering and tragedy.   This is what makes for a good novel or movie, but the only reason is because we can relate.  Some people look to religion for their answers, others look inward or other places.

It brought for me to light this concept of value over success.  Many religions teach that if we follow a certain path or believe in specific things that we will find that when the last chapter of our lives close a new chapter of our existence will begin (a new book).

This isn’t a connected story though.  The end of one book is the beginning of another.  As I have gotten older, I have personally seen lives end in suffering and tragedy.   As a matter of personal record,  I can’t think of anyone that I know of that didn’t end in some form of suffering or tragedy.   There is the great possibility that when we leave this world that we will enter another, although we don’t go as we are, we go as something else.

I am walking the line of writing about religion here and that is not my intent.  I am more interested in recognition of the end of our lives and what it means relative to who we are and what we are doing today.  I think a lot of us are blind including me most of the time.  I know that this is a detour from what I normally write about but it does relate to business.

Today there are all sorts of manifesto’s for our work in technology.  The “Agile” and the “SOA” and the Business.. but there are others that are less known.  http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-awesome-inspirational-manifestos.html

Have you ever heard that “It’s not a matter of if but what and when?”  Maybe that should be a bumper sticker or something.  If you know that your last day is tomorrow, how would you treat people today?  Would it be different?  If so, why?  I am not asking about regrets, I am asking about choices.   We have a responsibility to each other, regardless if we want to recognize it or not, we are all connected.  We also should note that there is a good chance that when our lives end, along with it will be suffering and tragedy.

How do you feel about your value over what you believe is success?

What do you hope to really accomplish by the time you realize the answer to this question?

Are you doing the things you need to do today to get there?

If not, why?

I recently went up against a personal roadblock that forced me into making this very choice / distinction.   None of this is easy but as the recently deceased Covey has said “Begin with the end in mind.”  I believe that we should all practice our lives with the end in mind.

What do you think?

For Those Who Serve (Forgotten Troops)

In my office I have a plaque that Kenny Williams gave me when I decided to leave Joint Forces and move on to work with DISA.

From One Warrior to a Cyber Warrior

I see this almost every day, sometimes I am facing it for hours.    What does it mean? What does it mean to you?

What does it mean?

As I have stated in earlier posts, Ken for me is a personal living hero.  He is a man of honor and integrity, he is a man of purpose, and he is a true leader.   Most people talk about “the warfighter” and don’t know anything about war or service for that matter.   Ken doesn’t just talk about people in the field, he actively works to help them.   This year as shown in his dispatches from the field, he chose to go out and help them in person.   To me it is no different from a firefighter or a police officer or anyone else who serves our community and makes sacrifices for the GREATER GOOD of our country and our way of life.

It is a volunteer military but what would this country do if people didn’t volunteer?   These people are making a choice and a sacrifice.   In some cases they make the ultimate sacrifice.

I am responding to those of you who can’t deal with what Ken has been writing and to those of you that have told me that it is by choice that our service members are serving.  You are RIGHT!  It was their choice, and their choice made it so that you or your children or grand children aren’t sitting in a festering pit wondering what war they are fighting and why.

The common saying by service members is “I would rather fight the enemy on their land as opposed to ours.” The young men and women of our country are doing us a service and they deserve not only our respect but they deserve our support and our attention.

It is my personal responsibility as an American and as a person who recognizes that people are putting themselves in danger for ME and my family to do everything I can to recognize them and support them.

What does it mean to you?

I am sharing my plaque with you.  I can’t write a blog every week saying the same thing as you will either stop reading or ignore me.  This is reality.   What I can do is share with you this reminder,  copy the picture, print it do what you want but know that this plaque is for all of us.   This is what it really says to you.

You may not be a Marine, but the Marines love you.  They would give and have given everything to protect you and our way of life.   You don’t have to be there with them to help.   You can be where you are and lead/follow from where you are to help them.   Although this plaque says “Semper Fidelis”  the blade this plaque holds is not bound to one service .   Take a moment at some point everyday to remember that good people are working for and fighting for you today.   Find ways to stand up for them and protect them and remember them,  think about them because they are certainly thinking of you.

Final Thoughts

There are American troops in everywhere, if you are serving them in some way as a government employee or contractor don’t fail them.  Don’t make excuses either, excuses don’t stop bullets.   If you are a citizen, please take some time to think of them.  If you are service member, Thank You.