Monday, December 30, 2013

RACI Definition and Software

While many people who are interested in RACI, there is literally no definitive source of knowledge on this topic.  Unlike SOA, which has the OASIS SOA Reference Model RACI has no normative definition.  This blog post will help explain why and how this can be mitigated.

This blog is not trying to become that authority however, we will continue to share what we know as it evolves.  Think about this as a point of reference.  You can use it as a common resource to explain your own definition of RACI or DACI.  If you disagree with some of the content on this site, at least you have a point of common reference to start with to explain how your definition varies.  We also encourage your interaction by leaving comments to help the community change it’s thinking  This pattern can be best described as a reference model requirements process.

In order to define RACI, there are really a few different components.  In no certain order, here are the concepts.

1. The Roles – RAC is a role assignment matrix.  the roles are used within a process of problem solving (ie – decision making).  A normative definition of roles would be an integral part of any RACI definition.

2. The RACI process – when solving processes, there are specific methodologies and processes that may emerge as best practices.  We have our ideas but invite others to help define this. Much like UML as a two dimensional syntax and a methodology (even Rational Rose makes this distinction with the Rose Unified Process or RUP), RACI has a process and methodology that make it much more useful.

3. Specifications and constraints for software – RACI does not have a normative specification.  Most commercial off the shelf (COTS) software is developed based on a specification.  Sometimes this is done as a reference implementation of a specification.  Compliancy experts usually go through a formal specification and look for IETF RFC 2119 keywords such as “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “OPTIONAL” and use these words to create formal constraints and test conditions that any compliant software must be capable of supporting. Since RACI does not have that level of granularity defined, commercial and enterprise RACI software for RACI such as Whispr, do not have the luxury of that level of speciosity, the authors had to develop their software based on their perceptions.

4. The cardinality of the roles and the rules governing how they are assigned.  For example, can a “Consulted” party also assume the role of Approver?  This is not specified.  Over the next few months, we will attempt to share our experiences of trying this different ways.  Again, our ways are not correct, we will just share them with you via this blog.

5. The nuances and effects based on the size of the problem tackled. It has already become apparent that the use of RACI is much different when trying to account for a decision in a 10 person company with 3 people making the decisions than a 5,000 person enterprise with 3,000 contributors.

6. Best practices and implementation notes.  As with any standard or idea, there are associated best practices that emerge as practitioners learn from their experiences.

To be transparent  we, the writers of this blog, have developed our own software for RACI named Whispr.  We are not trying to push our software in this blog, rather trying to help others discover the benefits of RACI and allow all RACI consultants to advertise their services on this forum.  The reason we developed the RACI software is that we noticed after leaving a consulting gig for RACI, customers tended to fall back into their old patterns.  The software, Whispr, helped keep them in their practice on a daily basis.

While we will write about Whispr, we will also offer to write up information about any other RACI or DACI software that exists.  This blog is not our exclusive forum to promote what we have done, rather an independent forum for all RACI and DACI practitioners to share their experiences and wares in this area.

After all, business as usual is no longer an option as email inboxes continue to grow while productivity flails.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Appointment: Regional Policy Ambassador, Canadian Geothermal Energy Association

It is with great honour I accept the position of Regional Policy Ambassador for the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA). The Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA) is the collective voice of Canada’s geothermal energy industry. As a non-profit industry association,
CanGEA represents the interests of member companies with the primary goal of unlocking the country’s tremendous geothermal energy potential.

Geothermal energy can provide competitively priced, renewable, around-the-clock energy to the Canadian and U.S. markets and be a part of the solution to growing concerns about securing sustainable, cost-effective energy sources. My appointment has also attracted a key endorsement from Mr. Robert Bectel, the CTO of the United States Department of Energy (DOE). Here is the full text of the release:


 CanGEA expands its geographic presence with several key appointments Calgary, Canada (December 18, 2013) – The Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA), is pleased to announce the appointment of three talented individuals to its ranks. These appointments will increase CanGEA’s capacity and expand its influence, as it endeavours to raise awareness about Canada’s vast geothermal resources. CanGEA will draw on the talent of the appointees to garner support from all stakeholders, as a means of invigorating both geothermal policy and market development. Ultimately, the aim is to initiate an era of geothermal prospecting activity throughout Canada.

CanGEA is pleased to add the talent, experience and drive of Duane Nickull, Milan Seres, and Grant Van Hal to the CanGEA team. Mr. Nickull was appointed as the Regional Policy Ambassador for British Columbia and Milan Seres was named the Regional Policy Ambassador for Ontario. Finally, Grant Van Hal is CanGEA’s Policy Advisor and works out of CanGEA’s main office in Calgary.

These appointments are not being made to individuals in need of additional professional responsibilities or employment, but to individuals who see the existence of latent potential and have a desire to be instrumental in the development of this potential. It is for this reason they have offered part of their time to help launch Canada’s geothermal industry.

Mr. Nickull is a technology entrepreneur who has successfully built several technology companies and is now focusing his efforts on promoting and making renewable energy projects a reality in British Columbia, Canada. Mr. Nickull recently worked on the United States Department of Energy (DOE) National Geothermal Data System (NGDS), a federation of data services providing data to support geothermal energy development. He provided his technical expertise on the informatics systems of NGDS. Today he is appreciative of the opportunity to be able to utilize this experience as a means to promote geothermal energy at a much grander scale.

According to Mr. Robert Bectel, Chief Technology Officer and Sr. Policy Advisor to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, at the US Department of Energy: “Duane provided that optimal mix of deep knowledge, rich experience and fiery passion – a rare combination in any field of endeavor – towards developing the world’s first national level geothermal data system built on a federation of data services” and “His contributions were invaluable to the overall progress of the project and we look forward to working with him as he works on new renewable energy projects in his new position with CanGEA”

After graduating from Osgoode Hall Law School, Milan Seres began his legal career with General Motors before starting his own practice. In addition to the practice of law, Mr. Seres is the founder and managing director of Praxis Dialectic, a sustainable development consulting company. Work in this area includes the development of sustainability reports and conducting due diligence in relation to emerging green technologies and practices. The above mentioned knowledge augments previous experience gained with CanGEA as part of the Ontario and Eastern Canada Policy Committee when he played a role in the development of CanGEA’s Ontario focussed policy position. After practising law for several years, Mr. Van Hal returned to university to obtain a Master of Science in Sustainable Energy Development. During this time he focused his research on legal frameworks applicable to geothermal energy. The resulting paper is due to be published by the Canadian Institute of Resource Law in early 2014. Mr. Van Hal has taken on a leading role in CanGEA’s policy development and is heading CanGEA’s government engagement efforts.

When the North American continent was forged nature’s forces gave no consideration to the arbitrary political boundaries that man would one day impose on the continent. Despite this fact, Canada produces 0 MW of electricity from the vast geothermal resources stored under our feet, while the United States (including Alaska) and Mexico are respectively the largest and the 4th largest producers of geothermal power in the world. According to Alison Thompson, the Chair of CanGEA, “We are still in need of support from thought leaders who can exert their influence within Canada, as a means of kindling a domestic industry with boundless potential.” She adds that she would like to see, “Additional political and business leaders step forward”.

Wow, feeling = humbled….

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

A Magic Bullet for Increasing Retail Sales

While I am still bringing to market, I have been quietly collaborating with another platform focused on increasing retail sales by providing training for Point of Sales (PoS) staff.  There are many platforms around that can provide online training however Cheddar Labs is quite different in that it highly motivates retail sales staff to partake in training modules.  When the retail staff become more familiar with the products they are representing to customers, an increase in sales follows.  The platform has been so successful that ROI is achieved within weeks.  

Cheddar Labs is a win-win-win scenario.  The brand owners win by increasing loyalty amongst those who sell their brands.   The problem with the entire supply chain disintermediation is that a large gap exists for knowledge transfers.  Cheddar Labs provides a valuable service in terms of putting brand owners and stakeholders in direct contact with the Point of Sales (PoS) staff.   From the 4 years of statistical data acquired, the average retail employee sold an average of 1.9 more units per 8 hour shift for one brand surveyed.  Given the cost to train that employee was less than ten dollars, the ROI was immediate to the brand owner.  More importantly however, the brand owner created another advocate for their brands.   That new advocate statistically will sell more of a product they are familiar with themselves hence the brand owner has acquired another trained sales staff member for mere dollars.

The training programs are not hard to deliver.  While Cheddar Labs has a powerful platform in terms of content delivery, the real intellectual property rests within the motivational component whereby the PoS staff are highly motivated to take the training.  The graph below shows actual training tests taken per month.   

The brands provide their product training materials to Cheddar Labs.  From that material, several modules are built to educate retail staff on the products.    After taking the training, each retail staff members is then given the opportunity to take tests to prove they have retained knowledge.  In exchange for taking the training and tests, the brand owners reward the retail staff with incentives such as discounted goods.   This provides a high degree of motivation for each retail worker to take the training.

Each employee who takes a test becomes more knowledgable about the product or brand they received training on and are more likely to sell more of that product in a competitive environment.  When surveyed, over 81% of the retail sales staff contacted felt that they sold more of the brand they were trained on.  That is a fact that brand owners can take to the bank.

I am seeking five to ten brands to test the new version of the Cheddar Labs platform on.   If you are a marketing professional and have a brand or product that is sold in a retail environment and requires knowledgable sales staff, please ping me at duane at nickull dot net.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

NSA: The Good, the Bad and the Necessary

As a long time computer geek having stature amongst my friends as the techie within our group, I often get pinged for opinions about everything from which smart phone to buy to how much memory people require.  Occasionally, I get the highly contentious questions too like "Should the USA put Eric Snowden in jail for life?".  Some even advocate harsher measures for Snowden.  I saw this cartoon today which made me want to write a bit more about this subject.

For those of you not in the know, Eric Snowden  is an American computer specialist who worked for the CIA and the NSA and recently leaked details of several top-secret United States and British government mass surveillance programs to the press.  I cannot speak for him but if I was faced with the knowledge he had, I might recognize that the general public might believe they have a right to know.   Coming to this decision, Eric Snowden made a lot of very secret information available to the press.   The full details on his actions are available here.   His motive, while noble and an earnest attempt to do what he perceived as good, have to be understood in context of the good that comes out of fact we have systems like this in place.  One only has to look back as recently as April 15 of this year to see that such systems may provide an immense benefit to society as well.

For the record, I am a Libertarian.  I don't want anyone to think I am fine with a government that can randomly start spying on me and fishing for data to see if I match any profiles that might be deemed anti-social.  I do see the advantages of such systems however when fast decisions have to be made following an incident like the Boston Marathon bombing on April 15th, that we have the data and connections to other data to quickly bring the culprits to justice.   Within moments of identifying the first bomber, these systems can correlate magnitudes of data and find those people connected to Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.  The graph-like relationship to many of the people they interacted with has likely been the subject of great  discussions in various government offices.   What types of questions would have law enforcement tried to comprehend on that day?

- was the bomber(s) alone or are they acting is an alliance with some larger group?
- if they are part of a larger group or movement, who else is in that group(s)?
- are there any other event(s) planned for the near future?
- if there are, which one of the people they have been in contact with is likely to perform it?
- who else has read the same articles on the online Al-quida magazine as the brother?
- etc...

Knowing the answers to these questions allowed the police and other officials to understand who was involved, where to find them, who else they talked to and more.  Quite simply stated, the faster these questions can be answered, the greater the public knows they are not at risk (or potentially know if they are at risk).

Now comes the big question.  At what point do you trade some of you personal rights to privacy to be able to bring a swift end to things like the Boston bombings?

Each and every person will probably have their own answer.  To me, I just wanted to write this blog post to illustrate that the question of personal privacy is not as black and white and some make it.   I encourage each reader to ponder the right to personal privacy balanced with the need to share information to avoid events like 9/11 and Boston.


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tesla Scores Again

Tesla Motors is a company we are following here at Technoracle.  Partly we are interested in many of the advanced systems being developed and their potential for standards work on things like battery replacement stations but we are also car enthusiasts and Tesla's just keep amazing us.

Tesla now has something new to be proud of.  In addition to having several enviable performance stats (the Tesla S model can be delivered with over 400 Horsepower), independent testing by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the company a 5-star safety rating, not just overall, but in every subcategory.

While its five-star score across the board has been attained by other vehicles, the ratings given to Tesla's Model S in individual categories are higher than any other vehicle.

One of our dreams is to start up a new venture and be the first to have a battery replacement station in Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Decision Management - the Last Frontier of Enterprise Architecture

Last week I wrapped up an immense 18 month consulting gig on a very large enterprise project in the field of renewable energy.  During the course of the project I was privileged to be able to work with some of the world's top scientists and policy/decision makers around clean and renewable energy.   We worked earnestly since March 2012 on this project and if all goes according to plan, it will have a very positive effect in at least two places that will benefit the people on this planet.

The first place is the actual energy self sufficiency with clean and renewable energy options.   If successful, the project will lead to an increased efficiency in the geothermal energy prospecting workflow, increasing the accuracy of predicting critical aspects like heat-flow as well as providing geothermal prospectors with the data they need to make decisions on whether or not to proceed to develop a commercial energy conversion station.    Up until now, most of this data has been help in disparate data systems, in non-standardized dat formats and not even cataloged properly.  The result was not only were prospectors not getting data, they were not even aware of the fact the data existed.

In order to determine if a particular site is viable for commercial production, a myriad of information items needs to be present from well Bottom Hole temperature (BHT), heat-flow, material composition, thermal-dynamic properties of various compounds, pressure, permeability, depth, surface land use, legal status of land, existing leases, development permit availability, access, proximity to electrical grid, proximity to points of usage etc. and more.  Even physical assets like drill core samples provide value within this process.  To understand it in more detail, please take a read of this publication I co-authored for Stanford's geothermal energy workshop earlier this year at

All of this data and a variety of surrounding processes all feed data into a decision process.  The end result of the that process is a DECISION!  That decision, along with the data that carries the context in which the decision was made, encapsulates a vast array of knowledge.  That knowledge is power that has the capability to change the future of our planet by reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emissions!

The second end result of our 18 month involvement is the emergence of a new platform for decision making.  While working with many of the smartest minds in their respective fields, we made the simplest of observations that has lead to the launch of a new platform.   The epiphany was that we are only 40 years after production of the first personal computers, less than10 year since the first smart phone, around 5 years after the development of the first tablets there is a simply truth.

           "Despite decades of technological improvements, 
               no one has any more knowledge of why or how 
      specific decisions were made than they did a century ago!"

Quite simply, we all make decisions, but often neglect to recall why we made when of document the criteria and context around it.  During our early days working on the above project, we were asked to review where a project was.  We knew what decisions had been made, some of them we knew how supported the decisions and even when but in almost every case, there was no archive trail about why. All the knowledge and value in the conversations leading up to making the decisions were lost.   That turns out to be a huge amount of knowledge in most cases.

Prior to the engagement, we (my colleagues and friends Moshe Silverstein and Matt MacKenzie) has been building a management platform around making complex decisions.  The insights this and other projects gave us have allowed us to fine tune the core platform engine and build peripheral technologies like forms engines and more around the platform.   The platform (Teamwise) is now open for the public to try out for 30 days as a free trial at

So why would you use Teamwise?

Have you ever felt like you are drowning in email?  If you are, it is possible that a lot of it is caused by the fact you are involved in many decisions and that there is a clack of clarity around each decision process.  Many of us (myself one of the worst culprits), send out emails by "replying to all" to share our great ideas.  Why are we sharing our ideas?  It is likely we are trying to influence an outcome.  That is a decision process and Teamwise forces it's users to focus the decision process in a way that structures the process much more efficiently.  

Do you attend meetings you feel you provided no value at?  this is possibly caused by someone else including you in a decision process that has not been properly framed or structured.  Teamwise forces the decision manager to take responsibility and assign roles to each person involved in the decision.  Teamwise uses DACI/RACI, two industry standard models that streamline the decision process.  Teamwise is the first commercially available software to support RACI and DACI.  It is not important for you to understand why or what they are, just know that Teamwise helps alleviate the symptoms stated above.

Are you using forms to enforce compliance with regulations?  Each instance of this is literally a decision process.  Everytime you administer a test to check for compliancy, you are in face making a decision that YOU are responsible for in most cases.  Teamwise allows you to capture why you made the decision you did and why it was the right decision.  Here is a simple flowchart we are working on for one of our enterprise customers.

In the case above, the decision process driver needs to keep hundreds of his contacts regularly starting the decision processes by themselves.  This lower his workload substantially during the days while actually ensuring a high percentage of his customers are adhering to the proper decision process themselves (as opposed to manual initialization).  In addition, Teamwise also pre-populates many of the form fields saving each participant a lot of work each and every month.

Teamwise is a clear winner here as it lowers costs, ensures better compliance with regulations and keeps accurate records of why decisions were made, hence protecting all involved.

These are just three situations where you would want to use Teamwise.  Anywhere you are making decisions, Teamwise can help.  Give it a try today and tell them "Duane sent you".

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Founder Dating - taking a few too many liberties?

I had reluctantly joined up with Founder Dating and found the site to be generally likeable.  I was a bit suspicious of something I could not quantify but if forced to describe, would tend to call "over pushy".

Recently, I noticed a sneaky little trick where it is now requesting access to my LinkedIn account to be able to do all sorts of things, most disturbingly to "send emails and invitations to connect as me".   I am refusing to submit to this and find it a dangerous precedent.  Companies like Founder Dating need to take a step back to respect people's wishes.  I have sent mine.

If you get a message like this, my advice is to not accept this and let the company know this is bad form.  Allowing them to send message and invites as you is a very big privilege and given their aggressive behaviour, I may quit over this.   I am hoping this is just an error and will be fixed quickly so I can rejoin in with many conversations I was having.

If the company responds I will post the update here.  If there are no updates here it means my plea has fallen on deaf ears.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cheddar Labs Retail Training Community Officially Launched

Vancouver-based integrated communications agency Hot Tomali has launched an online retail training community called Cheddar Labs ( This website rewards retail sales associates with prizes and branded SWAG in exchange for training on the products they sell. The program is free to sales associates, and is funded by brands and product manufacturers.

Over 10,000 retail sales associates have already joined, and the community is growing quickly. These site members represent almost 4,000 store locations in North America and more than 85 retailers, including Best Buy, Future Shop, Apple Store, Target, Staples, and Walmart.

“Cheddar Labs is a powerful marketing channel for brands,” said Thomas Stringham, Hot Tomali's Founder & Creative Director. “Manufacturers now have a direct line of communication with the retail associates on the front line. Electronic Arts already has training hosted on Cheddar Labs, and several other innovative retail brands currently have labs in development.”

A survey of Cheddar Labs users found that sales associates are highly motivated to learn more about the products they sell. Survey highlights include the following:
  • 95% of sales associates feel that Cheddar Labs increases their product knowledge.
  • 81% of sales associates feel that Cheddar Labs helps them sell more products.
  • 99% of users report telling their colleagues about Cheddar Labs.

“It's an adaptive solution that's designed to effectively train any vertical market, including technology, apparel, food and beverage, automotive, and healthcare,” said Thomas Stringham. “Our administrative tools make creating and updating content easy, so that marketing and communications teams and their agencies can manage materials directly.”

Winner of Ad Age’s 2010 International Small Agency of the Year award, Hot Tomali is an integrated communications agency guided by ideas — not mediums. Every project is approached individually to tailor innovative and thought-provoking communications that are specific to their client’s audience. To learn more about these services and to view Hot Tomali’s online portfolio, visit

Friday, April 19, 2013

Hacking the Enterprise - Collaborative Intelligence

In this first blog post about Hacking the Enterprise, we will to introduce the concept behind the Whispr platform we are working on.  The concept of hacking the enterprise is about unlocking the knowledge within your human capital and building highly efficient communications models to allow you to make decisions and get business done.    The value of roles, clearly defined lines of communication and process is becoming universally recognized as the single most important factor in building effective teams.   It seems almost illogical that such a quintessential component of an enterprises’ success has been long neglected yet nothing much has changed with respect to the way people work together in the last four decades.   To understand more about Hacking the Enterprise and optimizing the effectiveness, we have to look back to 2001.  

Research started to look at the failures of effective team communications after the tragic events of September 11, 2001 when an internal audit of communications and knowledge sharing was spearheaded by psychologists who sought to understand where the intelligence community could have done better.   The Harvard based team was led by the late Richard Hackman and they approached the work with a question of what made certain intelligence units functionally effective while others were not.

Richard’s team interviewed, observed, surveyed and watched hundreds of individuals operating across sixty four different intelligence organizations.  By watching them up close, he learned how most are viewed as solo or individual contributors yet have to function within the greater collective by collaborating with their colleagues.    Throughout all this research, the team identified a comprehensive list of factors and models that seemed to be factor’s in the cohesiveness and effectiveness of groups.  Within the context of the intelligence community, these groups can sometimes be ad hoc and survive only to address a very specific decision.  Cultural, regulatory and other factors cannot always be accounted for within this context however there were some startling revelations that had a much broader applicability of use.

Graphic courtesy Julian Partridge (via Flickr - CC License)

While the work is summarized in a book aptly named Collaborative Intelligence ( ) Richard’s team noted that the critical factor wasn’t as simple as just having a set of static team members, a clearly defined vision statement nor was it singularly due to human endearments or egos.   It turned out that the single strongest predictor of group effectiveness was the amount of help that analysts gave to each other.

As with most enterprises, the highest-performing teams place a great emphasis on collaborating, coaching, teaching, and consulting with colleagues.   Those who shared little resources and did not effectively communicate with their colleagues for enhanced problem solving embodied the anti-pattern of this success.  Hacking the enterprise is a conceptual hack embracing the collective pattern of good collaboration to facilitate these good patterns.  Much like a set of synaptic relays making connections to each other for the first time in a small child’s brain, hacking the enterprise is about bridging gaps in knowledge and communication.

Individuals and enterprises benefit the most when they freely contribute their knowledge and skills to others and do so with clearly defined roles.   Whispr is build on that premise and facilitates the hacking the enterprise mentality by allowing ad hoc teams to create powerful, focused task forces to solve specific problems and preserving that knowledge.

So what is the call to action? Whispr is a platform that allows distributed teams to set up decisions ("Whisprs") and add contributors based on the roles defined in a RACI Matrix.   Whispr is open for a very limited time for alpha testing at   If you have a decision to make and have a distributed team, this is the perfect tool for hacking your enterprise.   You can signup at Those who come in now can use it for free for a limited time.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Next Vancouver GraphDB User Group

We have a rare opportunity to get Peter Neubauer, a founder of Neo4J, to come back to Vancouver and do a hand on meetup to lead us through getting Neo4J set up and installed.  As the organizer, I would like to solicit input on this via the Whispr form below (Whispr is powered by Neo4J).

select the next time and place of our meetup.  We also 

Monday, April 01, 2013

Finally! Concrete Proof of Global Warming!

I have been working with many environmentalist groups and trying to get absolute proof global warming is real.  This week, the proof came to me from an unlikely source.  One of my friends told me about a guy who bought a house and now has tropical fruit growing in Vancouver's east side. He literally bought it a few years ago and had these nice tropical trees growing in the front yard.  Twenty years ago you could not grow palms in Vancouver but as our winters have become more milder, this has changed.

The absolute stunner came this month when we discovered two fully grown pineapples on the tree.  Pineapples are usually not produced except in strange circumstances when winter temperatures do not get colder than 6 degrees Celsius and we get spring temperatures of 20 degrees by February.   This year, this has happened and his tree is now producing Pineapples.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Carbon Tax Inneffective?

I am an environmentalist.  I like BC and want to help change the world through smarter conservation of energy and better programs to reduce energy consumption.  One thing that I found today deeply disturbs me.  It turns out that the Carbon Tax is nothing more than a money grab.  The math behind the alleged 4.5% reduction between 2007 and 2010 does not account for the general economy shrinking.  In fact, the 2012 liberal budget in British Columbia actually concluded that GHG's are on the rise and we will produce more.

Carbon tax – as announced in Budget 2008, the carbon tax rate per tonne of CO2- equivalent will increase by $5 each year to $30 per tonne by July 1, 2012. The forecast assumes that purchased volumes of natural gas will grow by 2.0 per cent annually, while consumption of gasoline is expected to remain constant. Revenue is expected to increase in line with these higher rates and assumed volume growth. 
So in short, the Carbon Tax needs to be scrapped.  It needs to be replaced with effective programs to actually reduce green house gas emissions and other forms of energy (a mantra I have been chanting for decades now thank you).  The current Carbon Tax only adds costs to everything we buy and puts our businesses at a disadvantage in a global economy.

Time for some common sense.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Neo4J User Group Meetup - Vancouver

On Feb 25, 2013, the Vancouver Graph Database User Group will host a meetup.  This is an incredible opportunity to hear Neo Technology's Pernilla Lindh provide an overview and introduction for Neo4J. Pernilla is a Community Manager with Neo Technologies, the company behind Neo4J, the world's most popular graph database. Pernilla self describes herself as "An Hippie-Information Architect who works with graph databases, will save the world through technology and open data" which will resonate well with Vancouver Culture.

The second speaker will be Duane Nickull who will provide a simple overview of how to get started with Neo4J and then provide an overview of Whispr. is a Decision Management and Analysis platform supporting RACI/DACI models that is built on Neo4J and the reasons why Neo4J was chosen will be illustrated.

The event will be held Monday, Feb 25 7:00 PM  at Hootsuite Headquarters, 5 East 8th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.

Pernilla - 
Duane Nickull -
Whispr -
Neo4J -
Hootsuite -

Thursday, February 14, 2013

BC Conservative Party

I am a BC Conservative Party member.  That is correct.  Moi!  Why did I choose this party over the Liberals and the NDP?  Simple.  I read their mandate and it makes sense for British Columbia.  I also respect the people they are running in the next Provincial election.  The  BC Conservative Party's guiding principles are easy to believe in.

The Party is founded on and will be guided in its policy formation by the following principles:

1. A belief in clearly defined public policies and programs that are affordable, 
effective and accountable to the people.   To me transparency in government is something that I stand for.  Any politician must be accountable to the public.

2. The BC Conservative Party believe in managing with the highest standards of integrity and transparency.  Again, an extension of the first principle, integrity in government must be absolute.  When you enter politics, you must accept from day one that you will make choices that offend some.  To be guided by an attempt to please everyone is ill-conceived.  As soon as pandering begins, integrity ends.  How do I know anything about integrity?  It started when I was very young and a family friend who was a politician influenced my parents.  He influenced the lives of my great Uncle Olaf Turnbull, who himself was an MLA in Saskatchewan for the Canadian Commonwealth Federation or CCF.  This family friend became the Saskatchewan CCF's leader and then the seventh Premier of Saskatchewan from 1944 to 1961. His government was the first democratic socialist government in North America, and it introduced the continent's first single payer, universal health care program.   He did this with integrity and conviction.  This was done before I was born but we heard stories of the man who had a dream, a vision and would not let public influence sway him from that dream.   That man was named Tommy Douglas.   He later was named The greatest Canadian by a CBC television program in 2004.  Here he is with my mother around 1970 (left), a photo of himself he gave to my late grandfather and a letter on the right he wrote to my grandmother expressing his grief that Russ had passed.  He also spoke very highly of my late grandfather, another man, like my father, of integrity beyond reproach.

3. British Columbians are entitled to full knowledge of services rendered.  Again, full transparency in government is a right of those who pay for it (you and I).

4. The BC Conservative Party believe in the rights and responsibilities of all British Columbians and that governments at all levels are in place to serve and respect all individuals and their families, including freedom from unnecessary laws and regulations.  A belief that government is fundamentally in existence to serve the people is paramount to the parties mandate.  Part of that mandate is to respect the rights of the individual.

5.  Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) should be empowered to best represent the interests of their Constituents.

6. A belief in restructuring the taxation system to maximize benefits for the greatest
number of BC citizens.

7. A belief in a competitive free enterprise system as the basis for prosperity and growth.
protection and management of our environment and natural resources to optimize
benefits now and into the future.  I am an environmentalist and the BC Conservatives are committed to the protection and management of our environment.  Nobody in their right mind would want to destroy our province's beauty.

Monday, February 11, 2013

RACI Essentials – Nine Important Considerations

RACI is a responsibility assignment matrix for humans to use to solve problems.  While the normal knowledge worker in North America is inundated with email and attends meetings that hinder productivity, those who utilize the RACI process have experienced huge gains in productivity and efficiency.  In 2010, waste due to email cost an average employer $8,200- $14,000 per employee per year.   RACI is defined here.  RACI can cut down on a substantial amount of this waste if used properly however it could also have a negative effect.  This page contains nine important tips for RACI Leadership.

1.  First, define the role of the group.

This is an essential first step to strengthening any kind of accountability. Is the group developing a recommendation? Offering advice and counsel?  Receiving information? Or making a decision about something? It is possible – even likely – that the role of the group will shift with every item on its agenda. Whatever the group’s role is, make it clear to everyone.

2. Think about what kind of preparation work members of the group need to do, in order to perform their role well.

Chances are, if the group is doing anything more than receiving information, people will need to come prepared to the meeting to do good work there. If you suspect that people haven’t had the time to come up to speed, reserve part of the beginning of the meeting as a “study hall” where people can read and absorb what’s important for the conversation.

3. Be rigorous about keeping track of Next Steps.

Unproductive meetings often involve lots of conversation, but no clear path forward. As you facilitate or lead a meeting, make sure that you or someone else is winnowing all the discussion down into a concrete set of action steps.

4. Assign accountability for each Next Step, and set a deadline.

A Next Step without an “owner” is not very likely to get done. The same problem exists for next steps with too many owners. Take the time to negotiate accountability for the follow up right then and there in the meeting, and make sure that someone writes it down. Then, when the group convenes again, make sure that person is written down on the agenda as the “owner” of that piece of the work.

These simple ideas will enhance accountability tremendously, and that in turn will enhance the effectiveness of your meetings. If you’re lucky, before long people will be asking you to cancel some of the project meetings so they can focus on the work they’ve committed to do in between – and you will have accelerated your project’s momentum with fewer meetings.

What not to do?

5. Don’t explain why you are using RACI.

You don’t want people to think that RACI is being imposed on them “from above” without any explanation of its value.  Start teaching RACI by explaining why it prevents problems down the line.  It’s worth the investment of time to think about roles on your team.   If you need help with this, click here for the blog, “Why RACI Matters.”

6. Don’t clearly define the RACI codes.

Reaching agreement on roles is hard if you spend the whole meeting struggling to understand what “R” means and what “A” means.  We will write soon about understanding the RACI codes.

7. Don’t create an overly complicated RACI matrix.

Part of the art of creating a RACI matrix is FOCUSING on 8-10 activities that are the most critical.   You can define “critical” by how important the steps are, or you can zero in on the activities where there is likely to be confusion or overlap.   If you need to, break the plan into 2 or 3 separate RACI charts, rather than trying to build a single, overloaded chart.   For more advice on limiting the scope of a RACI chart, see “How big should a RACI chart be, anyway?”

8. Don’t allow time for negotiation.

The real value of RACI is that it teaches a simple language for negotiating roles on a team or a project.  That means that the real pay off comes when people don’t agree on who should do the work, or where the decision will really get made.  These discussions are the heart and soul of RACI, and its principle value.  If instead you rush through the creation of the RACI matrix, people may just go through the motions.  After the meeting, they just go do “their own thing.”

9. Don’t work with a group that’s too large.

Forty-five people on a committee is a huge group – if they are going to negotiate roles and create a common project plan,  you’ll need to break them into smaller groups of 8-10 people and then allow time for them to work on distinct parts of the project,  and time to combine their efforts back together again.   You can end up with a unified product but you’ll need to allow sufficient time to build it from smaller chunks.

Avoid these pitfalls and you can have a much more successful experience with RACI.  No alphabet soup!

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

New UN SPSC Codeset Released

The United Nations Standard Products and Services Code (UNSPSC) is a global standard for the classification of products and services offered by companies worldwide.   It is very important in terms of being able to identify trends in national productivity and also matching needs and capabilities.  

Today the UNnited Nations announced the release of version 15 of the codeset.  This version compiles about 1,000 changes to the codeset.  The changes introduce new codes and amend definitions enabling better classification of items using the codeset.

Whispr is contemplating how this could be incorporated into decision making.    While Whispr allows companies and individuals to retain an accurate archive of historic decision making, sometimes plain text gets lost in the loss of context.    The UNSPSC offers a single global classification system that can be used for company-wide visibility of spend analysis as well as cost-effective procurement practices.   The two seem like a natural fit.

UN SPSC can be perused at

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Whispr Decision Support and Analysis

Yesterday I wrote a blog post hinting at what Whispr is up to.  If your organization works with DACI or RACI or any expanded variations, you may want to consider signing up for the private beta.  THis can be done by using the subscribe function and adding the code #techn in front of your name.

DACI is a model is to clarify roles in a decision making process.  DACI's four primary roles make it clear who has approval authority, who needs to be consulted before a decision is made and who needs to be informed once a decision has been made. It is used in Six Sigma projects and in other project management applications and can be used for general business operations as well.  DACI is an acronym standing for Driver, Approver, Contributor and Informed.

The same model is also called RACI by some and defined as a reponsibility assignment matrix.  According to Wikipedia:

Responsible Those who do the work to achieve the task. There is a cardinality of at least one role with a participation type of responsible, although others can be delegated to assist in the work.   Under DACI the Driver is usually a single person or entity.

Accountable (under the DACI model called "Approver", is the person or entity who has final approving authority).   The one ultimately answerable for the correct and thorough completion of the deliverable or task, and the one who delegates the work to those responsible.  In other words, an accountable must sign off (approve) on work that responsible provides. There must be only one accountable specified for each task or deliverable.

Consulted (sometimes counsel) Those whose opinions or input are sought, typically subject matter experts; and with whom there is two-way communication.

Informed Those who are kept up-to-date on progress, often only on completion of the task or deliverable; and with whom there is just one-way communication.

While the model is usually done as an informal collaboration, Whispr is a platform that facilitates the process of using DACI or RACI.

Why Whispr?

Good business is all about good decision-making. Many of the critical decisions facing corporations today are managed over email.  Email is recognized as one of the poorest formats for communication as it leaves out the context and communication of face to face interactions. Whispr helps individuals make good decisions and  establish a chain of trust with their colleagues. Decisions are made everyday and individual contributors/stakeholders of the outcomes must ensure the right people are involved in the right roles.    Whispr allows stakeholders to assign those individuals specialized roles so people know why they are involved.  This accomplishes two primary results.  
  1. People know what is expected of them and are more focused on those tasks;
  2. People do not waste time doing tasks or providing input that is not requested of them.
Decisions are not just infrequent events, they are the basis for which companies move from one state to the next and address critical challenges that arise and must be mitigated.   In fields like software development or VC investing, it is essential to understand why a decision was made and who supported it; who opposed it.

If you have ever felt:
  • Your email boxes are unmanageable  (Constantly looking at email yet getting nothing done); or
  • You know there is something wrong but no one has a solution for it nor has anyone discussed this in a way that reaches you; or
  • You feel you are falling behind instead of getting tasks done sometimes.  Spinning wheels; or
  • You feel like you have good ideas that are squashed by incompetent managers; and/or
  • YOu feel like people with bad ideas are steering your group or company over a cliff; then
Whispr is something you will want to check out.  Sign up now!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Whispr - sign up for the beta now!

Some of you are in the know about what we have been working on for the past months and we are getting close to launch.  Whispr (located at, is about to revolutionize how people work and collaborate on solving problems.  If you have ever used DACI/RACI or similar approaches to problem solving, Whispr is going to be something you want to look at.

When we built it we had not idea the magnitude of the problem. We are veterans of IT who sat down and evaluated the problem of lost productivity from a big picture perspective.  Assuming any worker connected to email, SMS, cell phone, or chat systems spends five percent of their time scanning emails they have no interest in or hauled into meetings or phone conferences they are not really contributing to, the economic value of this problem is indeed in the trillions of US dollars.   In North America alone in 2010, the average person spends seven hours per month on Facebook,  spends over nine hours in meetings per week, makes 1-10 texts and makes 5 phone calls a day and receives over 10, less than half of which they feel important enough to answer.

In a second study done on Meeting Analysis: Findings from Research and Practice, it was also reported that the number of meetings a person attended on a weekly basis rose by 55%.  Furthermore, the study revealed that many of these meetings were perceived as a waste of people’s time and contributed very little economic value.  The same study reported that in terms of 2001 dollars, over $39,000,000,000 (thirty nine billion US dollars) is wasted annually in the United States alone.

Why is this happening?  Think about this for a second.  What happened to the email you received last week?  It's probably sitting statically in your inbox.  Once it gets scrolled up high enough, its' out of sight, out of mind.  What if there was a new platform to focus our conversations, weed out the noise and become more productive. What is that new platform integrated today with existing office tools like SMS, email, social media?

Email - the great detractor.  Email by itself just isn't working any more.  There is no discipline it clicking the "reply to all" button and contributing to yet another unfocused, rambling perma-thread that detracts from you getting business done.  Every day I am cc'd on emails that I have no idea what the person wants me to do with that information.  It isn't clear and it is not germain to getting a task accomplished or a decision made.

Now imagine that we can make employee's just 5% more effective each day?  On top of that, your top managers will be making better quality decisions with input from people all through an organization.   Whispr can do this and it costs less than the price of a cup of coffee for a full month.  There is no way you cannot afford to use it.  It is that simple.

Whispr just opened up a signup page for the beta release coming quickly.  I cannot guarantee everyone will be accepted as we will probably only roll out the first 250 applicants (no decision has been made on this yet).

More on this to come in the following weeks.