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!