Silicon Valley State of Mind, a blog by John Weathington, "The Science of Success"
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    Welcome to a Silicon Valley State of Mind, thoughts tips and advice based on the consulting work of John Weathington, "Silicon Valley's Top Information Strategist."

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Silicon Valley State of Mind

Tips, thoughts, and advice based on the consulting work of John Weathington, "The Science of Success."

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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in resilience

Posted by on in Leadership

Are you getting enough iron in your leadership diet? In deference to the recently departed, and former UK Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, I’d like to address leading with an iron fist. Thatcher personified this idea so well, she leaves behind a legacy of being the “Iron Lady.” Forget about individual body parts, to many her whole being was iron! She’s known and remembered for her convictions—something that I see critically absent in today’s leadership.

I blame the sociologists who study leadership for this phenomenon. The recent trend in leadership is servant leadership where leaders are advised to become a servant to their followers. It’s especially rampant out here in Silicon Valley, where nothing gets decided until everyone—including the janitor—is okay with the decision. This is nonsense. Not only does it take way too much time, but it’s simply not effective.

If you need to make a decision, you don’t need a committee or a Kumbayah session with your group. Just get some good information. Information can help you stay your ground when your convictions are being challenged. Many times analysis contradicts conventional wisdom, allowing you to draw insightful but controversial assumptions. If your hunch is validated by data analysis, many naysayers will just refute your analysis—it’s not for them, it’s for you. You must believe in your decisions—and that takes more than analysis—but it’s comforting to know that the data is on your side.

If you’re under fire for your beliefs—don’t fold, just get some good information. You don’t need to become the Iron Lady; a fist or two will work in a crunch.

—Rest in peace Prime Minister Thatcher and thank you for showing us how to fight for what we believe.

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Posted by on in Operational Excellence

For the second time this week, I’m typing this blog while the power is out. The last time came as quite a surprise; however, this time, I was more prepared as our electric company left a notice on the door yesterday stating that they would be doing planned maintenance at this time. I made a note on my calendar to that effect, and when planning my day last night, started considering how I would be impacted by the power outage. Not much came to mind, so I scheduled it like any other day. To be resilient, you must break dependencies.

In my practice, I’m not bound by continuous power. Even if my Uninterruptible Power Supply gives out, which keeps me 95% functional, I can still operate at close to 90% productivity for the rest of the day. I’m typing this entry on a MacBook Air which still has plenty of battery life, and I have a battery powered wi-fi device to get to the Internet if I need to. Most of my operational data is in the cloud, so as long as I have Internet access, I’m in business. My cell phone is fully charged, so no issues with calling people. The only thing I can’t really do right now is crunch large sets of data on my server—and fortunately that can wait.

There’s a concept in agile design called low coupling. This means, for your solution to be agile, it should not be bolted into other components of the system. This is what makes agile systems resilient, and it can make your business and your life resilient as well. If you like to play Jenga, you know exactly what I mean; removing one small block can bring the whole tower down. You don’t want or need these blocks in your organization or in your life.

When going through your improvement cycle, focus on decoupling strong dependencies. Don’t allow the power to go out on your business just because there’s no electricity.

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Posted by on in Program Management

The subscription functionality on the blog works now, so please subscribe to my blog—really!

If you click “subscribe to blog” at the Silicon Valley State of Mind blog, a small window will appear asking for your name and email. As you may expect, when you subscribe in this way, you’ll get an email delivered every time a new post is made. When I rolled out the website a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t realize this wasn’t working. I guess I should have tested it, but it slipped my mind. So yesterday, my colleague Dave Gardner who runs the popular Business Execution Insights blog sent me a note to tell me my new blog had a bug.


Although it wasn’t the best news, it wasn’t the worst thing in the world, so I was working with the techies in Malaysia last night to figure out what was going on. Of course we resolved it, and it’s fixed now. Not only is this fixed, but since we were already under the hood, we tweaked a few more things that should make the site work better.

Although I’m not thrilled to fix this in production (i.e. after it has already been released to the world), I don’t have any regrets. It’s important to move when you think you’re ready—forget about set, and just go. Don’t get me wrong, there’s value in the set phase, but it’s usually not enough to justify the cost in time. Most people and organization undervalue time: as if it’s free. Time is not free at all! Time is probably the most precious resource you have because its not at your discretion to spend and it cannot be replenished.

By the way, you still need ready, don’t try to skip over that step! Planning is important, but over-planning is foolish. When you approach a project—large or small—think about your objectives and reasons first. Then, think about priorities to help you gauge your time. Finally, come up with at least one alternative or path that seems to make sense.

Then just go.

You’ll need to make adjustments, but that’s okay. Learn to anticipate these “realtime opportunities for improvement”, and build competence in adjusting quickly in the moment. Valuing time like this will pay dividends many times over. It took me less than an hour to fix the subscribe problem—if that’s the worst of my problems, I’m in good shape.

And, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog!

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