First, execute with urgency. The rest is commentary.

‘Real artists ship.’ – Steve Jobs

‘Just do it.’ – Nike

‘To be is to do.’ – Socrates

‘To do is to be.’ – Sartre

‘Do be do be do.’ – Sinatra

I’ve talked before about my desire to lose weight and the ‘eureka’ moment when I realised that the answer was in front of me the whole while, but I must admit …even with the best of intentions I haven’t lost as much weight as I would like.  Yeah, okay …a few pounds here and there …which always prompt Mrs. PL to offer to sew up the hole in my trousers from whence I’ve lost three pounds …har de har har.  The brutal truth is that I need to increase my outgoings and reduce my incomings to lose weight, and that requires me to take control of my diary and make time for taking exercise.

I suppose you could say my challenge is execution over intent …in other words, to just get on with it and do.

You could describe me as a ‘doer’ in many other aspects of my life, but I’ve always had a problem with ‘doing’ when it comes to things that don’t interest me terribly.  And let’s face it, exercise isn’t overly exciting.  But I’ve always had a deep respect for anyone who is a ‘doer’ no matter the circumstances, and one such doer whom I’ve come to respect deeply is one of our account managers …Rob MacAlister.

For reasons that entirely escape me, Mr. MacAlister has decided he would like to visit the North Pole.  Now, that in and of itself would normally be interesting …but Rob has decided to race to the North Pole.

Yes, you read that right.

And he’s spending the next year in training …you know, dragging a 75kg tire around Richmond Park, eating freeze dried Pot Noodles, spending hours on end in walk in freezers to acclimate his body to extreme cold, that sort of thing.  I know, I can think of about a million other hobbies I would prefer to have, but hey …it makes him happy and I applaud anyone with this level of dedication.

Rob is a doer, and rather than talk the talk (how many of us have made pint sozzled plans to rule the universe with mates in a pub?!) he is going to walk the walk.  Applied for and received sabbatical.  Train for a year.  Diet for a year …no boozin‘ or ciggies (prolly for the best in any case)!  Six weeks away from his wife and young family racing 350+ nautical miles in -40C.

Rob, I take my ten gallon yarmulke off to you my friend and Godspeed.

If you want to follow Rob, his blog can be found here http://robmacalister.blogspot.com/

What does this have to do with Data Storage and Protection?

One of the storage customer blogs I read regularly is Grumpy Storage written by the inimitable ianhf.  Ian always writes things as he sees them and rarely sugar coats anything.  He wrote a post …actually, it’s damn near a manifesto …towards the end of 2009 called ‘Show Me the Money! (Information)’ and what Ian wrote in this post has been swirling round in my head since the first time I read it.  If you’re in technology, this is essential reading on how to engage and actively work with your customers in a positive fashion …actually, thinking on that, Ian’s commentary is applicable for just about any business you might be in!

I wanted to pick up on point 13, however where Ian writes …”I need electronic copies of any & all materials discussed or presented – no exceptions, without this I can’t use it as reference material in my internal strategy planning. If you hide behind “it’s beyond NDA”, or “NDA prohibits” then I’ll interpret that as “you don’t trust me personally or respect me professionally” and the relationship will be difficult from then on.”

I personally struggled with this one a bit when I first read it as I meet with all of our vendor partners frequently under NDA, and I wouldn’t ever wish to betray their confidence …but I could empathise with where Ian was coming from.

Then it occurred to me …what is an NDA really but protecting intent over execution.

Time was, not so long ago, that within data storage specifically and technology generally that if you came upon an idea such as thin provisioning, data deduplication, automated storage tiering, or data compression you could pretty well rest assured that you had a good 18 months before anyone could bring anything similar to market.

So you used an NDA to protect yourself from competition long enough so you could launch your product, as well as protection from someone launching something that seemed similar when you did but in actuality wasn’t as good.  Customers hate esoteric FUD based arguments …see Ian’s point 12 if you don’t believe me …so you prolly don’t want to be having a ‘but mine goes to eleven’ type argument with customers.

What’s the answer?  For me I think the answer lies in reversing the intent over execution equation with customers.

  1. Show me, don’t tell me. I hate slides and slideware presentations generally, but I recognise their use as a medium for delivering information.  But that shouldn’t be the whole presentation, in fact I would reserve slides for ‘handouts’ post meeting.  Why not show someone what you’re talking about with a videoed demo?  I could give you slides to articulate automated storage provisioning, or I could just show you.  Watch this space as we’ll make similar videos for containerisation, container mobility, and secure multitenancy for virtualised datacentres.  Just don’t expect me to schlep a 75kg bit of vulcanised rubber around the Solution Centre like Rob will be in Richmond Park.
  2. Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker. ROI/TCO calculators are great and very useful, but in the end they are nothing more than numbers which have most likely started in a lab and may or may not have field referenceability.  Firstly, I think we as an industry should stand by cost reductions by underwriting them and, if we’re wrong …we’ll write you a cheque.  Secondly, the TCO data should be field referenceable …and the iPod/iPhone app we’re developing for virtualised datacentres will have the ability to reference the most up to date field TCO data every time you use it.
  3. Let customers consume information when they wish, how they wish. Part of the reason we’re developing an iPod/iPhone app is to allow customers to interact with TCO modelling, virtualised datacentre demonstrations, virtualised datacentre components, application containers moving between our virtualised datacentre and another in the USA ..all without me hovering over you!  Seriously, though …I believe customers want to consume information in ways that are useful to them, and this requires us to present information and data in ways that allow this.

Execution drives true value, intention tells me you might (or might not) get there one day.

I hope you’ll join me in execution and perhaps someday NDAs will become a thing of the past.

Have a great weekend,

-Matthew

Click here to contact me.

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