Inspiring Rare Birds Guest Blog: How do you do it all?

For all guest blogs on Inspiring Rare Birds go here. #ifshecanican

Yesterday I was stopped in the elevator on my way down from the Brisbane Book launch by a lady who asked me “Do you have a child, and if so… how do you do it all?”

Wow – can you believe that this is something I never really thought about?

To answer her questions:

1) Yes – I have a 14 year old son Frank whom I adore. I just love watching him grow up and being a part of his life every step along the way. Being an entrepreneur supports me in being a mum. I can go to school recitals, performances etc. as I simply plan around them when I can. (doesn’t always work out that way though, especially with interstate and overseas client obligations).

2) How do I do it all? The honest answer is: I don’t.

I don’t do it all.. I have an amazing husband who is my partner in many ways. We are a great team in running our companies together and we are a great team at home. His role in the business has been designed in such a way that he can work from home, so he can pick up the kids from the bus in the afternoon. He loves to cook so that’s what he does as well. Grocery shopping is either done online with home delivery or Gerard does it when he’s doing a school run. I look after the animals and I love to bake. A lot of the other stuff we do together.

Frank has been making his school lunches independently since he was 8 and he is responsible for his own school bag, laptop etc. We don’t have time to run after him all the time to do his jobs for him and he know that. His morning ritual happens without us having to manage his time which makes life so much easier!

We outsource or automate as much as possible: our iRobot Roomba is a fabulous little vaccuum cleaner for the daily top up floor clean for example. We also have fantastic gardeners who look after our property, making sure it doesn’t turn into a jungle.

Underpinning all this is the fact that both Gerard and I have a very clear understanding of our priorities. For example: Our windows don’t get cleaned every day or every week, probably more likely once a year, and we’re OK with that.

Why do IT professionals attend conferences?

IT Professionals are an interesting breed – and I’ve had plenty of opportunity to study the ‘species’ last week at the FUSION11 conference in Washington.

Of the 2000 attendees there was a group of people who clearly enjoyed the personal interaction and social aspects of attending a conference, but there was another group (probably even larger!) who appeared to be very single focused: attend the sessions, take notes and go back to the hotelroom to work a bit more. You didn’t see them at the social events, they didn’t attend the networking sessions. You didn’t even see them at the motivational keynote events… they showed up at the breakout sessions which were specific to their current job role.

It made me wonder… if attending a conference is only to gain more knowledge aren’t there better options for you? There are some really great webinars around, many of which are free to attend. And most vendors that have a booth at the conference have all the information available at their websites or corporate information portals. Or you can enrol in online learning classes to quickly increase your knowledge and skill level for a specific subject. You can even do this outside of work hours so your peers don’t know how you got to this new level of knowledge and understanding.

Direct learning is not the main reason for attending a conference, that is not where the value add lies…

So what is the value add of attending a conference? And where is the Return on Investment?

  • Is it the schedule of industry specific learning interlaced with motivational keynote speakers?
  • Is it the fact that you can distance yourself from the daily ‘grind’ in the office?
  • Is the value more at a personal level to build trust between people, a relationship that can’t easily be forged through email, blogs and tweets?

Or is it simply that you don’t have to think about who to approach for new information and knowledge around your subject matter of choice? To get close to the thought leaders of your industry even when you are too shy to contact people directly or speak with them face to face.

Personally, I think the main value for attending conference is the connections you make. Not just the personal connections (although they are very important), but the links between various items discussed that are specific to your industry. You attend three to four breakout sessions during a day and each speaker has a slightly different point of view to the same or similar topic. You ask questions to speaker nr. 2 based on the information you received from speaker nr. 1. This way you are able to assemble your own viewpoints and approaches to various issues and topics you run into in your role at the company.

The magic of a conference is that after you attend these breakout sessions you can test your theories and hypotheses by discussing it with other attendees! Do they feel the same way? Do they support your theories, and if not – why not? That is the value you get from attending conferences. Instant feedback from other people in your industry in a non-threatening way. Yes, it does mean you’ll have to attend the networking sessions and get social during the week… but you get so much back in return: a guilt free and consequence free way to solidify your thoughts and ideas. (let’s cal this INDIRECT learning, as apposed to the direct learning mentioned before) You’ll get back to your place of work a lot stronger and wiser and people will notice!

And if all else fails, at least you’ve had a nice break from work… and you get to see Doug Tedder do a Hoola Hoop demonstration at 9 o’clock in the morning 😉

Originally posted 2011-10-03 14:26:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Mixed emotions… be careful what you wish for!

For months and months we have been asking for a lower US$ … The reason is because we sell a lot of our products online and most of those sales are in US$. When we started this online sales the US Dollar was approx. 60 cent so this made us really happy! However in the last few months (years really) it has steadily increased to 99 cents! This means that the same product now yields 30% less in revenue!! Mind you – this is with the exact same cost base and activities on our side so it really cuts into the profits. You can understand how this didn’t really made us very happy.

So for the last few months we kept saying to each other: wouldn’t it be great when the US$ dropped again? Even if it is to 75 cents.. what would be a major gain!

Do you know that saying ” Be careful what you wish for?”… Well…. maybe there is some truth in the saying after all. I mean: by no means am I saying or even inferring that we had anything to do with the credit crunch or the stock market crash in the US of today… but the dollar DID drop!! Today the dollar was 79 cents.

And this is where the mixed emotions come into play – the dollar has dropped but NOBODY IS BUYING!! How ironic… 

I need a new wish: keep the dollar at a low level but make corporations in the United States and elsewhere in the world realise that they need a more systematic approach to their IT organisations and that by purchasing our eLearning, toolkits and publications they can improve productivity at a relative low cost! 

Can I go wrong with this wish?? I don’t think so… let’s go for this one… In the mean time we’ll keep building products and services that can help companies to manage their finances and IT investments even in times of crisis.. as this is what we’ve been offering in the past 8 years and I’m sure that somebody will understand the value of these products in the midst of this all…

75 cents….. 

happy clients….

75 cents…..

happy clients…


Yep – I like this! It will make everybody happy… 


Originally posted 2008-09-16 10:42:28. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

What my dad taught me about strategy, tactics and other business skills

My father spent his entire career in the army which has had (and still has)  a major impact on every aspect of his life. With tomorrow being Father’s day, I am sitting here thinking how my dad’s career choice has had an impact on my business, entrepreneurship and leadership style. Initially I brushed away that motion, but the more I think about it the more I am convinced that there is indeed a correlation.

1. The leader should be a rock that people can trust and rely upon

When you lead your troops to battle you need to have a plan. You need to know what your end goal is and you need to have some understanding of the way to get there. From then on you delegate the operations to the people in your team and move to a role where you provide encouragement, metrics and insurance that we’re still on the right track. You are the solid rock amongst all the turmoil and changes that happen around you. People look at you and your response to the environment so see if they should panic or simply keep going on with the plan.
This is true in battle but also in our business lives. I can’t imagine a general in the army driving his own tank into battle and going full into an artillery direct combat situation. Everybody in the team has their own role to play and it is very clear who does what and when. That’s what you train for and what your drill exercises were meant to instil into you so you don’t have to second guess your decisions when the going gets tough.

As a business leader I have learnt from looking at my dad and how the leadership works within the military. The most obvious lesson would be: do not try to do everything as that is not your role and delegate as much as possible. I may not be as fearless, and am sometimes a bit fuzzy on the distinction between strategy and tactics but I know that my role is that of a general in the army. My role is to plot out the path to take and to make sure my team have the right skills and empowerment to be able to do what is necessary to achieve our shared goal.

2. Pick your battles

Make a choice – do you want to win the battle right in front of you, or are you rather looking at the big picture? What is the war that is going on at the moment? (and are you part of this war at all?) Where do your action yield the most result? Sometimes you just need to cut your losses and retreat. My dad taught me that it’s better to retreat and regroup before heading back out again with a new strategy instead of just plowing on and on and on and exhaust your troops. In business I know that I get personally involved with the results of the business and the experience our customers have and sometimes I tend to get too much bogged down on the battles that are close in my line of sight. I need to think about it more strategically and look at the bigger picture and the overall goal. What is it that we’re trying to achieve? Is this battle worth exhausting my team on, or are we better off to retreat and use a different strategy to move forward?

An example of this approach is when in 2006 we were struggling with our long term contracting projects. Our team wasn’t tuned into each other enough to make this a success and there was a lot of frustration and some losses (both financially and the loss of team members). Looking at the situation from a distance it became clear that this battle was not worth the frustration and aggravation and we decided to move out of that space into an area of business that our team is world class in and that is in line with our overall goals and targets. It made our customers happier and the team has been on fire ever since!

3. Be on time and show respect

If there is one thing my dad insisted on was to be punctual and on time. If possible even a few minutes early. In our family being late is seen as being tardy and disrespectful. And in line with that – follow through on your promises. Surely this has to be a good thing when you are in business. Arriving for meetings on time and finishing them on time and when you promise to do something you actually do it!

I remember when we just arrived in Australia (early 2000) how surprised people were when we actually delivered the proposal within the 2 days, as promised. And I try to be on time for meetings, irrespective of who the meeting is with. When I can’t make the meeting on time – I call to let the person know so they can make a decision on how to spend their time. It’s a matter of courtesy and shows respect for the other person. (at least that’s how I look at it… maybe I am my father’s daughter after all!!)

4. There is an order for things, and a discipline to follow order

Maybe this is the reason why I connected with IT Service Management, and made that into my career. The army is all about system, hierarchy and discipline. I like systems and structures, and I like frameworks and disciplines. I love learning new and better ways to create systems into my business and implement these frameworks and systems into my business. In my opinion discipline gives you the freedom in your head to think about the important stuff. Follow the process and the results will be the same (or similar) every time. Doesn’t work that way? Look at the process, look at the structure and look at the unforeseen circumstances. Most of the time you can figure out how to respond and how to improve.

5. Celebrate the things that really matter

Looking back on the time my dad was in active duty it is clear that his priorities changed. The more he experienced the full gamma of his career (including active duty in war zones), the more he turned his focus on the things that really matter to him: his family. I remember as a little girl my dad coming home after a 6 month overseas deployment and what a party it was to have him back! I still remember the anticipation and excitement as we went to the airport, and how amazing it was to have the entire family together again as a safe and reliable unit. Family was important and to share some time together he started ‘the breakfast show’ – every morning at 6:50am al of us would meet for breakfast. No exceptions!

As a business owner it is so important to forget about the people who are close to you. You spend so much time on running the business, going over the financial numbers and spending time with your team and customers you (run the risk to) take for granted your spouse, children and other close family members. Ultimately your business doesn’t define who you are, it is merely a vehicle to achieve what is really important to you. It not only gives you money to help other people, it also gives you some precious time you can spend with your spouse and children.

So on Sunday we will celebrate Father’s day – it’s important for business.

Originally posted 2011-06-17 20:46:41. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Set your service Free!! or: Free Willy – the ITIL way…

Yesterday was day 2 of the Service Transition course and we were discussing the following processes:

  • Transition Planning & Support
  • Service Asset & Configuration Management
  • Change Management
  • Release & Deployment Management

We had some fantastic discussions, shared valuable experiences and had an overall good time! Then… somebody asked what the difference was between ‘releasing’ something into the operational environment and ‘deploying’ something into operations.

As none of us have English as their first language (this course is running in Mexico City) – we were in for an interesting discussion!
One of the students went back to Spanish for an explanation: Release Management in Spanish is: gestión de la liberación. 

Oh, that got my creative juices flowing!! HA – liberación… set the software free! set the service free! Free willy!! Unshackle the bounds of the development and test environment! Set it freeeeeeeee!!!

But when you think about it… that is exactly what the ITIL Service Management process of Release Management is all about! Setting the new or changed service free in the Operational environment. Without scratches and without anybody (or anything) getting hurt! At the end of the Free Willy movie the little boy really felt that he had made a difference; releasing Willy was an accomplishment!

And isn’t that what we are trying to create? A better world for us and our Business clients, by setting our services free in the operational world.
How we do that… well, that’s a question of deployment options…


Originally posted 2008-12-10 23:43:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The first 5 things I love about my blackberry Bold

My husband surprised me yesterday with a Blackberry Bold! I have been looking to buy one for months now as I am traveling a lot and really would like to be able to stay in touch with home and office… I couldn’t make up my mind though: was I going to buy the Bold or wait for the new Pearl flip that is coming out or wait even longer for the Storm (with touch screen)?

Now that I have the bold I can’t believe I have lived my life so long without it… I LOVE that phone! (I know I sound like a geek, but it is so true… )

OK – so what are the first 5 things I love about my brand-spanking new Blackberry Bold:

  1. The screen
    It is so clear and bright! Absolutely amazing colours and text is very easy to read
  2. The ease of use
    I have never ever used a smart phone in my life and I can’t believe how easy it is. The menus are very intuitive and after half a day I already felt as if I’ve owned and operated smart phones all my life.
  3. The ringtones
    Ok – this is going to sound weird but I don’t like the “song”-ring-tones. I want my phone to sound like a phone and I couldn’t find that setting on my old one. This one sounds exactly the way I want it!!! 
  4. emailing on the go
    Setting up my gmail account on the Blackberry was a breeze! I couldn’t believe how easy it was… and it worked after only 1 try! (if only exchange was the same… 🙁  but that’s another story)
  5. The sound quality
    My old phone was slowly dying after 4 or 5 years and I couldn’t always hear people so well. This phone is absolutely amazing. Very clear sound, not just for me but also for the receiver of my calls… A lot of people have already commented on it! 
I know these might be pretty basic but keep in mind I’ve only had this phone for 48 hours! I might come up for some other pros and cons in the next few weeks when I start traveling in Australia and overseas (and I will have received my first phone bill by then… that might change my view slightly! )

Originally posted 2008-10-26 04:06:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Starting from scratch in 2009 – new chances for ITIL, ITSM and Cloud Computing…

It is 7am on the 1st of January 2009 – always a special moment the start of a new year. We have a tradition that on the 31st of December we grab a little notebook that we hide during the year and look back at our goals and ambitions that we wrote down on the 31st of December of last year. It is great fun to look back at all the goals and targets we achieved (tick) and missed (crosses). Even our 7 year old joins in with his goals and targets for the next year…

And now 2009 is here…  we look at an empty calendar and consider all the things we want to do and achieve this year. 

What will it bring for our ITIL Service Management certification programs? With the current economic situation, recession even in some countries,  organisations need this more than ever…
Service Management gives visibility of IT Services, gives better management controls on the IT group, it helps with making strategic decisions due to the improved quality (and quantity) of information available to support these decisions. BUT… will their leaders have the insight and the guts to continue to hire educational services? To educate and grow the knowledge kept within their IT groups about IT Service Management, IT governance and standards compliancy… Honestly, I don’t know…

And what about Cloud computing? Again… this is such a great opportunity for many organizations to continue to deliver the IT services to its clients with more storage and more processing power… for a fraction of the price! That must be good news to most CIO’s . But it is also a fairly new concept and I am questioning if CIO’s will dare to choose Cloud Computing as a viable option for their IT Service Delivery.

No matter how you look at it, 2009 is a clean slate; we start from scratch and there are many new chances and opportunities to help IT organizations (and therefore companies at large) in achieving their goals by utilizing ITIL, IT Service Management and Cloud Computing. 
I am very excited about this idea and can’t wait to get back to the office again to start talking to our clients again…

only 4 more sleeps!

Originally posted 2009-01-01 07:27:37. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

You give ITSM and ITIL a bad name!

My personal motto is “every day is a school day” and I always feel sad and disappointed when I meet people who clearly don’t want to learn anymore.

Last Wednesday I met one of those people again, and 3 days later I still think about the discussion we had. (or rather: didn’t have)

This is what happened:  I was introduced to this person who is the Service Catalog manager in his organization. I asked a few questions about this role as I am interested in his experiences.

We all know that in ITIL V3 the process of Service Catalog Management is now a separate process from Service Level Management as well as a sub-component of Service Portfolio Management. And I can’t help but wonder how this works in practice…  So I enjoy speaking with people who perform the role of Service Catalog Manager  to learn from their experiences. After all – as I don’t perform the role of Service Catalog Manager in an IT company, what better way to learn than to listen to somebody who has his hands dirty from his daily work in the bowels of this process??

But before we even started the conversation, I was cut off by a terse “yeah – I got your email with the invitation to your seminar about Service Catalog Management.”


I never even discussed this with him and it hadn’t come up in conversation, so my instinctive response was “fantastic! So are you coming?”

And you know what he said?:

“NO – why would I? I have been doing Service Catalog for a long time now so I can’t think of anything new you can tell me about this subject. And besides – I deal with Service Catalog stuff every day of the week, so why would I attend an event about it after work hours?!”


Which part of ‘ITSM is all about delivering value to the customer through a process of continual improvement’ did he NOT understand?

Has ITIL become just another job? Has ITIL Foundation become the one and only way to learn about ITIL – as some sort of end goal? I read on twitter today that there are 1,000,000 people worldwide with ITIL Foundation certification, but does that mean that the learning process stops after you’ve received this certificate? I always thought of the ITIL Foundation certificate as the starting point of a new avenue in one’s ITSM career.
You merely receive the overview, a language and get the distinct impression that there is so much more to learn before you fully comprehend the value ITSM and ITIL can offer you in your job, your career, but mostly to your customers and end users.

RT @glennodonnell: Over 1,000,ooo people worldwide hold #ITIL Foundations certification! @RobertEStroud at #IOFE10 <<< but how many really use it?

[note: I checked this number against APMG information from October 2008 and November 2009 and in that period there where  256,530 Foundation exams taken.  Average of 21,377 per month]

An attitude like this man has gives ITIL its bad name, and the perception that ITIL is just a paper tiger; just another boring framework that never adds any value to anybody (except maybe to consultants and training organisations).

I wanted to shake that person and tell him to wake up!  To open his eyes to what he is doing to his own job, but also to an industry as a whole.

So to you who reads this: formal certification is not the only way to learn… don’t give ITSM a bad name! Be a champion for the benefits the framework offers your company and customers. Learn each and every day by reading books, blogs, white papers, and articles and by talking to people in the industry either via twitter, Facebook or in person at seminars and conferences. How can you gain new insights when you only discuss your ideas and thoughts with yourself?

Every day is a school-day, but you don’t have to be in class to learn!

Originally posted 2010-03-13 13:33:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

SLAs come with a process attached, says ITIL Service Management

When you start looking at the reason why many SLAs fail to deliver upon their expectations, you often see that the Service Level Management process hasn’t been implemented at the same time…

This week I have been teaching a workshop on Service Level Agreements in Indonesia. An amazing experience, as it is always fantastic to see the journey that people go through during these two days. Initially the focus is purely on the document; the Service Level Agreement. But by the end of day 1 people start to realize that you need to go through the whole PLAN – DO – CHECK – ACT cycle to have a complete picture.

In the past few days we answered the following questions:

  • Q – How can you create SLAs when you don’t have the services written down in a Service Catalogue?
    A – You can’t really as you have no idea what the service looks like, and what it is that you can offer, at what levels.
  • Q – Why should we concern our-self with a  Service Level Management process?
    A- Because this process will safeguard the accuracy of Service Descriptions, map them against business Service Level Requirements and identify OLAs and UCs that are required to support the agreed Service Levels
  • Q – where do you start? At the SLA or with the OLA?
    A – This depends where you are at the moment! When you currently have SLAs in place, but they don’t work properly – investigate where the gaps are and improve those part of the process. When you don’t have anything at the moment, start with the Service Catalogue and the OLA levels that aggregate up to SLA levels.

It was lovely to see so many excitement for Service Level Management, especially as it gives them tools to set the expectations with the clients, give service guarantees that can be met and tools to measure and monitor what is going on.

It doesn’t stop here though! Each student created an action plan with tangible action items that they will be accountable for in the next 3 months.. Can’t wait to follow up with them in 2.5 months to see what the achievements are!

We’ve done the planning phase… time for some DO-ing!

Originally posted 2009-02-24 21:02:25. Republished by Blog Post Promoter