Charette Stirs Debate Over STEM "Crisis"

Cutter Fellow Bob Charette‘s IEEE Spectrum piece, “The STEM Crisis is a Myth” has gone viral, with good reason. Charette opens by describing the worldwide panic over a shortfall in workers to fill STEM jobs, including governments everywhere “pouring billions of dollars each year into myriad efforts designed to boost the ranks of STEM workers.” He then makes a case for the flip side of the story, supported by by many reports that suggest that there just aren’t enough suitable jobs available for all the STEM graduates we have today. A Matter of Supply vs. Demand: Every year U.S. schools grant more STEM degrees than there are available jobs. When you factor in H-1B visa …

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It is my profound pleasure to welcome Sue McKinney and Tom Grant to the Cutter family and to the Agile practice. I am really excited about the expertise they bring to the practice and the opportunity to work with them in person. I first met Sue some five or six years ago in an APLN conference in which she presented her experience teaching the IBM elephant to dance to the rhythm of Agile. My overarching impression from the presentation was “Wow, this lady has fire in her belly!” This impression of mine grew stronger and stronger over the years as I became more familiar with her large scale transformative work at both IBM and Pitney …

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Technical Debt in the Era of Transient Competitive Advantage

A situation that I and various consultants in the Cutter Agile Practice are often exposed to is a pressing need to reduce technical debt. A prospect calls with respect to some software assets that have ceased to perform adequately. What we almost invariably find once we do the Technical Debt Assessment is that over time the client’s codebase got both bloated and spaghetti-like. As a result, the client is struggling with 10M, 20M or 50M lines of tangled code. The combination of size with “spaghetti tangles” renders it hard to effectively adapt the software as in such code even changing/adding a single line of code could require significant integration and regression efforts. The situation is …

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Aug 272013
 
Coherence of Vision

In my recent blog post Choosing Your Point of Organizational Incoherence, I stressed the importance of making a choice on how to deal with systemic incoherence that is beyond your control as a CIO or a CTO. Technology, economy and society are not likely to be aligned anytime soon; emphasis on maximizing shareholders value might make it impossible for you to make certain strategic investments; and, unrealistic expectations about predictability of the software development process might make you want to tear your hair out. True and painful that these three factors and possibly many others might be, you can’t just sit on your hands waiting for all the moons to be aligned. You have to …

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What good is a high-performance team in a vacuum, and how long will one last without an environment in which it can thrive? This is the question that comes to mind when I’m asked to comment on the role of leadership in high-performance teams. Teams may be able to achieve various states of high performance for a time, or from time to time, perhaps experienced by the team as being “in the zone.” But my thoughts turn toward questions of causing teams to be in the zone on demand, and of sustaining a state of high performance. Three Simple Words… Be. Do. Have. These three words outline what I’ve learned in life, and they work as a sequence to …

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Choosing Your Point of Organizational Incoherence

Much has been written, presented and debated in the past few years on the “right way” for executives and policy makers to reinvigorate companies, markets and economies. The distinguished scholar Carlota Perez suggests fundamental changes to the way growth and prosperity get measured. Along somewhat similar lines, Steven Denning focuses on the damage inflicted through adherence to the tenet of maximizing shareholder’s value. Gary Hammel, elaborating on another thread that Perez touches on, advocates values over value. Last but not the least, Hagel, Brown and Davison emphasize the power of pull for both designing the right system and designing the system right [i]. While the debate spans some topics that are clearly beyond the scope …

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Aug 132013
 
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There is no question that we are becoming more visually oriented in our approach to thinking today. You can see it in the increasing numbers of PowerPoint presentations given with the admonition that fewer words will suffice. You can see it in the increase in infographics, catchy photographs, and pictorial slogans that continue to spread across social media. And you can see the result in BI dashboards and an increasing array of visually oriented approaches to the display, digestion, and understanding of data. It is no wonder, then, that visual discovery tools should emerge as an important and rapidly growing part of BI. Visual discovery tools are applications that typically enable non-analyst users to “play” …

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Truly savvy managers know the value of information. It’s the stuff intelligent decisions are borne of. But in recent weeks, the international community and the US Federal Government have been howling over the data collection efforts of the National Security Agency, making arguments as to whether or not those efforts are in the interests of US national security and whether or not data mining is an invasion of individual civil liberties. The concerns being raised may be misplaced. The major concern may not be with the data, but with the information being derived from it. Information is distilled data. Distillation is a process that profoundly alters the natural state of the data. Anyone who has …

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Jul 252013
 
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Back in March 2012, I wrote that Microsoft leadership, knowing that the company was in danger of being left behind by Apple and the Android-based product vendors when it came to the mobile market — especially tablets — had staked its future on its upcoming Windows 8 OS (then still in development). Basically, I said it would come down to Microsoft getting Windows 8 right, so the long, drawn-out development period was understandable. Once Windows 8 was released, and if it proved as impressive as initial reports suggested, I said then that I thought that companies would embrace Windows 8 for mobile development. The logic I employed at the time was based on the fact …

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With the widespread adoption of social media sites such as Facebook/Linkedin/Twitter and the increasing interest in multimedia sites such as YouTube and Instagram, social media has become one of the larger sources of Big Data. This increased volume of data has created a slew of new IT issues to consider — the most significant one being “What do we do with all this data?” As a result, we’re seeing an increased demand for more storage capacity, enhanced needs for compute power and the introduction of new technologies (such as Hadoop), making the investment to undertake a social media monitoring campaign no small task. With any substantial investment in new technology comes the question of value. …

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