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TUG Buzz! for November 4, 2013


  1. TUG MoM November 20th
  2. Welcome new Gold Sponsor member: Vault400
  3. Risk Management Article (by Debbie Gallagher)
  4. iDev Cloud now active

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Meeting of Members

Admission: Free to all TUG members ($40 non-members)

Register for the next TUG MoM at: www.tug.ca/reg_meet_form.php


Date: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Schedule: 5:00 pm - TBA
6:00 pm - Social & buffet dinner
7:00 pm - Barbara Morris (IBM TR7)
Meeting location: Delta Toronto East, 2035 Kennedy Road (just N of 401)

5:00 Speaker: TBA

.... Read More Read More

7:00 Speaker: Barbara Morris (IBM)

Barbara MorrisBarbara Morris is the lead developer for the WDS compilers in the IBM Toronto Lab. She has been working on the RPG compilers since she started at IBM in 1989 after receiving a Computing Science degree from the University of Alberta. The first enhancement she developed was the ENDIF/ENDDO opcodes for RPG/400 in V2R1. Some of her more recent enhancements were Open Access: RPG Edition in 6.1 and the ability to sort and search data structure arrays in 7.1. Some of the other notable enhancements that she developed for RPG include subprocedures, qualified data structures, call-interaction with Java, and V5R4's native XML processing op-codes.

Barbara is a regular participant in several online RPG forums, and has published many articles about RPG.

IBM TR7 Announcement: "IBM i 7.1 Technology Refresh 7 provides significant new capability for clients to take advantage of the latest technology, with significant new enhancements in RPG IV and DB2 for i, and with extended I/O hardware support."..... Read More Read More

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Vault400Welcome new Gold Sponsor member:
United Computer Group Inc. / VAULT400

Secure Cloud Backup and Recovery Solutions

UCG's VAULT400 is a premier managed risk mitigation and business continuity planning service that “fills the gap” between tape backup and high availability. VAULT400 backs up an entire organization’s business-critical data to secure data centers while supporting all platforms and databases, and ensuring financial, HIPAA, and legal compliance for their clients. Safe and off-site, the encrypted data is available online at all times for immediate, user-initiated recovery. VAULT400 works seamlessly within an organization’s existing infrastructure. VAULT400 is a licensed solution of United Computer Group, Inc.

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Risk Management: Lessons from Corporate America and Antarctica

By Debbie Gallagher

DebbieHave you read Great by Choice, by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen? The book describes nine years of research done to try and identify why some companies thrive in uncertainty and others do not.

As I read the book, I realized that with the fast pace of change in technology, the question is relevant not just to companies, but to their IT projects as well.

The Study
The authors studied the stock market for the period 1972 to 2002, and selected several companies who met three criteria: (a) stock price beat their industry index by ten times (10X); (b) the environment in which the company operated over that period was turbulent; and (c) the company was fairly small (and therefore vulnerable) at the beginning of the period.  These companies and their leaders were called 10Xers.

Then for each 10X company, they selected a comparison company in the same industry. The majority of the work was to research what was different between the 10X companies and the comparison companies to find out what could have been the cause of the 10Xer’s success.

The results of their research surprised them. Great creativity and risk taking turned out not to be key factors to success in the long run. Instead, the 10X companies and their leaders managed risk very well, and had three key behaviors: (a) Fanatic discipline; (b) Empirical creativity; and (c) productive paranoia

The authors use the race for the South Pole in 1911 by Roald Amundsen and Robert Falcon Scott to illustrate some of the book’s findings. They liken the approach of Amundson’s successful expedition to the10X company leaders, while the comparison company leaders lean more toward the habits of Scott, whose team perished before completing the trek.

It’s an interesting step back in time and also illustrates very well not only the concepts of the study but also the relationship between risk management, success, and failure.

Fanatic Discipline
In turbulent times, the companies that outperformed their industries had consistent goals and performance. Instead of pursuing massive high-growth strategies, they pushed for consistent returns every year, no matter how difficult it was to achieve. In addition, even during boom times in their industry, they held back from wild growth strategies despite pressure to do so.

Achieving consistent performance no matter what is happening in the marketplace requires concrete, clear, intelligent, and rigorously pursued performance mechanisms to keep on track.

Fanatic discipline is not about bureaucracy, but about the ability to remain clear about goals and find ways to deliver consistent performance. It also requires the ability to be a non-conformist and avoid the herd instinct of the marketplace.

Empirical Creativity
The most successful companies tested new concepts on a small scale and determined what worked and what didn’t work before launching significant new lines of business, markets and technologies.

These trials allowed the 10X companies to spend a lot of time and money on big launches only once they had tried the concept on a smaller scale and determined how to be successful. Alternatively, they sometimes learned that the concept didn’t work for them and avoided spending a great deal of money and resources to learn that.

Although innovation is necessary, the authors were surprised to find that the most innovative were not the most successful companies. Instead, a threshold level of innovation is required to compete in the industry, and beyond that the amount of innovation doesn’t matter very much.

Instead, it matters more that innovation is paired with the ability to scale the innovation and deliver on commitments to customers.

Productive Paranoia
Leaders of 10X companies prepared for the unknown and managed risks well.  They concerned themselves with what could go wrong and created buffers to deal with those known and also with unknown risks.

The leaders of the 10X companies avoided taking actions that had huge downside potential. In addition, they had the ability to look beyond daily operations to see the big picture and identify the biggest risks to their companies.

IT Project Risk
This book is based on research into US corporations and makes interesting references to the South Pole expeditions of 1911.  However, as I read it, I thought very often of IT projects I’ve been on, and how the lessons could be applied.

Many projects fail to achieve their objectives (or even fail to complete) due to lack of discipline, trying to deliver untested concepts, or poor risk management. 

Examples include projects without clear objectives, sponsorship, scope, or requirements (lack of discipline). Also, there are projects attempting to launch big technological or business changes without pilots (lack of empirical information).  Probably anyone reading this can think of cases where big risks (new software, new hardware, new vendor) were taken, but the risks were either unrecognized or unmanaged (lack of productive paranoia).

The authors of the book Great by Choice have based their book on research into US companies that outperformed their industry competitors over a thirty-year span by at least ten times. 

They identify three key characteristics of 10X companies and leaders that have been key to their success: (a) fanatic discipline; (b) empirical creativity; and (c) productive paranoia.

They make no claim at all of the book’s relevance to IT projects. However, as I read the book, I thought the parallels were easy to see and recommend the book to those who are interested in managing the risk of IT projects.

Debbie Gallagher is a project manager and business analyst.
Debbie has also worked as a systems implementation consultant, and as an IT project auditor. She can be reached by email at debbie@gallaghers.ca

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iDev Cloud

TUG has joining the iDevCloud group. TUG and its members will now be able to:

  • Share between multiple developers
  • Get private library and storage
  • Have access to most of the IBM i development tools
  • Select i7.1…  for now and move to 8.1 as soon as available.
  • Have All compilers for IBM i tools available

The Performance is monitored by system managers with adjustments as needed. The system is accessible at anytime from anywhere in the world. Just a computer and an internet connection are needed. Any work done on the system stays on the system until removed by its owner.

Contact Leo Lefebvre at leo@tug.ca to get started.


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The Toronto Users Group for Power Systems (TUG) is a user group/forum for the exchange of ideas, and specializes in providing affordable education relating to the IBM iSeries, AS/400, System i, and Power Systems platforms. TUG is in its 29th year of operation.

TUG is the proud recipient of a 2013 / 2014 Maxava iFoundation grant.


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