My Teaching Journey

I’ve recently been reflecting on my teaching career.  I started teaching in the engineering school about fourteen years ago.  The first course I taught was an undergraduate engineering course on engineering computation.  The focus was on using Microsoft Visual Basic and Microsoft Excel to solve basic engineering problems.  It was a great opportunity to do something different professionally.

My next course was a graduate course in operations management.  That was a nice fit, given my background in operations research, mathematical modeling, and simulation.  I taught that course for several years.

I added a couple more courses shortly after that.  One was on computer networking and the other was on computer security.

There came a point where we began to steer our master’s degree program more toward technology management and entrepreneurship.  I reworked the operations management course to become a course in the management of technology.  That quickly became my favorite course to teach.

From there, I spun off a course specifically on technology and innovation, with the emphasis on innovation.  I also developed a special topics course on professional communication for engineers.  That’s a long story; it was built around my own personal experiences of being a person who was always uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience, while being someone who has to do that all the time.  That’s when I wrote my book, Effective Speaking: An Introvert’s Guide to Making Presentations.

In the last few years, my courses have been centered around systems engineering and engineering management.  I’ve been a professional systems engineer for over forty years, so that’s my niche.  But I’ll tell you, that’s been a tough subject to teach.  I’ll save that story for another time.  On the engineering management side, I’ve been teaching what is essentially “finance for non-financial managers” and strategic planning (with a deliberate focus on teaching IT-industry technical professionals how to better understand the problems of alignment between business and technology workers).

It’s been an interesting journey:

  1. Engineering Computation
  2. Operations Management
  3. Computer Networking
  4. Computer Security
  5. Management of Technology
  6. Technology and Innovation
  7. Professional Communications for Engineers
  8. Systems Engineering
  9. Financial Concepts
  10. Strategic Planning

What will I be teaching going forward?  Anything new?  I’m not sure.  One thing I’d like to do is develop a course on consulting skills and methods.  Another idea is a course on technology sales and technical sales support.  I’d also like to revise and update my course on professional communications, which could easily be part of the consulting skills course.

I’ve also considered starting a “professional development” consulting business to bring some of these important topics to a broader audience.  I ran my own consulting business for a number of years and it was a satisfying experience.   It’s also a great way to serve if you can help others develop their professional abilities and do it for a nominal charge.  There’s more to this story as well.

IBM z/OS V2.2 goes EOM on 01/29/2018

IBM z/OS V2.2 will be withdrawn from marketing this coming Monday, 01/29/2018.  If you are still running z/OS 1.13 and plan to move to z/OS 2.2 but have not yet ordered it, Monday is the last day you can do so.

See IBM ALET 917-078 for details.

Also, if you are running z/OS V2.1, remember that it goes “end of service” on 09/30/2018.



FICON on Z: LX or SX?

I recommend going with LX FICON cards on IBM Z systems.  There are technical vs. financial trade-offs that come into play and I’m not going to debate the issue in my personal blog.  But, as I say, my preference and recommendation is to go with longwave.

I understand the financial argument.  I also understand the technical considerations, the value of not making self-limiting moves, and the longer-term benefits of positioning yourself to better align with certain statements of direction.  I respect those who have a different opinion; I’m just looking at the problem in a different way.  I encourage my clients to go with LX, which most of them already do.


Why I’m not “linked in”

I recently saw a PowerPoint presentation on the professional value of being on LinkedIn.  It was reasonably well done and fairly persuasive. At the conclusion of it, I nearly signed back up.  It would have been my third time.

But I didn’t.

It has some upside, I’m sure.  And it has some downside, as well.  But the tipping point for me was when I asked “my network” for some help.  My connections were in the (low) triple-digits, mostly colleagues, students, and professional acquaintances.  And when, for personal reasons of significant importance to me, I asked that as many as possible endorse me for a set of skills that 99% of them knew I had, I got only nine responses.

I very much appreciated those nine responses.  But I was surprised that there were only nine.  I wondered why.  And I believe there were many good reasons for the low response rate: too much competing noise on the platform, people who never saw my request, people who didn’t have time to help out at that moment, and any number of other reasons.  But it drove home two important points to me.  First, my perceived “network” was a social-media illusion.  Second, I had foolishly allowed myself to fall into the (for me) moral trap of “self-promotion at scale.”


Five Thoughts for the Day

Here are some thoughts to ponder:

1. The best leaders are “reluctant leaders.”  Steer clear of those who never want to lead and those who always want to lead.  Look for those who don’t seek leadership roles, but who naturally emerge as leaders when the situation requires it.  They tend to have that rare combination of competence and humility.

2. Life really is a zero sum game.  Beware of those who tell you otherwise.  They’re just trying to get into your head.  Not everyone gets the job, or the raise, or the promotion.  Not everyone gets a fair shake or a decent chance.  That’s life.  But maybe you can offer someone a fair shake, or a decent chance, or some measure of hope.  And maybe you should.

3. Never emphasize teamwork for the sake of teamwork.  You need a better reason than that.  If you can’t explain in 10 seconds why you need a team to do something, then you probably don’t need a team to do it.  In that case, you’re better off without a team.

4. The greatest barrier to effective communication is that no one is actually listening to you.  That’s why your first sentence needs to get people’s attention.  Remember the professor who always started the term by saying, “look at the person to your left and to your right because one of you isn’t going to be around at the end of the term”?  Make your first sentence an attention-grabber.

5. Never assign an optimist to advise you about risk factors.  Always look for the person who can tell you “why the plan is going to fail.”  It’s not a character flaw.  It’s a super-power.  Leverage it.