Tuesday 9 December 2003

Agreement at the top ... progress below?

Top dog 1
Guys, let's stop this spitting contest right now. It's add zero value for anything or anybody.
Top dog 2
This is the last Email if this kind that I expect to see from both X as Y.
I don't want to see these discussions in E-mail anymore.
They don't contribute to a better organisation.
Two directors on opposite ends agree that what we were doing did not help the organization, I suppose there is a lot they could have done to prevent the ugly situation that developed today, long before now.
It took the statistics of the success of a patch deployment over the weekend to bring us to a point of resolution – suddenly; we have leadership...
The story unfolds...
The day was going to start a little late; I had a Good Samaritan's job to do in helping a friend who was in dire straits. That had to be done early in the day because it had bothered me all night.
Anyhow, before I left home, the call came in - something to do with the patch updates we had rolled out over the weekend - well, I was expecting something close to chaos, but as the day grew older; it yielded surprises that made the surprise rather surprising.
My technical colleague is quite a competent chap; [I interviewed him in December] we work so well as a team; though I am supposed to be in an architecting role and him in an operational role. The big boss is quite determined to create Chinese walls as thick as those on the Three Gorges Dam to allow for sheaves of paperwork that impress no one but provide unnecessary bedtime reading to the CIO.
However, after 8 years of deploying and managing Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) systems; you learn that communication and interfacing with your customer is key to the successful management of technologies that connect to every desktop in your enterprise.
Well, I quite taken aback when I learnt on Friday that he had to recreate the intricate patch deployment package we had already tested with the business about 2 weeks before. I was off to Cologne early that Friday evening in some trepidation that something might be missed out and we would end up with a deluge of calls.
We got calls, but not a deluge, on one site two PCs had failed out of about 400; due to the fact that a self-healing process introduced by Microsoft about 4 years ago had kicked in during the deployment of a certain patch.
This function, which is part of the Windows Installer technology introduced with Microsoft Office 2000, requires that if an application is corrupted or misses some files; the PC can contact the original application files and restore all the missing components. This becomes a nuisance if the original files are on the network and are not contactable.
I took great pains to ensure that we do not need to contact these network sources, but one seemed to have slipped through and was generating a bit of a kafuffle.
Anyway, not being one to throw statistics issues for the sake of it; I still find that I am prone to that foible when it comes to what SMS tells me after a deployment. We generate a whole spreadsheet with the percentage successful in bold red "read me out loud" font and herald the parade of knights.
In this instance, out of five sites, three were quite successful with some errors in single figures, and two had a higher number of errors of almost 70 PCs for some reason we needed to investigate; all of which was highlighted in our statistical report.
However, we the occupying forces could not have been prepared for the guerrilla warfare perpetrated by disgruntled old regime personnel; the incessant drive-by shootings, air to email missiles, terrorist comments to destabilise our implementations, Trojan horse calls which were old problems used to buttress "me too" issues in the 3 sites where there were hardly a failures - for example.
"So I can't give the exact number of PCs where the installation went wrong, but I know that there are at least 2 users with installation problem that I know of."
I suppose 2 out of over 80 is just the problem I need this morning.
Well, you can almost read the frustration in that comment. We set the precedent for George W. Bush on the principle of pre-emptive engagement when we conducted an aggressive takeover of the IT Infrastructure of that company last November.
This was necessary because most of that team constituted a stumbling and obstructive block to the need to update out IT infrastructure and consolidate all our processes. Most were offered an incentive to leave and the bleakest prospect if they stayed.
However, those that were retained were never really intimated with the fact that they had been demoted from third-line support to somewhere between first-line and nominal second-line support. Their management tried to deal with this with technology rather than simply communicate this to those left behind.
The day grew older with commentary running like trench warfare, getting muddier and less forgiving. Till I landed my riposte...
"I could almost say some of the comments below are not entirely representative of the users' views if you are also in the job of promoting the benefits of the Mozart PC infrastructure to your users."
Ouch! I am not the one hurting.

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