Are you a vSAN 6.x customer? vSphere 6.0 Update 3 is out! There are a bunch of important fixes and improvements (checksumming performance for instance) in Update 3, so I would highly recommend looking in to it and testing it out.
On the list of leadership merit badges, “Successfully deliver hard news” is one the hardest badges to acquire. It’s not just that you have news, it’s hard news. It’s an honest something the human sitting across from you does not want to hear. Not only do you need to deliver it, but you need to successfully deliver it.
There are endless ways to screw this up. This is why it’s a merit badge. Once you learn how to successfully deliver hard news, you will never forget. The experience is hard-earned.
Bad news, I’m not going to give you a complete strategy, these are simple tips. Starting with:
The final tip is the most important. You can fail to write down your thoughts, you can not share your thoughts with a neutral human, and you can fully yolo the delivery, but the final bullet you skipped is my simple tip: let them sleep on it.
The moment that a human being hears hard news they stop listening. It’s a normal and healthy fight or flight instinct. Right or wrong, the human on the receiving end of this news feels attacked and when you’re attacked you run because who wants to be attacked?
They hear you, they are recording the conversation, but they are not listening because their mind is telling them to run for it. Their first reaction, the first words tell you, are not how they feel. They need to let their guard down, and that only comes with time.
Successfully delivering hard news means honestly and compassionately delivering the news. It’s quietly listening to their reaction, hearing each word, but understanding what they feel won’t be known until they’ve taking their time to hear you.
Last year, while I was developing my talks, I saw a bit of bad advice. I didn't recognize it at the time. Instead, I saw it as a goal to reach. The forum was a private one, and I've long forgotten who the players were. But here is a reconstructed, summarized view of what spurred me to try:
elph1120: You know what I love? A speaker who can do an entire talk from one slide.
612kenny: OMG yes. I saw someguy do that at someconference. It was amazeballs.
elph1120: Yeah, more speakers should do that.
This is bad advice. Don't do this.
Now to explain what happened...
I saw this, and decided to try and do that for my DevOpsDays Minneapolis talk last year. I got close, I needed 4 slides. Which is enough to fit into a tweet.
See? No link to SlideShare needed! Should be amazing!
The number one critique I got, by a large, large margin was this:
Wean yourself from the speaker-podium.
In order to do a 4-slide talk, I had to lean pretty hard on speaker-notes. If you're leaning on speaker-notes, you're either tied to the podium or have cue-cards in your hands. Both of these are violations of the modern TED-talk style-guide tech-conferences are following these days. I should have noticed that the people rhapsodizing over one-slide talks were habitues of one of the holdouts of podium-driven talks in the industry.
That said, there is another way to do a speaker-note free talk: the 60-slide deck for a 30 minute talk. Your slides are the notes. So long as you can remember some points to talk about above and beyond what's written on the slides, you're providing value above and beyond the deck you built. The meme-slide laugh inducers provide levity and urge positive feedback. If you're new to speaking this is the style you should be aiming for.
A one-slide talk is PhD level speaking-skills. It means memorizing paragraph by paragraph a 3K word essay, and read it back while on stage and on camera. You should not be trying to reach this bar until you're already whatever about public speaking, and have delivered that talk a bunch of times already.
As John Nicholson was traveling in and around New Zealand I was asked by Pete if I could co-host the Virtually Speaking Podcast again. It is always entertaining to join, Pete is such a natural when it comes to these things. I euuh, well I do my best to keep up with him :). Below you can find the latest episode on the topic of vSAN Customer Use Cases. It includes a lot of soundbites recorded at VMware World Wide Kick Off / Tech Summit, which is a VMware internal event for all Sales, Pre-Sales and Post-Sales field facing people.
You can of course also subscribe on iTunes!
"Virtually Speaking Podcast – vSAN Customer Use Cases" originally appeared on Yellow-Bricks.com. Follow me on twitter - @DuncanYB.
Whoever came up with the name “Human Resources” deserves a medal. Such a descriptive, helpful, and seemingly useful name. Why yes, I’m human and I sure could use some resources. Purely viewed by the name, Humans Resources or HR seems like such a great idea. These are the people who are responsible for looking after your people whether it’s their health, compensation, or career.
So, why do we freak out when HR is in the building? What’s with the hush whispers when you see your boss huddled with HR in her office? Layoffs? Reorg? Has anyone seen Ryan today? HR’s presence typically makes folks paranoid. I’ll repeat that: the folks whose job it is to be resources for humans collectively gives us the shakes. What happened?
It’s not HR; it’s your culture.
Disclaimer: I’ve never worked in HR, and all of my observations regarding HR have been made without what I assume is the daily toil of having a gig where the expectations are so high, but corporate support is traditionally low. However, both as manager and as a former employee of an HR-focused start-up, I know a bit.
Simplification: There are all sorts of different jobs inside of HR and depending on the size of your company, your HR team may have one or all of them. Benefits, recruiting, compensation, training, it’s a long list. For the purpose of this article, let’s consider HR to be the folks who are responsible for helping a team thrive. They have many other jobs, but that’s the one I’m thinking about in this piece.
HR is a tough gig. They have constraints which often leads to unique behavior that affects their reputation. Two examples:
As a support team and a cost center, HR traditionally does not receive a lot of investment. How many folks is your manager responsible for? Ok, how many is your HR partner responsible for? My guess is your HR person has 10x the number of people for whom they are responsible. This under-resourcing has interesting consequences.
First, because of their limited numbers, they logically gravitate towards informed decision makers because these humans are an early warning system regarding what is and isn’t going well. This network helps keep them informed as to the state of the company.
Second, because of their allegedly human-related skills, they are called in when there are people-related problems. This means you only see them when something is going down. These infrequent appearances when the sky is falling contributes to their grim reaper reputation.
Finally, when they do arrive because the sky is falling, they are informed because of the carefully built information gathering network, but when they start talking, they don’t sound like you. They, like every group at your company, have a language all their own, which when accompanied with the penchant for showing up when the shit is going down makes their language the language of trouble.
All of these attributes contribute to the problematic reputation of HR. Yet, in two decades of work I’ve discovered that when the team is freaked out by HR, it’s not HR, it’s the culture. Something is rotting.
Culture == Values
Your company has values regardless of whether you’ve painted them on the wall or produced an employee handbook. They exist as a result of the Old Guard employees working together, making decisions, and successfully building the company.
Values exist as stories. Back in our first building, Christine once stayed up all night working on a single performance bug that ended up revealing fundamental flaws in our architecture. The implied value? Persistence or perhaps craftsmanship.
Values exist as people. When I watch Brad run a meeting, I realize how poorly I run my own. The implied value? Everyone’s time is valuable, efficiency, or maybe constant improvement.
Values are principles or standards of behavior, and in a group of humans, they are first defined by the founding employees and then evolved over time by the leadership team. Painting them on the walls or writing them down in an employee handbook makes them accessible and obvious, but it is how these values are consistently applied especially during times of crisis that gives values value.
When I hear, “I don’t trust HR,” I ask, “Why?” The answers vary, “They are political. They are risk mitigators. They protect the company… not the employees.” There are humans in HR who exhibit this behavior. However, it is equally likely there are humans at every level of leadership who exhibit this behavior, and all are allowed to behave in this way because of the values of the company.
Has Anyone Seen Ryan Today?
The rule is: in the absence of information, humans will make up a story to fill the vacuum. When this happens, listen to the story because not only do they usually find the worst case scenario, it’s a situation that reflects the perception of your company’s values.
Where is Ryan? Well, he left early on Friday and was out all day on Monday. I think he’s checked out and you know what we do to checked out people here? HR fires them without warning.
No, HR doesn’t fire people without warning. No, Ryan is not checked out. He’s just sick, and his manager forgot to send a message to the team. The issue here is that the team believes HR has nefarious unchecked power and in my experience they rarely do. They are capable, overworked, emotionally intelligent humans who I call when I need help.
Yes, they swarm around disasters. Yes, they have access to a lot of information. You should hold them to them a high bar. More importantly, you should understand how in the world your team comes to hold seemingly irrational beliefs because their existence is not a sign of their character of your team, it is a sign your culture is rotting.
Over the past couple of months I have had more and more discussions with customers and partners about VVols. It seems that Policy Based Management and the VVol granular capabilities are really starting to sink in, and more and more customers are starting to see the benefit of using vSphere as the management plane. The other option of course is pre-defining what is enabled on a datastore/LUN level and use spreadsheets and complex naming schemes to determine where a VM should land, far from optimal. I am not going to discuss the VVols basics at this point, if you need to know more about that simply do a search on VVol.
When having these discussions a bunch of things typically come up, these all have to do with design and procurement considerations when it comes to VVol capable storage. VMware provided a framework, and API, and based on this each vendor has developed their own implementation. These vary from vendor to vendor, as not all storage systems are created equal. So what do you have to think about when designing a VVols environment or when you are procuring new VVol capable storage? Below you find a list of questions to ask, with a short explanation of why this may be important. I will try to add new questions and considerations when I come up with them.
In many cases, especially existing legacy storage systems, an upgrade is needed of the software to support VVols, ask:
When it is clear what you need to support VVols from a software point of view, ask:
And then there is the control / management plane:
Note, as it stands today, in order to power-on a VM or create a VM the VASA Provider needs to be available. Hence the availability model is probably of importance, depending on the type of environment you are designing. Also, some prefer to avoid having it implemented on the storage system, as any update means touching the storage system. Others prefer to have it as part of the storage system as it removes the need to have a separate VM that needs to be managed and maintained.
Last but not least, policy capabilities:
I hope this helps having the conversation with your storage vendor, developing your design or guide the conversation during the procurement process. If anyone has additional considerations please leave a comment so I can add it to the list when applicable.