Thursday, November 11, 2010

... Veteran's Day

As a veteran myself, I try to make a post every year on Veteran's Day. My daughter and I raised the flag together one year. I thought that was a good day and a good post. One year I did a salute to veterans. I thought that was pretty good post too. But I'm thinking that this year's post might not be so good.

Here's the deal: Today, I'm struggling with the word "Happy" that always seems to precede "Veteran's Day." I'm okay with thanking vets, flying the flag, and giving an extra few minutes in the day to think about vets and what they have done for this country. But I'm just not relating to the "Happy" part.

This day is an important day for me - not necessarily because I'm proud of serving (though I am) - but because every year in my mind's eye, I visit the memories of men and women that I either served with myself, or shared a moment and felt kinship with since. The feeling I get when I see their faces is a curious mixture of pride, nostalgia, remorse, commitment, friendship, gratitude, and sadness.

As vets, we all share some things in common. Maybe it's a vague "knowing" that comes from setting our own interests aside and allowing ourselves to become part of something that is bigger than individual ambition or ironically, individual freedom. Maybe it comes from having made a commitment to literally die so that others may live, and from the meaning that people in uniform took on after that commitment was made. Maybe it comes from the feeling we get when we look at our kids through eyes that disguise unique knowledge of what this world can do.

I'm not sure what it is, but I do know that "Happy" isn't the word I'd use. What we share is deep, for sure, but it's not light or easy to smile about. I'll save "Happy" for other holidays.

This year, I remember a vet named John. John was my friend. Many years ago, he wore Army green. He served, as I do, well beyond his boot polishing years; and he humped his commitment and integrity into every aspect of his life. I don't think the man understood what life without his commitment and integrity would be. He died of cancer.

John is in good company in my mind. Not only do I preserve his story and a bit of his perspective on life, but he stands beside many whom I have called "friend," who have also stood ready to give everything, and who dedicated their lives to a unique form of service.

Vets do go on with their lives after the service, but they are always aware of one another, of what they were trained to do, of the "stuff" that they share with every other veteran, and of their brothers and sisters in arms who are getting the job done today. There is something sacred about this awareness and the bond that comes with it.

On this Veteran's Day, I simply bow my head, tip my glass, and whisper a quiet "hooah."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dealing with Security and Web 2.0

If you're into social media / Web 2.0, you've surely heard a bunch of security arguments. You may, in fact, have been blocked from implementing Web 2.0 in your organization or accessing some cool Web 2.0 forums in other organizations because your local security department uses firewalls to block your access, or publishes a policy against it. If this is you, then you need help & I'm going to give you some really cool resources to help you.

First, I want to emphasize that security is a necessary piece of any social media or Web 2.0 implementation. Without it, you'll have a disaster pretty quickly. As a former Information Systems Security Manager, I encourage you to appreciate the critical (and often silent) nature of the work that these folks do to protect our privacy and secure our sensitive and classified information.

Unfortunately, when the staff in a local security department are unfamiliar with something, they can be suspicious. This is natural for this group of processionals to be suspicious of anything that might pose a threat to personnel or information they are responsible for protecting. You wouldn't want them any other way. Thank them.

The key to overcoming resistance from your security team is education and awareness. The more they understand about social media and the DoD's approach to managing it, the more likely they will take appropriate action for your organization.

I've collected a series of super cool Department of Defense links on Social Media / Web 2.0. My intent is to give you ready access to the policies, memorandums, and statements made by senior DoD officials regarding this new capability.

I encourage you to read through them and find the ones that are best suited for your organization and find a friendly way to share them with your security department.

Here's a good one to get you started:

Talk about a buffet of information! It'll take some time to get through all of this info, but it's well worth the time you spend.

Interested in Title 44, OMB and the Paperwork Reduction Act angle? Check out this link from the Executive Office of the President, the Office of information and Regulatory Affairs.

Here's a neat resource for those who prefer a step-by-step apprach to reading the DoD policy and registering sites. It's called the DoD Social Media Hub:

Google "social media in the DoD" and you will find loads of articles, comments made by senior people and maybe even a cool example or two of social media in action.

These resources make a great starting point for those who want to "see it in writing" or dig deeper into the application of social media in the Department of Defense.

Another great resource is the Army's PEO C3t milTech Solutions. These are the folks that created the milSuite solutions. They understand what goes on behind the scenes and can answer many questions. Interestingly, you can find them on Facebook at:

or on their Web site at:

If you know of other cool resources, please leave a comment and share them here.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Social Media is More Than Social

Since my speech on the 12th of October, I've seen a lot of discussion about the use of Social Media. I've met proponents and paranoids, and have come to a conclusion: that we basically agree with one another, but we are not all on the same page.

It's not that we don't agree on things like cost-effective use of technology, that knowledge management is important, security must be handled, or that we tend to spend too much time and money developing software. We're tripping over vocabulary.

There's a relevant Blog post written by Christopher Dorobek from Federal News Radio. I encourage interested readers to take a look at his Blog post here. In this Post, Mr. Dorobek suggests that the term "Social Media" is hurting proponent's ability to communicate the value of social media. I don't disagree.

In the last two weeks, I have enjoyed great support from the folks I met at FedTalks and from those who have read associated commentary. I have also encountered some resistance - and an almost eerie silence from a few people whom I would think would be jumping on this opportunity.

The resistance side is at least vocal, so to them I offer the following: Social Media or Web 2.0 is not about dating and social encounters. Dating and social encounters are one effect of the social media movement - like finding long lost friends on Facebook, or finally seeing photos of the grand kids - but we make a mistake if we stop there and don't explore other benefits associated with a Web 2.0 world.

Web 2.0 is about information exchange. Plain and simple. Sure, people can find one another and share details about their lives: including photos, videos, geography, interests, etc. But SYSTEMS can also find other SYSTEMS. PEOPLE can find DATA, combine data from different data sources, and we can share data and information with one another in ways that used to cost millions of dollars.

Consider the following example released on Twitter earlier today: a military member acting in a civilian capacity, Mr. Bob Sims, decided that he wanted to share a dizzying array of military acronyms with the world. For whatever reason (probably a test in this case), Mr. Sims thought that sharing military acronyms would add value to the world. Mr. Sims didn't put together a business case, knock on his Comptroller's door, beg for money, document the requirement, work for months to get it approved, hand it off to a Program office and wait 6-12 months for it to be put into a development queue and/or another 6 - 18 months to have his "application" created. He just found a data source for military acronyms, sucked the data into a spreadsheet, uploaded the spreadsheet to Google docs, and used Web 2.0 methodology to allow "end users" to pull data from that data source via a simple query. Read his story here.

He envisioned what he wanted. He found the data source. He exposed the data to the Web, and he created an app to make it easy for the world to consume it. Now anyone who grabs his app can look up military acronyms. Problem solved. Value created. How cool is that?!

There is nothing limiting our ability to share to tiny spreadsheets or other personal data sources. Many people have essentially done the same thing with much larger data sources located anywhere in the world. Reference,, or This is part of our reality now.

In the world of Defense Business Transformation, one major challenge is to gather data from many authoritative data sources and make it immediately available to decision makers during investment portfolio reviews. Members of the DoD community have pulled data from two of their most relevant data sources - one for project data and milestone and the second for budget data, mashed it together and now serve it up through apps to leadership - at the point of decision making - when it's needed most. Essentially, Web 2.0 or "social media" has allowed the DoD to significantly enhance the quality of decisions made about its IT portfolio.

By the way, it bears mentioning that when we first rolled out this social media "mashup" of relevant data, many of the folks who used it did not recognize it as social media. They knew the data, but they did not connect the fact that what they were seeing was a mashup of data in their Web browser. That lead to some interesting questions - like where did you get the money to build such a "system" and where was your obligation authority to spend it? The assumption was that we had spent an enormous amount of money to bring them the dashboards. From from it, of course. We knocked out each little app in a few hours using Web 2.0 "social media" techniques. Beyond labor, it really didn't cost us anything.

If we limit our understanding of "Social Media" to technologies that bring people closer together, we miss out on what promises to be perhaps the single largest cost saver / value creator in technology history.

Open source value creation is already here. Information exposure and sharing is inexpensive and customizable using "social media" techniques. It's just that we haven't socialized it yet.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

3 PM EST Today: The Defense Acquisition Reform Panel

Thursday, March 11, 2010 – 3:00pm – 2261 Rayburn – Open The Defense Acquisition Reform Panel will meet to receive testimony on Administration perspectives on managing the defense acquisition system and the defense acquisition workforce.

Dr. Ashton B. Carter
Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics
U.S. Department of Defense

Honorable Robert Hale
Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller)
U.S. Department of Defense

Ms. Elizabeth A. McGrath
Acting Deputy Chief Management Officer
U.S. Department of Defense

Mr. Shay Assad
Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition & Technology)
Director, Defense Procurement and Acquisition Policy U.S. Department of Defense

The Intersect Between Corporate and Government

Taking care of issues of social justice, climate control, poverty, and improving communities can no longer be in the purview of government-only organizations. For profit corporations must deliberately incorporate these issues into daily decision making.

The fact is that the government will not be capable of supporting the people on its own and corporations will not survive if profit is the only motive. A new age is here.

As both a federal employee and a small business owner, I am thankful to the Boston College Center For Corporate Citizenship for preparing this video and articulating this idea so well.