Whispr is a new service platform Überity is rolling out that enables decision management and analysis during the entire lifespan of a company or group. Whispr adopts the RACI and DACI decision responsibility assignment models that have been praised as highly effective. While the models themselves are infallible, the implementation of them has been less that perfect with some RACI studies  suggesting that over sixty percent (60%) of all Six Sigma initiatives fail. Furthermore, the cause of the failure is often attributed to the manner that humans try to use the model, not the model itself.

So what are RACI and DACI? They are simply models for assigning roles, responsibilities, authority and deliverables in a clearly articulated manner during the lifecycle of a decision. The end result is a lessened demand on resources to make a decision and a better quality decision outcome. How do you know if you would benefit from it? As Royston Morgan, a noted RACI trainer stated:

When you hear these types of comments in an organization , a RACI Analysis may be overdue:
My boss always overrules my decisions whenever she wants’

  • ‘The approval process for even the simplest item takes so long today’
  • ‘It seems everyone is putting together a spreadsheet on the same data’
  • ‘Things are always slipping through the cracks’
  • ‘I have the responsibility, but not the authority to get the job done’

RACI and it’s twin DACI, have proven to be very effective in corporate knowledge and management of decision processes. This is why Überity has build the first commercially available platform that uses the RACI/DACI models to help focus productivity and retain knowledge about “why” a decision was made and “who” made it. This brings knowledge to an enterprise and why Whispr is a critical component to drive business activity.

This blog post contains a non-authoritative list of the five most important productivity tips for those in the alpha program to maximize productivity when using Whispr however these may be applicable outside of Whispr. For those who wish to inquire about the alpha program, please sign up at the Whispr Home Page.

Tip 1: Integrate Whispr with your regular email and strip out tasks.

Whispr seamlessly integrates with email. Many emails you receive contain action items yet no clear assignment to any individual. By replying the to emails from the Whispr project you are contributing to, you can strip out these tasks and assign resources and dates for items to be complete by. Since Whispr also assigns the roles in a very unambiguous manner, it allows the recipient to understand what they are responsible for as well as what they should not be doing. The alternative way of doing business is long, rambling perma-thread emails that see to go around and around with no concrete action on a topic. Many people receiving the email are unsure why they are even being cc’d, never mind understanding what is expected from them. Whispr solves this problem by providing very clear line of highly focused communication.

Tip 2: Don’t feel you have to educate everyone on RACI/DACI.

RACI/DACI are models. They may confuse people and the reality is that they do not need to be understood by everyone. Whispr is RACI software that mitigates the need for people to actually understand RACI or DACI by carefully constructing user interfaces that provide guidance in plain English with statements such as “add a deadline” or “assign a task”. People work best and are more productive when they do not have to read manuals. We feel if we have to read a manual, an engineer somewhere has failed. Whispr allows people to get business done by using the same tools they use today (email, chat etc), providing clear instructions and communicating actionable items to them in a natural language.

Screenshot from Whis.pr

 

 

Tip 3: Break large decisions into smaller decisions.

Small tasks are easier to complete than big ones. Whispr’s ability to break a large decision down into smaller components helps people solve parts of the problem or at least make concrete recommendations towards part of the solution. It also allows the contributors to collect and insert factual data into the decision process to minimize risks made by working on un-verified assumptions. By doing this, Whispr also helps you see what tasks are required or what information is needed as input into a decision. Even notes from individual meetings can be added as part of the knowledge archives as shown below. Any action items from a meeting can be turned into tasks and assigned with a deadline set.

Whispr Meeting Notes

Tip 4: Understand why things are the way they are.

Many times people find themselves in the workplace and wondering why something is being done in a certain manner. When working for large companies, we often found that an entire team was unclear who had made a prior decision and had no idea of the context in which that decision was made. While tempted to change decisions, without understanding the why, it could cause irreparable harm. Whispr preserves the entire archive of a decision that creates a powerful enterprise knowledge base upon which insight can be gleaned. When breaking large decisions into a series of smaller decisions, examine the Whispr audit trail to understand what other decisions were made that may be a factor in deciding your current outcome.

Tip 5: Set deadlines

When you send an email, sometimes the out of sight; out of mind analogy strikes. Once a certain email is no longer visible, the entire process it was spawned from may stall until a new email arrives. Whispr mitigates this by allowing Drivers or the Responsible actors in a RACI/DACI decision project to assign clear outcomes and deadlines. The ability to gently nag laggards in a team using these deadlines enables them to become more accountable to the organization and more productive (internally we nicknamed this the “spouse feature”). Ask yourself this question: “ Have you ever had two or more people forget about an email thread until one of the group stumbles upon the thread and re-kindles the discussion? We have. It happens all the time. Whispr mitigates this.

While you are working, Whispr is keeping focus for you on upcoming deliverables and constantly creating a source of knowledge upon which to base decisions.

Do you have tips on productivity based on using RACI or DACI? Please send them along to share with the team at info@whis.pr.

So as a Java developer I often run Apache Tomcat on my Mac laptop, and Tomcat needs to bind to port 1099.  I also have Drobo Dashboard, which will often start on boot, and even when its killed, sometimes it leaves a rmiregistry running on port 1099, thus blocking Tomcat.

To find out what the pid of this rmiregistry is, you can open a terminal, and type:

sudo lsof -i :1099

After entering your password, lsof gives you the process details.

If you want to find and kill the process in one command, try this:

sudo lsof -i :1099 | awk 'NR==2 {print $2}' | xargs kill

Hopefully this is useful to someone else.

jalapeno-cran

The holidays are here, and like it or not, Cranberry sauce is part of many Christmas dinners.  I grew up being served this gelatinous goop out of a can, and as a result absolutely hated cranberry sauce.  Years later, I have come up with a recipe that does not suck!  Here it is, enjoy it:

Ingredients (yields around 900ml)

  • 2 340g bags of fresh cranberries, rinsed and drained.
  • 1.5 cups of regular fine sugar (or castor sugar if you have that)
  • 0.25 cups of maple syrup
  • 1 Jalapeño, seeded and sliced thinly
  • Zest of one Meyer Lemon, or a normal Lemon or Lime if that’s what you have.
  • Juice of half of the lemon/lime above (or if you have preserved lemons, chop up a quarter of one of them).
  • Pinch of salt

Instructions

Put a sauce pan onto the stove at about half heat (probably lower on gas, use your head here).  Ideally, there is a good amount of room in the pan so with all of the ingredients in it you have about half the pot left to protect from splatters.

Place all the ingredients in the pan and stir frequently.  Cook until all of the berries are popped, helping them along with the back of your wooden spoon.

At this point, you have a choice to make.  You can either just take the cranberry sauce out, let it cool and eat it, or you can use an immersion blender to make a smoother consistency.  Its a matter of personal taste.

Oh… and 2 tbsps of this stuff put into your gravy really finishes it off nice.

 

 

I’ve been meaning to write this up for a little bit, so here goes. Services like Skype are really pretty great, but my experience over the past year of using it as a business phone have been a little bit disappointing.

Most of the time, I am on calls using Skype-Out because either I have to dial into a teleconference line supplied to me by a customer, or I am dialing someone’s regular phone line. Sometimes it is frustrating for the person on the other side because of audio quality, lag…whatever. Many times it seems that no matter how big my internet connection is (currently 70/30), I still have these problems.

What I did to solve this in a cost efficient manner was to purchase a SIP desk phone similar to what large companies are deploying. A decent model with a speakerphone costs less that $100. The one I opted for was the Aastra 6730i. Its a basic phone that plugs right into an ethernet port, so unlike softphone solutions, I don’t need to tie up my computer. In order to actually get a phone number setup for it, I count on voip.ms. Voip.ms seems to be the gold standard in wholesale/retail SIP service. It is all self service, and a number costs only $1.99 a month plus 0.0149 cents a minute all across North America. For a bit extra, you can even get a toll-free number…and you can direct any number of numbers (they are called DIDs) to your SIP account. Heck…you can even setup an IVR easily if that is your game.

Once you get the phone, you can purchase good headsets for it from Plantronics and other providers…even wireless ones like the one I just ordered, the Plantronics CS510.

When you get the phone, you just plug it in and navigate to it’s onboard webserver. On there, you can configure it with settings from Voip.ms.  Here is a shot of what it looks like, but Voip.ms has instructions on their website as well.

 

Enjoy your SIP!

Java, once my mistress, has been ignored while I callously hung out with her rivals PHP, JavaScript and ActionScript. One thing is for sure, Java…she is something special.

So, I decided to rekindle our flame…and wrote a simple web server. It felt so right.

I wrote a very, very, very simple web server that is multi-threaded and supports HTTP 1.1 keep-alive to a certain degree and Chunked transfer encoding. I didn’t see many samples of this online, so here you go:

My httpd project on Github.