Monthly Archives: November 2013

Unexpected Pleasures

Obligations, have-tos, to-dos, endless tasks mounded here and there in front of us until the end of time.  Or so it often appears.  Why look up and out when only these nagging things are there to confront us?  Why look about when more might present themselves and insist on being addressed?

Well, serendipitous things can happen if you look up and look about and you can miss them if you are mired in the mundane.  I had two quite serendipitous experiences last week and I am still smiling in remembering each.  Dreary and rainy days, both.  Bleh.

Walking out the back door from work at the end of one day with a colleague, we were met by the beautiful sight of a perfect and complete rainbow.  The north side ending picturesquely behind trees decked out in their finest fall colors and the other blocked by the industrial building behind ours.  The entire arc completely visible, which is even more rare than a rainbow itself and therefore to be savored.

public domain rainbow image

public domain rainbow image

My mom always took particular delight in rainbows, so I couldn’t help but think she had a hand in this gift from nature as I drove home and watched it fade.  Quite pleasing and smile inducing, still.

Then on a different day, running errands at the store, I rounded the corner into the dish soap aisle and saw someone I know who I haven’t seen for almost a year.  She had her back to me, but I was instantly both slightly disoriented to see her and certain that it was her.  (Just to add to the serendipity, when I went to put away the dish soap later at home, it turned out that I still had an unopened bottle in the cupboard so if I hadn’t imagined that I was in need I would not have even been in that aisle.)

We stood in that aisle and caught up for almost an hour, moving over for various other shoppers who were focused on their mission.  It was so good to see her and such happenstance it gave me a nice boost.

Neither of these little moments would have been noted if I hadn’t been looking up and around, aware of my surroundings.  I’m so glad that I was.

© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Power of the Right Word

We learn to speak without understanding the power of language.  We just know that we start to associate specific combinations of sounds to the result that we want – combining sounds to produce ‘juice’ gets us a sweet, cold beverage that slakes our thirst.  So we say it again when our mouth is dry and we need liquid.  Other sound combinations get results too – uttering ‘mommy’ or ‘daddy’ gets lots of wonderful attention, hugs and kisses.  Score!


Somewhere along the line we experience the pain of words too.  A casually repeated word like ‘dummy’ gains a lecture about not hurting others perhaps.  But do we really understand the power of words yet?


Learning that certain words have specific associations to a place – the playground has looser rules than the classroom – teaches us a level of appropriateness, but not necessarily understanding.  We have just enough to know how to be hurtful without knowing why we might be hurtful.


I love words – their sound, combining them for just the right effect – I love to read them and to write them.  I want to understand them, not just use them.  When I am trying to make a point with people who don’t have the same intense relationship to words I like to use an example.  If you need a group to listen you can say different things – examples run from ‘Be quiet’ to ‘Shut up’.  These are essentially the same command but they have very different connotations for the listeners.  If you would like to show authority, but not disrespect toward the group, then your option is clearly ‘be quiet’, ‘quiet, please’ or something along that line.


I know that I cannot expect others to love words as I do.  But this example usually helps to gain understanding.  In English, we have many options to say something, to get our point across – all valid – which makes choosing the right option for the circumstance an important step.  What do we intend to convey?  Who is our audience?  What is important within the message that is also important to the audience?


There is so much that should go into word choice, too much for one blog post.  I need a reminder now and then that words have alternate meanings, even regional meanings sometimes, and that the point of combining sounds into words and words into sentences and paragraphs is to communicate.  Communicating isn’t just about what I want to say, but about how the person or group who will receive the message will perceive it.  The right word has great power, and the wrong word – well, there is usually a long list of trending social media topics about the famous folks who chose the wrong word at the wrong time.


© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

The Business and IT Convergence

The differences between the way that business sees an issue, a system and the way that IT (or IS) sees the same issue or system is usually termed a divide.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  We are seeing two sides of the same coin, and the coin needs both sides.


I have to admit, I never much thought about this intersect; I am a user of the systems that IT finds, builds and supports.  Sometimes those systems drive me mad because they don’t do what I expect them to do.  IT should fix them, fix them now because I can’t complete my tasks.  But then, as I was waiting for a diagnosis, I started to ask why and how and other questions.  I changed from being irritated to curious.  And then I was the business owner for the order process in an SAP conversion.


photo credit: Wikipedia, Makati intersection

photo credit: Wikipedia, Makati intersection

Like most intersections, we don’t much think about them – they just are and we drive through noting only what we think pertains to us.  Time after time.  We tsk, tsk at the dysfunction that we see exists there, but it isn’t our place to repair it because we don’t own it.  The thing with an intersect is that there is shared ownership, though.


For any user to be successful with a system there is a how and a why within the procedure.  The ‘how’ is the way that the system works and owned by IT.  The ‘why’ is the business need for the system and owned by business.  A successful intersection require collaboration and communication between business and IT from the moment that a system solution is identified.


Looked at a different way, IT owns the system itself and business owns the content, the data.  If the data isn’t clean, the system won’t work as intended.  The system will be termed as broken.


Creating powerful collaboration and communication between IT and business means a smoother intersection.  Defining ownership at the start is the key; it doesn’t prevent the system from acting up, but it sure cuts down on the acrimony.


How do IT and business get along in your office?


© 2013 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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