In a DevOps world, the boundaries between development and operations largely fade away into a single, continuously delivering system. Within a system like this, retrospectives become increasingly important to understand what is working and where improvement is needed. Many of us are familiar with “sprint retrospectives” which tend to focus on a given cycle but an operational retrospective has a slightly different scope. Failure in a continuously delivering environment will eventually occur so how we learn from each of these events can convert nearly any down moment into powerful learning and improvement opportunity. A good operational retrospective is key. Tip 1 – Be on the watch for bias in the analysis. Hindsight bias, outcome bias, behavior bias all can skew the view of what really happened. A quick overview of the types of human bias can be quite revealing: Tip 2 – Don’t wait. Rally around the problem right away. With each hour that elapses, our view of what may have happened becomes a bit hazy. Time is of the essence to dive to the root cause of the problem. Creating a clear timeline of events is critical to solve the real problem. Tip 3 – Avoid blame. It’s way too easy to simply blame someone. Finger pointing will not solve the problem and help in the future. Sure, someone may have been a major contributor to an issues but human error is NEVER the end of the research, it is the beginning. What caused the human error is what needs to be discovered to solve the real issue. Tip 4 – Remediation solutions should be considered “experiments”, not final solutions until proven. Probe, sense, and respond to the experiment to test the solution. Set SMART expectations to measure success (in this case “m” is measurable).
On Wednesday, July 15, 2015, the Marine Business Unit worked offsite at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Camp Pendleton. The Air Station Commanding Officer, Colonel Chip Killmeier, and the Marine Aircraft Group 39 (MAG 39) Commanding Officer, Colonel Mike Borgschulte, agreed to host and support the visit in order to foster a strong working relationship between the M-SHARP team and the Marines on the flight line whom they support. The work day began in the morning with iteration planning and a town-hall-type discussion on the Employee Satisfaction Survey (ESS). After lunch, the team received a tour from MCAS personnel that covered a demonstration from Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Marines as well as briefs from Flight Clearance, Weather Forecasting, Ground Electronics Maintenance, and Air Traffic Control Radar Section personnel. The tour included a trip into the control tower to see how aircraft are controlled on and around the Air Station. Next the team was provided with a static display of a UH-1Y Huey and an AH-1Z Cobra from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 – “the Stingers”. M-SHARP team members enjoyed hands-on experience with the aircraft and asked the pilots numerous questions. After the static display, the team was escorted into the squadron spaces, where they were able to experience an active Squadron Ready Room and the Operations Department. The team was able to interact with Operations Marines and asked them numerous questions about their use of M-SHARP for flight planning and logging procedures. The day culminated with a mini Marine Users Group (MUG) discussion involving Operations representatives from the MAG, and every squadron within the MAG, together with project leadership. The dialog was very informative and engaging for all involved. Overall, the team had a great flight line experience and came away with a greater understanding of and appreciation for the individual Marines and Aviation Communities whom we support with M-SHARP and M-ADW. It was an outstanding team-building exercise and everyone learned a great deal. We hope to make this an annual event for the M-SHARP team in the future.
Close Race for MSC

Close Race for MSC

It was starting to look like a close race for first place between Stephen Lind and Javier Rosales this past week (Javier was less than 40k steps behind Stephen on Monday) but it looks like Stephen isn’t going to give up the title that easily who has now widened the gap by 51k steps which is about 10 miles.  I bumped into Javier while walking back from lunch yesterday who said that he was planning to do as much work as possible on his laptop while walking the treadmill over the next few days.  But unless he pulls off a minor miracle over the next 40 hours, our probable winner this year will be Stephen Lind who represents the NGB DRRS team in Northern California.  The challenge ends at midnight local time, tomorrow, 8/21/15 and official winners will be announced next Monday.

It’s been an exciting challenge this year with many competitors working hard to step-it-up for two great causes.  In addition to the $100 match, we’re planning to award all participants who raise at least $100 for charity to keep their shiny new Apple Watches, Microsoft Bands and Fitbits plus some great prizes for several categories.  Please help the remaining few employees and fellow team members make it to their $100 mark by pledging today.

Last week on August 11, our National Guard Bureau (NBG) staff from all regions gathered at NGB HQ in Washington DC to meet with the NGB J359 Readiness Division.  We presented our latest NGB Dashboard Proof Of Concept to LTC Daniel C. McCarroll who is the represents the Chief, Global Force Management and Readiness Office.  He was very impressed and is working on bumping up our funding.  We also discussed possibly using the POC live at the next All-Hazards conference in New Orleans next March which could help turn this program into a program of record and long term contract.

On Wednesday evening, Obie Spratling hosted a great dinner and party at his house in Clinton, Maryland where I was able to talk with each of the MSC participants.  Stephen Lind shared his secret for staying in first place throughout the entire challenge:  He consistently walks at least an hour every morning before work, is active throughout the day and then walks another 90 minutes after work.  Pretty amazing discipline!  Good luck Stephen and don’t let up yet…

NGB MSC participants

NGB MSC participants

NGB MSC Participants (left to right): John Sobutka (Boston, MA), Chris Wollerman (San Diego, CA), Duane Johnson (Atlanta, GA), Michael Graves (Peoria, IL), Jose Castro (Austin, TX) and Stephen Lind (Sacramento, CA)

More photos from NGB Party Here

logo-nrre The FFC Business Unit/Navy Readiness Reporting Enterprise recently received its annual Contractor Performance Assessment Report (CPAR) for the DRRS-N contract for the period April 2014 to April 2015.  The results were, in a word, “Exceptional” with the rating in all competitive categories deemed exceptional.  The competitive areas are Quality, Schedule, Cost Control and Management.  In two other non-competitive categories, Utilization of Small Business and Regulatory Compliance, the rating was Satisfactory. The exceptional CPAR is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone in the FFC BU and other support services from the company that support the Business Unit.    There were numerous laudatory comments in the CPAR including this in the Schedule section “InnovaSystems has a mature process for ensuring timely delivery of software that continuously and reliably achieves a 95% on-time delivery rate. The reliability and repeatability of this process has provided significant value by allowing the Government Program Manager to confidently plan based on contractor schedule estimates. This is most notable when evaluated against an industry benchmark of less than 50% on-time delivery.” And this remark was under the Quality section “ISI excelled in the delivery of Enterprise Customer Support and Network Operations during this period. The Network Operations Team achieved an annual average operational availability in excess of 99.5%.” Although the CPAR is for the DRRS-N contract it applies not only to the DRRS-N project but to all the projects in the NRRE;  CNI/SPFII, DRRS-N, GFM NOS, NRRE-BI/NRRIF, NRRM and NTIMS which are all under the umbrella of the DRRS-N contract.  
It’s been a few months since we released our sprints to production but we’ve finally gone live with many new features and capabilities:
  • New Help System – we now have professional tutorial videos, context sensitive help and a new support web site to help new users learn all of the advanced features of the program. This will help us prepare our product launch to commercial customers this fall.  Simply click on the help ‘?’ icon in the upper right corner of any window to explore this extensive new system.
  • New Notification system for performance management module – helpful reminders are now automated to keep everyone on track with plans and deadlines.
  • Print features for performance management module and goals – for those who prefer to hold face-to-face agreements and appraisals without technology getting in the way, the new print features have some great looking reports that are formatted for optimal usage.
  • Mobile Web Optimization and extended features – many enhancements and fixes have been implemented to optimize the user experience on a wide variety of devices including Apple, Android, Windows phones and tablets. Most modal forms have been replaced!
  • Today Task filter and UI updates – manage and find all of your tasks and reminders easily with this handy new set of features.
INSPIRE! new help system

INSPIRE! new help system

Over the past 2 weeks, we have trained many new users outside of Innova using the new 3.3 version including all employees under the Chief Administration (and Financial) Officer (CAO) at the Ken Blanchard Companies and all 6th, 7th and 8th grade students in the iDream program at Joan MacQueen Middle School (JMMS) in Alpine, CA. The Blanchard training goal was to launch a new pilot for all employees under the CAO to implement a full performance cycle for this fall’s goals at Ken Blanchard Companies.  The results from this important pilot will solidify our partnership agreement and help us take the next steps in marketing to Blanchard clients. The JMMS training was to provide a crash course for over 120 students to improve their organization and productivity skills by tracking all homework, exams and projects in INSPIRE! instead of the classic binder reminders.  The goal of our superintendent is for all students in the Alpine district to use INSPIRE!  We will be in the classroom at JMMS every Friday teaching INSPIRE!, 7 Habits, technology, and a new music production class using iPads. INSPIRE! is also being implemented in a leadership program at the Classical Leadership Academy in San Marcos starting this week.  The curriculum is a performance goal based learning experience that uses classical leadership concepts from The Blanchard Institute’s, Situational Student Self Leadership® and INSPIRE!® performance intelligence software, that helps students learn through a blend of online lessons (Schoology® Learning Management System) and classroom activities as they apply the leadership and time management concepts to real academic and personal goals. The Classical Leadership Academy experience will lay the foundation for a life of influencing and leading others toward academic and personal excellence. Finally, we are now ready to start the hiring and interviewing process for a commercial and education marketing lead to help us with INSPIRE! commercialization and business development.  We are looking for someone with a marketing background with at least 5 years of experience in the talent management and HR software tools industry.  If you have any referrals, please contact recruiting.
drrs The DRRS-S team will start a new round of JITC testing on 14 September 2015. The focus will be on data comparisons with GSORTS/DRRS-N/DRRS-A/DRRS-MC in the areas of mission and resource data. In addition, the team will be performing another round of COOP exercises with a focused intent on COGNOS failover for all user reports. The team has worked hard these last few weeks trying to get everything completed in time for test. With luck, everything will go well and the test will conclude on 31 October 2015. We expect to hear final results in late November. — Jason Bergstrom
We’ve had a number of requests from people would like professionally administered Agile Alliance or Scrum Alliance training over the past several months. To meet these requests, we are excited to have secured the services of Operational Innovations who specializes in Agile/Scrum training along with Program and Project Management consulting. Alicia McLain will be working closely with the Process Group and the ASG to setup a series of short interviews across the organization to better gauge our current knowledge of Agile and the details of our process improvement efforts to deliver customized training for InnovaSystems. Additionally, Operational Innovations will directly observe some of our team meetings to see how we really operate to further hone the training content to meet our needs. The interviews and team observations conducted in September are driving towards an official class to be offered to approximately 20 of our employees in early November. If you are interested in attending the training, please contact Kim Coleman or add a training request in InnovaConnect.
Welcome to InnovaNet 4.0 and my new CEO monthly blog site! We’re excited to bring our employee tools into the modern technology world. Employees’ most used functions including Timesheets, Leave Requests, Schedule Reports, Directory, Profile and our Communications Hub are now integrated into a central site that works from any device. Check out the ‘Welcome to InnovaNet 4.0’ and Quick Start Guide for more details.Our first 18 employees shown below probably remember doing timesheets, travel reports and WWPA’s by hand. In January of 1999, we hired Tom Nawrocki to create automated versions of these tools and he’s been developing our business automation software ever since. Several of our senior developers have come up through the ranks of junior programmer, mentored by Tom on InnovaNet. Our goal is to continue hiring interns and junior developers to train them on our tools and process in Company Solutions, then promote them to developer positions on our project teams.empJust as I wrote in my article The App that Started Innova, the code we write stays around much longer than we expect when we are programming it. I’m sure Tom never expected that his early timesheet code would still be around 16 years later and I’m sure he and his team members are very happy to finally put it to rest. The timesheet module is pretty intertwined with other parts of the system including our invoicing system, charge allocations, budgeting, customer status reporting and more which is why it took us so long to finally redesign it from the ground up. Cheers to Tom and the InnovaNet team for creating “The App that Supported Innova” for the past 16 years and launching an exciting new redesign to take us into the next decade. As far as what to expect in my monthly CEO blog, I intend to highlight some of my favorite news stories and blogs from our new Word Press site to keep our employees informed and connected each month. Feel free to provide comments on things you’d like to me to discuss in the coming months. This month, be sure to check out the following: And checkout the Full version of Innova Pulse, filter on the Business Units or Employee Spotlight selection and please ‘Like’ or comment on any stories that were interesting or helpful to you. I’m sure the authors would appreciate knowing that there are employees like you reading their work and will be motivated to continue providing more articles in the future.