I wish I had Johann Sebastian Bach’s work ethic and mental fortitude. In his long, happy life, he composed more than 1,000 pieces of published music that even now audiences consider thoughtful, sophisticated, and engaging.

Meanwhile, even now I get writer’s block thinking about a simple blog post or column to my peers.

Hello. I’m Greg Mader, KJR’s new proprietor. I am grateful for your trust and Bob’s kind words last week introducing me. Let me introduce myself with some words about how I expect KJR to evolve. A few things might change – I’m not going to try to be Bob #2. But Bob and I have similar philosophies about IT, business leadership, and the other topics he has written about over the years.

Also, he has agreed to stay involved – this will be a collaboration as well as a hand-off.

So let’s talk about KJR’s future and direction. There are a few characteristics that I think have made KJR what it is, and I’ll need your help in keeping us on track. What follows is my preliminary list of What-I-Think-Makes-KJR-What-It-Is.

Encouragement: This blog offers a lot of it to IT leaders.  Bob’s voice in the back of all of our heads is saying “You can do it!  This is a tough job, but others are depending on our wit and experience!”

Challenging conventional thinking: This blog also does that, particularly when it comes to buzz words and hype, and especially when it comes to balancing book smarts and street smarts.

No free pass: No business or productivity technology trend gets one here. We don’t substitute the tool for its outcome, and we don’t fall into the pundit’s prodigious proclamation trap.  We are appropriately skeptical.

Professionalism: This blog expects us to do a bit of reading and be life-long learners. It’s aimed at a community of Professionals (yes, with a capital “P”). As Professionals we know, for example, what a swim lane process map is, and, correctly, know to call it a “Rummler-Brache diagram.” We give credit where it’s due, but we also agree that knowing how to use swim lane diagrams to help explain a process to somebody, matters more.

KJR helps us build our skills and professionalism.  It encourages us to treat our jobs as a Profession (more on this in an upcoming column or two), recognizing that Professionals have a fundamentally different role in society.  People depend on us, and we earn their trust. 

Jargon in its place. Some jargon starts life as a shared shorthand way to refer to something. We will, for example, unapologetically refer to a data structure that conforms to the rules of normalization – a more efficient way to communicate than enumerating normalization’s 13 rules.

If, that is, we’re speaking to an IT Professional who ought to know what we’re referring to.

But then there’s the other jargon – a meaningless word salad whose purpose is to impress rather than inform. One of Bob’s rules is, for example, to never use the phrase “Best Practice.” As its semantic accuracy would depend on someone having enumerated, and then ranked, all applicable practices, calling a practice “best” is little more than pointless puffery.

Community. This blog builds it. Being a Professional can be lonely, even if you are doing everything right.  More importantly, we grow by being challenged by our peers, and learning from each other.  This is an area I would like to expand on further, with your help.  I believe we need this sense of community more than ever.

So, I hope to live up to the high bar set by Bob, and you as a member of the KJR community, in all of these principles.

Greg’s Parking Lot

As I said, I have no intention of trying to become “Bob #2.” There will be some things I’ll want to try. Recognizing that it’s easier to add items to an Agile backlog than it is to clear them out, I’ll manage my ambitions in a Parking Lot (see? No buzzwords!) and ask for your help in fleshing them out. My starting list:

  1. Podcast
  2. Point/Counterpoint with Bob.
  3. KJR in 3D! An event, one I promise it won’t be in my home town in North Dakota in January. Or Bob’s home town (Minneapolis) in January. If it’s in January we’ll keep you warm.
  4. Growing our community. I see lots of opportunity here, starting with you telling your friends and colleagues about what we are doing together.

Next week: We’ll get started on a topic I spend way too much time on—negotiating software license renewals.

Dear Member of the Keep the Joint Running Community

I’m delighted to introduce my good friend, colleague, and the new proprietor of Keep the Joint Running, Greg Mader.

Greg Mader is the President and Founder of Open Source Integrators (OSI), an ERP systems implementer and integrator.

Well, not exactly. Under Greg’s guidance, OSI’s teams don’t think of their job as implementing ERP Suites or any other type of software. They figure they’re helping clients achieve intentional business change.

Greg insists KJR has had something to do with this. I’m happy to take credit where I can find it.

In my 28 years of publishing KJR, the best compliments it’s received were that its advice has been pragmatic, real-world, and concrete.

Which is a big reason I’m delighted to introduce you to Greg – he’s an excellent person to continue this tradition. At OSI his clients range from Fortune 50, publicly traded companies, to small, multigenerational family businesses. And he lives where real stuff happens, in his multiple roles – as leader of a successful organization, consulting “guidance counselor” for his clients’ executive suite teams, and, prior to that, having done the day-to-day work of making technology-enabled change happen in other real-world organizations.

His career spans more than 25 years and his credentials give me a bad case of Imposter Syndrome, seeing as how they include experience in business, operations, manufacturing, and leadership, along with two master’s degrees.

Not to mention 21 years in the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, and Active Duty, where he retired at the rank of Major, serving in several deployments.

Most important, he grew up on the least successful farming operation in North Dakota, was involved in FFA and won a dairy cow weight guessing competition, and at one point was a certified septic system installer in South Dakota.

I’m not sure how Greg’s septic system installation credentials will help shape his approach to KJR, but I’m sure he’s up to the challenge.

Today, Greg lives happily in Arizona, on a small hobby farm with his wife and daughters. During the winter months he lords Arizona’s balmy climate to me as I shiver in my Minnesota misery. During the summer months we reverse our climatological one-ups-personship.

Please welcome Greg to the community, or, more accurately, to his new role in the community. As you can see he brings a lot to the party. I think you’ll like KJR’s future with him at the helm.

– Bob