Some background to China

Excellent history of China

The Ming Empire without its "vassal state...
Image via Wikipedia

Recently read Chinamerica and reviewed here.

I was looking for a basic history book to provide some insight into modern China.

Just read Patricia Buckley Ebrey’s ‘Cambridge Illustrated History – China’ (2nd Edition).  Would recommend this to anyone looking for an outline history.  Not that one reading of 360 odd pages makes for an expert on China.  But it certainly helps in trying to understand some of the background to what is modern China.

Reminds me of how little I learned about China during my school days.  And how we were programmed to measure China’s progress in terms of how it imitated Western culture.  Wrong approach.

Interesting to walk through the different dynasties – their rise and fall (Tang, Song, Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, Qing) – through to Mao and modern China.

Now looking forward to reading ‘When China Rules the World’ – having read the background history.

 

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Do I need checklists?

Checklists have their place for everyone. It is not always sufficient to rely on your memory.

Cover of "The Checklist Manifesto: How to...
Cover via Amazon

Just read Atul Gawande‘s ‘The Checklist Manifesto – how to get things right’. Thanks to Brian Dunnion for suggesting reading the book.

The answer is a resounding – YES.  I do need checklists.  And the author would suggest we all need checklists.

I found the book particularly interesting in that he references examples in which I have some direct experience: healthcare, construction/ engineering and finance/accounting.  The other key area referenced is air travel (use of checklists by pilots).

Gawande is a surgeon who has had direct involvement in development and implementation of checklists in theatres – to be used by the surgery teams.  Much of his learning about what makes for a good checklist is centered on what he learned from Daniel Boorman of Boeing – detailed in a fascinating chapter ‘The Checklist Factory’.  He provides lots of detail on the background to a checklist he developed in working with the World Health Organisation (‘WHO’).  And he deals with the change management challenges in seeking to have the same adopted across the globe.

In discussing the application of checklists Gawande introduces a method of categorising problems between Simple, Complicated and Complex (Brenda Zimmerman and Sholom Glouberman). In demonstrating the application of checklists in complex areas he provides a number of examples from the construction industry in the US.

In closing Gawande provides some of the detail re the Hudson river landing by US Airways 1549 in January 2009. Gawande profiles Sullenberger and Skiles as heroes – because they followed process and followed checklists e.g. in spite of their vast experience as two pilots they had gone through all the proper checklists before taking off, they did follow the checklists when the birds struck.

And finally he provides an example of how he believes checklists have benefited his patients in surgery in the last number of years.

All of us bring our experience, our training and our skills to the jobs we do.  But when we are distracted, working under pressure, faced with unexpected happenings, effective, relevant checklists can make the difference between success and failure.

 

 

 

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Does the end user device matter?

Why not let the end user slect the preferred device in the corporate environment?

Interesting to read of Google’s launch of the ChromeBook.

As corporates migrate their applications to the Cloud can they move away from providing corporate desktops or laptops to the end user?  Provision of these devices and their support is a major corporate expense.  Could we move to a position whereby ‘the expectation is that if you want to work for us you need to manage your own connectivity to the Internet‘?

This position has to major attractions:

  • end users can use whatever device they want to use
  • corporates avoid the cost of supply and maintenance of a fleet of end user devices
  • the end of the ens user support desk as we know it

Many end users are completely frustrated by corporate guidlenes restricting how they can use their device, which applications they can download and install, the fact that their work PC is way below the spec of their home PC fleet.  In many cases we operate Lowest Common Denomionator type thinking – the advanced user is restricted to that the LCD can use.

Corporates struggle to manage end users and struggle to meet their expectations.  And there is a vast range of devices: PCs, laptops, notebooks, phones.

Much of the technology is there to enable this move.  Many of the corporate apps (or the apps required to do your job) can be provided via the cloud.  There are many relevant and effective security solutions.

Who would support end users in this scenario? A combination of the end user, the cloud providers and, to some limited extent, the corporate. It requires a mind set change – it becomes the end user’s responsibility to be able to connect to various applications (whatever device she/he chooses to use).  This drives a different experience for the end users, the corporate and the cloud provider.  But in the long run it will result in corporates investing more time in delivering solutions and less time in providing ‘free’ support.  If you require a car to do your job it is your responsibility to have a car, maintain the car and use it safely for work.  Why not the same with end user computing?  Fleets of company cars are the not the only model.

 

 

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