IT Management

Getting smarter is a goal for all of us. This year, in addition to traveling to SHARE and attending regional user groups and IBM events, I also plan to get smarter “virtually.” Not just smarter on mainframe, the cloud, or other IT topics and trends, but on business concepts, personal advancement, and other areas. 

My research on what’s out there at a good price ($0.00 is my desired price) and available from the convenience of my favorite comfy chair, uncovered some excellent sources of knowledge expansion. 

TED.com delivers on its promise of “riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world.” I recently watched “Shawn Achor: The happy secret to better work” and picked up some good ideas on how to better motivate myself and my team. 

SlideShare.net is a great information source for PowerPoint enthusiasts or to get some ideas for your next presentation. You can post one of your own particularly good ones; I noticed the White House, UNICEF, and Gartner Group did, so why not join them?

SmartEnterpriseExchange.com provides “Peer Strategies & Resources for IT Executives” across the IT spectrum. The articles are augmented by “Live Exchange” events, which bring together thought leaders for meaningful discussions on issues and trends. Don’t miss their mainframe-related content, which has been appearing fairly regularly this year.

BigThink.com is a “knowledge forum” with the premise that success in the future is about knowing the ideas that allow you to manage and master this universe of information. Big Think’s videos and e-seminars reminded me of expert guest lecturers at schools and industry events. Even short entries such as “Life's Messy. Train Your Brain to Adapt” provide great food for thought for self-improvement. If you’re willing to pay a few bucks, check out their joint venture, The Floating University, which is a global, all-star, online lecturer community with some amazing videos from the top minds in a wide variety of fields and disciplines.

McKinsey Quarterly provides free access to some excellent articles on how to improve workplace efficiency and morale (not mutually exclusive anymore, I’m told), and other areas of your work life. I recently read a piece on the McKinsey Quarterly site titled “How leaders kill meaning at work” and got some excellent advice on how to recognize and avoid some very common traps that IT executives fall into, which can impact their teams in a negative way. In reading this article, I realized I’ve been guilty of these kinds of mistakes and plan to act on the suggestions.  

Oh, and as for mainframe knowledge expansion? The May Mainframe Madness virtual trade show (ca.com/mmm) is back this year. In its fourth year (and third as a virtual trade show), the free event is one of the largest of its kind, running every weekday in May (and on-demand on weekends) as a mainframe education, networking, and information exchange event. The entire show goes on-demand in June but the interactivity and networking are maximized in May, so come early if you can.

SHARE Live! is the virtual arm of the twice yearly SHARE conference and offers a way to experience SHARE even if you can’t make it in person. As with SHARE, SHARE Live! does have a fee associated with it but anyone who has experienced SHARE can tell you it’s a great source of knowledge and mainframe networking.

I’ve also noticed some excellent new video content on MainframeZone.com and I see that DestinationZ.org is ramping up content and interactivity, so don’t forget them as additional information resources.

I hope you get a chance to check out some or all of these knowledge expansion sources over the upcoming months and maybe you’ll like a few of them enough to bookmark them or sign up for their regular updates. I know I’ve learned a lot already and am implementing some of the ideas and strategies.

If you do try any of the suggestions here (or have any I should check out), please send me a note on your own knowledge expansion adventures, as I’d like to learn from your experiences as well.