Ousted and Onward

So a gigantic data breach causes another high level executive (in fact, some say the highest level) to get ousted from Target.

I’m not saying that it isn’t the adequate response. I don’t care about that. I also don’t care what his parachute color was. He did his job, he lost it, and he’s probably going to have a hard time finding another job.

What I do care about is moving onward.

Onward is an interesting word for me, as it has some special meaning. If you dare go back three years (almost exactly), you’ll see why with this post.

In that spirit, there’s my other post about JC Penney.

Ron Johnson. Onward. Target. You do the math.

I’m not on the board. I’m not a stockholder. I have no connection with Target whatsoever. But if I could, I’d yell at them to take back Ron Johnson, but this time as CEO. He was hired away from Target long ago to start Apple Retail. He left because he wouldn’t be the CEO of Apple – at least as far as can be assumed. He went on to JC Penney where he was fired because JC Penney had no idea what he was trying to do. JC Penney was (and is) stuck in their old mindset and don’t want to alienate their current customer base, even though their future customer base would be far more valuable. Idiots.

Who knows if Ron even wants a job. But I will tell you this. When at Apple, he provided a great amount of motivation and vision. He made retail feel like Apple employees. And, with a gigantic retailer where you want to make sure that your employees actually give a shit, that’s huge.

Odds of it happening? Probably slim.

As a Target shopper, that’s sad.


Round Three of Brew. The Final Chapter?

Well then.

Somedays I wish I didn’t love my job, and also had a half million or so to spare.

For Sale By Owner. Asking Price is $575,000.00 Turn key. Including The Top Hop! You will be the only distributor for Bohemia Top Hop CZ, www.hop.cz Czech Saaz and exclusive Saaz SPECIAL in North America. All office furniture, farm equipment, 2 John Deere Tractors. 1 is a 4210 and all implements ($20k) And much, much more! This is selling everything without a Realtor! If not sold by June 1st, it will be listed with a Realtor, and this will be listed property only. If you have ANY interest, please contact us before June 1st so we will put you on an exclusion list before listing it. If growing hops in not your thing, but sustainable agriculture is, or you are not interested in a “Turn Key” Hops operation, (Just interested in the house) we will be happy to negotiate something with you. CHEERS!

For those not familiar with the property, It is 4.5 acres with a 3,961 finished sq. ft home, Custom built by Terry Bergeron (This was HIS house) 5 bedroom, 3 – 1/2 bath, His & hers offices with private entrance, large wrap around deck looking over in-ground swimming pool, Hot tub, sauna, master bath has whirlpool bath, large kitchen w/ new ss appliances, Projection movie theater with Surround Sound on lower level. Exercise room with equipment, 23×24 finished attached garage, 40X50 detached with 25×40 heated section work shop / hops drying room. Unheated has 14′ ceiling with 12′ door. Home built in 1993. New roof in 2008.

Image courtesy of Top Hop Facebook page
Image courtesy of Top Hop Facebook page
Image courtesy of Top Hop Facebook page
Image courtesy of Top Hop Facebook page


Plus, a nice write up over at Growler Mag: http://growlermag.com/wanna-buy-a-hopyard-hippity-hops-is-on-the-block/

Wow. Now, I’d be happy just with the house and the land, but the fact that it’s set up for hops? Huge bonus.

Then again, I also know barely anything about growing hops. Our first rhizomes are going in the ground very shortly, and the more I read, the more I understand that I don’t understand.

But it isn’t just about the hops. To me, it’s an opportunity to build  my co-brew idea, with the added benefit of fresh hops and physical space. I’d want to spend more money on the property though. Build those outbuildings to be home brew spaces with temperature controlled storage. All rentable to those who want to brew there. It’d be a great place for events, workshops, and everything I wrote about two posts ago.

Downside? It’s far enough outside of the Twin Cities to be…well…outside of the Twin Cities. At somewhere between 30-45 minutes away, it isn’t far, but it’s still a trip. The whole idea behind the co-brew space was to make it a convenient place for folks to brew. But is the trade-off worth it?

Plus, there’s that whole “exclusive Saaz hops”. But, even at $25/lb for whole leaf hops, and producing 800lbs, that’s only $20,000 for a whole lot of work. Although, being local and close to my favorite home-brew shop of Northern Brewer, I’m sure there could be some nice business opportunities, custom recipes and exclusive hop offerings.

Now, if someone wants to give me $1,000,000 for a fun little experiment, I might think about it.

For now though, it’s time to Get Back to Work.

Round Two of Brewing Reviewing

Ok, so as long as we’re talking about beer, I’ve got a few more thoughts.

First, someone please make a better home brewing app. In fact, Norther Brewer, you do it.

I’ve tried a few, and the best I can find is called iBrewMaster 2. One of the reasons I like it is because I buy all my kits (yes, I’m still a kit-using panzy) from Northern Brewer, and they preload 90% of the recipes. Smart move by Northern to do so – assuming they know about it.

I also like it because I just input my starting and ending Brix and it does the math for me. It’s a good place to take notes, and the push notifications that remind me to do something are nice as well.

But holy crap is it ugly.



It has an advantage at being wonderfully convenient for those of us who buy from Northern all the time.

Now how could it be more useful?  For one, maybe hie a designer who understands UX. That’d be a start. But more realistically, Northern has a huge opportunity here. Every time I brew, I use this app. I also use my iPad to have the PDFs provided by Northern for Yeast starters (even though I’ve done it a handful, I still prefer to have the instructions handy. It’d be nice to have more of those things readily available.

It’d also be a great place to revive the old BrewingTV content that is just sitting dormant and rarely updated.

Plus, for the more adventurous who want to do their own recipes, let them build it in the app, and magically create a shopping list for the things they need to buy. More magical would be for it to have the home made kit “ready for pickup” after I create the list and check out via the app.

And just how could I check out from the app you say? Well, link it to the northernbrewing.com account I have where I’ve stored my credit card info  – happy to type in my password and, you know, my CVV or something. But in reality, I’m happy to log in to the app with that same account.

Why would I do that?

Well because if I use the same account, I want Northern to expand their already awesome email campaigns and target me more appropriately. For example, I’m a Belgian guy. Sure I may be German and English, but Belgians are my beers. I am also kind of an email whore and am on my phone all the time. Northern sends out very good deals through their email campaigns, and they got me to buy something I didn’t need once. It was a Belgian ale kit. Now I’m sure it’s not the last time, but it was indeed the first time. Sending me a link to a limited edition Belgian kit is pretty much an easy way to get me to cough up money.

Naturally, Northern is already trying to gather all my sales info from my online and in store purchases anyway and I’m totally fine with that. But wouldn’t it also be nice to cross reference what I purchase against what I’m brewing? How many batches did I buy elsewhere? Did you notice I made the jump to all-grain? Did I buy that gear upgrade from you? Do you want to start sending me emails about all-grain kits or things to make me brew better?

These all may seem like itty bitty things. But Northern already has their hooks in me (love their staff, their stores, their products and honestly their brand).  Harvard Business Review just had an article last issue about selling to those who are super consumers. Not just heavy users, but crazy passionate about the category (i.e. home brewing). We’re not talking the Pareto principle (80/20 rule), but 10% representing between 30-70% of sales.  The trick is that they say it’s about CPG – I’m not sure I’d categorize home brewing gear as classic CPG, but hey, why not.

Anyway, all of this (and the last post) set up the framework for building an ecosystem for home brew.

But, the next step of an ecosystem is to make sure there are beings to interact with. Even plants can’t live in a vacuum (ok, maybe they can, I’m no biologist). That’s where Northern can really push things forward. Not for them, not for the brand, but in reality for the cause and love of home brewing. The economics follow good behavior. Build a community of brewers. Build what all home brewing associations want to do, but never have the time or talent to execute it well. A place to share, compare, and get advice on how to do things. I want to be a good brewer. Right now, I have no idea if I am because I have no feedback loop (wife’s pregnant again….), and even those who drink my beer can’t always tell me how it could be better.

And yes, it always can be better. Better is what we all and always want. That’s why I wrote these last two posts. I may not know any better than anyone else, but maybe someone will agree and make it happen. I’d like to see that.

And to buy beer on Sundays.

Brewing Better Ideas

Crazy ideas. That’s what drives me.

And beer. Particularly brewing beer.

Oh and the intersection where retail meets technology.

And my family.

Ok a lot of things.

Hence this post.

Last Father’s Day, my wife retained her throne as “best wife”. She took me to a home brew class, and we bought a kit. It’s one of those things that you think is a cheap hobby, and then you realize how much better you could do it with XYZ. But it’s ok, because it’s “cheaper” than buying a case of craft beer. It was an awesome experience that did exactly what it was supposed to do – make me buy stuff.

And that’s where it started.

I could talk about brewing for awhile, but that’s not what this post is about. The only tip I have for you when it comes to brewing, is don’t try to tell your wife you sanitized the bottles when you know you forgot to….

At any rate, Northern Brewer is poised for an excellent opportunity for growth, and some fun ways to do so.

Right now, they have three locations: two in the Twin Cities, and one in Milwaukee. Not a bad start, but craft beer is exploding right now all across the US. Brewing at home is a nice little tag-along for those of us who want to be better beer snobs, too. Northern also has a pretty good web presence, and I imagine their distribution does well out of their Roseville warehouse.

My guess is that the next step by default is to move to new markets. Chicago, Kansas City, Portland, Seattle, somewhere in Vermont, Boulder, Austin, and then probably the big cities like New York and LA. Big cities are hard though, but I’ve got an idea about that in a bit. With the expanded location base, some math should be done about if having a higher level of inventory at the retail locations is worth it. Why? Because each one could also be a mini distribution center for the online sales.

Plus, now a days, everyone is getting on the “order online and pick up in store” bandwagon. And why not? Multichannel sales is the next step for retail. Just look at Apple – they changed with their most recent head of retail hire, but it went mostly unnoticed. Angela Ahrendts left being CEO of Burberry to be Vice President of Retail and Online Stores. Notice that last little bit? She’s in charge of every place you can buy an Apple product – online or in person. Time to make them work together.

And with this fun expansion, how on earth do you control the growth? For a “grocery” store, the technology part is always the most challenging. Which is why you make it a store-in-a-box. Build the standard network (yet independent of connectivity type), hardware and software, box it all up, and send an installer to get the work done. Make the systems cloud based (and remain PCI compliant, of course), so that the reliance on internal systems are minimal. iPads as POS systems work great. Why? Because if/when one breaks, I bet you’re close to an Apple Store that can swap it out, or have a spare ready. It’s still cheaper than a standard NCR or other traditional POS system, and expanding the number of terminals is drastically cheaper than the traditional model. You skip out on all the fun wired networking, gain flexibility on physical location choices, and the hardware spend is less.

But, don’t be stupid. You’re relying on good connectivity as the backbone, so don’t fuck it up. Build in back ups. There are perfect branch routers that have the ability to provide 3G/4G failover for when the main connectivity goes down. Cheap. Effective. And, a requirement if you ask me. Also? Backup power, a good app developer and a management platform that gives you the ability to remotely support your end users easily. Wait. Check that. An excellent app developer who is truly your partner.

Sidebar – I went to a great liquor store (apparently my world does revolve around beer) that has a ton of craft stuff, and a build your own six pack that is beyond compare. But, they lost their internet connection while I was shopping, so it was a cash-only moment. I can’t remember the last time I had cash on me. So, I put my bottles back and was quite bummed. The store lost my $20, along with at least three other customers that I saw walk out.

But beyond mere physical expansion to “craft beer cities”, there are some other ways to more fully develop the home brew culture.

I’m pretty lucky to work with some amazingly interesting folks, and it helps keep me thinking about solutions and how randomness sometimes aligns.

When I started brewing at home, my wife happily participated. She still does. But, my two little kids want to help too. And my basement isn’t exactly temperature controlled. And my sink isn’t the best for the massive amounts of use it gets on brew days. And time without disturbing it is hard in our small house.

What’s amazing is we live in a nice little suburb, in a decent house, not unlike most other home brewers.

But then there’s my brother. He started brewing years before I did, but he lives in what I assume is a typical New York City place. There isn’t the luxury of our yards, storage space, but they have their (far superior) mass transit.

So what the hell am I talking about? A recent trend in small business and the startup community is working cooperative spaces. CoCo is a great example of it in the Minneapolis area. They have hundreds of members – some are individuals, some are teams, but they get to use shared resources like internet, printing, physical office space, and the ever important power of collaboration through happenstance.

Now take that idea, apply it to brewing, and put it in a densely populated area. Imagine a warehouse where you could rent space to brew, and rent controlled storage. For you brewers out there, how sweet would it be to have a lager room? It’d also potentially lower the cost of entry for folks to try brewing. You have your brew session, move it into the fermenting room(s), come back for second fermenting, or take advantage of a shared bottling line. Northern could also have “emergency supplies” vended at the location, so if you’re an idiot like me and constantly forget priming sugar, then you pay a premium, but you can get the job done without a trip elsewhere. Plus, shared cleaning locations, high powered gas burners, shared wort chillers, kettles, and anything that you’d need. Sure you can bring your own, or you can rent what you’d like.

Lets not forget the community part, too. My wife and I chat with my brother about brewing, but it’d be awesome if we could talk to someone who was also brewing at the same time and get their ideas. And part of that community is the responsibility for not being idiots and cleaning the crap out of everything. It’d also provide an excellent venue for more workshops, home brew tasting competitions, and who knows what else.  Staff it daily from 10-7, and provide extended hours for those who want to pay for premium access.

There are probably a thousand ways to do it, but a cooperative home brew location would be something I’d love to see.

Oh, and one more thing. Why aren’t home brew carboys made out of brown glass? Light = bad, right?

Then again, Minnesotans can’t even buy beer on Sundays.


The Meow of the Mountain Lion

Originally posted at the day job: http://fndtn.com/2012/02/16/mountain-lions-first-meows/


Today, Apple announced that there would be a new version of the Mac operating system released in late summer of 2012.

For some, the update has said to be yawn worthy. We disagree.

That being said, no, it isn’t a gigantic jump like going from XP to Windows 7. What it does provide is an ample opportunity for something else. That something else is what may be dubbed as the greatest iPhone/iPad accessory ever: the Mac.

This release in particular is bringing more and more of iOS to our desktops and laptops. Some may think that statement means “less computer like”. To those doubters, I ask how much you love your iPhone or iPad. Mountain Lion’s release has several interesting features that are making us rethink what computers, and peripheral devices are supposed to do together.


This is probably the most talked about feature of Mountain Lion so far. It is truly a unified ecosystem of communication. If I start a conversation on my iPhone through iMessage, how great would it be to pick that same conversation up when I’m on my computer? Apple has even been so kind as to release a Beta version here: http://www.apple.com/macosx/mountain-lion/messages-beta/

AirPlay Mirroring

Projectors and VGA adapters no more. I’ll take an AppleTV please. With AirPlay Mirroring, a Mac running Mountain Lion can stream its desktop over wifi to a TV. Wirelessly. This is a huge opportunity to look at in the business world. Imagine if instead of paying a few thousand dollars for a new projector, you bought a nice television and an Apple TV. By now, there’s a good chance you have a TV mounted in your conference rooms as it is. For $99, it’s an easy bet –  especially when it’s this easy to set up.

Game Center

Sure, you may not think that it’s a big deal. But give it time to sink in. Again, Apple is providing another way to let the experience of a game translate to whatever device you are in front of. No nasty “Save” or “Load” (or heaven forbid “Export”). It just works. Games have never been seen as a big selling point for a Mac, but when the majority of apps for iPhone and iPad are games, there’s no reason not to port that across platforms.


This little gem is probably the most underrated of all the features. It didn’t even get a nod in the promo video (here). Gatekeeper lets the administrator of the computer add a layer of protection from malware. The security is such that you can allow only apps to be downloaded from the Mac App Store, or authorized developers based on their Developer ID. Don’t fret if your favorite apps aren’t in the App Store – all the big players (and plenty of the smaller ones) have fully qualified Developer IDs.

This is huge. Malware’s root cause is based on the idea that you get tricked into downloading and installing a “bad” application. By qualifying who made the application, it guarantees that Apple says the app is OK.

Mountain Lion is new, and improved Lion. It helps those who have iPhones and iPads immediately identify with how the Mac works, and helps round out a seamless experience between devices. Zack Morris’ phone was just a phone. The Commodore 64 was a computer. The internet brought things together, but Mountain Lion and iOS 5 continue to break down the barriers between devices, data, and sharing.

We’re excited to see what happens this summer, but for now, we’re busy downloading the Message Beta.


From a marketing standpoint, another thing that I noticed was that no where that I could find was it referred to as Mac OS X 10.8. Just an interesting observation.

Also, updates for China were specifically called out. Apple, and Tim Cook see China as the latest land of opportunity, and I expect them to do quite well (as long as they stop getting sued).

How the Nook Could Win

Ok, maybe not win, but I’ve got an idea to make the Nook better.

Barnes and Noble has the unique competitive advantage of having a physical book store to parallel its ebook platform.

I really enjoy taking the time to read a book. I am not exactly the fastest of readers (I’d argue that to be my wife), but I do manage to squeeze a dozen or so books in a year. I’d love to read more. The problem for me is portability. Having an iPad now, I find myself reading eBooks a little bit more. In fact, it was decidedly the only way that I would read the Steve Jobs biography.

That being said, I much prefer my hardcopy books. For example, one of my favorites (for content and personal meaning) is Onward. Part of my problem though, is that it is riddled with great inscriptions. I get uneasy reading it or leaving it out for our toddler to destroy. In that case, I double-dip and bought the ebook as well.

Herein lies the rub.

Barnes and Noble could (and should) allow for digital downloads for hardcopy purchases through their retail stores. Yes, I would pay an extra $5 for the digital copy of a physical book if it were an option. It’s just hard to pay another $14.99 or more.

But how on earth would that work technologically, you say? Well, simply printing redemption codes in the books would be horribly inefficient, as then I could just walk in, type the code in to wherever and not buy either. Lame. In that model, you could shrink-wrap each book, but again, that’s looking at it with old-school eyes.

Ideally, it would print out on my receipt a unique URL for any downloads that are available. Or (gasp) a true link in my emailed receipt.

That’d be great for me as a consumer, but also for Barnes and Noble. Then, you have my email address (again), and another way to encourage me to buy more stuff.

Or, perhaps, make this a benefit of being a member. If I buy a book, use my membership card, then let it act as a 75% off coupon for a digital copy of any book I have physically purchased.

Sure, I guarantee that there would be people who take advantage of this and return the physical book to only get the digital copy, but that’s life. It’s part of doing business. Plus, you got a small amount of money from the heathens, which is more than you’d potentially get by not-doing it. By doing it, you help me read more, which means I buy more, and more importantly, I buy from you – with my membership – where you can mine that data and give me great suggestions as to what’s next.

So, what’s next?

Launch Day

It never ceases to amaze me.

Today, it’s launch day. How do I know? It’s all over major news organizations. Even CNN had a story on it.

What is really amazing is that the content of the stories thus far have been non-existent. Why? Because it’s a secret.

All we know thus far is that in a few hours, Apple will be having a press conference about the iPhone. We don’t really know who will be speaking, or what specifically about. What we do know is that the whole world is a-flutter with anxiety.

Why? Do we all need new phones? No.

Phones aren’t what Apple sells. Apple sells ideas and the future. It’s no secret that they don’t do focus groups and huge piles of market research to figure out what customers want. What they do is beyond that. It’s telling us what we should want. Why? Because the life-cycle of a response generated product takes too long. They have a keen sense for going further.

Don’t believe me?

Rewatch the original iPhone keynote.

Steve Jobs touts the phone as three things. We all were less-than-excited when he talked about the iPhone as a revolutionary internet communicator. Why do we care? We use phones to make calls!

But that’s not what we use iPhones for.

I spend a small amount of time on my iPhone as a phone. The time is astronomically disproportionate to the time I use it as an internet communications device. I didn’t know that, but Steve knew I would.

So, what does today hold?

A baby step in the future leads to a leap of technological faith that we will surely follow.

The Small Revolution, Part II

Timing is everything.

The day after my last post, Square had to go and one-up me. Not only are they as cool as I was talking about, but now they are even fancier. With the new software update to the App, they’re continuing the revolution of how we pay, and take payment. Check it out, it’s worth the click: http://squareup.com/cardcase

But that’s not what this post is about. Today’s bad timing comes on the heels of yet another announcement. Similarly spectacular, a new regime in the modern Office Space has sprawled itself across the river.

This is no ordinary Office Space. PC Load Letter Syndrome does not exist here. The purpose here is to ignite cognitive collaboration through a cooperative space.

This, is CoCo. And this, is the next generation of office spaces.

Like Square, and so many other things emerging, the exponential growth of entrepreneurialism is becoming more efficient. CoCo adds to that equation. The premise is you can become a member for as little as $50/month and find yourself in an inspiring environment amongst your new friends. Be sure to check out their newest location in the old Grain Exchange. It looks amazing.

I had the pleasure of meeting one of the organizations leaders, and as I wandered the space, I saw nothing but promise. When I heard they were announcing a new Minneapolis office, I was just short of giddy. Ok, maybe a little giddy.

One of the reasons I admire CoCo is that they are in the business of building businesses. Welcome to a new breed of creativity. Don’t take this the wrong way, but CoCo is the best cesspool to germinate ideas. It is about pushing ideas further through collaboration. It is about finding solutions as a group to help everyone.

As an independent contractor or freelancer, imagine if this was your office:

Now. Go sign up. But only if you want to be better, and help others be better too.

This isn’t about big business, it’s about big passion.

What’s yours?

The Small Revolution, Part I

The era of big business seems to be shrinking. Obviously there are a number of reasons why this is occurring, but I want to focus on why the little guys are succeeding. This is a series of posts related to how small can become big. Or, if it is more their style, how the small can stay small and survive.

One of the biggest hurdles any startup runs into is finance. Usually the entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t coincide with the ability to think inside of the accounting box. Independent contractors and sole-prorpieterships often rely on good-old-fashioned cash money, or checks, for payment of services. Both are dwindling in the Plastic Era. Some that are more savvy have looked to services like PayPal, and billing through the web as an option.

But as consumers, we love our credit cards.

The ability for small businesses to take our Visa, MasterCard or American Express has previously involved dynamic rates with contracts and processing fees. A stress that most individuals and independent contractors have ignored. But lately, the tides are a-changing. As consumers, we love our rewards, and hate the idea of forms of payment as a barrier to do business.

Last winter, we had some work done on our furnace. Naturally we weren’t excited about it. Cutting a check for a few hundred dollars always makes me squirm. When it got to that point though, our technician pulled from his bag a big credit card reader, and he let us put it on a credit card from our kitchen. Pretty neat, but I’d hate to bring that thing with everywhere – let alone the hassle of setting up accounts with the credit card companies and such.

And then, it appears life is getting even easier. My wife is a photographer, and her studio was doing portraits on-site for some folks. We had our iMac with, proofed and did quick edits on the spot. We were able to take orders on the spot. We used our fancy schmanzy iPhones with a little doohicky on top to take credit cards. Why? Because it’s incredibly easy. We signed up for a free account, they sent us the card reader, and then they only charge us 2.75% per transaction. The funds get deposited into her bank account, and that’s it. Literally, that’s it.

Square is the company that makes the doohicky, and it has crossed some pretty revolutionary benchmarks in the last few weeks. On March 2nd of this year, Square processed $1,000,000 in transactions a day. That’s pretty amazing. But, then on April 29th, they announced $2,000,000 per day. Not bad. 100% growth for less than two months time. But wait. There’s more. May 21st marked $3,000,000 per day. In the first three months of 2011, they processed $66,000,000. Talk about a rapid acceleration in growth.

They’ve grown quickly, and now acquired some security. The New York Times reported that Visa itself has invested a substantial amount in Square to help ensure it succeeds. Shortly thereafter, you could actually (and still can) find a Square reader available for $9.95 from any Apple Store. Plus, the $10 you spent gets credited to your Square account. So really, it doesn’t cost you anything but the tax.

My wife’s company uses Square, the company I work for uses Square, and rumor on the street is that some very big retailers are about to start using Square as well.

Square’s CEO is Jack Dorsey, who also happens to be the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Twitter. Two small startups that are growing like crazy, and both are truly helping “The Little Guys” be better.

And that is becoming a near-universal truth. The most successful small companies today are the ones that are helping others prosper.

Stay tuned for Part II, The Essence of Everyone.


Save Some Money. Don’t Hire IT.

Don’t buy Managed IT Services.

That’s right. You heard me.

Sure, you can get someone to monitor each workstation for a fairly inexpensive amount per month. But that’s all they’re doing. Monitoring for issues, not solving problems before they come up. There is no vision when it’s $9 a month, per desktop.

It’s not about having someone install patches, or reset email passwords. That’s not what a good IT group does – either internal, or external.

A good IT group focuses on building efficiencies within the system, and a future growth plan. A good IT group helps design and develop communications platforms for their teams and focus on solving problems, not applying band-aids.

How much more efficient would you be if your meetings weren’t lectures, but participatory conversations? Did you ever see Seth Godin’s blog post about how to beat meetings (iPad killer app #2: fixing meetings)? It’s worth a read and might provide you some insight as to what life could be like.

IT people are smart and talented. Unfortunately, most only get to be smart and their talents never get to be shown off. I dare you to ask one of yours the following:

Using technology, how could this office run better?

They might just surprise you. And if they don’t, they’re merely a technician. There’s nothing wrong with a technician. They fix things I don’t know how to. But as with all roles, someone who does more and wants more, can do more.

Historically, every organization I’ve ever worked for, or been in contact with, has two desires from their employees. Better communication, and better training. Better communication is something where technology can really shine (and training to follow).

An IT groups customer is their fellow employees. A successful group knows this, and helps their peers be successful by utilizing technology appropriately.

If you choose to invest in IT services, pull someone in who can do something more. Find a group that can help you build your future, not maintain the status quo.

I am lucky. I work for one of those groups. I work for a group dedicated to making businesses run better, not just sell crap.