Showing posts from 2024

The Dual Faces of Technology: Enhancing and Replacing Jobs

Automation has been on my mind a lot lately, more immediately due to a book I read , but also because of the looming reality of artificial intelligence. To understand what's involved, making the distinction between replacing technologies and enabling technologies is crucial. As we traverse the timeline of the 20th century, we observe how each type of technology has distinctly influenced employment. Automated technologies have transformed industries by replacing manual labor with machines. Consider the automated switchboards introduced in the early 20th century. Previously, telephone operators manually connected calls using physical connectors on a switchboard. With the advent of automated switchboards in the 1920s and 1930s, many of these jobs were eliminated as calls were routed through electromechanical systems. Similarly, in agriculture, the introduction of mechanical harvesters like the combine harvester in the 1930s drastically reduced the need for manual labor. These machine

The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor and Power in the Age of Automation (Book Review)

In his compelling book, " The Technology Trap: Capital, Labor, and Power in the Age of Automation ," Carl Benedikt Frey offers a sweeping examination of the historical and ongoing impact of mechanization and automation on society. Starting with the onset of the first Industrial Revolution, Frey deftly navigates through the evolution of technology up to the modern age of artificial intelligence, presenting a nuanced view of how technological innovations have reshaped labor markets and power dynamics. Frey categorizes technological innovations into two types: enabling technologies, like the typewriter, which enhance worker productivity without displacing the labor force, and replacing technologies, such as robotic machinery in factories, which eliminate certain job roles altogether. This distinction forms the backbone of Frey’s analysis, as he explores the varying implications of each type of technology on different segments of the workforce. The book traces a historical patter

How I Invested in My Career with Avila University

Pursuing a graduate degree through Avila University was one of my best decisions in recent years. In late 2018 or early 2019 I was giving a great deal of thought to how I could invest more in my profession in project management, and the opportunity presented itself to use academic assistance through work to pay for most of my degree program. I took some great courses, such as Ethics and the Legal Environment, Financial Decision Making for Managers, Strategic Communication, and Organizational Psychology & Behavior. This was a true management course, not just a project management program. I'm especially proud of my capstone project, which led to the founding of Uberlandia Development Initiatives .  In this podcast Dr. jim Burkee, president of Avila University, talks mostly about his experience drawing in international students. Still, give it a listen and consider if this might also be an academic option for you as well. 

Different Types of Databases

 The following, which I found on LinkedIn ( ) can serve as a useful cheat sheet for anyone looking to understand the different types of databases. See that link for more information.

Streaming Services Pivot: From Growth to Retention and Beyond

In a recent episode of the Retention Zone podcast (embedded below), media industry veteran Titus Bicknell shed light on the changing priorities within the video streaming sector. Having worked alongside Bicknell at AMC Networks for nearly two years, I have always held a deep appreciation for his insights, which offer a window into an industry undergoing significant shifts from aggressive subscriber acquisition to nuanced strategies aimed at retaining valuable customers. The Evolution of Subscriber Priorities Bicknell, a pioneer of mobile video in the early 2000s, has witnessed first-hand the explosive growth of the streaming market, particularly between 2015 and 2020. However, the focus, he notes, has crucially shifted. It’s no longer about amassing subscribers indiscriminately. "It's not any sub is a good sub," he remarked during the podcast. This reflects a deeper understanding within the industry that not all subscribers are beneficial for the business's bottom li

Six Professional Guidelines I Follow

Over the years, I've distilled a set of guidelines that have significantly shaped my professional journey. While my undergraduate degree didn't focus on business—unlike my graduate degree, which did—these principles were forged through real-world experiences rather than classroom theory. Here are the six cornerstone rules that guide my approach to work, split between immediate and long-term strategies. First if all, be a truth teller. This doesn’t mean being offensive, by any means. Diplomacy is often required. But in project management it does no good for the project manager to keep issues and concerns quiet. This can be especially true where the budget is concerned. No one ever wants to admit that there’s a risk (or reality!) of going over budget, but without that information the business can’t make a decision about whether to continue.  Second, think slow and act fast. Spend as much time in planning as is needed. Once the project starts it’s a bad idea to still be considerin

The Value of a Degree

My educational background includes a Bachelor of Ministry, which I pursued during a period when I was dedicated to entering the ministry. This degree supported my initial work as a minister in both Brazil and the United States. Although there was a time when I questioned the relevance of this degree after transitioning out of ministry, I later realized that such doubts were unnecessary. Historically, in the United States, a high school diploma sufficed for most entry-level jobs outside specialized fields like medicine and law. However, this is no longer the case. Today, most white-collar jobs require at least an Associate's degree, with a Bachelor's degree being even more common. Importantly, the specific major often does not limit one's career possibilities. For instance, one of the best engineers I know majored in English Literature, and a former colleague who worked in streaming content preparation held a degree in Criminal Justice. My initial misgivings about my degree

Camaraderie Over Cocktails: The Benefits of a Weekly Office Happy Hour

It began during layoffs. A pall of dread had fallen over the office, and day by day everyone was just awaiting word on whether they would still have a job. People would gather in the office of one of the managers, commiserating about the situation over beverages. People brought in different types of alcohol, and the manager mixed drinks. Eventually, the period of layoffs passed, but the tradition of gathering continued. Once a week, every Thursday at 5pm, something wonderful happened. Now, to be sure, this gathering met the company requirements. It was set in a time period in which office drinking was permitted, and it had the approval of an SVP. He was one of the regulars at the gathering anyway. Everything was above board as far as policy was concerned. And good things came from it.  This weekly happy hour brought together people who didn't often talk in person, and at times connected people who only knew one another from email threads. Often I saw team leads or department heads

The Freedom to Reinvent Ourselves

In our professional lives, many of us reach a point where we desire—or need—to reinvent ourselves, whether it's transitioning to a different industry or pursuing a passion that differs from what we originally studied. However, the ease with which we can make these changes often depends significantly on cultural and systemic factors that vary by country. Take, for example, a story from my time working in Brazil about a decade ago. I encountered an individual who, despite having a degree in accounting, had no desire to pursue it as a career. This scenario might seem easily solvable in the United States, where career paths are often non-linear and individuals frequently shift fields. However, in Brazil, the professional culture tends to pigeonhole individuals into working within the confines of their academic degrees. During an interview for a freelance project management role in Brazil, I faced this cultural starkness firsthand. Despite having a solid background in project management

Language Learning in a Globalized World

In 2000, a year after I graduated from college, I volunteered at a week-long church camp for high school teens. During this time, I happened to overhear a discussion between a camp counselor and a camper about the benefits of learning a foreign language. The counselor, aware that I was learning Portuguese, sought my support to convince the camper. Contrary to his expectations, I advised, "Learn a language if you enjoy learning, or if you're actually going to use it. Not out of a sense of duty." Decades later, I still uphold this perspective, although it's understandably subjective and may not resonate with everyone. While I am fluent in Portuguese, its practical application in my professional life has been limited. Nonetheless, the advantages of learning other languages extend beyond mere utility. Acquiring a new language can serve as a gateway to understanding different cultures and forming meaningful social connections that broaden one's worldview. This immersio

Taking the Initiative: A Lesson in Project Management

With project management, the adage "It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission" can sometimes hold a kernel of truth. While this might sound like a reckless approach, I learned through a challenging experience that there are moments when taking the initiative is not just beneficial, but necessary. At one company where I worked, there was a clear distinction between project and product management. This separation of roles was something I believed in and respected. However, I found myself managing a project that had been passed from one project and product manager to another until it landed in my lap. The project was in trouble, and to complicate matters, some of the key personnel had moved on to other companies, leaving me without their insights. My instructions were clear: stick to project management and leave product management to the designated product manager. Our deadline was looming, and I relied on the product manager to set the priorities. However, there wa

Bridging the Gap: Translating Business Requirements into Technical Deliverables

One of the most crucial challenges in project management is the translation of business requirements into technical deliverables. This process, sometimes referred to as 'bridging the gap,' is essential for ensuring that the final product meets the expectations of stakeholders and adds value to the organization. As an Enterprise Agilist with over a decade of experience in program and project management, I've seen firsthand the importance of this translation in achieving project success. Understanding the Gap The gap between business requirements and technical deliverables arises from the different languages spoken by business stakeholders and technical teams. Business stakeholders typically focus on the 'what' and 'why' of a project—what they need and why they need it. On the other hand, technical teams are concerned with the 'how'—how to build the solution that meets those needs. Steps to Bridge the Gap Clear Communication: Effective communication is

The Art of Project Management

Teaching English in Brazil: More Than Just Grammar My journey as an English teacher in Brazil offered me profound insights into language learning. I encountered students across various comprehension levels, many of whom believed mastering grammar was the key to fluency. While understanding grammar is undeniably important, I observed that practical usage takes precedence. The ability to recall grammatical rules spontaneously during a conversation is less about memory and more about practice, about developing a sort of linguistic muscle memory. I vividly recall an instance with a student who incessantly sought one grammatical rule after another. In response, I shared a perspective that would reshape her approach to learning: "You need to understand...English is more of an art than a science." This statement was a reflection on the intricate and often inconsistent nature of English grammar, highlighting the numerous exceptions that baffle even the most diligent rule-learners. Pr

Transforming a Traditional Engineering Team into an Agile Powerhouse

Embracing Agility in a Major International Entertainment Company In the fast-paced world of technology, agility is not just a methodology; it's a necessity. This was the lesson learned when I joined a team responsible for the core technology at a major international entertainment company. The team, a traditional engineering group, had been working in a siloed, manager-driven approach for years. They had a strong bond but lacked visibility into the broader picture of their work. The challenge was to transition them from their conventional ways to a more agile and efficient system. The Initial Roadblocks: A 50-Page Document and Reactive Workflows The first hurdle was the team's reliance on a 50-page document for requirements management. Buried in these pages were years-old issues and bugs, making it challenging to prioritize and address current needs effectively. Furthermore, the team juggled development and support for their mission-critical system, leaving little room for delay

Creating an Effective Project Health Report

Navigating the complexities of an ongoing project can be challenging, particularly when it's already in full swing. A crucial tool in this process is a project health report. This blog will guide you through creating an effective project health report and explain why it's important to assess project health as soon as possible. Understanding the Need for a Project Health Report When you inherit an ongoing project, gaining a quick and accurate understanding of its current state is critical. A project health report serves as a diagnostic tool, offering insights into various aspects of the project, including progress, challenges, and risks. This helps in making informed decisions and strategizing timely interventions. Crafting a Project Health Report: Key Elements Executive Summary: Begin with a clear, concise summary of the project's objectives and current status. Highlight any significant changes or developments since the last update. This section should provide a snapshot o