Failure is Not a Positive

A while back, people from the tech world began postulating about the value of failure. The context was that failure may not be a waste if the lessons can be built upon. One should never use “fear of failure” as an excuse not to do something.

The problem is that now people are talking about failure as if it is a good thing, something to be pursued. It isn’t.


If someone fails once, no biggie. If they fail more often, maybe it is because they don’t have the chops to proceed. Maybe they just suck.

Failure teaches you what doesn’t work. It doesn’t always teach you what does work. You may do something wrong, but if you adjust, you haven’t failed.

If you have truly failed, you need to not only analyze what went wrong, but why you didn’t see it in time. Why didn’t, or couldn’t, you adjust.

Most likely, you need help to learn the right way. Depending on the failure, you may need to add someone on your team.

Better yet, think on your weaknesses, we all have them, and act to get people on your team who can compensate.

Failure is to be avoided. It is a bad thing. Failure isn’t the end of the world, but if you decide that you are willing to fail, you likely will.

The End of an Era

image In my last post I mentioned that I have been very busy of late. Well, part of that work has been working towards this…I am leaving the world of consulting. That’s right, after spending almost my entire career being a hired gun, I am choosing sides and becoming a “client”.

More than that, but I am leaving the world of Documentum. This year, for the first time since I started attending in 2000, I will miss the Documentum conference, aka EMC World.

These are some big changes for me. I thought I’d take some time and share.

Consult, Rinse, and Repeat

Five years ago, I was hired to build/lead the Enterprise Content Management practice at Washington Consulting, Inc. (WCI). Over the years, through ups and downs, I became a Director and the capabilities of WCI grew. Today WCI is in a much stronger position, by any measure, to solve the Information Management problems of its clients.

imageMeanwhile, the repetition started to become obvious. While the technology kept evolving and changing, the core challenges were constant. Organizational resistance, short-term financial goals, and the desire to just “throw”  the system over the wall and see what users do with it.

So it became obvious that it was time for new challenges. Of course, there is a side effect…

Leaving Documentum

I am leaving the world of Documentum behind. While that wasn’t a goal, I wasn’t trying to stay in the world of Documentum either.

The next year is going to be critical for EMC and their Documentum line. The Cloud-based Content Management train is leaving the station and this is the year that EMC can grab a spot in first class. It is going to be fun to watch.

Watch I will. Too many friends, colleagues, and clients have a vested interest in the outcome for me not to care. I’ve poured a lot of energy into that world over the years and I’ll always have an intense curiosity regarding Documentum’s fate. I’m rooting for EMC to succeed.

I’ll always care, it just isn’t going to be my problem anymore. At least for now.

The Next Chapter

So what is next? That is the subject for a post in the next week. I’m going to a position that I’ve been wanting for years with an organization that seems to be a natural fit. Since I’ve made the decision, the most consistent feedback I’ve received is, “That’s perfect!”

It likely isn’t perfect but it seemed like the right choice.

Creating Thought Leadership

Every company, to some degree, wants to be considered a thought leader in their industry. Vendors want to drive new sales and reassure their install base. Consultants/analysts want to have potential clients knocking on their doors for answers. The final side of the triangle, Buyers, they want their competitors to follow them and attract talent to work for them.

(Note that roles shift from market to market. Nuxeo is a vendor in the Content Management market but a Buyer in the ERP market.)

The importance varies, but it is a goal that any company wanting to be a leader in their industry wants to achieve. It isn’t easy. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. So the question is, how do you do it?

Taking the software market as my example, given my experience there, I am going to explore the process.

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The Allure of Selling Product over Services

imageA few weeks ago, Peter Monks asked the twitterverse the following question:

Does anyone else think that services companies claiming to be product companies is weird? Seems like a rather difficult pivot to execute.

I agreed that it was a difficult pivot but that it wasn’t weird. In fact, I did it once. Ten years ago, when I was with Infodata System, I transitioned from a consultant to a Product Manager for about two years. My team took the results of a consulting engagement and created the AnnoDoc product. It was an annotation tool, similar to the current Documentum PDF Annotation tool, but with less overhead.

Why did we do it? How did we do it? Why were we successful? Let’s dive in and look.

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Splintering of the Content Management Market

Life was so easy 10 years ago in this market. Web Content Management was simply publishing unless you were one of those companies doing business online. Enterprise Content Management wasn’t a reality, but we thought it was just waiting for the blending of the core technical capabilities. When it came to selecting a technology, it was a simple matter of matching capabilities with requirements.

Today, Web Content Management is much more complicated. ECM is more “challenging” than we thought it would be to execute. When it comes to selecting solutions, the traditional vendors usually can check every box but it is slightly more complicated. Do you want open source? Do you want to be in the cloud? These questions are frequently asked by users. Those questions have re-segregated the Content Management market.

None of this is really new, but let’s look at the impact to the consulting world.

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Build that Taxonomy…Why? Because I Said So

So there were a couple of good posts the other day by Johnny and the BMOC. The best thing is that they were about the same thing, yet not. Johnny wrote about how it was important to create a taxonomy, however superficial, and not put everything into one folder. BMOC looked at the same situation and talked about how it is important as consultants to guide clients away from the dark path onto the bright, safe path.

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