Bennett Quillen's Blog

Information and Technology Services Professional

Before I go

Taking stock Before I Go –

From this experience,

Now more than threescore and thirteen years,

About midway between my dad: sixty-seven,

And, mom: eighty years.

 

Time to reflect, to weigh my contributions

As a husband, father, Christian Scientist in this experience,

Before I Go.

 

Admittedly a fool for most of my life, I know,

But in the past few years, no gainsay:

I don’t think or do today

What I thought or did some years ago.

 

Received a blessed upbringing – this experience,

So, must have achieved some measure of success – previous experience?

How will the balance scales of judgement weigh my contribution this time:

Before I Go?

 

Oftimes a prodigal son – but, my Father-Mother God

Took me back again and again,

Knowing – I would once again begin

To tread up the winding, guided pathway

Underneath the Shepherd’s rod.

 

What must the posthumous record gavel?

A good, hardworking businessman –

There should be no cavil,

But, other traits, what the outcome will be:

As a husband, father and friend for —

My beloved wife: was I compassionate, loving, supportive, patient throughout our “divine adventure” of life?

Our wonderful children: was I a guide and proper role for Bennett B and Mary Jane?

 

Time and results will pass judgement on me,

After I Go.

 

But, most of all, my greatest desire: to be remembered

Faithful to Mrs. Eddy’s discovery,

After I Go.

 

Still working on “vanity and vexation of spirit”

To but touch the “hem of Truth’s garment” –

Before I Go.

 

What beckons in the next experience?

Meeting those I love: mom, dad, Mary Weaver;

Hopefully, our dear Leader,

And of course later – my beloved Ginger,

Assuming I fulfilled, at least in part, my job here and now.

 

So, with my hand to the plow

To work, watch and pray

Before I Go.

 

 

 

Bennett B Quillen

4/2/2016

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My Best Friend

Well, let’s see…

A bit over two years October last:

Our meeting – somewhat abstract at first,

Still with an undercurrent of mutual understanding.

An invitation offered to him to visit

And accepted, gratefully.

Followed with long walks and confidences shared –

Quickly cemented a bond of deep affection.

Albeit, limited in his ability to express himself linguistically,

But, his prescient sense – undeniably –

Anticipating my every thought or action.

He communicates his feelings with:

“Tails up” for adventure and fun,

Whether a “walk about” or in the “Kit Buggy”,

We are one.

For, as we both know: if necessary,

Would sacrifice self for the other.

After a long day, he rests his head

(and 29 pounds)

At the foot of our bed,

For as I have oft said:

Angels don’t come with wings, instead:

They come with four paws.

Bennett Quillen © 2015

Baseball: The Only True Team Sport

Well folks, here is my diatribe on the shortfalls of professional team sports other than baseball.  I know my comments will upset pro football fans; so apologies to the followers of the Broncos, Packers and Patriots.

Baseball is a true team sport and not a game built on the false sense of time pressure.  There are nine innings, and you play them all.  It has its own unique tensions with a myriad of variables; examples are: men on base, at different bases, different batters, number of outs, ball and strike count on batters, whether the pitcher is right or left-handed, the pitcher’s repertoire, how a pitcher and each batter confront each other, batter with or without men on base, batter’s history against a specific team, potential bunting situation, base stealing, double steal, hit and run.

There are nearly an infinite panoply of possible actions (much like a chess game), coupled with several required skills (catch, jump or leap, throw, run, bat).  Baseball demonstrates a unique blend of individual effort (fielding, pitching and batting) with team playing (sacrifice bunt or fly out, turning a double play, spikes up when sliding into second base to prevent a double play). Baseball also requires mental and emotional stamina.  It is indeed the best of all team sports. Plus, the nine players play offense and defense, and you don’t have to be some form of Neanderthal man; in fact, it is best if you are around 6 ft. and 185 # or even smaller.

My only complaints about baseball are: the lowered the pitcher’s mound from 15 to 10 in. in ’68 and introduction of the DH in the ‘70s.

Take kickball (oops soccer): the less said the better about folks that run up and down a field playing kickball with little strategic and tactical skills, getting pulled out for sprained ankles (poor darlings), and only needing the ability to run and kick — boring!

Football (American) really only requires one to run and be a 250 # felon.  Other than the quarterback and receivers (and perhaps running backs), the only skill you need is the ability to run and bludgeon someone into submission. Plus you have two teams – offense and defense, so that the poor fellows don’t get too tired. And, lastly: there is the false sense of pressure from a clock and how well you play the clock, not the game.

College basketball is better: at least the same set of fellows play offense and defense. But, you have to be at least 6 ft. 7 in. to make an impact.  And, only three skills: dribble, shoot and jump.  Again, the false sense of time pressure is always present.

I will not even comment on hockey.

And I honestly don’t know enough about Rugby to comment. On the surface it seems better than football and soccer.  But, it too is played under a time clock.

So, bring on spring; I am ready for a real team sport: baseball!

Bennett Quillen

Angels have 4 paws by Bennett Quillen

It is a fact that angels do not come in some ethereal form with wings.  Rather, they arrive in a very tangible form with four paws.

 

About seven months ago, we inherited a dog.  Yes, in human terms he is a dog, but that is simply his earthly apparel, for how else could we recognize him? 

 

The vet tells us he is part Cavailer Spaniel and part Poodle and is about 3 ½ years of age.  He now weighs around 26 lbs.  But, he came to us at about 19 lbs.

 

He was lost on the streets of Belmont, NC.  But, he instinctively approached our daughter, pulling along a bedraggled leash.  He was matted and covered with fleas.  So, she immediately gathered him in and washed him (several times) to get some semblance of what he was.  (Of course, she checked on his ownership, but no one had any interest.) The three of them – daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter live in a leased home, which does not permit pets.   So, what to do?  Naturally, her parents (us) came to mind and thus we inherited an angel (aka dog).

 

Ginger and I have had several dogs over the years, so we do enjoy their company and understand them.  We decided to name this one: Kit.  It just seems to suit him.  In course, we had to take him to the vet for several things, but that is all in the past.  I have enclosed a photo of him taken a couple of months ago.

 

What we now have is a bona fide angel: lovable, loving, obedient, loyal, intelligent and brave.  Sounds like a Boy Scout, doesn’t he?  All we need to do is add the characteristics: “clean and reverent”.

 

We have daily runs on the Davidson College campus and walks about the village.

 

So, if any of you are seeking an angel, just look for one with paws.

 

 

 

Kit with one of his two jerseys

How To Deal With Underperformers By Bennett Quillen

How To Deal With Underperformers

By Bennett Quillen

 

 

 

Before it comes to a transfer or pink slip, every IT project manager should take these basic steps.

How do IT managers handle project team members who are either non-productive or not performing to their potential or expectations?

 

If the individual reports directly, or even indirectly, to you in your function or department, you have the authority to deal directly with the underperformer. Your ultimate leverage is your ability to transfer, demote, or fire the person. You also have the annual employee evaluation or less formal day-to-day assessment as your stick. But as a project manager, especially if you’re an external consultant, you often don’t have the time or leverage. 

 

As a consultant, I’m continually parachuted into situations requiring the management of 25 to 35 people in an intense situation with aggressive milestones and tight time frames and budgets. If one or more of the project team members isn’t performing up to a standard (and that standard is often set high because of the project’s immediate objectives), I have a BIG problem on my hands.

 

So how do I deal with such situations? First, I confront the individual one-on-one to find out the underlying problem. Is it a lack of time management or an inordinate amount of requirements? Is the individual dealing with difficult diversions, perhaps not work-related? Or is it simply that the individual is in over his or her head? 

 

If there are outside diversions, there isn’t much I can do for that person. Such individuals must come to grips with their situation and assure you they can handle it. Even so, it’s important to establish some key dates for those individuals and closely monitor their progress. As Ronald Reagan once said: “Trust but verify.”

 

If the problem is one of conflicting requirements, the obvious next step is to discuss them with the person’s manager and find ways to reduce or shift the workload. However, for individuals who just can’t cope with the workload or don’t have the needed experience or skill set, you need to replace them immediately.

 

Again, as the project manager you must take up the issue with the individual’s manager, followed by a meeting among the three of you to identify a solution — that is, to bring in someone who has the necessary skill set and capacity.

 

In one situation, I had the charge of improving the performance of the production and infrastructure support staff in an IT department. After one or two weeks, it became evident that team members weren’t following daily production support procedures, or they were performing them lackadaisically. After meeting with the individuals and setting performance criteria, we turned the situation around. 

 

However, the infrastructure staffers were a different issue. They simply didn’t understand the full complexity and scope of telecommunications for the organization. So I redefined their jobs, let three people go, and brought in a facilities firm to manage the function.

 

Another company was in the midst of making major changes to the delivery of its electronic banking products for both its retail and commercial customers, affecting Bill Pay, ATMs, POS, Wires, etc.  The team tasked with rolling out and converting all of its electronic products had other ancillary activities.  The Manager in charge was simply swamped with his regular day-to-day activities as well as the many new responsibilities for this project. He and his team were falling behind schedule. We developed a two-pronged approach, whereby I helped with some of the tasks and senior management assigned another experienced individual to work under him for this project. The result was a successful effort.

 

Another department manager at the same bank had a different challenge: As a recent transfer into her position. She wasn’t well versed in all of its functions. Yet we still depended upon her department for a series of projects. In this case, I advised her to find a subject matter expert in the organization with whom she could work. We assigned a fellow from another department for the remaining five months.

 

How do you handle a situation where a high-ranking individual is responsible for the success of a project but can’t cope with its requirements? I faced this situation when I was called in to convert a company to a new set of core applications within six months. The clock was ticking.  It was clear after about two weeks that the CIO wasn’t prepared to make timely decisions on key tasks.

 

I discussed my concerns with the individual and laid out what was needed and when, but the situation didn’t improve. He was either unable to deal with all of the changes or trying to focus on all of the tasks – over 2,000 — to make decisions. There was no alternative: I had to talk with the president of the company, because the project was in jeopardy. I recommended that the CIO be sidelined, if possible. The president’s solution was to place the individual on a leave of absence and replace him with one of his key subordinates.   

 

Every situation and individual is unique. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The key is to identify the source of the problem and resolve it quickly and creatively. Sometimes you have to take the position of solving today’s problem and let tomorrow’s problem take care of itself.

Preserving the English Language

 

 

The English language is under assault through an attempt to mutilate its usage.  It is a beautiful and powerful language.  And, through proper application, it conveys precise meanings and provides accurate communications.

 

A recent statistic shows that one-quarter of the world’s populace uses the English language. That sounds gratifying on the surface.  But, I submit that only 1 in 20 (perhaps 1 in 50) use it properly.

 

When many people misuse or abuse the English language, it begs the questions: What are the effects of erroneous or mutilated English?  Is it harmful?  The answer to the last question: Definitely!  The improper use of English results in miscommunication, misunderstanding, and ultimately: mistakes and poor productivity.

 

Listed below are a few of the current misused and abused terms in business.  There are two columns: first, an example of an English slur to avoid, and second, an alternative expression that is far more meaningful. In a few instances, the slur is so meaningless, so ludicrous, that it is difficult to understand its meaning.  So, it is best to completely avoid it.

 

Although these abuses apply in business, they are also in everyday parlance.  The typical misuse is to make verbs out of nouns.  Keep sentences and words specific: simple; minimal use of gerunds; avoid “to be” verbs, if possible, and use words with no more than three syllables. And, in all instances: avoid nonsense words or words that try to compress a logical combination of words into a meaningless phrase.

 

 

 

 

English Slurs – Avoid

 

Alternative Proper or Meaningful Terms

 

 

 

Architecting

 

 

One is an architect or studies architecture.  Or, one designs or develops something. Or, we build something.

 

But NO ONE “architects” or is “architecting”.  Do not, I repeat do not, make verbs out of nouns.

 

 

 

 

 

Benchstrength

 

 

Are we bench- pressing: 100 lb.? 200 lb.? I realize that I am being a bit persnickety, but it is this laziness of trying to use one vague term for a few specific words.

 

Let’s say: “Do we have enough resources”? Or, “we have sufficient resources.”

 

 

 

Diarizing (Diarising in the UK)

 

 

This term is almost laughable.  We may write in our diary; we may schedule an appointment in our diary. 

 

But, we definitely DO NOT “diarize”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decisioning

 

 

It is a close call as to whether using “decisioning”, “imagineering” or “solutioning” is worst.  These three are the triad of fluff, nonsense and confusion. They are all awful mutilations of nouns and must never be used.

 

To be “decisioning” is waffling at is zenith.  It demonstrates an inability to make a decision or set a deadline.

 

One makes decisions or is in the process of a decision. 

 

 

 

 

Direction of travel

 

 

What does this mean: By auto? Train? Airplane? East? West?

 

If it means we are to take steps in a particular direction, then let’s say so.  Be specific about which direction and why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Forward

 

 

Completely vague: does it mean we are going to continue?  Is it a command, such as in the army: “Forward march!”?

 

If it is meant to be something that occurs or continues into the future, why not say so?

 

For example, use the term: “In the future, we will do thus and so”. Or, “starting next week, we will initiate a new process.”

 

 

Hypervising

 

 

Hyped version of supervising; just avoid.

 

 

 

I’ll circle back to you

 

 

Circle the wagons?  Are we expecting an Indian attack? 

 

Why not just say: “I will get back to you or respond to you by such and such a day or time.”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imagineering

 

 

Goodness knows what this is.  Are we imagining? Are we trying to imagine?  Do we want to imagine? 

 

Just avoid this ridiculous term; its use only suggests that the writer or speaker has no concept of how to use English.

 

 

 

 

 

Impactful

 

 

What does this mean?  If something has an impact, fine; say so. Do not say it is “impactful”: ridiculous.

 

For example, one could say that such and such an event may have a negative “impact”.  But, I suggest using “effect” instead of “impact” in these cases.

 

 

 

 

Journaling

 

 

Another example of turning a noun into a gerund with no benefit. 

 

If “Journaling” is intended to convey the act of writing, why not simply state: “I will write it”, “I will type it.” Or “I am writing a note right now.”

 

 

 

 

Learnings

 

 

 

Again, what in the world does this mean?  Are we learning something?  Are we becoming educated?

 

Why not just say: “We are learning xyz”?  Or, “we expect to learn or have learned xyz.”

 

 

 

 

Let’s take that offline

 

 

Is this what Marconi telegraphed? 

 

Let’s just say: “We’ll discuss it later” or “Let’s schedule a meeting to discuss it”.

 

 

 

 

Offboarding

 

 

This term is totally meaningless; it is worse than “onboarding”. Does it refer to “waterboarding”?

 

One presumes it means firing or lay off or retiring.  Your guess is as good as mine.  Just avoid it.

 

 

 

 

 

Onboarding

 

 

This is meant to complete the hiring process or set up an employee.  We have become so lazy that we take a few appropriate words and abbreviate them into a meaningless term.

 

Is it so hard to just say: “Complete employee set up”?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paradigm shift

 

 

Thankfully, this term is in less use than it was about 10 years ago.

 

Just avoid it; it is ridiculous. 

 

Instead, one can say: “We have a new business focus”, or if you insist, “we have adjusted our business focus” or “changed our business model”.

 

 

Prepone

 

 

Presumably the opposite of postpone; avoid completely.

 

 

 

 

 

Reach(ing) out

 

 

If anyone “reaches out” to me, they best take care, as I am just as likely to throw up my arms to presumably block their upper cut.

 

It is a vague and meaningless term.

 

Instead use: “Call so-and-so”, email so-and-so”, contact so-and so”.

 

To be extremely precise, one should only use “contact” as a noun, not a verb.

 

 

 

 

 

Sense check

 

 

Does this mean we have completely taken leave of our senses?  Perhaps so.

 

Does it mean “status check”?  Does it mean that we need a “sanity check” or that we need to determine if something makes sense?

 

If it is the last, then say so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Socialize

Socializing

Socialization

 

 

 

These three terms have been used, misused, for several years.  The presumed usage is to request a person or group to gain a consensus, agreement or understanding on a document or idea amongst several people.  Their origin was apparently from the education profession.

 

Regardless, their application is a mutilation of what is actually intended by the words.  For people to socialize or even to attend a socializing event is a very natural activity, but one does NOT “socialize” an idea or document. 

 

Since their use is intended to discuss or gain agreement or consensus, why not say so?  Why this penchant to make up words that are obtuse or confuse?  Furthermore, “socialization” is not even a word.

 

 

 

 

 

Solutioning

 

 

This term is possibly the most irritating to me.  I really want to scream when someone uses it. 

 

One develops or prepares solutions.  One seeks out solutions. But, one is never, ever “solutioning”.  Stop making verbs or gerunds out of nouns. It is the epitome of laziness in speaking, writing and thinking.

 

 

 

 

 

Stakeholders

 

 

 

Are we on a witch hunt?  Are we going to burn them?

 

We have shareholders to be sure.  We have sponsors; we have members, participants, interested parties.  We can even have a stake in something. But, “stakeholder” is a meaningless, sloppy term.

 

Don’t use it.

 

 

 

 

 

Zerotasking

 

 

 

This one is new; I have no idea what it means. 

 

Does it mean there are no tasks for certain people? Or, is this some bizarre adaptation of “zero based budgeting” (remember that archaic philosophy?), meaning that we are going to work up from zero tasks?

 

Just avoid using it.

 

 

 

Objectives

 

I have a two-fold objective: first, preserve our English by rooting out the usage of these slurs.  That can be accomplished by reprimanding (at first gently and then, if necessary, firmly) the person using them, either verbally or in writing. 

 

Perhaps we can invoke some sort of penalty scheme, charging the perpetrator a fee every time a person uses it.  The amount of the fee could be tiered, depending upon the title or presumed experience of the individual; i.e., people with more experience or in a senior management role should know better and thus be subject to a higher penalty.

 

The second objective is to insist that English users read and listen to magazines, books and videos that are properly written and spoken, not those that simply appeal to prurient interests.

 

 

Bennett B Quillen

553 Concord Road

Davidson, NC 28036

704.907.5235

bquillen@qandans.net

Hello Short Sands Beach

 

Of course, of course, —

No introduction needed;

Met oftimes before.

 

Your display of enthusiasm, —

Of course, I noticed

With mild surprise the greeting:

 

The greenish-gray mosaic,

Mottled with taffy-like white,

Skipping and jumping along the shore.

 

Ah, but now a gentler salutation

On the new day, —

Filled with quietness

Passing in review.

 

We’ll meet again erelong,

But with two whom you’ve never met:

Do show enthusiasm, but tempered, —

As they are so young.

 

~Bennett B Quillen

                                                                                                           

Bennett Quillen: South Carolina Bank and Trust

Bennett Quillen is a business professional whose career in the world of finance spans more than 45 years. He worked as a project manager in 2009 for South Carolina (SC) Bank, overseeing a conversion that involved infrastructure and telecommunications, among other core systems.

The South Carolina Band and Trust (SCBT) was originally known as South Carolina Bank, and was founded in 1933. Because it was established in the throes of the Great Depression, its practices emphasize stability and core values. The bank’s name was changed in 2002. It currently employs more than 1,100 people and provides its clients with modern approaches to banking, including online and mobile services. Though the bank began with assets primarily connected to an agricultural economy, it has grown to embrace a more diversified, industry-based economy. SCBT supports its local community with regular events, such as Customer Appreciation Day and Shred Day. As its name implies, on Shred Day, customers are invited to shred unwanted documents, in the interest of avoiding identity theft.

September’s Child

 

Blossomed forth a Complete Expression

Amid hues of autumnal splendor:

September’s Child.

 

 

                                    Textured with Dogwood’s invitation

                                         To shape a white wreath o’er:

                                                       Missouri’s child.

 

 

                                    Tinged as Eden’s sunset –

                                         Beauty resplendent:

September’s Child.

 

 

                                     Burst forth from

                                           Dew frost melting

                                                      Under the fingertips

                                           Of summer’s lingering grasp:

                                                      September’s Child.

 

 

                                     Expressing the Bluebird’s paean

                                           That ricochets

                                               From

                                                          Ageless

                                                    Limestone

                                                             bluffs:

                                                       Missouri’s Child.

 

 

                                     Imbued with creative, magical

                                           moon …..

                                               dust ….

                                           ‘Neath evening’s cool bowers:

                                                       September’s Child.

 

 

                                     Throughout Eternity —

                                           Her own identity:          

                                                       September’s Child.

 

Bennett Quillen © 1996

 

 

Islam is Not a Religion

August 21, 2013

Charlotte Observer

Charlotte, North Carolina

Islam is Not a Religion

The problem facing the individual Arab, of any country, is that he/she remains mentally and emotionally in thrall to a medieval “religion” rife with out of date attitudes that most countries consigned to the dustbin years ago. Until Islam undergoes its own Reformation, the centuries old feuds and blood-letting will continue.

Very sad, but the leaders of the Arab world care as much for their own citizens as the rulers of black Africa care for theirs, despite decades of guilt fuelled “aid”.  To understand this, ask any knowledgeable Muslim the following questions. Is it permitted in an Islamic state to:

 

  • Allow a husband to beat up his wife? Answer: Yes. (Remind him of Surah 4:34, if his answer is No)
  • Allow a 40+ year old man to marry a girl under 12 years of age, after paying a bride price (Mahr)? Answer: Yes
  • Arrest and punish a born Muslim who leaves Islam? Answer: Yes
  • Ban and criminalize people who want to convert people from Islam to Christianity? Answer: Yes
  • Have a Muslim born girl marry a non-Muslim? Answer: No
  • Punish anyone who criticizes the prophet or Qur’an for blasphemy? Answer: Yes
    And so on.

 

Clearly, Islam is not really a religion; it is simply a doctrine of enslavement.  It is incomprehensible how any intelligent, rationale person, especially a woman, can willingly subscribe to such an egregiously repressive doctrine.