Browsing articles in "Speaking"

Join me at DAMA Seattle on 9 Oct 2012 – Be Happier…

Sep 11, 2012   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data, Data Modeling, Events, Speaking  //  1 Comment

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I’ll be returning to the DAMA Puget Sound (Seattle) group to give an advanced data modeling presentation on how to add more value and be more valued while you data model.   This is a great group and I hope you can join us.

Advanced Data Modeling: Be Happier, Be More Valued and Add More Value

In this presentation, Karen will discuss the current state of data modeling and data architecture efforts and where we need to be in the current development and database environment to continue to provide value.  Topics will include:

· If the modeler isn’t happy, the data isn’t happy

· Data Modeling in an Agile / SCRUM / modern development projects

· Big Data and other euphemisms

· NoSQL, not-only SQL non-relational, post-relational or whatever you want to call them

· Tools: Where are we, where do we need to be

· Being physical doesn’t mean you have to get dirty

· 10 Steps to happiness, being valuable and providing value

This presentation will be highly interactive, highly relevant and mostly irreverent.  As usual.


Karen Lopez
Sr. Project Manager & Architect, InfoAdvisors
Karen Lopez is a Senior Project Manager and Architect for InfoAdvisors. A frequent speaker at conferences and local user groups, she has 20+ years of experience in project and data management on large, multi-project programs. Karen is a chronic volunteer, a SQL Server MVP, and an active advocate for WIT and Data Quality. 
Karen’s presentations are known for their lively and interactive approach to learning. Her motto: I want you to Love Your Data!

This is an evening event and there is a fee to register.  See the DAMA PS website for more information on registering.

8 Tips for Presenting a Technical Recommendation

Aug 21, 2012   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Professional Development, Project Management, Speaking  //  4 Comments

 

BarbieEight

I’m asked do these sorts of “make a recommendation for a solution” presentations all the time.  I know how difficult it is.  These presentations are different than teaching moments.  They need to have a certain structure:

  • Problem statement / Challenges
  • Summary recommendation
  • Detailed recommendation (with the whys, too.)
  • Very brief recommendation of a path forward
  • Summary

So I have these tips for presenting your recommendations:

1. Make your material readable.  It sounds so non-technical and trivial to say that fonts and diagrams matter, but they do.  A recommendation that can’t be seen or read is less than useful.  Every Be The Next Microsoft Employee contestant struggled with this, some to the point that we weren’t even sure what was being presented.   Don’t let your presentation materials get in the way of presenting your ideas.  Handouts of key diagrams are always beneficial.  Using zoom features can help, too.  Buck had a great tip: put your laptop on the floor, then stand 3 metres away (okay, he said 10 feet) and see what it looks like.  If you can’t read it, neither can your audience.   If you are presenting on older projectors or without a proper screen, then stand back 12 feet.   If your slide looks like a blog post, you are doing it wrong.  Concepts go on slides, not documentation.

2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.  All the contestants used words that could come back to haunt them later.  Words like guarantee, promise, for certain and warranty are things you can’t commit to as a vendor or presenter.  You don’t have the information you need to make these commitments, nor do you have any idea how your solution will be implemented.   Instead of making promises, case studies and well-qualified data can back up some assertions, but you will still need to use many qualifying words like may, might, and can to ensure that you aren’t making promises you can’t keep.

3. Know why are you are recommending something.  My mantra is every design decision comes down to cost, benefit and risk.  There is no one right answer for every organization, environment, team, culture or financial situation.  It’s not enough as an architect to say “this is the way that everyone does this”.  A professional architect knows that solutions need to be implemented in the context of cost, benefit and risk, including legal and organizational constraints.  Some people feel that costs and risks should not be addressed, but I have much more confidence in a recommendation when I can see that the recommender understands the trade-offs associated with everything they are proposing.  If your recommendation includes legal constraints, confirm, verify and reconfirm your recommendation.  Keeping your client out of jail is a good thing.  Context is King…and Queen.

4. Ensure that you address all the parts of the problem.  If a client asks you to solve their performance problem, all the solutions to address something else won’t make much of a difference if you don’t address the performance problem.  They may also suspect that your proposed solution can’t solve the problem in any manner.  Don’t forget the cost side, either.  Be ready with multiple levels of solutions to meet the financial constraints of the audience.

5. Ensure you don’t try to solve a problem you weren’t asked to. I’ve seen this before: a consultant has solved some brilliant problems in the past and spends all his time talking about how his solution will solve that problem…but not that was totally out of scope of the request.  Management may already have a solution in progress.  One of our contestants threw in a last second proposal to replace an ERP system, something that wasn’t asked for at all.  This would have been a real shock to everyone in the room and probably derailed the rest of the discussion.  Stick to the scope of the problem.

6. Be confident & positive.  Even if you aren’t.  I mentioned that all our presenters showed signs of nervousness. That’s to be expected.  But audiences really do want to see a confident speaker, one who speaks up and shows confidence in his or her solution.  The best way to do this is to be prepared and be confident in what you are presenting based on the resources you were given.  Don’t worry about the fact that you didn’t have enough time, that some things you wanted to demo you couldn’t get to work.  You can’t change that.  Go with what you have and do it well.  Be strong.

If you are there to provide a solution then you should be showing the meeting group that you think what you are presenting is a good thing.  Be serious, but even when you are talking about a problem or risk there’s no need to add drama to the situation.  The current environment and situation might have serious problems, but there’s no need to be negative about that.  In fact, I’ve seen consultants come in and mock the heck out of current situation and be totally oblivious that the people right in front of them built that solution and have done miracles trying to keep it going under changed demands.

7. Watch your time.  Don’t end too early nor go long.  Leave plenty of time for questions, comments and clarifications.  You can have some backup materials for anticipated questions.  I believe, though, the best use of time is for a discussion to ensure everyone understands what you have recommended and why.

8. Make your presentation about THEM.  It’s so painful to see a presenter that is clearly presenting about THE PRESENTER.  If you are saying I, my blog or my book too many times, you might be that guy.  If you are constantly pointing to yourself, you aren’t focusing on the solution.  If you are making a recommendation, it’s fine to say we recommend (if you are representing a group or organization), but you should be putting the client’s needs at the forefront.  Not yours.  One of the best ways to show that you are about them is to start your presentation with a brief understanding of the problem and the pain points of the organization.  Don’t spend too much time on it, just reflect what you’ve been told and show along the way how your recommendation addresses their pain points.

Recommendations need to have have the what, why, and how much questions addressed. They need to be clear and understandable.  I’d love to hear what recommendations you have for making technical recommendation presentations.

Join me in Kansas City this week — it’s a throwdown!

Jul 31, 2012   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data, Data Modeling, Database Design, Events, Speaking, SQL Server  //  1 Comment

Barbies cracking jokes aboutTomI’m headed to Kansas City this Thursday to speak at the Kansas City SQL Server User Group and then on Saturday to present at the Kansas City SQL Saturday. I’d love to see you there.

On Thursday, 2 August I’ll be debating with Tom LaRock (@sqlrockstar), giving a preview of our SQL Saturday presentation of Database Design Throwdown: The Trailer.  In this wonderful smackdown, I’ll be talking about the importance of data quality, integrity and data governance while preparing database designs. I’m pretty sure Tom will be spouting wildly crazy, kooky ideas about performance, optimizing design to make life easier for DBAs and … I have no idea what else.  Probably bacon.  We won’t be giving the same presentation as on Saturday — it will be more of a trailer version of that.  Oh, wait…that doesn’t quite sound right.  It will be a teaser.  Yeah.  Something like that.  A teaser.

Kansas City SQL Server User Group

Details about the SQL Server User Group meeting:

Time

  • 3:45 – 3:50 Greeting and Housekeeping
  • 3:50 – 5:00 Database Design Throwdown: The Trailer
  • 5:00 – 5:15 Door prizes and wrap up

Topic: Database Design Throwdown: A Trailer
Date:  August 2nd, 2012
Speaker: Thomas LaRock versus Karen Lopez

Overview: If a man is alone in the forest and there is no woman around to watch him design a database is he still wrong? Join us in this highly interactive debate regarding the options and best practices of common and advanced design issues such as natural versus surrogate keys, NULL versus NOT NULL, data quality versus performance, and others. Bring your opinions and experience and join the discussion.

About Speakers:

Thomas LaRock is a seasoned IT professional with over a decade of technical and management experience. Currently serving as a senior database administrator with Confio Software, Thomas has progressed through several roles including programmer, analyst, and DBA. Prior to that, he worked at several software and consulting companies, working at customer sites in the United States and abroad. Thomas holds a MS degree in Mathematics from Washington State University and is a member of the Usability Professional’s Association. Thomas also currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS), is a SQL Server MVP, and can also be found blogging at http://thomaslarock.com and is the author of DBA Survivor: Become a Rock Star DBA (http://dbasurvivor.com).

Karen Lopez is Sr. Project Manager and Architect at InfoAdvisors, Inc. Karen is a frequent speaker at conferences and user groups. She has 20+ years of experience in project and data management on large, multi-project programs. Karen specializes in the practical application of data management principles. Karen is also the ListMistress and moderator of the InfoAdvisors Discussion Groups at www.infoadvisors.com.

Location:

8700 State Line Road
Suite 200L
Leawood, KS 66206  (map)

Data Model Driven Database Design

On Saturday, 4 August I will be presenting at the Kansas City SQL Saturday (aka #SQLSat159 — don’t get me started on why they use a surrogate key as their names for these…) on Model Driven Database Design

Model-Driven Database Design

Model-Driven Database Development: Myths, Magic and Methods. In this presentation, Karen discusses data model-driven database development from the point of view of the Data Architect, the DBA, and the Developer. She will cover topics such as "Who does what?", "Why are we doing this?", "Do I have to Use a GUI?" and "Just who do you think you are?". Demos, too. Finally, 10 tips for making model-driven database development successful in your organization’s culture and environment.

Session Level: Beginner

Location: Cerner Corporation’s Riverport Campus, 6711 NE Birmingham Rd, Kansas City, MO, 64117

And Tom and I will be doing our full debate on Database Design: The Throwdown, as described above.  Registration is required for the SQL Saturday, but it’s totally free – you get swag, prizes and access to some of the best speakers in the SQL Server community.  I attended this last year in Kansas City and they did a fabulous job.  You want to be there, too.

Be The Next Microsoft Employee: @Data_Model and @VenusBarbie get makeovers – Behind the Scenes

Jul 24, 2012   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Fun, Speaking, SQL Server  //  2 Comments

Technical Barbies wait for filming to beginAs I shared with you previously, I’m a guest judge on Microsoft Learning’s new reality show, Be The Next Microsoft Employee.  In this contest, four SQL Server DBAs compete for a chance to work at Microsoft.  They have to go through all the normal Microsoft interview processes PLUS compete in front of cameras, crew and the Internet on a series of data-related challenges. The challenge I participated in, filmed on the Microsoft campus, was the last one and it was a doozy.

It should be no surprise to you that I took the Technical Barbies (@Data_Model and @VenusBarbie) along for the filming.  Since this was a hiring contest, I also brought along Working Woman Barbie, who comes with a suit that also turns into a glittery dance dress for after work fun.  Working Woman Barbie can talk, too.  She says fun things, but she talks too much about Ken.

When we arrived at the shoot, the first thing the Barbies got was a professional makeover.  Stylist Mimi Pettibone of StellarStyle.com has previous professional experience styling Barbies and action figures.  HOW LUCKY WAS THAT?  Mimi also gave me some great tips about styling and posing the Barbies.  Fishing line seems to be a key component.  I also showed her how I used clear braid rubber bands to help keep Barbie from losing her cell phone and shoes.  Just like I do.  Or should.

I live by a man’s code, designed to fit a man’s world, yet at the same time I never forget that a woman’s first job is to choose the right shade of lipstick.
– Carole Lombard

I’m not sure I agree with Ms. Lombard there, but both the Barbies and I had to wear lipstick for this shoot.  That’s how I knew I was on a reality show…just a different type of reality.

We took some before and after pictures.  I think I pretty much looked the same as VenusBarbie.  Mimi worked wonders with me.

VenusBarbie before

VenusBarbie in the chair

Working Woman Barbie in the chair

Data Model in the chair

Mimi did a fabulous job, don’t you think?

Technical Barbies after

Let’s Talk Agile Development and Data Modeling…Friends or Frenemies?

Jul 18, 2012   //   by Karen Lopez   //   Blog, Data, Data Modeling, Database Design, Events, Speaking  //  2 Comments

I’ll be joining host Graeme Simsion (@graemesimsion) and panelists  Terry Buino, John Giles, and Chris Woodruff for a lively and (I’m hoping) contentious discussion about Data Modeling in an Agile Environment.  This free webinar event will be hosted by Dataversity.net as part of their monthly series on data management issues.

We invite you to join us in this monthly DATAVERSITY webinar series, “Big Challenges with Data Modeling” hosted by Graeme Simsion. Join Graeme and two or more expert panelists each month to discuss their experiences in breaking through these specific data modeling challenges. Hear from experts in the field on how and where they came across these challenges and what resolution they found. Join them in the end for the Q&A portion to ask your own questions on the challenge topic of the month.

We four panelists come from a variety of backgrounds.  Two of us are Microsoft MVPs, one just wrote a book on Agile Data Modeling and another calls himself a born-again agilist.  Graeme is always the stimulating and controlling jocular host at these events…he’d have to be to manage the characters he has to herd in just a short period of time.

Many data architects and modelers tell me that they can’t or won’t work on agile projects.  Or that they’ve heard that there are no data models in agile approaches.  Worse, they’ve attended presentations by certain industry pundits who have been so anti-architecture that they don’t understand why anyone would attempt this.  But it’s not that way in practice.  Most of my projects over the last few years have been agile or SCRUM.  So I’m going to bring my experiences and stories to discussion, along with tips that I have for working on a software-focused delivery methodology. 

Find out whether agile is your friend or frenemy.

All you have to do is register to attend.  It’s free, too.

Data Governance and Stewardship Workshop, Chicago, 25 Jul – Join Me, We’ll Have a Blast

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On behalf of Embarcadero Technologies, I’m leading a workshop on Data Governance and Stewardship in Chicago, IL on 25 July.   This event is free to attend; all you have to do is register.

We’ll be talking about:
Effective data governance and stewardship is a crucial component of every business. InfoAdvisors’ Principal Consultant, Karen Lopez, will share essential guidance on:

  • Leveraging enterprise data as a corporate asset
  • Tips, tricks, and traps to avoid when developing a data governance program
  • Managing business expectations cost-effectively and time-efficiently

Karen will also reveal highlights on compliance and policy programs from recent discussions with data professionals in the US Federal Government and Industry organizations.

Karen is a Senior Project Manager and Architect at InfoAdvisors with more than twenty years of experience helping organizations implement large, multi-project programs. She specializes in taking practical approaches to systems development and has helped many IT departments choose appropriate methods and standards, based on the department’s culture, experience, and focus. Karen is the Moderator of InfoAdvisors/ITBoards.com IRM discussion groups, an online community of several thousand data management professionals and is also on the Board of Advisors for DAMA International and Zachman International. For more information, visit http://www.infoadvisors.com.

Data Governance Workshop Details

Date:        July 25, 2012
Time:        2-4pm
Location:  Discover Campus

2500 Lake Cook Road
RW2 Platinum Room
Riverwoods, IL 60015

Phone: 224-405-0900

I hope to make this interactive and fun.  There may also be space photos….

Data Governance, Stewardship and Compliance Webinar Recording Available

The recent webinar I did for Embarcadero is now available for viewing.  Enjoy.

Karen Lopez on Data Governance, Stewardship and Compliance.

If you are in the Chicago area, I will be be leading a similar workshop on 25 July 2012.  Details coming up in my next blog post.

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