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The Wisdom I’d Give a Grasshopper

By Dan Hadaway | Monday, April 3, 2000 - Leave a Comment

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Another one of those Dan’s New Leaf Posts, meant to inspire thought about IT Governance . . . .


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These days I have been working with an intern, new to the world of using technology in the 21st century.  The poor guy.  He’s getting an earful about technology in the 21st century.  (Yes, he already knows what the American Monkey Trap is.). And right off the bat, I’ve found myself calling him “grasshoppa,” in jest.  I was surprised, pleasantly, that I did not have to explain the whole Kung Fu thing to him.

He’s being nice to me, and remaining enthusiastic despite my over dramatization of our relationship!  And thus, I’ve been thinking a lot about the “axioms” that I can give to this person, concise words of wisdom that he would benefit from the rest of his life.  I wanted to hand him three “primary lessons.”  So as we work together, I keep this in mind.

Interestingly, I have also been searching for a good topic for my next Dan’s New Leaf article.  I have been wanting to write some suggestive make a suggestion we should give ourselves and all of those we work with, especially those we meet with:  It relies on one of the first “axioms” I learned, right after college.  My boss at the time reflected, “you take a lot of notes.”  I probably proudly creeped, at the time as proud of my impeccable handwriting as I was my ability to write almost everything I heard.  But then my boss surprised me.  “But are we using them?”

He then reminded me of a decision we had made together, that I wrote down in my notes, but that we both had forgotten.

Early in my career I learned to be glad of that early lesson.  I had since, at one time, been known as the auditor who takes color-coded notes.

Nowadays we all take notes in our phones.  I worry we do’t listen to each other as much in meetings, because we’re busy taking notes on our phones. Thus I”m compelled to add to the above suggestion, a set of axioms we used back in the eighties, when we were all focused on meeting management best practices . . . a meeting isn’t productive without minutes.  And minutes aren’t minutes without decisions.  And decisions are not decisions without deadlines.

We learned this over a period of ten years, always trying to make our meetings more productive.  We learned that without decisions in the minutes, nobody would follow-through (we’d forget what to follow-through on!). And we realized that without a deadline, nobody would know when to start providing status.

A decision without a deadline is merely a wish.  A meeting without minutes gets no credit.  And minutes that reflect no decisions are not worth the read.

So when I say, “don’t take notes, use notes,” I mean “find a way to document decisions so that we can live up to the commitments inherent in those decisions.”

All this, I’m thinking . . . while working with my grasshoppa . . .

So my three axioms?  I reserve the right to change them (I’ll be working with him all summer), but to-date, I”m thinking that it’s really one axiom, and three bullet points to explain what I mean by the axiom:

Axiom:  Don’t take notes, use notes.

1) An important part of leadership/working is decision-making.

2) An important part of communication is documenting decisions made.

3) Status is the key reason for a deadline, and a decision is not a decision without a deadline.


Original article by Dan Hadaway CRISC CISA CISM. Founder and Managing Partner, infotex

“Dan’s New Leaf” is a “fun blog to inspire thought in the area of IT Governance.”


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