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Tag: Brandeis GPS Student Experience (page 3 of 3)

Design Your Agile Project, Part 1

by: Johanna Rothman

Find the original post here: http://www.jrothman.com/blog/mpd/2014/03/design-your-agile-project-part-1-2.html

The more I see teams transition to agile, the more I am convinced that each team is unique. Each project is unique. Each organizational context is unique. Why would you take an off-the-shelf solution that does not fit your context? (I wrote Manage It! because I believe in a context-driven approach to project management in general.)

One of the nice things about Scrum is the inspect-and-adapt approach to it. Unfortunately, most people do not marry the XP engineering practices with Scrum, which means they don’t understand why their transition to agile fails. In fact, they think that Scrum alone,without the engineering practices, is agile. How many times do you hear “Scrum/Agile”? (I hear it too many times. Way too many.)

I like kanban, because you can see where the work is. “We have a lot of features in process.” Or, “Our testers never get to done.” (I hate when I hear that. Hate it! That’s an example of people not working as a cross-functional team to get to done. Makes me nuts. But that’s a symptom, not a cause.) A kanban board often provides more data than a Scrum board does.

Can there be guidelines for people transitioning to agile? Or guidelines for projects in a program? There can be principles. Let’s explore them.

The first one is to start by knowing how your product releases, starting with the end in mind. I’m a fan of continuous delivery of code into the code base. Can you deliver your product that way? Maybe.

How Does Your Product Release?

I wish there were just two kinds of products: those that released continuously, as in Software as a Service, and those with hardware, that released infrequently. The infrequent releases release that way because of the cost to release. But, there’s a continuum of release frequency:

Potential Release Frequency

How expensive is it to release your product? The expense of release will change your business decision about when to release your product.

You want to separate the business decision of releasing your product from making your software releasable.

That is, the more to the left of the continuum you are, the more you can marry your releases to your iterations or your features, if you want. Your project portfolio decisions are easier to make, and they can occur as often as you want, as long as you get to done, every feature or iteration.

The more to the right of the continuum you are, the more you need to separate the business decision of releasing from finishing features or iterations. The more to the right of the continuum, the more important it is to be able to get to done on a regular basis, so you can make good project portfolio decisions. Why? Because you often have money tied up in long-lead item expenses. You have to make decisions early for committing to hardware or Non Recurring Engineering expenses.

How Complex is Your Product?

Let’s look at the Cynefin model to see if it has suggestions for how we should think about our projects:

CynefinI’ll talk more about you might want to use the Cynefin model to analyze your project or program in a later post. Sorry, it’s a system, and I can’t do it all justice in one post.

In the meantime, take a look at the Cynefin model, and see where you think you might fall in the model.

Do you have one collocated cross-functional team who wants to transition to agile? You are in the “known knowns” situation for agile. As for your product, you are likely in the “known unknowns” situation. Are you willing to use the engineering practices and work in one- or two-week iterations? Almost anything in the agile or lean community will work for you.

As soon as you have more than one or two teams, or you have geographically distributed teams, or you are on the right hand side of the “Potential for Release Frequency” chart above, do you see how you are no longer in the “Complicated” or “Obvious” side of the Cynefin model? You have too many unknowns.

Where Are We Now?

Here are my principles:

  1. Separate the business decision for product release from the software being releasable all the time. Whatever you have for a product, you want the software to be releasable.
  2. Understand what kind of a product you have. The closer you are to the right side of the product release frequency, the more you need a program, and the more you need a kanban to see where everything is in your organization, so you can choose to do something about them.
  3. Make sure your batch size is as small as you can make it, program or project. The smaller your features, the more you will see your throughput. The shorter your iteration, the more feedback you will obtain from your product owner and “the business.” You want the feedback so you can learn, and so your management can manage the project portfolio.
  4. Use the engineering practices. I cannot emphasize this enough. If you do not keep your stories small so that you can develop automated unit tests, automated system tests, use continuous integration, swarm around stories or pair, and use the XP practices in general, you will not have the safety net that agile provides you to practice at a sustainable pace. You will start wondering why you are always breathless, putting in overtime, never able to do what you want to do.

If you have technical debt, start to pay it down a little at a time, as you implement features. You didn’t accumulate it all at once. Pay it off a little at a time. Or, decide that you need a project to prevent the cost of delay for release. If you are a technical team, you have a choice to be professional. No one is asking you to estimate without providing your own safety net. Do not do so.

This post is for the easier transitions, the people who want to transition, the people who are collocated, the people who have more knowns than unknowns. The next post is for the people who have fewer knowns. Stay tuned.

Johanna Rothman

Graduates with Roots in STEM Face Growing Career Opportunities

By:

As we enter May, young people here in Boston and across the country are about to embark on a new chapter in their lives. Many will be graduating from college and taking their first step into the great, wide, professional world. Question marks fill their future as they wonder what kind of opportunities await them and their hard-earned bachelor’s degrees.

While it is impossible to forecast the job market with absolute certainty, it is undeniable that the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) hold the greatest opportunities for job seekers now and in the future. Industries like renewable energy, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and technology are rapidly growing and demand increasing numbers of skilled workers to sustain their expansion.

The computer and math occupations account for close to half of all STEM employment, followed by engineering with 32 percent, and then physical and life sciences at 13 percent, according to U.S. Department of Commerce. Significant growth is projected for computer and mathematical scientists, engineers and engineering technicians, architects and architectural technicians and more STEM occupations.

Those with strong STEM education backgrounds “will find themselves at the center of our new economy,” tech expert Vinay Trivedi said in the Huffington Post.

But unfortunately demand is outpacing supply when it comes to STEM-related careers. Fewer students are pursuing advanced math and science degrees, creating a problematic skills gap threatening the United States’ position in the new global economy.

The U.S. ranks 30th in math and 23rd in science, according to latest Program for International Student Assessment; and the latest ACT results show that only 44 percent of our high school graduates are ready for college-level math, and just 36 percent are ready for college-level science, the National Math & Science Initiative reported.

The impact of the skills deficit which develops in secondary level education has deleterious consequences once those students reach college. Many students abandon interest in STEM career by the end of their sophomore year, Irv Epstein, Professor of Chemistry at Brandeis University, observed.

It is a national imperative to reverse this trend. President Barack Obama declared creating the next generation of STEM leaders an educational priority for the nation at his State of the Union Address in January.

“I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can’t find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that–openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work,” he said. “That’s inexcusable. And we know how to fix it.”

Many have answered President Obama’s call to improve STEM education. In addition to early education initiatives, select colleges and universities have stepped up including Brandeis University who has partnered with the Posse Foundation to provide merit-based scholarships to minority students interested in pursuing STEM degrees.

But meanwhile, as programs launch to serve the next generation of students, the STEM jobs are still waiting, available for current job seekers who have the skills and ambition to seize the opportunity.

For those who lack adequate STEM skills but are eager to break into expanding, innovative industries, there is a way for them to bridge the skills gap: graduate education. Don’t wait for a job to pop up that fits your resume. Act now to get the training you need for the jobs available.

Original Post: http://bostinno.streetwise.co/channels/stem-education-leads-to-career-opportunity-1/

Watch Your Language: How Security Professionals Miscommunicate About Risk

Author: Derek Brink

Original Post: https://blogs.rsa.com/watch-language-security-professionals-miscommunicate-risk/

What a joy it is to be understood! Yet many security professionals find it difficult to be understood by the business decision-makers they are trying to advise.

“They just don’t get it,” we say. And we grumble that our committed, faithful, and honorable efforts to protect the company and its assets are under-recognized, under-appreciated . . . and under-funded.

riskWe could try speaking louder, and more slowly—the comedic memes for how we instinctively try to communicate with someone who speaks a different language.

Of course, we could start trying to speak the same language. That would probably yield better results.

The way we talk about risk is a prime example of how we habitually miscommunicate. Security professionals mistakenly think they are talking about risk, when they are, in fact, talking about threats, vulnerabilities, and exploits. Some examples include

  • Phishing attacks: This is not a risk. It’s an exploit of a very common vulnerability (humans).
  • OWASP Top 10: These are mistakenly described as “The 10 Most Critical Web Application Security Risks,” but they are not risks. They’re vulnerabilities and exploits.
  • Advanced persistent threats: This isn’t a risk. It’s a threat. (Even when we get the name right, we get it wrong.)
  • Rootkits: This is not a risk. It’s a type of exploit.

As security professionals, we tend to go on and on, talking about threats, vulnerabilities, exploits, and the technologies that help to defend against them, and we think we’re talking about risk. Meanwhile, the business decision-makers we’re trying to advise are confused and frustrated.

So, what is the right language? What is risk?

Shon Harris, author of the popular CISSP All-in-One Exam Guide, defines risk as “the likelihood of a threat agent exploiting a vulnerability, and the corresponding business impact.” Douglas Hubbard, author of The Failure of Risk Management: Why It’s Broken, and How to Fix It, defines risk as “the probability and magnitude of a loss, disaster, or other undesirable event.” (And in an even simpler version: “something bad could happen.”)

To be very clear, it’s not that there are multiple definitions of risk, or that the definition of risk is unclear. It’s that we as security professionals aren’t speaking the right language. When we speak about security risks, we should be speaking about the probability of successful exploits, and the magnitude of the corresponding business impact.

Imagine yourself in the role of the business decision-maker, and imagine that your subject matter experts presented you with the following assessment of risks related to endpoint security:

  • Cleverly engineered stealth malware, rootkits, is designed to evade detection, and persists on endpoints for prolonged periods of time. And new strains of malware are targeting an area of endpoints that performs critical start-up operations, the master boot record, which can provide attackers with a wide variety of capabilities for penetration, persistence, and control. In both cases, we may already be infected, but not even aware.
  • There is a 15 percent probability that an endpoint security exploit will result in business disruption and productivity losses that may exceed $5M.

internet-security1Which of these would be more helpful to you in terms of informing a decision about endpoint security? (It should go without saying that this point could just as easily apply to managing identities and access, or data protection, or application security, or mobility initiatives, and so on. Endpoint security is just an illustrative example.)

Clearly, the second option is more helpful. And the second option is properly framed in terms of risk.

In no way does this guarantee what the actual decision will be. One decision-maker might conclude, “I approve your request to invest in additional endpoint security controls to reduce this risk,” while another decision-maker might conclude, “that’s a risk I’m willing to live with.” But that’s okay—as security professionals, we will have done our job.

By better understanding how to communicate about security risks, we will also enjoy the benefits of being better understood.

About the Author:

BA8D94F2924E634831C8CA3D8E7179C7477BBC1Derek E. Brink, CISSP is a Vice President and Research Fellow covering topics in IT Security and IT GRC for Aberdeen Group, a Harte-Hanks Company. He is also a adjunct faculty with Brandeis University, Graduate Professional Studies teaching courses in our Information Security Program. For more blog posts by Derek, please see http://blogs.aberdeen.com/category/it-security/  and http://aberdeen.com/_aberdeen/it-security/ITSA/practice.aspx

Just Announced: Eric Siegel as GPS Commencement Speaker

eric_med_3Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies is pleased to announce our 2014 Commencement speaker for the Rabb School of Continuing Studies Diploma Ceremony, Eric Siegel, PhD.

Eric completed his undergraduate degree from Brandeis University in 1991, and subsequently earned his PhD from Columbia University. Eric is the founder of Predictive Analytics World and Text Analytics World. He is the Executive Editor of the Predictive Analytics Times, and he makes the how and why of predictive analytics understandable and captivating. Eric is the author of Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die and a former Columbia University professor who used to sing to his students. He is a renowned speaker, educator, and leader in the field. He has appeared on Bloomberg TV and Radio, Fox News, BNN (Canada), Israel National Radio, Radio National (Australia), The Street, Newsmax TV, and NPR affiliates. Eric and his book have been featured in Businessweek, CBS MoneyWatch, The Financial Times, Forbes, Forrester, Fortune, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and WSJ MarketWatch.

 

My Student Experience

by: Daniel Mongeon

Twenty-three years.  That’s the length of time that has eclipsed since I last enrolled in a “for credit” course.  I earned my undergrad at that time and never looked back, until recently.  I had been contemplating taking a course for both professional development and as a possible gateway to applying to a Masters program, but I didn’t really want to do it.

My two sons are 5 and 3.  Seeing them when I arrive home from work is the best part of my day, but it’s still stepping from one job to another.  The second best part of my day is when they’re tucked into bed and I can indulge in some “me” time.  I guard that “me” time jealously and I didn’t want to have my vigorous schedule of TV and reading interrupted by coursework.  Thankfully, my wife and my mother, an educator, wouldn’t allow me to rest on my laurels and I enrolled in RCOM 102 Professional Communications for the Spring 2014 term.

As the opening day for GPS courses approached, my dread increased but I tamped those program-hero-itm1feelings down with hollow sounding (to me) platitudes about “stepping outside of one’s comfort zone” and prepared for the 10 weeks to follow.  After reading through my syllabus and posting my initial introduction, I mapped out a schedule that seemed doable.  Wednesday would be my day for required readings.  Thursday would be for researching and posting my response to my instructor’s discussion post.  Friday would be for working on assignments and responding to posts by my classmates.  Saturday would be a day off, a break from schoolwork.  Sunday, Monday and Tuesday would be for completion of any tasks that needed to be wrapped up by the end of the course week.

It was a good plan, but what is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men?  Right.  Life happens.  Sometimes a buddy I hadn’t seen in a while would only have Wednesday night free to hang out.  Perhaps I had a commitment on Friday.  There was that wedding to attend in Brooklyn on the weekend of Week 8.  There were times that I just couldn’t wrap my head around getting my work done and would stare at my computer screen, trying to will an idea to pop into my head.

skills-pmpI got through it, however.  Mores to the point, I enjoyed it.  I enjoyed reading posts from other students and constructing a decent response.  Through the research I had to do for my discussion posts and assignments, I learned things that could assist me in not only my job but my day to day life.  Our instructor was excellent at keeping our discussions moving if they bogged down. I found satisfaction in logging in to the class and seeing if there were any responses to what I had posted.  Getting my grades back and reading my instructor’s feedback pushed me to shore up the areas that needed strengthening.

Mostly, I found that stepping outside of my comfort zone wasn’t just an empty platitude; it was a way of “exercising” unused mental faculties and coming out the other side having discovered that I have the capacity to fit more education into my hectic life.  I found that you can come to like something you initially dreaded.

I got an ‘A’ in the course and plan to continue my studies. Although for now, I have some Red Sox games to enjoy, an instructional baseball team to coach and waves to catch.  See you in class.

About the Author:

Daniel Mongeon is a Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies Student Advisor. He has been with GPS for over 3 years and knows all there is to know about your student experience. He is a graduate from Emerson College and loves to surf, watch the sox and spend time with his family.

Following Your Storyboard: Key to Effective Presentations

By: Phil Holberton

Original Post from: http://holberton.com/sol_vol-3-no1.html

marketing-sales-presentationsPutting your storyboard together is one of the most important activities of preparing to give a presentation. Each storyboard should contain the following elements.

  • Opening
  • Main Points
  • Supporting Points
  • Details – For Clarity
  • Closing

I’m often amazed when I see corporate business plan presentations. They look like the preparer took all the information in his or her head and dumped it into a PowerPoint® presentation. Not only do they seem just a data dump, but they don’t communicate the necessary information–they prevent the audience members from comprehending what is important. Our job as leaders is to convert/translate data into information, adding our interpretation and wisdom to the content.

Many corporate presenters are communicating very complex information–much of it scientifically — or technically-based. Sometimes the information is so technical and complex that it is over the heads of audiences. The first activity that every presenter needs to focus on is, “who is your audience?” Understanding the capacity of your audience will help you design your storyboard. The real challenge comes when the audience capacity is so broad that you have equal risk of speaking down to people as you do of speaking beyond them. One gifted presenter I have the pleasure of knowing and working with will spend time developing a simple primer of the subject to be covered, starting out with simple statements and examples, and escalating the degree of complexity, thereby bringing his audience along. Less skilled presenters will start right in on their subject without any warm-up–and they lose their audience at the very beginning. This is especially common when a presentation builds upon preceding theories. Once you lose your audience, it is difficult to get their attention back.

From the list of storyboard elements, start with the last one, developing your closing, first. Always begin with the end in mind. What do you want your audience to take away from this presentation? Is it information? Do you want them to move to action? Knowing this in advance will help you build your presentation. After you are clear about the outcomes, then you can begin to put your main points into place.

“In the beginning…” Isn’t this a famous saying? Well, in the beginning of your presentation, you need to set the tone of what you intend to cover and lay out the framework of where you are headed. Establishing a bond with your audience is key to gaining their confidence in you as the presenter of the information. Look audience members in the eye, use pauses effectively, and open strongly by sharing with them the scope of your subject and what your approach in presenting it will be. At some level, you are “selling” them on listening to you. And, let’s face it, we are all nervous when we begin a presentation, but don’t use jokes to fill an empty space and don’t set expectations that you can’t fulfill. All along, we want a style of presentation that establishes credibility with the audience–not by telling them how good we are, but instead by sharing examples that support our material and demonstrate our expertise. Being perceived as an expert is paramount to delivering an effective presentation. This convincing can be quick for some, but for other audience members, it may take some time.

Reach_Your_AudienceIn our presentation, we want to identify the two or three main points that we would like our audiences to remember. These main points must be reinforced throughout our presentation. Repetition does not necessarily hurt. Many times, presenters are so enamored with all the material they know about a particular topic that they just carry on with so much detail that it is impossible for the audience to absorb all the content. This data dump, as opposed to the communication of relative information, adds confusion instead of clarity. Details should add clarity to the subject, not burden the audience with superfluous data.

As presenters of information, you should add your “spin” or “wisdom” to the content. Part of the presentation objective is to communicate content with color and part of the color is your opinion. Just make sure that your opinions are supported with information. Opinion is the value add that we provide as the deliverer of the content.

Unfortunately, we (me included) often feel so pressed for time, that we bypass the important step of building the storyboard, moving directly to creation of the presentation. Take an hour or so of quiet and map out your presentations. Like most important activities in our lives, if we take the time to plan, we will be happier with the outcomes.

Now ask yourself… “Am I a Leader?”

About the Author:

Philip Holberton, BA, CPA, is the founder of Holberton Group Inc – Speaking of Leadership, a business advisory firm specializing in strategic, organizational, and executive coaching. He is an adjunct faculty at Brandeis University Graduate Professional Studies and serves on our Professional Advisory Board.

Mr. Holberton is the author of the popular blog – Speaking of Leadership. 

My Student Experience

by: Rebecca Weiss

I cannot believe the term is already over! While it seems like these past ten weeks flew by, program-hero-strategic-analyticsI can remember there still being so much snow on the ground the first week and now we finally have beautiful weather outside.

This was my first course with GPS as well as my first graduate course since I graduated from undergrad at Brandeis almost two years ago, so it certainly was an exciting new experience. I was enrolled in Foundations of Data Science and Analytics, one of the required courses for the newest master’s program, Strategic Analytics. I was definitely intimidated when I first began, as an Enrollment Advisor at Brandeis, I had very little formal experience working with analytics. I found as I worked through the course, I could apply the principles I learned into many facets of my day-to-day job and the operations of the university as a whole. Our instructor, Leanne Bateman, was great at making sure we related each week’s discussion back to our own experiences at work. I particularly enjoyed one of our assignments where we had to write a job description for a data scientist in our own office.

CoffeeShopIt was an adjustment to get back into the mindset of doing schoolwork. My first week I left all of my reading and videos for Saturday afternoon and I sat in Starbucks for almost 8 hours! But after the first few weeks, I got into a rhythm of setting out times on particular days to do readings and postings.  After these ten weeks, I am very glad that I took the course and I think it will greatly benefit me at work. I plan on taking the summer off, but maybe I will enroll in my second GPS course in the fall!

 

About the Author:

Rebecca Weiss graduated from Brandeis University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Sociology. Currently, she works with Brandeis Graduate Professional Studies as an Enrollment Advisor.

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All Done

jobdoneDone…need I say more? Give me a couple of days to rest and I’ll write more. For now, my course is done and I need a break!

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Reaching My Goal!

Week 9A dear friend of mine hired a cleaning lady during the time she was completing her master’s degree. I was a bit shocked that she would spend the money on something that she could easily find time to complete.  Fresh out of college with little personal/family commitment outside of my full time job, I just did not get it.  That was then and this is now.  As I finish up week 9 of my course with many more personal/family/work commitments that I could ever imagine, I am ready to hire that cleaning lady! Along with a chef, nanny, dry cleaner and chauffeur!! To be truly honest, the course increasingly got harder and harder as the weeks passed.  I have to complete a topic paper, discussions posts, group project and presentation as well as team paper.  I’m stressed a bit but I step back and think, I will be done with a master’s course at Brandeis in less than a week. I would have accomplished something that not all people can say they have accomplished. As I said before…I can do this, I’m sure of it!

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Week 7

Week 7It’s been a while but what can I say? I’ve been busy. I am wrapping up week 7 of my course and it is hard to believe that there are less than 3 full weeks of coursework left.  There are many hurdles I have to overcome in between birthday parties, holidays, work events but I’ll get there. I keep repeating to myself “I’m almost done”, “I’m almost done”, “I’m almost done”. I’m nervous about my grade between the remaining papers I have left to submit and my group project but these sleepless nights will be worth it…I’m sure of it. I may have said this in past weeks but I can actually take what I’m learning and directly contribute it what I do at work. I’m still surprised at how I am making these connections as I didn’t have it this evident in my first master’s degree program. Look at me being all optimistic and stuff. I am actually enjoying this class despite some bumps and bruises these past 7 weeks. Let’s see if I’m still optimistic when my final grade is received!

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