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Valuable Values

We all have things that are important to us but it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle of everyday life and forget what’s important. We can either completely forget our values or, at the very least, end up making small compromises that end up getting us far off of our path. I struggle with this as well.

There are a number of great books, videos, etc. out there that talk about setting priorities, having values, staying focused, etc. To me, it seems that the key is that we need to boil our focus down to specific, core elements, and work to retain appropriate focus. We have to very clearly define what is valuable to us. EVERYTHING has to find its way back to that focus.

When our daughters were first born, my wife and I sat down and discussed what we desired for our daughters. This wasn’t about who they’d marry, what job they’d have, how they’d look, etc. It was about who they’d be, their character and the impact they’d have on the world around us. We focused on finishing the sentence of “I know your daughter, she’s…”, then we went on to fill in the blank. That fill is what we focused on and continue to focus on in our parenting. (Time will tell how successful we are at this.)

We do the same thing in our business. We look at what we want the business to be and do, then we focus on the actions that will accomplish those goals. EVERY action we take MUST answer back to those core, foundational values. For us, we focus on three core values of integrity, impact and growth. In the past, we had 5 – 10 different core values but found that it was too much to remember all of the time and, as we really spent time thinking about our values, we found that they all distilled down to the foundational values of integrity, impact and growth.

What are your core values? What’s most important to you? What are you doing, right now, to make sure that those core values are remaining your primary focus and that you aren’t getting caught up in things that are just pulling you away and distracting you from what really matters most?

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JNR Networks Named to CRN MSP 500 List

Three Years in a Row!

We take great pride in continually exceeding our clients’ expectations. In recognition of our outstanding levels of client satisfaction and innovation in the industry, we were just named, for the 3rd year in a row, by CRN, a brand of The Channel Company to their annual listing of Top Managed Service Providers (MSP). The first year, we were named in their NextGen 250 list and, for the past two years, we have been named to their MSP 500 list.

Every year, CRN assembles a list of North American solution providers with cutting-edge approaches to delivering managed services. Their offerings help companies navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of IT, improve operational inefficiencies and maximize their return on IT investments.

The list is divided into three categories: the MSP Pioneer 250, recognizing companies with business models weighted toward managed services and largely focused on the SMB market; the MSP Elite 150, recognizing large, data center-focused MSPs with a strong mix of on-premise and off-premise services; and the Managed Security 100, recognizing MSPs focused primarily on off-premise, cloud-based security services.

“Managed service providers play an increasingly important role in the day-to-day operations of businesses across North America,” said Robert Faletra, CEO of The Channel Company. “MSPs help organizations streamline their spending, effectively allocate limited resources, and benefit from advanced expertise in the latest technologies. We congratulate the service providers on CRN’s 2017 MSP 500 list, who have continually succeeded in meeting their customers’ changing needs and help them get the most out of their IT investments.”

The MSP 500 list will be featured in the February 2017 issue of CRN and online at www.CRN.com/msp500.

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Human Networks

The concept of a Human Network is a core part of the JNR Networks design philosophy…it affects every aspect of what we do. While the concept can seem a bit confusing at first, this page is intended to shed a little light onto the topic.

JNR Networks started as a technology consulting firm and we still are. However, we realized that just consulting with companies on their technology was inadequate and produced rather myopic solutions. THE REASON IS SIMPLE – technology that lacks integration with business models, goals and people is incomplete and shortsighted. This method results in multiple systems lacking integration and efficiency.

As we recognized this problem, we backed up and looked at how business works, the people in businesses and the various technology at use. We realized that people (or humans) are at the core of all of the different things that happen in businesses. While businesses need to produce a product, serve their clients and make money, they are not truly successful if the people in the business are not properly connected (or networked). People need to be able to perform their work in a way that allows each person’s work and function to interconnect with others.

This is where the concept of Human Networks comes into play. When we survey a business, we look at the ways that the people within the business connect and work together. Our expertise comes in helping to find, implement and support systems that enable those connections to occur more consistently and produce better results. While many of our solutions involve technology, our focus is not on technology. Our focus is on the people that the technology enables, the function they are enabled to do and the business need that is satisfied by that solution.

Simply put, we are not looking to sell technology. Instead, we look to help our clients maximize their Human Networks. Indeed, our purpose is to help businesses develop healthy human networks where all systems and people work together optimally. The solutions and systems that we design, implement and support are built with this focus in mind.

If you would like to learn more about Human Networks and how we can help to enable the Human Networks within your organization to function more effectively, please contact us.

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The Spirit vs the Letter of the Law in Handbook Policies

Often, we work with our clients to help write IT policies for their Employee Handbook. I have mixed feelings doing this as part of me wants to write out every detail of the policies while another part of me wants to scream and just say “do the right thing!” This exemplifies the different approaches to writing handbook policies. One approach is to detail every single possible element while the other is to provide an overriding vision for what is considered right and wrong and expect people to fill in the gaps with common sense.

My oldest daughter is a competitive CrossFit athlete and this tension on standards came up this past week in the CrossFit world. In the spring, a worldwide competition, called the CrossFit Open, runs over 5 weeks. Each week, a specified workout is published, along with defined standards on the performance of that workout. In the first workout, the athletes had to perform a “bar over burpee”. Part of the movement is to jump over a bar, loaded with weights. In almost every case, you do this with a bar that is loaded with standard-sized plates. However, one group looked at the rules and thought they might be able to get a competitive edge by putting smaller plates on the bar so it wouldn’t be as high off of the ground. Approval was received from a regional CrossFit Director but their policies state that approval must be received from CrossFit Headquarters. As it stands now, CrossFit Headquarters has said that the modification was not allowable and violated the standards because it unfairly modified the range of motion the athlete must go through. As a result, CrossFit has assessed a severe penalty on all athletes in the group.

On social media, there is a firestorm over this CrossFit “controversy” with people feeling strongly on one side or the other. The interesting thing, however, is that both sides are right. On the one side, the athletes followed the letter of the law and sought and received approval from someone they reasonably believed had the authority to approve their request. On the other side, approval was not received from the proper person and the standard was modified beyond the spirit of the standard.

I say all of this to point out that, as leaders, we can tend to live on one side of the fence or the other. Either we detail exactly how we want something done or we just tell someone to “get it done” or “do the right thing”. It seems that both approaches leave quite a bit of room for well-meaning misunderstanding. When we respect this, we can seek to find a way to convey our intentions while also providing adequate detail in the policies we write ensuring that our intentions are understood at both the detailed and conceptual levels.

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Cloud Computing and Land Grabs

The whole emergence of cloud computing is a very interesting phenomenon. It is most definitely driven by consumers demanding more and more mobile solutions but it is also driven by something else…money. The thing that’s been interesting is that much of the cloud computing world has been rapidly dropping prices. Consequently, this is hurting their revenue…at least in the short-term. So, how does this all work and where is it going…good questions. I don’t know that I’m smart enough to answer every possible question but here are a few of my thoughts and observations.

The first part of the model is oversubscription. It’s done everywhere from telephone and Internet providers to airlines and much more. Cloud providers are banking on varying percentages of their customers not using all of the service they’re subscribing to. For example, if a provider brings in 1,000 customers and offers them each 1 Terabyte of storage, the provider doesn’t necessarily need to have 1,000 Terabytes of storage to serve those clients. They need, maybe, 250 Terabytes to serve that customer group.

The second and, I believe, bigger part is a land grab.

One dirty little secret of cloud computing is that it is, for the most part, VERY hard to get away from a cloud provider. Solutions like Office 365 are standardized enough that they are relatively easy to move away from but more advanced solutions, like Amazon Web Services, are VERY difficult to move away from. Some services, like SalesForce and QuickBooks Online are virtually impossible to fully leave without losing at least some of your data. IF you can get away from the provider, it will usually be at a very high cost both in money and potential data you can’t take with you. Cloud providers know how difficult it is to move away from them and are banking on this. Once they have you, they can increase their rates and there is little you can do. We have been seeing this happen in a number of the services out there.

Even if the cloud provider isn’t planning on cranking up your rates, most of the pricing models that are presently out there are not sustainable, unless they are viewed as a loss leader. If that is the case, expect providers to either reduce the free/low cost services or stop developing those services and charge you for the newer solutions. Over the next few years, I believe the “charges” for those solutions will be quite a bit higher than we have seen in the past.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t to say that cloud computing is horrible, it is just to say that we need to have an accurate understanding of what it is. In its proper context, cloud computing can be cost effective and very scalable. Taken out of its proper context, you are taking a massive gamble with your data, the future of cloud computing and the future of your business…those are things I’m VERY hesitant to gamble with.

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