First we take Redmond, then we take Berlin & Ede: Summits & Conferences


The traveling & speaking MVP

MVPs are a busy lot. They work, learn, travel & talk a lot. Why to share knowledge & experiences for the benefit of all. So in order to keep that reputation going I’ll be heading to SEATAC to attend the Global MVP Summit 2014 in Bellevue/Redmond. After that tech fest I return to Belgium where I’ll immediately head towards Berlin to present at the Microsoft Technical Summit 2014. After a weekend of rest I head north to The Netherlands to present at Experts Live.

No rest for the wicked. There is a a tremendous amount of things happening in IT right now. It takes a little bit of effort to keep up an asses the benefits and value butt once you’re doing that as part of your normal day to day operations it becomes a lot easier to map out  why it’s useful to you and what to use where, when and how.

All this is happening at a time that the information on “Treshold” or Windows vNext is becoming available if we can believe the rumors and the buzz on the internet. Don’t forget that TechEd Europe 2014 is on in the last week of October in Barcelona right before the MVP Summit in Redmond. Like Aidan Finn said, we could go on a 3 month presenting, training & consulting tour right now as the need for insights & skills is growing with the growth in Hyper-V adoption and with that all related technologies from networking, storage to Azure.

Now I can’t invite you to the MVP Summit but I can do that for both the Microsoft Technical Summit 2014 and Experts Live. There will be a lot of international expertise at both events who have hands on expertise with the technology in real life production environments. I always pick up knowledge form them myself.

The Global MVP Summit 2014

Every MVP on this planet tries to make it to the MVP Summit. The face time with and access to so many intelligent people at MSFT is invaluable. Combine that with the opportunity to network experts form all over the globe and you realize why we spend the time effort and money to attend.

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So once more we hop on that great Boeing 747 and let BA fly us to SEA-TAC airport from where we’ll head to Bellevue/Redmond as the summit is spread between both locations.

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The MVP is NDA. So there will be tweets about the fun stuff with fellow MVPs but other than that we’ll be going dark. We have never and will never breach NDA. We’ll also make some time to meet up with old acquaintances, friends and fellow Belgians living & working around Seattle/Bellevue/Redmond.

Microsoft Technical Summit 2014

The moment I get back home I grab a change of clothes & a flight to Berlin.

The Microsoft Technical Summit 2014 is on in Berlin and together with a great number of fellow MVPs I have the distinct pleasure of presenting What’s new in Failover Clustering (Windows 2012 R2).

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It’s amazing to see how many of our community experts are actually from Germany, Austria & Switzerland (DACH) and I’ll be happy so see so many familiar faces I just saw on the other side of the big pond just a week before Smile

Experts Live 2014

On November 18th I’ll be in The Netherlands at Experts Live 2014 in Ede. This is a great event and if you know the brain power of the organizers & presenters this is no surprise. I’ll be presenting “The Capable & Scalable Cloud OS “ and showing some of the scalable capabilities in Windows Server 2012 R2 when combined with great hardware. image

So that’s the travelling & scheduling agenda for now. Perhaps I’ll see you at one of those events & if you’re a reader of this blog ping us if you’ll be there for a meet and great. Live is good Smile.

Stupidity Is Not A Great Consulting Skill


Most companies don’t get that body shopping and contracting is not consulting. And today way too many consultants don’t match up to the requirements of being one. So basically these people pay way too much for too little. I have no mercy for fake consultants and companies so messed up in their political crap they fail to recognize quality and value. Just read The do’s and don’ts when engaging consultants Part I and The do’s and don’ts when engaging consultants Part II where I’ve given some rules of fist for optimizing the use of consultants. But here’s some advice to fake consultants. At least try to act professional and be nice. Because one on the main rules of long term happiness while staying employed is the fact that people not want to work with a*holes.

  • Don’t download or synchronize hacking tools while at your employer/customer.
  • If you’re an IT Pro or developer  and you cannot figure out how to expand or mount an ISO with the tools on a modern PC/OS you should realize they want to fire you on the spot for gross incompetence.
  • Playing games like a long term frustrated employee with help desk personnel regarding mundane tasks and leveraging policies or rules as excused not to get work done is annoying, immature & frowned upon.
  • Waiting until you get asked why you didn’t get work done to mention your PC got confiscated due to a security incident an the replacement was missing a tool proves you’re a dead weight.
  • Churning is nothing short of fraud. You deliver real work or get out.
  • It’s rather easy to see that the hours you telecommute are not matching your time sheets. It gets noted. At best they’ll pull a Yahoo on you.
  • When you state that optimizing parallelism in SQL Server and using multiple LUNs and data files is waste of time in an environment that’s on the record for being in the top 5 SQL server operations in the country you might perhaps realize you are being an a* hole. Yes it requires some work, the database is not designed to cater to your laziness, but for performance.
  • It’s designed and build at a great value point by skilled people who earn mediocre wages but are very good and love what they do. Do you even realize the level of your arrogance and the fact that you are now on the “do not hire list”?
  • Realize that not all people who’re working as an employee are clueless sheep that only serve to line your pockets. Most of them are good. Many of of them are great, some even excellent to exceptional. Even when not subject matter experts they’ll see through any fake expertise.

Look, when you’re dead, you don’t realize that, so for you there is no drawback, it’s all good. It’s your surroundings that notice it and have to deal with the loss, the pain. It’s the same when you are stupid. It’s the people around you that suffer. Get it?

Speaking At The ITPROceed Event–June 12th 2014, ALM Antwerp


The Belgian IT Pro community is organizing the ITPROceed event a “technology geek fest” as they call it on their web site.

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It’s a joint venture between the IT pro community and Microsoft Belgium to help you all proceed in designing, deploying and operating Microsoft technologies.

The sessions will not only help you proceed but succeed as well. The speakers are Microsoft MVPs, MEET members & passionate community experts. They’ll share expertise & information gather by using these technologies in real life deployments.

A rich mix of technologies you have available and need today will be discussed like the Cloud OS, System Center, SQL, Office 365, Windows 8, Unified Communications, Lync, Azure and SharePoint.

I’m speaking

I’ll be speaking about the features in Windows Server 2012 R2 that make it “The Scalable & Capable Cloud OS”.

Come see how you can leverage the capabilities of Windows Server 2012 R2, a true cloud OS, to achieve powerful and scalable solutions. We’ll demonstrate how to use technologies as SMB Direct, DVMQ/vRSS, ODX, UNMAP, VHDX and Storage QoS. This will help you get the most out of commodity infrastructure and investment in Windows today.  We’ll share our experiences with you based on real life deployments to help you proceed and succeed.

Join us!

Really, make time in your schedule and attend this event by registering here.

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Attend the sessions, talk shop with your peers and discuss your questions with the experts. I’ll see you there.

Conferences On My Roadmap For 2014


Here’s a little roadmap of conferences on my radar screen for 2014. Some I can’t attend because of conflicts in my schedule and other priorities, but I list ‘m here for your consideration.

DELL Enterprise Forum

If you’re working with Dell technologies, either hardware or software this is for you. It very interactive and you get provide feedback to the product teams as well as briefings on what coming. Some are under NDA, some not.

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TechEd North America 2014

I’m attending, everything has been arranged. So if you’re a blog reader/twitter follower give us a ping.

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E2EVC 2014 Brussels

This is a non marketing event by experts in virtualization. So these people design, implement and support virtualization solutions for a living.  E2EVC Virtualization Conference is a non-commercial, it does not run a profit for the organizers or speakers. Everybody volunteers. The attendance fee covers the costs of the conference rooms, coffee breaks and such. The value is in the knowledge sharing and the networking.

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See http://workinghardinit.wordpress.com/2014/02/03/e2evc-2014-brussels/

OSCON 2014

I love watching the OSCON presentations on line and it’s one of my never attended that on my must attend list. Whether that will happen this year remains to be seen.image

TechEd Europe 2014

It runs from October 27th to October 31st 2014 in Barcelona. I hope to meet you there and I hope they are ready at that time to talk about vNext Winking smile. It’s a great opportunity to network and talk shop with so many of my peers I’ll most definitely try to be there. Any vNext information would most certainly make it a not to miss event. They announced it a bit late and they already have lost some of the potential attendees to TechEd North America. Not their best move ever I must say.

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E2EVC 2014 Barcelona

Details have yet to be announced. But if my schedule allows I will attend and present!

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Dell World 2014

No details as of yet but for partners & customers this is a valuable opportunity to talk to the product teams, directors, marketing mangers and engage in some serious conversation about technology and where DELL fits in your road map.

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Microsoft MVP Summit 2014

I will NOT miss the MVP Summit Smile. No details as it’s all NDA.

E2EVC 2014 Brussels


Ladies & gentleman, on May 30-June 1, 2014 the E2EVC 2014 Brussels Virtualization Conference is taking place. This is a non marketing event by experts in virtualization. So these people design, implement and support virtualization solutions for a living.  E2EVC Virtualization Conference is a non-commercial, it does not run a profit for the organizers or speakers. Everybody volunteers. The attendance fee covers the costs of the conference rooms, coffee breaks and such. The value is in the knowledge sharing and the networking.

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This community event strives to bring the best virtualisation experts together to exchange knowledge and to establish new connections. It’s a weekend event (so people can attend without interrupting their work or customer services. Filled with presentations, Master Classes and discussions you can have 3 days to network and learn from your peers.

So the next event will take place in Brussels, Belgium May 30 – June 1, 2014 in Hotel Novotel Brussels Centre Tour Noire. So my Belgian colleagues, this is your change to be al little Dutch as they have a SPECIAL PRICE FOR BELGIAN RESIDENTS – 199 EUR!

If you’re not Belgian you are also very welcome. So do register for E2EVC 2014 Brussels. If you have knowledge to share, please volunteer to speak. This community event has as a goal to share knowledge and stimulates professionals to present on their subject matters.

A big thank you for Alex Juschin & team for his never ending efforts to help organize this conference!

New Year, New Challenges


Time flies. 2013 is almost done and I’m always reminded of the fact that time is the most precious resource. We need to keep that in mind, always, lest we waste it. It’s been a busy working, learning, playing (homo ludens, gamification is nothing new Winking smile) & community work. For the latter there was a lot of presenting, attending conferences (Storage Forum, TechDays, MMS, Hyper-V.nu event, “Best of MMS 2013 in Belgium”, TechEd, E2EVC, Dell World), several think tanks, 2 MVP Summits, studying, doing labs, helping out others by sharing our experiences & learning form others sharing theirs. I hope 2014 will continue that way and I’ll do what I can to make it happen.

Windows Server & Hyper-V is a growing force

Some still dismiss it, but Hyper-V is going places, as it’s a fully free hypervisor. It’s also the cheapest choice when it comes to virtualizing Windows. Management tools you say, the cost & complexity of System Center? Well if you have better options, use them, go for better, cheaper solutions whether is scripting, tools or frameworks. There is no obligation. Free advice to VMware: make your hypervisor free. Until you do that you’re stuck at producing more for free as your prices can’t go up anymore and you’re missing out on all other frameworks as nobody will eat the licensing cost if they don’t need the management tools around it.

On the Microsoft side of things, 2013 was about Windows Server 2012 R2 which we deployed the day we got the preview bits. The pieces of highly capable & scalable cloud OS are all coming together for the best possible performance. We did some great experiments & POCs  with RDMA / SMB Direct. This was fun, had a challenging learning curve and produced some very nice results. This work will pay off, more on that in a future blog post. vRSS was another big item for us, I just love its capabilities. We also got to leverage UNMAP & ODX and when combined with the above and the enhanced capabilities of VHDX it really makes Windows Server 2012 R2 Hyper-V shine.

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We’ve also been busy evaluating on whether private & hybrid clouds are worthwhile investing in and if so in what way, where and how much, how far and how long. My hybrid cloud is not your hybrid cloud. Many approaches exist and they do not mean by definition buying every single product or service in the catalog. The fact is that some private cloud and certain hybrid clouds approaches require an economy of scale that many don’t have. The toolsets themselves are not helping those without this scale benefit either. Optimized/dynamic IT with public cloud & some hybrid cloud might be your best bet especially when one considers data gravity. Ouch, blasphemy? Not really, common sense. As an advisor you cannot just rehash sales brochures & buys stuff. Independent thinking is a requirement.

The wars for control of the Datacenter Abstraction Layer / Software Defined Datacenter is on. Everyone is fighting for control as this is a big future revenue generator. Now hardware vendors are not that great at software & vice versa. So nobody has won yet. Meanwhile “cloud only” (Amazon, Google) players are probably smiling as they don’t need that fight that war  at least not that hard, that direct.  They fight for the new territories like robotics, AI, …

On top of that a lot of cloud thinkers see a (very) limited use case for IAAS in the long run. If they’re wrong, the ones gaining control could become very dominant. But for now, it’s still a very much an immature, in flux, effort. Building one now is very expensive & maybe not worth while unless you have the economies of scale to make it so and it is long-lived enough to get the ROI.

Storage wise the landscape is in full flux and I hope a lot of companies big & small keep kicking & pushing for better, affordable solutions. The ones opposing that know all to well why. I’d love Storage Spaces to make a real big dent just to get some of the bigger players to focus on the real needs of their customers.

What about BYOD, COPE,  CYOD, CLEO VDI & app virtualization? It’s still very expensive, requiring diverse solutions and a lot of effort. There is a lot of money to made catering to it, but not in buying it, unless you are in that segment of the market where it makes sense (retail, sales, logistics, medicine …) which all happen to be markets that are highly regulated or process driven without much deviation & a measurable benefit . i.e. there is a ROI that mitigates the TCO. Not saying that it can’t, it can if you do it right. But too little understanding of benefits, costs and risks will get you in a mess. There’s a reason it’s going into the “Trough of Disillusionment” right now.imageFor many, without clear goals & benefits, my advice would be to let that market mature and I can see the solutions available in completer solutions in the public cloud at better prices. Play and experiment with mobile devices and see what works and what doesn’t, but don’t spent too much time and money on them if you don’t have a clear, well defined objective. And I hear you about the paperless office, but the first thing you need to do there is get rid of the readily available printing capacity. A smartphone or a tablet will not reduce paper usage. It just adds more paperless use cases, which is not a reduction. At best, you’re diluting the issue and make it look better. Make printing more expensive & less available & see what emerges to deal with the absence of the capability.

As interesting technology to watch (I’m not involved right now) I had fun with 3D printing, robotics, drones,  …  The production & execution capabilities might shift  the entire political, economical landscape, if we play our cards right & eat some cost (it’s called investing) for long term benefits.

Related to Hyper-V, virtualization & * Cloud is the fact that the capabilities & scalabilities needed are here with Windows Server 2012 R2, so we’ll see some serious growth in 2014 for Hyper-V. There are some hurdles. Some Microsoft will need to fix, others are the learning curve both with customers & the channel. Now the landscape has changing and some struggling. And as none will ever admit to that we come to the next subject. Being an expert.

Experts

With so much power comes also responsibility to wield it wisely or suffer the consequences. It fun to work with experts. They know how little they know and how much they don’t know. So they spend a lot of times testing, discussing, thinking & experimenting all this in all kinds of way. It’s never ever a nine to five job. Becoming and being an “expert” is a sustained, long term, continuous effort and is not done in the isolation of a cubical or flex work spot.

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© Kathy Sierra at http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/

You keep at it until thinks break, until you get it wrong. That goes for bot ideas and designs. It’s often not about doing it right all the time but about figuring out what works and what doesn’t. To come up with creative answers that work when the landscape changes. Here’s a hint for you: it’s not in a glossy sales brochure, a sales rep’s advice or the manual. Most experts have failed a lot more than they got it right but they did it when it didn’t hurt as much. The probably failed a hundred times more than mediocre, play it safe, quick buck driven types who’ll never learn what could be. But, remember, being a reckless idiot will only get you killed. I know and have worked with a lot of industry experts this year and I’m looking forward to working with them in 2014.

The good

There is an amazing amount of talent out there of hardworking engaged people. I have had the pleasure of talking & working with many of them. We have have a slew of technologies at our disposal to support them and businesses. Both the talent and the people are available and can be leveraged.

The bad

If there was a negative it 2013 it was the harsh reality, more often than I feel comfortable with, that more resources don’t necessarily lead to an equivalent amount of more results. It’s fascinating & sad at the same time noticing an ever diminishing return on investment. Just spinning wheels in the mud. Lot’s of noise, lots of dirt, lost of burnt gas and a stench of burning fuels without much progress to show for it. All this while most people are drowning in work in an era of do more with less. Talk about turning things around Smile. Perception is everything.

The ugly

There are a couple of major threats to IT in business today. These are not new and no, cloud is not one of them. They are lack of leadership & independent thinking. While the CEO of CFO are now in charge in order to better aligning business and IT this is not a panacea. For one the misalignment is a artificial problem, and they probably where involved creating it. But they or IT are not the (only) one to blame, it’s not that simple. Brainwashing by glossy magazines marketing & sales affects everyone. As a advisor, the real value of IT is in giving the business what it needs, what doesn’t necessary match what they want, the trick is making them think it is.

Technology itself is not the biggest challenge, but managing all the moving bits in an ever faster changing landscape. Combine that with management approaches that are based on “that’s what I read & hear everyone is doing”. Add cost cutting as a goal in itself and things start to look pretty grim. We’re surrounded by point solutions that are sold very well but make little difference to the game.  It’s like a child playing with a chess board a without knowing even as little as the rules.

Sometimes, when bean counters get in control or IT initiatives are even put under facility management, directly or indirectly, you know the differentiating role if IT at a company is as dead as a dodo. In some cases that’s where IT belongs and I won’t argue against that. Yes, not all companies have the same needs.  But if you need IT to make a difference, you’d better not do that. If you do, at best, IT moves to a parallel circuit where it can make a difference as a shadow force. Yes, IT also does “Shadow IT” to get the job done … call it asymmetric warfare & counter intelligence to keep the boat floating if you will. They do what they have to do to live & fight another day or perhaps some genius created that to get thing moving fast Winking smile. False economies for short term gains in an arena where simplicity rules, yet where artificial complexity is introduced, are ensuring IT will never ever be a real an enabler. Meanwhile ever greater “economy of scale projects” to cuts costs take way too long, are way too expensive and often use the wrong technologies. That’s an indicator the wrong people are calling the shots. In todays IT landscape, where we become ever more myopic, we need to act short term effectively, while moving ahead & thinking long term (i.e. get some glasses, NVG, IR, …)

To some IT seems destined (or doomed) to be only a commodity that, while needed, is worth very little. Can you spell “Maginot Line” or are you to busy weeping about the demise of the Brown Bess musket in the 20th century? IT needn’t be that way. “IT doesn’t matter” only holds true if you do it wrong. Done right, both in time, location & execution, IT can be very cost effective, useful, differentiating & even disrupting. Alas in many environments not even the commodity stuff is cost effective. Lack of insight & strategy will more likely bleed the company dry by “friendly” but wrong advice. The biggest mistake one can make with commodities (except for turning them into boutique items) is letting salesmen & consultants decide for you what’s the best value for money. As a child, for some reason, your mother has told you not to talk to stranger or go with them, especially not if they promise you candy. As an adult they’ve turned that into a business model and now trust perfect strangers with the livelihood & the future of the company. Go figure. When people tell you to do X or look at Y, think about their agenda.  Please read “The Prince”.  If need advisors, do it like the mob. Get one or more great consigliere, reward ‘m well for results. Dispose of them when those don’t arise, make sure your advisor has no profit from not delivering results.

High Speed, Low Drag, Fast Results, Backwards Compatible & Future Proof IT

Choosing a dynamic and scalable IT infrastructure solution in combination with a flexible and integrated development platform is extremely important. It provides one of the pillars for the successful implementation and support of business applications. Today this is not just an opinion or even option. It is a prerequisite of success in modern business. It is a necessity.

The need to provide long term backward compatibility, support for current and new technologies, facilitate agile development and allow easy deployment and maintenance throughout the life cycle is paramount. These considerations are valid whether we are looking for a single line of business application or an entire infrastructure solution. This is a continuous process and it needs to be taken into account with every action taken.

It’s not tied to any paradigm, architecture, technology or trend. Sometimes that means moving fast and aggressive. Sometimes it means slow and easy. Sometimes it means wait, sometime is means run. It depends on what we’re working on. How to achieve this isn’t new at all actually.

There is a reason that the Art of War, Machiavelli and other classics are popular with managerial types. This isn’t new at all. Unfortunately many of them fast forward through the boring parts and end up being opportunists and not leaders. While business is like warfare, the effort is often focused to heavily on the internal politics, not against the competitors. Where in the old days we had runners to relay information, the speed in IT today is more like a frantic dogfight in the 21 century, where even an F16 cannot deliver the capabilities to dominate air combat in the long term, which leads me to Observe, Orient, Decide & Act (OODA). Sure Boyd was a hard one to work with for the careerist hierarchy, but he defined the successful strategies & tactics for air combat that only came into the public eye during the 1st Gulf war. He never made general, he was way to non political for that, but he’s name is still known far outside his chose profession while most air force generals have faded away in to a oblivion or perhaps got shot before the fight started in earnest.  For a strategy needs to be defined by you or by real trusted advisors, not sales men. This strategy needs to be executed and tactics defined on how you do that. Finally you can decide on a plan for what to use and when to do it. Way to many people that claim to have a strategy don’t know what it is. It’s hard enough to be successful with a good strategy let alone with a mediocre one, or even worse think you have one while you don’t know what defines a strategy. And trust me, without one, you’re toast or blissfully ignorant if you’re lucky. Often between C level decision making & execution we see lots of actions to shape things up. Processes, analysis, methodologies, reporting, rules, regulation but there is something missing. But tools are just tools and having a race car doesn’t make one a NASCAR driver, it just gets you in a car crash. Bean counting and ITIL means nothing if you are not using it at the right time, the right place, for the right reasons, in the right way. Some parts of your business should be a total free fire zone, while others should be process based with a vengeance. Choose wisely. I have a presentation on that Smile by the way.

The road ahead

One has to keep moving forward. And guess what? There are many roads to travel and beautiful sights to see, great experiences to be had.

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While I‘m a hands on technologist & will be one for a long time I’ll spend more time in 2014 on strategic roles that involve technology. There is a clear and present need, coupled with a demand. It’s an opportunity to deliver value. I see way too much many examples of quick, dirty & clueless “solutions” that are just waiting to become a stinking cesspool of technology debt at best another nail in the coffin. Remember that even the best designs and implementations have a time limited value and will rot away over time as they age and the world changes. So what does that tell you about the mediocre ones? Perhaps you need a consigliere?

Take care and I wish you all a great, healthy & prosperous 2014! May it bring you  interesting projects, lots of opportunities & practical nuclear fusion for a cheap, easy and “infinite” source of clean energy.

How To Save A Company From Death By Meetings


I had a very interesting discussion with a fellow virtualization expert & strategic advisor at E2EVC Rome 2013. We discussed many issues and the topic came up that we see way too many potentially strong organizations sub come to “death by meetings”.  Instead of fixing this they are treating the symptoms and are declaring the symptoms to be “illegal”. It’s almost pandemic. You really need to opt out of this this madness for the sake of the company and getting work done.

I think we need to take this further. Bar reverting to the tactics of a UK manager who locked all meeting rooms and took the keys away whilst telling his staff to stop meeting and start working, we should implement these rules:

  1. There is an absolute maximum of 5 hours meeting per 8 hour workday. Work less than full time? Adjust accordingly. This is non negotiable for anyone. You must decline any meeting that violates this rule. You must not strive for this maximum.
  2. You must decline any meeting that has no agenda.
  3. No meeting can have more than 5 attendees unless a very valid reason and need is motivated in the agenda. If not, you have to decline the meeting.
  4. Meetings have to be planned in advance & cannot be made permanent. That is reserved for councils or meetings of the board.
  5. Everyone, from the lowest pay grade to the top manager hast to abide by these rules
  6. Teleconferencing is a perfectly valid way of meeting and is included in these 5 hours.

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People, really, stop meeting for 8 hours a day. It’s scary so many companies can’t get a grip on this. Your thoughts?