August 23, 2016
It’s said that Edison failed 1,000 times before inventing the light bulb. J.K. Rowling was rejected by 12 publishers before one agreed to publish Harry Potter and Elizabeth Taylor was married 8 times. Obviously these people weren’t afraid of failure. In fact, I think we can all agree that they are the embodiment of that old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”-despite her tenacity, Liz might have cut a corner in her quest for matrimonial bliss since she did marry Richard Burton twice. I think we’ve all heard this phrase at one time or another in our lives—and didn’t we want to punch who ever offered this platitude right in the mouth? Okay, maybe that’s just me, but it is true that often times we have to fail before we achieve our goal, and I can’t think of anyone who this applies to more than the United States’ government.
I recently read an article that said that the Department of Defense’s (DoD) original plan for meeting the government’s goal for data center consolidation had missed the target by just a teensy bit. Apparently the established goal was a 40% reduction in data centers by the end of 2015. According the department’s inspector general, despite their best efforts, the DoD was only able to close 570 of its 3,000 data centers or 18%. Before everyone starts throwing stones, I think we all have to ask ourselves if each of us, at one time or another, hasn’t missed a stated goal by 81%? That’s right, it could happen to anyone. Now unlike most government reports, where losing the personal data of 20,000 or so citizens or overlooking 30,000 “private” emails is attributed to some unnamed bureaucrat, this one went right for the jugular, and placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of DoD CIO, Terry Halverson.
Here in the real world, being singled out for missing an agreed upon goal by a margin that’s not even close in hand grenades would probably result in the chance to “pursue other career opportunities”, or, at the very least, a stern chat, but not so for the data center head of the Pentagon. In the spirit of Tom, J.K. and Liz, the folks at the DoD are going to give the aforementioned Mr. Halverson another shot. The article said that he’s even drawn up a whole new plan that includes the establishment of a “data center closure team” made up of representatives from six (6) different government agencies. Combining the best and brightest from multiple agencies to altruistically identify and shut down over 600 data centers may sound a little…difficult, but I think this one’s got success written all over it.
Some may scoff at the value of perseverance. But I think the DoD is demonstrating the shoulder to the wheel, nose the grindstone sticktoitiveness that has made this country great. Churchill summed up this commitment to dealing with failure when he told the people of Britain to “never, never give up”, Liz, or course, used a much shorter expression to illustrate this strength to carry on despite all odds. She said, “I do”.