5 min read

How Spore-Infused Canola Oil Supports the Forest Ecosystem

By Christopher Pepe on Nov 2, 2021 10:00:00 AM

2021-blogpost-How Spore-Infused Canola Oil Supports the Forest Ecosystem

Last year I switched to grocery store canola oil to lubricate my chainsaw bar. I add Oyster mushroom spores into the oil so that they are dispersed while I cut. This method was developed by Paul Stamets of Fungi Perfecti and discussed in his book Mycelium Running. There doesn’t appear to be a commercially available product; however, by making it myself at close to the cost of conventional petroleum-based bar oil (~$15/gal), I improve my forest and should have some convenient forage this fall. I am still refining the process of infusing spores into canola oil, but if you are curious to try it, I’d be happy to swap notes.

Why vegetable oil?

Available since the mid-1980s, vegetable-based bar oil usage has grown more rapidly in Europe and is gaining adoption in the US. Workers’ occupational safety and health, and environmental protection are the biggest concerns caused by the thousands of gallons of petroleum-based bar oil that is left in our forests each year.

“Petroleum-based oils are known carcinogens and medical records show that they cause discomforting eczema and oil acne. In addition, prolonged exposure to petroleum-based-oil mist can cause irritation of the respiratory tract. Environmental damage caused by petroleum-based oil spills has had extensive attention from the media.[1]”

Whereas, canola oil “has excellent lubricating properties and some studies have shown up to 40 percent reduction in consumption without sacrificing bar-and-chain life.[1]” Again looking to Europe, we see that there are 80+ brands of vegetable-based bar oil in Germany alone. Austria has gone so far as to outlaw petroleum-based bar oil. Europe has even developed a standard (CEC-L-33-T-82) that measures the amount of oil that biodegrades over a 21-day period. Within that standard, products can contain some mineral oil additives. A popular choice in the US, STIHL BioPlus, degrades 93.8% in 21 days. Commercial vegetable-based bar oils cost about twice as much as petroleum products, which has hurt adoption. But with long-term environmental concerns and sustainability driving today's business decisions more than ever before, that additional cost will be more easily justified.

Canola oil is also a renewable product. It is worth considering that conventional agriculture relies on fossil fuels, and accounts for 10% of the US greenhouse gas emissions [2]. Canola-based bar oil is still seen as a net positive as it keeps the toxins in petroleum-based bar oil out of the forests, and we have the potential to change our agricultural footprint into the future.

Why mushrooms?

Saprobic mushrooms, the decomposers, are the cornerstone of returning nutrients back to the forest. Common native fungi include oysters and Turkey tail. As tree limbs and litter fall to the forest floor, saprobes reach up and consume them. Mycelium, the vegetative part of the mushroom, invades the tree litter, brings along water, and attracts insects that feed on the mycelium. Those insects attract birds and forest creatures to tear apart the rotting wood. The mushrooms start the process, decompose the most difficult tissues (lignin and cellulose), and invite the others to continue the job. This process converts wood back into the soil.

There are many functions that mushrooms serve in our world. Oyster mushrooms are known to feed on nematodes[4] and are effective water filters. They’re used by humans and other animals as food and medicine. Turkey tail mushrooms contain anti-cancer medicines, are aggressive decomposers, and protect against parasitic fungi. Many of our best medicines have come from mushrooms and many more are expected to be discovered, especially in the few remaining sections of old-growth forests. There are dozens of powerful mushrooms that humans have partnered with and countless more that we don't even know the value of yet. Perhaps they will share their stories someday.

Why use spore-infused canola oil?

Mushroom spores are everywhere. In fact, you have inhaled dozens since you started reading this article. Kathleen Stutzman, VFF’s Conservation Forester, gave me the sage advice that “the forest does not need you to be healthy.” Similarly, the mushrooms do not need me to find their way into deadwood. However, the choices that I make can help steer our forest in the direction I want it to go. By preferring some species, I can speed up decomposition and quickly build the thin soil on my rocky hillside. New research suggests that species like the Turkey tail will also ward off potentially destructive species like the honey mushroom[3], one of which is the largest organism to ever live on earth. While honey mushrooms likely serve a function in the forest, they also cause a lot of financial hardship for timber companies. The jury is still out on honey mushrooms in my opinion, but Turkey tail and Oysters mushrooms help decompose everything 3” and smaller that I leave behind, provide us food and medicine, and support the entire forest ecosystem.

In Conclusion

At Praecipio Consulting, our team consists of experts in the field to help and aid your team in meeting your goals efficiently and succinctly. To learn more about how we can partner with your team, visit our Consulting Services page to explore just some of the Solutions we can help implement. 

Not sure what exactly your team needs? Contact us today and we can talk with strategy would work best.

References

  1. https://www.fs.fed.us/eng/pubs/html/98511316/98511316.html
  2. https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/natural-resources-environment/climate-change/
  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPeBYnGwo4Y
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBWzrlCBhCM
Topics: blog culture global-climate-crisis carbon-footprint green-team carbon-neutral social-responsibility
3 min read

How to Effectively Communicate Across All of Your Tools

By Morgan Folsom on Aug 5, 2021 12:33:48 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-Why more tools does not mean better communication_1

One of the coolest parts of working with the Atlassian suite is the ability to see the wide variety of industries that use the tools in different ways. In my role working with clients I have seen how every company has adapted the tools slightly differently to make them work best for their processes, and help them make that process even smoother.

 While doing so I get to see firsthand how they communicate internally and externally. 

It becomes clear that while many of the tools that we use in our day-to-day jobs are great at facilitating communication, it can be hard to figure out exactly which tool we should be using for what. Here at Praecipio Consulting, I could reach out to my colleagues or clients lots of different ways – a Slack message, a comment on a Jira issue, a comment on a Confluence page, an email, or I could skip all of that and just call them directly. Sometimes, I'll see a combination – a Slack message to verify if a call is okay, or an email that follows a comment on a Jira issue to make sure that I've seen it. 

While Jira and Confluence is often the most direct way, many organizations run into the issue of mismanaged notifications that means people filter out all of their notifications (for detailed guides on how to fix that in either tool see How to Solve: "Too Many Jira Email Notifications" or How to Solve: "Too Many Confluence Email Notifications"). Ultimately, what's most important is that the team is consistent enough in their usage that you know where to find the information you need. 

Given that, here are my recommendations:

Jira

Use Jira comments for all communications specific to the issue at hand. This keeps the information tied to the subject, easy to find in the future, and permanent. You won't have to worry about having deleted an email if you've got all of the comments on the issue themselves. 

Confluence

Follow the same guide as above – if you've got a Confluence page about a subject, keep the collaboration in one place! You can use either inline comments or page comments to track the communication. Even resolved inline comments stick around, so if you need to reference this in the future, no problem. 

Chat (Slack, Teams, etc.)

Great for informal chats, quick clarifications, and funny gifs – but I try to keep any official decisions either out of the chat, or copied to the issue/page that holds the content on the subject we're discussing. If you're using a tool like Workato to integrate your Jira and Slack instances, you can even have your Slack messages added to the issue directly. 

Email

If you're going to be emailing about a ticket, just include the issue key in the Subject and CC your Jira email address, and the email will be added to the comments of the issue. This way, for folks who prefer working in email, the communications aren't lost. Otherwise, I try to send as few emails as possible.

Call (Phone, Slack, Zoom, etc.)

I'm a millennial, so let's just say this is rarely my first choice. Most of the time, for quick conversations I prefer chat, but, especially as more workers are moving remote, this can replace the quick stop by your desk that you may be used to. 

Ultimately, the above is how I manage communications internally and with clients, but which tool you use for which purpose is far less important than that you're consistent. The less time you have to spend hunting down information the better, so agree as a team how you'll communicate and stick to it!

If you are having trouble managing your teams' communications, contact us and one of our experts will be glad to help.

Topics: jira best-practices confluence workato workflows culture slack
2 min read

Work Should Be Pulled, Not Pushed

By Morgan Folsom on Jul 29, 2021 1:08:14 PM

2021-q4-blogpost-Work Should Be Pulled, Not Pushed

Pushing work is generally considered to be the process by which someone will finish their work and then hand it off to a teammate, regardless of whether or not that teammate is ready for it. This type of behavior is commonly referred to as "Throwing something over the fence" - 

though it can also elicit comparisons to seagulls, pigeons, or other mischievous birds who come in, drop something unfavorable, then turn and fly away. The clear implication is that a person who pushes work typically does not pay attention to nor care what happens after it leaves their hands.

Pulling work, on the other hand, is generally considered the action by which someone will finish up what they are currently working on, then go out in search of the next work item. Typically, there is a known stack of work that person can pull from, ideally ranked by highest priority. The implication in this case is that the person has completed their current work (or is blocked) and has the bandwidth for new work.

Which work environment would you rather be a part of?

Ignore Salt-N-Pepa: don’t push it.

In our experience, teams that have built a culture of pulling work see two main benefits: a better working environment and more accurate metrics. As described above, a push-heavy culture can result in friction, frustration, or even animosity between teammates. Perhaps just as detrimental, a push-heavy environment can actually skew the data and give misleading insights.

When the culture transitions to becoming pull-heavy, the seagulls – and their unfavorable somethings – disappear! Teams are better able to manage their workloads, and the data become clearer and more useful.

A simple way to begin establishing a pull-heavy culture is to add neutral zones at the points of handoff in your process. These neutral zones represent areas where no team is adding value – rather, the item is finished with the previous part of the process and awaiting the next part. An example would be a “Ready for QA” column. When the development team is done with an item, they can move it to the Ready for QA column. QA can then manage their own workload and pull the work into their process when they have the bandwidth to do so.

This change is likely to generate new insights and improve the way your team is working. For instance, it should now be possible to determine when an item is actually being worked on as opposed to idly waiting for someone to pick it up. This can better inform managers how throughput can be increased. Additionally, it becomes easier to focus on high priority items, as lower priority work should remain in the neutral zones until the high priority work is completed. Having a team lead periodically prioritize work in the neutral zone will further improve the process as team members can simply select the first work item that meets their skillset.

Create a more autonomous and less frictional environment for your team: focus on pulling work through your process, not pushing it. 

If you're curious on transforming your team's culture and create the ideal environment to get work done, contact us, we'd love to help.

Topics: best-practices service-management culture agile
5 min read

A Carbon Neutral, Nature Positive Praecipio Consulting

By Christopher Pepe on May 4, 2021 11:09:00 AM

Blog-A Carbon Neutral Nature Positive Praecipio Consulting

In 2019 the Praecipio Consulting Green Team was given the goal of creating a carbon neutral future for the company as part of our Climate Action Plan. The Green team had already set its focus on Carbon, Human Health, and Sustainability. The net zero challenge was taken up with the goal of promoting those pillars. Praecipio Consulting has determined that the climate stabilization wedge of Proforestation best meets the company's environmental and human health goals. Our value "Maximize mutual benefit" is exemplified by the parcels that Praecipio Consulting has contributed to protecting. 

Finding our path

Praecipio Consulting initially rolled out a generous Green Stipend program to incentivize change in employees daily lives, and encourage others to do so as well. Through education and incentive we aimed to amplify the good that we could do. To reach carbon neutrality we would credit Praecipio Consulting for the carbon emissions that where eliminated by positive changes in behavior. Many employees improved insulation, installed new efficient windows, etc. Ultimately that program proved ineffective, however, it laid the groundwork for our future. The main issue was that the Green Stipend encouraged a holistic lifestyle change whose benefits were multifaceted, but the success of the program was only measured by the reduction in one's carbon emissions. The cost per ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e, a standard measure used to model carbon footprint) was too high for the program to reach carbon neutrality on budget.

The Green team wished to retain the behavioral incentive component of the Green Stipend. Since inception, the Green team has delivered presentations via a monthly all hands State of the Business, on how we arrived at a climate crises, and more importantly, how individuals can change their behavior for a future that is reintegrated with the natural world.

Praecipio Consulting also needed to achieve its publicly stated goal of being carbon neutral in 2020 and beyond. One obvious solution was to buy carbon offsets from any number of sources. There are publicly available volunteer markets (also regulated markets for carbon intensive regulated industry but that does not apply to this type of business), as well as many afforestation companies that are replanting forests all over the world. Digging into each of these options ultimately made us feel that while we could check the carbon neutral box, it wasn't maximizing mutual benefit. Carbon exchanges offer very cheap credits with little insight into their source. Credits may come from a forest, or they may come from any number of other sources, some of which are of questionable utility to addressing climate change. Afforestation is a noble cause, and we support organizations involved in those activities like TreeFolks. However, a 1" sapling planted today will take decades to sequester any amount of carbon and we simply don't have that much time. We applaud these organizations, and will continue to fund them because we will need those trees in the future, however we felt we needed to do more now.

Proforestation

Since the 1600s the United States has cut most of its forests. Estimates vary, but it likely that at most 10% of our old growth forests remain and even in heavily forested areas there are surprisingly few undisturbed forests. Europe has achieved some of its carbon goals by purchasing wood pellets from the United States to power electric generation plants. Far too much of these wood pellets are made from clear cutting forests which removes carbon sinks and increases atmospheric carbon. This practice is considered carbon neutral largely due to an accounting error that there is little incentive in acknowledging.

Simply put, proforestation is a management practice where a mature forest is allowed to self-regulate. This is contrasted with active management for timber, biomass fuel, or other disruptive uses. The benefits of mature forest are many including habitat for native species, clean water, and obviously carbon storage. An important finding is that while a mature tree has a slower metabolism than a young tree, it still adds more biomass (mostly atmospheric carbon) than the younger, more vigorous whippersapling.

Because existing trees are already growing, storing carbon, and sequestering more carbon more rapidly than newly planted and young trees (Harmon et al., 1990; Stephenson et al., 2014; Law et al., 2018; Leverett and Moomaw, in preparation), proforestation is a near-term approach to sequestering additional atmospheric carbon: a significant increase in “negative emissions” is urgently needed to meet temperature limitation goals.

Each year a single tree that is 100 cm in diameter adds the equivalent biomass of an entire 10–20 cm diameter tree, further underscoring the role of large trees (Stephenson et al., 2014)

Human Health

Like all humans, Praecipians tend to find comfort, rest, and restoration when in the natural world. The human world is an amazing place filled with bright lights, sounds, and smells, that are largely ours (tho you are really Never Home Alone). The high intensity of the human world is especially draining. We can turn to meditative practices like church, yoga, and other mindful experiences to recharge, however, these are amplified when they occur in a natural setting.

Mature forests are magical and restorative places for humans to spend time. The practice of Forest Bathing has gained popularity, and the recent pandemic-induced shortage of any and all outdoor sports equipment has highlighted how people feel when they are in the natural world. Praecipio Consulting has focused on supporting forests in places that employees can enjoy and recharge. While the goal of keeping these forests wild and productive (with respect to ecological services, and not timber) they will be a refuge to Praecipians for many years to come.

Existing projects as of 2021 Q1

The following are significant proforestation and/or preservation projects that Praecipio Consulting has or continues to support. All are important ecological service providers with wild recreation opportunities. All had the potential to be used in an environmentally non-beneficial way and are now protected to continue to provide those services. The forests store 3 to 5 years of carbon emissions based on Praecipio Consulting's current operational model. Travel to customers was our largest segment of carbon emissions and the pandemic has eliminated that. If the post pandemic world is half as video-conference friendly that will greatly aid in our effort to reduce our carbon footprint.

Praecipios green path-table

Protecting existing forests is a powerful way to maximize the mutual benefit for all living things and promote a resilient and stable environment for life to thrive. At Praecipio Consulting, we pride ourselves of being a people-centered company, and we strive to do business while staying true to our values. Taking care of our planet is centered at the core of who we are.

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog culture environment corporate-responsibility green-team
6 min read

Leadership required when moving to Cloud and Digital

By Christopher Pepe on Apr 6, 2021 2:32:00 PM

Blogpost-display-image_Leadership required when moving to Cloud and Digital

2020 – What a change!

By now, every technology leader has torn up their plans and strategies as they began a ten-month tactical, fire-fighting effort to move their organization to virtual. In some cases, they were able to assist with changing how people performed their jobs, not just their staff but everyone, in which case they now joined the Digital Age.

CIOs further realized that moving to digital required a move to the cloud, and with it completely new ways of working that took advantage of the internet capabilities and bandwidth. Transferring your data center to a cloud service provider is no more going to cloud than moving your teams to Zoom makes you digital. Cloud requires a different mindset, skillset, and culture on how technology will enable your organization.

2021 is the year CIOs can own the Digital watercooler and change their role to being a Business Technology Officer, integrating software into every aspect of how their company performs tasks and services customers. But first, CIOs must address new ways of hiring, financing, and benefitting from technology, their people, their processes, and their IT. Accelerating the path to digital and cloud is the only way to remain sustainable, competitive, and compliant going forward.

The path has two main steps: funding and the creation of a new operating model

  1. The innovation funding model – iterative investments using VOI as the guide to obtain technology value sustainably

Before you decide on your cloud service provider (CSP) partner and how to migrate your applications, you will need to determine how you fund the migration to enable your organization to do work better, sooner, and safer. You need to separate the process of budgeting – a plan on what resources will be required – and funding, which is the action of providing those resources.

Current budgeting practices limit moving to the cloud and digital by:

  • Asking individuals to annually decide what they will need – and how would you know in this VUCA world?
  • Constricting work to be feature-focused but with no indication of what it will add to customer satisfaction or help staff perform better
  • Adding to technical and cultural debt with no strategy as to paying it off

The central dilemma of every executive board is how to plan, fund, and prioritize technology activities. The current best practice is not to use cost savings as a goal and instead let that be an outcome as you do things differently aided by software. You can prioritize by:

  • Application review
  • Moving from a Project mindset to a Product culture
  • Cost of Delay
  • Creating platforms for products
  • Decide on the WHY of moving to the cloud and digital, on HOW it will help, and WHAT tasks will accomplish your goals
    • Faster time to market
    • Reduction of manual activities
    • Making work more compliant
    • Creating workflows that provide agility and flexibility to meet customer demand, staff requirements, competitive threats, and external issues such as Brexit or COVID19
  • Get your entire workforce and significant suppliers to be part of the planning and allow them to focus and contribute to the proposed strategy

Shift-left! Think as your customer or staff and deeply analyze your applications, products, and services. Which ones are unique to you, and which ones could you source from a SaaS provider? Which ones do you no longer need? Now group the applications into product groups and allow your IT teams to create platforms (see next section) to service these groupings from the cloud.

Many organizations follow McKinsey's advice to create a FinOPS team of cross-functional product business leaders or at least a team comprised of IT, Finance, Risk, and HR. FinOPS will frequently negotiate with stakeholders to allocate resources (money, people, etc.) to continue the innovation or improve services. They will base their decisions on the value of investment towards the company. Frequently repeating and communicating this interaction creates the ability to pivot or stop work quickly, creating new behaviors, and embedding new disciplines on technology use.

FinOPS will rely on analytics, reporting dashboards with real-time data, and automated processes to make decisions visible and linked to business activities. Leaders will have to coach a new culture of moving from CAPEX funding to OPEX. This team will also introduce training to upskill the entire organization on how technology is applied and that by making use of cloud and digital, they will not lose their roles.

Where needed, a partner such as Atlassian and Praecipio Consulting can help you begin this journey of becoming a sustainable business, maximizing resources while reducing costs and making the entire process transparent.

 2. You have the funding model, and now you need the digital cloud operating attitudes, behaviors, and culture to achieve scalability, agility, and continuity

Can you answer these questions?

  • Which business workloads are most important to your company?
  • What are your goals by business line for the next quarter and year?
  • What are your obstacles to these goals?
  • What are your strengths for achieving these goals?

Taking the answers to these questions, review what activities you have planned in your IT department. If a user story or request is not helping solve a problem or achieve a goal, stop it. The FinOps should ask these questions monthly, which will influence resource allocation decisions for technology tasks. Visualizing findings to the company will illustrate the importance of product stories while embedding the capability of pivoting or stopping work, as necessary.

Your operating model will require:

  • A compensation model mapped to the technical activities that are not divisive
  • A full review of your applications mapped to the business lines
  • A map of the way data flows throughout your organization
    • What it entails
    • How it is used
    • Storage, archival, and continuity requirements
    • Security and access obligations
    • Tools that maintain the applications
    • A full list of proposed enhancements
    • Server, network, storage, and operating system supporting them
    • If provided to a specific location, why and how

Using this list, technology leadership needs to help the company move from a project model to a product model. Services must be led by an owner fully accountable for the resources and associated workload, including packaging software into chunks (platforms) that can be used interchangeably throughout the company.

FinOPS and the Product Owners can collaborate on which business domains would benefit most from enhancing the applications used to provide their services. Management can utilize the model to ensure that the right CSP is chosen for each platform. As you mature, you can empower your development teams to decide the best CSP for designing and deploying platforms, be they SaaS or containers. At the beginning of your journey, the strategy should be to communicate the intent and collaborate on the outcomes.

FinOPS also needs to be cloud-savvy. The pricing and SLA options are numerous and complicated. You need to ensure that what you choose is the right decision. You also need to affirm the best path for migrating your application and data to the CSP. Should you port it as it is (provides little benefit), rewrite the application, switch the workload to a SaaS provider? Remember that the avoidance of technical debt, adding to cloud migration's complexity, must be avoided.

There is no shortcut or other option to having Product Owners. You cannot interject a translator or business analyst between what people call the business and your IT. You are all part of the same company, and technology needs to be owned by the business area that provides that service. Further, the people that support these services need to feel that they also own and contribute to these services. This change in attitude and behavior will reduce incidents, increase innovation agility, and enhance your employees' satisfaction, who will feel empowered to see their contribution to the business goals.

The cloud offers the capability of completely altering the way you use technology. Do you need a new instance or environment? Build it, use it, dismantle it, and all within a few minutes at a minimum cost. The software lifecycle of products will be a combination of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, depending on the services' platform. Data lakes can share information across the company powered by analytic and reporting tools that would not be accessible to you unless you are quite large.

Security and continuity are other strengths of the cloud as you adopt the framework used by your CSP. Using IAM and Zero-trust security concepts will ensure that you do not become front-page news. Product Owners will have to maintain the governance model required and test it as part of any software change using DevSecOps practices. Scalability, both up and down, is another cloud and digital feature, enabling you to offer new products that can sense and respond to demand.

Are you worried about regulations? Globally FinOPS and Product Owners are finding that regulatory bodies, such as the Bank of England, are moving to the cloud themselves and more than willing to help ensure that their mandates are provisioned accordingly by your CSP. Even if you use a hybrid approach of more than one CSP, which leadership needs to consider, the governance and management models exist via SIAM® to support cloud and digital operating models' best strategies.

The business product operating model is not to become vendor dependent but instead use microservices and containers so that you can migrate your applications as needed to another CSP or a different offering with little effort. This abstraction mode offers the best efficiency in technology enablement. The FinOPS and Product Owners will help to create the loose guardrails to be used by your staff and IT teams as they develop software provisioned products and workloads of your business

In summary

Done correctly, the number of technology instances and applications you currently maintain will decrease but not the requirement of technical skills. Your business flexibility behaviors should be to create agility via innovative use of software, cloud, and digital. Done correctly, the time to market and lower technology costs will be your outcomes. Let all of your organization be involved in the migration strategy as you join the Digital Age, and if you need help, Praecipio Consulting is here for you.

Topics: blog efficiency finance plan saas cloud culture digital-transformation leadership frameworks
5 min read

Be Notorious Like RBG: Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Shannon Fabert on Oct 12, 2020 9:15:00 AM

Blogpost-display-image_Social Justice- Be Notorious like RBG

The employees of Praecipio Consulting were devastated by the news of the passing of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). To me, and to so many of us here, she was a role model and a major inspiration. I felt a deep and profound loss upon hearing the news. 

Many people don't know this about me, but the first time I remember somebody asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said a Supreme Court Justice. I was only in 1st grade. While I don't remember anybody telling me that was a silly dream, I do remember people saying, "you should be xx instead." It almost always had nothing to do with being smart – it just wasn't what little girls grew up to do. Sandra Day O'Connor was nominated to the court as its first female justice when I was three years old. She was the only woman to serve until RBG was nominated when I was 15. There have been 113 Supreme Court Justices in the history of the United States, yet only four have been women. In 2015, RBG was asked when will there be enough women on the bench, and she said, "When there are nine." 

Regardless of one's political position, RBG's presence on the Supreme Court left an undeniable legacy for women and men across the world. In her memory, we encourage you to read through her 'dissents' during her time on the Supreme Court. While these are highly technical writings, her ability to intellectually challenge the majority voice using the written word absolutely astounds me, making them very worth the read. You don't have to look very far into any of these documents to pick up on the level of intentionality and acuteness she brought to the highest court in the land. 

Image Source: Librado Romero for The New York Times

Many different organizations have pulled together lists of her achievements as well, from co-founding the ACLU Women's Rights Project to winning cases before the Supreme Court, long before becoming a Justice.

There are several ways to reflect upon and honor her legacy:

Learn more about what she fought for

Many resources are readily available to learn about RBG and her legacy – here are a few you can start with!

Donate to organizations with the same values as RBG

Reach out to your senators and reps directly

Forget not that democracy is by and for the people. As constituents, there are several ways that we can provide feedback to our senators and representatives.

If you have feedback, here are some options for contacting your senators and representatives:

It is worth noting that if you want to reach somebody who is not your senator or representative, you will likely not get a response back, as they are not obligated to respond if they don't represent you. If looking to put pressure on or to support these people, signing petitions can be a great way to show support through sheer volume.

Reading this post is only one small thing we can do to remember the legacy that Ruth Bader Ginsburg left. So while you're learning more about her life, don't forget that you too can be Notorious like RBG

 

*At the time of publishing, the Center for Reproductive Rights is currently matching donations in Justice Ginsburg's name.

 

 

Topics: blog culture do-good social-justice social-responsibility
3 min read

How Praecipio Consulting Promotes Wellness & Remote Work Culture

By Robyn Lane on Jun 12, 2020 10:15:00 AM

remote-work

Remote work is our new normal, and the statement “I am here for you whenever you need” has always been my truth to demonstrate my availability to a co-worker or client, at whatever cost. I can honestly say that I've removed "at whatever cost" because of the additional time I have in the day due to not traveling or driving in rush hour traffic, which has allowed me to eat better and make time for regular exercise.

I feel that this shift has made me more available to our team, clients, and family than ever before. Think of all the employees that spend hours in traffic, get sick because someone at the office is sick, or eats a crap diet because who has time to get a real lunch? All of this adds up: long days = lack of sleep and missed workouts. Those are a few things that I do not miss about having to go into an office every day, and I am grateful for the healthier well- being that a remote work lifestyle has allowed me.  

Wellness Challenges

Praecipio Consulting created a robust wellness program where employees can earn up to 5 hours of PTO per month for completing two monthly wellness challenges. They can participate in one or two of the below challenges to earn their extra PTO:

Steps Challenge = 3 hrs of PTO: 10,000 per day x total number of business days per month

Sleep Challenge= 2 hrs of PTO: Women 6 hours/Men 7 hours per night x total number of business days per month 

Water Challenge= 1 hr of PTO: 64 fluid oz per day x total number of business days per month

We use Jira for tracking PTO Credit Hours and Confluence to share information about our Benefits, Health & Wellness Program, a guide to staying healthy. To ensure employees are able to work in the most suitable working environment with tools that help them succeed, all full-time employees can use their annual $600.00 wellness stipend on ergonomic equipment, exercise gear, medical exclusion, health memberships, alternative medicine, and much more. 

For me personally, I've always participated in the wellness program with just water. Being able to work remotely has given me the ability to spend more time with my dog, take our daily walks during lunch, supersede my previous step count, and increase my hours of sleep. Studies have shown remote work, flexible working schedules, and wellness programs contribute to improving employee morale, a decrease in medical claims, and reducing turnover. 

Staying Social While Working From Home

One downside of remote work is not being able to see employees' faces. A solution Praecipio Consulting created was to host a weekly Virtual-Bring-Together, where we connect to Zoom, play games, and engage in fun activities like Bingo, Pictionary, Scavenger Hunts, Cooking with Chef Babb, and Origami. Not only do our team members enjoy our Virtual-Bring-Togethers, but their families do too! 

Considering that most of the country is in a similar position with remote employees (and it sounds like we may be in this position for a while), I feel like we are all healthier and happier because of it. It sure does help that Praecipio Consulting gives me PTO hours for walking, sleeping, and drinking water, AND has found a solution to bring us all together. 

How many raised hands can I get from those folks who do a load of laundry in between calls, only spiffy their look from waist up for that video call, and enjoy the extra money saved from eating whole, nourishing foods from the best diner around (i.e. your kitchen)?

For more tips on now how we facilitate a remote work culture, you can read about how to support remote employees who may feel lonely or how to set yourself up for success when working from home. 

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog culture work-from-home work-life-balance remote-work
4 min read

Accessibility With Atlassian Products

By Amanda Babb on Dec 10, 2019 10:30:00 AM

Student Diversity is Key for Learning

Over the last two years, I've had the pleasure of partnering with Atlassian University to provide a wide range of training, including in-person courses, virtual courses, and even being the voice of Planning with Portfolio for Jira. If I had to count, I've likely delivered training to close to 1000 students since 2017 as an Atlassian Certified Instructor, but this week was a first – one of my students was blind. 

When teaching an Atlassian University course, we provide students with access to a virtual environment to practice the concepts presented. Each student is also provided soft copies of the slides as well as a lab workbook to guide them step-by-step through the environment. This particular course, Confluence Server Essentials, provides new users the opportunity to learn about the basics of Confluence. Navigation, page creation, blueprint usage, and collaboration features such as @ mentions, comments, and blogs are all covered in the full-day course. 

My blind student had a laptop with accessibility features and used the Jaws Screen Reader to help navigate the different UIs of the applications. He also had a colleague to assist him if needed. As I started the course, he was attentive and eagerly participated in the discussions. However, when it was time for everyone to log in to their environments and start the first set of exercises, I noticed that he was starting to fall behind. 

During the exercises, his assistant had a technical issue with her own laptop and asked if I would step in while she talked to tech support. I sat down and watched as he tried to navigate his screen reader through the Confluence System Dashboard and eventually to the correct Space to continue through the lab. This was my first time working with a screen reader, and I spent quite a bit of time wondering how it chose which parts of the screen to read. However, once we got into a rhythm, I was able to help him navigate to the correct menu. By the end of the time box, we managed to complete two of the four exercises. 

Accessibility in Atlassian Products

Atlassian supports or partially supports accessibility requirements for Jira, Confluence, and Bitbucket Server and Data Center products, in compliance with Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 (AA). At Praecipio Consulting, we developed a custom accessibility app for Jira, at a client's request, to accommodate sighted and non-sighted users. While support and partial support of accessibility are steps in the right direction, I still needed to find a better way to help this student. 

Enter the Atlassian Marketplace. If the functionality doesn't exist in the products themselves, we search the Marketplace for apps to add on to the instance. There are over 2000 apps available for Server, almost 1000 for Cloud, and nearly 700 for Data Center instances of the Atlassian applications, and these apps are generally tagged with additional information to further help you make the right choice. Through a quick search of all compatible apps tagged as Supported, I found two that looked promising: Accessibility for Confluence and Unstoppable for Confluence. Not knowing which one would work best, I tossed a coin. 

Because the Atlassian University lab environments work like a mini Server environment, they function the same as the customer instances of Confluence we work in every day. Following best practices, I wanted to test the installation of the app in a separate environment before installing it for the student. In my Instructor Environment, I found the user with the most administrative rights (as per the lab workbook) and installed the app. A quick check of the documentation told me the additional installation steps needed to activate it. As testing is important as well, I validated functionality myself first, and I was confident this app would provide the student with a better learning experience. 

A Retrospective on the Accessible Experience

Once installed and configured, my student was able to continue forward with the next two labs, including all exercises. Through exercises like creating a blog post, editing a page, and adding attachments, he was starting to understand how Confluence could help him with his daily tasks.

What did we do well?

  • Found an accessibility app and installed it
  • Walked the student through how to use it
  • Provided 1:1 instruction during labs to ensure understanding

What could we have done better? 

  • Communicated about the student before class
  • Researched screen readers to understand the best one
  • Asked the students for a solution

Going forward, I want to identify students with accessibility needs beforehand, so that I can prepare accommodations as needed. While I have thought about this as an instructor before, now that I've had the experience and have learned from it, I am better prepared to provide a better learning experience for all of my students moving forward.

We can all do great things if we communicate ahead of time. If you or your organization have accessibility needs, let us know! We can bring solutions and custom solutions as needed. 

Topics: blog confluence culture government corporate-responsibility accessibility atlassian-products social-responsibility

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