Data Center Wisdom, learning from past mistakes

Wisdom can be interpreted by people in different ways.  A classic definition is

Wisdom is a deep understanding and realizing of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to choose or act to consistently produce the optimum results with a minimum of time and energy

MSNBC has an article about the CIA bringing back a retired spy

Retired spy hired to run CIA clandestine service


WASHINGTON — The CIA brought one of its most experienced spies out of retirement to run the far-flung U.S. intelligence network, the agency said Wednesday.

John D. Bennett witnessed the emergence of al-Qaida in Africa in the 1990s and was on the front lines of the war on terrorism as the station chief in Pakistan. From his seat in Islamabad, he oversaw the unmanned Predator drone program, which has become the agency's most successful weapon against terrorism.

"John has impeccable credentials at the very core of intelligence operations — espionage, covert action, and liaison," CIA Director Leon Panetta said. "He has been at the forefront of the fight against al-Qaida and its violent allies."

What is a bit controversial is he surpassed the professional managers who were jockeying for the job.

Until his retirement in May, Bennett, 58, was the agency's most senior station chief, having served four tours in that position, including in Pretoria, South Africa. In taking this new post, he leapfrogged several other senior CIA officials who had been angling for the coveted job.

WSJ covers Boeing bringing back retired engineers.

The mission of these retired elder statesmen is to brainstorm with current Boeing engineers and project managers. But their advice often comes packaged in blunt terms that reflect their willingness to call things as they see them.

As a result, Boeing's past managers occasionally have been derided as "bean counters," and engineers on a failed project have been jestingly accused of "smoking marijuana." That's language not often heard in the buttoned-down Boeing empire.

One good thing about guys who have retired, they have no fear of upsetting the system as they have already quit.

Quick-witted and sturdy, Mr. Sutter has a no-holds-barred attitude and strong opinions about the company's past, present and future. Asked whether the Sonic Cruiser—a short-lived proposal in 2001 for a large jet that would travel at nearly the speed of sound—was a real effort or simply a smokescreen to confuse European rival Airbus, Mr. Sutter answered without hesitation. "It was a real effort," he said, "by people who were smoking marijuana."

Ideally if you are going to green a data center, you would want to look for data center wisdom. But, where do you find the wisdom?  Internal groups, consultants, and vendors who know part of their job is to hide the mistakes.

Maybe it is time to a lesson from ancient Chinese wisdom.

Ancient Chinese Wisdom, of Mencius and Others: Learning From Mistakes

In Ancient China, correcting one's mistakes was considered a moment of revelation and a key element in one's character development

Epoch Times StaffCreated: Dec 3, 2008Last Updated: Dec 10, 2008


Mencius (372 – 289 BCE), an ancient Chinese philosopher, held that human beings were inherently moral. (Public domain image)

Older generations of Chinese people believed that even a saint could commit an error. Ancient texts mirror the adage that no man is infallible of making mistakes, but learning from them is one of man's greatest virtues. This leads to the betterment of one's conduct. Confucius was wont to say, “If you know you made a mistake and don't correct it, then you have really made a mistake.”

To err is human, but to recognize the error and correct it and learn from it gains respect from others.

Neglecting to do so, or even hiding the mistake, leads to loss of self-respect and the respect of others. Zi Chang, one of Confucius' students, said: “Human beings' mistakes are as blatantly obvious as a lunar or solar eclipse; everyone notices them, and when they disappear, people marvel in awe.”

Luckily I have hanged around enough data center people and technology projects to figure out where the wisdom is and isn't.

Wise men may not be learned; learned men may not be wise.