politicalmatch.ca

by Mark Zaugg 31. March 2014 17:03
Some time in the early 90's I became dissatisfied with the provincial government.  I wasn't really thrilled with 5 percent cuts across the board.  I was definitely unhappy with the direction post-secondary education was taking at the time.  The thing that really upset me the most was when I heard over and over again that the government was talking with ordinary Albertans.

"Well," I thought to myself, "They haven't been talking to me.  I'm an ordinary Albertan too, but they sure aren't acting like they're listening to me at all."

The good part about voting against the political dynasty is that it's very freeing - I could vote for pretty much anyone else I wanted to and it didn't seem to make a damned bit of difference.  Vote for the Marijuana Party just to throw out a protest vote?  SURE!  I don't even smoke it, but I got to vote for their candidate once.

It was two or three elections back where someone used the phrase, "A lot of Albertans are looking for somewhere else to park their vote."  I equally liked and disliked it.  I was very much parking my vote, but it was also very ineffective and really hadn't spurred much change.

Today, it's a whole different world.  We have genuine options with different visions of Alberta.  And, unlike so many elections in Alberta's past, we have a genuine chance to change our government and reshape our future.  Not that it's all been bad, in fact Albertans have for the most part been very well off and well governed.  However the revelations of the past few weeks have clearly shown that we can definitely do better.

So here's your chance.  If you don't like how the government has behaved you can create the change you want.  This is participatory - if you want change you must be involved to bring about change.  That's a good thing, it's time the government respects the people it represents.

My choice has clearly been the Alberta Party.  I like the new outlook, I appreciate they don't feel the need to demonize any of the other parties, I love the fact that there are members of all political stripes and they don't rigidly subscribe to Left or Right wing doctrine.  Pragmatism and a willingness to listen to alternative viewpoints and try to find consensus is a big change that appeals to me.

I appreciate not everyone will believe the Alberta Party is the best choice.  That's okay too, we don't all have to wedge into a single belief system.  What is clear is that Albertans are really looking for choice right now, and there are a lot of people working hard to be heard and to be better represented at the Legislature.  So, if you're looking around for choices, try out politicalmatch.ca.  It's a quick quiz and gives a pretty good idea of the kind of person affiliating with the Alberta Party.  If you're not a match, that's okay too.  Find the home that suits you best.

At the end of the day, we're all Albertan and we have more things in common than we have differences.

Holding Higher Expectations

by Mark Zaugg 16. March 2014 20:03
How can you not be sucked into the circus that is the Government of Alberta this week?  I keep waiting for the Keystone Kops to scamper across the stage flailing billy clubs and rubber hoses.  The title for this post was originally going to be "The Good Old Give and Take" which was meant to allude to the lame predictability of an austerity budget, followed by a fudgy number budget, followed with a good news budget and finally - just in time for the election - a break open the piggy bank budget.

Predictability has gone out the window this week.

I have long lost faith with the PC party in Alberta.  I don't know precisely when, but I believe I split permanently after Premier Klein cut five percent across the board regardless of consequence.  It seems to me it wasn't actually a five percent cut across the board - something twinges at the back of my mind that not all departments ended up with the actual five percent mark, but I'm more than willing to be corrected.  I know that five percent was not felt equally everywhere and I feel we are dealing with the consequences of that decision to this very day.

I didn't fit in with any of the provincial parties since then.  It has only been when the Alberta Party came onto the scene that I've felt I have truly been able to find a political home.  I like very much that my views hold weight, but I also appreciate the people around me share most of my views and we're more than capable to respectfully disagree when we don't share perspectives.

With your pardon, I'll first address my disappointments over the budget.  I am absolutely not a financial genius.  I have no great insight into the Alberta Budget as presented by the government.  My lack of understanding is the very point.  On every board I've been a member we get a budget presented periodically.  Usually, but not always, it is an annual budget with all the numbers presented in tabular format on a spreadsheet.  There is no split between the books - are a second set of books always looked upon most unfavourably?

In particular, inside the Alberta Party our budget was presented both annually and we get monthly updates on the status of the budget.  I am not expected to be a financial whiz, the books are presented to me in a clear and sensible format so I can make sensible and well-informed decisions.  Why is our provincial budget not the same?  I do not ask that every single Albertan will understand the budget as written, but I would expect that someone such as myself who has a basic familiarity with balance sheets ought to be able to  understand the state of the province's finances.

The problem goes beyond the bottom line of the budget.  It hardly matters if the government calls the budget balanced while so many Albertans question how they can possibly call it such when we are spending more than we are bringing in.  The problem goes beyond the spin.

The problem lies in the very culture.  The problem lies in the DNA of the government that drafted such a document and then pats themselves on the back to call themselves transparent.


In the Alberta Party, I'm spoiled with clear numbers and a willingness to work to find common ground.  Our party leader - Greg Clark if you weren't aware - presents an update to us every two weeks to let us know what's happening.  Greg is unflinchingly reliable to update us, he is consistently available and endlessly willing to assist us in anything we tackle that will help improve policy, engage Albertans, attract members, form Constituency Associations and, of course, achieve fundraising goals.  The culture, the attitude and the desire within the Alberta Party is entirely about creating something better, something more representative, more responsive to Albertans.

Now should you find a home within the Alberta Party as I have, I would be happy to welcome you.  This isn't simply a recruitment drive for Alberta Party members, this is a call to all Albertans to question just what needs to be changed to start getting better results from our government.

I expect the openness and willingness to communicate that Greg has demonstrated.  I expect clear budgets.  I expect collaboration and a willingness for each member to perform to the best of their ability.  I expect an open ear to every suggestion that gets voiced.  I expect everyone to be able to show their work instead of just blurting out an answer.

Our present government has been tone deaf to criticism.  The budgets are obfuscated and while claimed to be balanced, in whole they clearly are not.  Rather than collaboration and seeking the best answers we have endless sniping back and forth with political theatre in full force.  Over the past week there has been an absolute intolerable lack of respect within the Provincial workplace called the Legislative Assembly so extreme that I would expect to be fired should I act so shamefully at my place of employment.

Kids are afraid to attend Question Period!  Now I understand Question Period has been a staged farce for forever and a day, but imagine a government that would actually answer questions seriously and an opposition that scored points not for pouncing on failings but for presenting valid, well reasoned alternative viewpoints.  It sometimes happens, but not very much lately.  I got to watch Question Period this week, I made it about two thirds through it and felt disgusted.  Albertans deserve better.

Albertans deserve better than an insulated Premier who does not have the respect of her party, much less the respect of most Albertans.  You cannot demand respect, you are only paid respect through your efforts of earning respect.  I have not been a great fan of Ms. Redford, but her actions have convinced me she is incapable to represent me, to respect me and feels no need whatsoever to answer to me.

I had to search my own blog to find the Open Letter I wrote to her.  I'm shocked it's almost two years old.  I can't help but feel Premier Redford still believes she's striking the right balance so long as people on both sides of her are unhappy.  She appears to have reached the stage where the majority of people are unhappy with her now.

Just so you know, Ms. Redford, I don't think I'm willing to meet with you to talk any longer.  It's you, it's not me.

Cycle Tracks: An open letter to the Calgary Eyeopener

by Mark Zaugg 12. March 2014 05:03
Dear Eyeopener,

Earlier today Michael Stark did a opinion piece on why bicycles should not get separated bike lanes.  It started poorly and went downhill from there.

I cycle.  I drive.  I ride the bus.  I walk.  I commute back and forth to work, but also move around and about my neighbourhood a number of ways even when I'm not commuting back and forth to work.  The point of travelling using multiple means of transportation is not to give an air of authenticity to my argument, it's very much to emphasize getting around is much easier when I can travel in the most appropriate way possible.  When I have my children or heavy loads with me, it is far easier to drive.  When I am commuting on my own, driving is wasteful, expensive and slow.

Mr. Stark decried those bikes zipping past him while he was stuck in traffic.  It's true, cycling is faster downtown in rush hour.  Sometimes much faster.  In real numbers, it takes me 20 minutes to ride from my home to my office at 8:00 am every morning.  Driving that same route at the same time took me 35 minutes the last time I tried it.  Then I had to find parking and walk from my parking stall to work on top of that time.

My office does not have showers, however we do have enclosed parking for bicycles and we have a change area.  I can wear appropriate clothing for cycling then change into something appropriate for work.  Or those who know me better know I somewhat underdress for work and stay comfortable and productive all day.  It's true that I'm fortunate to work at a great office.  Days when I have to dress in a suit means I'd have to slow down and not get to work all sweaty.  Suits on bikes are not uncommon.

Lack of showers or secure lock up areas are a reason to improve available facilities downtown, and are not a valid reason to eliminate cycle tracks.

As for cyclist behaviour, I ride daily along 9 Avenue SE through Inglewood.  I strictly follow the law while hundreds of drivers each and every day break the law.  Let me reiterate that, literally hundreds of people breaking driving laws by speeding, driving in incorrect lanes, cutting off other drivers, or failing to yield to pedestrians.  I ride safely and legally.  I'm more than willing to take the lane when safe to do so.  Sorry for your luck if you are tailgating me in your car, driving in the bus/bike lane on 9 Avenue, blowing your horn and blowing your gasket.  Drivers are not supposed to be in that lane whatsoever and they are at fault, not the cyclists.

Yes, all travellers need to follow law and get about the city safely.  There is a dangerous imbalance when a vehicle weighing thousands of pounds meets a bicycle.  Separating lanes means we have a clear segregation where bicycles are expected and cars can travel.  It prevents overly aggressive or overly timid interactions between commuters.  It's beneficial to me as a cyclist and it's beneficial to me when I'm driving.

Mr. Stark chooses to drive and not cycle.  His choice and his perceived suitability for commuting choices has no bearing on the need for segregated bicycle lanes.  Those of us out there appreciate the safer, quicker, standardized routes to ride and many of the drivers out there appreciate cyclists being in their own lanes where they are not likely to swing into their driving lane.  It's necessary.  We need to encourage more ways to commute into downtown so more people can make more appropriate commuter choices.

We can't keep expanding roads without starting to eliminate the very downtown the roads are built to serve.  Better cycling infrastructure is just one of a number of great ideas aimed at improving access to downtown.

 - Mark Zaugg

Bigger than a plane ride

by Mark Zaugg 4. March 2014 21:03
Well, this has certainly been shaping up to be an interesting week in Alberta politics.

On Monday, Premier Redford's bad polling numbers were released and they were a shock even to me.  Now, I personally have not been a fan of Ms. Redford and I have lost faith in the PC party years ago, but I was still surprised to see such bad numbers in Alberta of all places.  We're long famous for political dynasties and turning on a dime, but this feels different to me.

One thing is absolutely, abundantly clear: There is a great deal of anger with the cost of Premier Redford's flights, especially her $45,000 trip to South Africa.  I don't begrudge her for going, in fact I actually applaud her paying her respects to Nelson Mandela - a man I also look up to very much.  There are times you drop everything and make sacrifices in order to pay respect to someone important.  But Albertans as a whole should not be sacrificing for our Premier to pay her respects.  Even she has said there were mistakes made.  The consequence has been that all her expenses are getting an extremely thorough examination now, and that is absolutely appropriate as well right now.

In my personal view, Ms. Redford needs to be accountable and repay every penny.  I absolutely cannot say, "I'm sorry" and refuse to pay my debts.  Sometimes it hurts to do the right thing, that doesn't mean you should dodge doing the right thing.

But right now, I'm already looking beyond the money.  I am in no way minimizing $45,000 - that's most of my salary for a year!  Instead I'm doubting our Premier's judgement when it comes to making choices about how she travels.  I'm doubting our Premier's judgement about what she considers a valid expense and an invalid expense.  More important than the money is the wheedling at the back of my mind that says I cannot trust financial decisions that are being made.  That's a hard knock the week before the budget comes out.

But there's another factor to this, too.  There's a three ring circus where everyone is trying to get their shots in and to drag down the Premier by pointing out every single failing and misgiving.  It can be a lot of fun to volley back and forth on the #ableg hashtag on twitter, but lately I've just found it tiresome and distracting.

This past Saturday I met with other Alberta Party people and Greg Clark was an inspiration to me.  I felt angry, frustrated and upset with Premier Redford's spending.  Greg not only set the example, but he really focused in on the bigger picture.  The Alberta Party has it's own set of challenges as a small, challenging party, but we have great ideas and tons of energy and a willingness to do right for all Albertans.  Greg didn't obsess over the expenses, and said something to the effect that we're trying to build a better Alberta, not tear down everyone else around us.

So on that note: Premier Redford will make her own decision on whether to pay the money back or not.  I don't control her and I won't pillory her over her choices.  I will personally make better choices and focus on making things better for all Albertans.  I won't ever put myself into the situation where I have to pay back so much money, and if I ever do need to pay money back I'll do it promptly without the need for someone else to cajole me into doing the right thing.  And I will definitely do absolutely everything within my power to keep my promises.

Yes, there needs to be transparency and accountability, but the need for accountability cannot get in the way of good governance.  The value of good stewardship is much, much greater than an expensive plane ticket.  There are many good people willing to step forward and provide the great leadership that this province needs.

Positive change is far overdue in Alberta's child welfare system

by Mark Zaugg 10. January 2014 06:42

When Karen Kleiss and Darcy Henton wrote their Fatal Care series, I felt devastated, sad and very angry.  I knew I had to write about my feelings over it, I had no idea what to say or even how to go about saying it.

Now there are further details of deaths outside of the parameters of the Fatal Care series.  The deaths of 741 Albertans troubles me deeply.  I'm appalled they were children or young adults.  I'm sickened because children taken into the child welfare system are supposed to be there for their own safety and protection.  Children enter the child welfare system for serious reasons.  It happens by the authority of the Government of Alberta, which is supposed to be on behalf of all of us.

I want to believe that a child would only enter the system when they were in a situation of little hope, given a chance to excel and become one of the very friends and neighbours I value.  I know the struggles and sacrifice a couple endures just to be willing to open their home to a foster child.  I want to believe every foster parent meets the standard of adoptive and foster parents I have known through the years.  I want to believe every child that enters the system has a chance to graduate and find a career that suits them and affords them a life of happiness.

I know that no matter how altruistic I could feel on my very best and most selfless day, I would never be capable or willing to take on the role of Foster Parent.  In no way am I diminishing those who excel at making childhood better.  It must be a very, very hard job that must be equally rewarding or no one would ever bother.

I'm far from surprised there have been problems with the child welfare system.  It's not a far stretch for the imagination to make.  We knew of 56 official deaths of children while in care, those are the children that we were told "fell through the cracks."  Learning the number was higher thanks to the Fatal Care series was shocking, but believable.  I can't think of any parent who would be pleased to have a child enter the system.  No parent would want a case worker to show up on your doorstep unannounced for any reason.  It is not a place you want your loved ones to be.  Knowing the problem is much more wide-ranging than we thought even two months ago is heartbreaking.


There is a very simple rule in Information Technology: Be cautious about what you choose to measure.  The metrics you use will be far less meaningful if they are measuring the wrong thing, or focus too much on one facet and neglect a more important piece of the puzzle, or if the measurement itself can be gamed.  Now we learn the government was not adequately tracking the numbers and could not even answer Ms. Kleiss's question of how many children had died in foster care or after they were involved with the child welfare system.  This has been an epic failure to collect and process data, and we are all the more ignorant because of it.

That's just not acceptable in this province.

These are not simple situations.  You don't wind up in the child welfare system because you forgot to brush your teeth after dinner.  I will not simplify what surely must be complex and broad-reaching decisions, nor will I demand a simplistic resignation of a current or past minister.  That has to be a tough, tough position to hold and I sincerely thank those who have been willing to take up the role.  On the other hand, I will not accept another study on the matter that gets stuffed up on a shelf and gets left on a pile of other ignored studies; Alberta's children deserve better.  Neither shall I minimize the role the child welfare system plays in saving children's lives every day in this province.  There have been 741 tragically unacceptable outcomes since 1999, but I still do not have a clue of the total scale of the problem.

Karen Kleiss and Darcy Henton had to scratch and fight for every scrap of information every step of the way.  That was flat out unacceptable.  Ministers and spokespeople hid behind privacy laws and barred parents from talking about their own children's deaths.  That is unconscionable.  My deepest gratitude for their persistence and starting what I hope is the start of reform.

I do have some credit to offer.  I was pleased with Heather Forsyth's call for a public enquiry.  She will understand much better than I the issues involved and it takes considerable courage to step forward and look for ways to make improvements - particularly with the possibility of exposing past mistakes.  I'm grateful for her insight and would do whatever I can to assist.

I was extremely pleased to read Manmeet Bhullar's stance on making data public today.  He said, “I strongly believe that better and more data leads to better decision-making."  I agree, this is a great start.  I also insist that this problem has been created over fourteen years of not being forthright and honest and Mr. Bhullar has a deep deficit to overcome.  We can overcome it, though.  We must work together, using our best and brightest, and we must resolve the problem of children dying while in Provincial care, but also the obfuscation and lack of transparency that has masked the true extent and has prevented an honest and open look at making lives better.

This problem was created over fourteen years.  We do not have fourteen more years to solve it.  Lives are literally on the line.

Canada's Worst Driver Ever? Canada's Best Lesson Ever.

by Mark Zaugg 16. December 2013 01:22

I absolutely adore Canada's Worst Driver.

Often I hear, "But you hate reality TV.  How can you watch that?" Or sometimes "I can't stand that show.  I can't stand when they make fun of people like that."  Or even, "I can't watch the show, it terrifies me that people like that are on the road."

Yes, it terrifies me that there are drivers out there like that.  It particularly frightens me when I'm cycling beside some of those people.  By the regular participation on the show from Calgarian drivers, that very well may be a literal interpretation of cycling beside them.

I'm certainly not making fun of a single one of them.  I very much like the people they have from year to year.  Sometimes they drive me crazy, some make horrible personal decisions, but in large they are very likeable people who are very, very bad drivers.

The culmination of Canada's Worst Driver Ever comes tomorrow and I can hardly wait.  I've very much enjoyed the approach they have taken with this season.  Rather than pointing and laughing at the worst, the show continues to focus on training and celebrates the success each driver achieves.  The big difference this time is we've seen them all before and this is the second go round for them.  Today my son and I watched the second episode where we celebrated one of the drivers who took her ugly trophy home and used it to motivate herself into learning how to be a better driver.  She was rewarded with a well-deserved graduation.

And there is the point I want to make tonight.  Canada's Worst Driver has taught me skills to improve my driving, yes, but it has taught life lessons along the way too.  Who can forget Shelby riding a bike?  Or Sly saying, "Look where you want to go... One of those things that the Dalai Lama would probably say."

Life is learning.  Life is driving forward.  Take the opportunities at hand and leverage it to your advantage.  If you're going to be successful, follow through on the lessons, take responsibility and do your work.  And above all, always, ALWAYS look where you want to go.

I'm hoping to see three drivers do well tomorrow.  Should they drive poorly, I'm hoping they put in the effort this time to become safer, better drivers.  See you on the #CWD hashtag tomorrow.

To our veterans

by Mark Zaugg 11. November 2013 17:15

Lest we forget.

For those who served, I remember you.  You carved the path along which I walk today.  You came of many backgrounds.  You were man and woman.  You joined to serve for your own reasons.  Perhaps you were conscripted.  Your service may have occurred recently or far in the distant past before I was born.  It may have been distant and in anger, it may have been nearby in peacetime.  Your part may have been one of heroics, it may have been nondescript service.  It does not matter.  You are remembered.

Those who serve us today, you are remembered now.  Your service today is in diverse ways.  Protection, rescue, recovery, research.  You may not be ever visible, but you are always present.  I do not always greet you, but when I see you I salute you with a touch to my heart.  You are the finest men and women anywhere.  You are remembered.

Thank you.  May I try to serve as faithfully as you.

A crisis of morality

by Mark Zaugg 24. October 2013 04:15

I hate having a crisis of morality.

My four cornerstones are to be honest, to be trustworthy, to be fair (whatever that means) and to be respectful.  I really, really hate to be called out when I don't live up to my own standards - although I don't mind so much when I see an act so egregious by someone else that I question my own stance and entirely change my attitude in life.  It happens, it makes me grow as a person.

If I haven't lived up to my personal cornerstones in the past, it is up to me to change it in the present and make amends.  I am my own harshest critic.  I'd rather catch a problem in my moral framework by myself before someone else points out how big of an ass I've been.

Apparently, it turns out I have a number of friends that are gay.  To be honest, the topic has never really came up between us.  But I do not have any 'gay friends'.

I have good friends.  I have true friends.  I have close friends.  I have distant friends.  I have lifelong friends.  I have kind friends.  I have supportive friends.  I have awesome friends.  I have trustworthy friends.  I have talented friends.  I have poetic friends.  I have strong friends.  I have treasured friends.  I have brilliant friends.  I have clever friends.  I have confident friends.  I have funny friends.  I have honest friends.  I have old friends.  I have new friends.  I have fun friends.  I have cool friends.  I have amazing friends.  I have inspiring friends.

The adjectives applicable to my friends tell you about their character, not about their appearance or superficial descriptions.  I hope you find that expressive about my character and would make you wish to be counted as one of my friends.

Calgary Civic Election 2013

by Mark Zaugg 22. October 2013 06:03

So I lost my last blog post.  Maybe it's for the best, this one won't be quite so vitriolic.  I hope.

I know I haven't been as involved in this election as I was in 2013 for very personal issues that have arose.  This year hasn't gone as planned and I have a lot of work ahead of me still.  Although I haven't been as active as 2010, I have still been involved and informed, and I don't feel that will ever change now.

In short, I got involved in 2010 because I did not like what I saw in City Council.  I truly hated the 8-7 splits on votes.  I hated seeing the same characters line up the same predictable ways.  Our representatives are meant to represent us, but they have to represent all of us in some fashion.

When I decided my first choice for mayor was the wrong choice for mayor, I looked to others and tried to find the person who most aligned with my views.  I chose Naheed Nenshi and I have never once regretted that decision.  Naheed demonstrated three things in that campaign: 1) Tireless energy getting to every forum imaginable, 2) A solid ability to communicate a platform of better ideas to Calgarians using clear language, and 3) A gift for drawing together a bunch of rather green political volunteers into a Purple Army dedicated to making their city better.

He showed it time and time again as the mayor, most specifically when Calgary was hit by the flood.  His indefatigable drive is legendary, but to me even more impressive was his ability to communicate to Calgarians with so little sleep during that period.

But what impresses me the very most, above all else, was that the City Council of 2010-2013 was so much more effective than the previous council.  There wasn't a lot of change in the personnel, but there was a major change in the attitude and that was very appreciated.

After this election, there is still much work to accomplish, there are more changes to council (I've lost some of my favourite people there), and we know with certainty that there has been a disruptive attitude running up to the election.  That has not been okay in my eyes.  I love the debate, I love the differing viewpoints, I love others bringing up facts I did not know or ideas I did not understand.  But intransigence for the sake of being intransigent just doesn't cut it.  I want better, I want more from our council and I do not want to return to the dysfunctional council of not that many years back.

It's a tough job, but I'm pretty sure the attitude of making Calgary better will prevail.  We're going to have loud arguments, we're going to make mistakes, but that really isn't much different from, well, ever.

The single greatest lesson I learned from the 2010 municipal election is really not much of a surprise to anyone.  It's the basic lesson that all the work in the run up to the election is miniscule.  It amounts to the smallest of tasks.  The real work is about staying engaged and working hard between elections to make Calgary better.

Yeah, we've elected another version of City Hall, but it's what you and I do in the meanwhile that makes the difference.  Act, do something, make something, create something.  Become part of the process to make Calgary a better place.  Through that involvement you become in touch with the city around you, you can spot real issues and work on the things that really matter.  It might be a hockey rink, it could be a busted sewer pipe, it could be cleaning out a stranger's flooded basement.

We are Calgarians today, every bit as much as we were yesterday.  It is the work between elections that define us.  Don't stop.

Dearest BlackBerry,

by Mark Zaugg 21. September 2013 11:01

I'm up early, I'm in a thinking mode, I may as well blog.

And with yesterday's horrendous news about my beloved BlackBerry, I guess I better put in my two cents about the whole mess.

First off, and let me put is as bluntly as I can possibly put this, I am not giving up my BlackBerry any time soon.  I am not giving up on BlackBerry as a company, I am definitely not planning to go to any other phone.

Ah, misguided and blind loyalty, right?  Wrong.

So many have spoken of the arrogance of BlackBerry, the squandering of the lead in the smartphone market.  Well, yes, I completely agree they have suffered from horrible decisions.  But despite poor decision making along the way, they have produced an amazing phone that fits my needs wonderfully.  Every speck of arrogance attributed to BlackBerry is suffered in full by the market's new darling, the iPhone.  I like the iPhone.  It's kinda nice.  I have absolutely no desire to own one.  Apple scorns my desire of a physical keyboard.  Apple scoffs at my need to put calendaring first and foremost.  Apple does not care about my privacy.  Apple wants me to carry a charger with me at all times.

Arrogance isn't the whole story here.  The smart phone market has changed forever.  But the smart phone market has not stabilized and there is plenty of room for innovation.  And a physical keyboard and a removable battery.

So, with all my love, I pen this missive to BlackBerry.


Dearest BlackBerry,

I sometimes joke to my friend that I am pushing for him to run the company.  He does not yet realize I am absolutely not joking.  He may be technological and not have the ability to run a company of 7500, but he is one of the people that needs to drive the company from the inside.  He is the person that understands you need to make a seamless experience on a phone - not a cobbled together amalgamation of touch screens and shiny.  BlackBerry's leadership needs to listen a lot more to the rank and file who want to make great stuff.  (I know that's a nonsensical statement - all of #TeamBlackBerry wants to make good stuff, but there is a communication breakdown in there someplace.)

The thing that will save BlackBerry's bacon (if you'll pardon the mixed food metaphor) is a skunkworks project from within.  You've been creating your own Itanium for so long you've lost track of your own talent yearning to do better.  It doesn't matter if it's technically better if the bobble doesn't provide what you want in the long haul.  Intel was forced to turn it around by competition and they did it by redressing their CPU line through allegedly going back to a skunkworks project.  The most important thing for BlackBerry to start today is to find those projects and nurture the good ones.  Think of it as 20% time with 100% effort.

The irony is that you've created a really good, amazing phone.  It runs fast, it's ridiculously fast to type on, it's crazy fast (and fun) to flick around.  You need to leverage your strengths right now before processers ramp up and leaves this gem feeling sluggish.

Leveraging your strengths means start doing one thing right.  Do not fragment your ecosystem.  One operating system.  One phone -- okay, actually I'll make an exception and say two phones.  The Z10 form factor has to stay - I don't like pushing glass but I'm not the target market.  So a Z10 and a Q10 and everything into making them a great EXPERIENCE instead of just a great phone.  I'll give up on my beloved PlayBook, but I need my Q10.  I need my next generation Q10 to be even better than this one.

Your developer ecosystem has failed.  Accept it.  For three years I've been told I can download any app for my iPhone or Android.  That's not good enough.  You have to get sideloading easy and accessible to the masses now with a reasonable chance of making every app run seamlessly.  Hell, I haven't even sideloaded an app because it seems like a pain in the butt.

The great news is your developers on your platform are exceptional.  Blaq on my Q10 is now the primary way I interact on Twitter.  You have talent available.  Leverage it.

I get the notion of going with QNX, but it took far too long.  (There's enough material there for a whole new post!)  That's a problem of not listening to your engineers.  You got caught in a no-mans land between controlling a vertical stack of hardware and software and the commoditized, cheap platform that can sit on anyone's device.  That's a problem with not listening to your visionaries.  Opening the BBM ecosystem is a good start to leveraging your strengths.

And last, I heard the tripe about going back to business markets.  Stop being myopic idiots.  Your market was never business.  Your market was communicators.  Heavy communicators that need to stay in touch, stay organized, stay involved.  That market is huge, it overlaps a lot with business, but it is not business.  Deborah Yedlin calls her BlackBerry a tool and not a toy.  Start understanding just how important your role remains for those of us that must communicate.

My BlackBerry is irreplaceable.  Start communicating with us so we can get what we need from our phones.

Welcome

Change is the only constant.

Welcome to the semi-exciting new look, same crappy blogger.

All comments are still moderated, I'll approve everything that isn't spam or offensive.  Agreement with His Dorkasaurus is not necessary.

What has changed is that I don't have 1000 junk accounts clogging up the system that I have to go through one by one.  Yes, you too can set up an account and no longer need to wait for me to notice you posted.  Completely optional.

As always:  Have fun, be respectful.

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