Archive for November, 2002

Christmas Shopping

Saturday, November 16th, 2002

I’ve just ordered a copy of the Back To The Future Trilogy on DVD.

At BlackStar this costs

Keeping Staff Happy

Saturday, November 16th, 2002

I recently suggested to a manager that if he wanted more productivity from his experienced programmers, he should spend more time, attention, and money to training. He replied, “Why bother sending them to expensive classes? The experienced ones just leave here for other shops, so I’d just be training them for other people.”

When I interviewed two of his top programmers, they confided that they were seriously considering leaving, which tended to confirm the manager’s pessimistic view. But when I asked them why they were leaving, they independently said that “management doesn’t value our work.” What evidence did they have? Both told me that they had repeatedly been turned down on requests to attend courses!

– Gerald M. Weinberg, Overstructured Management of Software Engineering, Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Software Engineering, September 1992

Keeping People Waiting

Friday, November 15th, 2002

Why am I always kept waiting when I go to see a lawyer or an accountant? It’s not as if I drop in out of the blue. All the appointments are arranged in advance and I’m usually paying the person I’m meeting. Sometimes people have legitimate reasons for being late but I don’t think there has ever been a time when I’ve been met promptly.

Issues of time are a major source of offense in our culture. Keeping people waiting is a petty power play that usually insults the one kept waiting.

The Niceties of Negotiating

I contribute to this problem because I rarely complain about being left waiting. What is the best way for me to handle this situation? I don’t like to complain at the start of the meeting. It causes bad feeling and the person I’m meeting with can become defensive and annoyed. So what should I be doing?

New Systems Never Work

Thursday, November 14th, 2002

The first line of defense is accepting that the new system will fail, possibly in several ways. When I find myself thinking, “I must have this change because I can’t afford failures,” then I’m in big trouble. If I can’t afford some failures, a new system won’t help. And neither will an old one.

Nothing new ever works, but there’s always hope that this time will be different.

– Gerald M. Weinberg, The Secrets of Consulting, Chapter 9

All Quiet in the Office

Wednesday, November 13th, 2002

The office has been very quiet today. Could be something to do with Marc being on holiday.

Enjoying What You Do

Wednesday, November 13th, 2002

Lately, I have been meeting with various people who work for professional service firms. They all seem to lack the same thing – passion. I want to meet people who are passionate about the job their doing. I don’t want to meet lawyers who are less interested in company law than I am!

Success comes from doing what you enjoy. If you don’t enjoy it, how can it be called success?

– David H. Maister, True Professionalism

Business Development

Tuesday, November 12th, 2002

Being good at business development involves nothing more than a sincere interest in clients and their problems, and a willingness to go out and spend the time being helpful to them.

– David H. Maister, True Professionalism


Friday, November 8th, 2002

Marc wrote his refutation.

I am not mad. I am me.

Well, even after reading his refutation I would still say that he is mad. When I say that Marc is mad I don’t mean that he is “suffering from a disorder of the mind” or “angry”. I mean that sometimes he is either “temporarily deranged by violent sensations, emotions, or ideas” or “feeling or showing strong liking or enthusiasm”. I also mean that he is crazy as in “possessed by enthusiasm or excitement” and “intensely involved or preoccupied”. All things I believe Marc would agree with.

By the way, Marc is also fun, good-natured, affable, witty and clever.

Improving Team Performance

Thursday, November 7th, 2002

I really liked this article which lists ten cheap actions you can take today to improve your IT team’s performance.

However, the one I would like to implement, code in a conference room, wouldn’t be cheap and I certainly couldn’t do it today.

Get a conference room big enough to hold everyone. Put the very best hardware in it. Mix in comfy chairs, both working and lounging. Food is good, too. Make sure there’s plenty of wall room for diagrams, white-boards, and so on.

The Accuracy Unmyth

Thursday, November 7th, 2002

Apart from being an oxymoron, there is a very simple reason why estimates cannot be “accurate” – we simply do not have the data necessary to be accurate. It is a sad fact that the earlier the estimate is made, the less data we have available, and therefore the less “accurate” we can be. The only time we have sufficient data to truly warrant the label “accurate” is at the very end of the project when all the variables have been resolved.

– Phillip Armour, The Business of Software, Communications of the ACM, November 2002, Vol. 45, No 11.