Archive for October, 2007|Monthly archive page

October Web Roundup

October seems to have been a month where everyone I know (me included) has suffered from some kind of cold/flu. Health in the workplace is a big issue and stress related illnesses are a key area of concern. Earlier this month Liz Handlin asked the question Can your job kill you? and then, a couple of weeks later, Ramon Padilla asked Are you always on? Then I read Deconstructing Frankenstein which talks about the value of AntiPatterns (i.e. patterns that show you how not to do something). This led me to think that maybe this Dilbert cartoon is a good AntiPattern for how health issues should definitely not be handled.

I like a good story and I have long been convinced that good story telling is an important communication technique. I first read about this in Tom Peter’s book Thriving on Chaos:

“The best leaders, almost without exception and at every level, are master users of stories and symbols”

More recently I read similar advice in Jo Owen’s book How to Lead:

“If you have created a good hypothesis, you should be able to construct a simple story to make your point.”

Against this background I was interested to read this month Tell New Stories To Make The Lean Change and Want to create change? Tell a story.

Generally I am a fan of trying to focus on one thing at a time and I think that expecting too much multitasking from your team can limit their productivity. Benjamin Ellis has posted his thoughts on the power of focus in Why Don’t You See What You Can Do in an Hour? Meanwhile Stacey Douglas has posted on the limits of multitasking. Reading her post put me in mind of Bruce P. Henry’s novel argument against multitasking from last month: Multitasking Is Killing Your Business.

Last, but not least, this photo at Coding Horror made me (and a few of my colleagues) laugh out loud. Enjoy!


Communication: 6 Ways to Add Value

One of the things I like about blogging is that it forces me to consider how to best communicate my thoughts. It also means that whenever I read anything, from books to blogs, I am constantly asking myself how an author is keeping me interested: what is it about their writing that makes me want to read?

I have noticed that a key characteristic of any good writing is that it adds value. In fact, this doesn’t just apply to writing, but to any form of communication. Someone can add value in many different fashions: from telling you something you didn’t already know to summarising a large amount of information in order to save you time. I have identified 6 key ways you can add value when you are communicating: Continue reading

Wisdom from Raymond Blanc

At a risk of revealing my penchant for TV reality shows I am going to post a few things that the legendary chef and restaurateur Raymond Blanc said on the final episode of “You’re Fried” which aired last Wednesday (17th October) on BBC3.

“You’re Fried” is a sister programme to “The Restaurant” and both programmes have followed contestants attempting to run their own restaurants. Each week one contestant has been eliminated by Raymond until finally last week we were left with a winner.

So why am I quoting Raymond on my blog? Because I think his insights apply equally well to any business: you don’t have to be a chef to learn something from them!

When asked what he was looking for in a winner Raymond said: Continue reading

6 Qualities For Business Success

Last weekend I had the pleasure of catching up with several old friends of mine. One is doing very well for himself running his own gardening business. “I don’t really understand how it has worked out so well” he told me, “as I don’t advertise or do any marketing.” As we talked about how he had gone from quitting his job to making a significantly higher income running his own business we identified six key qualities that led to his success: Continue reading

Is C++ The Only Real Language?

OK, I feel like posting something fun (and possibly controversial)…

For some time now I have thought that C++ is the only “real” or “proper” programming language. I also hold the view that the answer to the questions “Can he/she code in C++?” and “Is he/she a good programmer?” will always be the same. I have even recommended it for use as the sole interview question in my post Hiring the Best Coders.

Up until now I have had no scientific evidence to support these opinions. But this has changed. I can now present to you a totally un-biased set of questions that can accurately score the “real-and-proper-ness” of a programming language (unless otherwise stated a “yes” answer scores 1 point): Continue reading

Distributed Landing Zones

Have you ever struggled to convey the exact nature of a requirement? Do you find that non functional requirements can be especially tricky? Join the club! One technique that I have found helpful is distributed landing zones… Continue reading