Archive for November, 2007|Monthly archive page

A Bad Strategy is Better Than None

A couple of weeks ago I had the dubious pleasure of spending a Saturday playing paintball. Just in case you’ve never heard of it, paintball involves running around in a forest shooting small pellets filled with paint at each other. The day was divided up into a number of distinct games (i.e. capturing the other team’s flag whilst defending our own) and, after finding out the rules to a particular game, each team of 13 players had no more than a minute to decide how they would play.

Before our first game my team did not come up with any strategy at all and the result was that we just about managed to hold out for a draw. However for our second game we came up with some very basic tactics. I’m not sure our tactics were any good but at least for that game we had some idea of what we were going to do. It turned out that was enough to enable us to win.

The key lesson for me was that having a strategy, no matter how bad, was better than nothing. Continue reading

The Best Meetings Are Short

I once told a Programme Manager at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu that I liked my meetings short. “How short is short?” she asked. “15 minutes or less works for me” I replied. She told me that she wished she could persuade some of her customers that 15 minute meetings were a good idea. Clearly she was not a fan of long meetings.

She is not alone. Time magazine’s article What We Hate About Meetings reveals that the most common reason for people disliking them is that they are “disorganised and rambling”. This isn’t exactly a new problem either. Way back in 1996 Fast Company published The Seven Sins of Deadly Meetings one of which is “Meetings are too long. They should accomplish twice as much in half the time.” They even quote Richard Collard of Federal Express as saying “We just seem to meet and meet and meet and we never seem to do anything.”

So how can you make sure your meetings are kept short and to the point? Continue reading

Releasing Early and Often

Two months ago I had the pleasure of offering some advice to Mike Hofer. Mike has developed a library for .NET that makes it easier for developers to validate function arguments, something I am very much in favour of. The library is called NValidate and you can find out all about it at www.nvalidate.org

Back in September Mike was struggling to release his software. Why? Because he couldn’t stop himself adding functionality! This led him to post Feature Creep vs. Feature Completeness on Construx Conversations in which he asked whether the set of features he had coded so far was enough to justify a public release. I replied to say that NValidate already had more than enough functionality to justify a release and that releasing something sooner rather than later would provide other benefits as well… Continue reading