happy ending for everyone. It's good to know the professionals are on the job at PBS. It's a great goal for every project team.
16 July 2003
As I'm writing this I'm about to get on a plane. I hope there are no serious software failures! We've talked before about how software drives everything from planes and spacecraft, to coffeemakers and jukeboxes. People say software could never take over the world because it does only what people program it to do (that's not necessarily reassuring). But while software drives everything, it is an important point that people drive software. People drive software in the sense that customers demand the services and products that software provides.
People also drive software in the sense that people create it and distribute it. Is this all too obvious? Then why is the phenomenon of software the single most flawed type of product in the history of products? Partly because it's the most complex "thing" we've created. That just means we have the greatest challenge in history--software testers, managers, QA people, etc.--to de-flaw the beast. The fact that you are receiving this e-letter means you are already part of the solution. So as I get ready to board my plane, I thank you.
20 August 03
Wear Their Shoes
How about the phrase, "I'm not married to that idea"? The connotation is that one might expect you to be married to the idea, and you had to clarify. In this ''Our Take,'' I'd like to say that one of the best group-characteristics a project team can have is openness to others' ideas. I say ''one of the best'' because it has to be balanced with a decisive leader who knows when to put the hammer down, and team members who know how to keep ideas from endlessly reproducing, but that's a different ''Our Take'' altogether.
Many people in our industry have used a particular process a certain way many years. This trickles down to specific instances in meetings where one person floats an idea, and another person "shuts down" the idea reflexively. (This can also be a personality issue, but that too is a different "Our Take.") In a more micro sense, one person may simply "need" to focus on one way of doing things, for the security of order amid chaotic development environments. But new projects often require some mental and psychological flexibility.
If you are a person who marries to ideas, processes, or "ways"-and you object to someone's new idea-it might be helpful to note your objection on paper, look at it again after the meeting, and try to put yourself in that person's shoes. Then, if necessary, go back and object with your reasons in hand. Or, maybe this habit will help you object less often, or object in a different way, offering alternatives. You can always communicate better, and contribute in a more productive way, if you have the skill to put yourself in someone else's shoes. I'm still practicing this skill, to make it a habit. It may seem like a difficult "point-of-view shift" to spend energy on, but it makes life a lot easier!
17 September 03
Thin staffing got you down? Here are some points to keep in mind when people and positions around you start disappearing. If you're going to pitch in and devote 50, 60, or 70 hours a week to keep things going for your company, be sure you communicate what you're doing from the start. Otherwise, management will see that "everything is running smoothly" and assume operations can continue adequately without hiring more staff.