Without the Doing, Dreaming is Useless

We all have an idea we’ve been meaning to execute on, but how can we really make it happen? In this highly original, all-ages talk at the 99 Conference, illustrator Rilla Alexander walks us through this classic creative struggle by sharing the story of Sozi – an adorable character who walks us through the arc of an idea. She daydreams, she procrastinates, she sets deadlines, she gets tempted by new ideas, she buckles down and works hard – and finally – she realizes “Her Idea.”
Rilla Alexander: Without the Doing, Dreaming is Useless

Combined or subsumed



‘Years ago (before online resume submission), the mailroom delivered a box to me. When I opened it, it was a large origami crane, with a note — ‘Unfold me.’ It was a resume.’
Debunking common job-search myths

Have we reached a stage already, where positions such as developer and tester are feeling like holding onto the past? Are they yet another role where the tasks to be either divided, combined or subsumed?  The CV has be largely hailed as out of date, but nothing cohesive to replace it as yet. Perhaps we are in same state for how we think about people in the workplace, and we can’t yet exist without the pervasive labelling in company structures. We will be forced to change soon, however we personally feel.

Ants have algorithms

I certainly find that the way we interface with the technology is very important. Because despite the fact I use computers and do simulations and taught myself to program computers, I was a reluctant individual. I first started my Ph.D. in ’96—I’m 33—I didn’t have email, and then I realized initially that what I wanted to do was to get a computer to see for me. If I am observing an ant colony, and there are hundreds of ants doing things at the same time, I have a very limited view of that.
Ants Have Algorithms

Worlds collide

We all have lives outside work, and sensibly keep a gap between the two. This is healthy balance but difficult maintain on consistent basis. I will freely admit there has been a freewheeling chaos in my personal life for 6 years, and maintaining professional life is those circumstances is harder. But entirely possible to do this in the “Worlds collide” syndrome. But if your outside life starts to get out of control, it can punch a hole in your career, or even your health. And if your worklife get too out of control, your relationships will be a target.

The was a tweet recently by one of these Leadership gurus, which set me on a path of thinking.

If your personal life is in chaos, you will not succeed professionally

There always seems to be a chaotic element to my life, that doesn’t cross into my professional life. I enjoy the switchover to professional mode, but wasn’t always so smart. It is not a matter of appearing mysterious or aloof, it’s a matter of being in a job, a role – this is the period of time when someone is paying for your skills. That should drive your outward persona at work, not personal details. You will naturally form relationships in the work environment, so there’s the room to let more personal sharing happen naturally.

Bringing your personal life into work is fatal. Though people are sympathetic to personal situations, it will not do you any favours when it comes to promotion, or in my case, contract entensions. This is actually easy to do – that is, until something akin to the weight of a planet lands on your life. Even with personal dramas in your life, there is a satisfaction in keeping your personal and professional lives apart. Create the immovable wall between them, that deserves to be there. There is truth in the above quote; but as with anything in life, disaster doesn’t have to be a certainty, it’s all about the path(s) you take.

Agile psychology

Personality tests in various guises are commonly used in recruitment and career counseling industries. Such tests have also been considered as instruments for predicting the job performance of software professionals both individually and in teams. However, research suggests that other human-related factors such as motivation, general mental ability, expertise, and task complexity also affect the performance in general.

As my interest in technology makes way for interest in management and methodology, I have become increasingly aware of the subject of psychology.  A well-oiled and experienced team can produce seeming miracles in project deliveries, but as that is minority, generally we end up managing what we have , to deliver what we can.  A major, and I mean major, omission in any methodology is address teams beyond just a reference term.  The team is all to delivering a project, but too commonly, we are playing smoke and mirrors games with the stakeholder.  . Sometimes by accident and sometimes by design.  Has anything really changed with methodology, or is it just covering the cracks in a different way?  yes and no.  But ignoring psychology and focussing on process,  you lose the complexity of the actual project team.

I think I would get a general round of affirmation, when I say that development is a creative business.  Sure, developers are being paid, but they are at the creative end of the process – translating the stakeholder vision into tangible software.  Software development processes are simple, they have to follow logic – as with a computer, a project has to have all the data and instruction to process.  Therein lies the complication – and a timeless, methodology-agnostic issue.

  • What does the customer want
  • What do they REALLY want
  • What do they want that is illogical
The Product Owner role can be a very beleaguered one, positioned as they are, between the stakeholder and scrummaster (and/or Project Manager).  Rarely included 100% into team structure, this is the major weak link, and no reflection on the skills and experience of the Product Owner.    It is very telling that when there is weak Scrummaster in place, the Product Owner adopts role of traditional project manager.  It is telling because that is what the combination of a Scrummaster/Product Owner does, as in Agile project management is seen as two parts (implied implicitly).  This seemingly good breakdown of responsibilities is positive idea – two people with same goals, managing both sides.  And it is.  If it wasn’t goddamn people!
Scrummaster role is highly skilled, though this is rarely observed when recruiting.  Any old senior developer will do, is general pervasive attitude.  The Product Owner ideally should be a mixture of Business and Systems Analysts, though I have only seen this mix in finance industry (possibly an existing type of role).  Again, there is a lackadaisical approach assigning the role to someone who can only be part-time on project, and only understands the business, and not necessarily the drivers behind the project. You fire one arrow from a bow, you are more more likely to hit the target – of you fire two from same bow, you run more risk of getting off-centre or missing it entirely.