That Vitamin Distraction

April 14, 2015 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People, Quality, Teamwork 

There’s an old (and frankly, tired) query that investors will pull out of their bag of clichés, usually when they are leaning away from funding your idea: “are you building vitamins or painkillers?”. The suggestion is that painkillers fix an immediate need and sell better – more attractive to those that want instant financial gratification as well. Hopefully, we’re not all consumed by that myopic view. Read more

Deadlines and Commitments

September 27, 2010 by · Comment
Filed under: Agility, Project management 

While some projects absolutely must be high quality, and others might be physically constrained by size, there is one dimension that is clearly the most prominent point of discussion on projects of all shapes and sizes: When must it be finished? Read more

Congruence, Empathy, Transparency

July 12, 2009 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People, Teamwork 

I recently finished working with groups that had a wide range of personalities and backgrounds, and were split into teams to deal with a comprehensive project. It never ceases to amaze me the differences in the way some groups manage to get along just fine, while others never seem to gel. Read more

Stepping on Toes

June 13, 2009 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People 

I spend a lot of my time in front of a classroom of adults, or presenting on topics to a group of often seasoned practitioners. Over the years, I have come to form a number of opinions that, shall we say, deviate slightly from the commonly accepted way of thinking. Put these two together, and I am finding that I sometimes step on a few toes. Read more

Benefit of the Doubt

May 24, 2009 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: People, Teamwork 

When I start to work with a new team, whether it is with a new group for a training session, a new client site where I will be working for a period of time, or that client brings a new employee into the fold, I tend to start with the assumption that everything is good out of the gate. My initial trust is pretty high, and I have high expectations that we’re going to get along well and do good work together. I tend to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, even if people have tried to warn me in advance. Read more

Communication 2.0

February 15, 2009 by · Comment
Filed under: People 

The proliferation of different ways to connect these days is unbelievable. I swear that some days, the requests to become friends or linked or follow tweets outnumber the regular e-mails in my old-fashioned inbox. That stated, though, I’m not sure that the real issue is going away. Are we really communicating more effectively? Read more


January 27, 2009 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People 

I’m sure it happens in any industry, yet it never ceases to amaze me. Once someone gets a bit of prominence, once they have discovered the secret handshake, many people will stop questioning what comes out of their mouth (or fingertips if online), and take their missives as gospel. Crazy, but true, and costly in the technology field. Read more

Local Maximum

November 9, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Project management, Teamwork 

Recall back to your college days, there was likely a time when you needed to calculate the maximum value for a given 3-dimensional function. There are a number of algorithms available, but many fall into the trap of only finding a local peak, rather than the absolute maximum. I’m sure that most of you asked yourselves whether you would ever use this in the real world. I’m sure I did, even the second time I took that infernal course. It turns out that the problem of reaching local maxima seems to occur in a team environment all the time, where it is not as rigorously understood that it is even a problem. While there is far less math involved, the solution can end up being just as difficult to implement. Read more

Not Rotting in Smugness

October 12, 2008 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: People 

I gave a couple of presentations at the Pacific Northwest Software Quality Conference in Portland this week: a case study about a rousing success we had with HP in Barcelona, and a presentation about what each of us as individuals can do to improve overall quality in collaborative teams. The conference uses green, yellow and red cards to allow people to rate the talk immediately, with the option of providing some written feedback. While both talks were very well received, one person responded to my ‘individuals’ talk with the following comment on a red card: “the correlation chart, the last entry about length of employment – you mean active engagement – the substitution of length of employment is why age discrimination mean I expect to lose my job – may you rot in your smugness”. Woah! Let me respond… Read more

Care and Feeding

October 5, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Teamwork 

How we decide to go about our daily lives has a significant on the outcome, both immediate and long-term. Over the years we have come up with all sort of alternatives for communicating with others, and I fear that we tend to lean towards those forms that go against the nurturing of our relationships, in the name of multi-tasking. For the most part, we are not doing our eyesight any good, either, as we spend most of our work-day (and much time outside of the office) staring at our screens. Read more

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    Jim frequently travels across Western Canada for engagements, and welcomes opportunities to meet, run a workshop, Diagnostic or Lunch and Learn session.

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