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

Just a Document?

October 26, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Teamwork 

Working with a couple of groups that are striving for a certificate in Project Management, we have run into an interesting situation. While the deliverables that contribute to the grading in the course focus on hard-skills implementation of a realistic, but simulated, project (most have selected to go with a PMO implementation), the one document they produce that is not directly part of the grading is turning out to be the most relevant to the success of many of the teams. It is their team agreement. 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

Customer Service

September 14, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Teamwork 

We’re all familiar with customer service, and likely have all kinds of stories to tell about disappointments with transactions we have had. I’ve changed cel phone carriers in disgust several times, and will never get my car serviced where I originally bought it. I have actually had a few positive surprises that have dramatically strengthened my relation with some service providers, but alas, these are outnumbered. This idea of customer service is more pervasive than we might first think. Read more

What We Bring to the Table

July 13, 2008 by · Comment
Filed under: People 

In many shops, I have seen situations where one person (or perhaps a few, but it is always a minority) appears to be getting in the way, and the perception is that they need to be sent on their way for the good of the team. While this actually is true in some cases, I think that more often than not it is more a case of failing to appreciate what others bring to the table. Read more

Actually, It IS All About You

December 23, 2007 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Teamwork 

If we look at how most branded approaches for software development are pitched, we see that there is little active consideration for the team that will be dealing with that new approach. One could cynically suggest that this is because these approaches are being hailed as silver bullets that are independent of the participants, but I think it goes deeper than that. Read more

Birthing the Spec

December 16, 2007 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Process 

It’s a scenario that gets played over and over again in software shops: the person designated as the analyst for a project, sometimes the CTO, sometimes also the project manager, heads into the birthing hut at the start of the project, and doesn’t come out until the spec is born. This analogy hurts in so many ways. Read more

Recognizing the Structure of Power

November 11, 2007 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, People, Teamwork 

In his book The 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene explores a wide range of examples of the application of power and influence with others. The book has a decidedly dark feel about it, a Machiavellian leaning that can make for a bad taste in your mouth. Entertaining reading, but not something I would consider a guide to live by. This stands in stark contrast with one of the sessions of the recent AYE Conference, where we explored the nuances of power in a setting that is much more aligned with the idea of common good rather than a zero-sum proposition. Read more

The Complexity of Change

November 4, 2007 by · Comment
Filed under: People, Teamwork 

I participated in the AYE (Amplify Your Effectiveness) Conference in Phoenix this week, which is clearly not your run of the mill conference. No PowerPoint allowed, no stodgy rows of chairs facing a lone speaker in the front, very little nodding off, and only the people with iPhones were distracted from the sessions. Indeed, the line between audience and speaker is intentionally blurred and engagement is increased significantly. A highly recommended conference. The topic of change comes up frequently, and these discussions are often centered around the Satir Model for Change. We all deal with change in our lives, generally doing so by avoiding it at all costs. Change is not trivial topic to deal with, which is likely one of the reasons it is so intimidating to all of us. Read more

Engagement Beats Handoff and Jargon

October 28, 2007 by · Comment
Filed under: Leadership, Process, Teamwork 

Quite often when we talk about challenges in this industry, we lament that our customers don’t get it, or that those hardware guys seem to live in their own little world (that is, if we’re in software – for those in that hardware world, the shoe is often on the other foot). If we dive into the majority of those communication issues, one of the problems is that we have not really engaged with ‘the other side’ – we have been busy confusing them with our jargon. Read more

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  • What’s Happening

  • On The Road Again

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


    Contact Jim if you would like to connect around any of the upcoming dates:

    • Blissfully at home in Vancouver, BC over the summer!
  • What People are Saying

    Jim is simply one of the smartest and most knowledgeable software development professionals I have ever met. His vast knowledge of the discipline is both leavened and enhanced by his acute awareness of and sensitivity to “the real world” of what actually occurs with real developers in actual practice. Jim is also a warm, open, honest person – rare gifts and an asset in any consultant.

    — Bonar Harris