Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Change the world, bit by bit

Although you meet resistance, you should still still keep on trying to change the world.

When it comes to software you are often met with statements like:

  • This technology is going to be a mayor player.
  • Its a strategic decission to use this product.
  • Thats what the client wants.

If you are a software developer and know better than what has been presented to you, you should share this knowledge. If we let the world evolve by the words of marketing people, complexity will keep on increasing, with out any innovation. If you want to help reducing complexity, please do let the people around you know when they are mistaken.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hierarchy of Information

Most enterprise software solutions deals with data. Actually I can't think of any that don't. Many enterprise solutions deal with lots of data. The application helps the user to deal with these massive amounts of data.

I think of different levels of information. Each level decreases in size, but increases in value. Data in its lowest level is not very valuable. A bit or a byte of data is quite useless out of context. When characters are added together to form a string, the value increases significantly. A string in the form of a sentence is easier to remember than a equally amount of random bytes. The amount of information has decreased, but its value has increased. We are now able to compress the information to something smaller. Raw data is refined to information, knowledge and wisdom.

The Earth computer in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy is the ultimate example of this refinement of information. All the information in the world is refined to the very short and easy to remember result: "42". If this was not fiction, this result would be the single most valuable piece of information.

Every business strives to find the secrets of making lots of money( or save the planet ), and every business application is build to expose these secrets.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Somebody has been reading my mind

This december I won a book (actually I won four, but the other ones were just not as great) in a technology contest. I don't know how I have missed out on this one. I have seen it on the booksshelfes but I have not read it until now. I must say that its brilliant. "The Pragmatic Programmer" is a pleasure to read.

The Pragmatic programmer is about thinking while you develop. It  promotes the obvious that is apparently not as obvious as we thought. Its as if the authors read my blog posts before I even wrote them :) This book really makes you think and I hope I can get my current collegues as well as future ones to read this so they can reflect a little about their actions.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Leadership is about motivation

Leadership is not a simple task, but I think you will come far if you focus on motivation.

How to motivate while you lead can be done in a number of ways. The first step is of course to understand your teammembers. Find out what makes them tick.
I think the best way to go is to find common interests and focus on that. Knowing the persons on your team makes it easier to find something that will naturally interest the individual.

Cool cash
This an easy way to motivate people. Money is a fundamental requirement for everybody. The problem with this is thats if this is your only motivator you can easily be outbid by others.
If we reflect this to training a dog this resemples giving your dog treats when it does what you tell it to. It will work as long as the dog is hungry and likes your treats. If someone shows up with better treats you have lost.

This is the opposite of the Cool Cash motivator. This is where you punish people if they don't do as they are told. This method has worked like a charm for many dictators in the past. The downside is that there can't be any alternatives to your leadership, and thats not easy to enforce in todays society. This works best if you have an uneducated workforce.
In dog training this resembles beating your dog untill it does it right.

Common interests
You need emphathy to succed with this one. You need to understand what drives the people working for you. If your workforce matches the tasks you have, it's going to be easy. They will more or less do it right whatever you say. This is about choosing the right team for the job. If you need to herd sheep, choosing a hunting dog would be a bad choice.

Once you have your team put together you need to know what drives your team members. Some people strive for acknowledgement by coworkers, some live by the shear technology challenge presented to them and other people strive by other things. It's important to realize that motivation is not just important as to maximize output by your team. If you don't know how to motivate your team, it will collapse. And chances are that it will influence other parts of your business.
In dog world this resembles: If you have a herd dog and don't provide stimuli, it will take your house apart.