Lead by Collaboration

28 08 2009

Lately, I’m hearing more and more that teams are stuck in the waterfall way of doing things when it comes to software development. Why, I say, why?

We Can Do Better

Today’s technology makes it possible to work closer with our customers so that we deliver exactly what they need instead of something that we think they are asking for. In the old model, we had to draw up a set of requirements that included every feature that could be conceived. With the technology available during that time waterfall Model made sense because we were mostly disconected from our customers with very slow Internet speeds when we were connected. The model of the Internet also was not yet one of collaboration, but more of a information display model. There were a number of computer limitations like the floppy disc with low storage capacity, database technology was in its infancy, and email was brand new. We can’t imagine the internet with such limitations today, but it had to start somewhere.

No More Limits

The most limiting factor was the fact that the network infrastructure was slow, sporadic, and costly. The fact that a business can acquire reliable high speed internet connectivity all the time is one of the biggest potential productivity boosters for business. It is especially important to the small business owner because it levels the playing field. I say that it is a potential productivity booster because a business has to recognize the power of what it has in its hand. If the methods aren’t updated to take advantage of the latest technology, then the business can no longer compete. Technology is changing at a rapid rate, but old mindsets are a little harder to change and so we make little progress compared to what we could accomplish. I work continuously with highly skilled engineers implementing the most technologically advanced systems in the world. We make the things that move the world forward by quantum leaps and yet try to hold on to large requirement docs in favor of smaller requirements with tight feedback loops. The large documents fits in a clunky disconnected computer world, but the smaller documents with frequent adjustments and constant feedback fits in todays world of thin light connected computers. We no longer need documentation that is 100 pages long upfront, but we need to start with say 10 pages and add to that over time as the project progresses. We can collaborate with customers real time using internet collaboration tools creating documentation on the fly for the next phase or feature of the project. The key to delivering exactly what the customer wants is feedback early and often.

I do think a project needs a high level view of each feature or phase from the point of conception through product delivery, but detailing every aspect is not necessary. Better to detail in windows of 2 to 3 quarters out and leaving anything past that at a high level.

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Twitter: What’s The Point? – Part 2

28 08 2009

Your Mama ever told you and your siblings before leaving the house or accompanying them to an event…”Ya’ll better act right”. Well, that was a life lesson: there is a proper way to act in public and that the way you act in public is a personal reflection on the family name.  Acting right is mostly common sense and it works in every aspect of life…home, work, business deals and yes twitter too.

Rules of Engagement

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Just like any place on earth there are rules of engagement. Really, it is pretty much common sense. Don’t tell lies, don’t harass tweeple, don’t say things that are out of character with who you are.  Oh, and don’t tell other folks how to do things that you haven’t done yourself.  It’s annoying to get tweets that say things like “How to get 10,000 followers in a month”  from tweeple who barely have 100,  please just stop the madness. Find tweeters that are fun, informative, interesting and interact with them and become fun, informative and interesting yourself. Become the goto guy or gal in your field, hobby or interest, that’s what you really want, that’s how you engage.

Make It Personal

orange house

The first thing I found was that I needed to customize my background and make my Twitter page more reflective of my personality and the message that I wanted to convey.  To do this just search for “Twitter backgrounds” and you’ll find all the help you need.  Ok, so now you have a nice background, what’s next?  Spruce up your profile…not gonna explain how to do that because you can just click on the profile link and it  will walk you through and the fields are self explanatory.  I’ll just say that you should write your description knowing that it is how many folks will find you.  So, however you want other tweeple to think of  you is want you want to put there.  I may write another article later on how to write a good profile description.  In this post, I’ll stick to the point (no pun intended) of this article, which is showing the point of
Twitter and hopefully that will give you enough incentive to figure out the how-to yourself.   If you personalize your background, your profile and add a picture then  you have pretty much covered the basics to personalizing your realestate in the twitterverse, oh yeah and if you have a website that’s reflective of your message, I would suggest adding that to your profile as well.  I usually click a tweeters website to check ’em out before I follow them.  Take-away here is that you want to build trust and stand out as an individual who others can count on. You want tweeters to miss you when you aren’t there.

tweety

RETWEET THIS

RETWEET THIS





Twitter: What’s The Point? – Part 1

19 08 2009

This is a series for the twitter alien or newbie who either has yet to embark upon a twitter user account or is just getting started. This is not a how-to guide for the most part, because frankly, most of my real world friends can’t get past the “what’s the point” question when it comes to twitter. It’s the question I had to answer for myself before jumping in too and it’s the question still wrangling around in some of your minds as your twitter account remains dormant waiting for you, hence the title.

Got Something To Say?

Have you ever wanted to tell the world something but felt like nobody wanted to listen? You ever had the answer but no audience to hear you out? Ever been frustrated with the pundits that always seem to have the mic, but never telling the whole story?  If you’ve ever experienced these feelings then there is a way for you to set things right, to tell it like it is. Set the whole world straight 140 characters at a time. Sure, you are forced to make it short and sweet, but in today’s world that’s how we like it anyway.

You’ve Got The Power

Remember that words contain power and guess what, tweets are what…yep, you guessed it, WORDS. So, when you tweet, you’ve got the power.

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Twitter is your platform to the world, your own soapbox where you can be heard as oft as you like, with no boundaries of time or space. Become a national or international voice, or a local voice if that’s all you want. Say something from your computer or smartphone and immediately impact and influence a life in India or other parts of the world.  Many, many tweeple converse and communicate on twitter every second of the day  and you can find and connect with people of like mind with a little effort.

Twitter is just like the real world in that to get more out of it, you must first contribute more to it.  On that  note, the more you tweet, the more tweets come back to you. So, take control and enlighten the world on how it really is. Use Twitter as your platform, soapbox, microphone, etc. It is useful, influential, entertaining, empowering, and waiting for you. You can always find me at http://twitter.com/dfresh411. Where are you?

tweety

RETWEET THIS

RETWEET THIS





Are You Listening?

7 08 2009

Listening is a vital discipline for any manager or leader. This is especially true for influence leaders.  In the beginning of a thing, whether it be a project, a social event or something else, leaders who weave active listening into their repetoire will always get a better result and come much closer in the end to what the customer, bride, manager is asking for.  And all involved with a team where the lead is a good listener will have a better disposition.  Team morale will  be higher because the influence leader knows how to consult and take the information and transform it into something tangible that will have meaniful and measureable impacts.  For instance, over my 13 years as a  lead/program manager there have been times when I’ve had to listen to team member issues “off the record” in confidence.  That meant that I  could not use the information in a way that would reveal who told me because I agreed to listen in confidence, I had to honor the request  to maintain or build further trust from that team member.  This is a very important concept because without trust you have nothing.   Revealing that team members name sometimes is tempting because it seems like the easiest way to get the job done, but it would a mistake. It violates the principle of active listening because I would only be choosing to hear what I want to hear and ignoring the fact that I was asked to keep it in confidence.  I’m not talking about anything illegal or immoral here, since of course that would be a different situation and would need to be handled differently.  I was able to take the information and influence managers to make adjustments that resulted in more efficient processes which saved time and money without ever naming anyone.  That is what influence leaders do, we actively listen, which builds a bridge of trust, which opens the lines of communication, which equips us to make positive and impactful change.





You Don’t Need a Title to Have Influence

2 08 2009

We can make a difference in this world, changing it for the better without any delegated authority whatsoever.    I want to show you that people with titles are not the only ones that can get things done.  Actually, there are folks behind the scenes with no titles at all making the world go ’round.  These are the folks who are unafraid to challenge the status quo despite their rank and file.  For these folks attitude is everything.  Take for example, President Obama when he was a community organizer on the street.  “Community Organizer”…that’s not a title, that’s a description.  He wasn’t a boss, or manager, but a leader, an “influence leader”.  He used his art of persuasion to work with the city and the people to improve the conditions.  He couldn’t call for the money needed for improvement  just by demanding that it happen as one with delegated authority, but he had to facilitate town meetings, understand motivations, fears and craft persuasive arguments to affect change a little at a time.  That type of leadership reveals a quality in influence leaders that is paramount and that is patience.

Patience is a big virtue in influence leaders because influence leaders have to first negotiate with all parties involved to bring them to the same page without the safety net of making an autocratic call.  Negotiating requires time, give and take, back and forth.   Without the patience to work through negotiations, the leader will become frustrated, annoyed, disconnected and either give up or deliver a lose/lose or win/lose resolution instead of the win/win outcome that everyone desires.  Once  a leader is in that state of mind, he is no longer an effective influence leader which brings me to another important quality found in influence leaders, listening.

Listening is a common quality among influence leaders.  People want to work with other people who will listen to them.  They want folks in their lives who will hear their side of the story.  I’m a husband and father and I understand very well how important it is to just sit and listen.  I’ve dealt with many situations at home just by hearing it out.  I didn’t have to provide a particular solution or share my brilliant insight, I just had to listen.  That is all that was required.   It is no different outside the home, because when people know that they can trust you with what they say they will tell you things that they will not tell others.   It is a safe place for them and people would rather be safe than vulnerable.  This gives the influence leader inside knowledge to make better decisions to impact the change necessary be successful.

Leaders who pratice patience and good listening skills will find themselves ahead of the game with co-workers, managers, friends, family and others.  Leaders that practice these will find that they have what is needed to influence, changing hearts and minds,  without  the traditional authoritative role.