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.


Fail Well

22 04 2009

Fail Well:  Live well after a failure

In life failure is inevitable, trust me, you will fail at some point. What you do with that failure after that will determine if you continue to do well in life or not.

Many of us think of failing and start shaking in our boots, but studies have shown that 80% of what we fear never happens. So most of our lives, we live in fear when the only reality is the fear itself. There is no substance behind the fear. Wow! That statistic should set us all free. A failure is never as bad as it seems. And that fear paralyzes us and steals the most significant dreams. If you come out on the other side of a failure above the ground, then you still have work to do for God and mankind, so you might as well get busy.

The grave is full of books that were never written, art that was never painted or sculpted, big ideas that never saw the day of light. Don’t let it happen to you.

Change your perspective. See failure as just a step in the evolution of your success. See failure as what shapes you into the person that you need to become to attain the prize ahead. See failures as the steps on your stairwell to greatness.

Failure is necessary, but we must be careful to use failure properly. We cannot internalize failure because then it becomes a shackle. It can bind us with fear and hurt and self-doubt if we internalize it when it happens.
Failure is neutral like a brick and bricks can be used to build a home or a prison. You choose what you do with the failure in your life. Also, remember this point, that when you do fail, you are not a failure, you had a failure. So, fail well my friends, fail well.

More Resources



twitter.com/JohnCMaxWell —  Get His Book “Failing Forward”

Never Never Never Give Up!

13 04 2009

Fall seven times, stand up eight. ~Japanese Proverb

“Success is achieved through perseverance, so never, never, never give up!” I still remember the day I came home and told my wife that. I don’t remember the particular goal that I had in front of me at the time, but that statement became the motto for the Tillman family. If you have ever called my home, you have heard it on our voicemail. You can not make any significant impacts in the life of others without this character trait in your repertoire. I have heard people say, if you are struggling with it, then you might need to try something else. I disagree with that. Success is hard. If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

Success is not easy
Business owners know this all too well. A profitable business is a result of many qualities that you have learned successfully over time. A well run business has many aspects that are all working well together. A business needs great customer service, quality production, good financial habits, etc. To get a business to this state, the owner has to work relentlessly on each of these. How does it all happen? Late nights of going over the books while everyone else is sleep, refining product recipes that are already good so that customers are wowed the next time they interact with the product, remaining on the phone with a customer for as long as it takes to resolve their issues and so on. This is what it takes to win and late nights and brain storming sessions for product improvement and extra customer care means less sleep for the body. This concept is not easy to adopt for most. Hey, there are only 24 hours in a day, so if you add something else to your life then one of those 24 hours will need to be occupied by it. And if you are a productive citizen, then you probably work 8 hours or more per day, sleep 8 hours, relax for 2, spend a couple of hours eating, drinking, exercising, grooming etc… you get the point. You have to starting giving something in that routine up once you decide to achieve more. Due to the excitement of achieving something new, sleep is usually the first to take a hit and you also don’t have as much time to watch TV or go to the movies. Most people are not willing to give up their sleep or syndicated TV shows and so they consciously decide to remain the same.

Pain is weakness escaping
Those who have reached the boiling point (where the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change) are ready for to make some sacrifices. It will not feel good, but it will be necessary.

It is much like an athlete striving for that perfect body so that he can perform at his peak. The workout is great, but the morning after is quite painful. When we workout, our muscles actually breakdown and as they heal the tissue is rebuilt stronger and this process is painful. Success requires us to persevere through the inconvenient pain. Think of that pain as weakness escaping.

After many late nights and false starts and brick walls and financial difficulties, you may say what many have said before you, “It just ain’t worth it”. I challenge you to be the few and not the many and persevere. If you are passionate about what you are doing, then come hell or high water, you must persist. Reach for that single degree that will bring your dream out of the world of imagination into reality. Read and watch material that will encourage you to persevere. I’ve embedded a video that personifies perseverance, watch it.

Again, the pain you feel is weakness escaping, so be strong, have courage…persevere.

Successful People Have It…Do You?

8 04 2009

“If this cup can pass from me, never the less thy will not my will be done”
Familiar verse of scripture from the Bible and  movie “The Passion”.
Christ drank the cup and endured the unimaginable because of his passionate love for all mankind.

Passion is a force that we can use to powerfully effect the world around us.  Passion by Webster’s definition is defined as a deep love toward some activity.  I like that definition and it is the one that I explore further here.

Passion Is Deep

Passion comes from within, it is not on the surface.  Your outer self is a mirror of the passions that you posses inside you.  Passion is to our soul and spirit what food and water is to our bodies.  When we eat, our body absorbs the food, makes it a part of it, fuses it into cells and uses it as fuel to grow and mature.  That is exactly how our spirit and soul use our passion.

In my own life, my passion in life is to eradicate ignorance, because ignorance is the foundation of poverty and hatred.  I will go to any depth to educate anyone who wants to listen about removing the barrier of ignorance so that they can walk out of poverty and leave behind the vice that is hatred.  And there is absolutely nothing you can do to me to dissuade me from preaching that message.  This is why I write and why I teach.

Passion Is Love

Passion is the lover within your heart.  What do we do with lovers, we become intimate with them, we hold them, caress them, think about them, hold them in high esteem, and protect them.  They are the targets of our affection.  In the same way, passion causes us to love, be intimate with, hold on to, caress, think about, hold in high esteem, and protect the THING, that we are passionate about.

passion will
keep you going
when it gets really hard
to keep moving forward…

Wilma Rudolph was passionate about winning races
Alexander Graham Bell was passionate about telelphones
The Wright Brothers were passionate about airplanes
Martin Luther King Jr. was passionate about civil rights
Washington Carver Jr. was passionate about peanuts
Christ was passionate about all mankind

Think about your passion…no passion is too big or too small…it could be your children… anything that drives/motivates you to do more
and want to be better than you’ve been is a passion.

Passion doesn’t say yes, it says YEEEESSSSSS!
Passion doesn’t say no, it says NOOOOOOOOO!
Passion doesn’t say I might, it says I WILL!
Passion doesn’t say I love you, it says OMG, I LOVE YOU!
Passion drives you to not only run your race, but to finish your race STRONG.  Passion will keep you going when it gets really hard to keep moving forward.  If you don’t have passion, you will quit, when the hardness comes and it will come.

So, the question is yours…Where is your passion?