Monday, June 16, 2008

3 Types of diarrhea & Remedy!

Well this is about a different kind of diarrhea, that the IT companies suffer from. What? Read on...

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to companies/persons is purely unintentional and no offense meant. These are my personal views. Comments are welcome.

They say what an MBA degree does to you, is to change from Verbal Constipation to Verbal Diarrhea :-)
(Well, no offence meant to MBA community, In fact I am pursuing one)

But as far I have seen IT companies suffer from 3 types of diarrhea.

1) Verbal Diarrhea - Yeah it's true that communication skill is the key in this industry, but that doesn't mean you blabber around corporate lingo , tech jargon or management gyan.
Mostly the management suffers from this and it's contagious, so those who are on the verge of getting into management roles watch out!

The repetitive talk about company culture, personality development (aka mentors), management gyan, how different your team or company is etc… de motivates the employee and reduces the weight your words carry, in addition to complicating everybody's life involved.
P.S. if a company's website's too wordy, that's a sign of things!
I am sure as you read this you are relating to some of your mentors/reporting managers.

Remedy: Keep away as far as you can. Try cutting the crap with a nod saying yea right, absolutely, I get it. (Don't be rude. It's a tightrope walk. If you get into bad books of a person with verbal diarrhea, it's dangerous, remember he/she can easily shit around, and you will have to clean it!)
Second point you do well to remember is that if that's the culture around, your work is hardly recognized unless you make some noise.

2) Process Diarrhea - There are methodologies, like SDLC, XP and then there are standards like, CMM, ISO.
Instead of means, i.e. guidelines to increase effectiveness of individual/company, it becomes end in itself. The religious practitioners of process go about it with a hypnotic trance, where more emphasis is on process & effort's wasted on documents than the actual work.
The other common hazards are dress code to look more professional, timesheet to measure productivity and a template each, that needs to be filled, for everything that you do…leading to a pile of documents which nobody reads.

And then there is protocol/policy/process on, what time you can eat or play, what you can carry to office, etc...
Also metrics, right from your contribution in the designated role, to, your intangible contribution to company... leading to over accumulation of data, but there's only so much you can measure with data, like it's said, "If your one hand on fire and other one's in freezer a statistician would say on an average you are very comfortable".

Some companies even have a process & template in place for innovation. Bwa haha.

Too much of process kills creativity.

Remedy: Don't be a rebel. "To change the system, you have to be in the system".
Appreciate the stuff in place, follow, and then suggest gentle changes to simplify things.
If you want to try something new, for which it's hard to go through process, well, do it and then say sorry :-) (Deep down the founders/at least some of the top management will be creative souls, who would have taken the road less traveled by)

3) Meetings Diarrhea - Team meet, status update meet, daily focus meet, weekly one on one meet, individual KPA meet, review meet, brainstorming meet, well, if you find yourself dragged to meetings all the day, be worried, because you are surrounded by people who hardly get anything done.
Such people will be busy appearing busy, more meets you conduct/attend more important you are!
Never fall into this trap.

And when you are made to wait for long periods during the interview process, that's when you should think twice.

Remedy: Take the lead if you can in the meet & take action, try avoiding if you can't.

I am not against any of the above. They are good when within limits. I am just against the overdose. Constipation of any of the above is bad too.

Compared to any other industry people are mature & meritocracy prevails in IT industry.
And software development is neither rocket science nor pure art. (But it's silly to compare it to assembly line production.)

If you hire mature people, with right attitude, there's minimal need of the above. It's said "Rules are made for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men".
For example when the admin is forced to send mail, asking to flush the toilet after use, you know you have hired some people who really stink.

Hiring the right people is THE solution. Because building software can probably compared to architecture, yeah there are basics which's science, then beyond that it's more art than science which makes it all more important.
And it's not just money, (Of course if you pay peanuts you get monkeys), the companies where people flock to work have the best people, are more open with less rules, and obviously they are successful.

If you find yourself in a place with people suffering from the above, my prayer's with you. Since it is contagious, move on before you catch Diarrhea.

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Last Lecture

A lot of professors are asked to give “The Last Lecture” as if it’s their last.
On September 18, 2007, when, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a last lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he’s diagnosed with pancreas cancer with few months of life left.
But the talk he gave “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” wasn’t about dying.
It was about living one's childhood dreams, enabling the dreams of others, and some lessons.
In short it was about living.

Randy’s lecture has become a phenomenon and so is his book based on it. Here’s the pdf & video.