Friday, 30 March 2007

Leaders or Managers?

A few months ago we had a huge long discussion between Kari and Me on the roles and qualities of the Managers or Leaders.... honestly here we were talking about the combinations we always wanted to have in the Sr. members of our Team or empower them to achieve those combinations...

Though Kari had a broad vision about Who , How and When? I estimeed it to be a task to identify the right skill with the right quality that can Grow the Team... I am sure you will agree with me that "Team Building" is no more a task now(specially after 1 1/2 yrs)...

Here are the Best ways to differentiate the Leaders and the Managers in your Team...

1. They Manage (themselves, others, expectations and results ) ;)
2. They provide the vision
3. They Monitor they need to be have a control
4. They facilitate
5. They Mock the process
6. They show the way

1. They Drive (themselves and others to success)
2. They create or share the vision
3. They do things and let others do the same
4. They act and react
5. They practice the process
6. They create a way

Not that I am saying that the Managers or the Leaders are good or bad .. you definately need certain combinations to get out of the way towards sucess...

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Principles and Practice

Yesterday I heard the Lift Man in the office premices talking to one of the collegues on how to operate a lift.... whoa one lesson a day, and I know some operations already ofcourse with some access keys ;)

So the point here is how we confuse or differentiate in the 2 so very easy and often used terms called "Practice" and "Principles". Too often we don't understand what they mean and quite oftenly we derive them as we want... Now why the Hell is this topic in the PM Blog?? of so here is the reason why... 3 things I always feel are very important part of the Agile Teams... 1. Practice 2. Principles and 3. Values.Lot of you might or might not agree, but honestly I have heard wrong meanings so many times... I thought I would really clarify what it means: ...

Practice :- Something that we follow as routines, tasks that are repeated again and again and again ...

Principles :- Something I would say a set of ethical actions or laws defined ... obviously the would mean it as a Leader .... but the context we are using it doesnt really fit that to be described as a leader ;)

OK... so coming back how does the marriage between them works? So a practice is really something that is being carried on the basis of a defined principle... dont understand? To make sure you get the work done complete and in time you define a set of rules that needs to be carried away (that's principle !!!! Now you know?) and to achieve this goal of completing things on time you make sure you practice the principles that are laid down...

Now why I thought of writing this? Today I was trying to ask Savio about using the DB Units or Cactus with our application (they are extended from the JUnits and something we are trying to move towards to achieve the test Driven Development) and he made a statement that really triggered the feeling that there is something missing... I am copying the chat as it is
"Savio says : If we are thinking seriously of get the unit-tests working, then we need to first move the unit-tests to use a DB and to get rid of the mocks..."

It might not make right sense to you if you read it as it is .. the meaning has a deeper breadth.... To me it means that if you want to Practice the Unit Tests correctly .. you need to define the principles correctly .... Wow... what a success this is... The Fact that such a tricky thing is understood in such a clear word... what he said later is below:

"Savio says Only after that should we think of moving up stream and getting extensions like dbUnit and Cactus into the picture..."

Now it probably makes it clearer.

So the Rule of POLY BOLY says that Practice the principles and make sure that the principles are evaluated... only then Practices can produce something that can effect positive values...

Sameer Shaikh

Friday, 23 March 2007

I work so hard... what is he doing?

A few months ago I faced this question, but in a different form… the question was "What is he doing in the office?" I wasn't really very serious at that time about this since it came in very casually…. While moving ahead a similar question came across in the Chat across Table (CAT meet) with one of the development resources… this time the question was more towards partial resentment… "What is (are) he/they/she doing?"

OK so this is what I think when someone really asks this question to a Manager or the BB… now that I assume that this question comes out of one or more person from a Team… I believe that these questions really affect the Team the moment they get raised…

These are first of the few things I really think why these questions are raised:

1. Is he paid for chatting, reading newspapers and bossing around?
A member not having enough visibility on what others within his team are doing has this question in mind quite often… The best way to avoid this is to let everyone know in a Scrum what each one is up to for that day/week.

2. I have so much of work and he sits Idle?
Most of the time the question comes because of different duties or responsibilities each one is handling… Most of the time people confuse between duties and responsibilities… I really had to mention that "Do you know what your CEO does? And the answer was NO, so the issue here is that the moment you feel you are working hard; you see others not working so hard… Law of nature really….

3. The beginning of the problem is the End of the Day?
So most of the developers tend to stay late at least that's the culture out here in India… many of them are bachelors who prefer not to go on their hostels where they don't have Yahoo, Internet and of course work… So while you work late and late you feel you are the only one in the office who work… no matter you really work till then or just funk around.

4. The taste of the Poison can only be tested when you Taste it?
Many of the aspirants feel that what their superior does or knows is less than what he or she knows and does… common misconception that leads to a Team trauma at the same time raises this question too often in the mind… The major issue here is the poison of success (I am on my way to write this soon) doesnt let them think sensibly...

5. I am always left alone….
Now this is a problem with a genre that has some einsteinius genes… well I really mean that they like to be alone… in their own world, dreaming about the figures and the code they are writing…, most of the times these hysterical genes don't allow them to think anything up until 10 in the night and when they wake up they realize that the whole day is gone doing nothing but programming and it's already next day morning ;). The cause hits the case and the question gets a base…
Now that I have written a bunch of why's I think it will be relevant to put on How to avoid these things…. After all We are here to Grow a Team not Build it;)


Thursday, 22 March 2007

Time to call it Ufffffffffffffffffffff.

The whole of last 2 weeks was like sailing in the boat of problems which was fired by waves of issues, one after the other none of them new. I had to hold this blog for 2 weeks, and now I have to amend it just so that I can put it on a right time, Guess this is the right time….

So coming back to when to call an Ufffff (you call it "stop it" or "Enough" or anything else). I realized that sometimes certain mistakes are repeated, one, two, three and many more time... by the same people differently or by different people in the similar fashion... be it Software development or any other damm piece of profession, to be honest people repeating the mistakes… are not a problem ... it's the management who is the problem here....

OK so here it comes…. Last few months (since I am here with my current employement) (We) had been talking about the Quality in the programming, and in spite of calls and discussions every 2 weeks for the last 1 year I somehow feel that the team makes the same mistakes and gets ignorant about the quality… nothing new... I am sure if you are into a Software Manager you must be facing the same issue…
"Dammit why the hell they dont understand" that's what Prince told me when I was at bolt's office...

Long back I heard a story from Henry Cobb about a Donkey who used to carry some scrap everyday and used to spill part’s of it on the way to the Masters house. The Master did drive the donkey off the path, made barriers to the load so that it doesn’t spill ... But it changed for a day and then the same old story… He had no other choice than whipping, but things never changed for years and years… The moral Henry wanted to give was that if you do the same thing again and again you get into a habit... what I derived from it was the Master never went and analyzed why this happen …simply because he too had a Project Manager’s brain…

The Donkey tells me that certain mistakes remain rectified only till the influence is there … which doesn't means that till the developer thinks that his code is being reviewed he will not make mistake with the quality… it means that till the fire to build the quality code is present in the developer the code produced is quality … the moment this fire gets ceased… I mean urge towards quality consciousness is off the mistake comes into action…

Same thing happened to the cricket … when we started playing cricket for the first time in the organization there were a bunch of guys… the moment there were matchsticks that don't produce flames cricket was off… Thanks to Natwar and Saket that this is being enlightened again….

So the whole point here is that repeated mistakes will come all the way along... all the Management has to do is to think of avoiding the scenarios...

I am sure you have the next How??? ok so I am not coaching you here until you pay me a few grands or promise to subscribe the blog ;) just are things that can be done to avoid / tackle repeated mistakes...

1. Make sure that the Objective is in front of the Eyes all the time...
2. Make sure that it is being talked and followed up so that the feeling of the objective been alive is there.
3. Embarrass the odd ones out and publicize it so that everyone understands that mistakes might go un-noticed but repeated mistakes will lead to embarrassment. (This really came up when I was talking to Kari about this in one of the Demo where we were silent spectators...)
4. Cut the root not the branches… meaning cut the causes of the Build breaking not the developer's doing the builds…

Well these are not all…. I am sure all through next few months I am going to face bigger issues than these that will cause bigger than Ass pains… But I am preparing myself for it.... A New Lesson to a repeated problem...

Do you have another How ????

I am preparing a board to list down the Mistakes that we(The Team) makes everyday (at least the ones we catch) and try to work on them, of course there should be the Mistake (wo) Man of the week so that their is a celebrity status to the legends. The plan is to have a Story board of mistakes on a common area so that every one sees it… and the Actions taken on them ... nothing more can get your celebrity ranks high in the company...

Next week I will try to post how this board will look like ….

Sameer Shaikh

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Monday Morning.... Yuck?????

I recently landed up on this community on Orkut "Monday Sucks" and it was fortunate that there was no surprise… the community is full of Monday Haters… darn… Students, managers, Developers, Executives and a whole bunch of people saying why they hate Mondays…

Well it doesn't really take a community to tell you how much you hate Monday as you see lot of calls being made everyday when it comes to a discussion on a Monday … I don't know all or most reasons exactly why people hate, but I surely got a few things worth mentioning that can make your colleague not hate Monday:

Let your Week not begin with Monday: That is one reason our Sprint starts on Friday…I understand the most boring phase of a WORK LIFECYCLE is the beginning phase (Doesn't apply to you if you are a PP), and that's what every one of us think, Monday is the kickoff of work…

Avoid Meetings on Monday: Most of the Update Meetings happen on Monday, the first fear that comes to an employees mind is … "Damn… I got to update my Boss... and Hell I am not prepared…!" Or "Wish there was no party on the Friday night I would have finished some of my work on the weekend", actually lot more. No Meetings and Updates on Monday morning help release some pressure from the employees ;)

The Beginning of the Day should be 1 in the noon? I will get some stares from Kari (My Boss: D) for this… but I believe lot of guys are up until late even on Sunday nights… Be it a Family Function or a Dinner, or some auspicious occasion or a Bday party… starting late will kick off the thoughts of "Mom don't wake me up this early"

Light as a Feather, Smooth as Sush's cheeks: Mondays should be shorter and sweeter and the day should really begin with some sweet faces around…. It sounded funny to Mark (My previous employer) when I asked him to keep Interviews for BPO section on the Monday afternoon hours…

Well this is not all lot more you can do to get your Monday work as a Saturday… Just that you need to get out of the High School ;)

Sameer Shaikh